Day 142: Pokhara (Nepal) – November 6th

Although they recommended a light breakfast, Alan had about one and a half plates of momos for breakfast which he’ll regret a bit later. Jiajia was smart and had one of those banana chocolate-chip cakes. We were then shuttled off by a Mahindra jeep and were off up on the mountains before we knew it! Problem was, we were once again seated laterally in the jeep, and bumping up and down, making sharp turns up the mountain for about 30 minutes. Uhhhh, stomach was queasy and we were all ready to throw up at the top of the mountain. Walking away from the road and down a narrow trail, we weren’t really sure where we were headed until two people just glided right above us with their chutes sailing towards the wind. What a nice welcome!

Scattered across a small field next to a ‘cliff’, was about 30 people. Local kids were busy unpacking chutes, while pilots were busy testing the winds and one by one people would just start running out of nowhere and into the air they’d go! I was paired up with Isabella, an attractively athletic looking woman, who was the only female pilot and was once ranked #6 in the world in competition! Jiajia was paired up with Oliver, a tall and slender guy that was pretty cool looking with his shades and slick blonde hair.

After some basic explanations and barely enough time to know what was going on, I was standing in the middle of the field when suddenly, Isabella told me to take a few steps forward, and calmly told me to take a few more steps, and before I knew it I was swept off my feet and flying off in the air! Wow! Just like that and we were flying up in the sky, hurdling towards the hilltop directly ahead of us. It was a surreal moment, and I couldn’t help but just giggle wildly with the simple joy that I was actually flying with such ease and grace. Directly below me were farmers tilling their colourful crop fields, and to my right was well over 15 paragliders just hovering around the ‘thermals’ trying to get lift. It was really crazy how you just stay afloat in mid-air, rising and falling with the winds/current, but I always had this fear that the wind would stop and we’d fall right out of the sky!!! Spotting a griffin of sorts ahead of us gliding, we followed its ‘wingsteps’ and hit a nice heat bubble which gave us enough lift and back up. Wow, birds are cool….

Hovering around in the air, I made a few turns in the air myself, but fearing that I just might “do the wrong thing” and drop out of the sky, I didn’t try to go crazy with the controls, which was surprisingly light and the chutes gave very little resistance. We hovered around, looking at people below us doing acrobatics, swinging wildly from side to side like a massive swing, I was super excited to do it, but the momos I had for breakfast was definitely not sitting well after that stupid jeep ride and I opted not to do any acrobatics in fear of blinding my instructor with barf.

Not sure how, but the descent was quick and sort of thinking it’d be like an airplane, I was all ready for a massive bump while landing. The craziest part though, was none of that happened and it felt like you just walked off a cloud and onto the ground, stepping gently onto the narrow grass that served as the landing strip. THAT WAS SO COOL. Still overly excited from the adrenaline, we were quickly shuttled back onto the stupid jeep and the momos wanted to come right back out. Seriously, paragliding is an extremely cool (and safe!) sport!

Back to reality, we needed to extend our visa at the immigration office. It was a rather surreal, as it was almost exactly what I had imagined these places would look like. Situated in a pastel-pink building close to the tourist area, the office was very out of place next to a the C.G. Paints store. Officers usually had a mustache and were dressed in navy blazers, calmly talking behind the metal bars. Rooms were sparsely decorated with small wooden tables and chairs, painted in an uneven glow of dark mahogany which offset the walls of dull yellow paint. Despite arriving at 1:07pm, and the office hours being listed as 10am-1pm, the lax officer was extremely nice and let us put in our forms. We were asked several questions, and a few jokes were made at our nationality and us having Chinese visas, despite being actually Chinese. We were on our way to lunch within an hours time, which was surprisingly short and efficient despite all the stories we’ve heard. Spare for being scammed by the cashier lady (Visa was $30USD, but they rounded up the numbers and almost gypped us out of a few bucks!

We spent the afternoon idling by the lake, just watching the locals fish and the dogs having a beach party. Renting the boat for one hour was quite fun as we paddled around Fewa Lake, working up an appetite for dinner. In the middle of the lake was an Hindi temple, and at this hour it was like rush hour, with boats paddling up and down shuttling eager pilgrims onto the island. From afar, you can hear the hustle and bustle like there was some party going on…hehe it was neat. For dinner, we sat front row at a place which also had a ‘show’, with live music and traditional Nepalese dancing.

What a wonderful day!

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