Pokara is a major tourist destination only rivaled by the Thamel district in Kathmandu. The eastern side of a huge lake is devoted to surprisingly expensive restaurants, guesthouses and knickknack shops. It’s by far the most expensive destination we’ve been to in Nepal and also the noisiest. Traffic is less than Kathmandu but at night the bars and dance halls open and thump out loud techno rock until 11 pm. So after the serenity of Bandipur this was a bit of a comedown. On the other hand, we are now so close to these mighty peaks!
There was a group of young trekkers who for some reason or other we found irritating with their southern Californian accent, at the Organic Café where we were eating breakfast. In the midst of this mood, a young woman sat down beside us and Gerard in his usual fashion found a way to start a conversation with her. Just as we had decided that all trekking/paragliding/rafting “privileged” kids should be dismissed, this interesting girl from Scotland had a completely different effect on us. She chose to come to Nepal to do her PhD thesis on widows. With her limited Nepalese she interviews widows in remote villages; but oftentimes she still needs an interpreter because of all the different dialects. The women welcome her into their homes which are often just a tent with no electricity or running water. One of the hurdles is the food they offer and she must eat –and then invariably get sick.
She’s already realized that in spite of all the stigmas attached to being a widow, in some cases these women are better off – their husbands may have been drunks, abusive physically and sexually, molested the children etc. Surprisingly (or perhaps not) one responded that she now had more freedom. In some cases, they are able to go to work and feel empowered by their independence. In her thesis she wants to make the point that some of these women are not as bad off as she initially thought and has already run into resistance from NGOs who would rather treat all widows in one uniform way.
She’s not sure the impact her thesis will have or if she will even be able to publish it, but it was inspiring talking to someone who’s now been here three times (four months each) and is drawing her own conclusions. Being away from Scotland so much she admitted was a little hard on her social life. So much for developing an attitude towards the under-30 group traveling in the third world!
To find something of interest in Pokhara, other than taking a boat out on the lake, you had to leave town. So in the morning, before the clouds started forming over the mountains, we took a taxi to Sarangkot, a high ridge looking straight out over the valley to the mountain peaks beyond. Most go there for sunrise, and by 10 am we had the place to ourselves. During our stay in Nepal, this is the closest we’ve come to the peaks and we hope the pictures capture a small degree of the power of the Himalayas.
Later we rented a boat with oarsman to take us out on the lake for an hour. It was very peaceful in the afternoon light. Sitting at the foothills of the mountains, Pokhara is a pleasant place to while away a couple of days.
The next morning we caught our predawn bus to another small hill town called Tansen. We had paid the price for reserved seats on the tourist bus, but when we arrived at the bus station, we were motioned to a bus that was a far cry from what we were expecting. The seats were dilapidated and crowded together, and like any local bus it stopped continuously to pick up and leave off passengers. There were only three other tourists on the bus but a tourist bus this did not make! As we pulled out of the parking lot, Gerard caught the rising sun.
Both the Scottish gal and her thesis sound fascinating! Stunning pictures. Cold and snowy here.
Your photos and verbal images are stunning
Dena N. Hamilburg Hamilburg Interiors 10 Draper Road Wayland, MA 01778 tel: 508 358 5044 fax: 508 358 2143 cell: 617 529 6777
Bobbie, I have been so enjoying your posts of this year. I have to say that I am noticing a more relaxed, natural style in your writing and makes your posts an easier read.! Maurice and I have just returned home from a short trip to Hawaii. Unfortunately 10 hours before leaving for the airport, I had a very bad accident on some blind ice on our brick walkway. I was on my way to a yoga class and had never anticipated any ice, as it seemed rather mild out . At any rate, to the emergency Dr’s surprise and after being X rayed, it was determined to be only a bad sprain. After much angst over whether to cancel or go I decide to go. I have to say it was a beautiful place to recuperate, however very challenging being on crutches with no weight on my right foot . Perhaps, this experience has been one of a learning experience of how individuals who are handicapped deal with life. I have always been aware of how things can change in a moment, but never felt it so deeply as I have now. Hopefully this recuperative period of the next 6 weeks will be a positive one and allow me to stop, and take in life in a slower and more measured way. Take care, I miss you ! Dena Dena N. Hamilburg Hamilburg Interiors 10 Draper Road Wayland, MA 01778 tel: 508 358 5044 fax: 508 358 2143 cell: 617 529 6777
poor dena! hope all is well with you now…..
B&G-what a wonderful series of images and I am so glad you were able to fulfill your desire to rub up against the landscape of the Himalayas….I read this posting when you first posted it, but am catching up, now with all the postings….I agree with Dena that your writing continues to enrich our reading of it….