Flying high in the Nepali sky

Flying high in the Nepali sky
Pokhara, Nepal

Pokhara, Nepal

The most anticipated morning sunrise of my life so far… It’s about 5:30am, 7kms northwest out of Pokhara, on a small mountain in a town called Sarangkot. Undoubtably the most popular place to watch the sunrise over the Annapurna Range and in particular the peak of Machapuchare (the fish tail). I was driven up part of the way to the view point, and then walked.. okay, I ran about 10 minutes to a building/ shop/ house where crowds gathered to see the sunrise of all sunrises. I stood on a large concrete brick balcony with a mass of other tourists, and waited for the sun. Looking over the balcony ledge, it was a steep drop but I mounted the ledge, walked to the edge and sat. It was the only way to ensure I got view and photo opportunity without unsightly tourists getting in the way. “Be careful, don’t fall”, said a local Nepali guide who I poached to be my photographer (I was too proud to use the selfie stick). From what a local guide told me, the past few days, the skies were the clearest he’d seen in almost a month… I was lucky my arrival just happened to coincide with the clearer skies. The Sarangkot sunrise happens in stages. Seeing the Sarangkot sunrise over the mountains was like watching a new section of fairy lights being switched on with each minute that elapsed. The Annapurnas came to life, soaking up every drop of fast rising sunlight. The snowy mountain ranges – illuminated. Before I knew it, the mountains and the majority of Pokhara is drenched in light and the show is… Hmmm.. The show isn’t over, but the sunrise is. I live for adventure (and maybe Pepsi Max?) – A self confessed adrenalin junkie, I always want to climb higher and go faster. You know that feeling you get in your stomach when you’re on a roller coaster? I love that feeling – it reminds me I’m alive. So at midday, I head back up to Sarangkot… But this time, to a higher point…. To get higher… On a windy hillside, I get a run up, the sail fills with air and I’m lifted into the sky – Yep, I’m paragliding in Pokhara (Attached to an experienced Nepali paraglider of course… They wouldn’t let me do it solo… Even after I offered to sign a waiver). As we crept higher my smile grew wider, the air thinner and I was getting a very small adrenalin fix. I was Icarus flying in to the sun and stopping for a cheeky Annapurna snow cone on the way. It was quiet and cold. I hadn’t experienced this level of silence in over 2 weeks. Back down to reality and back on the ground – A Chinese tourist vomited all over himself pre landing. So, the pre requisite for being a paraglider – must have dreadlocks and be a mix between a hipster and a hippie. With the afternoon unplanned, I hailed a bus and headed into town… Or where ever the bus was going… More and more people piled on and I was standing up, with my body pressed against one side of the bus, and another woman and mans body pressed up against mine… My standard reaction would’ve been to bail out… but my traveller reaction was, “go with it and see where the bus and personal space invasion take you”… There’s wonder and excitement to be found in the streets of Pokhara (or any new place for that matter) when you’re alone without a schedule. My afternoon of street exploration was great. Discovered some interesting art and advertisements painted on walls… I got the impression, by looks some people gave me in particular parts of Pokhara, that foreigners were…. A very foreign sight. Wanting to get as much street time in as possible, I opted to walk back to my hotel near the lake, or try my hand at navigating my way back. Standing at a roundabout, waiting for a clear path to cross the road and boom! No more than 3 meters away from me, a car crashed into the back of a truck… There was my clear path to cross the road. Thank you crazy drivers! 1.5 hours of walking and I had to admit, I was not successfully navigating my way to the hotel… Besides street art spotting and people watching, I was also pharmacy trawling. The number of chemists I went into with my list of prescription meds I was trying to obtain (without a prescription), is unknown. It’s a fair sized place and at an estimate, I’d easily gone into almost 20. My feet were sore… Looking down at them now, they’ve undergone a transformation… or localisation…. These size fives have seen better days. 7pm – position in Pokhara unknown. I’d navigated myself to…. Not my hotel. Too proud to take a taxi and determined to make it on my own, I carried on walking. Two completely different sets of directions later, I could see the lake.. It was the road my hotel was located on… I just hadn’t seen this end of it yet. This was where it was at! Music, backpackers, shisha bars, sexy “dance” clubs (subtle), restaurants, shops and markets galore. I could hear lyrics from a Wallflowers song being sung, “two lost souls, living in a fish bowl”… Made me feel a tad nostalgic and I momentarily wished I was home or had a familiar face with me. A young Nepali boy sitting on the stairs of a shop front, playing with a white ball of fluff, stopped me right in my tracks. That white ball of fluff was the cutest, miniature, husky looking puppy I’d ever seen (yes I just made up a new breed of dog… I was probably delirious from wandering around Pokhara for the past 6 hours). I asked the boy, “what is his name?” The boy replied, “Dennis”. With that response, I continued walking. 10 minutes later, I think I was still in shock…. Dennis – a Nepali boy named his adorable puppy, Dennis! Things started to look familiar… I was inward bound to my hotel and well and truly shagged.

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