Before leaving Pokhara, I met a Polish/Australian rider who also started in Australia. He had crossed Myanmar with people I know. Both of us were heading the same way so we grouped up and made our way back to the lowlands to catch the main east-to-west highway. The road follows a rushing muddy river through thick green valleys.
The monsoon has everything growing like wild and all the villagers are out planting. They find and use every available nook to grow crops. Terraced rice paddies have been built into the landscape.
Without rain dampening the mood, it was one of the prettier rides I’ve had.
It took us most the day to slowly get out of the hills and back to the hot sticky lowlands. I wasn’t able to climb Mt. Everest this time in Nepal, but this random bunch put us up in the Hotel Everest.
Was still rocking the sock and flip-flop on the injured foot and boot on the other. I was scared to try wearing the boot again after all the pain it caused last time. I’d been doing it for long enough that I forgot about it most the time until I noticed someone staring at my feet. The looks I get are priceless.
The next day we continued our journey west towards India. In the afternoon we got diverted on to a muddy road because of some bridge construction. While pulled over, I gave one of my roses to a serious man standing nearby.
Hopefully he took it home and got on the wife good side. I sensed he liked it, but a minute later bad luck struck and I wondered if he had put bad voodoo on me for giving him a half dead rose (being bungie-corded to the back of a motorcycle since Kathmandu hadn’t improved their health). As I was slowly bouncing down the crappy road, all the electronics on my bike went out. I opened everything up and spent an hour checking all the fuses and fiddling with the wires. Randomly it would come back, but when I’d push the start button it would make a fizzy noise and everything would be gone again. Sometimes it would come back when I jiggled one wire and then a different one the next time. The mystery of electronic problems.
I thought dead battery since it would get just enough juice to be back on, but die again when trying to start it. Polish dude headed back to the highway to try and find a truck that could give the bike a ride to town. I stayed behind and closed everything up. As I waited I looked at the eleven roses all shriveled up and faded maroon and it seemed like the appropriate time to bid farewell. I gave them a kiss and tossed them back to nature.
A couple of minutes later as I was waiting I turned the key for the heck of it and the electronics came on. A push of the start button and it started right up. I couldn’t believe it and jumped on and started riding. I figured I might as well get closer to the next city incase it went out again. I think the roses had used up all their good vibes and were casting some dead magic over me. Once he saw I was gone it would be obvious I got it going. Fifteen km down the road he caught up with me. My bike ran fine the rest of the way and never had any more electrical issue. Ever since that one time it’s never done it again and the mystery continues. That day in an empty shop I had seen a guy reading people’s futures.
I thought about seeing what was going on and where I was headed, but that would take all the fun away. Unfortunately the evil roses also cast dead magic on my exhaust, or maybe it was just the dumb idea of using asbestos paper as a gasket for the header pipe to silencer. Pushpa’s idea in Kathmandu had lasted for not quite a week before the crackling and popping slowly returned and that familiar hot air was blowing on my calves. By the end of the day it felt like about half of the hot exhaust was blowing out of the joint. I would take me a few days before I finally came up with my own Macgyver home-made part. It’s impossible to find actual parts for my bike in this part of the world so I have to become an inventor. After a few failed creations and attempts, one did the trick. I made a gasket size ring out of a beer can, wrapped it with steel wool, and duct tape around it to keep it tight so the silencer would fit over it. With the clamp tightened all the way down at the joint the problem was solved. I’ll be selling these little bad boys on Ebay for $19.99.
It was a night in a random crossroads town at the world-famous Hotel Pop Life.
It actually might have been one of the nicest rooms I’ve stayed in on my trip. I forgot how wonderful air-conditioning can be on hot days. In the morning, fruit sellers had set up their carts all along the road. One guy had apples all the way from America, or at least they had stickers saying it.
As usual we packed to a group of staring eyes. I saw Wolverines Nepalese brother.
The last day riding through the far-west of Nepal was really nice and full of rural people at work and passing the time. A lot of friendly characters and excited kids, which felt like a nice send off from Nepal.
In the first part of the day I lost my riding buddy. I was surprised he’d lasted as long as he did. I like to stop a lot and enjoy the little things, but he was in a hurry. He was hoping to have already been in Europe so was in a pretty big hurry with an end point on his mind. He wasn’t too into anything along the way and seemed a bit annoyed by it all. I told him a few times not to worry about staying with me because I was moving at a different pace and taking a lot of pics. I was enjoying the company of some local kids on the side of the road and he finally had enough and got on his way. I took my sweet time towards the border. There’s a lot of farming work going on this time a year as all the rains are watering their fields. The women are the ones I see working their butts off the most.
They handle a lot of the work in the rice paddies.
Herd the goats.
Become giant shrubs walking down the roads and collect plants.
And some chill out on the sides of the road keeping an eye on their water buffalo.
The water buffalo are everywhere and a lot of them are led around by young kids.
While I looked at the animals they looked at my bike.
Cool kids who are always curious who the hell I am.
Big grinned older fellows also heard the animals along the highway.
But they’re definitely the masters of kicking back and watching the world go by.
I pulled over for a break and was engulfed by a crowd. There’s always different types of kids. Some aren’t intimidated at all and come right up to me full of curiosity.
Others need to see these brave ones do it without terrible things happening and then they join and aren’t nervous anymore.
Then there’s the few that just can’t get over their fear of me and always give a safe distance while watching my activities closely.
I let one of the adults write the name of the village on my bike and the kids were immediately enthralled in this. I gave them the white-out pen and set them loose on one of my ammo cans. Every kid had to have his turn. I now have about twenty Nepalese kids names covering my right side case.
The adults all stood around watching with amusement and I sensed some jealousy. Some of them wished they could be kids and enjoy it as much as they were. So do I. The area near the border had flooding a few days before and the water levels were still super high.
The villagers were out in the rushing streams net-fishing for little minnows.
Crossing back to India over the Banbasa/Bhimdatta border is a breeze on the Nepal side. A quick visit to the customs shack to clear the carnet, slipping by the gate, and getting stamped out of Nepal at the little turquoise immigration building.
Ten to fifteen easy minutes later and your done. There’s a bit of a no-mans land in-between full of traders.
I knew I was back in India when everyone started wanting pics with me again. In Nepal it happens, but it’s rare. In India the guys are always so excited to get some pics. I think a lot fewer people have the ability to have a camera phones in Nepal.
The Indian side of the border takes a bit more time, but is painless. You pass one checkpoint where they get your passport info and send you on your way. Then at a collection of busted up buildings you get stamped into India at immigration and carnet filled out at customs. The customs guys were friendly and had some Chai brought to me. No pictures of the Indian side because they really get serious about the no photo thing. Even the little man who opened the gate for me was saying something about my Gopro being off. I was able to snap a few going over the bridge, which delivered me to India and back to the insane traffic.
As soon as I reached the small town I was back into the madness of stuffed roads and found myself missing the relatively open Nepali roads. I came in at sunset over the expanse of rice paddies. Getting dark I had little choices of where to hang my hat for the night and ended up in a filthy, spooky, dank hotel along the highway in Sitarganj. The guy running the place was a bit strange and off at first, but ended up driving me to the city center on his scooter and went around picking up a bunch of food for dinner.
A long brutally hot day took me all the way to Rishikesh. A pretty uneventful day except for being run off the road eighty times. By the end of it I was ready to beat the shit out of any Indian truck driver I could get my hands on. The only good part about this stretch of highway was the marijuana growing thick everywhere. The sweet delicious aroma filled my helmet and was the only pleasant thing to fill my brain during those 300km.