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May 2, 2010
Adelaide, South Australia, Australia
September 9, 2003
Reach for the skyThis morning, like every other for the last three days, I woke at 5am. This time I wasn’t disappointed. Rose-coloured light teased the shutters to our room, promising that elusive, memorable sunrise.
Camera in hand and loaded with new film, I hurdled the stairs to the rooftop two at a time to be greeted with the best kind of smile. The entire eastern Annapurna range emerged from its slumber as the rising sun glowed salmon, kissing the peaks with the light of a new day. And not a cloud in sight.
Pun Hill Guesthouse sits near the end of a narrow lane called Peaceful Road in Lakeside East, just south of the Royal Palace. It’s far enough from the main drag to feel rural, but still convenient to the action of the lakeside strip. But more importantly, it provides unobscured views of the nearby Himalayan giants.
Many first-time visitors don’t realise that Lakeside East gets the best views. Further north in Lakeside West and North, a high ridge blocks the view of these majestic sentinels.
Hostess with the mostestBhim Kumari runs the guesthouse with the help of her two school-age children and a young woman called Sangita who woos all the male visitors with her stunning smile and a Caribbean-like accent. Her husband is an ex-Gurkha soldier who finds it difficult to get work.
In the darkness of each morning, Bhim rises to turn on the hot water and help Sangita prepare a smorgasbord of delicacies for their guests. Tibetan breads, pastries, cereals, and cooked breakfasts are served in a sunny room in the back garden.
Bhim’s graciousness is beautiful, her friendliness infectious. She takes us shopping in Pokhara’s bazaar; comes walking to nearby Saragkot; even drives us to a hilltop monastery we are keen to visit. It’s appropriate that on our last night, a group of us treat her family to a wonderful cultural performance and fine Indian food at the Hungry Eye restaurant in Lakeside West.
It costs HOW much?Before I divulge the bottom line, a bit more about the Pun Hill Guesthouse. It has nine rooms, all on the upper floor (the family lives on the ground floor), and all except one has an ensuite bathroom.
Each room is large and spotlessly clean – as are the bathrooms – and they all have access to a wide balcony at the rear of the property with lovely rural and killer mountain views. There are real pillows, real mattresses, and--get this--electric blankets!
So, how much? An ensuite room costs 1000Rp (US$15) and our lone shared-bathroom sanctuary costs a whopping 700Rp (US$10). Oh, and did I mention the price includes breakfast? All you can eat and anything you can eat. And the hospitality’s free.
No wonder Bhim doesn’t need to advertise.
From journal Reach for the sky in Pokhara