Wednesday, July 29, 2009
week 13 logs
Day 85 jul 17 fri
Raxaul – Birganj – Hetauda – Bhainse – Kulekhani – Katmandu
154 km - 9326 kms
Wake up by 7.30, the earliest in a long time. Pack and head out to the border. Indian side they just ask whether the stuff we have is for selling or personal. At the Nepali border, they ask nationality, see passports and tell us to go ahead to get bike entered. No Nepali stamp on passport L. At vehicle place, do paperwork. They ask how many days; after brief random thought, we decide on 2 weeks - must get a Lonely Planet. From brief internet research so far, the only places I know of Katmandu, Patan, Bhaktapur, and asia’s highest bunjee jump near Tibet border. Its 100 INR per day, so shell out 1600 for it. The guys at the counter, all dressed in casuals, enquire where from etc. When we asks for routes to Katmandu, they give 2 choices – a. the niche wala road via Narayanghat, which I had already decided against, and b. the route I had shortlisted, via Daman, which is hilly so less frequented. On further asking, a third route is put forth, via kulekhani, the danger route. One guy says take it if u want, but be careful. Other guy says don’t take, the roads are bad and the inclines are – in hand movements – 60 degrees. I decide to decide at Hetauda where the branch-off is.
We leave the border and find a petrol pump. The 9000 km long game of only putting petrol at HP pumps (except at 2 places; when the bike is on reserve, the game has to stop, esp. when you haven’t the faintest when the next petrol pump is) will have to end. Find a unnamed petrol pump, but think it’s Indian Oil (small board of servo). Petrol is 56 bucks! Fuck, I should have filled up on the Indian side. Bill comes to 950 for 12.5 l. We don’t know the conversion rate and give 1000 INR to get back 650 Nepali or NC as it is called here (nepali currency). Saurabh does some calculation and says its 1 INR to 14 NC. We are a bit overjoyed; it looks like we can do the whole of Nepal in the change we got :D
As the trucks give way to open road (not bad, nothing great, but after NH28A, big relief. Enter forested area, it’s Parsa Wildlife Sanctuary. The road starts slowly climbing – from the Gangetic or Gandaki plains to the lower Himalayas. It’s been 3 years since I have been in the Himalayas – last time being the once great Himalayan trip. Soon the terrain and feeling is like being in Munnar, except no tea plantations. Big smiles on my face – don’t know what it is about being in the hills, but your internal feel changes.
At Hetauda, some automatic response system kicks in, and I ask for road to Kulekhani. Its to the right, and tall hills loom on the right. A lil woohoo and I am off.
Shortly, the road becomes a mixture of paved and broken single lane road with steep inclines and hairpins with no warning signs. Not much traffic except the odd local bikes (mostly pulsars and ilk – form being sporty) and jeeps. Have to ride mostly in second gear, then just first gear. After the close call at Mudhumalai – Ooty, I stop at regular intervals to let the bike cool. A bit too cautious, but without the bike, Mataozm is over, so..
Nepali women are good looking, almost all of them. Babies are nice and fluffy round. As the road progresses, it moves to broken bumpy road; slow progress, 20 kms per hour is good. The roads are bad, but it was expected; so at peace, maneuver the bike.
Get stopped 4 times; once at a police checkpoint where you got to sign in the bike. Have tea and engage in coversation with police man, which goes from roads to religion. As we exit the village, 3 dude boys ask for 5 rs, and give us one of those printed receipts. Can’t make sense of it. LP had mentioned that some places Maoists also make you pay a tax to go ahead. Its 5 NC so we quietly pay and go ahead. Atop a dam, another police/army checkpost, where we are told to stop, then asked where from and ok go. Arrey. Atleast do the usual pressing the bags with your fingers to do the now usual ‘superfingers contraband detection technique’ that all cops in India and now Nepal do. Anyway, the checkpost was facing a green lake, which is the IndraSarovar. Chill and then proceed, not before sneaking another ‘prohibited’ photo. In the age of google earth and maps, they still have these stupid signs around. One good thing that has happened is that in almost all spots in India, no charges for still cameras. Probably got tired of telling people that even cellphone cameras are cameras.
