Annapurna Circuit, Nepal
Day 19 (Ghandruk to Kande – Pokhara)
I woke up shortly after 06:00, grabbed my camera, and wandered around the old village of Ghandruk, taking many photographs of the town as it awakened this morning. I then returned to the hotel, ate breakfast (fried eggs, fried potatoes and tomatoes, toast with homemade jam, and a cup of coffee), paid my bill, packed my bag, and headed off for the final leg of my Annapurna journey (at about 08:30). As I walked through the town of Ghandruk, I kept stopping to take more photos; as a result, I didn’t exit the town until 09:00. I then walked down many stone steps to the Modi Khola, which I crossed upon reaching it; on the eastern side of the Modi Khola was a large rock wall with many giant bee hives, which I could just barely make out due to the distance between the cliff and I – this is the site of the famous “honey hunters of Nepal”. I then climbed up many more stone steps on the east side of the Modi Khola, watching the locals harvesting the rice of the terraced hillside and carrying the large bundles of rice up to their homes, until I reached the town of Landruk; I passed through this town and then ended up on a dirt road (boooo!). I followed the dirt road to the town if Tolka, where I crossed a stream and walked up more stone steps before reaching the town center and the dirt road again. I followed the dirt road some more until the trail broke away again; here I climbed even more stone steps (so much for a gradually-inclined trail – this trek is a real knee buster) to Bhichok Deurali, a town in top of the ridge, where on a clear day (not today) you can see Pokhara; on the way up to Bhichok Deurali, I saw two monkeys in one of the trees (I guess that makes the exhausting climb worthwhile). I then followed the stone trail to the town of Pothana, where my TIMS and ACAP permit were checked. Not long after passing through Pothana, I came to the Australian Camp, which was basically another town with a number of lodges that may or may not have had Australians staying in them. I then continued on the trail to the town of Kande, which I could see in the distance, as well as the road to Pokhara. I finally reached Kande some time around 15:00, dropped my bag, and waited for the hourly bus to pass by. I finished the Annapurna Circuit (hooray!).
The bus to Pokhara came about fifteen minutes after I arrived; I got on, paid the fare, and prayed for my safety since this bus ride was more dangerous than the entire trek (also, I didn’t even have a real seat and was too close to the open door). After about an hour of traveling on the winding Nepalese road, we arrived in Pokhara. I disembarked the bus, inquired about a bus to Lumbini, but was told to go to the Tourist Bus Park instead; I started to walk toward the town and a taxi driver pulled up, offered a fair price to Lakeside, and it decided to use his services instead of walking the forty minutes or so (also, I didn’t really know where I was, so a taxi was the most sensible option). The taxi drove me to the Lakeside district in Pokhara and everything was now familiar to me. I got out, walked to the Tourist Bus Park, bought a ticket to Lumbini for tomorrow (08:30 scheduled departure time), and then walked back to the Lakeside district in search of a decent hotel to spend the night in; after stopping at a couple of hotels, I found a decent one for a decent price (1500 rupees – 500 more than the place I stayed at on October 19th, but well worth it since this hotel was cleaner and had working faucets); I then took a much needed shower (ahhh, it felt so good), put on clean clothes (ahhh, also so good), finished a cold bottle of beer, and went out to have a feast. I ended up at the same restaurant I ate at before starting my nineteen day trek (a nice bookend to my journey) and I had more beer, a large pizza with ham, olives, and onions, as well as a large calzone with ham and spinach (not only was I really hungry, but my stomach evidently had plenty of room); after dinner I bought some more snacks and went back to my hotel room to snack out. I then went to sleep on my comfy bed.