Back in the capital of Nepal, we wanted to get the ball rolling on obtaining our Indian visas required prior to arrival, but all the research revealed it was a bureaucratic hassle that would require at least 10 days of waiting. We didn’t want to spend that much time in Kathmandu so we found a reputable agency to do it for us and got on a bus to the city of Pokhara, around 200 km west and used by travelers as a jumping off point for treks in the Annapurna region. The pictures we had seen of Pokhara, backdropped by the looming Annapurna range reflected in the bright blue lake seemed a bit like a farce, as we couldn’t see a hint of the giant mountains through the thick haze and regular cloud. There seemed to be a constant rain of paragliders dropping from a high hill in the distance; I often counted more than two dozen at once and was reminded of a beehive. We tried to be as cheap as possible while waiting for our visas and broke up our downtime with strolls down the shop lined streets and along the lake front. Sometimes we picked up pakaudas (fried vegetables), samosas and fried bread at street vendors for a less than 50 cent meal! It was a laidback place to chill out and we tried lots of great restaurants.
One day we ventured through the city for an hour or two to the Gorka museum and learned from the displays how they have served all over the world. The Gorkas are an elite regiment within the Nepali army that has a long history of fighting alongside the British in a great number of military campaigns. Another day we walked up to the World Peace Stupa, where we had a good view of the lake, part of the sprawling city and finally a little glimpse of the Annapurna peaks we were starting to question the existence of. The stunning views we had been constantly graced with in the Everest region maybe resulted in us being a little hard to impress. After the stupa we stopped at Devil’s Falls, which was neat because of the perfectly rounded, hollowed out rock that the water dropped through, but the garbage and crowds took away from it. On the walk back I glanced in a polluted street-side gutter to find a load of small frogs. There were so many they were piling up on each other and that ended up being the highlight of the day for me. We had other activities planned, like checking out “the bat cave” and visiting the nearby town of Sarangkot, but upon researching India further and discovering how unbelievably difficult it is just to book train tickets there, we decided to forfeit the money we had paid for a visa and travel to Indonesia instead. After making that decision, we hopped on a bus to Chitwan National Park as soon as we could.