We are now in the high/low mountains around 2247 m/7371 ft. (1m=3.3ft). I recall AMS, and rue not having brought garlic. Light headaches happening from time to time. We are good until we reach 2500m, then the real ‘headache’ starts. Keep stopping often to rest my hands and fingers that are taking a toll with the rough roads and constant braking, turning, up, and down. We are glad we got that NC at the petrol pump as all the tea shops in the villages don’t accept INR.
At a turn we see Katmandu spread out in a valley, surrounded by hills. Quite a view, with monasteries and temples and a thin river, pine and all sorts of trees. See 4 different kinds of butterflies at one point – reminds me of Kashmir. Soon the road becomes pucca and I speed up. At Katmandu outskirts, get stopped by checkpost, and finally made to open our bags. Well not all of them 2 of them. At this checkpost, everyone has to say where they are coming from or going, even locals.
We enter Katmandu to see everyone snappily dressed, well, at least the young ones. As we have no idea where to go, we ask for city center (shity shenter) and then get directions to some place. I’m already tired, so decide to ask for central bus-stand, which is on the opp. Side of how we came. It turns out where are on a ring-road around the city. Considering we are on a ring road, we decide the bus stand must be some new out of town place, so again we ask for shity shenter, and get told to ask for New road. We reach new road and boom, it’s a road surrounded by old palace type buildings, stonewalks, and fashionably dressed people doing their thing – not just foreigners (hmm, gore, considering now even I’m a foreigner here) but locals and all look good; no one is garish or whatever. Saurabh says most pahadis are like this only; similar to what ananya told me about Seoul folk.
Park, find a bookshop and buy the LP-Nepal; 2200 NC meaning 1300 INR. Saurabh hesitates but I say buy buy. We find out that conversion rate is 1 INR = 1.6 NC; so much for 1:14 and seeing Nepal on our change. Read the LP and figure out we have to head for Thamel. Pop into a cybernet café to check where KP had said to stay, and find out he had said Thamail. Decide to go to LP recommended place. have to maneuver through small lanes with heavy traffic – how some people think they have take a Sumo through a lane which can’t take 2 bikes side by side; but somehow we all manage. Reach to find it’s full; so find place at another one just beside. It’s just out of Thamel, which is like the next area, so quieter and probably cheaper, though we don’t know.
Freshen up, but neither has the energy to look around. Nap for a while, before heading to find some dinner. LP again comes to the rescue. Lots of places to choose from, but it’s almost 10 and most places are shut or shutting. We walk through the lanes of Thamel, which looks and sounds like Leicester square – pubs, restaurants with live bands, lavazzas, etc. One guy approaches and asks if we want to see a dance. Both our testerones are a bit high – I guess it’s seeing ‘modern’ women after 2 months of rural folk.. We walk on looking for a place that ‘calls’ us to eat. Saurabh has no preference, as usual, so we finally go into a Tibetan place I recall from LP. They say closing, I pat my stomach and make sad face; so lady says thugkpa ok, noodle soup. I say ok and sit down. We both eat thungpa in silence. Saurabh seems to be a quiet mood. He doesn’t want to do the bunjee jump.
Return to the hotel, read my new Jeffrey Archer, which turns out to be about a guy who most probably climbed Mt. Everest first, 30 yrs before tenzging et al. What coincidence.
Day 86 jul 18 sat
12 km - 9338 kms
Wake up, take a nice hot water bath to loosen the stiff muscles. First task is to get bike serviced. Oil leak, creaky clutch, and general touch up. Head out to find out where the local Royal Enfield service center is. Haven’t seen any enfields on the road, so a bit concerned – have to get it serviced before the next mountain leg. Find out about a place called Himalayan Enfielders in Laximpat. Ask and reach Laximpat. People give directions in minutes here; on pressing approximate kms; have to make 4-5 direction stops. Stop for tea and find out its near the Israeli embassy. Shopkeeper makes conversation; seems 2 more computer engineers from Bombay are in the locality.
