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4 weeks in Pokhara
Friday, 04 May 2007
Arriving in Pokhara was sort of a deja-vue – we’ve been in Pokhara before in 1998. First impressions? Wow a lot of new buildings, asphalt road from Campsite Chowk to damside and a clean streets!  The tourist scene has expanded considerable – north of Campsite Chowk we remember only a few buildings, now it’s dotted with shops, restaurants and hotels. Pokhara is where we stayed for a week after 19 days on the Annapurna trail – now we arrived after 340 days and a lot of Km’s. We parked at the public campsite near Campsite Chowk – and to our surprise a few other motorized travellers!  It’s a small world indeed – overland travel seems to be like that. There are a few things about overland travel which is pretty remarkable. Yes it’s a small world and within this world there is not much interaction with travellers like backpackers, package tourists. Simply because people with vehicles tend to stay away from downtown area’s. Also motorized overlanding seems to be an European affair. Dominant nationalities are German, French, Swiss and Brits specked with small numbers of Dutch, Belgium and Austrians.

If there’s an international place in Asia it’s got to be Nepal. Pokhara is a pretty wild mix of foreigners from all over the world. Most of the foreign population is refreshed within a few days since most are on tight travel schedules. The ones who remain are obviously the backpackers, cyclists and motorized overland travellers. And they tend to be pretty streetwise – knowing the ins and outs of travelling for long periods of time.

For 4-wheeled overland travellers Pokhara is known for its public campsite near campsite chowk. For those who are planning to stay at this place in the future, don’t be surprised if it’s gone. The place is bound to disappear because of the increased commercial potential. The view over the lake is superb and it’s right near where all the (tourist) action is in Pokhara. Popularity of this big open place among locals is high – lots of children visit this place to play. It’ll sure be a big downer for locals to suddenly see a tourist resort mushroom here.

Staying at the Pokhara public campsite is a test of your self-sufficient ability. There’s no water, electricity or toilet. One of the first problems is how to get good water in fairly big amounts. Forget about the lake, the water is soiled pretty bad – which is a disaster. There is a small watertap at the campground which runs only a few days a week. Locals are there to tap it – as a foreigner it’s no way of getting in between with a 150 liter watertank. Basically water is in short supply – you’ll have to drive to get it or arrange a water supply company to bring it. Next is electricity – which means solar panels or a generator. The ones who depend on electrical outlets won’t last long. Next to that it’s not always sunny weather so small solar panels won’t last either.

Getting connected to the Internet in Pokhara is easy but not cheap for Asian standards. The tourist area in Pokhara is dominated by an internet kartel – which means fixed high rates. In march / april 2007 an hour online does 100 Rs. The only variable is speed meaning with how many others you’ll share the same line. For long download / upload sessions its better to go uptown to old Pokhara. It’ll save you about 80 Rs / hour. For those familiar with GPRS there is a magic 24 hr / day internet access with average speeds round 5kB/sec for about 1600 Rs/month supplied by Mero Mobile.

We stayed for 3 weeks at the campsite sharing time with other motorised overland travellers. With the arrival of an Indian festival to celebrate the Nepali new year we moved to The Mountain House in uptown Pokhara (tourist side). It has a small garden and space to park a few big trucks. Be careful with water – it’s of low quality.

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