Day 18 - Wed 2 Apr 08
Up at 05:30 to get ready for our 06:10 departure! Walked through the now muddy streets of Kathmandu, even at this hour there are plenty of people, bikes, rickshaws, motorbikes and cars. Found our 'tourist' bus with no problems and bundled aboard. There are plenty of street vendors trying to tell me stuff through the bus window, but they soon get the message that I don't really want anything.
Headed off pretty much on time and did a couple of pickups on the way out of the city before heading off down the valley. There was a British woman behind us who had 'been promised' a window seat, but she hadn't got one. So she sat by one regardless and refused to move.
The road and views down the valley are spectacular with many narrow hairpins with oncoming traffic on all sides of the road. Passed through many villages which have an other worldly feel to them. Even the shops here are different - instead of having a big plate glass window they have several narrow doors that all open onto a rather dim area behind.
There are three Chinese girls on the bus with more luggage than they could carry, and most of it seemed to consist of shrink wrapped food. They either ate or slept through the entire trip, but mainly ate. Interestingly the bag never seemed to get any smaller or they any larger.
At lunch time we head off the bus and stop at a restaurant (included in the price!), but I skip the pleasure!
Out in the countryside it's terraced rice fields, oxen and goats. Close into Pokara the river is that milky green colour that shows its origin and it's temperature. The river has cut sheer cliffs of the valley. Some of the buildings are made from a salmon pink rock - very striking.
Arrived in Pokara and got dropped someway from the centre of town, Phil got off first and headed to the back of the bus to retrieve his bag. I stayed onboard and got organised. When I stepped off the bus the first thing that presented itself was a neat row of men all holding boards with the names of various hotels. Ignoring all of this I wander over to Phil, who has a new best friend promising free taxi rides etc.
Decide to walk into town and it only took about 20mins. Found our hotel (Hotel View Point)and was shown a room - I wasn't impressed and they realised it. The first offer was 800R, but that was dropped when I started to walk out of the place.
After dumping all out stuff we headed into town to get something to eat (a curry). While we were eating a huge thunderstorm hit, including hail. The main street turned into a river. However our timing was perfect we finished our meal just as the storm moved off. Back to the hotel to plan our next move. Looked out the window and saw an amazing vista. Three snowcapped mountains shining gold in the bright sunshine, with the rest of the landscape being covered in black thunderstorm clouds.