So it's about 10:30am in Pohkara (the second largest city in Nepal) and Richard and I are prepping for a 6 day trek up into the Annapurna Mountain Range (Poon Hill Trek). Being a foreigner in Nepal it is easy to forget that even though everything is fairly friendly in the major city's or towns it is a country with a active internal war/conflict going on. As you drive on the roads there are armed checkpoints with small bunkers and machine gun posts. Usually being a foreigner you don't have any reason to ever concern yourself with these things but today with the king coming into town I found myself facing a different point of view.
Generally I have found that I seem to look like every native of most asian countries that I have been to. Here everybody thinks I am Nepali which is a godsend when you don't fell like getting hassled to buy something but today I found myself at the buisness end of a search. Even when I opened my mouth to say "hey" I don't think they believed me that I wasn't a local. It's a bit disconcerning with all the military driving around and the guns and for due to the fact that the current king murdered his own family to get to the top it seems that he is not the most popular man in the country. I find myself half expecting a car bomb to go off, I guess the military also agrees because they are diverting the traffic and you can't even ride a bicycle into the area. Also all locals are getting searched and metal detectors abound on every little street.
So beside all of this, Pohkara is actually pretty cool. It's much more managable and quieter then KTM (Katmandu) also being cheaper and visually more pleasent dosen't hurt either. The main tourist section sits right on a fairly large lake and is nestled between a series of mountains. From our room(not even $2 each) you can see the snowcaps when the sky is clear. Also in the evening you can see the house lights on the hillsides and it is all quite cool.
Yesterday I was about to have my laundry washed and I realized that I have not brought enough cloths with me for hanging out in and treking in(I have clothes in storage in KTM and BKK, go figure) so I found myself shopping for some cloths and I had a pair of pants made ,copying my NF pants, for 350Rs (4.50usd) and you know they are actually pretty cool. And I bought a shirt for 160Rs (about 2.50usd). I kinda dig this place. With that said though you have to constantly watch what you are paying though as prices change daily and most people try to charge as much as possible. i.e. the first shop I liked a shirt in became a 100rs more the next day for some reason, from 200 to 300 and I went next door and ended up at 160. The pants were between 400 and 500 and it ended up being 350. You even have to watch when you are buying mosquieto coils, 75 instead of 25, water should be 15rs instead of 30. Richard asked me what I miss from my own country and besides the good old American Standard toilet I would say fair pricing is ranking higher and higher.
Richard and I are off to do the Poon Hill trek for 5 or 6 days and now that I have cloths to wear while my other cloths are being washed (more hagleling) I find myself wondering about the Maosists Rebels. It seems everybody runs into them and the required donation to their cause is 1200rs. For this part of the trip I have decided to go with just being Korean and maybe schooled in Canada. It seems they really don't like Americans, at all.