Fly to Pokhara

Another great day: What must be one of the most spectacular 15 minute flights in the world. Breakfast in Pokhara. A boat ride on the Phewa Tal with a stop at the Barahi Temple. A long, hot, steep hike to the World Peace Pagoda. A free afternoon to tour Pokhara and photograph the people and sights of Nepal’s second largest city. Dinner of wonderful cheese steak on a sizzling platter with garlic naan (bread) and a large Everest beer while watching a somewhat raunchy comedian and typical Nepalese dancers. We avoided alcohol on the trek except for some raksi one night in Jomsom at the goodbye party for our porters, but now we were back at low elevations.

How long did it take our plane to Pokhara after landing in Jomsom to get airborne? How much time from touchdown for the plane to taxi to the gate, unload 18 passengers, unload 18 passengers worth of luggage, load 18 passengers and all their luggage, hand out cotton for the ears and candy for the mouth, make a “safety” announcement in several languages, taxi, and get airborne again? I measured the time with the “date stamps” of my photos. You should write down your guess and read on.

It was a clear morning and Nilgiri (23,165 ft) shone beautifully. Our two remaining sherpas plus Chhongba gathered us up and hauled our bags to the airport terminal, not much over a hundred yards away. Mingmar and Nabin K.C. were taking the slow bus back to Kathmandu with the porters. At the terminal it was the standard hurry up and wait.

NPL-38673--Nilgiri-at-Dawn-from-Jomson---Pan-(12)

Eventually our turn came and we headed to the tarmac. Our plane landed and I snapped its photo. We boarded, taxied, and took off. I snapped another photo as we got airborne. The two photos are below with the times written to the metadata by my camera. Would you believe less than 6 minutes passed? That is efficiency, but by necessity. The winds will soon pick up and prohibit flying for the rest of the day.

NPL-38683-Take-off-from-Jomson-with-time-stamp-

NPL-38675-Landing-in-Jomson-with-time-stamp

As we gained altitude I said goodbye to Nilgiri. But we didn’t gain all that much altitude. I was sitting up front and watched the terrain alert flash the entire trip warning of an imminent crash.

NPL-38686-Nilgiri-from-the-air

NPL-38750-Terrain-Alert

I chose the side of the airplane carefully; I wanted to face the sun. I love backlit photos. I hoped both the sun and the airplane would stay low enough for most of the trip so that the sun would be behind the Annapurna range. I was not disappointed. Here are some photos of Annapurna I (26,544 ft).

 

Below are some photos of Annapurna South (23,694 ft).

 

Once the sun cleared the mountain the best photo opportunities were gone. But I got a passable shot of Machhapuchhre (22,955 ft) known as the Fishtail.

NPL-38739-Annapurna-South-through-flareNPL-38747--Machhapuchhre

After a breakfast outdoors at out lodge’s “slow food” restaurant—slow service even by Nepal standards—we took a boat ride on Phewa Tal and watched parasailers enjoying the updrafts with Macchapuchhre in the background. The five scruffy-looking guys are, left to right, Keg, Tim, Kevin, Milt, and Pasang.

NPL-38817-Boats-at-Phewa-Tal--Pan-(3)

NPL-38853,4-Parasails-and-Machhapuchhre

NPL-38847

We stopped at the Barahi Temple on a man-made island in the lake and posed for a group shot. The five scruffy-looking guys are now joined by a few more plus some good looking gals.

NPL-38875,6--Group-at-Varhai-Temple-on-the-island-in-Phewa-Tal

NPL-38944

The hike to the World Peace Pagoda (Shanti Stupa) provided a nice view of Pokhara. Unfortunately the Annapurna Range was disappearing in the haze. We never got really clear views of it from Pokhara.

NPL-38916--Pokhara-Overview---Pan-(2)

The afternoon consisted of a relaxed exploration of Pokhara. Cattle egrets were flying out of a walled compound with nest material and then returning to get more. These are the same white birds I saw in the skies of Kathmandu on earlier trips and discovered later in this trip in Kathmandu. I would see them from the balcony of my hotel flying east early morning and again at dusk flying back west. I thought they were egrets but didn’t confirm it until this trip when I found them nesting right above one of the busiest and noisiest streets in Kathmandu. My two previous trips had been in the fall.

NPL-39004

NPL-39021

I photographed the boats on the shore of Phewa Tal, women sitting around small shrines, colorful masks for sale, three young girls sharing a bicycle, and water buffalo strolling down the main street.

NPL-39038

NPL-39050

Our evening meal featured great food, so-so entertainment, and a pleasant walk after dark back to our hotel. I turned in soon after we arrived back and left instructions for what I wanted for breakfast saying I might be late as I was planning to get up before dawn and photograph the city again.

Here are some of the photos from the day.