To the mountaintop

After our thrilling first look at the Annapurna range we’re determined to maximize the sightings, even though we’re here in exactly the wrong season for clear mountain views. We go about our daily business, exploring the streets and pathways of Pokhara but with a keen eye to the sky and the weather.

One afternoon we had a pretty good rain shower and that prompted us to plan a dawn trek to the Annapurna Cable Car, which takes you up the nearby mountain for a better view of the Himalayas. I asked the hotel to order a predawn taxi for the 20-minute ride to the cable car.

When the alarm went off the next morning I looked out the window to assess the conditions. It didn’t look good. But maybe it’ll clear up? At the cable car station we were the only passengers. Another bad sign.

The ride up was mostly in the dark, and from the top station there was quite a steep and rocky walk to the Sarangkot View Tower.

As we feared, there were no mountains visible through the dense smoky haze. We were disappointed but there’s still much to enjoy being up there. We parked ourselves at a cafe, had some coffee, watched the activity around us. More and more people arrived, and none of them seemed too disappointed either.

Jack, always wanting to get to the top of anything, climbed a narrow spiral staircase to the upper deck of the cafe while I stayed on the main deck enjoying what view there was. I was staring out toward the mountains lost in thought when I became aware of a person standing quite close to me. Then I noticed someone taking a photo of — me? I turned my head and standing right beside me was a very happy Indian woman leaning toward me. I was an inadvertent subject of a selfie! I laughed and smiled at my co-star, then all of her companions wanted to take turns having their picture taken with me. I happily obliged for at least 8 or 10 people, and some of the ladies even hugged me for the photo. After all the women took turns, the men started in too, and at this point Jack, on the upper deck, noticed what was going on.

Finally I had the presence of mind to turn my camera back on some of them. I haven’t been the object of such attention since our sail through Indonesia, where selfies were just part of our everyday travels, although it’s happened to a lesser extent everywhere we’ve been. I never know whether it’s the white hair, or my foreign looks or something else that makes people want to include me in their vacation memories. It happens to Jack, too.

Eventually we started back down toward the cable car and detoured to the other lookout point. Jack, as always, took the high route, showing off his bionic knees.

It’s so frustrating that the sky can be clear blue directly above but around the horizon it’s opaque haze. No matter, we parked ourselves at another cafe and had a plate of mo:mos, just enjoying being up in the hills.

We took the cable car back down, and in the daylight we could appreciate the beautiful terraced hillside. We’ll keep looking for the Himalayas but what’s nearby is nice too.

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