I never thought I’d be writing this on my iPad in squeezed in Hugo’s one man tent. We are currently situated in a middle of a field where a police checkpoint over looks, after asking the local chief where we could sleep. It’s been an eventful three days which I am looking forward to sharing with you. Now where do I start?
It took us around two hours to get out of Kathmandu which was mostly spent at a stand still swallowing fumes from trucks. We stopped for some oily beans, spicy potato and fried roti, a signature Nepali breakfast before moving into the hills. Luckily the route out of Kathmandu is downhill which put us on a high.
So high, we managed to overshoot our turning to the border by a good 35km after Hugo misread the map! “There is no way I’m going back up that hill, absolutely not. I’m cycling round to the other side of Nepal if I have to.” I said. And so we did. After a huge couple of plates of daal baht for lunch the weather turned and I could sense rain. We took shelter near a small shop to waterproof our bags and got talking to the owner’s children.
The rain worsened so we sat chatting with the family for a good hour while they served us hot tea and homemade ice lollies. The storm passed for a short while but our new friends insisted we stay the night at their place which was home to two families.
I got the idea Hugo was being sent to a hotel while I was invited to stay but later found out that the public dispute was merely over which family was going to host us. In the end one family provided us with a bed and bedding whilst the other cooked up a huge delicious dinner and hot tea. It was great fun chatting away and learning about local rural life. I took great interest in the English school books on Nepali culture learning about Dowry, which is when a woman has to give money or gold to the family of the man she marries. If the amount isn’t considered enough she is deemed unworthy and subjected to beatings and in extreme cases sometimes death. Although this is discouraged it does still take place, particularly in rural areas.
After a quick breakie by the roadside we continued west on to the E-W Highway which had just closed for roadworks leaving a huge backlog of trucks we had to worm our way past. Lucky that then left us with a good three hours of cycling on clear scenic roads around Chitwan National Park, famous for their rhinos. We had just commented on how perfect it was when I hit a pot hole at full speed.
At first we thought nothing was wrong but as the day went on I realised I had buckled both wheels and was left with no choice than to disable the breaks. Hugo had to hold on to me and break for the both of us until we reached the next bike mechanic who amazingly whacked my wheels back in to place.
That night treated ourselves to a guesthouse with its very own TV (which quickly went due to load shedding) and an army of bed bugs and mozzies which we spent half the night trying to kill. The next morning we came across a huge Hindu temple being built. The detail was absolutely spectacular it must have cost millions.
After a huge and sadly, my last daal baht lunch, I came face to face with a sign telling me to beware of the 14km steep windy roads. My motivation was at an all time low until Hugo taught me the art of hitching a lift up the mountain with a truck.
The decent was even more fun that holding on to the backs of lorries until I remembered I had no breaks. I’ll say no more. Luckily the mountains vanished and we made our way across flat land, very different to the Nepal I had seen so far.
We came across a Hindu ceremony which taught the local communitites the history of Lord Shiva. We were invited in to dance, enjoy some incredibly tasty dessert and each receive blessings.
There were no guest houses in the towns we passed so we went to the local police station to ask if there was somewhere safe we could set up camp. After an interview with the chief we were escorted to a field next to a police check point to pitch our tent, much to the interest of a crowd of locals the police tried to shoo away.
The air was swarming with mozzies so we were taken hostage in our tent, so much so, Hugo had to pee in a bottle beside me. The next day started with a half an hour stop at the side of the road trying to mend Hugo’s puncture with a crowd around us. It was only another 40km to the Indian border at Sunauli which was mad but relatively quick and easy to cross. It was smelly, dirty, stressful and everything I had imagined but I enjoyed the excitement. Trucks waiting to get across border lined the street for miles, it must have taken days.
So I made it! Despite the set backs thanks to the weather and a broken bike, we cycled from Kathmandu to India in less that three days. Taken in by a local family and police officers, I’ve left Nepal with the same warm feeling I got when I arrived. It’s been an amazing six weeks here and one day, one day, I will return.