Indian Immigration and customs were a breeze. I had a bit more difficulty in Immigration in Nepal. When I was in Bangkok, I got my Nepalese visa in my British passport as I wanted to make sure my Iranian visa went in my NZ passport. When the Nepalese immigration checked my British passport, they noticed I had not got stamped in or out of India. When I gave them my New Zealand passport there was a bit of a commotion. I explained I had dual citizenship; they made a few calls and then stamped my British passport. It was then off to customs. To get my bike into countries I need to either complete temporary importation documents or use my carnet. On the carnet it has a list of countries that are signatory to this standard. Nepal was not on this list but they wouldn’t allow the bike in unless they stamped my carnet. I had the same thing happen in Cambodia. At the Cambodian border there were a French couple that had brought a motorcycle in Vietnam and had ridden to Cambodia only to be told they cannot enter unless they have a carnet. I explained to the official according to this carnet Cambodia do not require one. The official said they would not be permitted in unless they went to Phnom Pehn to get the correct paperwork and they always need a carnet.
It seems that some countries require a carnet even though they are not a signatory to the agreement.
I headed towards Kathmandu looking for an ATM and a hotel. I found an ATM in the second town I went through but could not find a hotel. At this point all I wanted to do was lay down. I kept going until I reached a large town called Damak. I searched and searched until I found a guest house only to be told it was full.
The sun was fading and so was I. I walked across the road and a guy on a motorbike spoke good English. I asked if he knew of a hotel. He did and said “follow me”. The hotel looked good and when I asked the price it was a bit expensive. I negotiated the price down to NZ$26 plus breakfast thrown in. I said to the guy if I don’t stay here, you will have one empty room and that made him reduce the price. The reality was I was going to have to stay here anyway, but he didn’t know that.
I was ready to settle in for the night and went to turn the air conditioning on, aha no remote control. I rang reception and they sent a guy up. He said there is no remote. I said can I have remote control from an empty room. He went off and came back and said” will need to change room”. So, we changed room to one further along the hall. They guy left. I went to use the Wi-Fi. The Wi-Fi keeps dropping out every 30 seconds. Never mind I’ll go to the lobby if I need it. It was time for a hot shower to sooth the aching body. No hot water, I rang reception and they sent the same guy up. I told him I’ve run the water for 10 minutes and it’s remained cold. He turns the water on for 5 minutes and comes to the same conclusion that it’s cold. He says “I check immersion”. He comes back and says” immersion was off “, runs the water and it is luke warm. This was a good sign, so leave it for half an hour and it will be hot. The guy leaves.
Two minutes later the A/C, power outlets and half the lights turn off. I ring reception and no one answered. I rang three times and then decide to walk down the four floors to reception.
When I got there, I spoke to the head guy. It appears that in Nepal there is a lack of electrical supply so most places have their own generators as well as the main grid supply. They switched the generator on and power was restored. He did tell me the generator uses 15 litres of diesel per hour.
I went to bed early to try to recuperate.
The next morning, I felt much better but lethargic. I decided to stay another night. It’s amazing what good medicine a good night’s sleep is
Day 193 Friday 13th March 2015
I headed off West to make my way to Kathmandu heading through many fertile plains. Most of the towns I passed through are chaotic. None of them have pavements and there are always piles of sand and half-finished building projects all over the place. This creates plenty of dust.
The plains as well as being fertile have many dried sandy riverbeds. In the rainy season this place would be lush. On the way I noticed many tall chimneys. These are actually for the kilns to fire bricks. There are an abundance of brick works in this area.
The Nepalese women wear brightly coloured saris encrusted with gold motifs; they always seem well turned out. They wear bright reds, purples, green and yellows. They really stand out in the distance.
In many of the countries I’ve visited, women carry all sorts of items on their heads. Today I saw the biggest loads carried by any women to date, baskets of fire wood.
It’s a tough life for women in general in Asia they seem to do all the cooking, cleaning and very physical manual jobs, the jobs that we in the west would expect men to do. Children are also working hard doing lots of menial tasks, everyone seems happy; I suppose they know no different. Try getting kids in the west to do this and see what sort of moaning you get. We know we have it good when our kid’s biggest issue is where to get free Wi-Fi. This of course pales into insignificance when you see young children begging for food, filthy and with no shoes.
Today it was full steam ahead to Kathmandu. I took the longer scenic route. I’m glad I did as there was very little traffic and the views just got better and better. The highest point reached was 2,700 metres. The road was in good condition except for a couple of places. From one vantage point I glimpsed a view of the Himalayas. The peaks were covered in cloud. As I pondered the size of these mountains a local guy asked where I was from and we got chatting. I told him that I’m trying to get a look at Mount Everest and that tomorrow I will be heading up to Nagarkot. He told me he lives there and that you have a 70% chance of seeing most of the mounting range and a 30% chance of seeing Everest but only if you get up for sunrise. He gave me the name of a hotel with views of the mountain and said if I mentioned his name, I would get a discount as one of his relative’s works there.
The really impressive thing about the area I travelled today is the way mountainside after mountainside has been carved into steps so it can be farmed.
The Wi-Fi at the hotel was pretty good so I had a chat to my family on Skype. The Wi-Fi speed has been so slow in Burma, India and Nepal that I only get to speak to them once a week if I’m lucky. Because of the time difference I didn’t check out of the hotel until mid-day.
I headed off to see a couple of the attractions in Kathmandu. First was Patan Durbar Square. Patan is famous for its medieval buildings. The square has temples and if you’re foreign you have to pay to go in. I could see enough from the entry point and there were people everywhere. It was time to take a quick photo and move on to the next sight which was Boudhanath temple. It was the same thing there, another entry fee. I saw it on the way to the entrance and it didn’t look like it was worth paying an entrance fee so I moved on.
I couldn’t wait to get out of the place so headed up to Nagarkot East of Kathmandu. At Nagarkot you are supposed to get the best view of the Himalayas and Everest.
The GPS sent me up a really steep rocky, sandy goat track that had big drops and went for 15km. It was a good work out which kept me warm as the surrounding air temperature dropped quickly.
When I reached the top, I felt a sense of achievement and looked for a hotel.
I had my first accident with a car while riding to a hotel. There was a parked car on a single lane road when a woman opened the door then looked at me, closed it and as I was riding by then opened the door again and caught my left pannier knocking me over to the right and off Winston. The woman made no attempt to apologise and no one in the packed parked car made an effort to help me lift my bike. I walked over to the car and got the guy out to help lift the bike. The right pannier was badly bent, Barkbuster hand guard scraped, spot light guard bent and scratches on the engine protection bars.
The guy was apologetic on behalf of his brain-dead female passenger. I managed to find some wood, got my hammer out and bashed the pannier back into shape and straightened the spotlight guard out by hand. The bark busters did a great job of protecting the throttle and break lever.
Day 196 Monday 16th March 2015
I awoke to a cold morning and the alarm. I'd set the alarm so that I could be awake for the sunrise over the Himalayas. I wasn’t expecting to see anything as yesterday was very cloudy. I drew back the curtains ant to my surprise I could see the Himalayas. Not a crystal-clear view nether the less more than the view I was expecting.
I finally broke free of the city limits and had a much nicer ride through gorges and along the river to Narayangadh which is just over half way to Lumbini. I decided to stay in Narayangadh the night.
The ride to Lumbini was a pleasant ride with little traffic. I headed down the hills and onto the plains where the temperatures was warmer.
On the way down the hill, I decided to stop and take a photo of a wrecked lorry. Apparently, it was a recent crash. These are common sites.