Well it is pretty obvious that blogging consistently is not my calling. Sorry- I have no excuses and no more promises. Tony and I have been on four more vacations since Nepal and now I am VERY behind. Unfortunately I am one of those people who must go in order. I cannot simply just stop where I am at in Nepal and pick up with say our Paris trip from last month. So- I am determined to blog more frequently, but- no promises J. I will be enlisting Tony to help me catch up, so now you will get to hear from both of us. So- let’s start where I left off: Travel in Nepal.

We were fortunate enough to use every mode of transportation available in the small country of Nepal. Jeeps, taxis, airplanes, buses, motorcycles, canoes, and our own two feet! I guess this is not every transport available because we never did ride a horse, but I would say we did pretty well. In Nepal you are not allowed to rent your own vehicle, so from Kathmandu to Pokhara we hired a jeep to take us the 6 hours through beautiful country. It was fun to see the different Nepali towns as we drove.

Sweet bridge we found while driving- it was fun to check it out!

Sweet bridge we found while driving- it was fun to check it out!

Small town we stopped at to stretch our legs for a bit

Small town we stopped at to stretch our legs for a bit

The roads we took were paved, but much skinnier than we were used to. Luckily we only got in one accident, which was not our fault. It actually shouldn’t even count as a real accident because we barely hit the car in front of us because there was a scooter in the road just stopped and the car in front of us could not stop quickly enough. There was a lot of yelling involved between the two cars and scooter drivers and after about 2 minutes every local person in the area walked over to see what was going on. We all got a lot of interesting looks and I guess I felt a little bit like a zoo animal on display. All went well and we were off in only about 15 minutes. I have no idea what was decided in the end, but everyone drove off- so I assume it all worked out okay.

In Pokhara we used several taxis, many of which I was worried wouldn’t quite make it up the hills and of course our canoes on the lake. In our original travel plans we had booked a small plane to take us from Pokhara to Jomsom, a high elevation town in the Anapurna range. We arrived to the airport early and were told that our flight was delayed. The word “delayed” is never good when talking about small planes flying into big mountains. The super early flight had not left yet and we were told that due to the very high winds in Jomsom they could not risk landing any plane up there.

the runway at Pokhara airport

the runway at Pokhara airport

Baggage system at Pokhara airport-- high tech :)

Baggage system at Pokhara airport– high tech :)

Pokhara airport

Pokhara airport

Of course, they figured the wind would die down and we could just wait a few hours and still be able to fly out. As with most airline delays, this was of course not the case. We ended up spending almost 6 hours at the airport before they cancelled all Jomsom flights for the day and refunded our money. Unfortunately all flights for the next day were booked and we would not be able to fly out for another 2 days.

hanging out at the airport

hanging out at the airport

This is the time when I advise you to always have a back-up plan. If you ever travel to Nepal- do one of two things 1: have a back-up plan in case your travel arrangements do not work out. Research something else you can do in the area that you may enjoy just as much as your original idea. –or- 2: Go to Nepal with several more days than you think you need. If you plan on doing a trek and you think you need 10 days, just plan 13-15 days. This way you can stick to your original plan and enjoy your vacation to the fullest, even if your travel plans are changed.

We did not have a back-up plan and we did not have extra days. After we left the airport we were tired and desperately needed lunch. We wandered around a bit and talked in circles about what we should do. Finally, after much debate, we decided to try and make our way up to Jomsom by car or bus. I think we had our hearts set on getting up to the small mountain towns even though it wasn’t entirely practical for us to do so at this point. We were able to hire another jeep to take us up the mountain; unfortunately we had no idea what we were really getting ourselves into and it cost us much more than our plane ticket.

the road- un-paved

the road- un-paved

Our driver Dhan was awesome! He was a safe driver and made very good time (all things considered). Let me start by describing the road. For about 90 minutes we had the “luck” to be on paved roads. Paved is a loose term; we still crossed many streams, pot-holes, and loose gravel sections.

The trick is I had no idea that was the good part! After this 90 minute journey through the Pokhara valley and beginning of the Annapurna range, we started on the “no black top” canyon road. We could not go over about 25mph the next five and a half hours. The road was, needless to say, terrible.

the road behind us

the road behind us

Terrible and somewhat terrifying. The canyon road was quite skinny with lots of curves and always going up. There were always larger buses passing us going down and sometimes there just wasn’t enough room for both. The best part of the trip came when we came upon a line of stopped jeeps and buses on one of the passes. Up ahead the next bend there was an SUV with a broken axle. Yup, a broken axle and he was taking up so much room no one could pass on either side. Good times.

So- all the men in the buses, Tony and Jared, and other SUVs got out and basically lifted the broken car up and pushed it up farther onto the side of the mountain, so there was just enough room to get by. This worked well, but it was a little tricky getting all the cars past because there were so many of us stopped, not to mention it was pitch-black nighttime. (Unfortunately because it was so dark, we don’t have any pictures of this event that you can really see, but it was as close as the above photo- from earlier on our drive). We finally made it to Marpha, a small town just south of Jomsom with headaches and sore backs, but we didn’t fall off the side of the mountain, so all in all it ended well.

Yes- Passing this close happened several times on our drive.

Yes- Passing this close happened several times on our drive.

The next morning we hiked about 2 hours to Jomsom to try and book flight back to Pokhara for the next day. Unfortunately they only had two available spots, so we let our friends take the tickets and the next day we went to the airport to try and see if someone might miss their flight. We did not have another 3 hours to hike from Marpha back to Jomsom, so of course we just paid some boys in Marpha to give us a ride on their motorcycles. Riding on a motorcycle while wearing your overnight back during the sunrise was quite the awesome experience! It was a little scary on the dirt roads, but very exhilarating and in some ways even a little peaceful. Actually, and I think Tony would agree, it was one of our favorite experiences: Riding on a motorcycle during the peaceful sunrise in the Himalayan mountain, quite surreal.

lunch!

view from lunch

So another morning was spent in a tiny little airport and of course everyone showed up and Tony and I went to hire Dhan for our jeep ride back down. I think that driving in the day was a much better plan. It wasn’t nearly as scary when you could see and we were able to stop along the way and take a lot of pictures and eat lunch in a fun little town.

a small school we drove past

a small school we drove past

On the way down we were able to get to know Dhan a little better. Two fun facts(aka FFs): 1- Dhan used to live and work in Doha as a security guard (he didn’t like it), small world huh?! 2- We asked Dhan “So- do buses ever fall off the cliff?” (thinking it would be reasonably rare) and he responded “Oh yeah (as if it weren’t that big of a deal), Like 20 a year.” WHAT?! Good thing we were on our way down and almost out of the canyon…. Also good thing we did not go cheap and ride the bus. In the end I would say we actually enjoyed the jeep ride back down because we were able to appreciate the scenery and enjoy the mountains we had come to spend time in. Luckily for us, we were able to fly out of Pokhara back to Kathmandu and we could say goodbye to long car travel for a while (at least until Sri Lanka in December). Here are some scenery photos from our day-time drive…..

Once we came upon two buses in a row--- look at all the dust they left behind!

Once we came upon two buses in a row— look at all the dust they left behind!

Scenery from the road

Scenery from the road

Scenery from the road

Scenery from the road

More scenery

More scenery

All in all our travel experience in Nepal was just part of the adventure. It was not like traveling or driving anywhere else in the world. I think that is part of the charm of the country. It is something to be patient and very flexible about, but also something to be enjoyed. It makes a fun story, and good memories.

Advertisements