. The Annapurna’s Beckons – the beginning
It took a day to get to Pokhara. I decided to hire a taxi as we had quite a bit of medical equipment for Rob. Bruce my son wasn’t due to arrive before 12:30 am so in the meantime the taxi driver Surya and myself went to get our park certificate and a tim card. Quite a money earner for Nepal at R3300 per person. Paperwork for this and that can be quite a time consuming exercise. For example I have used 2 passport photos and a copy of my passport just to get the Annapurna park paperwork done. Another annoying feature of this park business is that they are single entry. If you leave for example after finishing one trek in one section and then go to another section then you need another entrance certificate and hence another fee has to be paid. As far as I can tell it is also not possible to get to all parts of the part without leaving and entering. Even more annoying is that not all parks are treated the same. Some parks are located in what they term restricted areas and here fees can be enormous. For example Upper Mustang Area which borders the Annapurna Conservation area and is often reached from the same town of Jonsom has an entrance fee of $500 and lots of other potential charges and conditions. This naturally restricts access to the few that can afford it. In the wet season for me this area would be attractive as it is much drier that those areas south of the Annapurna peaks which are now copping the monsoons. We picked up Bruce at the airport and immediately jumped into the taxi skirting the sprawling and dusty city then heading west to Pokhara. Suyla was a good driver and host so with little ado other than the occasional pit stop we ended up at the tourist mecca of whats called Lakeside in Pokhara at about 6pm.
Rob obviously knew his way around and recommended the Mandap Hotel which we soon found. Subrana the hotel manager made us feel very welcome. It wasn’t very long before we were unpacked, showered and sitting down to a Nepalese standard of dal bhat with some of the whisky that Bruce had brought with him. The next day was a prep day and decision day for both of us deciding what treks we could manage. A lot of our baggage would stay at the hotel as we intended to travel light and stay in ‘hotels’. I use the word loosely as they certainly were not like the comforts we had been enjoying at the Mandap. After a tentative plan was determined over breakfast on the terrace outside our room we made a visit to Manapore Hospital.This is a great hospital and seems to be well run.I am sure my impression was strongly influenced by the help we got from the Patient Care co-ordinator Mrs Sulochana Dhakel who moved us through the maze of services effortlessly. I was still working on my teeth problems and Bruce had his back checked after an injury suffered from an overzealous massage in Thailand. Some items necessary for our trek were also were purchased in the Lakeside area which is well endowed with trekking shops an gear for all sorts of adventures. The day was completed with a climb to the stupa