Day 26 Kagbeni to Tatopani
There is a common saying in Nepal:
The whole time we were in Mustang we had heard rumors that unseasonably cloudy weather had been canceling flights across Nepal. It is common for flights out of Lukla, the trail head for the treks into the Everest region, to be canceled for days at a time but our guide had assured us that it is not common for flights to be canceled in the Annapurna region.
|Trail to Jomson|
Thankfully in Jomsom there is the option to take the bus. In Lukla the nearest road is still a five day trek to the nearest road and at the same time we were Jomsom there was an estimated 3500 people stranded at the Lukla airport.
|Road near Ghasa|
Thankfully we reached Tatopani a short while later and were able to extract ourselves from the bus. We checked into the Himalayan Hotel and then set out to explore the cute hillside town in the last of the daylight. After dinner we headed down to the hot springs that Tatopani is famous for. After three weeks of infrequent and often cold showers, it was heavenly to soak in the 40 C water.
|Back in the tropics|
Considering the previous day Dave was worried that we would be bored out of our minds with a day to kill in Jomsom, the day had sure turned out to be an adventure. I figured we were actually lucky - it is not very often fate throws a wrench in our travel plans that forces us to make an unplanned stop at hot springs!
Day 27 Tatopani to Pokhara
We awoke early to catch the 7:00 AM bus and resume our travels towards Pokhara. After a night of heavy rains I was worried the roads would be in horrendous condition but we managed to make trip to without any delays (or without sliding over the edge into the river below as I feared) and arrived in Beni by 10:00 AM.
In Beni, we headed out into the market in search of pakoras and drinks while our guide worked on arranging a taxi for the remainder of the journey. The Nepali version of a taxi is equivalent in size to a Hyundai Accent. Somehow we managed to squeeze all four of us (plus the driver) and our luggage into the car and set out on the four hour drive to Pokhara.
|Fridge delivery in Beni|
Leaving Beni, we soon joined the main paved highway - paved being a loose term. Obviously it had been paved at some point in history but large stretches of the road have degraded in to rubble forcing two opposing lanes of highway traffic into half the road width. It made for slow driving. We watched the highway signs crawl by... 50 km... 49 km... 48 km... It took us four hours to complete the 50 km trip. A whopping 25 km per hour on the highway.
We were exhausted but thankful when we finally arrived in Pokhara at 2:00 PM only 27.5 hours later then our flight was supposed to land. The cancellation of our 20 minute flight had resulted in 13 hours of driving over two days. Although I thought our bus rides were an adventure, it was nothing compared to the wild ride Mr. and Mrs. Globetrot took from Laos to Thailand.
After checking into the White Castle Hotel and dumping everything but the clothes on our backs off to the laundry service, we headed out to explore town. It was positively overwhelming to be back in a city surrounded by bountiful restaurants, stores and crowds of people. Dave headed straight for one of the plentiful barber shops to have his head shaved - something he had been looking forward to for weeks after reading about it in the guidebook.
We spent the afternoon wandering through the lakeside parks trying to acclimatize ourselves to being back in civilization.
After sundown, we explored the endless souvenir and book shops and then treated ourselves to a feast at the Moondance restaurant which gets much deserved praise in all of the guidebooks (maybe something to do with being partially owned by a Canadian...). We had a fantastic meal of mango lassies, vegetable korma, chicken tikka masala and naan followed by a brownie and ice cream.
With our bellies stuffed and exhausted from two long days of travel, we decided to pass up the bustling Pokhara nightlife and headed back to the hotel room - the early bedtimes were going to be a hard habit to break!