the long road to pokhara
Last couple of weeks, the entire Filipino race was in shock. No, this is not another Sotto hoohah… Manny Pacqiao got his first kiss on the canvas when Marquez gave an overhand right sending Pacquiao down hard. After couple of days, Azkals, our national football team pushed their record to make it to the Suzuki Cup finals for the first time. That dream flew out the window when Singapore Lions kicked their balls, pushing the coveted finals slot to another two years of waiting. Lastly, Janine Togonon represented the country in the most prestigious pageant (In the world of Donald Trump) as she sashayed her way to the top. Miss USA snatched the crown and shooed her to “Thank you girls'” bench as first runner-up.
I can see Filipino horrified fans’ faces in a slow motion montage with an imaginary melodramatic solo string in the background as it slowly fades out to black forlorn…
I guess this year’s efforts of our flag bearers to reach the top failed with just one step right in front of them. Surely, it sucks. But I know how it feels like when you are almost a twirl away to the summit and the universe played a nasty joke and we got denied of the right to raise our hands up in the air, shout the cliche line while making the half opened mouth face worthy of a year ender photo montage.
As a traveler, it is important to be strong and resilient in every situations we are thrown into. But sometimes, we just feel defeated and struggling to fight will just put us in a very difficult situation… And we just want to give the universe A BIG FINGER UP IN THE AIR!
Before Monette arrived, I spent a week alone roaming around Kathmandu, then I decided to hop on a bus as chance passenger to the town of Pokhara. I initially thought of flying my way there and cut the travel time to about an hour and a half. Unfortunately, something happened along the way and someone pulled the wrong block on my stacko leaving the entire trip in a pile of rubble. That, essentially, ruined how I envisioned the trip will be and so as all the planned activities. Then I had to start from scratch. So scratch it is… I decided to do my trip FLIPTRAVELS style: No plans, no itineraries. Just following my guts as to where my destination will be.
I took the bus and paid 700 Rupees (USD8) for a seat en route to Pokhara. I knew it will be an eight hour trip so I packed my bag with chocolates, a bottle of water and a good book.
Long bus rides will prune your butt and usually make you think of random topics ranging from the bus graffiti to historical facts and other random shit. As the bus traversed along the Prithvi highway, I recalled some stock knowledge related to Nepal. Starting with the Abominable Snowman.
As early as 15th century, there have been documents by the tribal people of the Himalayas referring to the supernatural existence of an unknown beast which the locals call migyu. Publicized to the world in 1899 as sightings of dark figures and huge foot prints increased, which gave birth to the legend of the Yeti. I don’t want to sound like wikipedia so to cut this short and sweet, let us focus on the fact that there are three snowmen creatures identified in history:
First was the Juti, the cattle-eating, 8 foot tall monster, later dismissed as the blue bears of Tibet. The fierceness of coined names went down the drain as the second evolution of legend was named (are you ready for this?) Thelma. Perhaps the one who baptized it was also into beauty pageants and cute unicorns. The creature was smaller than human beings, seen to have walked with its hind legs, with dangling arms and blonde hair. It was later proven to be Nicki Minaj—No seriously, it was in fact an Assam Gibbon.
The last and currently still shrouded with mystery is not called Frosty, but Miti. Said to be man-eating and painted in the murals of temples in the Himalayas. Who knows? Maybe these creatures are in hidden existence. It could be the missing link between Homo Sapiens and Gigantopithecus who have been living in seclusion, thus evading the evolution of the modern man. Or maybe a new creature that is yet to be discovered. After all, it was not long ago when Pandas and Mountain Gorillas were mere legends.
After three hours of winding highways and dusty roads, a mandatory stopover was announced by the driver. No one attempted to alight due to the thick cloud of fine dust hanging in the air. I had to go to the toilet and buy some chips from the store. So among all 30 foreign passengers, I was the only one who had the balls who braved the dust. I summoned the inner Jedi force and stepped out like a legit kick-ass Chubby Wan Kenobi!
To have a full experience, I dressed-up to pay homage to the culture of Nepal. I donned a loop scarf to represent the Kata tradition and olive green ensemble to represent the fiercest warriors Nepal is well known for—The Gurkhas. The cheap sunglasses just represented my bad take on 2012 fashion.
You think Manny Pacquiao is kick-ass? Wait until Dipprasad Pun slaps you with his Conspicuous Gallantry Cross from the Queen herself. In September of 2010, this 22 year-old Nepalese Gurkha sergeant single-handedly killed 30 taliban douches with 400 rounds of ammunitions, 17 hand grenades and a tripod. James Bond would be so embarrassed to this real life Rambo.
First Gurkha Rifles in 1857 (Picture from the web)
Another stopover. That was when I realized we were in the Gurkha district. Yes Gurkha is a district where the brigade recruits young boys who will undergo the training of a lifetime, boys who pass the screening are treated like town heroes, and may eventually be deployed in the British Royal Army, envoy to the middle east, Royal Brunei Land Forces and for those who will excel in mathematics during the second stage of selection are offered postings to the Queen’s Gurkha Signals or the Queen’s Gurkha Engineers.
You may wonder what is the huge fuss about being a Gurkha… Here’s one story: During the Second World War, the British officers were seeking Gurkha volunteers for a death defying 300-meter airdrop behind enemy lines. Most Nepalis in the troop stepped forward. The officers were explaining the plan of attack when a surprised voice queried: “Oh, you mean we can use parachute?” then the remaining Gurkhas stepped forward. True story.
I arrived in Pokhara at around five in the afternoon. Reaching there alone was not really in the original plan. Three months back, we were planning the trip and I envisioned it to be a really fun and crazy gig. But I was there, alone and frustrated.
Achieving a perfect trip is like aiming to bring home a crown, claim a title or win a ball game. It will not just happen on its own, you have to make an effort to make it work. However sometimes there are things that are beyond our capacities and all we have to do is to trust that things happen for a reason… then we can shrug-off those who stole our crowns and trust that karma will eventually f**k them with a cactus.
In this trip’s case, the unexpected solo adventure lead me to something awesome—to my best travel stories that I will never get tired of telling over and over.