Friday, December 14, 2012

A Family's Trekking Travellogue to Nepal ~ Day 2

Day 2 morning!

Sleep came easy for most of us.
And we woke to a cooooold morning.
Looking forward to a nice flight to Pokhara, was my Rudy Project and my newly-acquired Nepali topi..

The recorded temperature was 8 degrees at 8am this morning.
The coldness was experienced full blast once we stepped onto the front porch..

Breakfast was a campur of Dals, Bhats, puri, potato, eggs...
But still not warm enough to give heat to Fann's nose... Hahaha...

How does breakfast look like?
Take a look at his plate as that young man tucked into his food with gusto...

Ok, guys!
Pack up, backpacks into the airplane cargo bags all locked up.
Carry your own daypacks.
We are going to fly.

Kathmandu Streets in the day time...

Kathmandu in the day feels different from the night.
And in my opinion, through the windscreen is one of the interesting point of view..

Yes, the streets of Kathmandu, where pedestrian pavements, bicycle lanes, motorway all merge into one.
And where piles after piles of sand, bricks and debris encroach upon the driveway.

Where a lamp-post would suddenly occur a distance away from the side of the road, threatening to punch a dent into the car should the driver fail to notice it.  

Despite repeated visits, I still find the streets of Kathmandu very interesting.
Colourful and unique. If I may use the word - flavourful.

Clickable images below...

A city so full of motorbicycles and bicycles, every where, outside almost every shop, you will see one.
A city so crowded that you will always be sure to find people standing waiting, sitting waiting..
Here, time seems to slow down quite a bit.
No one seems to be in too much of a hurry.

Yes, indeed. No hurry.
Like the way the old lady & old man sit there gazing afar...

No hurry. Reading the newspaper under the word Castrol.
Aaaah... Castrol, a name that conjures up memories of time long long ago...

Yupe. Totally no hurry.
Like the way the man takes a break from his hammer.

All above images are clickable...

Well... the only people who seem to in any kind of hurry
are this group of Singaporeans making their way
to the Domestic airport to catch a flight
to Pokhara... LOL..

... just joking just joking.
We were all captivated by the street scenes.

Oh...Did I show you my shop in Kathmandu?
Here it is...

LOL.. and while you are here.. please take time to appreciate my 125cc motorbike parked outside.
Pokhara beckons...

Yes, it's the time of the trip again.
The mad rush carrying the heavy backpacks on our own..
The mad mad rush cheonging into the Domestic airport in Kathmandu...
The super mad rush in getting the luggages checked-in quickly so that we may enter the boarding area in as short a time as possble..
... so that when the plane is ready to take off, we will be ready for the 10-metre-sprint..

While Mahesh was busying himself...

The interesting thing that I have noticed is..
Whenever Mahesh is in the Domestic Airport, he seems to be a much intense person..
... a frown on his forehead.. the harsh tone of voice with the counter staffs...
I won't be surprised if he doesn't do that, somehow we won't be able to get up fast...

And yes, the customs police asked me lots of questions, but in a very courteous and smiling fashion.

And phew! Yes! We are through and found ourselves seated in the waiting lobby where in our previous trek, we spent four days waiting for our delayed plane...
[If anyone was interested.. here is the thread... Our third attempt at flying out of Kathmandu to Lukla]

OK! Are we ready to fly??!!

YES! We are!
Looks like this time round we are much luckier!

So on this morning at 10am, we flew 170km from Kathmandu westwards to Pokhara on a propeller plane.
The flight took a mere 25 minutes.

"OK, you all try to find a seat on the RIGHT side of the plane," instructed the ever-presence Mahesh.
"Then you will be able to see the mountains."

Very good idea! Very good indeed!
Anyway, this time round the windows of the plane were a little too hazy for any of my 'mountain shots' to come out nicely.
But here is one of Pokhara as we approached the runway and were about to land in Pokhara Airport...

Yah... yes yeti yeti yeti..
I just can't help loving Yeti Air.
When we fly Yeti Air, everything is as Yeti as can be...

Yes. This time round the propeller plane was one with a larger capacity.
I don't remember exactly how many. But around 20 plus seater, compared with the Sita Air STOL to Lukla which was only about a 16 seater.

Yes, don't be YaYa, son.

It's a short taxi ride from Pokhara Airport to our hotel just at the edge of the famous Fewa Lake.
We were all enjoying the scenery and the light cold air when suddenly we found ourselves turning, at right angle, off the main road, into a tunnel...

When we next found light in our eyes, Q exclaimed:
"OMG! This is so... I am so liking this place!"

And yes, I can understand why she loved it.
Because the whole hotel was designed with a traditional Nepali architecture and decor.
Upon stepping in, the scent of Lemon Grass floated in the air.. and we were all transformed into a time of ancient Nepal.

And the Penguin finally smiled...

Pokhara.. finally, we are getting closer...

Well, it's noon time in the much more relaxed and scenic city of Pokhara.
And the recorded temperature at this hour is 18 degrees Centigrade.
Not bad yah. Not too cold.
How come? Because whilst Kathmandu sits at an altitude of 1300m, Pokhara is merely at 800m.
In fact, for those of us staying around the large Fewa lake, the altitude is only about 754m high.
Therefore it comes as no surprise that the weather in Pokhara is a little milder.

