Himalayan Coffee and Nepali Thali

Before I really finished descending Anadu Hill, I stopped at a shop. A grocery store which sell some snacks, mineral waters, as well as soft alcoholic drinks. A small shop which spread smell of coffee aroma from the roasting stove at right.

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Somersby with 5% alkohol….Popular in Pokhara.

Himalayan coffee bean”, said the seller when I watched how he roasted coffees. For some people, passion is everything. Like this man, he was willing to released  his Japan citizenship and chose to be Nepalese for his love of Himalayan coffee.

I take it“, I pointed to 250 gram coffee package and bought it.

—- **** —-

Mr. Tirtha, your country is unique. Some Nepalese faces are like Indians, sometimes I find them similar to Chinese”, I said when Mr. Tirtha who began to step on gas pedal away from the hill.

Yess…. Nepal is flanked by India in south and China in north. So some Nepalese have mixed marriages”, he said with a friendly smile answering my question.

We moved northeast around Phewa Lake to bak to hotel which was 6 km away. Upon arrival at New Pokhara Lodge, I thanked to Mr. Tirtha who had been accompanying me since 4 am in my Pokhara exploration. I handed over 5.000 Rupee as service fee, that means I only needed to spend a transportation budget of 1.600 Rupee because I used this taxi with other three backpacker who staying in the same hotel.

Having not lost the feel of New Years celebration on Lakeside Road, I returned to explore the outskirts of Phewa Lake after bathing and stretching my legs. This time, I was starving and had to dinner. There was still promise in myself after whole day conversation with Mr. Tirtha. Yes… .I would taste Nepali Thali.

Street foods seem not to be able to dampen my hunger, I rushed into a restaurant. I sat on its inside to get warm air, then greeted by a sweet female servant. It didn’t take long to choose. “Nepali Vegetarian Thali and Orange Juice“, I told to her after seeing the menu which I was reading. Nepalese food for 300 Rupee and juice for 150 Rupee to close my day that night.

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@Bellas Garden Restaurant.


The evening turned to morning, I sipped hot tea and finished the breakfast menu in hotel courtyard. Then returned to the room and shouldered my blue backpack to get ready to say goodbye to Mr. Raj. I shook his wrinkled hand and repeatedly patted his upper arm.

Me: “Thank you Mr. Raj for your kindness and hope to see you again next time ”.

Mr. Raj: “Be careful, Donny. Thank you for stopping by in New Pokhara Lodge ”.

I know Mr. Raj was still forcing himself to work because his last son is still studying at Kathmandu University. Because of his work, he still looked fit.

This time, Mr. Tirtha came for the last time to give me a taxi service. We both headed for Tourist Bus Park, the bus would take me to Kathmandu.

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Can you look more elegant…. Hufft, Donny!

Changing the Year in Phewa Lake Edge

<—-Previous Story

Ending a transaction and grabbing a Pokhara-Kathmandu bus ticket, I intended to hurry to hotel. Clockwork seemed to move fast and dark slowly but must have enveloped the city, until then I agreed to a taxi driver to take me to New Pokhara Lodge.

A little white taxi was agile cutting through small alleyway. Once he looked confused and forced him down and asked to young man who was drinking a cup of coffee and sucked a cigarette. Then his pointing hand made the driver understandably nod.

—- **** —-

I sat and watched banknotes from various nationalities neatly arranged in a lobby gallery. One of them is a banknote with Tuanku Imam Bonjol’s image.

New Pokhara Lodge Lobby.

After a while, a middle-aged man appeared, he already had slow movements but was trying to keep smiling. Furthermore, I knew him as Mr. Raj, a hotel’s person in charge who was very good at providing services to his guests at New Pokhara Lodge.

I was placed at second floor of this U-shaped hotel, three-story orange hotel. A room which I redeemed for 900 Rupess had now become my base camp while traveling in Pokhara.

—- **** —-

Mr. Raj briefly advised me, “Don’t worry about your security in New Year Celebration !. Don’t drink too much and back soon!…. Enjoy your night and Happy New Year ”.

Lakeside Road atmosphere.

Walking 650 meters to Phewa Lake edge, I followed a small path which only two-wheeled vehicles could pass. Only two minutes to arrived at the bustle of Lakeside Road. A stage was set up at lake edge.

Street food scent in the midst of groups of Nepalese youths was a perfect blend in the cold air of Pokhara. Temperature of 8o C slowly intimidated stomach. And it felt like I couldn’t afford to eat and sit for long time in sidewalk, cold night temperature had made my unprotected hands and face stiffen. In the end, footsteps led me into AM/PM Organic Cafe. A cup of Masala Tea with vegetarian fried rice would warm the body towards midnight which was being awaited by all people in the world.

Waiting for orders to came.

Food which was finished with had no leftover, tea cup which had dried up and waitress who kept paying attention, made me feel bad. My hunch tell me to get out of the cafe because of course the owner hoped that the table which I was currently occupying could be sold to other visitors.

