The journey to pokhara continues

Previous page - Nightmare journey begins


..... back to Michael Jackson

Anyway, back to our driver. We soon realized he had no idea how to drive a manual car! He was always in the wrong gear, and couldn’t seem to get up any speed at all. Even though the speed limit was 70km/hr, the whole trip I am sure we never really went above 30km/hr.

Other driving faults worthy of mentioning were: constantly driving down the centre of the road, driving around tight bends on the wrong side of the road, overtaking up hills in 5th gear and not increasing his speed, blowing the horn at every bird or chicken on the road, putting the car into neutral on downhill slopes and flat stretches, almost running out of fuel, not giving way when pulling out (just blindly driving on), driving and talking on his phone at the same time and constantly being in a daze, staring out the window. And he stopped twice to light up his cigarette. I think he thought we were unaware of what he was doing hiding behind buildings.


Where is Bandipur?

We were supposed to have lunch and take a look around Bandipur on our way to Pokhara. Bandipur is an old settlement high up on a hill. It’s a little place with a population of around 10,000 that has been preserved in time. “Michael” had troubles finding the place so it took longer than it should have. That delay, plus the fact we left Kathmandu late, plus we were only driving at about 30 kilometres an hour, meant that it was well after lunch time when we arrived in the little dirt car park downhill from the Bandipur township itself. We knew we couldn’t waste any time at Bandipur because it was going to make us even later arriving in Pokhara. We figured we must have completed about half the journey. How long was the rest of the journey going to take?

We raced up the little road to the township, half expecting “Michael” and the car would be gone when we got back down to the car park. We found a pleasant looking café, used their loos, scoffed our lunch and raced back down to the car park. We would have loved to have spent an hour or two in Bandipur but just couldn’t under the circumstances. By then, Birendra had phoned Jeremy a couple of times to find out how we were getting along. He was mortified to find we were still miles from our destination so late in the afternoon. The journey continued on...

For the whole journey we were hot because we had sun pouring in the car windows. Most of the way we had to keep the windows closed due to the road dust and the pollution from other vehicles driving past (truck and bus exhaust pipes quite nicely pump out their poisons at exactly the height of car windows). We drove past many kilometres of plants and vines, and all the leaves were totally greyish-white from dust and smoke ash. Ian and Jeremy got so shirty with the driver that Jeremy was moments away from kicking him out of the driver’s seat and taking over the driving duties himself. It would have been much safer but we thought we had better not due to possible insurance issues. Apart from a very brief stop for lunch, the journey of 205 km. took us 9.5 hours.


Finding Sacred Valley Inn in Pokhara

We eventually got to Pokhara but our useless driver had absolutely no idea where the Sacred Valley accommodation was located. Because he didn’t speak English we could not really offer him direction or help. By this stage the sun had well and truly set and we were driving around in the near darkness with concerned looks on our faces. No one seems to use headlights here until it is totally pitch black which was a bit scary – especially when our driver was doing U-turns in front of other cars. He stopped several times to ask bystanders for directions and for another cigarette break but he never really appeared to follow the directions the bystanders were giving him.

Our room at Sacred Valley in Pokhara Our lovely room

All three of us were stressed to the maximum.
Twice he phoned the Sacred Valley Inn and they gave him directions but we still never arrived there. After a third phone call a young guy from the hotel arrived on a motorbike and got us to follow him to our accommodation. We checked in and were greeted by a very clean hotel and by some quite pleasant bedrooms. Our rooms aren’t next to each other but they are not too far apart. It is budget accommodation but you really couldn’t ask for anything nicer. I think we are going to enjoy staying at “Sacred Valley Inn”.


Birendra is furious with the driver

As promised, we called Birendra to let him know we had finally arrived at the hotel and to update him on how long it had taken for the drive.  He was absolutely furious at the driver. Fortunately Jeremy was the one who kept in touch with him throughout the day because Jeremy could handle the foul language directed at the driver much better than Ian or I could. We could only imagine the scene back in Kathmandu with Birendra beating his brow with his hand. We knew he would have been totally distraught that such an embarrassing thing would have happened to his friends.


We start to calm down

We settled into our rooms and unpacked some of our gear. The bathroom floor is quite wet. Reception gave us an old towel to wipe it up with. We suspect it will always be wet every time we have a shower as there is no shower curtain to keep the water in the bath. Never mind. To us that is not a major issue. The man at reception is so nice.

Jeremy relaxing in the back garden of Sacred Valley Jeremy in the back garden area at Sacred Valley
The balcony at Sacred Valley in Pokhara "Our" balcony where we ate and relaxed










Dinner at Sacred Valley Inn

We had a walk along the main Lakeside Road to stretch our legs, to buy more bottles water and to find something for dinner. Jeremy got approached by someone wanting to sell him drugs again.  Nothing took our fancy for dinner so we went back to the hotel and ate there on this lovely little balcony next to our room. Ian and I had vegetarian quiche and potato salad and Jeremy chose stuffed potatoes. Jeremy asked for Coca Cola but there was none left as it was all drunk at the recent festival.
It was very warm and humid. We decided we would sleep with the windows open and the fan on. We sunk into our queen sized beds and soon nodded off.  What a Day!


Fact added later: I nearly forgot to say there was a brief power outage here during the evening. This is quite common in Nepal but the hotel generators almost instantly kicked in and kept us in the light. There were notices in our room for all guests to make sure they leave no valuables near open windows where hands can creep in and grab through the security screens on the windows. Another notice said it was unadvisable to drink freshly squeezed fruit juices from vendors along the side of the road.


Next page - Boating on Lake Fewa




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