“What is that big racket?”
“Just the propellers revving up in the plane.”
We were seated in the Buddha Airways aircraft heading to Pokhara. Tarana has only flown on the big, commercial aircraft and was slightly alarmed to hear the noise and feel the juddering of the small aircraft. There were even smaller planes for the various destinations in Nepal, and in comparison, this was bigger. The takeoff itself was an achievement as it didn’t seem likely when we reached the airport in the morning.
“Pokhara airport is closed due to bad weather and all flights are delayed.”
That’s the announcement that greeted us on arrival to the airport. We sat down with the rest of the resigned crowd as the digital notice monotonously updated every half hour of a further delay. As there were flights to Pokhara every hour, the list of backlog flights kept piling up. But there were no complaints and the ever-increasing crowd sat peaceably and happily. What is time? At noon, suddenly there was a bustle as the flights were cleared for departure.
Tip #1: If there are delayed flights, ask to be put on the first flight out.
Super tip #2: Ask to sit on the right side on the flight into Pokhara for mountain peak views. (Moot point if the weather is cloudy and you can’t see a thing as it happened to us.)
Super duper tip #3: Don’t travel to Nepal near the monsoon season! We had planned the trip pre-monsoon, but the rains decided to arrive a week earlier and “spread water on our plans” – ancient Hindu saying.
The plane screamed into its take-off, and we floated in the clouds all the way to Pokhara. Hotel Himalayan Front was on the way up to Sarangkot, with a breathtaking panoramic view of the Annapurna range from the room, the balcony, the restaurant, the terrace lounge, even from the bathtub! We luxuriated in the hotel and got a view of the darkening clouds moving from the mountain towards the hotel. Scary af. Or, as T put it, “This is Harry Potter land!”
We vowed to get up at 5 a.m. to see the sunrise. T watched it sleepily from the bed propped up on the pillows. I waited breathlessly and saw the faint pre-dawn blush spreading over the range. I strained in vain to see Annapurna. She was there, right behind the higher clouds, but didn’t reveal itself. After 5 promising minutes, suddenly white clouds drifted over the scene and completely obliterated it. The show was over!
We went down to Phewa lake and had lunch in one of the numerous shacks ringing the lake. We did a spot of boating and rowed to a tiny island with a tinier temple. We threw corn to the pigeons and had a peaceful row back amidst the mountains. You can row for hours, or paddle around, or even swim if you wish to.
We got a glimpse of Annapurna and other peaks on the flight back (seated on the right side of the plane). There they were, majestic and snowcapped, rising over the clouds, at the same height as the flight. My feeble phone camera couldn’t do the vision justice. My sis, Priya, suggested the title, “hide-n-seek” when she saw all our pix of the here-you-see-it, here-its-gone mountains. Next time, we’ll come back for a proper meeting. Till then, Namaste from Nepal!