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Linda on BMW: Start of the Trip in Castellar

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April-Report in Nepal

Here I am again...

It was with a sense of excitement and a little trepidation that I entered Nepal at the far west border of Banbasa. The first thing you notice at immigration is the barrel of a gun pointed at you by a soldier behind a sandbank. However, the next thing is the wonderful smooth, traffic free road with not even many cows. I got into top gear once more. Enjoying the ride and waving at the armed road blocks as I passed I arrived at Royal Bardia National park and was talked into staying at a pleasant resort where I could camp for nothing although the food was expensive and not that great. However I felt very sorry for the people there who had lost nearly all their business as tourists are warned not to go to the area which is supposed to be a hotbed of Maoist activity.

I went out the next day  on foot with a guide into the park and we came very close to seeing a tiger as his shit was very fresh and we also saw very recent Rhino tracks. Actually I was quite glad that we didn't come face to face with these animals as we only had a stick for protection but the guide made me climb up a few trees so that I would be safe if they passed by.. I hadn't done tree climbing for many years but I was impressed that he didn't think I was incapable. We did have to beat a fast retreat when a huge bull elephant came into sight. They look slow moving but they cover a big distance with one stride and we had to get under cover quickly.

We were out for a full day in the jungle and I was exhausted on return but it was a great day, seeing 3 different types of deer and lots of monkeys birds and butterflies . Rasham took the time to explain that the people were no more afraid of the Moaists than the kings men, whose bad behaviour had prompted the formation of the illegal group. Times were now desperate in the area and many people were leaving to find work in India.

The next morning I continued East to find the birthplace of Buddha, Lumbini, and in taking a back road had to cross a small  log bridge which looked a bit dodgy. The local kids were demanding 20 rupees for the crossing which I of course refused but my courage failed me to just open the throttle and ride over the bumpy logs. Finally quite a crowd surrounded me and in the end they followed behind supporting me until I had the courage to ride on. Once over we all shook hands and laughed  and I continued on my way. What a wimp!

I stayed that night in a Korean monastery, one of the many countries that has built their own Buddhist monasteries in the area. On the plains it is hot and sticky and many mossies were out, more so than in the jungle, surprisingly. I realised that I had been on the road exactly a year at this point but felt that a Buddhist monastery wasn’t quite the place to break out a beer in celebration.

Next day I joined some other inmates for a 5am chanting session in the Chinese monastery next door and took a tour of the other countries buildings and the peace dome nearby before starting towards the mountains and Pokhara.

On a back road leading to the main highway a tree had been felled to block the road and I had to detour down the steep bank and up again the other side to avoid it. That was difficult enough but just a few hundred yards further, on a bridge, was a booby trapped stone pile blocking the way. There was just enough room on one side for the bicycles to squeeze past but with my panniers and crash bars it was too narrow. I took off the panniers and gingerly carried them through and then tried to push to bike without touching the stones, with their lethal wire running over. I was just about to give up when a man offered to help and I thought it very brave of him to risk being blown up with me. We carefully jiggled the handlebars, leaning the bike to clear the crash bars, and pushed it through, me with baited breath and my hands were shaking as I re attached the panniers on the other side.

With no further blocks I made it to the camp site just outside Pokhara that Ingo had told me about. A stunning spot by the lake with the mountains behind and a couple of Overland buses there.

During the next few days I met the local bike crowd. English Rick and his Dutch girlfriend, Monique, have just started the Hearts and Tears bike club and a motorcycle touring business and their meeting place is the Busy Bee bar where an assortment of Bullet riders and other characters hang out. On German guy, Rolf is so typically a Castellar type, with long hair and a perpetual joint, that I felt I was transported back there (Oh no!!)

Rick told me of a very good Nepalese mechanic, Raju, and so I took the bike there as I felt that it was time to change the chain and sprockets. Sure enough, on removing the front sprocket cover we discovered only 7 teeth left of the original 15!. I thought it was running rough!

There was a strike just starting so I was unable to get a camera and, when Raju discovered that my rear wheel bearings needed replacing he was unable to get them as the shops were closed. I waited a few days, meeting up with fellow overlanders ,Alfred and Monica (Yamaha and Honda) By this time, due to the  rainy weather and the bike repairs I had found a cheap hotel in town and we spent the time discussing what we would be doing next. Alfred and Martina had decided to fly back to Europe at the end of April while I was keen to go trekking and then arrange a flight on to Bangkok.

The four day strike turned into 7 with things hotting up with many demonstrations, even close to our area. The bike was stuck in Rajus workshop so I hired some boots, bought some waterproofs and took to the hills.(bloody great mountains actually)

I was last here 18 years ago and was quite aware that the track is so well worn that you don’t need a guide. With minimum gear my small rucksack was sufficient and not too heavy so no porter either.

To be brief, I shall just say that I had a wonderful 9 day walk in amongst the spectacular scenery of this Annapurna area. Some days were long and hot, others were cold and wet. At times I missed the track but never really got lost as there are many people to ask. I met many groups but the tourists are getting fewer as the troubles increase and most lodges are desperate for trade so you can bargain over the exorbitant tourist prices. As these people will soon lose all their trade I tried to be fair. The most annoying thing were the children always asking for sweets, pens and money, but this is the same trekking in most poor countries.

The last time I trekked I started off fat but this time I was already thin so I am now skeletal. However, the leg muscles are in fine form and I was passing most other people just with the sheer joy of movement in these wonderful surroundings. Hot springs at Tatopani, the sunrise at Poon hill with the golden glow on Dhaulgiri peak, mind blowing. The smiling faces of the Nepalese and Tibetan people in their traditional costumes. Dancing and singing at the Nepali New year celebrations  in the high village of Ghorepani. And all I had was a crappy disposable camera!

Now back in Pokhara Raju has managed to get the wheel bearings and everything is ready to go, but , as I explained in the previous report the political situation has worsened. However, there are now two more riders here, a German couple, Rolf and Eva, on Teneres, who also want to fly to Bangkok so, when we can we will travel together to Katmandu and see what the situation is.

In the meantime I'm enjoying the place and the good company.

When I can I will resend the Indian photos to Heiner as they didn't get through from Bangalore but, at present I cannot send any of Nepal.


Love to you all.


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