Pokhara to Bandipur, Nepal.

Distance: 63 miles
Time on bikes: 2.5 hours

The good news is that Carl is feeling much better this morning after two days of recuperating from a bug, probably picked up from a local restaurant. Strangely, we both wake up in the night and are absolutely wide awake, as if someone spiked our tea with caffeine or some other stimulant. There’s no way either of us could be put in the category of insomniac, so we’re both a bit bewildered. Carl takes the opportunity to get towards the end of the book he bought in Gorepani – ‘Into Thin Air’, while Béné rolls around a bit and eventually drops off again.

When daylight breaks, it’s a bit of a revelation as neither of us thought the morning would ever come at one point. Carl decides to remain rested as we’re intending to get back on the bikes today for the first time since arriving in Pokhara nearly three weeks ago – the longest either of us have been off the bikes since well before leaving the UK. Béné decides to get up and get some more updates added to the website whilst the connection is quick early in the morning.

At about 7.30 am we’re both on the balcony and checking a few things on the internet. Hopefully it all looks lined up for us to arrive in Kathmandu in a few days and arrange for the bikes to be transported by plane to Bangkok by Eagle Exports. We also have a quick look for a place in Bangkok where we can get some new front tyres sorted for the bikes and also if there’s a BMW Motorad dealer where we could stock up on a few small spare parts which would give us some peace of mind to carry with us.

After another great breakfast on the hotel balcony we decide that the task of sorting out our bike kit and repacking the luggage on the bikes can’t wait any longer. Everything has literally been turned upside down in our luggage with not many things in the right place. Our hotel room looks like a bomb has landed, but thankfully it doesn’t take too long to remember where everything went and it all goes back together. We also manage to pack the new ‘North Fake’ backpack we bought in Pokhara to go trekking with, as this may come in handy for some of the island hopping we’re hoping to do in Thailand.

By about midday we’re looking a bit more like we’re ready to go and just need to pop out to find a mosquito net, some strong DEET repellent and some water for the journey. This afternoon we’re planning to ride only about fifty miles to a town called Bandipur, which has been recommended by a few people and the guide books as a very authentic, natural Nepali ‘Newari’ Village. We’ll see. But the day after, we may spend a couple of nights in Chitwan National Park which is known to have Malaria present so we need to be a bit more vigilant about mosquito bite prevention and also consider taking the Malaria tablets we’ve been carrying with us since leaving England.

With a second hand mosquito net acquired and the rest of the required goods we’re ready for the off. Another purchase we’ve had to make is a new razor blade for Carl. This is quite disappointing as Carl had hoped the Wilkinson Sword blade he’d been using since leaving England would be able to last a whole year with no problems. After all, he’s only used two blades from the pack in the last five years. Maybe it’s because of less frequent shaving has put much more of a strain on the blade, rather than just trimming stubble; but alas it’s no longer up to the job and it’s lost its edge. It’s been replaced by an Indian made Gillette which apparently has a turbo attached and goes Mach 3. Wow, who would have thought that a simple razor could get so advanced.

After going through the now unfamiliar procedure of putting our bike kit on, it becomes clear that we both seem to have lost a fair bit of weight. It’ll be interesting to get on the scales to find out. Béné’s Parents can be assured that it’s not because their daughter isn’t eating well, just maybe the regime for the last few weeks has been slightly more active.

While packing the bikes, Béné notices that there’s a bit of water in her normally very waterproof Hepco & Becker panniers. After a little investigation, it turns out that the mounting bracket has actually worn through the aluminium of the pannier and created a hole. This is something we thought might happen due to the loose method that the panniers fix to the frame, allowing them to jiggle. This loose attachment actually works great when the bike goes over as it means the pannier has some ‘play’ to absorb the fall and not cause any damage to the panniers or the bike. Having covered all of South America under previous ownership and probably nigh on 30,000 miles with Béné at the helm, they’ve finally succumb. We’ve done a temporary fix with a bit of James’ t-shirt and some tape, and will get the pannier sorted when we find an aluminium welder.

We eventually manage to leave town at around 3.30 pm and stop on the way out to get some fuel – hopefully enough to get us to Kathmandu, but not much further as we may need to drain the tanks to put the bikes on the plane. It’s fairly easy to find the road out of town and the main highway to Kathmandu is surprisingly quiet. It’s the last day of the huge festival Dashain which has been celebrated all over Nepal, so maybe tomorrow the traffic level will pick up. But hopefully not the amount of accidents, as we’ve heard stories from a few people of roads being blocked for hours while they clear up the mess from dodgy overtaking manoeuvres. Thankfully, we only see one accident today involving a van being winched out of a field which it rolled into.

The road is very pleasant to ride along and many times we see the Seti River, which was another potential rafting option for us. We’re glad we didn’t do it however as the bits we saw looked pretty flat and unexciting. It’s interesting to get back on the bikes again after such a long break – both of us feel like they’re unstable, a bit jittery, or like the tyres are flat. But it’s just getting back used to riding again, and it’s fantastic.

