Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Some pictures from the boy's (and Ethan's) trip to Ranighat...

Map of Nepal
Recently, the men in the Beine family (plus Ethan) embarked on an exciting journey to the city of Pokhara, which is just a few hours north of Tansen.  Or, as described by Nate, Pokhara is "about 7 barfs away."  The 4 hour drive, which covers nearly 40 miles was fairly uneventful (by Nepali standards; near head-on collisions, waiting for road construction, stopping after a mongoose crosses the road to avoid bad luck, etc. are all typical in Nepal).  In Pokhara we checked into our hotel, from which we had a lovely view of the hotel right next to us, and went for some ice cream.  Not real ice cream of course, but it tasted great after so long without any.

The real reason for our visit to Pokhara was to renew our 3 month tourist visas, but the trip was definitely more of a vacation than anything.  We walked up and down the main street in Lakeside dozens of times, admiring all the trinkets and souvenirs.  There was no shortage of persistent salesmen trying to sell us knives, toys, carvings, clothing, pictures, books, CDs, trekking gear, etc.  For many of us, leaving our wallets in the hotel was not an accident.

Though the excursion to Pokhara was for much more than just visa renewals, the process was actually very interesting.  After arriving at the immigration office, we were ushered into a small room with bench seats from old cars serving as sofas, to wait while the officials exchanged greetings and told stories about their nights.  We were in the room with a lady in hospital scrubs who "works with the FBI" and "preferred not to discuss her occupation."  A man at the office was curious as to why my mom wasn't with us to get her visa renewed.  My dad answered his question by telling him that she works at the Tansen Mission Hospital, and there had been a bus accident the previous day.  He failed to mention that she was not working that week, and I think it helped speed up the whole process.  Eventually all the forms were filled out and we gave them to the officials.  One of the men asked for a large bribe to do his job, and my dad gave him a little bit extra.  When my dad requested a receipt, the man asked how much he should put down.  "The amount I paid," said my dad.  The man gave back the extra money along with our visas and told us to have a nice day.

Phewa Lake, Pokhara
After the visa renewal, we headed out for a day on the lake.  We rented a large paddle boat with a cover for the sun, which disappeared shortly after we left the dock.  We all took turns paddling, and when it was not our turn we would sit and talk, enjoy the scenery, or lay on the deck and soak up the sun when it would come for a few seconds at a time through a break in the clouds.  The only exception was my dad, who spent the whole time fishing.  His efforts yielded one fish, which we took back to Tansen and ate for dinner.  Nate ate the head.
Nate eating the fish head
Freshwater shrimp
We crossed the lake and found a small, secluded cove for swimming and exploring.  We skipped stones and found terrifying creatures, like this freshwater shrimp.
Nate with the fish head
The boating trip was pleasant overall, until the end.  On our way back to the docking area, the winds started to pick up.  At first there was just a little breeze.  Then a large breeze.  Then a wind.  Then a gale.  Eventually it was so strong, I couldn't tell if we were making forward progress or not, even though Ethan and I were pedalling as hard as we possibly could.  Nobody thought to take the sun shelter off the top before fighting the incredible wind storm.  Eventually we made it to the edge of the lake, though nowhere near our intended destination.  We got out of the boat and waded through the mud to the shore.  A Nepali took our boat from there.  That day we learned what not to do when in a paddle boat.

On our third day, we woke up early to get a sunrise view of the mountains from Sarangkot.  After a taxi ride up most of the mountain, we walked for half an hour to the view point.  Along the way we found trash cans (some of the few in Nepal) accompanying signs that prompted us to "safe the naturel for the next."  At one point, a man asked for our tickets.  We were a few minutes ahead of my dad (and the tickets), and the sunrise was approaching fast.  I solved this problem by tagging along with a group of tourists who had tickets and just kind of going with the crowd.  The view of the town and hills was spectacular, especially with the sun coming up, but the mountains weren't very clear.  We saw planes, ultralights, and para-gliders circling above us, usually heading for the lake or the mountains.  That would be a fun activity for next time.

We spent the rest of our time in Pokhara exploring and feasting.  Following are some pictures from the remainder of the trip.

"Pollution Made By Women"

Two Person Public Toilets

More pictures can be found at:   https://picasaweb.google.com/NickBeine/Nepal2012

-Post written by Nick

नमस्ते (Namaste)