We finally left Sanjay and the Jasmine Family Home after a farewell meal with our host. It was already getting dark when we piled our stuff in the taxi, said our goodbyes and set off for Begnas Tal – a beautiful lake around an hour or so away. We got dropped off in the middle of nowhere, not at Akuna Matata as we’d hoped – we were on the way to meet a friend for a few days relaxation. A vacation from vacation, if you will. The taxi was too expensive to go all the way and the driver didn’t really know where it was, so we went with the safe bet to stay somewhere near the lake and find it the next day.
Nothing seemed to be open when we got dropped off, but we dumped our gear outside a restaurant (that we realised the next day was definitely closed) and a lady offered to show us a room in a sketchy looking building. It’s safe to say, we weren’t impressed. There was a spider the size of my hand ready to welcome us, and when I pointed to it, suggesting that he kindly needs to piss off, our proprietor just batted it away with a straw brush and it bolted to a mystery location. The room resembled a prison cell with stained walls, rubbish and a thick layer of dust. After explaining politely that we would have a little look around first and maybe come back, we set off down the street to find something else, praying there would be something, anything, that wasn’t there.
Welcome Break was up an infinity of steps. The room was nice, but the guy was a bit of a dick when we kindly tried to barter with him over the 1000NPR room rate. On to the next.
And then, The Grand Nepal Hotel. The weirdest, most wonderful place of all.
Whilst in Pokhara, one of our favourite joints became the Movie Garden
. An amazing outdoor cinema run by an awesome Brit named Dan, after packing up UK life and moving 3 years back. Our first (of many) trips there, lead me to watch The Grand Budapest Hotel for the first time, beneath the stars. We sat at the bottom on blankets with rum and popcorn, and I fell in love with the film. It’s so… weird. And wonderful.
And now I felt part of it, as I stood at the base of The Grand Nepal. The building was large, 5 storeys tall, looking quite regal in a stone wall kind of way, and was being tickled with the glow of fireflies in the dark. The enormous double door was locked as we arrived. Was anyone there? We were desperate to see beyond the walls. The sound of us approaching must have alerted the owner, who swiftly popped his head over the 3rd floor balcony in a comedic prance.
“Hello!” he shouted down, just like the lobby boy from the movie. We explained we needed a room, and he was gone. As he descended, the lights came on on each floor in such a choreographed fashion, and with a large clunk, the door flew open to his welcome.
The entry way was grand, square and stone. All grey, with just a few tables and chairs and a reception. It seemed way too spacious for the decor. We were lead up the stairs by a rogue bat, and shown to the cheaper priced room – it was more expensive for a lake side room, but we couldn’t see anyway – which was actually really nice. A double bed and a single, 4 people, an en suite and a fan. That’ll do nicely, thank you.
The large, marble corridors on the 2nd floor housed only us, I’m sure, and our every move echoed through the building. We sat on the floor outside our room, where the wifi actually worked, for a chill down and a cigarette before retreating for a good nights rest.
A good nights rest. Is that possible here? The rain through the night had been stronger than ever, to the point where I had genuine concern over the stability of the ceiling – and we weren’t even the top floor. The thunder was intense, loud, intimidating. Like all the God’s had let out a growl in the sky in unison. The power kept shorting – a now usual occurrence in Nepal – meaning in between the crashes of light, the whirring fan limped back into life to disturb us once more. Never mind.
At least, come morning, we could finally see the lake we’d all heard so much about. Right? Down the corridor we went, with an excited shuffle. “Wow it’s… Oh.” Not the lake. Of course! This place had to offer up one last laugh before we set off.
It was a beautiful view none the less, just not the grand, serene green water we had expected, but a mere side pond for lack of better description. A smidgen of the real gem, was to be seen just around the corner. A new adventure lay just beyond, and with that, we left the Grand Nepal, in it’s beautiful, imperfect perfectness to become a mere story to tell.