Sadly we miss the turn off for Bandipur and overshoot by about ten miles. There’s no shortage of people to ask when we realise we’ve gone past the junction, and about 4 out of 5 confirm we should be heading back along the road. Although there seem to be plenty of reasonably nice looking hotels along the main highway, we decide to retrace our steps and try to find the village we’re looking for. When we find the junction, in a town, we soon get stopped at a barrier and have to pay a 10p entry charge. That’s not too bad. Then the road snakes its way up and ascends from about 450 m up to about 1,000 m in altitude. The sun is just setting as we ride up, and seeing the surrounding countryside with the Himalayan mountains in the background really makes a nice end to the ride.

The village looks nicely situated, but we’re a bit surprised to see a ‘no vehicles’ sign at the entrance to the town. A local guy points us to a yard nearby which has parking for motorcycles and it looks like we’ll have to tow the line and stick with the rules. In places like Spain or France we’ve got away with riding into towns like this with the bikes, but here it just doesn’t feel right and we suspect we’d soon get told to turn around. The thought of being able to just ride up to a hotel and park the bikes outside has just been quashed and we’ll have to walk for a few minutes instead.

After getting the bikes parked and just grabbing a single bag, we take the short walk into town. It does seem to be the very authentic, old style village we’d read about, but the main street is lined with restaurants and cafes which only have tourists in. Not so authentic. We manage to find a hotel which had been recommended to us in Pokhara, but find out it’s full. The chap suggests we try the one next door, but after being shown a lovely room we get told he wants £40 each. It’s nice, but not that nice and we appear to have arrived in a tourist trap.

It’s not often we knock back a room because of price, but we really felt it wasn’t worth it. Maybe it’s because the village currently has a power cut that it didn’t push us towards taking it. As we’re a bit warm from the walk, and having just been taken up to see a room on the second floor, we decide to just relax on a step outside and cool down before making any decisions on what to do. A shopkeeper from the building next door offers us a couple of stools to sit on, but we assure him we’re quite comfortable on the step.

After sitting a couple of minutes, the shopkeeper enquires where we’re from and asks if we’d like anything. ‘Actually’, Carl says, ‘do you know of any hotels you could recommend to us?’ It seemed like it was worth a shot, and the shopkeeper quickly heads off down the road, only to come back and tell us that another hotel is full and he’s been told the village is very busy with tourists tonight. We tell him our predicament about the hotel price and he then kindly offers us a room in his house, above the shop. Carl goes in to have a look and he has a really nice spare room on the second floor. Although Carl asks about how much we could give him, he’s very reluctant to give a price and instead invites us to make an offer. This is very difficult, considering we’ve just been told a room in the building next door on the same floor is £80. Although for this one, the en suite is in the back garden in a concrete shed.

We head back outside and Béné is pleased that the room sounds nice. We again try to ask about a price and he eventually, rather sheepishly, asks for £4. Well, blow me, have £10 mate and thank you very much!

He’s really happy to be helping us out, and likewise we’re really happy that he’s come to our aid. It’s funny that we’ve arrived in this village, famed for the authenticity of the original houses, but that it’s actually full of tourists staying in expensive hotels. And here we are, taking our kit and bags through the chap‘s shop and going up the near vertical stairs across the mud floors and into the room on the second floor where the mud walls are painted a vibrant blue and the pictures on the walls show several generations of the family that have lived here. It’s great.

We quickly get changed to head out for something to eat and at about 8 pm the power comes back on in the village. We have a wander through the streets before returning to our abode for this evening. They’re just sitting down for their Dal Bhat, which they’d invited us to join them for earlier, but we decide not to intrude too much and retire to the room for the evening.

Jour 187 – Vendredi 22 Octobre 2010. De Pokhara a Bandipur, Népal

Distance: 100 km – Temps a moto: 2.5 heures

Carl se sent bien mieux ce matin après deux jours au lit avec une petite fièvre. Bizarrement on se réveille tous les deux au milieu de la nuit et n’avons plus sommeil du tout, comme si on avait bu un café très fort juste avant d’aller nous coucher. Aucun de nous n’est insomniaque, nous trouvons donc ca très étrange. Carl en profite pour presque finir le livre qu’on avait achète pendant la marche, et moi je gigote dans tous les sens jusqu’à ce que je me rendorme.

Quand le jour se lève enfin, comme je n’arrive pas à dormir, je me lève pour aller mettre un peu plus du journal sur internet, et Carl reste au lit un peu plus longtemps. A 7h30 nous sommes tous les deux sur le balcon à prendre notre petit déjeuner et faire quelques recherches sur internet. Carl vérifie ses emails et il a une réponse de notre contact a Katmandu pour faire envoyer les motos par avion a Bangkok la semaine prochaine, et nous essayons de voir ou nous pouvons trouver des pièces pour les motos a Bangkok car nous en avons utilise et il nous faut les remplacer

Nous commençons ensuite a ranger nos affaires, ca fait presque 3 semaines que nous n’avons pas utilise les motos et c’est la première fois qu’on ne les a pas utilise pendant aussi longtemps depuis cet hiver et nous sommes contents de reprendre la route aujourd’hui. Le rangement nous prends pas mal de temps comme on avait tout déballe et on ne sait plus trop ou tout vas. Il nous faut aussi trouver une place pour le sac a dos que nous avons achète pour la marche, comme il nous sera surement utile plus tard.

