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February 25th, 2011 | Asia

Kracking on to Kathmandu…

Man alive…!!

The ride to Kathmandu took me six hours…!! It is a very long way after all…!! Yeah, about 205 km from Sauraha…!!

I left Sauraha and made my way back to the “highway”, where the dusty gravel road meets it at Bhandara… And there came across a wedding party…!! Nepali style…!! The groom ride ahead in a decorated car, while the bride walks to the event, surrounded by a retinue of her family members and bridesmaids…!!

Another day, another wedding...!! This times it's on the outskirts of Bhandara...

"Do you think they've come out for us...??" asked the Big Fella hopefully...!! "Nah, it's a wedding, you fool...!!" The bride is in the golden dress...

And the band played as they walked...

We made excellent time to Hetauda, taking but one hour to travel the 65 km from when we turned onto the “highway”… I located the statue in the centre of town that I had been told to look out for, and turned left on the road to Kathmandu…

The town was bustling… Buses crowded the main road and after the relative peace and quiet of Sauraha, the chaos took a few minutes to get used to…

It might have been market day, and then again, it might just have been a normal day in Hetauda…!!

The first few kilometres after town ran alongside a tributary of the Kerra Khola River, which wound its way, higgledy-piggledy through a series of valleys to it’s source at the base of the mountains…

Looking ahead, I could see what seemed to be thickly wooded, and very steep mountainsides, and could not guess which valley the road would follow…

That’s when things became a touch rougher… The tar ran out, and for a short distance we rode on a wide gravel section, which was presumably earmarked for surfacing at a date yet to be decided…!!

"Hey...!! I thought you said this was the highway to Kathmandu...??" remarked the Big Fella... "I did....and it is...!!" I replied... "I meant "high" as in up into the mountains...!!" Another small mis-understanding is quickly cleared up...!!

The road surface improved, but got a heck of a lot narrower as we wound our way along the banks of the river... "Keep an eye out for buses and trucks, while I take in the scenery...!!" I could only nod in reply...

In the village of Bhainse, we had two choices, the quick route consisting of a lot of gravel, and the old road that was supposedly a lot longer, but wound through some spectacular scenery... We chose the latter, but as the sign in the top left hand corner suggests, both could be "injurious to health"...!!

"Strange name for a village...!! Whatever could it mean...??"... I didn't have the heart to tell him what lay ahead...!!


After six of the twElve loops, he began to get the idea...

"Hang on a sec...!! You mean there's another 105 km of this hell...!!"

It was tough riding…!! Very technical, and I thanked my lucky stars that traffic was extremely light… In fact, for the first 100 km, we encountered only half a dozen vehicles…!!

This should be renamed the “Road of a Thousand Bends”…!! It twisted and curled, turning back on itself in the form of a series of hairpin bends when it climbed up and over a mountain range…

We had set out from as little as 65 m.a.s.l., and after the first series of mountains, we were up at 1200 m.a.s.l. … Then the road dropped into a valley and began a series climb up to double that…!!

A freezing wind whipped around us when we crossed an unprotected ridge, making us dash for the cover of the Pine Forests that grew on the slopes below the road…

I pulled over on a bend that was bathed in sunshine, and while we rested, I munched on a few naartjies and drank a bottle of water… Far down in the valley below us, I could hear a bus or a truck grinding through it gears on one of the steeper slopes…

The last thing I wanted was to get stuck behind it, so I kitted up as quickly as I could, and got back onto the road…

We took a breather soon after reaching the halfway mark on the road to Kathmandu...

The "drunken snake of a road" that draped itself on this portion of the Himalayas... It had been a tester...!!

We eventually reached the highest part of the ride, the village of Simbhanjyang... It was bitterly cold, and I wasted no time in descending the steep slopes on the other side of it...!!

I was making better time now, riding more confidently because the bike had more momentum, and I could use the slightly higher speed I was riding at to sail through most of the bends… Except for those that seemed to be disappearing behind my left shoulder, that is… At time I was sure I caught sight of my number plate…!!

On a short straight, I came across a small group of little girls, lugging baskets of fodder and bundles of firewood… They could not have been older than eight or nine, and one of them looked to be about six years old…

I was both saddened and angry at the sight of these young kids having to carry their loads up through the mountains… I could not see a village nearby, nor had I passed one in the last few minutes, and I was doing a good 50 km/h at that stage…

These five little girls had me shaking my head in disbelief...!! I have no proper way of explaining the feelings that coursed through me...!! Show this to your kids when they are exhibiting a bit of ungratefullness...!! Tell them you're sending them to Nepal...!! To WORK...!!

When I stopped to greet them, they came to stand in a line, and in a loud chorus, shouted “Namaaste…!!” A respectful form of greeting here in Nepal…

My eyes swim even now…!!

We're up in the Himalayas, where John Deere has never sold a tractor...!!