Walking around Pokhara, we find that it's a little bit more touristy.

"Yes, this Pokhara is more for tourists and for those from the other parts of Nepal coming here for a holiday," explained Mahesh.
"That's why the buildings and roads are nice. But the prices of things here are more expensive than those in Kathmandu for the same item."

Good cautioning, Mahesh, I thought to myself, making a mental note to go back to Kathmandu for the girls (and the boys) shopping.

Strangely, the whole family seems to have loosened up and has become very relaxed here in Pokhara.
It think it might have been something to do with the air.. and the air around the Lake side..

Pardon the blown-out highlights. But heck, it's such a candid shot of the children...
I just got to share it.. First time see ZA jumped so high up. Aaaah... thinner air = lesser resistance.
I think.

Even Mahesh seems more relaxed.
And here over lunch, we had a chance to listen to him tell us about his life story, how he started off as a porter trekking to all parts of Nepal, Everest Base Camp, Annapurna Base Camp... and how after many treks, he had a chance to become an assistant guide, and later a full-fledge trekking guide.
I spoke to the boss, Ram, of the Nepali company with which Mahesh works in. And he told me not every porter becomes a guide eventually.
The figure used to be about 10 percent.
But in recent years, due to better education and demands from trekkers from abroad, around 30% of the porters eventually become guides.

Eating in Nepal...

Many of my friends asked me what we ate in Nepal.
Well, of course all through Nepal and even up in the mountains we can find steaks and chicken cutlets and such Western meals.
But for myself, once I set foot in Nepal, I will try my best to devour the local Nepali delights.
And thus my first meal in Pokhara was one of my favourite - Dal Bhat (Dal = rice, Bhat = lentils) - a mixture of lentil and sauces, with chicken or vegetable curry all hum-tum-ed together onto a mount of rice, together with some vegetables and potatoes.
Occasionally, if I am lucky, I get some papad (the Nepali equivalent of Indian Papadum which we enjoy so much back home in Singapore).
The wonderful thing is, the restaurant staff will keep topping up your rice and your curry sauce.. as many servings as you like.

Yes, every day the Nepali eat Dal Bhat.
It's almost like the chicken rice, wanton mee, char kuay teow back home.
They will enjoy their Dal Bhat, their chaomien (friend rice), their potatoes, tomatoes.. all which are locally grown.
Indeed, agriculture forms the largest industry in Nepal, and second comes tourism.

A stroll by the banks of Lake Fewa, Pokhara...

Lake Fewa (or sometime spelled Phewa) is a scenic lake at an altitude of 754m.
It's really a beautiful place. In mistiness, it appears mysterious.
But when the sun shines down, the glistening on the surface of its water makes everything else silhouette.

Our hotel is just within walking distance from the lake side.

As we strolled along the main street of the lakeside, we saw shops renting bicycles..

Don't siao siao ah..
Those of us who know about bicycles, especially a group of my friends who have totally dumped their cameras and have gone gaga over bicycles,
will point out several bikes here to you... Pinarello Dogma on the top left lah, Cervelo on the top right lah, Conalgo lah, Felt on the inside lah...
LOl.. Cycling is actually very much a way of life for the Nepali people.
It's convenient, and it's easy, and one can weave through the toughest of traffic jams and still get in on time.

AhS was so impressed by the lake...

I asked Q: "Are you going to retire here?"
And her answer is an affirmative. LOL.. big fat hope lah, she.

We kept walking along the banks. And I kept seeing cafe, restaurants... all with Ang Mohs sitting there having a sip of coffee over their books.
"Now that's really a tad little over-touristy," I thought to myself.
I would have preferred something more local. But I guess, no choice lah..
Over the years, this Pokhara has become a must-go for not only European foreigners but also local Nepali and tourists from India, China, Hong Kong and Taiwan.
Never mind lah... I am sure as we move further up the mountains, things will be a little different.

Doing that obligatory round along the banks of Fewa Lake...

Frankly, lovely though Fewa lake is.. I just cannot but help feel the touristy feeling it conjures up.
I guess the children feel the same too.
Yeah, it's scenery is lovely.. But somehow when we are out here to rough it out, some of these scenes which appear a little too comfy, we seem to not be mentally prepared for them.
Crazy.. LOL...

Thus, no matter how I shoot, this angle, that angle.. all don't know.. look just not right.
I only have one shot of Fewa lake.
And here it is.

... and also yah, this one of the local ladies doing their laundry at the lake side...

I can see that the children are feeling restless when they start to behave crazily liao...

After a while, I really don't know what else to shoot already.
So I looked around for Penguin to shoot..
And true enough, I found the Penguin shooting the lake...

Evening draws nearer in Pokhara...

Enough! Enough of the lake already.
We walked slowly back to the hotel...
Our minds were on the trek tomorrow, and our stomachs were on dinner...

Son, keep a look out at the balcony.
When the Golden Hour comes, the scene would be spectacular.

Golden Light on Machhapuchhre...

Yes! Finally at around 5:30pm, we had about 10 minutes of Golden Light shining right down on the mountain.
It was later that I knew that this was the famous Machhapuchhre peak.

The night before the trek...
Some of us were already hungry even before starting the siong siong walk...

Click Below to continue to the next Chapter:
A Family's Trekking Travellogue to Nepal ~ Day 3