Cruising to Kathmandu

We rode for miles towards Nepal, straight north.

We ended up in Gorakhpur. If anyone ever offers you a free trip to Gorakhpur, decline. Even if you live in Slough. I’d been there before. I couldn’t remember anything about it, except that I didn’t like it much.

Lost, we found a bridge where the traffic was stationary, and crossed it, swearing. Then we crossed it again, just to see if we had missed anything the first time.

Eventually, we made it out of Gorakhpur, and found our way to Sonauli, the little border town. We spent a bug-eaten night of it, and made a border dash at 6am the next morning.

‘The border is a 24 hour border‘, but at times ‘you may have to go hunting for the officials’ the Lonely Planet explains. Adam was taken to hunt for the customs chief.

The customs chief was in his apartment, taking a bath.

Adam sat outside the bathroom while he sat in the bathtub, singing to the radio.

He got the carnet signed by a chirpy man in a bath towel, and we were off.

Nepal seemed very refreshing, especially after a large egg-based breakfast, and we set off on an enormous trek to Kathmandu, on one of Nepal’s three roads.

The road was made of real tarmac, and our steed was humming along happily. There were little houses and farms by the side of the road, and villagers collected grass in enormous conical baskets that they strapped over their heads.

There were thatched cottages along the edge of the road.

Women wore sarong-style wraps with little choli blouses, or ballooning maxi dresses.
Men wore waistcoats again, and a new style of cap. Some people had tribal-looking, chiseled faces and big chunky home-carved tattoos up their arms. Some people looked completely normal, in jeans and rock T-shirts.

We speeded all the way up to the hills.

Then the lovely tarmac developed blood-curdling lumps and bumps. There were deep ridges either side of a narrow strip on our side of the road. The trucks wheels fit the bizarre natural rails perfectly, but our wheel-base was of a different nature. It got a bit tougher.

Then we were on the main road from Pokhara to Kathmandu, and it got very busy with buses and jeeps. The road did a very good job of looking like a riverbed. Adam did some very funky driving and we almost died, but never quite.

We stopped and ate Dhal-bhat on steel platters at a long bench. The restaurant owners entire family sat near us, watching a very dramatic Nepalese soap about a young woman’s apparently appalling choice of lover. The screen mostly cut to outraged facial expressions.

We rode into Kathmandu, down an enormous hill. People got very trendy. There were kids on trail-bikes in Sex Pistols T-shirts and skinny black jeans. The haircuts were more Toni & Guy than Tribal Homecut. Someone wandered past with a guitar slung over his shoulder. I felt scruffy.

Thamel proved a navigational nightmare. We’d spent two weeks here too, and still couldn’t work out where the hell we were. An hour later we found the hotel, and hopped off to be merrily greeted by the manager, who remembered us and mocked the filth all over the bike.

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