For more than sixty kilometres, all the way from Bhainse, I was followed by two young guys on a 200cc motorcycle… They overtook me each time I stopped to take a photo, hooting and waving as they passed… I would quickly overtake them again, but they were always just a few hundred metres behind me…

At one point, I stopped to take a short break, and they pulled up just ahead of us and walked back to greet me… They spent the next ten minutes fawning over the Big Fella, pointing out all the attributes that impressed them…

These two guys were overawed... By the Big Fella...!! I hardly rated a look...!!

After dropping down to the highway that connects Pokhara to Kathmandu, I stopped and sized up the situation… I had been told that this was one of the most dangerous sections of road in the country… The last 30 kms to Kathmandu…!!

I put the camera away, because trying to ride one-handed in this traffic, and on this excuse for a road, while handling a camera in the other hand, would immediately qualify you for a special position in the Evil Knievel Hall of Fame…!!

The road is under some form of destruction….er….I mean construction…!! It is narrow in places, blocked by machinery in others, and is constantly clogged with slow-moving buses and trucks, and impatient lunatics trying to get past them… I fall into the latter category…!! Or I did on this particular day…!!

It is the closest I have come to “buying the farm”, “popping my clogs”, or just plain “passing over”, depending on which part of the world you are from, and which phrase for dying you prefer…!!

I overtook what I thought was one truck, only to find another in front of it, and a bus coming the other way… There was no way to brake and tuck in behind the first truck, so I just slowed down, gritted my teeth, and waited for the impact…!! The bus missed me by a hair-breadth and as it passed, gently kissed my right pannier… It was the slightest of touches, but it reminded me how close I had come to disaster…!!

Late afternoon on the streets of Thamel, the Nuthouse of Kathmandu...

As we arrived at the Hotel Discovery, I was reminded that I had to begin planning for a BIG SERVICE...!!

Kathmandu was pumping….!! Then again, it almost always does…!! I managed to locate the district of Thamel, the tourist mecca of the city, and after some help from a very friendly local, called Jeewan of Eagle Eye Freight…

By pure chance, his offices were barely a few hundred metres away from where I had come to an exasperated stop…!! He came jogging up to where I waited and then I followed him to a hotel which a friend of his had recommended…

It was not his first choice, and would prove not be mine either, after just one night there… After a restless night of noise and mosquitoes, I checked out the next morning and Jeehan led me to another far more suitable hotel, the Sun Rise, which was both close to his office, and in the heart of the shopping area…

Later we sat discussing the simplicity of flying a bike out of Kathmandu, and I was amazed at how little there was to be done in order to achieve this… There was very little of the complicated process that I had experienced in both Amman and Dubai…!!

I made arrangements to get the bike to airport the next day, and then took a stroll down the alleyways that passed as streets in this part of the city…!!

Street life in front of my hotel... It's bright, vibrant and full of friendly people...!!

The area had a friendly vibe to it, and hordes of backpackers and trekkers, mostly from Germany, Holland and France, strolled the streets with me, bargaining about anything from books and fruit, to scarves and trekking tours…!!

Nobody is kidding when they say “Kathmandu Rocks…!!”

©GBWT 2011

 

8 comments to Kracking on to Kathmandu…

  • Charmz

    Glad you made it to Kathmandu, what with those twists and turns! NO MORE taking chances GB. Mom and Dad’s blood pressure is at 600. I like the colourful buildings in the town.

  • Mark Behr

    Really surprised by Kathmandu. I thought it would be more village-like. Great to be learning as you travel. Enjoy Kathmandu.

  • Kim

    ANOTHER wedding – yeah-right!!!!!!! I’m sure you check the classified to find out when there is going to be a ceremony…. You didn’t even think of playing tricks on them – don’t tell me you are getting soft in your old age!!!!!
    Maybe next time
    BIG kisses
    K

  • ramesh rijal

    hey ronnie ,heartly thanks for photo, we are your friend, i can’t forget that time when we met in way of kathmandu. i liked your 1200 cc bike very much & your racing style. You are really braved.

  • Hi Ramesh, thanks for the comments….!! Yes I remember us riding through the mountains, and trying to keep you behind me…!! It wasn’t easy…! You have a good “racing style” yourself…!! Ha-ha…!! Take care and stay in touch…. R.

  • Ramesh

    Hello ! how are you ronnie. After long time, very strong remembrance of yours in my mind,Really it’s so strange tour, and we are very happy for these romantic time,Nowadays where are you ? and you tour is still going on or Finished ? I can’t forget that moment…….nice and one strange moment for me and hope u also……ok bye see u soon

  • A cracking read Ronnie. Just came across it as I scour various reviews while deciding which bike to buy. Your blog is a great advert for the 1200GS. I currently have a K1200GT but that’s very much limited to tarmac. What an adventure you’ve had so far, makes for really exciting reading, and hopefully has helped you in your quest. Happy travelling & safe miles ahead. Your next challenge will be returning to normal life.

  • SP

    Ronnie,
    I am a motorcycle fanatic, I can only dream of what you did, that is to travel the whole world in a motorcycle!!! I am sure your travel was full of venture. How did you like Nepal? I am planning to visit Nepal myself soon. So what did you do with the motorcycle once you arrived at KTM? I mean before you went back to your home country?

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