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Brett Sep 3rd, 2018

Nepalese Watercraft Reviews: Part 1

The Campfire Collective features a lot of writing about watercraft. Most of it will be wonderfully helpful to the average reader. This article will not.

For those of you not in Nepal, here are the top three options for boating in this mountainous paradise.

Rowboat:  this is a sturdy watercraft. It is not a dilapidated boat.  It will be yellow or maybe red and will contain the following accessories: a paddle. Maybe my friend Sanu.

Tube: not an inner tube. Just a tube. We found it in the garage, though, so it possibly had an automotive use at one time. Plus, it floated. Counts as a water craft!

If you can find one, it will be black and have a discolored nozzle for inflation. Do not try to blow it up with your mouth.

These are your only two options on Lake Begnas. To get to three, we had to go to Phewa Lake, which is surrounded by the small, charming city of Pokhara and therefore has tourists. Tourists like fancier things than are available to us mountain rubes. Things like:

A Rusty Pontoon: This boat is dilapidated. It will contain the following accessories: A motor. The motor is for an old Singer sewing machine, not a watercraft. “No problem,” the boat vendor says. “It doesn’t work anyway.” A pack of smokes, fourteen remaining and still dry, protected from the rain by the cellophane. A bamboo pole to push the contraption to the center of the lake.

The first article in this week’s blog is focused on our old friend, the rowboat.

The Rowboat

If you are a world class swimmer, here are some things you can do with a rowboat:

Tie a rope to your waist. Tie the other end to the front of the rowboat. Position your girlfriend at the back of the rowboat, preferably under an umbrella. Whether it is rainy or hot, she will need it. Now swim! Pull her across the lake.

You appreciate getting “a workout like none other.”

She will appreciate not having to row the damn boat.

You can find one of the enormous nets that bisect the lake, trapping fish in differing stages of growth in different parts of the lake. This makes things more sustainable for those who are trying to farm the lake in an ecologically sustainable manner.

These nets have ropes supporting them from one bank to the other that are hundreds of feet long. Hand over fist, you can pull yourself, your boat, and your girlfriend (plus her umbrella) all the way across the lake. This makes your biceps burn but it is “a workout like none other, in a setting more beautiful than any other.”

If you are not a world class swimmer and diver, you can sit on shore with your laptop and a bottle of Everest. Just watch out: a cool bucket of suds can really sneak up on you at this altitude.

You can tie the rope around your feet and backstroke, only using your arms. Swimming like this would cause heart attacks in mere mortals, especially the one sitting on the shore, in the shade, with a laptop and a Sprite (day drinking is also for world class athletes, those with energy to burn and livers like steel belted radial tires).

If you are a writer with a family whose speed in life is decidedly slower than that of professional entertainers, here are some things you can do in a rowboat:

Swim some more

Splash around in the fetid water that has collected in the bottom overnight. Convince your teenage daughter that this is the natural state of boats (wet) and not evidence of a leak in the hull.

Discretely check for leaks in the hull. Find none. Do not be discrete about this; trumpet it to all concerned members of your family.

Stare at the minnows that have congregated in the bottom of the boat. Agree with your son that they are “water.” Every word here at the lake is water, corrections or disagreements will be met with a dismissive wave and the word shouted again.


Step in. Watch the whole enterprise rock back and forth, both sides coming dangerously close to the waterline and taking on the water you’d just bailed out.

Hide your frustration that your family now won’t go out with you. Do not listen when they say, “it is too hot!” Remind them that they are from the edge of the sweltering Cambodian jungles, a place where the sun is as merciless as the pit vipers. Point out Nepal is ten degrees cooler, no matter whether you are measuring it in Fahrenheit or Celsius: it is always ten degrees cooler than our previous home.

Nepal is magic and can bend the laws of physics.

“You aren’t homesick for the heat, are you?” I ask.

No, they are just homesick in general.


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