Sunday, 8 March 2015

Nepal: A little ride...

Whilst working in Nepal in 2011, I had a week between jobs, so decided to hire a bike & go for a ride...

Boudinath Stupa - Kathmandu

Pushupatinath Temple - Hindu death ceremony

Pushupatinath local resident

Sadhu in Kathmandu Temple

Pushupatinth Temple
Only bike available for hire easily over there are the smaller bikes, so I went for a wander round Thamel to find someone who did not seem to dodgy & a bike that sounded/looked OK... after a bit of mooching, I found a place & hired a bike. A Baja Pulsar 150cc beast!!


Riding around Nepal has some interesting issues, smog, mad drivers, (who got their license with a bribe rather than a test), rain, pot holes, police checks oh & a shortage of petrol!!




I left Katmandhu, (KTM), with a full tank of fuel, so dodging the buses, pedestrians & heavily laden bikes I made my way out of the city... luckily the signs are in Nepali with the English underneath, at least on some signs anyway... A few goes up & down several roads, retracing my steps & eventually get to the edge of KTM where I encounter the first police road block. Once the police realise I'm a tourist, I'm waved through the queue & on my way again though, unlike the Nepali's who will have everything checked & probably still have a 'fine' to pay!


The Prithvi Highway heads down a huge green valley alongside the Trisuli river, (which is a favourite with rafting companies) to Pokhara. En route the road crosses it back & forth so you get some great views, added to by the odd bus or truck that slid off the road into it!! Oops...




Pokhara is a really pretty place right on the Lake with great views of the Himalayas behind, the town is over shadowed by Machupuchari, (Fish Tail Peak), which is a sacred mountain in Nepali religion. It's also pretty quiet & peaceful after KTM!


As I arrived, the heavens opened in way Nepal rain does, it was bouncing higher than the bus shelter that I was hiding in & visibility was down to zero, (you just have to wait it out & then head off again). I had plans to have lunch in Pokhara, but as fate would have it, I met a guy standing in the rain & we ended up talking, as you do. He invited me to stay with his family, which as I was now soaked seemed a good idea, plus I'd get to chat to his family, great stuff...

 



 

Once we got to his house, he introduced his family, then put me up in their prayer room, with the bike parked in the back yard behind a huge gate. We ate some food, had a chat & as it was now nearly 9pm it was bedtime in Nepal.


During the night I woke up to the sound of the back gate being opened, I heard voices & a bit of movement, but figured it was just someone coming back, I found out about 2 hours into the next day that in fact, my bike had had half of it's petrol drained out! As the family would not accept any money for me staying or the food I ate, I just marked this up as payment... However it impacted upon my ride as I was about to launch over one of the higher road passes in Nepal before dropping to the Indian border. 

I had already left Pokhara when I checked the tank, so I had to return to try to find fuel, no luck, the only place to get petrol was in a garage near Katmandu! Bugger... so off I set retracing my steps along the Prithvi Highway, I found the garage about half way along, a huge queue of bikes... 

Once filled up I spent a bit of time with the fairly unreliable road map & decided to head to the Indian border anyway but via the main road instead of the mountain pass I'd looked at before. So off I set... top speed 40kph & very scary it was too!


 

En route, I took a couple of detours, one up a dirt track that stopped at a ford, this was before I had any knowledge of how to cross a ford & how to sort the problems with water in the carbs etc, so I just turned back & headed the 30 km back down the road!

I slept by the side of the road for a night, woke up cold & damp, so rode to the nearest roadside shack for some hot milk with a bit of coffee powder in to warm back up!

I was a bit fed up of riding the Baja, which had a saddle like a razor blade, really bad brakes & had probably never seen a service in its poor & hard life, so after looking at the map, I found a road that went up!

In Nepal, everything is up or down, this was up, about 3000m & looked twisty, god knows whether it would have tarmac on it but off I set as it was the most direct route back to KTM.

It turned out to be ace, loads of spectacular views of the Himalayas, the super green colours of the terracing where the locals grew their food. I climbed & climbed, eventually passing a Buddhist Monastery & a really expensive hotel, before traversing for awhile to climb some more.





It was starting to get dark now, I'd ridden all day on a little pasty I found at a shack & a bag of sweets, my concentration was dropping, just then I came round a hairpin bend to find a lorry on my side of the road with the driver nodding off... I woke up fast, managed to dodge the truck, which clipped the top of my helmet with his mirror & narrowly avoided dropping off the edge of the road!! Feck, I was shaking with adrenalin, so pulled up to catch my breathe. I was alert again now!!!

Once I'd settled down I set off again, only to find the best bit of road on the trip... hairpin after hairpin with goodish  tarmac... fab, I played at being on a GSXR 1000 instead of the little Baja right to the end of the climb.







The ride back down was in the dark, with lights like a KTM EXCF, so utterly shite, the lightning from the storm over KTM lit the road up better, so I cruised steadily down, clicking the bike out of gear to save my disappearing fuel!

Once back in KTM, I found my little hotel in Thamel, got the bike into a locked parking place & slept for 12 hours solid!

What an adventure, I'd wanted to ride in Asia for a long time, this was my first play, so some more to come I reckon... I'd recommend it to anyone, even with the scary drivers over there!!

The Baja did the job, it was a wreck & in Britain it would be scrapped, but in Nepal, it is the perfect little thing, it'll go anywhere & take all the shite abuse & fuel & just keep running, I quite liked it, but I hated the seat with a vengeance by the time I got back... great stuff!





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