pokhaha: a stroll around phewa tal & seeking shelter (& warmth) at moondance

Saturday, January 19:  This afternoon, I meet a young guide named Krishna who takes me on a stroll through part of the town and along the shore of Phewa Tal (Phewa Lake).

colorful lodging along the way

colorful lodging along the way

covered in marigolds

a balcony covered in Flame Vine, or orange trumpet vine

The legend of the lake is that it covers what was once a prosperous valley.  A beggar woman was scorned by most of the inhabitants, except for one sympathetic woman.  The beggar warned the woman of an impending flood, and as the woman and her family climbed to higher ground, torrents of water poured into the valley and submerged it.  The beggar happened to be the goddess Barahi Bhagwati.  The woman’s descendents settled along the new lake and built an island shrine to the goddess called Tal Barahi.

boats on Phewa Tal

boats on Phewa Tal

Phewa Tal

Phewa Tal

Of course, there is a geological story behind the lake too.  The entire Pokhara Valley was submerged about 200,000 years ago when the fast-rising Mahabharat Ridge dammed up the Seti River.  Eventually a deeper outlet was eroded by the Seti River, leaving Phewa Tal and several smaller lakes. The Pardi Dam was built in 1967, providing irrigation and electricity (sometimes) to the valley (Rough Guide to Nepal).

another colorful restaurant

another colorful restaurant

waterlogged water hyacinths

waterlogged water hyacinths

bikes :-)

bikes 🙂

Krishna is an amiable & easy-going young man who tells me he’s neither Buddhist nor Hindu, but Christian, a minority in Nepal.  He points out birds along the way, and when we get to the lake, we walk silently, watching the paragliders ride the wind down to the lakeshore from Sarangkot.  We see ox and water buffalo and white egrets amongst the waterlogged water hyacinths.

water buffalo and egrets

water buffalo and egrets

the lakeshore

the lakeshore

water buffalo

water buffalo

Because the watershed is steep and fast changing, large amounts of sediment are carried down into the lake, which settle out, forming a delta that covers the western third of the lake. Water hyacinths started appearing along the lake edge a decade ago and keep spreading.  Locals organize clean-up sessions in order to keep the water hyacinths from taking over.

wetlands

wetlands

wetlands along Phewa Tal lakeshore

wetlands along Phewa Tal lakeshore

lakeshore wetlands

lakeshore wetlands

We come across a Nepali movie being filmed.  It’s called Kale and is scheduled to be released in January 2014, about a year from now.  A skimpily-clad man sits in a canoe on the lake being filmed.  He reminds me of Daniel Day-Lewis in Braveheart, from what I can see from a small cliff above the shore.

the shoot of a Nepali film

the shoot of a Nepali film

We meet a famous Nepali actor hanging out on his motorcycle at the top of a small cliff; with a large grin he asks jokingly if I think he’s handsome.  I’m taken aback and smile.  “Oh yes! Of course!” I say, though he’s certainly NOT handsome.  He’s actually a little scary-looking.  He says he plays a fighter in the movie. His name is Sagar Ansari and he has been in other movies, including Kalapani, which he says I can buy in a DVD shop.  Then he agrees to pose with me in front of the movie poster glued to the hood of their filming truck.

The movie poster for Kale

The movie poster for Kale

Kale

Kale

me with Sagar Ansari

me with Sagar Ansari

As we continue walking back toward the center of town, we see a beautiful girl has joined the Braveheart actor.  She’s dressed in a bright pink dress and strikes a romantic pose in the bow of the boat. Krishna tells me the girl is Miss Nepal.  I’m not really sure who that is, as Wikipedia says there are currently three Miss Nepals. The Current Hidden Treasure Miss Nepal titleholders are: Shristi Shrestha as Miss Nepal World 2012, Nagma Shrestha as Miss Nepal Earth 2012, and Subeksha Khadka as Miss Nepal International 2012.

fishermen in the lake

fishermen in the lake

Devi, my guide for today

Krishna, my guide for today

more wetlands

more wetlands

wetlands

wetlands

more wetlands

more wetlands

paragliders coming in for a landing

paragliders coming in for a landing

a restaurant along the lake

a restaurant along the lake

ominous skies

ominous skies

boats on the lake

boats on the lake

bikes

bikes

boats on Phewa Tal

boats on Phewa Tal

After that bit of excitement, we leisurely stroll back toward town as the sky grows increasingly ominous.  As we approach town, we hear thunder and raindrops start dropping around us like prickly needles.  I tell Krishna I will see him tomorrow for another walk, and I dash into Moondance for a drink and a light dinner.   It’s Happy Hour, so I get a free slice of pizza with a reduced-price Everest Beer.  Santana’s 1970 rendition of “Oye Como Va” plays on the sound system, while outdoors, cows moo at full decibel as they leisurely saunter by.  A motorcycle pulls another motorcycle by rope past the restaurant as torrents of rain pour from a sky smudged with charcoal.

