Thank you, thank you, thank you. I don't think I've ever had so many Birthday wishes. And yes I did have a great, memorable day. I went cycling.....
I gave Fiona a day off, and borrowed Nicks mtb. Met Jimmy, one of Nick's guides at the Katmandu Guest House, and hit the trails. For the next three hours, we explored the hills to the north of Kathmandu. No single track, but lots of rough, dirt roads, through tiny hill villages. I've been through heaps of villages before, but this ride was still very special. No panniers, no trailer, so light, and we felt really close to the Saturday morning village action. We very quickly got pretty high above the Kathmandu valley, and if it wasn't for the smog, would have had great views. Great fun, except Nicks bike has very little back brake, so the eventual downhill was a little scary. Oh well. At 61, a little adrenalin has got to be good for you.
A game with the boys back at the hotel in the afternoon, where, while searching for the tennis ball under parked cars, Nick found some "weed" growing, a well earned nanny nap, I'm allowed them, and a fantastic meal, including chocolate birthday cake, with some lovely young Nepali
friends, and of course the Cowie family, and I was ready for sleep. Thank you Nick and Belinda for making the day so special.
I've been pretty busy all week. Have been sorting stuff for the First Aid course we are running next week. Initially the course was to be run for Dipaks guides, but somehow it has grown, and now we are teaching head guides from many companies, as part of a TAAN training program. Our students are expected to take our "pearls of wisdom" and pass them on to other guides. Hope you're over your jetlag Pricey and Ju. The pressure is on.....
Spent a day at the Indian Embassy. I've decided that even if the Pakistan visa doesn't eventuate, I should still cycle a bit of NW India. Have shortened my intended route from 43 days, to 23 days, so it leaves me plenty of "summer" to ride the high routes, KKH and Pamir Highways. But the worse case scenario will have me cycling into Delhi from the mountains, and flying over the no go areas. The great news is, Tessa is trying to sort her itinerary so she can join me cycling for a couple of weeks. Fantastic. She's been out of Kathmandu the last couple of days, being paid, to be in a commercial. I will catch up with her soon.
So other than trying to fill in the tedious online visa application on my samsung notebook, and having to visit the embassy three times over seven working days, and getting a little disorientated trying to find the embassy, and sitting in the waiting area for 90 mins, while only one person processed the crowd of applicants, the Indian visa application has been pretty straight forward. My hopes are that, eventually, the Pakistan and Chinese applications will be as "easy".
Fiona has had her latest 10,000km overhaul. She's looking great. It took a while. The guys at Dawn to Dusk, are really nice, but fitting in a service between strikes, days off, guiding trips, and "Nepali" time, resulted in Fiona being at the shop four days. I still haven't been given a bill. The trailer hasn't faired as well. I found a part of the aluminum, bracing had snapped off. I'm seeing a guy today to see whether we can get some aluminum welding done. Perhaps you could come over and do it Horse.
The Cowie's and I met a very interesting guy the other night. TJ, a German Chinese, speaks nine languages, but no Chinese. His company built Terrace Downs, and he is building similar resorts all over Asia. They put in a management team ,
and subcontract local companies to provide high quality activities for their International cliental. I felt especially honored when TJ offered me a job running the cycling, touring and MtBing, position at their newest resort, just out of Kathmandu. If I wasn't on a "mission", I'd be very tempted. Thanks TJ.
Staying with Nick and Belinda has been awesome.....really fantastic. A respite from the daily grind of living on a bike in Asia. I'm eating really well, I'm sleeping in the same bed every night, I'm speaking English. Everything in their apartment works, the taps and the switches. They have marmite, and Belinda bakes not sweet bread, and yummy muffins and biscuits. We are watching movies without subtitles. I could be at home in NZ. Bliss and so refreshing. But I'm restless. Today I'm sorting permits and vouchers. I'm going to cycle south to Chitwan NP for a couple of days, while I wait for my Indian Visa and a response from the Pakistan Embassy in Wellington. Anyone with contacts there? Give them a friendly nudge will you. I'm pretty excited... not just about Chitwan. Ju will be here this time next week.