Mahendranagar (04-04-2001) till Mahendranagar (24-05-2001)
After picking up my new carnet from the embassy there was no need for me to stay in India any longer (sounds very negative but it was how I was feeling!) and I headed for Nepal. The western border of Nepal could easily be reached from Delhi within a day. In the afternoon I reached Banbasa, the Indian border town, had to cross a dam and got through all the formalities without any problems. These started only when I met Andreas, a German guy in a Mercedes bus. He was told that the next two days there was a general strike in Nepal organised by the communist party, so there was no petrol to get then and with Kathmandu over 800 kms. away that would be a problem.
We decided to spend the next days at a small hotel aside a National Park. The bungalows were basic but really nice and with a quiet surrounding it was a perfect place to relax. I had time to check my bike and found out that the rear tire was completely gone. And with completely, I meant that there was no rubber on some places anymore and there was only the canvas visible underneath. I knew the tire was bad but hadn't expected it was wearing out this quickly. I wouldn't be able to make it to Kathmandu with it. Finally Andreas offered me to put the bike in his bus and drive to Kathmandu together. When the strike was over we drove to Kathmandu without any problems.
My bike in a van driven from the India/Nepal border to Kathmandu as my rear tire was completely gone.
In Kathmandu I had plenty of time to service the bike as I had to wait for my girlfriend to arrive about 2 weeks later. She brought me a new tire. Kathmandu was filled with bikers. At our hotel there were already four other motorbikes when I arrived and finally there were 7 bikes! Elsewhere we met others and one night we had diner with 17 bikers and passengers together!!! Unnecessary to say we had a great time!
After I had completed the service of my bike I made a test drive and everything was perfect till back at the hotel Daniel pointed me at some cracks in the rear subframe. I found three cracks in it. Steven, the South African on a R1150GS, checked his subframe as well and found also 2 cracks. We decided to remove the frames ourselves and get them welded. It was the second time my subframe was removed, but this time I did it myself. In Rawalpindi it all went too fast for me but here we did it in our own tempo so there was no problem at all. We removed my frame in about 4 hours and then removed Steven's subframe in 2 hours, as we now knew how to do it. Got it welded the next day and mounted the frame back on the bike again. Ok, it took us a whole day but then everything was working fine again.
Jeannette, my girlfriend, visited me in Kathmandu for three weeks again and it was good to see her again and also the spare parts she brought with her (in this particularly order!). After 'got stuck' in Kathmandu for 3 weeks I needed to drive the bike again so we decided to drive to the Tibetan border together with Jan (German) and Graham (Kiwi) for a couple of days. We left Kathmandu on May 1st and drove north. The road was nice but not as nice as expected considering your driving through the heart of the Himalayan Mountains. No high passes or other difficult obstacles. However the last 12 kms. to the border was rough and offroad. So it was great fun to drive, even with Jeannette sitting on the back. She liked it as well but felt sorry she wasn't driving her own bike. But that's just a matter of time! After leaving the bikes at the barrier we were able to cross the bridge into Tibet. But on the Chinese side they were not nice at all so we made some pictures (as soon as we crossed the line on the middle of the bridge). We drove a couple of kms back and put up our camp along the river and cooked ourselves a nice meal.
The next morning we drove back but made a detour to Jiri, a small town but 'famous' because it's the last village vehicles can drive to towards Mount Everest. The road was nice to drive, winding and very hilly. We passed Jiri and found out ourselves that the road after Jiri was very muddy. Graham was slipping away, fell and his bike almost slid over the edge of the 'road'. We camped at the riverbed and had a nice night, except for Jeannette who wasn't used to the altitudes yet and had a headache.
The next morning her headache was gone and now it was Graham who had a 'headache' because his bike 'made funny noises'. Together with Jan they found the problem and tried to fix it but this wasn't possible, but at least the bike would get Graham back to Kathmandu. We left Jiri and now it was my turn to fall into the mud. Nothing serious however and it actually got Jeannette over her fear to fall off the bike.
