I was glad that we were to be exiting the Annapurna Circuit
by bus, as it meant that the challenge that I had set for myself was to be realised. I had been told that there were syndicates that controlled vehicular access to the roads, and that these syndicates apparently imposed fees on certain types of vehicles, and were even inclined to use force against those who refused to comply. I basically wanted to ensure that my money did not find a way into their hands.We had also been told that the bus was to leave at 07:00, and to be at the pickup point at 7 sharp, no earlier and no later. I had mentioned that I would be there slightly earlier around 06:50 or so, but was immediately met with the retort, "No! Exactly 7!"..so 07:00 it was. The bus did however end up departing much later, closer to 07:30 in fact, as it made its way around to various points around the town picking people up first. When it finally arrived, we made our way around to the back of the bus and stuffed our backpacks into the tiny and very dusty rear compartment, before proceeding inside and stuffing ourselves into the crammed seats. To be fair, the seats actually had quite a bit of space by Nepali standards, but for a large man like me, no public transport ever seems to provide sufficient leg room.The view of the Kali Gandaki from the bus window. Loads of space on this side...
The journey was long to say the least. It took us 12 whole hours to get from Jomsom to Pokhara. We departed Jomsom at 07:30, reached Beni at 16:00 (which is where the decent road began), Nayapul
at 17:30, and finally reached Pokhara
(km0) at 19:00. The journey itself was not as bad as most of the online accounts had made it out to be. Aside from all the time that was wasted getting 'un-stuck' from the deep trenches of mud, the bone rattling 'smoothness' of the road, the countless near-misses by massive lorries, and all the hair-raising turns around corners with long drops down to the Kali Gandaki river below, the journey was not too bad at all!The views from the windows of the bus were more than enough to take our minds off the bumpy journey. They were a veritable slideshow of the Kali Gandaki--lush green hills that towered over us on the other side of the valley, mysterious silhouettes of pine trees and bamboo shoots each time the mist washed over us, and countless waterfalls that plunged down into the roiling cauldron of a riverway down below....but barely any on the other!
When we finally reached Pokhara, we checked-in to 'Hotel Mountain View', which cost USD10 for the two of us per night (NPR1100
/2). The place had good ratings and was fairly cheap, but the best thing about it was that it would only take 10 minutes to walk to the tourist bus park from there. The bus from Jomsom, however, had dropped us at km0 which was a fair way away, so we had to take a taxi (NPR300
/2) to the Lakeside, and walk from there to get to the hotel. The entire bus ride had been an exhausting ordeal, so all we really did after that was to have a decent dinner of vegetable khana (NPR180
) and buff momos (NPR130
/2), before retiring for the night.*Water refil (3 litres) cost NPR30
/2 *The bus ride back to KTM the next morning (07:30) cost NPR700