Day 16 – Hiking and paragliding in Pokhara

It was a very early morning. We had to meet the group at 5 am to go for a sunrise experience. We took our bus way up a hill/mountain to a place called Sarangkot. We had tea, which was not the same kind of tea we were used to up to this point. It was more of a black tea with cinnamon, no milk. We also had cake because it was Chayce’s birthday (girl in our tour). The sun came up opposite the Himalayas, so we had two stunning views. One of the sunrise, then of the sun reflecting on the snow capped mountains. 

About 8 of us opted to walk down the mountain with a guide, whilst the rest of the group drove down. We were told to prepare for a bit of a difficult journey. The walk down was through people’s homes and forest and then more town, the entire way down was a stone stairway. It was an invigorating 2-hr trek down for sure. 

Next, we had some time to eat (thank goodness because we were ravenous) prior to our planned paragliding activity. We chose a German Bakery we saw the night before. A dog followed us into the outdoor restaurant and sat there with us while we ate, and even most of the walk back to the hotel. Lots of dogs in downtown Pokhara, but no cows or goats.

The paragliding business was right across the street from our hotel, which was handy. They took 4 of us in one vehicle, paired with our pilots. Then 2 in another vehicle, and another 2 in another. We never saw the last 2 of our group until we were having lunch in town. We had a harrowing drive up the same mountain we went to for sunrise, and I figured if I survived that drive, I would be fine paragliding. I was pretty nervous about it. Most of us, if not all of us, had never done it before and there were varying degrees of anxiety. 
We parked at the hill, a grassy slope before a drop-off. We were suited up by our pilots and given the simple instruction of “run when I say run, don’t sit down.” That was it. We waited a bit, as there was a bit of traffic. 

We waited for one girl, who had not followed the instructions. She fell back right at the edge of the cliff, which was very dangerous. We had to wait for her to go again, luckily this time she made it. My pilot opened our canopy and it did cause me to fall back a bit. Then he instructed me to walk. By the time he said run, I was already airborne and continued to pedal my legs just in case we did come back down a bit. Once in the air, I had to shift my butt back a bit in my harness as it felt like I was just at the edge of my seat. The flight was exhilarating, but I still had anxiety about it and couldn’t relax as much as most of the others in my group. We flew for about 30 minutes. We had spectacular views of the city, the mountains, and the sparking blue lake. Despite it being hot and sunny on the ground, it was pretty chilly in the air. I was worried about the landing, but my pilot said there was nothing to it. No special instructions. Upon landing, there really was nothing to it, we just stopped on the ground on both feet.

We have some pictures taken from the air, but they’re on DVD still, so we will insert those pics later.
5 from our group were already on the ground, we were just waiting for Derek. One of the pilots pointed him out to us in the sky saying he was still up pretty high and might be a while (he was maybe 5 minutes). Most of us couldn’t stop grinning from the experience.
We had some more free time in the day and our CEO said he could organize some additional sight seeing for us, which we planned to do (like the peace pagoda and some waterfall/caves), but by the time we were done paragliding, it was 2:30 and we really needed some lunch and wanted to do some shopping. We found a great rooftop place for lunch, which was completely empty for the 1.5 hours we sat there, and they even gave us a discount (I think because we joked about a commission for calling up our friends from the street to join us, giving them more business). 

Dinner was at a restaurant that had extremely loud live music. At one quiet point, we could hear dogs barking and then all of a sudden, there were 3 dogs in the restaurant, just coming in off the street. It was a pretty funny moment (think of the song “who let the dogs out?”). As soon as we were done dinner, we really wanted out of there it was so loud. A few of us went for one more drink at a quieter rooftop (this place was full of rooftop restaurants).

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