We opted for the relaxation, and managed to score three rooms at Hotel Nirvana where Rob and I had stayed while grounded because of the monsoon in 2010. It’s a beautiful hotel with a walled garden, just set back from the lake front. It was such luxury after the basic accommodation on the trek.
We did the usual touristy bits – mainly trying out all of the restaurants and eating enough to ensure we weren’t going to waste away after the weight lost on the trek. I was pretty happy to go buy new clothes and find out I’d lost several inches since starting.
We also hired a hideously pink pedalo to explore the lake, Phewa Tal. It was a beautiful day, sun shining, feet in the cool water – this was a real holiday.I also treated myself to a pamper day at a lakeside spa, having all the dust and grime scrubbed away and a ‘trekkers’ massage. I was floating on air for a while after that!
After a long weekend of calm, it was time to head back to the chaos of Kathmandu, something I think we were all dreading a little. The journey was pretty awful, torrential rain from the Cyclone Hudhud; we had no idea then of the real damage that was being done not far away, back on the trail. For us it just meant long delays, and the unsettling reminder of how unsafe Nepali roads can be, passing several overturned vehicles.
As we arrived back in the city though, everything felt a little better when our favourite hotel owner, Rishi climbed aboard to welcome us home! It was so great to see him, a bit like spotting your parents at the end of a school trip! We bundled into his jeep and away from the crazy taxi queues, and headed back to Hotel Potala.
And then the goodbyes began: Katie and Matt headed back to the UK first, promising that if we have kids they won’t be visiting for at least 18 years! We then had a few final days with Sarah before she headed back to Bangkok – hoping we get to see her soon as it is a little closer to NZ (and if we do ever have kids, she’s more likely to come and check that they are ginger, rather than avoiding us!).
In amongst the goodbyes I had the wonderful (but also really quite sad because I couldn’t be there) chance to skype my oldest and bestest friends, as one of them was getting married! it was the first real wake-up to the fact that choosing to live thousands upon thousands of miles away means missing some of life’s big events. Thanks to the wonders of the internet though, I was able to be there at least in part, and share just how ridiculously happy I am for her and her now husband!
And then, there were two. Oh wait no, Rishi was still there! He took great pleasure in reminding us that we were not alone as long as we were at Hotel Potala. He even took us on a tour of his new hotel, which looked beautiful. Next time we know where we’ll be staying!
Crazy Thamel got a little bit crazier for our last week, with the bright and loud celebrations for Tihar, Nepali Diwali. It was a beautiful way to end our two months in the country. We were invited to Rishi’s family for Bhai Tihar Tika ceremony, which would have been fantastic but we had to leave for our flight several hours before then. So after lots of goodbyes to our Hotel Potala family and presenting of Khata scarves, we were on our way to the airport and NZ!