(see map) trin: We traveled from Kathmandu to Bandipur to Pokhara on the days leading up to the Hindu holiday Dasain. The buses and roads were full of people on their way to celebrate with family and animals on their way to be sacrificed.
The bus dropped us off in the town of Dumre where we took a jeep up the hill to Bandipur.
The village is high on a ridge and the houses are still constructed in the traditional Nepali style. With no cars and the main street full of playing children, we were immediately taken by the town.
We did a long day hike from Bandipur to Damauli. Along the way we stopped at Ramkot, a remote mountaintop village. We both agree the visit is one of the highlights of our trip, probably due to the authenticity of the experience. Nothing was set up for tourism, we were just visitors passing through and the residents made us feel welcome.
Mike getting a lesson in hulling rice on one family's front porch. There were also women grinding corn using hand grinders made from two large stones.
There are so many children in Nepal, particularly in the villages. I bent down to show these three their photo and was immediately surround by another dozen. All of them smiling and pushing in to get a look. It was one of those special moments.
Visiting a traditional round house constructed from stone and mud. We sat on handwoven cushions made from corn stocks. Most things are grown or made in the village. There are no roads so anything else has to be carried in on someone's back.
Another stop in the village was our guide's best friend's house. He wasn't at home but that didn't stop his mom from serving us pumpkin curry and a fresh batch of chang (a drink made from millet & corn).
Her outdoor kitchen is rustic to say the least but the food was good. Mike had seconds.
As we rested on the sidewalk in Damauli the locals took quite a bit of interest in us (always a good sign that you're off the well established tourist path). I spotted a man across the street taking our photo. It was a little unsettling to be on the other side of the camera but I gave him a big smile which he seemed to appreciate.
A vendor selling vibrant powders for tilakas, colorful markings applied to Hindu's foreheads.
Crowded local transportation.
From Bandipur we bused to Pokhara where we spent two days sightseeing and arranging our trek. As a warm up, we hiked up to Sarangkot at 5280 feet. On a clear day there is an excellent view of the Annapurna Mountain Range. We weren't that lucky and settled for a view back down to Phewa Lake and Pokhara. Clouds were rolling in so we hurried back ahead of the afternoon rain.
No matter how remote, each village builds a bamboo swing for the children to play on during Dasain.
Rice paddies at Lakeside, the tourist area of Pokhara.
Canoe ride across the lake.
The World Peace Pagoda that overlooks Pokhara and Phewa Lake.
In both Kathmandu and Pokhara the streets are lined with trekking supply shops selling imitation North Face. The shop owners took a special interest in our legitimate North Face gear. "Where did you get this jacket? Good quality. How much did it cost?" I think they were worried one of their competitors found a better supplier.
Packing for the trek. We are always concerned with weight and space but when you need to carry a bag for ten days it becomes a much bigger issue.