The phone in our hotel room jolted us awake. As John sat up to answer it, I checked the time: 5:50am. Who was bothering us at this hour?
As it turns out, the call came from the hotel manager, who wanted to inform us that it was a clear day outside. Normally a clear day wouldn’t be enough to make me bolt out of bed (or cause hotel staff to wake you before 6am), but we were in Pokhara. Monsoon season started early this year, and it had been 6 weeks since the last time you could clearly see the entire Annapurna Range – a clear day was exciting.
Thankful to the hotel manager for waking us before the clouds rolled in, we quickly got dressed and headed to the streets. We weren’t the only people in town excited by the clear day. Taxi drivers were waiting anxiously on the street, ready to swoop up tourists and deliver them to the perfect viewpoints. Off season had started early this year, after all, and they were eager to make some money again. So we hopped in the back of a cab and headed for Sarangkot, a popular sunrise viewpoint. The sun had already risen, of course, but the views were still phenomenal. From one side of the viewpoint the entire Annapurna Range was clear against a blue sky, and to the other you could see the valley below just waking up.
(Notice in this photo how John is standing with his legs super far apart so that he looks closer to my height. He does this in nearly all of our photos, and often when he’s just standing near me. It gives me a false belief that he’s not all that tall – until he straightens up and I’m looking straight at his chest. Make no mistake, he’s a tall man.)Clouds were already looming on the horizon, so we jumped to one more viewpoint just to take in all the scenery we could. The road up to the World Peace Stupa is rugged at and rough, but the views over the lake were well worth it.
When we got to the top, we met a couple from the UK who had been trekking for a week hoping to see just glimpses of the mountains through the clouds. They corroborated the story that this was by far the best day anyone had seen in six weeks.This buddha has a pretty sweet perch.Some early risers were taking advantage of the clear skies to take scenic flights over the mountains.
After a quick breakfast, we rented a row boat on Phewa Lake. From the lake you cannot see the mountains, but you can watch the scores of people paragliding from the hilltops. I think there were as many as 30 at a time flying over our heads.
By the afternoon, clouds had rolled back in and the lake went back to looking dreary and overcast once more. The epic mountain views were completely obscured by cloud cover, just as they had been when we arrived. Seeing as this was our last day in Pokhara, we felt truly grateful to have gotten a few hours of sunshine.
The next day we bussed back to Kathmandu for a short overnight before leaving Nepal. Our three weeks here were wonderful, and I wouldn’t be surprised if we come back here sometime in the future.
Nepal is by far the most undeveloped country we have visited so far, so I’m sure we’re in for quite a culture shock as we head out to our next stop – Abu Dhabi. Notes from the Middle East soon!