Monday 7 October 2019

Oct 7, 2019 Nuwakoth to Kathmandu  20km, 3,165 to date, 50M up, 35,020M climbing.

Successful!  Arrived Kathmandu, all happy, very happy in fact.  Hot, sticky, very sweaty, about 10lbs lighter than when I started, bike needs tons of work, but thrilled to have completed the ride. And got the T-shirt!

We rode 3,165 km, climbing over 35,000 metres.  Yes, that means we averaged more than 1,000 metres of climbing per cycling day, 2,438 metres up in one day (into Shimla) was the biggest.  The highest pass was Tanglang la at 5,360m (17,580ft).  It has been an extremely challenging ride, I am very pleased I managed all of the ride except for the couple days I was sick, EFI would have been nice icing on the cake, but I knew before I came that the chances of getting through India without having some digestive challenges was unlikely.

This has been an amazing adventure.  My highest complements to Tda for creating and running this adventure.  Talking to Depi (the local that was instrumental in creating the ride) he tells me the window to do the ride was very small, 4 weeks earlier there was 10’ of snow on the high passes, a couple weeks later we would have experienced serious monsoons.  Even with the perfect timing, we were extremely lucky with the weather - often high cloud that kept the temperatures from getting too hot, only a modest amount of rain and only a bit of hail.  Only two partial days of strong winds against. One couldn't ask for better.

We took the “arrival” pictures at the famous Monkey Temple (see below), then did a bit of a tour around the city being led by some local cyclists.  

I get to be lazy today, then start the long journey home tomorrow.


Some last pics:
Everyone in their grape shirts

The Monkey Temple in Kathmandu - the ride is complete.

The "end of ride" pose.

At Durbar square

At Patan town square

End of ride!

Sunday 6 October 2019

Oct 6, 2019 Dhadingbesi to Nuwakoth  51km, 3,145 to date, 988M up, 34,970M climbing to date

There seems to be a repeat format here - very hot, very humid, staying in really wonderful accommodation that is at the top of a 700M climb.  But the last time we will do this, tomorrow we end this adventure cycling into Kathmandu.

Oct 6 is the Dashain Festival in Nepal, a popular major holiday among both Hindus and Buddhists.  A time for families to get together, major feasts are prepared.  But, it is not a good day to be a goat.  Almost every house or group of houses were slaughtering a goat today.  Just like Christmas and Thanksgiving are not good days to be a turkey in Canada.  Something I noticed is that groups of families seemed to jointly prepare the feast.  If it involved a water buffalo, probably half the town was involved.

Our accommodation tonight is in the Famous Farmhouse, I haven’t figured out why it is called famous, but it is a beautiful place.  Extensive flowers and gardens.  The buildings were destroyed in the 2015 earthquake, but have been fully rebuilt plus more.  The rebuild was essentially “as was”, complete with 4.5’ high entry doors, 4.5’ high doors to the washrooms etc.,  Hobbits would really like the place.  I’ve managed to get that into my head after only two head thumping.

Some pics:

After earthquake version

Restored version

Saturday 5 October 2019

Oct 5, 2019 Gorkha to Dhadingbesi:  54km, 3,094 to date, 976M up, 33,982M climbing to date

3rd to last day.  Effectively all off-road - gravel/rocks/mud - 5 riders fell today, one 4 times, luckily no-one hurt other than minor scratches.  

This was a much better choice of route than the main highway, which wold be nuts to try cycle on, in fact Tda has made the call that we will not cycle on the main highway.  Although rough, the route today was way off the eaten track, no tourists go here, a beautiful ride, commonly along the top of a ridge and effectively no traffic, no diesel fume belching buses.

The route did come with two stream crossings, managed to ride across one, not the other. Totally wet feet on both crossings, but it is hot enough that the feet/shoes dried quickly.

Interesting scene as we left Gorkha, we cycled past the water buffalo slaughtering spot.  Two full backs with an axe and the head rolled off to the side.  They were then using a blowtorch to burn off all the hair (I think).  A few hundred metres later I saw another Water Buffalo being led to the same location - it was clearly not happy, it sensed what was coming.

Note the severed head on the left

The local ferris wheel

The "bush" in the road is a person carrying feed to his/her livestock

a swing in the middle of the road

Typical road surface today

one of the stream crossings

This swing doubles as the small village entrance gate

Friday 4 October 2019

Oct 3, 2019, Pokara to Bandipur  83km, 2,991 to date, 1,222M up, 32,012M climbing to date

We had an excellent start to the day, it was clear sky, so the Annapurna range was clear, some pics:

The peak in the centre is Machapuchare, it is considered very holy and one is forbidden to climb it.  References suggest one person possibly did climb it (he was subsequently killed in an avalanche), but everyone has respected the climbing ban since.

Only 4 riding days left till the end at Kathmandu

Again the nicer hotels were at the top of a 600M climb, so that’s what we did.  We are in Bandipur which used to be a major stop on the trading routes, however a new highway bypassed the town.  This effective killed the town, but the locals said “we are not going to let the town die”, so with a huge amount of energy, some outside funding, they have created a wonderful tourist town, funky shops, narrow streets and many old restored buildings.  A few pics:

Kevin, Fiona:  I'm confused is this ad advert for Ice Cream?

