Wednesday, 4 February 2015

Top 5 Fun Activities to Do in Nepal!

PROJECT: Unibreak Placement (Education & Nursing)
WRITTEN BY: Julia Quine

As my second to last week is coming to an end, it is time for me to write about what I consider the 5 top ‘must-dos’ in Pokhara. This is something that is relative to each individual’s preferences, but it is a safe bet that the rest of the group would share the majority of these choices.

1 – Explore Lakeside

The greatest thing about being placed in Pokhara is that you have easy access to Lakeside, perhaps the most chilled out tourist area you’ll find in Nepal. Compared to the craziness and chaos that is Kathmandu, Lakeside is an area of relative solace and relaxation. It’s by no means quiet, but there are footpaths and that’s always a perk. There an abundance of really awesome cafes and restaurants to choose from, as well as all the souvenirs your heart desires. Fair warning though, Lakeside is naturally more expensive than places a bit out of the tourist area. It’s worth getting your souvenirs a bit further out if you want to save a bit of money.

Some recommendations that I’m sure are shared by the others would be Moondance (even if just for the lemon meringue pie and the pizza), Busy Bee (has the most amazing atmosphere) or AM/PM cafĂ© (I went here so often that they started to know my order.)

For shopping, I definitely recommend checking out the Women Skill’s Development Organisation. It’s slightly more expensive than other shops in the area, and it’s fixed pricing, but the proceeds go to a really excellent organization and all the products (ranging from bags to quilt covers) are all beautiful and quite unique

Take the time to sit by the lake, even hire a boat if you want, and take in the beautiful, peaceful place that is Pokhara.

2 – Walk up to the World Peace Pagoda

As I have mentioned in a previous post, one of the top tourist destinations in Pokhara is the World Peace Pagoda, an imposing and beautiful stupa sitting up high on a hill, able to be seen from most of Pokhara. The walk was definitely one that gave us all a significant amount of exercise, but the walk was completely worth it. Although you can get views of the Annapurna range from Pokhara in general (another thing that makes Pokhara so incredible), the views from up at the stupa are paired with views over Fewa Lake and are absolutely uninterrupted. It is truly breathtaking and due to it being quite a holy sight, it is a very quiet area which really helps you take it all in. There are a few cafes up there also, so you can reward yourself with a nice cup of tea or coffee after the walk. Definitely make sure you don’t leave without doing the walk up there!

If you walk down the other side, you can pay to get a boat over to Lakeside area. That in itself was also a lovely experience. If you get the chance, venture a bit further around as you’ll often come across slightly more secluded cafes that are right on the lake. You’ll be surprised at just how large the lake is, and that makes for endless opportunities for exploring!

3 – Take the opportunity to do weekend trips

As easy as it would be to just stay in Pokhara for the whole month, there are various places you can get to easily for weekend trips. One such place is Chitwan National Park, about a 6-hour bus journey from Pokhara. Most of the hotels in Chitwan offer various organized schedules, depending on how long you are staying. In our case, we had 2 and a half days, so the hotel organised a jeep safari, an elephant back safari, a canoe ride, a walk through the jungle and an opportunity to see baby elephants. I almost cried, they were just that adorable.

Another weekend trip people should definitely consider is going to Lumbini. Lumbini is the birthplace of Buddha, and has archaeologically been proven as such. It’s a very long and windy journey by bus to get there, but for myself and the two other girls that made the trip, it was definitely worth it. Having lived within Buddhist families, within a community that is comprised of other Buddhist families, I felt it was a very relevant and important trip to take for my own understanding and education about Buddhism. The central town area of Lumbini itself is very small and underwhelming, but when you enter the ‘Lumbini Development Zone’, you can definitely feel the important of the area. Surrounding the area where Buddha was born, there is a beautiful and peaceful garden that is full of prayer flags. Not just a little bit full, extraordinarily full. It was incredible.

After that, we hired some bicycles and entered was called the ‘monastic zone,’ which was full of various temples and structures that had been erected by various countries to commemorate Buddha in their own ways. These ranged from small simple buildings, to elaborate and ornate buildings that were surrounded by golden statues and giant prayer wheels. It is definitely worth the journey, and has been one of my personal highlights of my time in Nepal.

4 – Paragliding

At the time of writing, I have myself not done paragliding. However, I have been assured by the rest of the group that it something that you absolutely have to do whilst in Pokhara. Unfortunately for me, due to my monetary situation, I had to choose being doing a weekend trip to Lumbini and paragliding so paragliding is something I will have to do when I return to Nepal in the future!

5 - Embrace your Tibetan life

Take the time to simply enjoy the environment that you are living in. The job that you are placed at is the reason you are here, but it is truly where you are living that I believe makes being placed in Pokhara extra special. Living with a Tibetan family makes for the most rewarding experience, with hospitality like no other and a feeling that you are well and truly a part of their family. As the days go on, you will start to recognize people around the settlement, as they will you, and part of your daily routine will be greeting and chatting with a lot of the locals.

A few days ago, a few of the girls versed a team of Tashi Ling local girls in a game of football. It was a good game, with the match ending in a draw. It’s days like this that make you really feel the community spirit in this place.

Tashi Ling is a place like no other, and it has been a truly lovely place to be living in. I will miss my host family dearly, and I definitely feel like I now have a second family in Pokhara.

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