The Great Himalayan Drive is supposed to be more of an adventure and exploratory trip, but who can resist some shopping therapy. I ended up lighter in my pocket in Pokhara, and my car getting further overloaded. But no regrets whatsoever.
The best things to buy are stuff made by Tibetan artisans using materials like copper, wood, Turquoise, Ruby and other precious and semi precious stones. My pickings included a ‘guitar,’ a tea pot made of colourful stones and a game called Tiger Game or ‘Mongolian Chess’ where tigers and goats try to outwit each other. And a bunch of small curios. And lots of clothes meant for travel. Brands included North Face and Mountain Hard Wear at throwaway prices – I stand guilty of buying counterfeits.
I would have loved to pick some ‘tankhas’ which are Buddhist themes painted on cloth – I even found a woman who was painting these in her shop. And she claimed – with the quality holding this to be true – of carrying on a tradition where her whole village does this only. Pity I did not have the budget to pick up one – these can be pricey as some can take months to finish.
Surprisingly, Pokhara seemed to be the only place in Nepal where the quality stood out at fairly competitive prices. And all shops are conveniently located along one main street along the lake. Even Kathmandu does not come close to such shopping. You can shop till you drop – but don’t forget to bargain. Real hard. You will be surprised how much prices can fall. In a way the downturn in business has also meant sellers allow themselves to be somewhat ‘exploited’ – but then again, economics is all about supply and demand.