Why is there distance between beautiful places and us ?
— The reason for having distance is, it needs to be travelled.

Prologue

Being in a company of good friends, all bitten by travel bug, we always end up traveling, traveling a distance near or far. Doesn’t matter it be meters or kilometers, we travel. Weekend was the time we were never at home, rather would have been out to a new location to explore. And in every case, motor bikes were the vehicle of choice.

As the nearby places were covered, we were itching for a long travel. We had dilemmatic situation about RARA Lake, but it was yet to be confirmed and confirmation came much later. Vacation season just went by but we weren’t able to make our move as peers were occupied one way or other. At one time we talked about traveling cross country, east to west, but as for me I wanted to complete RARA by 2016.

Tossing the target thought in the peer, they too got hyped and date was fixed for 19th November 2016. Since it was high wedding season in Nepal plus our group being huge, doubt was there, that the plan won’t encapsulate all, which came true eventually. Some would be missed, but one has to do what one has to do, some opted to attend wedding, while some left the occasion and opted for travel.

Uncertainty

Not all of the friends’ leave were approved, while the date was nearing by, possibility of two friends traveling was just too uncertain. Another dependent factor might have left yet another friend’s approved leave at stake.

Stranger to the group

On 15th November 2016, I was out for a morning walk and checked into the shop of Rameshwor dai (big brother from another mother) to exchange pleasant talks, which follows as :

Rameshwor dai : “Oiii !! , Dadhi, Don’t travel too often.”
Me : “Dai, I am traveling again.”

Rameshwor dai : “Where ?”
Me : “RARA.”

Rameshwor dai : “When ?”
Me : “Upcoming Saturday.”

Rameshwor dai : “I’m coming too.”

And just like that he joined our travel bandwagon. But since I was the only one he knew in the group, he raised a question, whether he would be a stranger. But the fun thing of travel is, it takes couple of pleasant talks and a dinner for a stranger to be no stranger at all, and same happened as we travelled. I asked him to meet up at Maitidevi Temple, at 5 am the day we would make our move.

Group Formation

It wasn’t till 17th November 2016 that the group was assembled. Amongst the turmoil of unapproved leave, our colleague, Santosh, took kinda personal responsibility and got the two pending leaves approved from office. One of our group member opted for wedding over travel, we respected the decision; but the fact remains, we missed her (Dipika). As for me and Santosh we forsake wedding party for the sake of travel. Our only hope is that we all are good with our decision without any remorse. Juleep had asked his friend Bikki to come along. Madhuri and Rajesh got their leave approved, thanks to Santosh, while Swastica and Ram had their leave approved quite earlier. Plus, Rameshwor dai was already in the bandwagon.

Packing & Accident

18th November, a day prior to travel, I had packed my belongings and kits and had spread out bike gears to wear early in the morning the next day.

Travel Kit and Tools , Dumbbells for the show off.
I decided to leave my belongings at Madhuri’s, so that I won’t have to carry things early in the morning; at around 12 noon, I rode to her place and ended up with an accident.

As I was driving on my own lane, bike from opposite side railed into me. He wasn’t able to control his speed and to avoid hitting children walking on his lane, he crossed his lane and bumped into me. The accident totaled my bike with the side mirror crushed, gear lever bent, leg guard broken, finger aberrations, mostly on the leg, left knee hurt and right pinky of hand was in pain. Only thing that amused me was I didn’t fall off my bike. The other person probably 15+ years senior to me ended up with broken bone on his right leg. Even though I was infuriated, as his lack of control ended up me getting hurt; I talked patiently with him, his realization of his mistake was the only thing that prevented me from taking serious actions against him.

We talked a bit sitting flat on the road side; he wasn’t in a state to drive by himself, so he called his companion. As for me, I called my friend, an orthopedic doctor at Kathmandu Medical College (KMC Hospital), to meet up and also told next victim to meet him as well. We exchanged our cell no. and separated. Before I rushed for KMC, I dropped by at Madhuri’s place to leave my travel belongings, although being all bruised and hurt. She was worried about my state, however I tried to convince her that it was nothing serious but the reflection on her face was telling something else.

