pokhara & the valley: devi’s fall, tashiling & the world peace pagoda

Sunday, January 20:  We start our trip to the World Peace Pagoda by making a stop at Devi’s Fall.  This is the spot where the Pardi Khola, the stream that drains Phewa Tal, flows into a channel and sinks underground.  The sinkhole’s name is based on the name of a Swiss woman named Devin who drowned in 1961 while skinny-dipping with her boyfriend.  The name Devi usually means “goddess,” so the name of the falls may be due to the Nepali’s tendency to deify everything.  According to Rough Guide to Nepal, this may have been a story fabricated to warn Nepalis to “shun promiscuous Western ways.”  Anyway, I’m under-impressed.

Devi's Fall

Devi’s Fall

Next stop: the Tibetan settlement of Tashiling which has about 750 residents.  I see a demonstration of some women making yarn and weaving carpets, then I’m shown around a showroom where someone is hoping I’ll buy a carpet.  I don’t, much to their disappointment.

a Tibetan woman in Tashiling

a Tibetan woman in Tashiling

Tibetan woman in Tashiling

Tibetan women in Tashiling

On our drive up to the World Peace Pagoda, I ask our driver to stop numerous times so I can take pictures of the valley and the agricultural terraces.  I’m sure the terraces are much prettier in spring, when everything is abloom, but I think mustard is about the only thing growing now.

the valley

the valley

terraces of mustard

terraces of mustard

the golden mustard plants

the golden mustard plants

me in front of the terraces :-)

me in front of the terraces 🙂

beautiful terraces, again.

beautiful terraces, again.

The World Peace Pagoda is a Buddhist stupa built to inspire peace.  It’s designed to provide a focus for people of all races and creeds, and to help unite them in their search for world peace.  A Japanese Buddhist organization, Nipponzan Myohoji, funded the monument and has a monastery nearby.

approaching the World Peace Pagoda

approaching the World Peace Pagoda

the World Peace Pagoda

the World Peace Pagoda

Here are some photos of what is in the four niches of the Peace Pagoda.  Click on any image to see a full-sized slide show.

The view from the 1113 meter ridge where this stupa sits is a wonderful wide-angle panorama of the Himalayas with Phewa Tal and Pokhara in the foreground.  At the far left is Dhaulagiri, in the middle is the Annapurna Himal and the pyramid of Machhapuchhre, and to the right are Manaslu, Himalchuli and Baudha.

the view of the Himalayas, with Phewa Tal and Pokhara in front, from the World Peace Pagoda

the view of the Himalayas, with Phewa Tal and Pokhara in front, from the World Peace Pagoda

Pokhara and the Himalayas

Pokhara and the Himalayas

Pokhara from the Peace Pagoda

Pokhara from the Peace Pagoda

the view from above

the view from above

parting shot of the Peace Pagoda with poinsettia plants

parting shot of the Peace Pagoda with poinsettia plants

After we walk all around the World Peace Pagoda, we take a long walk down the mountain through chestnut forests to the lake below.   We come across a little pond with what I think might be water hyacinths.  Four adults are sitting on the ground nearby playing a game that looks like Parcheesi, but I don’t have the nerve to ask them for a photo.

water hyacinths?

water hyacinths?

the view over the water hyacinth pond

the view over the water hyacinth pond

We take a rowboat back to the Pokhara lakeside.  After this, my guide and I part ways, and I go back to the hotel to check again on the electricity.  Now I’m really yearning for a shower.  However, the electricity is still off.

boats to take us back across the lake

boats to take us back across the lake

my guide in the rowboat

my guide in the rowboat

I decide I will go get a massage at Seeing Hands, a massage place that employs blind therapists.  I get a lovely massage for an hour.  By the time I finish my massage, it is dark and as there is no electricity and no hot water, I take a cold shower in the dark.  Kind of negates the whole warm fuzzy relaxing feeling I got from the massage!

me having a leisurely ride :-)

me having a leisurely ride 🙂

looks like a party boat full of friendly folks

looks like a party boat full of friendly folks

Phewa Tal

Phewa Tal

I return to the hotel, where the generator is now running. I take a hot bath and dry my hair and manage to feel human again.  Then I take off for lunch at the Love Kush Restaurant, where all the patrons are huddled around a fireplace in the center of the room.  I speak some though dinner to a Greek man, but he really doesn’t have much to say.  Then I speak to a nurse from Hawaii, about my age,  who just left Thailand, and her 29-year-old Thai lover, behind.  She said he was feeling depressed and sorry for himself and all he wanted to do was sit around moping, so she broke up with him.  She was a lively lady and I enjoyed our chat, even if briefly.  She was getting ready to go trekking tomorrow in the Annapurna range.

our colorful rowboat

our colorful rowboat

I go back to the hotel, where once again, I hunker down under the covers and read my Kindle story, What I Loved, by the light of the book light.  Luckily I sleep better tonight since tomorrow morning, I will get up at 5 a.m. to go see the sunrise at Sarangkot, which supposedly has an astounding view of the Himalayas.

back to Lakeside....

back to Lakeside….