Now I was trying to sneak into crowd to avoid cold wind which was blowing from the lake. The Nepali-like stature and facial features made me looked like a local all around the stage.

Local artists took turns in giving their best performances, elementary school age children didn’t want to be outdone by their dances, all of them were guided by MC with ideal features, smooth hair without mustaches and worthy looked as Bollywood actor.

Such a small stage amidst a large audience.

That night, Pokhara people seemed to be the happiest people in the world.

I wasn’t sure that it would celebrate fireworks. That belief made me slowly withdraw from crowd. Slowly walking and echoing Mr. Raj’s advice who warned me that whatever might happen because there were indeed many young men who drank too much on streets.

Having yet to turn into an alley, the crowd began to loudly countdown then fireworks shot into the air and exploded right in the center of Phewa Lake. The moment which I had been waiting for was almost interrupted by cold. I turned around and enjoyed the atmosphere. The lake, which was originally dark and appeared to be black, now reflected fireworks light spectrum which were exploding above it.

An admiration which I didn’t even get at the same moment a year ago in Osaka. A beauty which made me forget to capture the moment itself. But never mind, my brain was still recording it well until now.

Check out a situation ahead to the new year at Phewa Lake edge:


The perfect night.

Next Story—->

Himalayan Coffee dan Nepali Thali

Sebelum benar-benar tuntas menuruni Bukit Anadu, aku terhenti pada sebuah kedai.  Kedai kelontong yang menjual beberapa snack, air mineral, juga minuman beralkohol ringan. Kedai mungil beraroma harum kopi  yang dihasilkan dari tungku roasting di sebelah kanannya.

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Somersby berkadar 5%….Terkenal di Pokhara. Aku mah air putih aja….murahhhhh.

Himalayan coffee bean”, tutur si penjual ketika aku memperhatikan caranya me-roasting kopi. Buat beberapa orang, passion memang segalanya. Seperti pria ini, dia rela melepas kewarganegaraan Jepang dan memilih berganti menjadi Nepalese demi cintanya pada kopi Himalaya.

I take it”, aku menunjuk kemasan 250 gram untuk kuseduh di Jakarta.


Mr. Tirtha, your country is unique. Some Nepalese faces are like Indians, sometimes I find them similar to Chinese”, ucapku ketika Mr. Tirtha mulai menginjak pedal gas taksinya menjauhi bukit.

Yess….Nepal is flanked by India in south and China in north. So some Nepalese have mixed marriages”, tutur beserta senyum ramahnya menjawab pertanyaan.

Kami bergerak ke timur laut dengan memutari Phewa Lake untuk kembali ke hotel yang berjarak 6 km. Setiba di New Pokhara Lodge, aku mengucapkan terimakasih kepada Mr. Tirtha yang sejak jam 4 pagi menemaniku dalam eksplorasi Pokhara. Kuserahkan Rp. 600.000 sebagai biaya jasanya, itu artinya aku hanya perlu mengeluarkan budget transportasi sebesar Rp. 150.000 karena aku memborongnya bersama trio backpacker sehotel.

Belum hilang juga nuansa perayaan tahun baru di Lakeside Road, aku kembali menjelajah pinggiran Phewa Lake setelah berbasuh dan meluruskan kaki. Kali ini, aku kelaparan dan harus makan besar. Masih ada janji pada diri pasca percakapan sepanjang hari dengan Mr. Tirtha. Ya….Aku akan mencicipi Nepali Thali.

Jajanan kaki lima sepertinya tak akan mampu meredam kelaparanku, aku bergegas memasuki sebuah resto. Terduduklah diriku di bagian dalam untuk mendapatkan udara hangat, lalu disambut oleh pelayan perempun berparas manis. Tak perlu lama memilih. “Nepali Vegetarian Thali and orange juice”, pintaku setelah melihat menu yang kubaca. Makanan khas Nepal seharga Rp. 40.000 dan juice seharga Rp. 23.000 menjadi penutup hariku malam itu.

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@Bellas Garden Restaurant.


Malam berganti pagi, aku menyeruput teh panas dan menghabiskan menu sarapan di pelataran hotel. Kemudian kembali ke kamar dan memanggul backpack biruku untuk bersiap pamit pada Mr. Raj. Kujabat tangan keriputnya dan kutepuk berulang kali lengan atasnya.

Aku:  “Thank you Mr. Raj for your kindness and hope to see you again next time”.

Mr. Raj: “Be careful, Donny. Thank you for stopping by in New Pokhara Lodge”.

Aku tahu Mr. Raj masih memaksakan dirinya bekerja karena anak terakhirnya masih berkuliah di Kathmandu University. Karena perkerjaannya pula, dia masih terlihat bugar.

Kali ini Mr. Tirtha datang untuk terakhir kalinya memberikan jasa taksi kepadaku. Kami berdua menuju Tourist Bus Park, mengantarkanku menuju Kathmandu.

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Bisa ga sih bertampang parlente dikit….Hadeuh, Donny!

