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Smokhara… i mean Pokhara

Ones opinions of a destination are driven by perspective. Perspective is a product of experience, and recency highly influences that. This is likely why, coming from Delhi and Goa, we practically found Katmandu to be a clean picturesque sleepy little town while other travelers were aghast at the touts, the pollution, and the noise.

I only mention this, because for the past two and a half weeks, we’ve been on the Annapurna circuit. Our days have been spent mostly in the solitude of our own thoughts, sprinkled with the niceties of tea house owners and the broken English of other travelers. We’d wake up early, and go to bed early. We rarely drank. To be sure – we became different people.

So when we arrived in Pokhara, we were a little taken aback. Where previously we saw at most a handful of travelers during a day, now, they were all we saw. China, Germany, England, Canada – all reaches of the globe were represented in this tourist town. Taxis and touts, frontmen standing outside every restaurant beckoning you in, Happy Hours – really? I guess the Pokhara I had expected ceased to exist many years ago. The quiet hippy haven and relaxed Nepal atmosphere has been replaced by a multicultural amalgamation. The menus have every type of cuisine from around the world – most of them done in a manner that left me wanting.

Now there are some standouts – you really do have to appreciate a reinterpretation of a classic dish. At the Rainbow Bar and Royal Pub, Brittany rolled the dice on a burrito – and sure it tasted a little more like barbeque than burrito, it was fun, and it was tasty. There was an Italian restaurant as well, Cafe Concerta, that gave us the first actual salad we’ve had in weeks, and boy we were thankful (you will find fiber to be lacking in just about every meal you have on the trek).

The fun thing about Pokhara though is, if you’ve been trekking, chances are the people you met on the trek will end up there as well at roughly the same time. As serendipitous as it is, we ran into 6 of the people that we continued bumping into on the trek (including the guys that found Brittany’s ATM card on the trail).

We even rented a canoe and rowed out into the lake to drink some beers and do some swimming. At 600 rupees (around $7 USD), I have the sneaking suspicion we were ripped off, but for 4 people for 3 hours, it wasn’t too bad. And when it is as hot and humid as it was in Pokhara, jumping in that lake is the perfect way to cool off.

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  1. That hippie haven still exists… I spent two weeks in Pokhara, at the very northern end of the lake. The road turns a bit of a bend, and suddenly you are in a different world! Tiered rice paddies, a cow in my backyard and a dreadlocked ex-Scandanavian gypsy dude selling hashcakes for a “living” at the local hangout, Freedom Cafe (he said he makes 500 rupees a week). Thing was, you really had to be a long-termer to warrant staying there, as it was away from the action and the pre-post trekking crowd.

    In my desperate search for nachos (I think there’s an upcoming blog post brewing on this desperate hankering) I tried them in Pokhara, twice. No. No. NO…..

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