Wednesday 1st November (Day 35)
Yesterday was a chilled day. We booked todays adventure. Sunrise in Sarangkot, Mountain biking 3 hours down the 1600m mountain and rafting! EXCITED!!
5am wake up and 5.30am pickup in a tiny taxi in the dark. A lady called Jamura is our guide and we set off up the mountain. 30 minutes of revving and gear changing, beeping and swerving round steep corners and nick saw a fricking LEOPARD?! And we were there.
Jamura points us in the direction of the stairs and says she will be up after us. Its early and this is a lot of steps. I’ve had no breakfast and I’m starting to feel sick but theres another couple a few steps ahead of us and they’re struggling! Competitiveness takes over my sickness and we stomp past them haha.
Then Jamura RUNS up the stairs to us to give us our tickets and RUNS back down again. show off…
The sun is rising and the views are already incredible. We are above cloud level and a white bouncy sheet is covering the landscape with some house and huts poking out. We get to the top and there are around 50 people there waiting for the sunrise. A 360 view of the Himalayas with cloud beneath and clear sky and snow topped mountains above. INSANE.
The sun was huge and orange and as it rose, a thin piece of cloud split it in two.
“BURGER KING LOGO!”
Way to ruin a moment Terri
I got a load of photos and by 7am we were leaving to grab a coffee before our mountain biking. Half asleep and happy for the coffee but I thought breakfast was provided and I’m a little HANGRY. Nick had half a croissant and is holding it together.
Jamura seems lovely. A 5ft pretty Hindi girl who lives lakeside Pokhara with her mum and has a twin sister. She tells us she competes in triathlon and is one of only 4 women in Nepal that do so. WOW. No wonder she ran up those stairs so easily! This bike ride is going to be interesting!
We put on our helmets, carry our bikes down some stairs and head off. I’m personally not used to mountain bikes after riding my Fixie daily to and from work in London so that felt odd, big and heavy. We zoomed down crazy, steep, rocky, potholed roads and I was a little worried for the first 10 minutes and then got used to it. Nick was in his element.
Up and down hill. Long steep hills and we were breathing heavy. “I’m not going to make it! Go on without me! SAVE YOURSELF!!!” is running through my mind. Again, competitiveness won’t allow me to ask for a break or to lag behind so no one knows I’m about to break down worse than Britney Spears.
It absolutely kills me but one final hill wins and I have to shout to stop a moment. Nick was secretly relieved it had come from me and his masculinity could remain in tact.
Jamura was at the top of the hill shouting something to us and we couldn’t hear over our own heartbeat. When we reached her, she said “Oh that was the last steep upward hill and I was just saying our break stop was here at the top”. Noooooooo!!! I nearly made it!
Anyway, a little break and I take my jumper off. Jamura says I will need to put it back on soon as it will get very cold going downhill. We continue through many villages within the clouds. Women washing pots in springs, men wandering up and down the roads, families eating breakfast, children shouting “Hi!” as we pass and dogs sprawled all over the roads.
We stop at a small shop in a village and Jamura says we’re stopping for breakfast 😀 WOOHOOOO!
She leads us through the back of the shop which looks like someones home and upstairs to their roof. Theres a table up there and another 360 view of the valleys, Himalayas and snowy mountain tops. Eggs on toast with a view like that. Sun on our faces. Stunning.
Jamura had egg noodles. She said in Nepal they eat rice and noodles for every meal, however, breakfast was usually sweet biscuits and tea. Mmmmm, sounds like my kind of breakfast.
I ask Jamura questions about her life and her job and she tells us how difficult it is being a woman in sport in Nepal. She says that no one respects her and the villages gossip about her. She says her male employees don’t respect her and everyone is narrow minded. Thankfully her mother says she can do whatever she wants to do which is very rare for Hindu mothers.
She is 19! Incredible. Triathlete working for a top adventure tour office at 19! I tell her they are most definitely jealous and she agrees this must be the reason. She says she keeps up with the male guides (If not passing them by and leaving them in her dust) so she’s obviously a threat. She has a brilliant attitude. Women she knows in Kathmandu that also do these types of tours (as it is more accepted for women in Kathmandu) have told her to move there and join them but Jamura says she wants to change things for women in Pokhara. She wants to make it acceptable for women here. What a strong minded, incredible young woman. I think she will change things for the better for the women of Pokhara.
Anyway, we leave and head off downhill again. We go through a bit of jungle and see waterfalls and rivers and finally hit flatland and a motorway. Either side of the motorway are houses and huge fields with women int heir traditional red clothing collecting the crops. Mountains behind them. Stunning views all around. Jamura tells us the next bit of road is bumpy and steep and she zooms off. I could see her below swerving and skidding and LOVING IT.
I was also swerving and skidding and SHITTING IT.
I was getting used to it and could understand why, with more experience, this could be so much fun. We could no longer see Jamuara but there was only one way down. Finally we get to the bottom and she’s already parked up and removed her helmet. Ultimate respect for this woman.
We were next to the white water rapid river we were about to travel down and me and Nick had no idea what to expect. The bus with the raft, kayaks and guides pulls up and they start preparing. The bus driver asks Jamura which bike is hers and cycles off on it.
I instantly understood our earlier conversation and giggled internally at the butch bus driver wavering and struggling to cycle over the rocky ground. It was like watching bambi and I could imagine his and many others anger/jealousy after seeing Jamura so elegantly make her way down that treacherous road.
We had our safety talk and were given helmets, life jackets and a paddle each. SO MANY RULES!
- Hold the paddle with your thumb under the handle and all fingers over the top. (Most accidents happen from people letting go of this handle and it hitting people in the face).
- Directions of paddling!
- RIGHT FORWARD! LEFT BACKWARD!
- LEFT FORWARD! RIGHT BACKWARD!
- ALL PADDLE BACKWARD!
- ALL PADDLE FORWARD!
- GET DOWN! (all to get inside the raft and hold the string on the raft)
- If we fall out, we let the rapids take us downstream feet first until we are rescued!
There was a lot of talk about falling out so I thought this was a given and was mentally preparing myself. We get in. Me and Nick at the back with the main guide right behind us. Two guides in the middle and an Egyptian couple at the front. The lady was wearing flipflops which I felt would haunt her at some point.
In we went and commands were shouted. Water was thrown everywhere. We had a team high five with the paddles every time we made it through a difficult area of rapids and the kayakers were having a good laugh watching us.
(Images of rafting are not mine – just found of the exact same lake and area we were in to show what we encountered!)
We had to get out of the raft and walk around the “Ghost rapids” whilst our guides rafted through as they said it was too dangerous. We walked 10 minutes through what could only be described as a scene from The jungle book and came out the other side of the rapids at a shallow walk into the river. Jamura said “you can swim here if you like!”. Me and Nick were half way in when the rafting guide said “Who wants to cliff jump in?”
So we followed him climbing up a big rock and when we got to the top, the kayakers were underneath shouting “JUMP!” and laughing.
Nick went first after an “Oh fuck” and then once he swam out the way, I jumped in. I hadn’t realised how high it was but IT WAS. It was also freezing! You know when water is so cold that when you get to the top you can’t breath? Also, the impact of the water hit the largest part of my body… MY ASS.
30 seconds later and I felt amazing. It was such a rush and the water was amazing. We swam back to the shore and got back in the raft and off we went again. Me and Nick were in the front this time. We nearly fell out a couple of ties but we both absolutely loved it.
“Whats that smell?” Nick said. There was a funeral on the side of the river where they were burning the body. an instant grounder.
We got back and chilled the rest of the day. We decided we wanted to do Canyoning at some point in the next 4 months.