Find service center, only to find it closed. Saturday is a holiday here. Come tomorrow at 10-10.30. I head back to the hotel and rest back and body. Book bunjee jump - Watch films and laze.
Evening go Internet and upload half of last week. Eat at momo place beside dance bar beside dance girls. Head back to hotel. Crash after watching films.
Day 87 jul 19 sun
Katmandu – Bhaktapur - Katmandu
52 km - 9390 kms
Get up and leave for bike service point. Saurabh wants to drop out after Nepal leg. Service place says won’t happen today- all booked for the day - Come tomorrow. Not a good day so far J. Head off to Bhaktapur to see sights. Dustiest highway ever – no wonder Katmandu is one of the top 16 air polluted cities in Asia; people walk around wearing air masks. Try to find the parallel road along the airport, but don’t find it.
Get to Bhaktapur. Get SAARC ticket and ride to the middle of this old city; one of three capitals (Katmandu, Patan, Bhaktapur – Gorkha is another, but that’s for another day). Not much crowd and we say no to a couple of kids who want to guide. After lunch, another older guide approaches and this time we take. Its difficult to just use LP descriptions and look around.
Nepal is basically temples (just like India), mountains (most of the highest peaks on earth here), rivers (about 20 of them), and tons of adventure. There are three styles of temples here; Nepali Newari, South Indian Shikara, and .. I forget! Quite a few of them are replicas of temples in Katmandu; built because of regional conflicts and people not being able to go to Katmandu – so you have Pashupati and other temples replicated here. Also a shiva parvati temples with animals in kajuraho pose. Every darbar square (all cities in Nepal have one) has a temple with erotic/sex pose sculptures. Basically since there weren’t playboy or fantasy, to be couples would learn about the cycle of sex from these. They usually start from ‘hey how you doin’ to ‘doggie’ to ‘childbirth’. Aside – Nepali culture from what we see and hear is ok with premarital relationships.
Check out the Taleju temple, who is the patron goddess of the kings. Durga basically. Only hindus allowed inside. I have so far entered 2 of about 10 such places, basically depends on my mood. This one I don’t. You can’t take shoes, cameras, mobiles, leather stuff inside. Saurabh checks it out. A lot of sun and moon imagery on most temples. Also wooden sculptures, only a few have stone sculptures; stange considering there is so much stone around J, but then again also lots of trees. The king’s temples will have a pillar in front with the king atop facing the temple. We end with the highest temple in Nepal, where people hang out, couples chitchat and others smoke. A lot of the temples were destroyed in the earthquake in 1934, and with the help of countries like Germany and Japan, have been rebuilt.
After the tour is over, we try to find the biggest shivling in Nepal by the river. We do find the place, but what I see is quite small, so I’m not sure. Its drizzling and we pass through this strange space with little stupas, hanuman, Vishnu, shiva etc idols, etc. Mixture of two religions seamlessly; then again Nepal is this almost fit-to-fit mix of Indian and Newari culture. Most watch Hindi movies and TV channels, and roam around singing Hindi songs on their ubiquitous mp3 players. Miss having Juju Dahi (Kind curd) – supposed to be a speciality here.
Head back to Katmandu through heavy traffic. I roam around Thamel streets, pick up some DVDs. We leave for dinner but don’t feel like entering any of the 100 places to eat. After standing at street corners wondering where to go, we see this Thakkali (people belonging to a region near Gorkha who have kind of specialized in running hotels and restaurants) restaurant. Get in and eat the thali. Very good – like Indian but different. Stuff myself. Walk back waving off whispers and walkbys of people asking us if we want lady, man, hashish. It’s past 10 and the nightpeople are out. See ppl, including local street kids, toking up and sucking out of a plastic bag. Scenes from a past life.
