More on Pokhara and Chitwan

We just got back to Kathmandu! It felt so quiet and almost deserted where we were staying, so it was a little strange to be hit with the traffic in the valley when we drove in today, but I’m glad to be home. Here’s some more about our trip.

On Wednesday, we stayed on in Pokhara and walked up to Sarangkot, one of the high hills near the city. Here’s the beautiful view from the top:

After getting back to the hotel in the afternoon, we rested and then went to an amazing Nepali restaurant for dinner, called Thakali Kitchen. If you’re looking for great Nepali food in Pokhara, definitely go to this place. Here was a our main dinner:

In the middle is dedo. It’s buckwheat flour that’s been added into boiling water and stirred vigorously. It’s often eaten in villages where rice is not available and really fills the belly,  necessarily for a long day in the fields.

On Thursday morning, we left for Sauraha, home to Chitwan National Forrest. Chitwan was very quiet and full of beautiful fields of grass. The best part is the forest, which we road elephants into this morning. Although we didn’t see any rhinos, we did see a jungali kukhura “Wild chicken” and a ghore “monitor lizard.”

The elephants there have lots of personality, and just like humans, they understandably get mad if you don’t treat them well. Our guide told us that a few years ago, a tourist started teasing an elephant, offering him food, and then snatching it away. Soon enough, the elephant ran over and killed the tourist. As long as they’re respected, though, the elephants are fun to be around and very friendly.

Check out the photo page for more pictures from our trip.

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Up to Kavre and Back Down Again

So it looks like I do have internet 🙂 Mama brought a mobile internet modem. Unfortunately, it’s expensive to upload photos, so those will have to wait, but here’s a little bit about what we’ve been up to…

On Monday morning, we left Kathmandu for Pokhara and got in around 5pm. On Tuesday morning, Tri’s brother woke us up at about 6:30, and although I was reluctant to get out of bed, I was glad I did because we got to see a bit of the elusive Annapurna range.

After eating breakfast, we drove about an hour outside of Pokhara and then started hiking for another two hours. We started in a deep, flat valley, and ended up high in the hills, in Kavre, a village of about 25 houses. The fields really were amber colored, filled with ripening dhaan (rice) and kodo (millet).

The people who live in Kavre are Gurung and speak Gurung bhasha, “Gurung language.” A small aside: Nepal is incredibly ethnically and linguistically diverse. It’s the one of the merger points for languages from the Indic branch of the Indo-European Family, like Nepali and Maithali and from the Tibeto-Burman Family, like Newar, Gurung, Sherpa, Tamang, etc. Hopefully I can write another post about that sometime, but anyway, the village was primarily Gurung.

We stayed in Khavre for about 3 or 4 hours, enjoying the sun and the company. Our host killed and cooked some local kukhura (free range chicken) for us. The jhol (“gravy”) was so good with rice, and the meat definitely tasted different from the kind we usually get in Kathmandu.

After eating majjale (literally ‘with fun’ but can also mean ‘with pleasure’ or ‘really well’), we sat and talked with the people for a while.

I took out my camera and got a few good shots of our new friends, which I’ll have to post in a few days. My camera has a nice zoom on it, which is great for taking pictures without being noticed.

In the late afternoon, we decided it was time to go home. Because we were tired, we got a special guide to go with us….One of the dogs from the village followed us all the way down from Kavre to our car. We kept expecting it to split off and head back to up the hill, but it never did. Eventually, when we got to the head of the trail, it walked away down another path. Bua asked one of the locals whose dog it was. He said it follows tourists up to Kavre and back down again because they never fail to feed it well. Now that’s a smart dog.

More on Dhampush

We set out on a Wednesday from Kathmandu and drove until we made it to Dhampush in the late afternoon. The village is above Pokhara along a trekking route that leads to the Annapurna Range.

The View from Dhampush

It was a relief to be outside of the pollution of Kathmandu for a little while.

Dhampush was absolutely beautiful especially when it wasn’t raining. One morning, after getting up at 6:30, we walked outside to this…

The people there were very welcoming, and we got to know one of the women who lives in Dhampush with her son…

Tara and Her Son

She told me that she had had an inter-cast love marriage. She’s Chhetri, and her husband is Rai. Although his parents approved of their marriage, hers didn’t, so she has little contact with them now.

All the rain and wet brought lots of leeches. While growing up, I always thought of these blood-suckers as big, but the ones in Dhampush were very small. They still left a big bite though.

A Leech Bite

In all, I got about 6 leech bites. One of the aunties on the trip told me that leech bites are actually good, that they drain out the cancerous cells, a piece of information that pacified me a bit.

Kupri the Monkey

There was another animal on the trip doing some biting as well…the lodge owners’ pet monkey. She could do a few tricks and one of the local women put the monkey on her daughter’s head to pick the lice out. Kupri was incredibly cute, but it was difficult to see her chained up all the time.

We also got to eat some local food including sukuti and makaiko chiuraa. Sukuti is dried meat that is then fried with peppers and other spices. It’s very chewy. The other treat is flattened and fried corn. The lodge owners cooked some up for us on our second to last day.

The Lodge Owner Cooking Makaiko Chiura

Because it had rained so much the day before we left, the road back to Pokhara was in bad condition, but we set out anyway on the bus. Along the rocky road, the wheel got caught, and came off its joint. We had to walk down to the nearest tea shop and wait a few hours for it to be fixed. Here is me and my friend in the pouring rain, making it down the mountain.

Walking Down the Mountain in the Rain

Eventually they got the tire back in place and we went on our way. To pass the time, we sang both Nepali and American songs in the bus…