Oct 4, 2019 Bandipur to Gorkha  51km, 3,042 to date, 994M up, 33,006M climbing to date

Fourth to last day of riding.  A relatively easy day, but hot with very high humidity, I could wring the sweat out my shirt at the end of the ride.  Again we cycled back down the 600M hill to the highway, along the highway for a bit, then turned off for another 600M climb to the famous hilltop town of Gorkha.  This is where Prithvinarayan Shah was born, he is known for gathering the Gorkha solders and creating what is now Nepal in the 17th century.  The British also learned that the Gorkha’s were to be given absolute respect.

If someone says they are not afraid to die, they are either lying or they are a Gorkha soldier.

No pics from today as similar to previous.

Wednesday 2 October 2019

Sept 30, 2019 Lumbini to Tansen, 82km 1272M up 1462M end

Initially an easy day, then a 1,000M climb.

Some pics:
This iron has a charcoal fire inside the iron.  Not the lightweight model.

This guy wasn't interested in sharing the sidewalk with me

Peter is happy, he has found the perfect Cell hotspot in town

Back alley of the old town we rode through

I guess rocks are better than nails for keeping the roof on

Bus on the wrong side of the road as usual

7 headed snake - odd to have on the side of a school yard

Now this is a proper swing!

Oct 1, 2019 Tansen to Pokhara:  126km, 2,908 to date, 1559m Up, 29,958M climbing to date,  905M end

We did an early start, up at 5:30, on the road just after 6:00 - really nice, very quiet roads.

I’ve noticed that we are seeing fewer cows on the road, the locals seem to keep the livestock tethered and bring the feed to them, rather than let the livestock wander for food.

Maybe some of the bus drivers read my blog from the other day (extremely unlikely), but ever since I posted about how bad the bus drivers are, they have been much more reasonable.

We are now in Pokhara, this is a huge centre for outdoor everything, especially trekking.  Lot’s of international restaurants.  The Annapurna Range is visible from Pokhara, including three of the ten highest peaks in the world (Dhaulariri, Annapurna and Manaslu).  It rained monsoon like all last evening and is fairly overcast again today, but we did see some glimpses of the range this morning, but not worthy of pics.

We have a rest day here in Pokhara tomorrow, then a 5 day push to Kathmandu and the end.  As in previous trips like this I have done, I am conflicted, very happy that this adventure is coming to an end and I will be heading home, but I don’t want it to end.  Things have been continuously damp for the last 3 odd weeks, so it will be nice to again have truly dry clothes, clothes that don’t always ave a musty smell.

Some pics:
The town of Tansen

Typical street in Tansen

Approaching Pokhara

Sunday 29 September 2019

Sept 28, 2019, Bhalubang to Lumbini, 105km, 447M up, 312M end

A quite hard day, hot, humid and into fairly strong headwinds.

Our local support guy (Raywhat) tells us that Nepal is the spoilt child of two angry divorced parents (China and India).  Both China and India compete for influence, China building roads, India provides education etc.,  

The southern part of Nepal (the flat plains) are effectively India, very similar people, customs etc.,  The majority of Nepal (hills and mountains) is more Mongolian.  The south is Hindu, the north is Buddhist, but Hinduism and Buddhism are very similar and go hand in hand, many people are both.  Hindu has a caste system (still quite strongly in effect in the countryside), Buddhism does not have a caste system.

Speaking of Caste systems, I think I understand the “rules of the road” a bit better, it is essentially a caste system, cows are at the top, buses next, then transport trucks, cars, motorcycles and pedestrians.  Cyclist are below pedestrians. 

The Nepal calendar is the Lunar calendar and Saturday is the weekly holiday.

Sept 29, 2019, Rest Day Lumbini

Lumbini is the birth place of Siddhartha Gautama (a.k.a.Buddha),  the actual birthplace (563 BC) is marked by the Maya Devi temple, named after Buddha’s mother.  Today the Maya Devi Temple is part of a huge complex (2km by 3km) of monastic Temples contributed by Buddhist communities around the world.  The area is known as the Lumbini Development Zone - a rather odd name considering the Buddhist philosophy.  As originally conceived Buddhism is not a religion but a psychological approach to liberating oneself from the suffering of the world.  There is no god in Buddhism and there is no indication that Buddha wished to be deified.  Somewhat inconsistent with the Lumbini Development Zone.

The Maya Devi temple itself is really a building that covers/protects what are remains going back 2200 years.

Something that is unfortunate is that although various countries funded the creation of the Temples, little money has been allocated for maintenance.  Too commonly I see this.

There is a serious effort for the Temple complex to be “green”, the only Tuktuk’s that are allowed are battery powered.

Tourists and pilgrims everywhere are all the same - selfie sticks were very common.  The only difference here is that all the women wear beautiful bright coloured sari’s.

Some pics of the Maya Devi:

The famous Bodhi (pipal) tree

OK, why the red and green (Port and Starboard) donation boxes?

Some pics of other temples and monasteries:   

This central canal is about 2km long, one can take a water taxi from one end to the other.

Yes, one removes shoes before entering anywhere

I love the root system on this tree - I gather fairly common in the tropics.

One ceiling shot

Note the eyes

Yes, those are two gardeners hand cutting the lawn.