On our way back a guy tried to stop us but we ignored this as it happened all the time. He started yelling and the next moment there was an explosion along the road. Graham and I got passed it unharmed but Jan was hit by a rock on its chest and stopped, but found out it was nothing serious because he was wearing his motor jacket. We left the place as quickly as possible and still don't know exactly what had happened, but surely it wasn't safe there! In the late afternoon it started to rain heavily. First we waited for the rain to stop but when it kept raining we put on our rain stuff and drove back to the hotel in Kathmandu. 200 metres before the hotel I had to stop, stepped my foot in a ditch and we fell for the second time that day.
We spend a couple of more days in Kathmandu but only managed to visit the monkey temple. It was busy up there, as it was a holiday. The temple complex itself was nice and the view over the city was great. But nevertheless we decided to leave Kathmandu again and make a little tour through Nepal.
We left Kathmandu and headed for Hetauda. This was a small road through the mountains and it was a very nice road. It was a clear day and we could even see the snow covered mountaintops the north. On the pass we drank some tea at a small tea stall. After the pass the road got worse and so got the weather. It was getting darker and we had some rain. But we also saw a marvellous sunset under the clouds and this was very special to see.
Just before dark we arrived in Hetauda and found a nice hotel, its only disadvantage (and according to Jeannette: a huge one) was the spider in our bathroom. Via the main road through the Teraiplains we drove to Butwal. The road from Butwal to Pokhara was a bad one but that was expected. 75 kms of asphalt so full with potholes that even with a motorbike it was impossible to pass all the potholes. Our average speed dropped to 20 km/h, so it took us over 4 hours to pass this section of the road. But we arrived in Pokhara however the same day. Pokhara is THE starting point in Nepal for tracking. We were thinking about doing some short tracks but got never further than that stage. First of all Jeannette was not feeling too well and we actually preferred to have some relaxing days instead.
Because we didn't do any trekking we had time left to visit Chitwal National Park, trying to spot some tigers. We had a canoe trip, and a walk through the jungle. There we suddenly spotted a big rhino at 20 metres. He got nervous, but so did we. Finally he ran into the woods first. The highlight of the day was the elephant ride. With four people pressed into a small 'crate' on the back of the elephant we walked through the jungle. It was a hard trip, as an elephant doesn't have exactly a smooth walk. I actually prefer 6 hours on my motorbike than 3 hours on the back of an elephant. But it was a rewarding ride as we saw a lot of rhinos and even a mother with a baby rhino! Because you're sitting on an elephant the other animals are not scared at all. In the end we had a great day altogether! The next day we drove back to Kathmandu taking the same road as when we left Kathmandu and the scenery looked different now we were coming from the other direction but the tea stall was still the same.
We had to go back as Jeannette's holiday in Nepal was over already and she had to return to Holland. But not for long. Her original idea was that she would take a 6 months leave from next October onwards. This was already agreed but during these weeks she decided that 6 months wasn't enough and the only alternative left was to quit her job at the police force and join me for the rest of the trip. And that was exactly what she decided to do.
I made her departure from Kathmandu very special. As we were sitting in the garden of the hotel my eye suddenly started to get irritated. I removed my contacts but it got worse. We tried to rinse the eye with water but nothing helped. So we decided to go to the eye hospital in Kathmandu and Jeannette took all her luggage with her. In the eye hospital they removed some dirt out of my eye and gave me some eyedrops. It totally cost me only INR 40 (USD 0.80, how do have to declare this to my health insurance?). We drove from the hospital straight to the airport and said goodbye to each other one more time. But now we both knew it was for the last time as from October on we would be together permanently!
My original plan was to fly from Kathmandu to Bangkok as it's impossible to cross Myanmar (Burma) or China. China is theoretically possible but with a bike permit of USD 100 per day, not an interesting option. But I had met several bikers in Kathmandu who told that they were going back to India to visit Ladakh, the north of India, which was accessible from June on. In Pakistan I had decided to spend more time over there and skip Ladakh as it was simply too late in the season. But then I never ever thought I would spend so much time in India and Nepal that a whole winter season would pass. And because my visa for India was still valid until July 11th there was no reason not to return to India. Also was flying from Delhi to Bangkok cheaper as flying from Kathmandu. Marko and Annett had already returned to India and we had agreed to meet each other in the beginning of July in Delhi to fly the bikes to Bangkok together.
So a couple of days after Jeannette left I was fully prepared for the next stage of the trip and left Kathmandu. The trip to the Terai was hot but I reached the border back at Mahendranagar safely.
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