Day 88 jul 20 mon
12 km - 9402 kms
Get up and go to bike service place. Another 2 bikes getting worked on, with their owners sitting by. Decide to stay put to - get my work done and avoid getting it pushed back by bikes with owners who sit and get it done J. End up spending the entire day there; first time in 3 years where I sit by and watch an entire service! Learn a bit too. Get new rear wheel brake pads, oil filter, and gasket. Bikes and kids keep whizzing in and out; like an hangout. This place was started by an Enfield riding club who couldn’t get good servicing done - so they started their own. The old guard has spread across the world, but the service center remains and new kids hang out here now. It’s 6 by the time I get back.
FYI for enfield riders who want service in Katmandu, here’s the address (can’t find it online).
Next to Israeli Embassy, Main road, Lazimpat.
Is closed on Saturday.
Good service, but spares are expensive. Import duty from India! There is a 100% tax on such stuff. E.g. Enfields cost like 3.5L NC, that’s 2L IC. So get from India or pay more here. Also on that note, tank up in India, before entering Nepal.
Am starving. Go do some internet timepass, and see a bakery and buy some stuff to take back – get 50% coz its after 8 pm. Come back to hotel to see Saga hasn’t eaten, so we head out for dinner. End up going to the thakali place again. Come back and watch films, while Saurabh goes out to check out alternative nightlife in Katmandu.
Day 89 jul 21 tue
Wake and watch remainder of film. Saurabh sleeps till noon. So we decide to skip Patan and see Darbar square. Take the walking tour from LP and follow the routes, trying to locate the places. Good fun, take some wrong turns, so see new things. Its like 500 yr old things are used to sit on or keep helmets on. See this spectacular window is called Deshay Madu (there is no other like it) – its true! Also a 5th century standing Buddha statue in one corner bracketed with bathroom style white and blue tiles! If we didn’t know better, we could think callous! There’s this block of wood at one corner to which coins have been nailed – its for the toothache god! At Asan tole which used to be main spot for India Tibet caravans, there is an Annapurna temple and a vegetable market J Buy a garlic pod for future AMS use.
Reach Darbar square and a guide approaches, whom we hire. Walk around seeing the sights – though most of the temples are similar, very subtle differences – But mostly the same. So if you see one darbar square you have kind of seen them all! Not really, but you get my point. Do you?
Go to Kumari Devi’s house. Now she’s the living goddess of Nepal. Something similar to Dalai lama, except.. They start looking for the devi in 3-4 yr old girls, who must fulfill some criteria. Then these girls are put in this chambered place where frightful sounds, faces etc are present – the one who doesn’t get scared, becomes the Devi and then lives in this kickass house. More like a prison; gets to go out 13 times a year – gets tutored at home etc. Not bad huh? Ppl come to worship you and all that.
Alas, like every other dream, it ends when she gets her first period. She is reverted to normal human status, chucked out of the house, gets a pension. Also finds it extremely difficult to find a husband. Stories range from the one who marries her dies within a year (manglik?) to no one wants to get married to someone who was a goddess and is accustomed to living and being treated like one. The current devi is less than a year old in her avatar.
After the tour, we have chai with the guide, watching the crowd walk by. We then walk to Theku to get Saga’s helmet fixed – the helmet fell down and the visor broke when we reached the hotel in Katmandu. Walk from shop to shop, but no one has this kind of visor. Most ppl in Katmandu use these funky helmets. Anyway, end up buying a new helmet, full face of course. Meet some engg. students at the shop. They also want to do such a roadtrip; practically everyone we have met so far wants to do a roadtrip; well good luck. Tired from all the walking, so take a taxi back to Thamel. Feels nice to be driven around for a change.
Want to eat something different, so scour LP and decide to have Chinese. End up eating non-veg fried rice, my first non veg since last December! Pick up more 50 NC dvds and head back. Saurabh heads off to check out nightlife. Comes back having done ethnographic study J. I watch films, till I pass out, tomorrow is a big day. Total solar eclipse, bungy jumping, and maybe Tibet border. Keep 3 alarms for the morning before I pass out.
