Our adventure to Pokhara is really two stories, one for the trip there and back and the second for the time spent there. Let’s start with the time there.

As I am still challenged by posting pictures to this blog, I am saving them up until I get back home and will then post lots all at once!  So we will have to be content with videos for now.  I’m so happy we got those up!

The change from Kathmandu to Pokhara is as if they aren’t even in the same country. Pokhara is lush, green, cleaner, wider streets (however, they still have pot holes which I am sure saves time and money in building speed bumps), and the local people seem more relaxed and happier.

 

Again, Ganesh was our guide and our group was made up of myself, Irish Peter and English Chris who traveled over by bus for the three day jaunt. The Aussies, Charmaine and Rachel who were on a tighter schedule, came by air for the second day and returned later that day to Kath.

 

Our first mission was to check into our hotel, the Traveler’s Guest House, where I had a welcoming committee! La Cock-a-Roacha foursome were performing while Senora Spider-mama, the size of Asia, kept time with all eight legs. Needless to say, I came back down all three flights of stairs at the speed of light stuttering, “S-s-s-s-s-p-p-pi-pi-d-d-er!!!” while making large circular motions with one arm and stuffing my eyeballs back in their sockets with the other.

 

 

 

Ganesh and a hotel employee came to the rescue with a can of spray and a taking apart of the bed: mattress, bedding and mattress board, to find them all in various hiding places. Thorough searching and many assurances later, I was told the place was ‘clean’. I couldn’t help but notice the one-inch gap under the door through which a platoon of spiders and roaches could march. Therefore I rolled up a welcome mat and stuffed it as tightly as possible against the offending ‘bug-door’.

 

Off we went to the Peace Pagoda before it got dark. Nepal has only two directions:

UP…and…DOWN! We taxied as far up as the road goes and then…yup, more perpendicular stairs, sweat, bursting lungs and a heartbeat to outrace Bobby Unser. I tell you, I’m coming home with Thunder Thighs!

 

 

The World Peace Pagoda was built by an English woman as a Buddhist monument to promoting its namesake. Without a word of a lie, we all felt an ‘energy’ about the place that was indeed peaceful and as we stood and looked down on the beauty of the lake, valley and city of Pokhara. One could just breathe the environment and feel more fulfilled.

 

Back in the hotel for the night, I glanced balefully at the door gap and went about finding anything I could use to stuff it full. That done there was nothing for it but to get into a bed that I first stripped searched and turn out the light. Within 5 minutes something brushed my arm and I let out a shriek and dove for the light. Hmmm, it was just the curtain moving in a slight, very refreshing breeze. Wishing I had duct tape for my mouth, finally slept.

 

Next morn, Ganesh picked up Char and Rach at the airport and the six of us went on a whirlwind of activity so they could see as much as possible in their few hours. First, the bat cave. Dang, couldn’t find the Batmobile or its driver, but did see one bat for sure and named it Robin. Those of you who know me well, also know that I am claustrophobic. I expect a huuuuge round of applause for I conquered that fear and went into that cave!! It helped that there were no tight spaces getting into the large cavern. We carried lamps but their beams did not reach very well to the ceiling, so many bats were figments of our imagination, I’m sure.

 

Next stop, Devi Falls, named thusly for a Swiss woman, who while swimming with her husband, was washed away by a flash flood some years back.

Incredible pictures are to come later of this strange phenomenaof the river when in flood and when almost dry.

 

At this time of year, the water is at it’s lowest just before Monsoon season and that allowed us to once again go underground into an area that is filled with water after the rains. Ganesh is so gracious with his clients. He carried my camera and my water bottle more than I did as I groped around in the semi-dark among the rocks, steps, water etc. to reach the centre. He sweetly calls me ‘mother’ or ‘mum’ and makes certain that I am safe at all times. He really earns his money while bargaining for taxi rates, etc. and without him we would be spending much more money!

 

Then we cab it again to the Mountaineering Museum. What a great place! And the most modern building I’ve so far seen in Nepal. They are very proud of their mountains and the history around them.

 

 

Now we drop the Aussie gals at the airport and the rest of us are free to do some serious shopping, wandering, lunching etc. until supper time.

 

 

Pokhara is hotter and more humid than Kath due to a lower altitude and more rainfall. That rainfall made our last day a bit disappointing in that we planned a climb (grrroan!) up to Sarangkot in order to see the Himalayas at sunrise. The clouds only rose enough that we could see just above the snow line so no spectacular pictures that morning. Again, we turned ourselves into optimists and found great value in the experience anyway. Peter and Chris had booked paragliding following the sunrise we didn’t see and that also had to be cancelled due to weather.

 

Instead, we took a boat and paddled out to a temple on an island in the lake. Very picturesque and photos look really good in a light rain. So did a group of about 25 men of the Nepali army on a physical training exercise in and out of the water!

Next blog I will entertain you with the ‘ride’ to and from Pokhara!! Never, never again!!

’till next time, Cherrio!  Lynn

N

Breakout the popcorn and settle in for entertainment!  Remember, this post was written, but not posted prior to the recent published post so they are kind of backwards as to the dates of their occurrence.  Enjoy!! 
 
 
 
It’s time to venture out.  Our coordinator, Chris, takes us for a lesson on how to maneuver the streets of the Thamel district of Nepal and at the same time shows us some important locations we may need or want to use during our stay.  Best thing he did was provide us with a street map as we were so confused and turned around within the first 10 minutes I felt like hanging on to his shirt tail so I didn’t lose him in the crowd.
 
