Wanting to get out of Pokhara and finally see some more of Nepal, a country we had fallen in love with but still knew so little about, we made our way to a town halfway between the two tourist capitals for a little adventure. Bandipur is a hill top town situated a 30 minute bus ride off of the main Pokhara-Kathmandu highway. You leave the riverside mountain roads and climb up swerving switchbacks until you reach a road block. There are no cars in Bandipur.
The streets are paved, quiet and clear and the shops, restaurants and guesthouses lining them ooze small town charm. Elements of Newari design are everywhere in the delicate windows and balconies hanging over the street. Puppies and children run around your feet and smells of homemade dal hang in the air.
It doesn’t take long to explore, just a few streets spreading off towards the wilderness in different directions. They are dusty and lived in, they have a history. Whenever you find yourself climbing up, steps or winding mountains paths like in the Annapurna, you are instantly rewarded by the most incredible views. The Himalayas alluded us often in pokhara with its cloudy mornings and lakeside’s unfortunate vantage point, but in Bandipur the view was our constant companion, and even after spending 5 weeks within those very mountains, we couldn’t get enough.
We spent an afternoon at the main lookout point (just keep heading up from town) with a picnic of fresh momos and almost-cold beers. It was peaceful and pretty and we soaked it all in, with a few hyperactive puppies to keep us company. Every few minutes you hear the beep-beep of horns down in the valley, bus drivers eager to make it to Kathmandu before dark. We felt secluded and content way up on our hilltop without another soul in sight.
We stumbled across a live music event at Old House Cafe and spent the whole evening dancing and singing along in our own mangled version of Nepali with a group of guys who’d come all the way to see the band from Kathmandu. They spoke wonderful English and we talked about Nepal, music and life and they only made a few passes at the girls…
We found fried chicken to rival Koreas in a cute little cafe, Ge Karne, which means ‘what to do’ in Nepalese. What to do? Well the chicken was good, the dal bhat was great and the breakfasts were delicious too so we ate there for every meal.
And most surprising of all we attended a hilltop trance party. In the sleepy, charming town of Bandipur a group of new age something or others at the end of a week long ‘spiritual retreat’ set up one of the best and strangest parties I’ve been to, like, ever. I’ve never listened to trance before but something about the atmosphere, the fascinating people and that starlit mountain view, had us all dancing until 4am. Sunrise was a little too big of an accomplishment for us non-party animals… We crept back to our 700 rupee guesthouse with it’s cosy beds, cold water and low doorways.
Our time in Bandipur was full of charm and surprises, and quickly turned into one of our favourite places in the country. And despite us lucking out with the band and the party, I have a feeling Bandipur encourages these random occurrences often, so don’t miss out as you never know what you’ll end up taking part in.