Khurkot to Dhulikhel 85km
Nepal doesn't seem to be into burning the hills, scrub and road verges like so many other Asian countries. Hence there is a lot more vegetation, and a lot less smoky haze. Nepali don't seem to be fixated with sweeping in front of their shop, house, business, and burning the sweepings. Still less smoke. Nepal doesn't seem to need to cut down every living thing for firewood, hence there are trees, and some very big old ones, which make for a more pleasant landscape. Nepal seems to have its rubbish disposal sorted, as there is a lot less rubbish lying around,(so far), than elsewhere. It's not perfect, but so much cleaner, than other countries I've cycled through.
Two things concerned me today, however. I had a few plastic drink bottles, and was looking for somewhere to dump them. Twice, in two different places, I was told to just drop them on the ground. Someone must collect them, however, because there were not many about. I didn't feel comfortable not putting them in a bin, or box, so they're still on the trailer.
The other thing, something I've never seen before, were the small pink or blue plastic bags dotted along the road. I couldn't fathom what they were, until I saw three getting deposited. ....out of vehicle windows.....vomit bags. Yep, I'd be using them on this road if I was being driven along it, feeling yuck, stuffy and stuck, not enjoying the drive at all..... Oh that's right. I'm on my bike. I'm Iaughing.
This fantastic road continued for another 85km. I'd had a great sleep, in my tent, in my tiny canyon, and it hadn't rained. There was hardly any traffic all night, and now, at 5.30am, it was really quiet. The only human movement, was high on the hill over the other side of the river, where a couple of houses, perched very high up, were cooking breakfast over open fires.
I found a breakfast shop after about 10km, and that's about when the traffic began to flow. There were a lot more vehicles than yesterday, especially for about two hours from about 7am, and two hours about 3pm. A lot of them were loaded up Tata landcruises. TATA is the Indian make of vehicles that builds trucks, buses, 4 wheel drives, everything. When I say loaded up, I mean filled to capacity. Out of one of the landcruisers, I will call it that so you can picture it, I saw 15 people
emerge, as I ate my roti for breakfast.
Now here's a "fact" I was told. We say "tata for now". Apparently it comes from India. All these vehicles have a stamp "TATA", on the back end. As a vehicle goes past, the last thing you see is TATA. Hence, "tata", or "goodbye". Sounds reasonable.
There were also lots of cram packed, Tata, buses. Seemed a bit strange so many people traveling, it being a Friday. Good Friday, Easter, (and Easter Eggs) don't feature on Nepali calanders, most Nepali being Hindu, Buddhist, or Muslim. But Friday is the Muslim Sunday, and apparently everyday of the year there is a Hindu festival of some sort.... so lots of movement. Made for lots of waves, cheering, and "namastes" from passing vehicles.
The road surface at times deteriorated a bit, but the scenery was just amazing. Malcolm. You asked could I see the mountains yet? In any other country, other than Nepal, these hills would be called mountains. But here they are just farms, and homes. The terraces reaching so high up the very steep hillsides are amazing. And the homes perched on the hillside, 1000s of feet above any formed road, are mind boggling. Can you imagine,
walking to and from school, the shop, the post office. These people live a life so completely different to what we regard as normal. No jumping in the car to drive 500m to buy a litre of milk here.
The only down of the day was that the uphill was late in the afternoon. 20km of it. It certainly made me aware that I'd climbed yesterday. But there was a town of some size at the road junction with the Friendship Highway (the same one we rode from Tibet a few years ago) and I found a cheap lodge, 15mins before the storm that had been threatening all afternoon hit. 30km into Kathmandu tomorrow. I reckon I can manage that.