Relaxing in Pokhara

Eventually we arrived into Pokhara. Situated around a huge lake, Pokhara is a lot like a Nepalese version of Goa. It was just what we needed after nearly three weeks of trekking. Scores of German bakeries, shisha lounges, pizzerias, Internet cafes, pool bars and cheap restaurants lined the streets. After crossing the pass I had taken my first ‘shower’ in nine days using melted snow and a bucket. I had not had a hot shower for nearly three weeks. We had trekked for another couple of days before getting the bus and I desperately wanted to get clean. In a beautiful room with an amazing en-suite I finally got my wish. Weeks of grime ran off me in rivulets and coated the floor. When I was done my skin was a different colour altogether and my hair gleamed with cleanliness. After trimming my beard and brushing my teeth I felt fantastic although perhaps this was simply because, now that we were no longer on a mountain, I could finally breathe normally again.

It didn’t take us long to find a whole bunch of the buddies we had made on the trek and on the second night we hit the town. I had screwed up my ankle jumping from one paddle boat to another whilst already intoxicated and downed a small bottle of brandy stolen from Andy’s pack as well as multiple beers and some painkillers to help myself walk better. Suffice to say I succeeded in embarrassing myself although luckily Andy was almost as drunk as I was. After many drunken games of pool we staggered home arm in arm until Andy spotted a street dog and insisted on buying it an entire roast chicken from a local vendor. Ben had the somewhat more enviable task of escorting an attractive blonde Norwegian girl back to her room and I did not see him again for some time. We spent a week happily messing around in Pokhara and recovering from the ordeals of our trek. During the days we tended to watch movies and play pool or sail on the lake and in the evenings we routinely got pretty pissed on cheap cocktails and strong beers. Marie, our enthusiastic American, was headed to Malaysia and sadly had to leave us to our drunken revelries. Although she had always been annoyingly awake in the mornings and owned the most retarded rucksack known to man I was sorry to see her go and made plans to meet up with her in Myanmar later in the year. Eventually the novelty of Pokhara began to wear off and we got restless. Boarding a shitty bus we once again headed towards rural Nepal. As always, it was good to hit the road.

We bumped along past mountain vistas and small villages. Rural Nepal is characterized by cobblestone streets flanked by rows of traditional wooden houses inhabited by people wearing funny hats. Despite my best efforts Ben was refusing to purchase a funny or even a vaguely amusing hat and impersonate a local. Because of his reluctance I vowed to get him a collection of amusing hats throughout the rest of my travels. Soon I would get my first chance. After a week of bumming around in hilltop villages, exploring terraced rice fields, cavernous caves and enjoying a slower pace of travel we headed back to Kathmandu. The ride was long and absolutely terrifying as we did much of it riding atop a jeep which took the hairpin bends of the Himalayan road system at various foolhardy speeds. On numerous occasions we all linked arms and it was only this that had kept one of us from being thrown off the jeep and over the edge of the sheer drops lining the ‘road’.

Once in Kathmandu there were numerous practicalities to sort out. Ben and I had been illegally in Nepal for three days and were forced to pay generously at the Central Immigration Office to extend our visas. A mere day before I am due to depart Nepal my good friend Andy, the drunken Irishman, decides that he has “nothin’ better to do” and books a flight to Bangkok which is awesome as it means I still have buddies to party with. All is not fantastic however as Ben is going home. After three months of travelling together he is out of cash and although we could land some bar work in Thailand, Laos or Vietnam he makes the sensible decision to go home, get a job, and prepare for the next adventure; South America. It seems that almost everyone I have met on my travels has now gone home; Dylan and Femke, Masa, Marta, Beth and Gabby, Sandy, the English girls from Varanasi. I feel as though I am the last one still travelling. Obviously there are thousands of other backpackers but none that I have been bumping into for six months. It’s almost been like having an extended family on the road and knowing that there is a chance of seeing people again has always made departing from good friends a lot easier. Although I have been to Thailand before and it is a piece of cake compared to India I am suddenly nervous. If stuff does go wrong there will be no one to share it with. What if I don’t make any friends? I feel a lot like a kid on his first day at school; excited but nervous and reluctant to leave the security of home. The road has definitely become my home but only because of all the amazing people I have met. Travelling with Ben had been absolutely awesome and as he boarded one flight and I another I felt surprisingly down.

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