April 6, 2014
The last few days have been a whirlpool of activity, including receptions, dinners, meetings, briefings at the Ministry and hours of working with my electronics. I’m a bit exhausted. The noise, pollution, traffic and hoards of people and machinery competing for space in Kathmandu add to the stress.
I have found that a big part of the formula for success in high altitude mountaineering is arriving at the mountain with good motives, a pure heart, calmness, serenity and peace of mind. I believe my destiny is foreordained, so why not enjoy the journey?
To that end, I decided to travel outside the big City to relax, recuperate and reset my internal compass. My land rover does not leave for Tibet until April 10, so I have a couple of free days. I had heard Pokhora is a great resort destination near KTM, so I booked a flight. Asian Trekking recommended a hotel in Pokhora, describing it as a resort hotel on the lake just one block from restaurant row. So, I booked 3 nights from April 6-8, returning to KTM on April 9.
The flight left this morning at 9:30 and arrived in Pokhora at 10:15. As I looked out the window on landing, I could see Pokhora is just as polluted as KTM. But, that’s okay, I’m not a picky traveler, and at least I will have a view of the lake from my terrace. In another few days, I will be living in a tent in sub-zero temperatures, so how bad can this be?
We arrived at the destination hotel which was (too) near the airport. How shall I describe this hotel? Well, it makes Hotel 6 look like the Taj Mahal. The tiny lobby was teeming with sweaty, noisy people. The rooms were like jail cells, and there was no lake in sight. In fact, there were no views in sight. The hotel was surrounded by large buildings and had no gardens or courtyards. The swimming pool was the size of an average wading pool in Newport Beach. A generator across the street groaned like it was about to explode. I asked about the lake and was met with a blank stare. Then, I was told the lake is 15-minutes away and main street with the restaurants is 20-minutes-away.
So much for reducing my stress level with this trip. I immediately suspended the booking process and called Asian Trekking. What were you thinking? They re-booked me at the Landmark Hotel, which is a couple of blocks from the lake and right on the main street with the restaurants. Through the haze, I can see the edge of the lake from my room through the telephone wires that stretch across the street. The main street does look nice and there are lots of restaurants. Tonight, I think I’ll eat at the “Be Happy” restaurant to get myself into the right right frame of mind (I’m not making up that name).
My room is pretty nice. It has a tiny balcony which is large enough for a single chair as long as it is placed sideways and you don’t stretch your legs. I’m writing this report from the restaurant on the second floor. See photo below. With the shirt I am wearing in the photo, I am constantly greeted as “Hi Gus,” an insider joke for those who watched Breaking Bad.
Tonight, I’ll start meditation, yoga and chanting. Be so glad you are not sharing my room.