Today we saddled up and left the village to head to our second last destination on the tour, Pokhara. I was really looking forward to this as it had a beautiful lake and a lot of activities. The night before we had been reconfirming what activities we wanted to do in during our 2 night stay in Pokhara so AJ could pre book us all in. Paragliding is very popular there has they have fantastic winds for it. For those who aren’t familiar with what paragliding is, it is when you basically have your “pilot” strapped to your back and an already open parachute, and you run off the side of a mountain and glide down. I didn’t put my name down for this as I had already had the pleasure of paragliding in Turkey a few years back. If I was of the employed status I would have probably done it again! The other option was zip lining which I in fact did want to do. But the main event for most of us was the helicopter!!
A few days into the tour someone had asked AJ about the scenic flight that was a tour option to see the peak of Mt Everest. I am not sure how it then came up but he said there was a helicopter flight from Pokhara to the Anapurana Base Camp. He said he had done both the Everest Scenic flight and the helicopter and he said by far the helicopter was better. With the scenic flight, you’re in an aircraft and you fly over the Himalayas and see the peak from a distance. With the helicopter, you fly into the Himalayas and LAND at base camp (ABC for short) and walk around. Due to budgeting I told myself I could do one, and I chose the helicopter, but I’ll get to how freaking amazing that experience was, first we need to get to Pokhara!
We piled into PPE2 (Purple People Eater the second), with our bags strapped onto the roof. We waved goodbye to the villages as our bus pulled out and it sort of felt like National Lampoons Vacation when they are leaving cousin Eddy’s place on the farm.
Up until now I have been fine with all the hours on the road driving. You see dear reader as I get older I am suffering more from motion sickness. I certainly noticed it during a trip to Adventure World last year, after the first ride I wanted to throw up, by the second ride, I was ready to leave. I could do faster rollercoasters that went in the same direction, but nothing that changed and spun. I had also had a small lunch of baked brie cheese so that also could have been a contributing factor….
So back on the road and I was not feeling well. I was feeling claustrophobic and frazzled again. I was ever so grateful when Amanda switched seats with me. She went and sat up with the driver, which gave her some awesome photo opportunities, and I took her seat near the door. I felt I had some space and my shorter legs were better suited and there was a bar in front of the seats I props my legs up on. It was the snaking of the roads around the mountains that were doing me in.
We made a pit stop to stretch our legs, use the, squat toilet and have a little walk down to this huge suspension bridge. It took me longer than the others to get down the rock stairs to the bridge as I felt light-headed. I stood at the edge of the bridge to get some photos. The scenery was lovely, reminded me a bit of Peru, but the bouncing of the bridge was not so lovely, so I slowly made my way back up the stairs. We were milling around and I saw some of my fellow tour buddies waiting for the toilet. There wasn’t many of us and most were at the bridge and there were two toilets so I couldn’t work out why there was a queue until I was told “oh there are chickens in the other one”. What? I thought I heard you say there were chickens….. in the toilet cubical…. Sure enough someone opened up one of the cubical doors and there was a bunch of chickens just hanging out in there. It was cruel and gross but also highly amusing and bizarre!
When I got back onto the bus I popped 2 travel calm and I was OUT. I quite enjoyed my drugged out sleep. Except for when we stopped for coffee. I just wandered around aimlessly with a stoned look on my face. People were ordering milkshakes, which really is not the best idea since we were at like a truck stop of a coffee shack. They all got hufety when the shack had no power for the blenders and their milk had been sitting out for 15 minutes with the ice cream melted. I had ordered an Ice tea and it was great. I was too sedated though to question the purification of the large chunk of ice floating in it. All I knew was 1) it was nice and tasted like a peach ice tea 2) I need to drink it quick before I pass out again!
When we arrived in Pokhara, we had lunch at the Sisterhood of the Survivors Project. They are a charity organisation saving women from human trafficking and training them to be paralegals to help with others. To help raise money, they do cooking classes.
