Pokhara – Chilling in Lakeside
After 15 days trekking in the Himalayas, Pokhara was a welcome return to civilization. Similar to Thamel in Kathmandu, Lakeside is the main tourist area where almost all of the restaurants and hotels are located. And, as its name implies, it lies along Phewa Lake. Pokhara is famous for its laid back vibe, mesmerizing mountain views, and as a hub for trekking. Many treks start and end in Pokhara, including the Annapurna Circuit.
While I wasn’t experiencing any noticeable fatigue, I still felt famished and lost several kilos during the trek so I decided to do nothing but sit and eat for a few days. No sightseeing, just gorging. I did some scouting and found that the best value places were all in Lakeside North. One place in particular, Laughing Buddha, offered up great food and drinks at really cheap prices so I ended up going there day after day and started to see the same people eating there every day as well. Since it was low season there weren’t too many tourists around but I still met some interesting characters. One Australian girl struck up a conversation with me by asking if I was Tibetan and within 10 minutes shared her tragic life story with me. She had been raped two times, the second incident when she was 15 yrs old by a Tibetan monk (she was only 22 yrs old). She had two children as a result of these crimes; the younger child she located (I don’t know how she was separated from the child) in an orphanage in Pokhara and was trying to get him back with some urgency, apparently the people running the place were abusing him. She also told me she was drugged and abused by her parents. As you can imagine this was more than I expected to hear and I didn’t ask too many questions.
I really didn’t do much in Pokhara in the 6 days I stayed there besides walk along the lake, catch up on the news, fatten up, and hang out with Bart or Andy & Laura. One day I did visit the major Hindu temple, Bindbyasini. On the day before I left for Chitwan, the sky cleared up that morning and I was able to see the mountains rising high above the lake.
The mountains revealed themselves again the next morning at the Pokhara bus park, home to the cinnamon roll touts. They literally surrounded us the moment we got out of the taxi pushing their freshly baked wares in our faces. Some of them were getting quite aggressive, particularly the smallest tout (see photo below, the guy in the middle holding the tray). Coincidentally two guys who lived 7 floors above me in LIC were at the bus park and recognized me. Small world!
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