Pokhara

The literal highlight for today was to be the view of sunrise on the Himalayan peaks from Sarangkot, above Pokhara. Sadly, morning cloud and rain hid the sun but we did enjoy the view.

We had to rise at 5:00 am to meet at 5:30 am for our bus to the sunrise viewing. Rain had been forecast and it was trickling down as we woke. Down in the lobby, optimistic Ruby encouraged us by suggesting the rain might stop and the clouds lift by the time the sun was rising.

The bus made its way through mostly abandoned streets and then up a twisting mountain road to Sarangkot which is a few hundred metres above Pokhara. Our bus was too large to go all the way so it parked and we disembarked to walk the last few hundred metres up the narrow road. The rain had slowed to a sprinkle by that time and there was already light enough to see though sunrise, at 6:27 am, was still 20 minutes or so away. Ruby led us up some steps to a shopfront and then through and up a couple of tight staircases to a rooftop viewing platform where we waited for the sun. 

On a good clear day we would have enjoyed a view of Machapuchare or fish-tailed mountain, named for its distinctive twin summits that resemble the points on a fish tail. It is sacred and has never been climbed, at least legally, since permits are not issued.

The sun did not come, though things gradually lightened and the cloud lifted enough to reveal a little of the high mountains up the valley to the north. We enjoyed the views over the city and surrounding area despite the lack of direct sunlight.

By 7:00 am it was evident that the sun was not going to make an appearance and we headed back to the bus. Once back at the hotel there was no group activity arranged for the day, just a loose arrangement for those wanting to go to dinner to meet in the lobby at 7:00 pm. People headed in various directions to find breakfast.

We strolled up the street with 6 others from the group. The first place we tried was not really ready for the day and did not offer what people wanted. We went further along the street to the Olive cafe where they were ready to serve from a fairly extensive breakfast menu. Majella and I had variations of eggs, toast, bacon, and baked beans with good coffee.

By the time we finished breakfast it was past 9:00 am and 3 of our number needed to get back to the hotel to be ready for their paragliding at 10:00. They left and the rest of us strolled along the street where shops were beginning to open. Our progress back to the hotel involved a lot of shopping by the 3 women in our group and took the better part of two hours. Along the way we had WhatsApp messages from Ruby about a slightly later time for paragliding and then about cancellation on account of weather. It was still heavily overcast and drizzling. Some bargains and treasures were acquired by shopping before we returned to the hotel to deposit those. 

Before long Majella and I were out again, shopping in the other direction along the street. Majella was looking for a very plain top and eventually found one that she liked. She tried it on and decided to wear it out of the store. It was not a good match for her pants but she managed to find a pair that she liked and wore those too. A complete outfit for 1800 rupees ($22) seemed like fair value.

After we reached the end of the shopping strip and turned to go back we bumped into our breakfast companions who had also been shopping their way along the street. We ate lunch together at Moondance where we had dinner last night. Majella and I both had bruschetta with feta cheese on tomato. She had coffee and I tried the Himalaya Red craft beer which was better than the bottled beer I had on the first night in Nepal.

By that time the sun had come out so we dropped some stuff back at the hotel and went for a walk along the lake shore. A mountain to the west of Machapuchare had appeared out of the cloud while we were back at the hotel. As we walked by the lake, Machapuchare appeared above the ridge to the north. There were paragliders swooping in front of it, though much closer to us than to the mountain. Evidently the weather had improved much more than forecast but that was little consolidation to our group members who had missed out earlier in the day, We did a little more shopping and I topped up my cash from an ATM on the way back to the hotel where we intended to rest until dinner time.

Our rest was interrupted about 3:30 pm by a WhatsApp message from Rob. He and Martin had returned from their walk over the local mountain and were looking to go for drinks and a bite to eat. We did not need food but joined them for drinks at a bar by the lake. Along the way we bumped into Guillermo and Antia who had been boating on the lake and were happy to join us until they went for a massage at 5:00 pm. We had a relaxed hour and a bit over drinks and food for those who needed it. Then it was back to the hotel to rest and wait for dinner time,

The group ate dinner at a restaurant on the main street just a short distance from our hotel. Majella and I shared a Margherita pizza and an apple cider. That seemed to be more than enough and we passed on dessert. It was an early night and we were back at the hotel and preparing for sleep by 9:00 pm.

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