When we arrived they came to greet us as placed cream welcoming silk scarves over us. This is a Buddhist custom. We then sat down to what we thought was a lunch of MoMo’s. We were happily chowing down, getting as many as we could in us as we were quite hungry after the long drive. The more we ate, the they just kept bringing them out. After we were full, they said they were going to show us how to make them. We were all eager as they seem to be a favourite dish on the tour. After we made a whole bunch of them, they told us to return to the table for lunch. Lunch? Oh no, the MoMo’s were not lunch but a little appetiser that no one mentioned. Out came a lunch of Dal Baht. It wasn’t as nice as the first one we had for lunch. So we did our best to stuff as much as we could in. Right now I really am full, but SURPRISE the ladies then placed plates down of the MoMo’s we had made. I think I squished one in to be polite. We then had coffee/teas while we watched a presentation on what the work they do and how they help. It was informative but when we left we certainly felt like it was a weird kind of afternoon. At least we know how to make MoMo’s.
That evening before dinner, Aj showed us the main street that was full of market/stores selling souvenirs and trinkets. But before I could shop, Stefan and I had to go book our zip lining. We found the office and sauntered up to the desk where we were met by a smiling lady. She then advised us that unfortunately there was no zip lining for the next couple of days because there was maintenance being carried out. As we walked out I actually wasn’t disappointed. I mean I still wanted to do it, but I was actually really glad to hear that they carry out maintenance on it to keep it safe. I think I was happy to know that if I DID do it, it was a safe company. Oh well on the upside I saved a bit of money.
It was so cute as I had Ryno and Stefan in tow. After we left the zip lining office I went into a shop next door to look as the cashmere. They diligently followed me in. After we walked out, I turned to them and said they didn’t have to stick around whilst I shop and I will meet them at dinner. I turned my head for a second at something shiny and when I turned back they were gone. I smiled at myself, I appreciated that they stuck with me as long as they did but I also welcomed a little alone time to test out how being in a new place would feel by myself as sadly the trip was coming to an end in a few days and I wouldn’t have my buddies with me.
During my cruise of the strip I found a t-shirt I really liked. The bottom was fringed and it had some cuts in the back that looked cool. It was black with a gold buddhist pray wheel on the front. I went into the shop enquiring about sizes. The pulled out the shirt I liked but it was a normal, un shaped shirt. I said no no like this one, and they said, yes just see if it fits. It did fit and then I watched the guy take out a pair of clothing scissors cut it to look exactly like the one I wanted. It was great! It is now my favourite shirt to wear. I also picked up a lovely small canvas of the Himalayan peaks with the back ground in oranges and pinks. I love to collect little bits of artwork everywhere I travel.
I met back up with the group for dinner were we did a show and tell of our purchases. After dinner I joined Stefan and Ryno for some drinks on the balcony at the hotel. They had purchased some local rum. It wasn’t bad, had a touch of vanilla in it. Of course Carol comes out in her night-gown and to yell at us about the noise. We decided to then go to bed as there was a sunrise hike in the morning. I already know I am not going to partake. This girl needs a sleep in!
The next morning, 8 of us were taken to Pokhara Airport for the helicopter flight. The airport looks like the scene out of ‘Golden Child’ with Eddie Murphy when he leaves Kathmandu. The Security screen consisted of us being segregated into male and female and going behind a green curtain so a security guard of the same-sex got a good feel up. To be honest it was the most action I had had in a while! We then walked down the side of the tarmac apron towards the helicopter sheds. I was loving it. I was intently watching the loading process of a Yeti Airlines flight going to Kathmandu. I breathed in deep and said out loud to no one but myself “Love the smell of AV Gas in the morning!”, for the non aviation freaks reading this that’s aviation fuel. We use to joke at the airport that it gets into your blood and never leaves, that’s why you are obsessed with aviation for life.
The next half an hour in the hanger, looking back was comical, but at the time I think I had reached a group tour breaking point. It kicked off when Amanda started complaining to a lady who worked there about how long this was taking and how we were going to miss our next activity. I cringed a bit as I am sure it was a bit of PTSD from my airport days. Granted the communication from the staff was pretty much non existent as to why we were so late. But this woman was an engineer not just a “pretty face”. She cracked it, and said “ I don’t need to deal with this shit” and stormed off to her office on the other side of the hanger. She had thrown down to what looked liked a safety card. I am pretty sure she was about to give us a safety briefing and Amanda pissed her right off. I was now thinking “great, now in an emergency I wont know what to do!”. But then realistic Skye came to the rescue and said “dickhead your in a helicopter, in case of an emergency your fkd! Because you will crash into a mountain!”
