Lahan to Bardibas 68km
Bardibas to Khurkot 98km
In Myanmar, I found my worst ever road to cycle on, between Monywa and Kalewa. Today, here in Nepal, I've found my "best ever so far" cycling road.
Yesterday, Fin took off by himself. He needs to be in Kathmandu in two days, as he has booked himself in for a trek, and he needs to get a permit, and then bus to the track end to meet his trekking buddy. He's a fit young Aussie fella, and as much as I enjoyed his company yesterday, I don't want to slow him down. I'm in relax mode, and have got lots of time to get to Kathmandu. We have breakfast together, and he takes off. I'm keen to chat to Ju, so hang about, hoping that the power will come back on, and wifi will be restored. I go for a second breakfast.
No luck with the power, so load up, and head out. My aim is about 70km, to the base of the big hill we need to cross to get to Kathmandu. In the course of the first 30km , I'm stopped twice for tea. About 40km I'm stopped by some school kids. Please come to our school and meet our Principal.
Okay. Lots of kids, 500 at the school, crowd around me and Fiona. The staff are also keen to chat. It's big exams starting today, but they delay the start, as we drink Sprites and chat. Eventually the Principal looks at his watch and decides they better start the exams. It takes me another 15 minutes to extract myself from the grounds. My initial hosts, escort me back to the main road, via their aunties house.....tea?
This area is amazing. When westerners come to Nepal, their eyes and thoughts lead them to the mountains. Nepal has some beauties. Very very few westerners see these southern regions, where most of the Nepalis live. The country side is lovely. Green, varied, lots of crops, lovely land formations, pretty rivers, and the people are amazingly welcoming. Many speak reasonably good English, even the young kids, and they're not afraid to use it. They're not invasive, but will say "hi", and their eyes light up if you get in a "namaste". I've been able to sit at the side of the road and make my sandwiches without being hassled. They do come over to meet me when I stop at a shop, but they don't just stand and stare, they converse. It's lovely.
About 5km before the turn off up the hill, I find a
Lodge. It's cheap, and nasty, but I'm tired, after yesterday's 140km. And it has a restaurant attached......and it has wifi. You've gotta ask, how come India is so backward in this regard?
I'm concerned about where I'm going after Kathmandu. My original plan was to cycle into NW India, cross into Pakistan, and over the Karakorm Highway (KKH) into China. But Pakistan is a little unsettled at the moment. Juliet has been looking at flight options from Kathmandu, up into the Stans. Then last night I got a message from my Pakistan contact. He assures me that the Media hype re Pakistan is extremely exaggerated, the KKH will be opening on the 15th April, and he can arrange permits. Hmmmmm. It's very very tempting. I'm going to try to get a Pakistan visa in Kathmandu. That maybe difficult, as you are meant to get them in your home country. I've spoken with Pakistan Embassy in Wellington, and they have said they will try to arrange it so my application will be accepted here. Watch this space.
So this morning, I turned right, off the main highway that cuts across the south of Nepal. Immediately the road started to climb. Not steep, not even granny gear, just climbing. But the valley
I'm going up is gorgeous. Small villages, paddy fields climbing up the hills. Everything is green. Lots of activity in the fields. I took a photo at one spot, that was like a collage of "what happens in the country in Nepal". There were buffalo ploughing paddy fields, whole villages planting rice, others grubbing out weeds, some rebuilding walls to retain the water, some redirecting the water into prepared fields......so much happening, I could have watched for hours. And almost every one that was working at some stage looked up and shouted "Hi" or "Namaste". Lovely, lovely people.
At about 20km, I crossed a high bridge, and the real climbing began. This would be an amazing "Everesting " hill Craig. For 40km I rode zigzags. Often, I was not even in granny gear, but oh my goodness, was I getting high. And there was almost no traffic. I was grinning. I didn't want to stop, but there were amazing photo opportunities, and the odd vehicle that was on the road would stop to meet this crazy kiwi, cycling up this massive hill, and take his photo.... Up and up and up and up......and I wasn't even having to work hard. Apparently the road was built with Japanese help, and is regarded as one of the top 10 roads in Asia. For me, it has been No.1.
And at the top......I look down and see 30km of downhill zigzags......This is unbelievable. This is cycling heaven. This is crazy. My face is hurting from grinning all day.
I'm following the Dud Kosi, a very famous river in the world of kayaking. I think it may have been first kayaked by Mick Hopkinson from the NZ Kayak School in Murchison. This section doesn't look too technical, more like the Waimak or Waiau, but it's so nice to be following such a lovely river.....I feel very much at home.
I've done almost 100km. I spot a little canyon just above the road. I reckon I could camp up there, hidden from the road. I shuttle everything up the bank, between vehicles. Yep. It's very cozy....as long as it doesn't rain. 100km to Kathmandu tomorrow, and a few days off the bike. Hmmmm. Might be harder to do than I think. This adventure cycling is very very addictive.