Sunday, November 15, 2015

Pokhara, Nepal, Part 2: The River Wild (Minus Val Kilmer)

Initially, I'd wanted to go on a mini-trek for a couple days in Pokhara - but my hostel owner convinced me that I wouldn't get to see that much in a couple days. He recommended another kind of outdoorsy trip (because again, there are a million choices) - so with that, I found myself on an overnight whitewater rafting trip, which Melissa joined for.

Cliffnotes of the Day:
  • Took an hour and a half drive out to the beginning of the rafting trip. There were 12 of us on the trip, with about 7 guides (this included the raft guides, as well as 3 safety guides on kayaks, and a couple guides-in-training who looked 12-years old and helped paddle). 

Seriously, I can't get over these dogs wearing necklaces

On the way, we had to make a sketchy pit stop for some contraband gas
The tiny town that was our departure point
I am very helpfully pumping up the raft

Melissa and I are ready in our smurf jackets and giant wetsuits

  • And then we set off!  We had two rafts, on which we had strapped down all our stuff - camping stuff, food stuff, personal stuff, etc. The river itself was SO GORGEOUS. I know I always say this, but it honestly hurt my heart to not have my camera accessible, because the views were beyond incredible. We rafted down a smaller river that led into the Sethi River (literally means "white river") - the river is a light vivid sea-green color, framed by ridiculous mountains, bridges, and the occasional tiny village. Some of these villages lack electricity, so our moments of pure wilderness and trees were sometimes interrupted by a tiny child bathing in the river, or women doing their laundry.  And the children always waved happily and shouted hello. 

Lunch break! All the guides pitched in to create a fresh lunch for us. It was amazing; the stuff they pulled out of barrels they had stored on the raft and then set to work peeling, chopping, cutting, cooking.

Lunch views. With the river guides staring at my taking a photo

And here's lunch! The food was ridic amazing - every meal was totally made from scratch and was incredibly impressive. This lunch was toast, bananas, baked beans, tuna fish and mayo, coleslaw, etc. With the lack of cooking fuel and their typical gas stoves they would carry, our guides took the time to actually toast the bread on sticks over wood fires. It was AMAZE.

  • There were only Class 2 and Class 3 rapids on the trip - so I would say most of the day was actually floating along and only 30-40% paddling, but it was stunning. And we definitely got wet. A couple hours after lunch, we arrived at our campsite for the night. 
Pulling in the rafts for the night

Campsite views - I loved it so much - it was incredibly remote, and just felt like our own tiny part of the world for the night

And here's our campsite! How cute are all the little tents?! 

Our little corner of the river

Melissa's and my home. It was the cutest tent of all, and we even had a little patio in front and a yard out back.
Let me take you on a tour of our new place
One of the guides mysteriously produced a tiny bottle of rum from his pocket

Dusk at our camping grounds - SO PRETTY

You could opt to sleep in a tiny covered tent, or they turned one of the rafts on its side, propped it up with paddles, covered it with a tarp, and made it an open-air tent.
And the guides set to work on cleaning, chopping, and prepping dinner - which was pasta bolognese and FRIES, and was SO GOOD. How did we have such delicious pasta bolognese in some random part of the wild in Nepal??

The sun sets

More pasta bolognese action, cooking over wood fires

After dinner, we set up a bonfire and a local village man came and sold beers, which we chilled in the river. It was honestly perfect. And you could see a zillion stars.
  • The next morning (to be honest, our tent home was adorable and perfect, but it felt like sleeping on a slab of concrete) - we were served hot tea/coffee and another delicious breakfast, then set out packing everything up to continue our rafting expedition.