Moondance ~ where I come in out of the rain

Moondance ~ where I come in out of the rain

flowers in a bowl outside of Moondance

flowers in a bowl outside of Moondance

the bar at Moondance

the bar at Moondance

I sit next to a fireplace where the staff is trying to get a fire going, but it isn’t really taking and isn’t putting out much heat.  I decide to linger longer, in hopes of getting warmer, and order some delicious bruschetta with feta on top.

bruschetta with feta and Everest Beer

bruschetta with feta and Everest Beer

I sit in the restaurant until the storm passes, and then I walk back to the hotel, where I try to get comfortable in my room, which has no heat.  Luckily there are extra blankets in the cupboard, which I pile on top of myself.  I feel like I’m sleeping under a heavy coat of armor; I can hardly move because of the weight of all the blankets.  I don’t even want to get out of bed to use the bathroom or brush my teeth, it’s so cold.

I poke my head out from under the covers just enough to read my book, What I Loved, on my Kindle.  The story is becoming increasingly disturbing as Bill & Violet’s son, Mark, compulsively lies about everything in his life, yet is so charming, everyone believes everything he says.  Mark, who was the friend of Leo & Erica’s son Matthew before he died, not only lies, but gets involved with an artist named Teddy Grimes, who creates horribly violent art filled with maiming and mayhem, as a statement about pop culture’s fascination with horror films.  What’s doubly disturbing is this artist’s creation of a myth about himself as a violent murderer in order to get publicity for himself and his art.  Reality and myth and art are getting all tangled up in this book, which I find very unsettling.

When I can’t take more of this story, I turn on the TV and watch episode after episode of the American TV series I’ve heard a lot about: Homeland, but have never seen. I get caught up in several episodes and in the midst of the second one, at about 1 a.m., the electricity goes out and I have to face a long night ahead trying to sleep in the ice-cold room.

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pokhara: lunch at the black & white cafe and a lakeside view

Saturday, January 19: After the tour is over, I ask the driver to drop me at the Black & White Cafe near the lakeside so I can eat some lunch. I order the famous Nepali dish I’ve heard all about: daal bhaat.  Many Nepalis eat this as their only meal twice a day, every day of their lives.  It consists of rice, lentils, vegetable curry, some pickled relish.  I will write more details about it in a later post, when I have pictures to accompany the description.  Today, I don’t take any photos of my lunch at the Black & White Cafe… probably because I am too occupied with enjoying every bite!

some fellow diners at the Black & White Cafe

some fellow diners at the Black & White Cafe

the outside of the Black & White Cafe

the outside of the Black & White Cafe

After lunch, I walk along Phewa Lake toward my hotel, so I can relax a bit before my planned afternoon walk along the lake shore.

a little shrine or temple on the lake

a little shrine or temple on the lake

While at this little shrine, I am intercepted by a Tibetan lady who appeals to me to buy some of her jewelry.  She tells me she is a woman without a country, without citizenship.  I feel bad for her struggles.   I look at her jewelry, and if I had liked any of it, I would have bought something.  But I don’t particularly care for anything she has to sell.  With all the people in Nepal who are asking for help in some way, just as in India, I cannot help everyone.  I do try to buy things from locals, but my general rule is to only buy if I really like something.  Otherwise I’d be handing out money every half hour or so, and accumulating things I don’t need or want.  I’m not wealthy and I have to scrimp and save for every vacation.  In so many parts of the world, everyone thinks Westerners have money to throw away.  I wish!!

pretty boats all ajumble in the lake

pretty boats all ajumble in the lake

Phewa Lake

Phewa Lake

the view of Pokhara and the gardens from the Pokhara View Garden Hotel

the view of Pokhara and the gardens from the Pokhara View Garden Hotel

I return to my hotel where I go out on my balcony to search for a view of the Annapurna Range.  This afternoon, the mountains are shrouded in clouds.  I do enjoy a view of the gardens and the town, though, and read a bit of my book, What I Loved,  before I go out for a lovely walk around the lake.