Pokhara is the second largest city of Nepal and the starting point of the Annapurna Base Camp Trek. After a very long bus ride, around a 6-7-hour drive from Kathmandu, we arrived at the beautiful city of Pokhara. Of course, this very looooong bus drive included a breakfast stop, coffee/toilet stops and lunch, giving us the first taste of what to expect (see lesson number 1 & 2 below).
Lesson number 1: The bus rides – Bus rides in Nepal are part of the adventure, fun but crazy!
It doesn’t matter how full the bus is. There’s always room to squeeze in more people and their belongings!
Musical horns: a feature each bus has, and it’s used to warn drivers coming from the opposite side before dangerous turning points that ready or not here we come. Of course, everything happens without slowing down even though there is no visibility at all.
Most of the roads are under construction so be prepared for very bumpy rides!
Mountain roads can be narrow, and drivers tend to drive extremely close to the edge. Scary!
Bus drivers have an unreasonable competition between them, racing and overtaking each other (in the same narrow-edgy roads mentioned above)! Our bus was actually drifting in every turn, like being on a roller-coaster!
I must say in most bus rides I was amazed by their driving skills, even though in many occasions I felt I might not make it alive.
Lesson number 2: The “squat toilets” – Prepare yourself mentally and physically with the squat position since you will have to repeat it every time you want to go to the toilet. Toilet paper, wet wipes and anti-bacterial gel are going to be your best friends during the whole trek! Remember that you do NOT have a choice here so deal with it like we all did. Remember NOT to touch anything around you, just focus on your squatting and breathe (not too deep, the smell doesn’t help much). I wish I could say to you that it becomes easier on the way, but it doesn’t so start practising your balance.
During the bus ride we had the opportunity to see amazing views of the mountains and most importantly we got a view of the Nepalese everyday life. What impressed me the most is the fact that despite the lack of many basic facilities, Nepali people are genuinely happy people and have an inspiring attitude towards life, with whatever they have. Both men and women generally have physically demanding daily jobs, with the majority of the population involved in agriculture since most families live off their land. Women, the backbone of a typical Nepali family, are mostly involved in the daily chores like raising the children, cooking, taking care of the household, washing clothes, preparing food, but also collecting firewood from the forests or fetching water, clear examples of the strength of the Nepalese women. Men, if they’re not working abroad or have an office job, will look after their animals and fields to provide to their families.
Arriving in Pokhara, a lovely, lakeside city, you realize that it's just as touristic as Kathmandu but cleaner, with less pollution and quieter. The city is filled with many restaurants, coffee shops, bars and souvenir and clothing shops, but I think what makes it special is Phewa lake, the heart of Pokhara. I highly recommended to walk or cycle around the lake, go on a boat trip and enjoy the beautiful sunset.
Stay tuned for Part 3... 😊