"The Final Fling ..." Pokhara Travelogue by travelinxs
Pokhara Travel Guide: 379 reviews and 987 photos
The jeep pulled over at a take-off strip near Sarangkot view point, 2,000 feet above Pokhara and the lake.
We disembarked and stood around the grassy edge of the cliff feeling a little apprehensive of our impending paragliding flight, as our pilots set up the gear.
Juliet was paired up with Neil, a chilled out Brit, who knew Devon well and had paraglided off a famous view point near Woolacombe many times. My life was in the hands of Frenchman Christoph, who looked far more nervous than I felt he should look, though he seemed to know where all the straps went as we locked ourselves together.
I opted for an hours Cross Country flight, as apposed to the standard thirty minute Cloud Buster flight, as I wanted to make the most of it. The problem with a Cross Country is that conditions had to be just right to gain the lift to bring us back over the ridge we took off from, to head for the Himalayas behind, rather than just descending to the lake below.
“When I say run, you run,” said Christoph, in heavily accented English. “When we go in air, you still running,” he added. I had no idea what the Frenchman was talking about, but before I could ask he yelled, “RUN! RUN! RUN!”
So I ran, hoping we were still strapped together and Christoph was running behind me. The chute took my weight and the ground dropped away below. I carried on running for a while, but it didnt seem to be making much difference, so I relaxed back in the sling chair to enjoy the view.
We banked gradually left, to face back toward the ridge.
“Ah sheet... ah sheet... ah sheet,” cursed Christoph.
“Is everything all right?” I asked.
“We av problem. I think we no make over ridge!” Ahead, the forest clad ridge was heading straight for us at an alarming speed. Gradually, we gained hight and clipped over the tree canopy. We banked again. Another ridge loomed ahead.
“Ah sheet! Not good wind. Ah sheet... ah sheet... ah sheet... “
We crossed through a lower saddle and soared on. I could feel Christophs legs either side of my waiste trembling.
“Ah sheet,” he said again, though I couldnt see what the problem was. The way ahead was clear, the ground falling away below a thousand feet. Ahead, the mountains, and as we banked once more, the lake again.
“Is everything okay, Christoph?” I asked over my shoulder.
He grunted, as he fought with the steering lines, then added “Ah sheet,” perhaps just to give me added value to the flight by making it a bit more nerve-racking. I was tempted to twist round in my chair and give the Frenchman a slap and tell him to stop panicking. It all seemed back-to-front to me. But instead I relaxed back in my chair, returning waves from kids in a village far below, watching eagles soaring past as they vied for the thermals with us and let the staggering scenary take my breath away.
Being a 'sheet' day for Cross Country flying, we headed back to the lake. Once over the water Christoph asked, “You wanna try acrobat'eeks?”
That didnt seem a terribly good idea, what with an unstable Frenchman in control, and with the scrambled eggs Id had for breakfast already leaking out of my ears, but what the hell...
The next minute we were swinging in a figuer-of-eight motion, very nearly completing a full somersault over the top of the chute. At least, thats how it felt as the horizon span like a propellar and my inards began to leak out of every oraphise.
Finally, with my eyes still spinning, we came into land in a field beside the lake, crashing into two young Nepali boys and dropping the chute into a muddy pond.
What a rush!
In Pokhara we whiled away the days doing very little.
One evening, the ever increasing temperature and humidity was broken by a huge storm. We were sat at the open front of the Be Happy restaurant as thunder raged and lightening illuminated the street, rain drumming heavily on the roof and spry swirling in to soak us.
And then... “BANG!”
A lightening strike so loud and intense, it was as if we had been sitting next to a car bomb as it detonated, the shock waves thumping into our chests.
“Oh my god!” yelled Juliet, looking down at the empty plate where her food had been. “My dinners been hit by lightening!”
In truth, the lightening, which had struck a telegraph pole across the road, had made her jump with such a start that her flaying arms had sent her meal flying, scattered to the four corners of the restaurant, including a few chips onto the lap of an equally startled chap sitting ten feet away.
One lunch time I felt an overwhelming urge for a baguette for some reason. I was a little hesitant at visiting the Nameste Sandwich Point, as back in 2002 it had given me my only true bout of dysentery in my 23 year travel career. But I concluded the chef must have washed his hands at some point over the past seven years, so sat down and tucked into a very fine chicken sandwich.
A few hours later we went out for pizza. Seconds after ordering my Hawaiian, I called back the waiter and cancelled my order. I sat outside the restaurant on a wall, hyperventilating slightly, as Juliet finished her meal.
During the evening, I felt ever increasing seismic rumblings from within, like a mountain building up to a cataclysmic volcanic eruption. At around midnight, I leapt out of bed, squealing in panick, and bolted into the bathroom. I just got the door closed when I was bent over double and exploded like a double-ended water-cannon. I could have cleared a rowdy BNP rally in seconds. It wasnt pleasant. It wasnt pretty.
We met up with Lucas and Julie again, and went out for a traditional meal of Cornish pasties. Or thats what they looked and tasted like. It was great to see them again, and Julie was back on form feeling well.
Finally, though, it was time to leave ...
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