Saturday, January 19: This morning I get up early at Kathmandu Guest House for an 8 a.m. Yeti Airlines flight to Pokhara. Pokhara is the closest thing to a resort town in Nepal. Here the contrast between the high, sheer icy peaks of the Himalayas and the subtropical lush valley and lakeshore of Pokhara is the most noticeable in Nepal. From Pokhara there is a clear view of the 8,000+ meter Annapurna and Manaslu ranges, just 25 km to the north. In addition, one peak of the 6,997 meter twin-peaked summit of Machhapuchhre (“Fish-Tailed”) dominates the skyline.
Yeti Airlines, which I’ve never heard of before today, is a Nepali airline with 14 aircraft. Their website says: The airline has served the isolated population of Nepal living in far-flung mountain areas by providing the only means of transportation and connection to the outside world.
Sadly, the one thing I forget as I board the small airplane is the recommendation I read somewhere that one should try to secure a seat on the right side of the plane in order to get a view of the Himalayas. Duh!! I am one of the last to board, and immediately grab a window seat on the left. Only after we take off do I realize I should have sat on the other side to see the mountains. I decide I will remedy this error on my flight back to Kathmandu, where I will have to do the opposite and sit on the left!
I arrive in Pokhara and am driven directly to the Pokhara View Garden Hotel, a sister hotel of Kathmandu Guest House (Pokhara View Garden Hotel). There is no view of Phewa Tal (Phewa Lake) from my hotel, but as I walk to my balcony I see a view of the garden below, the town of Pokhara, and the cloud-topped Himalayas. This is my first view of the Himalayas in Nepal.
I don’t want to hang out in the hotel, so I head immediately out to do a city tour of Pokhara. The first place we go is to the Pokhara Bazaar, a small old Newari market town along a former trade route from Butwal to Mustang. My driver drops me at one end of what he calls the Old Market, and I just walk along taking pictures. I find the old painted buildings and the businesses to be quite photogenic.
I come across a lot of children along the way, and one brother and sister agree to let me take a picture of them.
I come across two other children concentrating seriously on their schoolwork. I ask if I can take their picture, and the little girl jumps up to pose. She looks so earnest, I can’t help thinking she’s like I was when I was a kid. I used to be so studious, and took great pleasure in doing my homework to perfection.
After my walk down the market street, we climb up a hill to Bindyabasini Mandir, a Hindu temple complex sitting atop a hill with sweeping views of Pokhara and the Himalayas. Bindyabasini is an incarnation of the Hindu goddess Kali in her bloodthirsty aspect. Apparently animal sacrifices are common here. Luckily I don’t see any such thing going on while I’m up here, but I do see a long line of people waiting with gifts to bring the deity.
We continue on our tour to Seti River Gorge, Mahendra Cave, the Pokhara Regional Museum, and a Buddhist Monastery….