Here's an incredibly attractive photo Melissa took of me looking like a broken rag doll in my triple-XL wetsuit. On that note, we were the only two on the trip that had a wetsuit, which was because I had only innocently asked if we were getting wetsuits. We later realized that the guides had probably just given the two of us their wetsuits (given how huuuuge they were), which we felt terrible about! I was only asking, I swear!
I did manage to sneak in a couple (poor) photos on this leg, courtesy of my (only slightly) waterproof iPhone cover
Rafting views
  • The rapids were more robust the second day, and we even managed to fit in a couple swims here and there. By that, I mean the guides thought it was hilarious to randomly throw people overboard by pushing, pulling, hooking them with the paddles and swinging them in, etc. Most of us got thrown into the river at some point.
  • We finished the expedition around lunchtime - where we were served lunch, and then ran into a tiny pickle.  Apparently the company usually shuttles us back to Pokhara in a bus (at this point, Pokhara is 3-4 hours away by car because we've rafted so far away), but due to the fuel crisis, they didn't have a bus. They offered to pay for us all to take local buses back - which takes longer, and the bigger pickle is that it was one of the main days of the Tihar/Diwali festival, so every local bus that passed by us was crammed to the brim with people. We waited for over an hour, but every bus that passed was totally full.
  • Back in the day, buses in Nepal used to let people ride on the rooftop, but it was deemed too dangerous and the practice had been stopped. However, due to the fuel crisis, the practice had picked back up - so after a long time waiting, a couple of us discussed riding on the roof of a local bus back to Pokhara. Melissa and I were thrilled at the idea, but only for an hour or so, as it looks pretty uncomfortable, and a ton of dust is thrown in the air as you drive down the dusty mountain roads.  But after seeing bus after bus pass by us full, four of us (Melissa, me, and two German guys) decided to just go for it. 
We are on top of the bus and all prepped for the long ride. And we kind of look like bandits.
The top of the bus is all grills, so it's highly uncomfortable, especially as the bus bounces along on some of the poorer-paved roads. You have to have a death grip on the metal bars to prevent from flying off, and we sat on jackets and some of the locals on top had sheets of cardboard they sat on.  But the views were incredible. Incredible.
Zooming by a gorgeous river
A couple hours in, we stopped at a village - all decked out for the festival. At this point, both Melissa and Danilo have both lost their hats to the wind, and we had realized how different our musical tastes were.
But look how festive the streets are!
  • After almost 4 hours, we finally arrived on the outskirts of Pokhara - where we had to hail a cab to take us the final stretch. We survived our crazy bus-top adventure!
  • That evening, our hostel had arranged for some dancers to come for Tihar - they basically come dance at storefronts and homes, and you give them donations. It was amazing because they invited all of us onto the dance floor at the end, and it became a crazy dance party to Nepali music - locals and foreigners mixed.
Some of the local dancers
Dance party!
  • Overall, an incredible excursion, and tons of adventures <3

Moment of the Day:
While gripping a death grip on the bars and bouncing along uncomfortably on the top of a swerving bus (overall, so glad we got to do it, but it was slightly terrifying) - Melissa, Danilo (one of the German guys), and I tried to pass the time by playing a game I invented. One person sings a song, and whoever finishes singing the song lyrics wins a point. And here is where I realize world differences in music. Some examples below of songs I tried to sing.

"A Whole New World" from Aladdin. 
Melissa: "Is that from Frozen?" (even as I sang "on a MAGIC CARPET RIDE")
Danilo had never even heard of the movie Aladdin.

"Jessie's Girl"
Blank stares from both Melissa and Danilo.

"Don't Stop Believin'" - Journey
Danilo had never heard of the song or Journey.
Melissa: *manages to sing a little of the chorus* "I think I heard it on 'Glee' once."

I eventually had to just opt for the safer choices of old-school Britney Spears. Which everyone always got.  

It was overall hilarious, and so, so interesting/insightful to me - Journey: not a hit around the world. Britney: yes, a hit around the world.


  1. In my deffence I saw Aladdin in Spanish 😓

    1. The beautiful melody I was singing should have been enough :)

  2. What a unique experience, rafting and riding on top of a bus! That's awesome. :) Thanks for sharing all of your adventures! xoxo

    1. Thanks for following along with them! Adventures are much more fun to share when you know you're not the only one reading them :) <3 <3