It’s my last day in Pokhara. Tomorrow, I’ll be taking the bus (at 6:30am…) to Besisahar, where I’m hoping to stay for around five days. The real travelling is just beginning. Up until now, I’ve become very well settled in to Pokhara and life here. It’s easy when you’re only staying in one city for five weeks.
That said, volunteering in Matepani was a very, very different experience from staying as a backpacker here. Whereas at the monastery we were relatively isolated – no wifi and no other westerners, for a start – here, something is always happening. There are constantly people passing through on their way to various places. There are a few bars, a few good (read: cheap) places to eat and a huge number of tourists – shoutout to the awfully named Kebab King, where the vast majority of the menu is actually good Nepali food. It feels like a little western bubble on the edge of the lake. As a solo traveller, I’ve really had to learn how to just start talking to people. Otherwise, things would probably get quite lonely. Luckily, my hostel (the Kiwi Backpackers) is incredibly social. Everyone talks to each other. It’s so easy to make new friends, if you’re willing to try. I am always the youngest here, though – everyone seems to be either about to start a masters degree or a doctorate, or has just quit their job and decided to run away for a while. But it hasn’t felt like a barrier (helpfully, most people can’t guess my age accurately).
Last night was Nepali New Years Eve, and the whole of Lakeside shifted into party mode. There were fireworks, a tiny festival, and hoards of people all over the streets until the early morning. I took part in a 2k race at 9 am (shamelessly motivated by the free drink ticket we were all given at the end). The first prize included a flight to Kathmandu, amongst other things. I didn’t win.
I think I’ve pretty much exhausted everything Pokhara has to offer now. I’ve been on a two-day and a one-day hike. I’ve tried – and failed spectacularly – to ride a scooter. I’ve visited caves, museums, temples and stupas with various people. So now I’m taking the time to do nothing, pack and get ready for the rest of my trip.