The Himalayas for such massive mountains are often hidden behind clouds and we were afraid we wouldn't see them at our arrival in Pokhara, a town with views of the Annapurna Range. We arrived on a clear warm day with paragliders above and shimmering waters of the lake that surrounds the town. Our first attempt to see the Himalayas was to hike to the Peace Pagoda, a temple built along a mountain. We talked to a few locals and started off on the trail, which soon disappeared into the jungle. Dismayed we turned around just as the clouds rolled in and started raining, which would last for a few days...this is the dry season by the way.
Pokhara does busy trade in the tourist business due to many excellent trekking opportunities and is thus a little bit more expensive, which is still a bargain and overall Nepal is an extremely affordable country. Our breakfast away from the touristy hotels would consist of a small bowl of vegetable curry, few poories, milk tea, ghalabi, and a samosa or two.
As the rains let up and chances of seeing the roof of the world improved, decided to do a sunrise on Sarangkot, a town high above. Even in the morning darkness, we could make out the massive peaks close enough to touch, while behind us the town valley below was shrouded in clouds. As the sun rays broke over the hills, the mountains were lit up with their snow covered hulks and finally witnessed the beauty and awe of these giants.
The country has a sizable Tibetan population, many of which left the country after the Chinese takeover and now have refugee status. As such, visiting a few of them is very different from the rest of town with prayer flags strung above, the gompa with it's kora performing devotees spinning prayer wheels, and artisans weaving Yak wool carpet, and the oldest of oldest women you could ever imagine hunched over but still able to climb the hills, give you a friendly smile, and look at you with curiosity. We stayed around just as the monks were gathering for prayer with horns, drums, cymbals, incense, and chanting of the sutras, which was haunting with the mountains around.
Nepal is a trekking country so while we decided we would rather appreciate the mountains from a distance, decided to do a different sort of trek in Bardia National Park to walk on foot and look for wild animals.