Day 90 jul 22 wed
Katmandu – Bhaktapur - Dhulikhel –The Last Resort – Kodari
121km –9523 kms
Wake up 5.30 a.m., 5.45, 6.15. Go up to the terrace to see the total solar eclipse. It’s a bit gloomy with clouds in the sky, but the sun is still out there. Around 6.40, the crows start going beserk, so I settle down with my sun glasses and camera. Don’t think camera will do any good, already the sensors are fucked, but… Around 6.50, it begins; it’s a bit difficult to judge, but I can see the curve moving over and then suddenly it’s like watching moonlight. A bit -disappointed would be the word – I was expecting the skies to go dark and be like nighttime – it was actually, like moonlight, but no blackout. Sit watching it, now and then wondering if im going to lose whatever little eyesight I have left. It’s a bit amazing that the sun and the moon are the same size! Around 7, the sun is out again, the only way I can make it out is the rays and the heat that has come. My first solar, total or not, eclipse.
Return to the room and watch remainder of the last night’s film till Saurabh wakes up. We pack and then head out. Go to Thamel main street (Paryatan road) to sell new books and Saurabh picks up Che Part 2 DVD. Ask for the airport and reach it – want to take the parallel non-dusty road to Bhaktapur. Reach the airport, but take some road which brings us back to the Arniko Hwy. It has rained so little dust. Reach Bhaktapur and go beyond, leaving the traffic behind. The air becomes cleaner and everything is uplifting. Saurabh points to the left and pow, ice capped mountains are visible.
Reach Dhulikhel and we stop at a point where we can see a range of ice capped mountains. Saurabh takes photos while I get a bit emotional and just watch. We are not sure which mountains these are, but speculate that one of them is Mt. Everest – will have to check. Enter the fabulous Panchkhal valley. The road is good, air is clean and crisp, and ..
We reach Dholghat where the Kosi and the Indrawati meet. I’m sleepy and stop to have my second chiya to clear the cobwebs. We head out and then ride along the Bhote Kosi, which is raging. Soon the first of soon to be many waterfalls appear. Wow moment. Every 50 metres a waterfall or two fall by the road. In 10 mins, waterfalls are everywhere till the eye can see. We also encounter mudslides and have to slowly maneuver our way through. Boots get covered by mud.
We are now creeping along the Bhote Kosi at 12-15 kms per hour. After crossing Barabhise and about 10 mudslides (thankfully cleared or rather cars, buses have ridden over, so we can ride between the channels), we reach the Last Resort. We see the suspension bridge and cables hanging off it. Park and take a look at whats happening. A boy takes the jump and then I set out on the bridge to do my jump. Asia’s highest bunjee jump, higher than anything even in NZ. Can’t even see the river from the sides. Just walking on the bridge is spectacular with the trees and then the river far below. I show my papers and am told to go to the office. Cross the bridge and get weighed – with boots 56.5 kilos. Go back on the bridge and the guys prep me up in 2 mins. Cables are attached to me, with quick info on what and why. Guy takes video and asks name and how im feeling – tense and excited.
I stand at the edge of the plank, mountains in front of me, the raging river below me. Everything else is blank. It helps that they do everything so quickly. Am told to push my head forward, which I do.
[events that followed are experiential – go do your own bungee jump]
I grab the bamboo pole and am guided to land, where the cables and harness are taken off. Have to walk up (no one told me that – I though you get towed up or something). After falling 160 m, now I have to climb up some 250 m. The walk up is rather nice, following the stones, walking by waterfalls, between two waterfalls, walking on waterfalls flowing along the path. Have to keep stopping to take in the view, wash my face, and catch my breath. Reach the top and make my way to the lunch area. We eat lunch, watch the video of me falling, and make convo with staff. Find out that this place is owned by 4 guys – Dutch, New Zealander, Australian, and Nepali. Its at 1200 m, 500 less than Katmandu.
