When I first arrived in Pokhara, I distinctly remember looking up at the World Peace Pagoda and thinking that it would be a strenuous hike to get up to it (despite the guide book stating it only takes an hour). I decided to put the climb off until after my trek.
What a difference a 10-day trek can make for your perspective. On a fairly clear morning, I stepped out for a walk along the lake around sunrise. I ended up hiring a rowboat and crossing the lake, ascending the 300 meters or so to the World Peace Pagoda. As I was plodding up the steps alone, I felt a sense of pride in having greatly expanded my personal comfort zone for outdoor adventures.
Upon reaching the pagoda, the view of the Annapurna range (and to a lesser extent, Dhaulagiri) was stunning. There was some haze, however you could clearly recognize all of the peaks. I found it amazing how much of the mountain range you could see by simply crossing to the other side of the lake, let alone climbing up a few hundred meters. On a perfectly clear morning, the view would easily rival that which we had from Poon Hill.
After poking around the pagoda, and chatting with the few other tourists up there so early, I realized I wasn't ready to go back down. I walked a few minutes along the ridge and grabbed breakfast from a small restaurant. An older Canadian woman and her guide sat at the adjacent table for a snack and we chatted for a bit. She had completed a short trek in the region and was heading to eastern India and Bhutan with an organized tour.
It was up on the ridge that I decided it would be a shame to bypass India for fear of how crazy it will be. Her advice was to go with the flow. My perspective suddenly changed, and I soon found myself wanting to take on the challenge of traveling through India (if only for a few weeks in the relatively cooler, Buddhist north of the country).
After a quick descent back to the lake, I took a leisurely row back to central Lakeside, managing to capture something of a snow-covered mountain reflection in the still waters.