According to the guide book, Incekumís golden crescent of sand is deserted. Pass through a similar setting covered in hotels. Turn around ten miles later. Lesson here is donít buy out of date guide books. Things develop. The standard of rooms is the highest I have seen. A mainly German clientele. Figures. Hot showers a relief after the tepid stuff that trickles out elsewhere. But after being sternly addressed in German through loud hailers in the expensive hotel grounds by men with walkie talkies I decide to move on. The big places section off the beach. They are welcome to their five star apartheid.
Do the sites. These ancients really had it sorted out. Cities that were civilised. Big gymnasia, bathing, talking areas. Mechanisation could now provide the labour of the work force. It makes you think. If only. Just need to deal with the problem of multi-national capitalism first.
And they understood drama. The theatres are set on the purple mountainside, vast valleys stretching beyond the stage. They knew about awe. Geography contributes to the action on stage, setting a vast perspective. I think all this on an outcrop, perched on the edge, the place to myself. Birds fluttering the only sound in the wind. Alone.
This country is a surprise. Drove for a day with sparkling lapis lazuli sea to my right and mountains to the left. Twisting up, huge views, and then down into small bays with a beach and fishing village. Marmalade oranges and russet reds in the hillsides. Then up again. The air is a balm for the lungs. There are banana groves here. I mean, bananas in Turkey. I never knew. The bigger towns have green houses devoted to them. The food has changed too. Out goes luke-warm veg in sauce. In comes everything with green chillies. Kebabs with zip.
Cappadocia is marvellous. Fairy chimneys and underground cities. A fantasy landscape. Wonderful. Two wheels is the only way to do it.
Nepal is lovely. So calm. Katmandu is full of backpackers moaning about India. Thatíll teach them to listen to the Beatles.
Biting off more than I can chew? The Annapurna Circuit trek looks nice in the guidebook. Go for it. Not very sensible. But 21 days walking and climbing a pass of 5500 metres sure cleans out my lungs a treat after all those lorry fumes.
Should be leaving the country tomorrow but it has all been delayed. The Maoist guerrillas choose to kick off their struggle the day I want to leave the country. The state of emergency means my carpenter and freighting agent arenít allowed into the airport. That and the fact I can't get the bloody front wheel off the bike to get it into the crate, cos the guys who changed the tyre in Delhi decided to tighten it until the alloys welded. So I am going back to the airport with a big f***-off torque wrench tomorrow morning with gritted teeth and some piping for extra leverage. Ho hum, the petit tribulations of the overland biker eh? Still, if this is my biggest worry I clearly haven't got much to complain about.
The state of emergency means that most of the shops are shutting early now: the locals get hassled by the police if they are out much after dark, so the waiters have to get home early, leaving us poor needy dollar-loaded tourists without entertainment outlets in the evenings. Criminal. The "Maoist problem" as it's called here--not the "corrupt feudal hierarchy problem"--has so many ramifications.
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