Friday, 3 April 2009
TWO YEARS TO KATHMANDU
Well, it's not quite 80 days around the world, but then Mr Fogg wasn't travelling by bicycle! I found it quite appropriate that 2 years to the day (27 March) since the start of this journey, I should cross into a new country (Nepal) and also clock over to 38 000 km. I just felt a bit sorry that Leana wasn't with me on that day, as we'd left Cape Town together and have been cycling together for most of these 2 years. After leaving Varanasi I went back East to pick up a parcel at Patna containing a new rear axle. Leana preferred to spend as little time as possible on those hazardous roads, so she headed North to the nearest Nepalese border post (I may as well have joined her, because after wasting 2 days in the rather miserable city of Patna the parcel had still not arrived - so I decided to forget it and head for Nepal as well). And so it happened that after a few more days in India of poor roads and more TV interviews, I crossed into Nepal. I took an instant liking to the Nepali people, particularly those along the small mountain roads. Yes, I said "SMALL MOUNTAIN ROADS", where I was also surprised to find myself. I'd intended to take the direct route to Kathmandu as it would save me almost 200 k's and I would also avoid the heavy traffic (the road is too steep and narrow for trucks and busses). Somewhere along the way I received faulty directions and soon I was on an unpaved rocky track, battling up and down steep mountains (with a broken rear axle!). There was hardly any traffic though, and I got to meet the wonderful local people - I even camped in a tiny village right at the top of a mountain. My route turned out to be a shortcut, and when I reached Kathmandu I discovered that Leana wasn't here yet (apparently she was enjoying herself, riding elephants in game parks, etc.). She eventually arrived here a couple of days ago in the pouring rain. Since then we've wandered around the city a bit, taking in some of the sights such as Hanuman Durbar Square (a world heritage site). We're also trying to make plans to continue cycling, but the only place to proceed from here, Tibet, seems to be a problem (where to from here?). Fortunately I've found a replacement axle - after cycling almost 3000 km with the broken rear axle which was held together only by the "quick release mechanism". Today is Leana's birthday, her 3rd birthday on the road (the 8th will be my 3rd as well). I expect that tonight we'll celebrate by splashing out for a pizza - we're staying in the touristy area of Kathmandu called Thamel, where there are many western-style restaurants, etc. (the cheap accommodation is also in Thamel). Daily distances which I've cycled since my last update from Varanasi were:- Buxar 135 km; Patna 139 km; Muzaffarpur 74 km; Motihari 94 km; Simara (Nepal) 84 km; Kulekhani Mtn 67 km; and Kathmandu 51 km. Total distance in 2 years since leaving Cape Town is 38 151 km.