Road trip to Pokhara via Bandipur

Matthew has arrived and his time is short so we head off with his business colleague Bista on a road trip, firstly, to fulfil his familial duties and greet the inlaws. It is a 6+ hour drive during which we take in Bandipur a beautifully restored hill town, dal baht, discover a new Nepali brew and eventually get to ‘little sister’s’ house above the city of Pokhara, Nepal’s number two.

In my newspaper reading during my first week all the talk was about the end of year budget, underspending, hasty decisions rather than planned restructuring and rebuilding of the nation post earthquake, a failure to yet distribute earthquake relief to those who houses were lost, and politics. For three days after the budget was declared parliament was at a standstill because of complaints about how it had been leaked and this all needed discussing before the budget itself could come under scrutiny. Yes, many in the nation of Nepal who long for progress are frustrated by the government’s inability to lead.

Roads need building, schools need funding, health care needs reform, farming needs planning, and people need to rebuild their houses before a second monsoon season strikes.

One example of political motives probably trumping practical progress is Pokhara airport. There have been plans in place for years and a location marked out, but it has stalled. No doubt a new airport here could enhance Nepal’s second city, advance Indian and Chinese tourism in the region, aid nepal’s migrant workers, and support imports and exports. But could there be political reasons why KTM might not want visitors to bypass their number one city?

Whilst we were in Pokhara Matthew was able to meet with extended family who were mourning an elderly relative, and Bista was able to sample not only a friend’s new hotel but also the local vodka! OK so we joined in too and sampled a fair amount of the local whiskey, some Tibetan Momo  (dumplings) and more than one of the hotel bedrooms until we found one we were happy with.

We returned our hired jeep to its little corner of Thamel through narrow unlit windy and sometimes tourist-filled streets and thought ‘if you’d have any part in designing where to locate your vehicle hire company you wouldn’t choose here’!

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