First stop and foremost, the medical pharmacy that doubles as a doctor and medicine dispensary.  Simply sling your cut foot on the counter, he takes a look, treats it and gives medicine if needed and you are on your way. They are very good at treating and recognizing the various intestinal problems us foreigners are prone to get.  Listen to Chris on this video giving our new group of volunteers the “It’s not whether, but when you will fall prey” lecture.  (I finally figured out how to post videos!)
 
Next video is Thamel Chowk (pronounced ‘choke’) and very aptly named.  These chowks are intersections wherein as many as 6 streets can come together. No traffic control and remember ALL traffic, wheeled or on foot, fights for a few inches of progress at a time.  This one is not too bad at the moment, but I have seen them come to a complete gridlock wherein nothing moves, no one will give in and the only movement there is, is a flurry of fists hitting horns. Madness.
 
 
The following day Chris takes new volunteers to their placements for teaching.  It appears ‘Boston’ Michael and I will teach in the Bouddha district and we travel there by cab and walk a fair distance thereafter.  Part of that walk is on this video:

 

 
My Monastery is up first.  There has been a change of boss monk and things are very vague as to when I am to start or if I am to start. Seems the person we were to talk with is not there even though he said he would be during a phone call that morning. Very common in Nepal. Appointment? Maybe, maybe not.  We leave that hang and go on to Michael’s monastery.  Again person to talk to is not there.  Home again, home again jiggity jog.
 
After seeing the local public transit (and I use that word veryloosely), I immediately panic when Chris tells me this is the means I will use to get to and from the monastery.  There isn’t room for a shadow on this dilapidated tin can on worn wheels and I am claustrophobic!!  Result?  Chris has now decided to see if he can get me a placement in the Swayambhu area which is walkable and next day he takes me and ‘Irish’ Peter on this ‘walkable’ saunter. Gawd help me.  It feels like 7 to 10 km but I learn later it is only 5, mostly uphill.
 
 
Along the way is this daunting staircase. 55 (count ’em) stairs almost perpendicular to the street. The lure is a breeze and a beautiful Jacaranda tree at the top.  First day I needed 2 rest stops, second day 1 rest stop and third day I made it all the way to the top!  Mind you I have bandaids on 6 blisters not to mention the sprained toe done on the first day in class when I smashed it into a chair leg. No shoes worn in class. Still having a challenge with posting pics but will show you the one of the stairs when I fix this.
 
Walking in Kathmandu.  One must keep looking down for potholes and unmentionables on the street and, one must keep looking ahead, sideways and behind all at the same time or risk being walked over, body checked and at least losing a limb to some form of motorized smog belcher. Then we must also be looking for landmarks to stay on course. I tell you, if I manage to keep both ankles intact I’ll be celebrating. 

 

Final upshot, I will buddy teach two classes with Peter while Tamsin Lama tries to find me a placement.  Swayambhu area has many monasteries.

 

The next day we are on our own.  News flash…both Peter and I are direction challenged. More than once we pass the same landmark twice and cross the disgusting river (doubles as a landfill), but we handle it with fits of hysterical laughter.  What else can you do when it is 35 C and the humidity has you wishing you could buy clothes made of absorbent diaper fabric?  I drink 3 to 4 lts of bottled water per day with little urgency for the loo.

 

More about the bridge over which we must travel to and from class.  I can’t even describe this river, so you must wait for the picture.  As you look at it, imagine limburger cheese, sweaty feet, rotting carcasses, an overfilled outhouse and any other unearthly stink you can think of and mix it all together.  It’s too far to hold my breath so the next best thing is to cover my mouth and nose with a tissue and mouth-breathe. Even the locals are covering faces.  I am told that after a month of monsoon it runs clear, clean and much higher.  Where everything goes I don’t know and do I even want to?

 

What makes all this worthwhile??? Take a look at Peter and me in the classroom. Monklettes sit on the floor so teacher finds her or himself on the floor much of the time as well. So eager to learn, so attentive, so appreciative. We just love these kids!

 

 

On the second day Tamsin Lama invites Peter and I to join in the Puja (pronounced Pooshuh), a ceremony in the Buddhist temple.  Awesome!  No headgear for women necessary.  We are shown how to do the obeisance (three positions of the prayer held hands, then kneel and place forehead on the floor – do this three times).  Now we sit on the floor against the wall during chanting, bells, horns, drums, tea drinking and walking around the temple altar holding incense.  We can take pictures or video without flash, so enjoy!

 

 

Within a week Tamsin Lama tells me I can teach a class in the same monastery.  The class is Little Ones and I start right now!  I am transported immediately from the familiarity of our buddy class to another room to be greeted by 5 to 10-year-old’s and I have no idea what to do with them, I’m not prepared.  Then I see their big brown eyes and expectant grins and I immediately drop onto the floor with them and we have a great time for the next hour.  No doubt….I’m in love!

 

Here is one of my earliest joys…Little Shessy lives on the top floor of the hotel with a family who are part of the staff.  A cross between a polar bear cub and a teddy bear this wee one covers me with puppy kisses and I suddenly my world is upright again.

 

 

 

It gets even better!  More next time. 

 

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Cheerio!

Teacher Lynn