Kathmandu to Pokhara
86 miles = a 30 min flight or a 6 hr taxi or an 8 hr bus ride
We took the bus.
We couldn't wait to escape the smog and pollution of Kathmandu and head somewhere a bit closer to nature. We arrived at our bus 45 minutes early and were the first ones there. The driver made us sit in the back, which we were not happy about at first, but later it turned out to be a blessing.
The bus left at 7am and we quickly realized why it was supposed to be a 7-8 hour ride. The infrastructure and traffic in Nepal is terrible. I don't think we ever got above 30 mph. We were grateful for amazing views and scenic turns in the mountains, but some of the roads were extremely bumpy (not fun in the back of the bus), and the constant motion made it impossible to read or do anything but sleep or look out the window. We got stopped twice due to road work, and when I say stopped, we were literally sitting on the bus for over an hour each time with the engine off, just waiting. This is when the back of the bus came in handy. We had 5 seats for the two of us and I could lay down and sleep. Besides the unplanned stops, we also had several stops for food, drinks and the bathroom. Probably two too many, if you ask me. Our 7-8 hour bus ride turned into nearly 11 hours! In the end, it was worth it, as we paid less than $7 a ticket.
We got in to Pokhara after 5:30pm and the sun had already set. We walked about 20 minutes to our hotel and immediately took hot showers. Our home stay in Kathmandu was wonderful, except for the cold shower situation. I avoided washing my hair for 5 days and only took one quick cold shower since I was really starting to smell. I will never take a hot shower for granted again.
Our hotel in Pokhara was pretty wonderful for the price. We had our own room, our own bathroom, a great location, and it was only $8 a night. The wifi was pretty bad, but that's really my only complaint. We ended up staying 6 nights in Pokhara.
I believe Pokhara is the second biggest city in Nepal, after Kathmandu. I feel bad that we didn't venture into the main part of town, but near the lake is where you want to be. The landscape is gorgeous in every direction you look. You have the backdrop of the mountains, endless hills, and Lake Phewa in the middle. Pokhara is a popular starting or stopping point for trekkers. It's a tourist town to the utmost. Besides the native gift shops and souvenir shops, there are tons of shops for trekking gear and knock off North Face paraphernalia. Trekking, paragliding, rafting, zip-lining, and kayak companies line the streets. There are tons of coffee shops, happy hour deals, and football (soccer) games on TV to please the tourists. Almost every restaurant serves a variety of food including Nepali, Indian, Chinese, Italian, and American (being the most popular). We happily fell into the scene. We've had German breakfasts, Chinese for lunch, Ramen for dinner, plenty of Momo's (Nepali dumplings), pizza, and Indian food! We were most grateful for the Indian food, as we didn't get to enjoy it in India.
One of the cheaper activities you can do in Pokhara is rent a row boat. It costs $10 for the whole day. We took advantage of this activity twice. There aren't any motorboats on the lake, so it's entirely relaxing and peaceful to row along other kayakers, paddle boats, and row boats. We explored about 2/3's of the lake, circling a temple in the middle of the lake and tracing the shoreline in search of wildlife. The closest we got to wildlife was a few butterfly's and a caterpillar.
On another day, we paddled across the river to hike up to the World Peace Pagoda. We tied up our boat and started our hike up hill. We knew the hike was about 45 minutes to the top, but we didn't realize how steep it would be. Because of the incline, there were makeshift steps the entire way up. I'm not sure if we're out of shape or if this really was a tough hike, but I was extremely out of breath the entire time and had to take multiple breaks. I don't know how many steps we went up, but it was like doing a stair-master for 45 min straight. The views were great, we had fun, and were rewarded with a panoramic view of Pokhara, Lake Phewa, and the Annapurna Mountain Range. Our legs shook the entire way back down and we welcomed the arm workout we got on our way back across the river in the row boat.
We had a lot of downtime in Pokhara and welcomed the rest and relaxation. Blake came down with a bad sinus infection so it all worked out. We tried out the various restaurants, coffee shops, and took in all the lake/mountain views we could get.