The triumphant sun emerged, beaming over the valley still rousing from slumber. The mountains shrugged off its shroud of cold mist that dissolved into the warm, comforting glow of the rising orb. It kissed the mountaintops, and caressed the pointed roofs of the vibrant painted houses. There is a profound silence in the first moments of the day that reaches deep inside you. The morning was filled with an incredible, calming peace. But as with all beautiful moments, it’s short-lived. Soon, the roosters crowed, the dogs barked and people came out of their houses to wash, water their plants and rev up their scooters for a day of work. The city came alive almost suddenly against the backdrop of the breathtaking Himalayas.
Welcome to Pokhara, the gateway to the Annapurna mountain ranges.
There are few places with more natural, untouched beauty than Nepal. I made a trip there alone a few weeks ago to do some work with a local orphanage (more on that soon!), and was reminded of why I fell in love with the place when I was backpacking there some years ago.
Political strikes marked my last stay in Pokhara. This was in 2011 before the earthquake of 2015, and the time when the Maoists were taking over. It was exciting, but much of the city was stopped in its tracks. People gathered in large crowds on the streets, shouting, chanting and raising banners with political slogans. Some lit large fires, shopkeepers closed their businesses and buses stopped running. I remember cycling through the streets and marvelling at all the overwhelming emotion, anger and activity. It was a fascinating time to be there as a foreigner, but it didn’t showcase the city at its best.
This time though, I experienced the true warmth of the community. What I thought was amazing hospitality the last time, was only amplified without chaos in the streets.
Some of the simplest but most sublime pleasures is just to sip Nepalese Chai in the Himalayan gardens. Instead of just pouring boiling water onto a teabag and adding milk and sugar as a haphazard afterthought, so much love and individed attention goes into each delicious cup.
Finely-ground tea leaves are placed into a saucepan before milk and sugar are added.