Next it was putting our names down and weighing ourselves. What got up my nose about this activity was that people were refusing to put their weight down on the sheet or not weighing themselves with their day packs. PEOPLE THIS IS FOR FUEL AND WEIGHT DISTRIBUTION TO KEEP THE HELICOPTER IN THE SKY!! It was annoying the hell out of me.
Now by this point we had to split the 8 of us into 2 groups of 4. Simple right? It was bought up that because we were running late, the people doing the paragliding should be in the group to go first. That made sense to me. But we worked out there were only 3 people not doing it (myself, Carol and another older gentleman.) By this time we had also friendship foundations, there were certain people I wanted to enjoy this with, and I am not ashamed to say I did not want to do it with Carol. I am sorry but no. She might insist she is the pilot or push a wrong button. And it wasn’t just me, we also had a couple of travelling together and it made sense they stayed together. We kinda seemed to be going around in circles and when the man asked us for the second time who was going up in the first helicopter I pointed to myself, Amanda, Ryno and Tim. There, decision made. Then Graham pipped up and said “maybe we should flip a coin on which group goes up first.” Unfortunately I lost it at this point. I did yell at him and maybe the rest of the group, I am not too sure, but it was along the lines of “no one was making a FKN decision so I made one. We are all going to see the same thing, go first I don’t give a fk!” And then there was silence.
Graham if you are reading this, I am sorry. I didn’t mean to yell at you, you were just the straw that broke me.
The time came for the first group to go, I motioned for the others to go first. We then had one more decision to make…… who sits in the middle? I happily volunteered, as much as I wanted to do this, I was also a bit scared of helicopters.
Our turn finally came. As we walked out to the helicopter your instinct is to lower your head. I am barely 5ft, what the hell do I have to worry about? We got in and put out headsets on. We could hear the communication from the tower… I was loving it. We took off over the town and headed towards the green mountains. From the ground you could see the snow cap. I couldn’t believe how high we were climbing. It was breathtaking when came around a mountain and there was so much snow cover in front of us. It was a 10-15 minute flight. When we entered the valley where base camp was, it took my breath away. We were surrounded by snow-covered peaks. It was bright. There was the smallest of green artificial grass patch where the helicopter landed at ABC. We waved at the other group, all of us with big stupid grins on our faces. They then took our helicopter back while we spent some time at base camp.
First thing I noticed was I was a little bit light-headed with the altitude and it was a bit harder to breathe. After a few happy snaps there were somethings I needed to do. Like first, touch real natural snow!! I had only experienced man-made snow/ice in Dubai. I touched it and it was so soft. Next was to throw a snow ball, Ryno let me use him as a target and of course I wanted him to throw one at me. Next was to build a little snow man. I did, but had nothing to give him features, so he was just two balls on top of each other. We then purchased a couple of over priced Mars bars from the guest house to enjoy whilst looking at the scenery in front of us. I felt so lucky to be there. It was a 7 day trek to get to the ABC. It was Magical.
The rest of the day was a quiet one for me. The others went paragliding, while Stefan and I went to lunch. I then went back for a nap at the hotel. Later in the afternoon we went for pre dinner drinks by the lake. It was so lovely people watching as this town had a lot of hippies, your usual lot of Chinese tourists and Europeans. This lady came up to Ria and asked to have a photo with her. She posed for one and then pulled me in. OK no worries, then her friend did the same. There were three of them. Then the first one posed for more. I am not joking they were there for a good 5-10 minutes. Think about how long a photo takes, maybe 10-20 seconds? We had to tell them “ok last one, last one.” I can only imagine what famous people feel like. At least they know why they are being photographed!
At dinner I saw lasagna on the menu. OH baby Jesus yes please!! I started eating it and there was something not quite right. It had all the elements. It was the consistency of the meat. Instead of mince it was cut up steak, and instead of beef, it was buffalo! Meh tasted alright to me!
After dinner, Myself, Reno and Stefan headed to an Irish bar for some more drinks. We had a few rum and cokes with dinner and were keen to keep the party going. They had a live band, which sucked. They kept playing Ed Sheran songs. I ordered a vodka sprite, it came out warm…. Yummy. We stumbled back to the hotel. None of the 3 amigos felt too good that night, must have been something we ate….