October 26, 2006:
Kathmandu to Pokhara and then to Naya Pul to
Birethanti (1,000 m) to Ulleri (1,950 m)
Woke up at 6 am but stayed in bed until close to 7 am. Bharat was going to pick me up at 8 am for
our 9:30 am flight to Pokhara. Had a quick breakfast in the hotel, checked out and deposited my
suitcase with the bell boy. Bharat arrived together with his brother who was driving us to the
airport. Check-in and security were a breeze and we were quickly in the departure lounge.
Unfortunately, our flight was about 30 minutes delayed. Buddha Air flight # 603. The plane was
quite modern and the flight to Pokhara only took about 25 minutes. During the flight I got some
nice shots of Manaslu.
After getting our bags, we walked outside. It took Bharat a while to get a cab to Naya Pul. The cab
drivers wanted more money than Bharat was prepared to pay. I think we ended up paying 1,200
rupees. The trip to Naya Pul took a little over an hour. The first part of the road was decent, but
then, once we approached the mountains and crossed over several ridges, the street was narrow with
many potholes. Naya Pul is the starting point for the Annapurna Base Camp trek, the Jomsom trek
and one of the starting/end points for the Annapurna Circuit Trek. It is quite a crowded little place.
We left the road, descended to the river and then walked towards Birethani where we had lunch.
Before we crossed the bridge to Birethani there was the Maoist station. Here I had some fun: They
wanted to collect 400 rupees from us. I told them that I already paid in Khumbu. Of course, the
answer was that was a different region and I had to pay again. I told them that I would not pay as I
had a donation receipt saying that it was valid throughout the Republic of Nepal. They of course
said that this is not true. Well, I showed them the receipt and yous hould have seen their faces. It
was priceless. I really didn't care about paying or not, but I was just having fun arguing with them.
Within a few minutes, there were about 10 guys standing around my "donation receipt", studying it
and arguing what they should do. They really did not know what to do. After lots of arguing I
finally gave in and gave them their 400 rupees. They were really relieved and thanked me a lot. I
probably could have come out of this not having to pay at all, but it was ok with me. Anyway, I got
my receipt and some other Communistic pamphlet. I told them that they should get their act
together and contact their "collegues" over in Khumbu to not issue these kind of receipts anymore
as it was confusing us travellers. Of course, this is not going to happen, but I really was enjoying
the show and milking it a bit more.
Birethani was a pleasant village on
the river with quite a few lodges.
After lunch, we started following
the river valley to Hille and then to
Thikedunga??.  It took us about 2
hours, pretty easy stuff and low
altitude. After Thikedunga, we
started the climb up to Ulleri, which
is located 500 meters higher. Up,
up, up mostly on man-made steps.
It took us an hour to get to Ulleri. I
must have lots of red blood cells in
my body as I was charging up the
hill like a bull! Maybe it was the
beer in Kathmandu which gave me
back my strength.
We stayed in Ulleri for the night. 2 Germans and 2 Dutch guys were the only other guests. As we
arrived only around 5 pm, the wait for dinner was short. This trip so far is quite different to my trip
to the Khumbu area. Much lower altitude and the temperature is pleasant. The people here in this
region are quite different as well. I really liked the sherpas/nepalis over in the Khumbu region and I
am still trying to get a feel of the different ethnic groups over here. The host family of the lodge was
great. The lodge was called the Superview Guest House. Dinner was tomato soup, maccaroni with
tomatoes and onions and rice pudding with apples as dessert....hmmmm. Also a couple of Tuborg's
to add calories. We are at a low altitude so Bharat cannot tell me I can't have beer! Ha! Had a nice
chat with the Dutch guys until it was time to go to bed around 8:30 pm or so. Slept pretty decent.
My room had an attached western style bathroom as all lodges had on my short Poon Hill trip.
Kathmandu Domestic Airport Departure
Pokhara Airport