Back in December I was sitting at home with my parents scoffing my face with festive chocolates with a large glass of red wine in hand. We had sat down to watch Levison Wood’s Channel 4 documentary ‘Walking The Himalayas’. This episode showed him walking the Kusma-Gyadi suspension bridge which is the tallest in Nepal. I said to my parents, I’d love to go and two months later I’m here.
I was nagging at Hugo telling him to “get his shit together” after he had left his camera at the hostel in Kathmandu, forgot to collect his passport from the visa office and locked our bus ticket in the suitcase – God knows how he managed to get himself around Africa! We rented motorbikes for a bit of a thrill and as a faster, more comfortable alternative to taking the public bus to the small village of Kusma, where the suspension bridge connects to the village of Gyadi. Situated around 67km west of Pokhara, our current location, it is seldom visited by tourists.
It was a bit of a struggle and awfully expensive (in Nepali terms) to rent bikes what with the fuel crisis, not to mention Hugo having no licence or experience and me forgetting how to drive. We managed to find a bike man who rented us a motorbike and a scooter plus eight litres of petrol and one bottle of fuel to take away. Most petrol here comes from the black market thanks to the five hour queues at every pump (or thanks to India some may say!)
Petrol is kept in old plastic bottles: water, Sprite, Coca Cola etc., so me being me, stupidly mistook the petrol bottle for my water and took a couple of large swigs. I immediately spat it out all over the pavement, thankfully before swallowing. The bike man just looked and laughed.
After bike man fixed the bike (I was almost certain it wouldn’t make it to the end of the road) we were off! Not remembering how to drive a motorbike I was nervous heading off but as the saying goes “it’s just like riding a bike” everything came back to me in seconds.
After stopping off at the German bakery for some rather stale pastries we got back on the bike, forgetting we had left our helmets in there. Back we went. Time was getting on now and we were already a couple of hours late leaving for the bridge which was at least a two hour drive away. I then realised I had lost bike man’s blue booklet which was the vehicle ID that must be presented if stopped on the bike. “Get your shit together” Hugo said right back at me.
After retracing our tracks and failing to find it I decided to take the risk and ride anyway. Hugo had no licence – we “forgot” to disclose this information upon renting the bike – so if we were stopped we were buggered anyway. Not even 5km down the road we were stopped by the police. They explained that in Nepal you must have a licence and a blue booklet. We were preparing ourselves for the worse but got off lightly with just a 200 rupees ($2) fine, given a receipt so we weren’t charged again and told to be on our way.
The ride there was beautiful but mind-numbingly cold. “Super prepared” me, forgot any form of wind stopper or gloves which is a must when riding reasonably fast, especially in the Himalayas! We didn’t stop much apart from when Hugo fell off his scooter going 1mph escaping with just a few minor cuts. It was rather amusing to be honest. Following the Pokhara-Baglung highway, the road was good by Nepalese standard, just a few monstrous potholes and off-road sections.
We arrived at the town of Kusma early afternoon and stopped for some warm tea and Mo Mo’s. My stomach was in tatters from all the fried Indian food I’ve been eating but I couldn’t resist the spicy oily broth a kind lady gave to me to warm me up. We made our way to the suspension bridge and if I’m honest, I thought it looked rather small, but once we were half way over we felt its height in all its glory.
Before heading back I gave Hugo a crash course – excuse the pun – on how to ride a motorbike. He picked it up real quick so I let him drive the big bike home. We wanted to get back before dark so we bombed it along the highway dodging tractors and buses on the windy mountain roads. It was exhilarating!
Explaining to bike man that we had lost his ID, got fined by the police AND crashed his bike wasn’t the best experience and we were forced to pay 2500rp repee ($25). At first we weren’t sure he was telling the truth as the policeman said it would cost just 200 rupee for a new blue book so when he wasn’t looking Hugo got our passports from under his desk so he couldn’t hold us ransom. As he explained that not only will it cost 2500rp for a new book but he will lose a weeks worth of business while waiting for the new one we realised the policeman probably misunderstood us and paid up. I felt so bad especially when he looked in his draw to find our passports gone, oh the shame.
On our way to yet another curry house I tripped over myself and went flying through the air for all to see. The banana I was eating flew out of my hand and landed metres in front, it wasn’t my finest moment. It was then I realised I had left my SJ Cam on the bike so I returned to a very grumpy looking bike man. He spent a good five minutes trying to cut my cable tie free and I apologised once again. It was then he told me the bike was no longer working – just to clarify, it was the bike Hugo was driving last!
We certainly didn’t pick up any points for good karma but boy did we have one hell of an adventurous day!