Vers midi nous sommes presque prêts et nous allons faire un petit tour dans Pokhara pour y trouver un filet anti moustiques, un nouveau rasoir pour Carl et de l’eau. Nous pensons aller cet après-midi a Bandipur, un village traditionnel de la région Newari, puis passer un ou deux jours dans une réserve naturelle avant d’aller a Katmandu. Le risque de malaria est présent dans la région, nous prenons donc nos précautions en plus des comprimes anti malarias.

Quand on met les sacs dans les sacoches je remarque de l’eau dans une des miennes, ce qui n’est pas habituel, mes sacoches sont d’habitude très hermétiques. Quand je regarde de près, les fixations de la sacoche qui sont sur les cotes ont use les sacoches a cause des vibrations et fait un trou d’un cote. C’est savions qu’il y avait un risque que ca arrive, les sacoches ont déjà fait l’Amérique du sud avant que je les achète, et j’ai fait surement près de 45 mile kilomètres avec. On ne va pas les réparer ici, on trouvera quelqu’un en Thaïlande pour le faire, met en attendant nus faisons une réparation rapide avec du scotch épais.

Nous sommes prêts à partir, et quand nous mettons nos affaires de moto, il est évident que nous avons tous les deux perdu du poids…grâce a toutes les activités des dernières semaines, et pour Carl la fièvre des derniers jours aussi.

Nous prenons enfin la route vers 3h30 et prenons de l’essence avant de quitter Pokhara. Nous nous attendons à ce qu’il y a du monde sur la route car c’est le dernier jour de vacances du festival de Darshan et les gens seront surement en route vers leur travail, mais nous avons de la chance et il n’y a pas trop de monde. C ;est la route principale entre Pokhara et Katmandu et nous avons entendu dire qu’il y a souvent des bouchons et des accidents, nous prenons donc notre temps cet après-midi, puis demain nous ferons un détours vers le parc naturel, ce qui nous mènera sur des routes moins importantes et bien plus tranquilles. Nous ne voyons qu’un accident, une camionnette qui a rate un virage et est allée tout droit dans un champ, rien de bien grave apparemment.

La route est belle et nous sommes tous les deux contents d’être à nouveau sur les motos. Nous ne savons pas exactement ou nous devons quitter la route principale pour aller a Bandipur, et quand nous demandons notre route nous avons rate le virage. Comme d’habitude, nous demandons a plusieurs personnes pour être surs, et 3 personnes sur 5 nous disent que nous sommes trop loin. Nous faisons donc demi-tour et quelques kilomètres plus loin trouvons le carrefour que nous n’avions par vu dans l’autre sens. Il y a une barrière sur la route qui mène a Bandipur, mais c’est juste parce qu’il faut payer pour entrer dans la région, ca ne coute que 10 centimes. La route monte sur les collines assez rapidement et on passe de 450 à 100 mètres, le soleil est entrain de se coucher et les vues sur les montagnes sont superbes.

Nous sommes surpris quand nous arrivons au village de voir qu’aucun véhicule n’y sont autorises, et nous devons garer les motos dans un petit parking, nous ne nous attendions pas a ca. La nuit est tombée quand on a enfin gare nos motos, et le village semble bien sombre. Il semble y avoir des câbles d’électricité, mais les seules lumières sont celles de bougies dans des petits restaurants, il doit y avoir une panne de courent.

Le premier hôtel ou nous entrons est complet et le deuxième est trop cher pour nous : 50 euros par personne. Comme il fait chaud et que nous ne sommes pas pressées nous décidons de faire une pause et nous installons sur une marche à cote d’un petit magasin. Le propriétaire du magasin nous offre de petits tabourets, mais nous lui assurons que nous sommes à l’aise sur les marches, il nous demande si nous avons besoin de quelque chose, nous lui demandons donc s’il peut nous recommander un hôtel. IL va donc voir a un hôtel un peu plus loin et reviens, nous disant que c’est la saison haute et qu’il n’y a pas de places dans les hôtels moins chers, mais il nous propose, de jeter un œil dans sa maison, il a une chambre libre et nous offre d’y rester. Carl va la voir et elle est très bien, nous ne voulons pas imposer et essayons de lui dire que nous pouvons essayer de voir si un hôtel a de la place, mais il nous dit très simplement que nous ne dérangerions pas et que nous sommes les bienvenus.

Nous sommes bien contents d’accepter son offre et nous installons dans la petite chambre qui est peinte toute en bleu vif et ou il y a plein de photos de famille. C’est une très belle petite maison, et la chambre est au deuxième étage ou il faut monter par des escaliers en bois très raides. Tout est très propre et bien range. Après avoir dépose nos affaires de moto nous sortons manger un morceau dans un restaurant avant de faire un petit tour dans le village.

Vers 8 heures c’est la fin de la panne d’électricité et nous voyons un peu mieux notre chemin. Le village n’a pas l’air grand, ce sont des maisons de terre avec des poutres en bois, nous le verrons mieux le lendemain et retournons donc chez notre hôte, et allons nous coucher.