Just as I thought I had conquered my jet lag, I found myself lying wide awake at 5am. Our bus didn’t depart for another 2 hours (they all depart around 7am) and we didn’t need to be in the hotel lobby until 6:15am. I didn’t think too much of the timings when we booked the bus, as the hotel told us we wouldn’t need a taxi because a member of staff could take us. Result.
We left the hotel, backpacks in tow, and it wasn’t long before I realised we definitely weren’t being driven – we were being escorted by foot. It only took around 20 minutes and gave us a chance to see the slightly quieter side of every day life in Thamel. I’m still laughing at myself for not clarifying things.
There is no bus station per say, more what seemed like a never ending row of tourist buses lined up along a stretch of road (20+ tourist buses depart from Kathmandu daily) – in the end it was nice to be escorted as it made finding our bus an absolute breeze and we enjoyed the company.
Kathmandu is well known for having a lot of traffic, varying from roaming cows to large trucks. As we started to make our way out of Kathmandu, we joined the longest traffic jam I’ve ever seen. It continued all the way out into the countryside, taking at least 2 hours before we were finally clear. I’d usually complain, but it gave us the perfect opportunity to watch people go about their morning routine. Certainly more interesting than being stuck on the M25.
After we had booked our ticket with Mountain Overland, I came across some pretty poor reviews of the company online. On reflection, I’d say some of the comments were fair although we took most of them with a pinch of salt. We noticed some (possibly bed) bugs on one of the seats at the start of the journey and they definitely could have made some better pit stop choices along the way. What should have been a roughly 7 hour journey (at least that was what we were told) ended up being just over 9 hours – can’t really blame them though as it was mostly due to traffic, although most of the other buses had left Pokhara by the time we had arrived. Maybe ours had a little less oomph?
Most of the tourist buses looked the same, so we didn’t worry ourselves too much with our choice of company. In light of the above, the bus was comfortable, had working WiFi and the staff were friendly. I’d almost go as far as saying they can be better than a lot of buses you come across these days in the UK – think we might have booked a deluxe bus, as some were noticeably smaller.
The best thing we did was to stock up on snacks the day before, as the pit stops along the way are less than desirable. We were also glad that we brought jumpers, as the AC is set to arctic conditions no matter the weather outside. It was good thing that we didn’t waste our money on a ticket that included lunch because they seemed over priced for what they included.
As soon as we got out of Kathmandu we were met with hours of what I can only describe as the most beautiful rolling landscape I’ve even seen. I don’t know what I was expecting, but I was stunned by the views around each and every corner.
When we eventually made it to Pokhara, we dodged the infamous ticket touts waiting at the bus station, and started walking to our hotel, Peace Eye Guest House. It took us around 20 minutes and having not eaten much all day, we quickly dropped our bags off and headed out for food.
Given our snacks only cost us £2 for the day, we decided to go all out and spend £15 at probably one of the poshest places in Pokhara. The Harbour Restaurant has a really lovely setting, just by the lake and tucked into a small courtyard with a fountain. It felt a little more Mediterranean than Nepalese, but the food went down a treat (especially the desserts) and was just what we both needed.
Now that we’ve settled into Pokhara, we are going to spend the next few days exploring before heading off on our trek.
Until next time.
P.S. My wife wasn’t able to muster the courage to use the toilet at the last pit stop. I was told there were “bigger” spiders than the ones at home. I’m yet to evidence first hand.
P.P.S. It seems that the Danish have taken over Nepal with their marketing – feels like you can’t go 200m without coming across a Tuborg sign.