Monday, 19 September 2011

Monsoon rains in Nepal

It is the middle of the night and the monsoon rains are falling heavily.  Kathmandu was completely dry for the first 24 hours and so I naively believed one of the locals who told me that the rains were pretty much done for this year.  The UK isn’t the only country where a pocket umbrella is of the utmost convenience.  Alas, I packed mine away on the North Circular J

Having left Africa in mid-July and spent the rest of the summer in various parts of England, with a slight detour to Pakistan, it feels a little strange living out of a rucksack again and having to sort everything out for myself.  I arrived without much of a plan other than that I wanted to trek and do some yoga.  There are to be no “Eat, Pray, Love” comparisons, thank you very much.  Javier Bardem, however, is welcome to make an appearance...

Things started slowly in Kathmandu.  Maybe it was the long flight and losing a night but I seemed to wander somewhat aimlessly for the first couple of days, unaided by an erratic sleep pattern.  The sleep clearly still isn’t right but after three nights in a cheap (very clean) hotel room with little natural light, I have upped the budget to enjoy a hotel with a garden (and which does not reside above a nightclub).  Things are looking up and the puzzle of how to spend the next 45 days is starting to come together.

I shall be abandoning Kathmandu on Wednesday to head for Pokhara.  It has a reputation for being far more chilled out than the madness of Kathmandu and is also the start point for my Annapurna Base Camp trek on Sunday.  The trek will take 10 days, should involve regular showering, and is hopefully the perfect prelude to 10 days of yoga and meditation near Pokhara.

With a visa extension, it looks like I should be able to head back to Kathmandu and then join an eight day trip to Tibet.  I just need to get my head around paying the airfare from Lhasa to Kathmandu when it is in the opposite direction to my desired travel plans.  The fact is that the Chinese authorities force you to return to Kathmandu at the end of the trip and you can only travel into Tibet from Nepal on a group tourist visa.  But if not now, when?  And so I shall likely suck it up and hand over the cash.  It is apparently a spectacular flight.

And so, after a few weeks of relying on comfortable English trains, it is nearly time to get back on a bus for 7-8 hours. A “tourist bus” runs between Kathmandu and Pokhara each day, and if reports are to be believed, it will not be too cramped.  Hurrah!  I’m not ready for local buses again yet…

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