Just Say Yes...
I crossed the border late at night, around 9pm, walking from India to Nepal with a sense of trepidation. I had never crossed a boarder so late before, and with absolutely no plans, I was worried as to what would meet me on the other side.
I guiltily woke up the border official who was snoozing peacefully behind his desk, paid my US$20 for my visa, and walked the 100 metres into Nepal. I was stunned that this man was so blasé and nonchalant about border security; there were no questions, no bag checks, nothing. Just a slight smile on his face as if recollecting the dream I had so obviously woken him from.
One thing that immediately struck me about Nepal was the night sky. You could see thousands of stars, something that was often impossible through India’s traffic and light pollution. It was stunning and I immediately fell in love with the country. I stood just beyond the gate, a little to the side, staring at the night sky for what seemed like an age. After a moments reflection I had only one thing on my mind; sleep.
I was tired from another full day’s travel and sleep was a priority. I checked into the first hostel I saw, a basic room, toilet and cockroach, and hunted down some food before I hit the hay.
Nothing could wake me up that night and I slept like a baby until sunlight streamed into my room.
I discovered that the bus to Pokhara was at 6am, another 12 hour bus journey, meaning another full day's travelling.
The bus ride was beautiful, winding through the mountains, picking up and dropping off passengers whenever and wherever they liked (honestly, it was organised chaos). However, it was hard to fully relax on the bus as it winded round the cliff face once too often for my liking.
After speaking to a local about Nepal and its sights I wanted to get to Pokhara, to finally chill for a few days and take in the Himalayas. I had that stupid grin across my face that backpackers have when they find themselves in a new and exciting country. I was hooked and I wanted more...
I arrived at the central bus station in Pokhara a little after 7pm. My destination was Lakeside, a full five miles away. Too far to walk. It was one of those moments of decision; either you fork out for a taxi (flashpacker) or you catch a local bus (backpacker).
Ever the SlumChummer, I decided to take a local bus to Lakeside. It's the little decisions that makes travelling so full of surprises...
Stuck between the usual man-with-a-chicken and a woman-so-vast-it-made-you-hungry, I whittled the time away. I looked up to see a kind woman looking directly at me, with the natural curiosity that I have come to expect of locals. I smiled back. She continued to beam at me, and then asked in broken English: "Are you looking for a place to stay?"
When you've been on the road for more than a month or two it’s easy to spot a hawker and a scammer. This wasn’t one. This was a yes moment. A new adventure. A new experience.
I replied: "Yes, I am looking for a place to stay."
Again, she beamed. "Follow me."
Rada, who was one of the kindest women I have ever met, housed me for the next two weeks, often inviting me to eat with her family and teaching me everything that I needed to know about Nepal and the area. All she asked for in return was a little money, lychees, a fruit she was particularly fond of, and the hope that I would continue to travel while saying yes...