Head off to Kodari. Its drizzling but who cares. It takes us over an hour to do 12 kms, more mudslides, rain, and streams. We reach Kodari and get pulled over just in front of a gate. Hello China. Both of us are quite excited and happy.We can’t go past without a visa – what happened to Hindi-Chini bhai bhai.
Find a lodge, dump our stuff and pass out. Around 6, we wake up and go out for tea. Buy soap for the first time in 3 months – so far using the soaps we used to get at hotels!). Back at the lodge, I find that my right ankle hurts when I rotate it anticlockwise – Bungee or general rough road or both? Find the Tiger Balm and apply it. Walk to a bridge which is over a big waterfall with light green (jade) water, which meets the raging brown Bhote Kosi. Saurabh takes photos, while I walk around, watching people play cards and carom by the road. By chance, Saurabh asks a man where the trail goes. He says to a village, and asks where we are from. We walk along with him, conversing about India, and China. They all say China not Tibet. He’s a customs official, and everyone along the road says hello to him. Must be important man – customs, of course, has to clear anything that ppl take to and fro the border.
He gets us to the border and also the Friendship bridge. Two local women who have come from across the border laden with goods want not to pay some tax, so guards and them having major long convo. Finally women sit down on bridge – wait them out? We are 30 ft from China! See a Chinese army/police doing some drills. The border is now closed, only people from China can come past, no Nepali can go across. (Police is more powerful in China, and employ youth only from 18-25. After 25, the cops retire with pension!). Saurabh takes secret photos (ahem) on the bridge. Customs man tells us that photos are not allowed, but we can take from Nepali side. Tells us a few things about Chinese rule etc. Shows us the Khasa (Nepali) market, which is Zhangmu in Chinese. Locals from a 30 km radius can pass across to China (again 30 km radius) without visa etc. Beyond that even they need a visa. We thank him and walk back to the hotel. It has stopped raining. Photos and looking at ‘China’ across the Bhote Kosi from our lodge balcony.
We have tea and tell them to call us when dinner is ready, which they do and which we eat. Come back, watch films and sleep. A day of extremes ends – total solar eclipse, fucked dirtroad biking, 100s of waterfalls, australasia’s highest bungee jumping, and China border.
Day 91 jul 23 thu
Kodari – Dhulikhel – Banepa – Nala – Dhulalgaon – Mohan Pokhari – Nagarkot
Arniko Hwy, rain destroyed dirt roads, hiking trails!
129km –9652 kms
Wake up to the sound of the thundering Bhote Kosi. Have tea and go to the terrace to look at Khasa market town/Zhangmu. Update logs – haven’t for 3 days, already forgetting little details. It takes an hour to update logs for one day! Today’s the 23rd! 3 months since I set out on Mataozm – who would have thought – have lasted three months without having a single paisa of my own, and am at the China border. Thank you all who have helped us out in one way or the other. God bless.
Wait till 10, hoping the now blazing sun dries up any mudslides that happened yesterday. It’s rained here the entire day yesterday. Pack and load the bike. Go to the customs office to find and say bye to C. K. Suba, the guy we met yesterday, but can’t locate him after a brief search. Come back to see trucks backed up 200 mts with no gaps through. Wait at the lodge and watch people playing pool. It’s already 11 am. After 15 mins, the trucks move ahead, and we slowly start maneuvering through the gaps. Say bye to China and follow the Bhote Kosi. The mudslides are drier and we rattle our way through. Encounter three checkposts where the guards do the superdetective finger press contraband detection technique. Only one place makes us open the tank bag - sampling? Have lunch at Barahabhise.
Cross the Last Resort; no action today. Bungee and swing happen only on Wednesdays and Saturdays. Saurabh says once more J Reach Dhulikhel and have chiya. No views of the icecaps today. Thick low clouds L. On a whim, enter the town and ride around to see Newari area. Not much different. See a road going up and follow it, only to see it break up. We follow it nevertheless coz we see a board that says Panorama view lodge. A local says there is a temple at the top. Rattle, bump, rattle. We reach the top to see a huge valley. Walk around and take photos. Saurabh remembers his school days at Nainital, where he would make paper planes and watch them fly. Use the old insurance paper to make planes and let them go, but not much flight. Head down to Dhulikhel. Plan is to see Nagarkot via Nala and then head to Katmandu.
