Pokhara and Tansen20/03/2011
We got an early morning bus to Pokhara. The bus trip itself was surprisingly present, driving through spectacle countryside. Much of life in the area seemed to happen along the road so it was possible to sit back and watch the scenery and simple life go by as we travelled "the highway" - but more about these roads later.
Pokhara it seems is a great town that purely exists for the convinence of the tourist. Apparently there is an area where the locals live and an old town but we arrived into the tourist area called Lakeside and it is made very easy to remain almost entirely in this area alone. There are lots of restaurants, plenty of supermarkets and too many trekking shops to count. Everywhere is set up for the trekking, even going to a small corner shop to get a bottle of water we got asked if we needed a guide or porter (it doesn't seem to even occur to people that you might not be going trekking). Basically think of a seaside town in Devon or Cornwell and move it the Himalayan foothills and you have sort of got the idea. Of course you also have to replace the coast line with a large lake. We took a little boat out on the lake for a few hours one afternoon which was beautiful. From the centre of the lake (well, on a good day from anywhere in Pokhara) you can see the tops of the Annapurna mountains and it is very hard not to relax and enjoy such spectacular scenes.
After a few days in Pokhara we decided to hire a motorbike and head out of town to escape the tourist trail so we headed for a place we read about in our trusted guide book called Tansen. It was as the guide book describes - "not geared up for tourists" - but was a nice enough town and Seth was able to get his hair cut again for less then 50p but to be honest it isn't the town (or the hair cut) that made a lasting impression on either of us, but the journey to and from it.
After we got back we descovered the road to Tansen is described as one of the best in Nepal for motorbikes. The road itself was, like the other highways in Nepal, in relatively poor condition, with potholes on every corner (almost always exactly two potholes) that needed to be navigated, but for Seth the corners were huge amounts of fun and for me the views were spectacular (although for both of us 7 hours on a bike with poor suspension did hurt!). On the way back the journey was made more eventful as it was Holi - "a celebration of colour" which losely translates to a day where you get covered in paint powder. I'm afraid I had a bit sense of humour failure when some people thought it was also an excuse to try and grab me but for the most part it was good humoured and just an excuse to get very messy.
Finally though, we could avoid it no longer and we had to start the trek, just time for one more steak and chips and we are off...