I spent the past week or so in Pokhara, Nepal’s second city after Kathmandu, a fairly relaxed city with a smallish population. It sits on a lake and has sporatic views of the Himilayas, most notably the scarey looking Machhapuchhre occasionally sneaks a peak between the clouds. Machhapuchhre, or Fishtail, has never been climbed, not because it is hard, which I am sure it is, but because it is Shiva ‘s mountain and Shiva will get very angry with anyone who attempts to climb it.
I have been to Pokhara before, many years ago, and I did the Jomson Trek downhill after flying there from Pokhara. The major difference since I was here last is that Pokhara is a lot bigger. Not that it has really developed, it is just there is a lot more of the same stuff. There are more hiking stores, more dodgy travellers bars, more bakeries, and more guest houses. The backpacking scene can be quite dull in travellers ghettos like Pokhara, it is as though the scene got trapped somewhere between 1965-1975, and I am sure they were good years, but somehow I think I would prefer a large 21st Century Indian city with all its contradictions, than a backpacker ghetto with all its re-hashed predictability.
There is however, a bunch of stuff to do around Pokhara, such as hiking, paragliding, mountain bike riding, kayaking, and motorcycling. I have done a couple of these things; motorcycling and mountain biking, a lot of fun, but the bike trails are mostly made for walking, not cycling, so imagination is required.
Also, I rode to Tatopani on a motorcycle the other day, which is only 90 KMS away, but took too many hours. Tatopani is situated at the beginning of the Annapurna Circuit and the road to it is dusty, treturous, bumpy, and very, very slow. It is possible to ride all the way to Jomson on the new road (there was no road when I was last here way back in 1997), but the motorbikes and the road are crap and it is more hard work than fun.
The road in many ways has weakened the adventure of the Annaupurna Circuit, it is a pretty ugly road, especially on the Jomson side, and there are not many ponies and porters carrying goods up the mountain anymore (only jeeps). Still, there are lots of other treks that compete with Annapurna and the Himilayas are a lot bigger than a dusty old road.