Monday, October 20, 2008



Dawn in Tansen, RA and I got up with the sun to see the mountains this morning and they again obliged. Fog in the valley, a full moon setting and snow white peaks illuminated by the rising sun added another memory to this adventure. The do-it-all host at the hotel offered us masala tea which was a nice lead in to the typical breakfast of omelette and buttered toast with jam. He also brought RA some banana fritters which were shared amongst our fellow riders.

It was a great day for riding and the 135 km to Pokhara melted away. Deep, lush valleys with terraced rice fields, tumbling, milky, glacier-fed rivers made for great scenery. The road was dusty at times from all the dirt left over from landslides and soil washed on to the road from th monsoons. Rest stops often entail cleaning the dust from our eye-glasses and face shields along with the ever present glass bottle of Coca-Cola to wash the dust and diesel fumes from our throats. Coke is everywhere. At most rest stops there is a small mud/brick store selling soda and snacks. There is usually a small Coke labeled fridge (about the size of large picnic cooler) with soda and other things keeping cool inside. At one stop several bright yellow chicken feet shared space with the soda bottles.


Pokhara. A settlement by a lake, Fewa Tal, back-dropped by the Annapurna Range of the Himalayas. A tourist mecca full of trekking shops, internet cafes, and western style restaurants.
We had a nice breakfast on the rooftop restaurant of the Snowland Hotel before being informed that we had to vacate our rooms and move to another hotel down the street due to the early arrival of a group of trekkers who had to return to town because of illness.
We spent about two hours at the recently opened Gurkha Museum tracing the history of these great fighting men. Two of the docents were retired Gurkhas--very humble and charming men.

The mountain peaks are visible from almost any point in town,, but you can only see the tops. A trip to Sarangkot was needed to see more of the mountains so we arranged a car to take us to a viewpoint early the next day.


The wake-up knock came at 0430 and we were away in the dark at 0500 for Sarangkot which is about 2000 feet higher in elevation than Pokhara. We arrived at the viewing area before sunrise and were joined by 40-50 others. When the sun finally showed itself on the horizon it brought a stir from the crowd and soon the snow on the peaks began to glow white. A very impressive sight!

We still had to a little riding and 118 km later we were in Gorkha, a small mountain town. At our first rest stop some of us climbed up steep steps to a small temple. Jean and I went into the small temple separately and received a blessing from the holy man there. We each received our red forehead dot (a paste-like stuff with a few grains of rice in it) and a piece of fruit; Jean got a banana and I got an apple.

We had a bit of trouble finding a hotel and ended up in a “clean” but spartan hotel that cost us a total of 500 Nepali rupees ($6.33)! We hiked up the hill to eat dinner at our original hotel of choice. This place is cheap; RA and I each had a huge plate of chop-suey, a beer and a soda for another 500 rupees.


The Prithvi Highway along the river Trish Nuli leads us to Kathmandu. The first part of the 150 kilometer journey takes us through high green mountains and along a deep gorge with many suspension bridges and small cable cars that the Nepalis use to cross the river. We thought the road would get better as we neared the biggest city in Nepal, but we were wrong. The road actually deteriorated and we were often chugging along in first gear at 20 km/h eating the diesel fumes of the slow moving trucks and buses. Our first hotel choice, the Kathmandu Guest House was fully booked, so we ended up a few short blocks away at the Excelsior Hotel; a mid-range hotel that costs $45/night. We are in the Thamel area of the city described as a tourist ghetto in the guide book. Lots of hotels, internet cafes, restaurants, and shops catering to every need of the foreign tourist. That’s ok with us as we feel like being a bit pampered. We have just returned from an excellent Italian dinner and are busy washing clothes and watching the BBC channel on the tv. We will probably be here for three nights--we are thinking of taking a flight over Mount Everest and some of the other Himalayan peaks. Tomorrow we will keep out feet firmly on the ground visiting some of the sights in this bustling and crowded city.


Our bikes are Royal Enfield Bullet Machismo 500s; the phones we bought in Delhi are LG Bullet 285s.

Fuel in Nepal (probably mid-80s octane) costs about US$5.04 (100 NR/liter)

The fuel pumps here do not show the total cost of fuel dispensed, only the volume.

At our last gas stop, a Nepali lad about 10 years old asked me where I was from. When I told him America, he said he was from the USA too. He has lived in Baltimore, MD, for about 18 months and is back in Nepal for three months. His father is working in the US as a civil engineer.

One of the obstacles we have to avoid each day are piles of stuff along the road that spill out on to the road surface. Sand, gravel, stones, hay, etc. Other vehicles have usually flattened the edge of the pile so if you get a little close it is not too traumatic.

One day Ross and I ended up with different key fobs than we had the day before, so at a rest stop we exchanged keys. Despite different numbers on the keys, both worked in either bike.

Signal lights are not used a lot here, but some busses and trucks will turn on the right signal light to tell you that is ok to pass. One still must verify the clear path before overtaking and that the vehicle you are passing is not turning right! The trucks in Mexico do the same thing with the left signal light and the same precautions apply.

Beer choices for the past few days are: Everest, San Miguel, Tuborg, and Carlsberg. The beer comes in 650ml bottles so a healthy dose of drink.

Virtually 100% of the bikes here have substantial crash bars. There is usually a small extension on the outside top bar that allows the rider to hang things from the crash bars. Things seen hanging from the crash bars: plastic bags stuffed with who knows what, a briefcase, a motorcycle helmet, a large fish, a kid’s school backpack.