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pokhara: the electricity dilemma, a stroll around town, & a little shopping spree

Sunday, January 20:  This morning I wake up to a room that feels like a walk-in refrigerator.  On top of that, there is no electricity in the Pokhara View Garden Hotel.  I walk out on the balcony, where the sun is shining and it’s actually a lot warmer than in my room.  There, in front of me, are the gorgeous Himalayas: the Annapurna & Manaslu Ranges and one fin of the double-finned Machhapuchhre, nicknamed “Fishtailed.”  There are no clouds or pollution obscuring this morning’s view. The snow-capped peaks loom in the distance, a sharp contrast to the tropical valley of Pokhara, with its colorful buildings and its abundance of bright red poinsettia and orange trumpet vines.

One fin of the double-finned 6997 meter summit of Machhapuchhre ("Fishtailed")

One fin of the double-finned 6997 meter summit of Machhapuchhre (“Fishtailed”)

After admiring the view for a bit, I throw on some clothes and go down to the front desk to inquire about the electricity.  The guy who is always at reception tells me there won’t be any electricity for a while, probably until around 1:00 this afternoon.   I’m flabbergasted.  What?  Why not?

the 8,000 meter + Annapurna and Manaslu Ranges

the 8,000 meter + Annapurna and Manaslu Ranges

He explains patiently that there’s a schedule put out by the Nepal Electricity Authority, but the hotel doesn’t have the current schedule so he can’t tell me for sure when the electricity will be back on.  Apparently the NEA does what is called load shedding: cutting off the electric current on certain lines when the demand becomes greater than the supply.   Rumor has it that this load shedding occurs throughout the country in a rolling fashion for about 14 hours a day every day!! (I’m not sure about the number of hours because I hear different things from different people.)

the amazing Himalayas

the amazing Himalayas

I find this so odd, because in Kathmandu Airport, there are signs spaced equidistant along the Arrivals corridor spelling out little-known facts about Nepal.   One of the facts I distinctly remember goes something like this: Nepal is second only to Brazil for its water resources. Isn’t that great for hydroelectricity?  Later, after I google this, I find Nepal is not even on the top-9 list of water-rich countries.  Brazil is in fact #1, but the Russian Federation is second.  Canada is #3, the U.S. is #7 and India is #9 (FAO: Water-rich countries).

I guess I didn’t notice this electricity problem in Kathmandu because at Kathmandu Guest House they have a generator, and most businesses in the tourist area of Thamel must have generators too.  Obviously, Pokhara View Garden Hotel is more of a budget operation, and there is no electricity to be had.  They have a generator, but they only turn it on at certain times of day.  The guy at reception assures me I can take a shower because there is hot water (I guess that must be heated by generator), but I tell him I can’t wash my hair unless I can use a hair dryer.   Believe me, no one wants to see my hair when it air-dries!   He tells me maybe I should try back at around 1:00.

an omelet for breakfast at the Pokhara View Garden Hotel

an omelet for breakfast at the Pokhara View Garden Hotel

I figure I will go ahead and eat my breakfast and go for a walk around the town.  Maybe I’ll do some shopping.  I am supposed to go the World Peace Pagoda after 1:00 with a guide, so I have the morning just to wander.  I do just that.  I walk around the town taking pictures and enjoying the views of the Annapurna Range and “Fishtailed” and Phewa Lake and the colorful, funky shops.   I buy a few totally unnecessary things: a pretty embroidered bag, some hiking pants, a bunch of books, a necklace and a top, all for about 9,000 Nepali Rupees, or over $100!! I always say when I travel I am not going to buy ANYTHING, yet here I go again!  There are so many cool things to buy in Nepal’s enticing shops, I can’t help myself.

colorful houses and gardens with the World Peace Pagoda in the background

colorful houses and gardens with the World Peace Pagoda in the background

peeks at the Himalayas as I walk around town

peeks at the Himalayas as I walk around town

a Nepali boy looking like a dragon :-)

a Nepali boy looking like a dragon 🙂

shops along the way

shops along the way

love the bright colors in Pokhara

love the bright colors in Pokhara

Nepali woman sitting along the roadside

Nepali woman sitting along the roadside

bicycles

bicycles

vegetables for sale

vegetables for sale

the streets of Pokhara

the streets of Pokhara

brights for sale

brights for sale

lanterns in a restaurant

lanterns in a restaurant

I go back to the hotel to check on the electricity and to drop off my purchases, but still there is no power. When I look at the Himalayas off the balcony again, I see them in a different light.

the Himalayas in a different light

the Himalayas in a different light

the Annapurna and Manaslu Ranges

the Annapurna and Manaslu Ranges

So I walk back to town, where I find the Love Kush Restaurant, which advertises pumpkin soup.  A bowl of hot soup sounds very good, so I enjoy that along with some garlic toast.

pumpkin soup & garlic toast

pumpkin soup & garlic toast

Love Kush Restaurant

Love Kush Restaurant

Everywhere I go, I greet Nepalis with “Namaste.”  I also learned the word for “Thank you” today: “Danyaybat.”  I keep getting tongue-tied and forget the syllables every time I try to say it.  I’m terrible with languages.  Isn’t that sad for someone who teaches second languages to people?

inside Love Kush

inside Love Kush

After lunch I return to the hotel to find the power is now on, but my guide has arrived and it’s time to go to the World Peace Pagoda.  I guess there will be no shower for me until tonight. 😦

bicycles along the lake

bicycles along the lake