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

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8 comments on “pokhara: the electricity dilemma, a stroll around town, & a little shopping spree

    • Thanks so much eternal traveler! I think you would love it, but be prepared because it is a bit of a hardship (not nearly as much as India, though!) I have a friend who did the Everest Base Camp trek, but I think it would be too much for me too!

  1. Interesting experience with the load shedding. We have it in South Africa too, but maybe not as frequently. You don’t want to see my hair when it air drys either. 🙂 I love those photos with the Himalayas in the background. So beautiful, as is that little dragon boy. Too cute. 🙂 I think if I was travelling on my own, I would also buy loads of unnecessary items, but hubby is my voice of reason. 😆

    • It’s a good thing you have your hubby to be the voice of reason, Sylvia!! Mike used to be that for me, but with no one now to curb my impulses, I always end up buying stuff I don’t need!! But I sure love what I bought. Yes, that load shedding was really a pain, but I tried hard not to dwell on it. I never even heard of that before!! I finally was able to wash and dry my hair when I returned to Kathmandu. 🙂

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