Turn off the Arniko highway at Banepa. The policeman we ask for directions tells us kacha road hain. We reach Nala and then go beyond. At a checkpost we ask to find out we have crossed the Nagarkot turnoff. They say road is bad but bike can go. Don’t remember anything like a right. Come back to see this 45 degree stone path. Take it.
After bounding and bumping up the stone, mulch 40 degree road for a while, we stop to ask if we are on the right road. Yes, but we will have to walk, says one old man. I scoff and go ahead. 3 different people at 3 different times say Nagarkot is 1 hr away – like we made no progress at all. Road is still at 60 degree incline. Engine goes hot, clutch goes weak. Stop and wait for it to cool. See watery oil dripping. Clean the pipes and oil filter. We carry on, until we see the road go up at 45 degrees for 150 mts. Ask Saurabh to get off and go 20 mts before clutch gives up. Saurabh walks ahead and does recce- road is the same for another 200 mts. I let the bike cool and do a route mapping along the road. 300 mts later, the road becomes 70 degrees, and the terrain is like a nightmare. I retrace removing potential stones from the path.
Come back to the bike to see people talking with saurabh and giving directions and options. 30 mins later, 6 p.m., I get the bike up another 100 mts and stop at a fork. If we go straight, we go to Mohan Phokari and then right on pucca road to Nagarkot. If we take the direct road on the right, the road is the same and becomes steeper. I’m still ready to do the direct road. Temporary insanity, would be possible if no luggage, solo, and cooler. Two Hero Hondas pass by taking the road with relative ease.
We have tea and this big group of people make convo. View is spectacular with the sun making shafts lighting up swathes of the valley below. An English speaking guy who is studying M.A. talks about eastern philosophy and both our eyes light up. We ignore the rest of the group and talk to him. We then go to the rice mill he works in.
It’s almost dusk and I decide against direct road. Sensible boy I am. Faint hope in the head that atleast the Mohan Phokari road is good.
We proceed with the sun setting across the valley to our left. The skies look like they are on fire. Road is still fucked, but atleast it’s mostly flattish. Saurabh says Izzat wala road hain. My wrists and hands are fucked. Tar road appears as we approach Mohan Pok., only to disappear after 100 mts. Tease roads these are called. At one mulch strip, riding in a groove - bike sinks, ask Saga to get off, and turn to better patch, when bike slips and pachak. Thank god for the panniers, or would have been like those scenes in the movies where the hero/villain/comedian gets his face full of mulch. Heave it back on and proceed. Its beyond dusk now and the dusk bugs are full on. Just as it goes totally dark, we reach the tar road and turn right for Nagarkot. Only 10 kms away. Yay.
Yay? 10 kms of non-stop winding and uphill road; and its getting cold. No wonder everywhere goes off to Dhulikhel for Himalayan views. But no, Nagarkot is supposed to have the best views and that’s where we will go – nevermind that its bang middle of the monsoon and we may not even see a glimpse. Another 50 mins later, we enter nagarkot. My wrists are tender and hands are cold – need to take out my gloves if I continue doing this. Stop for tea when a guy approaches and asks if we want rooms. We says yes, but after tea. Have tea and look at LP. Nagarkot in general is expensive! He hangs around and we say ok, show us the place. Saurabh stays back at the tea shop, while the agent and I go into town to the hotel. Shows me 3 kinds of rooms at different prices. Choose the best one and bargain it to half the price. Try to get it lower, but the guy won’t budge – so probably good. Head back to get Saurabh.
Check in, apply TBalm on wrists, order dinner, eat, soak wrists in warm salt water, and update logs. Have to wake up tomorrow at 5 to catch sunrise over the Himalayas. Everest if the sky is clear will be like a dot, but there are other mountains. Let us all pray that tomorrow morning, we get to see the icecaps. Amen and good night.