Berganti Tahun di Tepian Phewa Lake

Mengakhiri transaksi dan menggenggam tiket bus Pokhara-Kathmandu, aku berniat cepat menuju penginapan. Jarum jam serasa bergerak cepat dan gelap perlahan pasti menyelimuti kota, hingga kemudian aku menyatakan setuju pada sopir taksi untuk mengantarkanku ke New Pokhara Lodge.

Taksi putih mungil lincah membelah patahan-patahan gang kecil. Sekali dia tampak kebingungan hingga memaksanya turun dan bertanya kepada sosok muda yang sedang terlena pada secangkir kopi dan sebungkus sigaret. Kemudian tunjukan tangan sang pemuda membuat si sopir mengangguk faham.


Aku terduduk dan mengamati pecahan uang kertas berbagai bangsa yang tersusun rapi  menjadi galeri lobby. Salah satunya adalah pecahan bergambar Tuanku Imam Bonjol.

Lobby New Pokhara Lodge

Selang beberapa waktu, muncul pria setengah baya yang tampak telah melambat gerakannya tetapi berusaha untuk tetap tersenyum. Selanjutnya aku mengenalnya sebagai Mr. Raj, penanggung jawab hotel yang sangat baik dalam memberikan pelayanan untuk para tamunya di New Pokhara Lodge.

Aku ditempatkan di lantai dua di hotel berbentuk letter-U, berlantai tiga dan berwarna oranye itu. Ruang inap yang kutebus dengan harga sebesar Rp.108.000 kini menjadi basecampku selama berkelana di Pokhara.


Mr. Raj menasehatiku singkat,  “Don’t worry about your security in New Year Celebration!. Don’t drink too much and back soon!….Enjoy your night and Happy New Year”.

Suasana Lakeside Road.

Berjalan kaki sejauh 650 meter menuju tepian Phewa Lake , aku menelusuri jalur kecil yang hanya bisa dilalui kendaraan roda dua. Hanya dua menit hingga tiba di keramaian Lakeside Road. Tampak panggung yang tak lebih baik dari panggung Kelurahan Ciracas telah disiapkan di tepian danau.

Aroma kuliner kaki lima ditengah riuhnya rombongan muda mudi Nepal menjadi paduan sempurna di dinginnya Pokhara. Suhu 8o C perlahan mengintimidasi  lambung. Dan rasanya tak sanggup jika harus makan dan duduk berlama-lama di trotoar, suhu dingin malam telah membuat tangan dan mukaku yang tak berpelindung menjadi kaku. Pada akhirnya, langkah kaki mengantarkanku memasuki AM/PM Organic Cafe. Secangkir Masala tea beserta vegetarian fried race menjadi penghangat tubuh menjelang tengah malam yang sedang ditunggu manusia sejagat.

Menunggu pesanan datang.

Makanan yang sudah habis tak bersisa, cangkir teh yang telah mengering dan pelayan yang terus memperhatikan, membuatku tak enak hati. Firasatku mengatakan untuk segera keluar dari cafe karena tentu si empunya berharap meja yang kini kutempati bisa segera dijualnya ke pengunjung lain.

Kini aku berusaha menyelinap ke kerumunan untuk menghindari hembusan angin dingin dari arah danau. Perawakan dan gurat muka yang mirip Nepali membuatku terlihat seperti penduduk lokal yang semuanya berdiri mengelilingi panggung.

Artis lokal silih berganti memberikan performance terbaiknya, anak-anak usia sekolah dasar tak mau kalah dengan tariannya, kesemuanya dipandu oleh MC berperawakan ideal, berambut klimis tanpa kumis dan berparas layak aktor Bollywood.

Panggung sekecil itu ditengah banyaknya penonton.

Malam itu, warga Pokhara serasa menjadi manusia paling bahagia di dunia sedangkan aku merasa kembali ke era 1986 dimana aku masih menjadi siswa kelas satu SD di Semarang kala itu.

Aku tak yakin akan ada riuh gempita pesta kembang api. Keyakinan itu membuatku perlahan mengundurkan diri dari kerumunan. Berjalan pelan dan terngiang petuah Mr. Raj yang memperingatkanku akan kemungkinan yang bisa terjadi karena memang banyak pemuda yang terlalu banyak minum di jalanan.

Belum juga menikung menuju sebuah gang, kerumunan mulai keras berhitung mundur bersambung luncuran kembang api ke udara dan meledak tepat di pusat Phewa Lake. Momen yang kutunggu hingga hampir diputus-asakan oleh dingin. Aku berbalik badan dan menikmati suasana itu. Danau yang semula gelap dan tampak hitam saja, kini airnya memantulkan spektrum cahaya kembang api yang bergantian meledak di atasnya.

Kekaguman yang bahkan tak kudapatkan pada momen yang sama setahun lalu di Osaka. Keindahan yang membuatku lupa mengabadikan momen itu sendiri. Tapi tak apa lah, otakku masih merekamnya dengan baik hingga kini.

Lihat situasi menjelang tahun baru di tepi Phewa Lake:


Malam yang sempurna.