The Lake of Pokhara is where all walks in the small country of Nepal begin. The temperature during the summer is perfect to go by boat to lake Pokhara, overlooking the world's highest peaks. It is a paradise and grandiose mixture on a piece of Tibet. It´s a great place to visit and it´s also incredibly exciting.
Crossing this long suspension bridge in the Nepalese city of Pokhara is an incredible experience. It's a beautiful location and even bit hidden...in fact, we arrived there almost by accident. We were able to chat with the locals on their way home.
Viewing Beatriz´s comment encouraged me to write about Pokhara. It is true that there will be changes. When you arrive you find a lovely place, full of places to visit, hiking routes, sleeping options for little money, restaurants to spend hours at, and above all, a place to start your life. When you go around the lake with your own boat, rowing in the rain you know you've arrived at the beginning of the world. Sarangkot is a great place to explore and discover, to look back and look forward to return because the return path is the vital way. Staying in a hostel will depend on your desire to stay put. If you do your exploration with a guide it is not worth it, but if you go and it's your choice, you are taking charge of your own destiny.
The peace pagodas were built in different parts of the world and, according to Buddhist doctrine, are meant to be places of unity between people of all races and creeds. The main pagoda is in Lumbini in the temple complex that surrounds Buddha's birthplace. The World Peace Pagoda is a bright white but still quite sober in comparison with the multi-color lotus flowers found in the nearby lakes.
Poon Hill is one of the popular goals as far as [poi = 107203] treks through the Annapurna mountain range go [/ poi]. The 3200 meter high summit, is 40 minutes away from Ghorepani village. The most spectacular thing there is Poon Hill and its incredible view of Annapurna. Actually, the best time to climb it is at dawn before the sun rises and it gets too hot. Also, it allows you to see the sunrise from up there, which is an exciting and unforgettable experience. Not only is miraculous dawn, but the sun illuminating the eternally snow ridge, gives a magic color that seems not of this world.
In Lumbini, near Kapilavastu, is where you will find the exact spot of the birth of Siddhartha Gautama, the Buddha. Today they have constructed a modest temple around the stone on which his mother gave birth and now Buddhists from all over the world come on pilgrimage to worship it. There you will see trees with hanging ropes from handkerchiefs waving yellow, green, red, white and blue with prayers
The topography of the Himalayas does not allow much cultivation of crops, therefore workers have formed steps or terraces where they can plant and also that retains rainwater. The crops are mainly rice and form a completely unique landscape. There is one terrace, then another, another and then another, until the whole mountain takes on the appearance of a pyramid.
For the last stage of the climb we left during the night so we could arrive first thing. Our destination was Annapurna base camp. At that time of day there is no path made yet in the snow, and we were the ones responsible for creating one, with the light of our small flashlights and moonlight enhanced by the whiteness of the snow. It began to dawn as we stepped into the base camp, at an altitude of over 4,000 meters and that made getting up early worthwhile. The shadows of the peaks (over 7,000 meters) are increasingly sharp until finally the sun rises and begins to warm the valley. Probably the most beautiful sunrise of my life.
Around the temple where Buddha was born they have created some beautiful large gardens, where Buddhist communities from different countries have built and continue to build their own temples. Students visit to study the mysteries of the path of Dharma. You can access them as a tourist, but you can also see them from outside. There are amazing ponds around which hundreds of lotuses of all colors grow.
It's a blast to be able to rent a little boat, with or without rower, and take a tour of this lovely lake. Just for a euro-something, the have an hour and for 5 you can rent it for the whole day, it will cost a little more if you want your own paddle boats. The truth is that rowing is not easy and can be tiring, but if there is more than one of you, you can take turns and have a fun day. The lake is bigger than it seems in the pictures and is full of surprises and pretty small spots. This is an obligatory activity if you visit.
As the locals say about Nepal, it´s "a little bit up, a little bit down" (slightly uphill, slightly downhill), and they smile through gritted teeth. Well, the Anapurna area is no exception and its great slopes offer no restriction. Agriculture is the main activity in this area, and raising animals is the second most important profession. Walking between the peaks of Annapurna is to alternate between various microclimates but always and even in the more thorny areas, you can see meadows of barley, millet, wheat or potatoes. I think this is the reason behind the name of Annapurna, which in either Sanskrit or Hindu it is translated as Goddess of the Harvests or goddess of food and cooking.
The sulfur saturated waters inside the mountain exit and join to form a major river from the cold water that comes down from the mountain's peaks. But before they join together, they form small rock pools. After walking several days and take a shower in two minutes, most times with cold water, it is a pleasure to see how skin wrinkle as much hot water. As you wrinkles, you can relax watching the surrounding landscape. A bath in nature.
This magical village nestled at the feet of the Annapurna mountains is set in a landscape that simply leaves you speechless. During an [poi = 107203] Annapurna trek [/ poi], you usually you get there on the fourth day. The village is clustered on a cliff top overlooking the fertile valley below and it's endless expanses of beautiful rice and millet terraces. Ghandruk is inhabited by ethnic Gurung people of Tibetan origin. You notice it as soon as you get into town: Their faces are wide and very round, and they have extremely slanted eyes. Ghandruk architecture and its location both strike your attention. The beautiful wood and stone houses are painted in bright colors, and are always surrounding by small gardens crammed with flowers. It's a little lost paradise in the Himalayas.
During the spectacular trek to Poon Hill it is usual to arrive at the remote Tadapani at the end of the third day. The village, which consists of two or three very basic shelters and a few houses huddled over a space where locals sell handicrafts and woolen items, is in the stunning silhouette of Machhapuchhre (or Fishtail). This peak of nearly 7000 meters is eternally snow-capped and is considered sacred to the Nepalese. It is one of the most beautiful peaks I have ever seen. From Tadapani it almost seems touchable.
Halfway through the climb to Annapurna base camp we celebrated New Year's, which according to the Buddhist calendar is dated April 15th. The funny thing is that they are already in the year 2064. Despite the scarcity of their pantries they didn't hesitate to invite us to join them and try their elaborate holiday dishes with some meat and plenty of rice. Also some candy, a cake and a very strong liquor. Some music, dancing and a little guitar at that endearing party.