In Lakeside we indulged in some flagrantly touristy, Western-oriented
things. Given that the town has gotten so big, it seems, purely
because of the tourism trekking to Annapurna brings, it is
unsurprising that there is little to do that isn't touristy if you do
not have time to get involved in a proper project. We found pool
tables, free movie showings and visited a few sites. A good way to
recover after a hard week's trek.

After our trek, we returned to the same hotel as before to be told it
was now more expensive. Excellent. The one good thing about getting
back was that because it was about 4 in the afternoon, the solar
heaters had gone to work on that day's water to produce luxuriously
hot showers. It was a the-smell-wafts-off-you-in-clouds situation
after seven days of trekking and only one freezing cold shower in that
period! Then we headed to Lumbini restaurant, a little
hole-in-the-wall where you can get amazing Middle Eastern food (!) -
we ate so much shakshuka, falafel and hummus in that week! Topped off
with ginger tea, what more could you want? A Palestinian man called
Mohammad whom we had met in Kathmandu bumped into us again in Pokhara
and introduced us to the place. He's also going to put us up in the
United Arab Emirates when we get there, which is very kind of him!

The lake is lovely to row across, and being rowed across it is even
better, particularly as the sun goes down, shafts of light break over
the hills, and the swallows (or swifts, I'm not sure) dip and swoop
around you catching bugs from the water's surface. On days when they
aren't wreathed in cloud, you can see the mountains totally clearly,
and often the sky around them is dotted with paragliders or hawks or
both. There is even a sport called 'parahawking' where a trained hawk
guides the glider to the best currents in the air! Nearer the water,
in the sunshine, brightly coloured butterflies flit above the surface.
I don't know what's in it for them, maybe they're incredibly vain,
looking at their own reflections. I know peacocks like to look at
themselves in windows, maybe it's similar for butterflies. Sadly it
seems that many butterflies get too close to their own reflections,
too enamoured to take personal safety into account, and end up
floating on the water, buffeted by the oars of passersby. As you
paddle, tiny whirlpools are created in the water, and Sean span us
around full circle just watching them swirl.

One of the most enjoyable bits of being in Pokhara was getting mopeds.
I was on the back of Josh's, and Sean had his own. We were fully
equipped with the half-face helmets that my stepdad has always warned
against - 'If you crash and hit the side of it, you can break your
neck in a second'. Pushing that to the back of my mind, we embarked on
manoeuvering our way through the manic Nepali traffic. We drove out to
a much less manic, more peaceful lake called Bagnas Tal, where we
walked around until we couldn't walk any further where we found
ourselves at a restaurant. It faced right onto the lake. We ordered
daal bhat with fish curry ('Is the fish fresh?' asks Josh.
'Obviously!' replies the owner, sounding offended), and it was
incredible. The man who runs the place (it's called Sanu Lake on D
Water), Rajan, studied Food and Beverage at university, so his
flavours are carefully studied. He wants his food to be different from
anyone else's - if he finds anyone using cumin with their spinach
he'll change the recipe - and it is all locally sourced. Even the rice
tastes different. Definitely recommended.

After that we wanted to put the 'peds to the greatest use, so we took
off towards the Tibetan refugee settlement. These people either left
Tibet in 1959 or later, or were born there to parents who left.
Tibetans really don't have a good time of it - I don't know what it's
like in India for those who escaped that far, but in Nepal they cannot
get official residence, so they cannot get jobs. Instead they are
confined to camps and the streets of Pokhara where they try to sell
their wares to tourists. We found a Tibetan flint-and-steel set for
Sean - you strike the metal attached to the ornate case against the
stones you keep inside. Unsurprisingly, the monastery at the
settlement was not as grand as some of those we have seen as it has
very little funding, but it was nonetheless filled with a thousand
statues of the Buddha.

After Sean left to go back to Kathmandu, Josh and I rowed over to the
path up to the World Peace Pagoda, and trekked up the hill to see it
up close. It was funded by a Japanese buddhist monk who met Mahatma
Gandhi and was inspired by the ideas of peace. He was appalled at the
bombings of Nagasaki and Hiroshima and decided to spread the message
of peace throughout the world by building pagodas in many different
countries, starting in Japan at the two bombing sites. Over eighty
have been built, and the Pokhara one was completed in the nineties
after some controversies over planning permission and a forcibly
terminated attempt in the eighties. There are several statues of the
Buddha, and awesome views