Hospital and Findings

It was hard even to reach KMC as the pain on my left foot would spike every time I had to change the gear; but, none the less, I got into the Hospital. My friend Dr. Saroj Gautam, checked my state, feared of a minor crack in the pinky finger of right arm, while bruises in legs were mild aberrations, but would be serious if one has to wear tight shoes. My hand was x-rayed; and, upon complaining of pain in the knee of left foot, knee too was x-rayed.

As Doctor went through the x-ray, he found crack on the knee cap, the Patella; and, he advised me to take rest for 4–6 weeks, compromising my plan to travel. Further, he advised me to travel only after few months, but I asked if I could travel as a pillion rider. As I was about to get out of the Hospital with bandages on my both legs, he asked me to drop by his home that night by 7 pm for further consultation; I agreed and ran off, but never showed up.

Bike Fix Up

Got into a bike garage, had the broken mirror changed, broken leg guard welded and crooked gear lever fixed, for, I didn’t want my parents to know what had happened. Aside from the foot brake, everything was looking good.

Party Time

One of my college friends, Bibek, was on his way to USA in few days, and was throwing party at Green Valley Resort, Budhanilkantha; upon bike fix up, I fetched for another friend, Dinesh, and got into the resort. All the guys were like, ‘what the hell happened’; I told my story of accident. I told them no matter what I was going to RARA, they were in awe. For, if something had to be done means it had to be, especially when it comes to travel. We enjoyed good food, good talks and reminiscence of past moments; but, when I told them I would return home by 9 pm, it pissed them off. Well, they were tipsy and pissed, for the plan was of a night out; still, I didn’t stay. I had always known, being there would have been hell of a fun but less of a sleep; I needed sleep more than anything that night.

Sneaky Entrance

I called up my mom to keep door unlocked; I got there after 15 minutes as I knew she would be in her room by then. Dragging my leg as I opened the door, dad was standing right in front; I was scared as hell, and he was too, as it was a sudden encounter at the door. I thought he noticed my foot, but he might have mistaken bandages on my legs for socks and just went into his room. I was like, phew!!! I almost got killed. I got into my room, locked myself, threw away the bandages and slept with pain that night to wake up early in the morning. I had made up my mind; if the pain would have spiked the next morning, I’d have to forfeit my trip to RARA.

Day 01 : Kathmandu to Bhalubang, Dang

Woke up at around 4:30 am, wore all my bike gears with a lot of pain. It nearly took half an hour to wear all of the things. Rameshwor dai was prompt on time, he gave me a call from Maitidevi Temple, while I was getting ready myself. As I walked out of the house, bidding good bye to parents, who were still on bed.

It was a while I had woken up early and found out the air was quite cold. I reached Rameshwor dai, who had already taken a round of the temple and we moved towards Madhuri’s. I got my belongings from her while she was busy being freshen up. It was almost 6 am that Rajesh, Santosh and Swastica too showed up, and it was past 6:30 am that we all made our move and we do know who got us late :P.

We were rushing out of the valley towards Ram, whose house was at Pharping. We caught up with Juleep and Bikki on the way, had a short wait over at Ram’s and finally a first morning tea break at Sesh Narayana where Rameshwor Dai was waiting for us.

Since Rameshwor dai was a single rider, he asked if my load could be tied as a pillion rider. It was a great relief as carrying bag upfront and pillion rider at back would have stressed me out fast.

With everyone pumped out we then hit the road.

We were rushing towards Deurali, past Kulekhani Dam, when I took a wrong turn; and successfully, I got lost. Madhuri was worried, but guys on the right trail phoned us and finally we were on the right track again. We had that fun talk at Deurali, had another sip of tea and small breakfast. Fried fish was tasty there. We made our first centered collection of money there, so that every transaction would happen through a single person making our trip easier. Rajesh took responsibility and we were at ease.

We departed from Deurali, and I had nearly left Madhuri on the road, as I was driving and on call with Dr. Saroj. Saroj was worried about my travel and wished me luck and to take care. Madhuri got on the bike, laughed a bit and we drove continuously till we reach Hetauda for a group up. Rameshwor dai was telling to have lunch (Daal, Bhaat, Tarkari) at Gorusinge but before lunch we needed to have bikes refilled. It took a while to reach Narayangadh and we were exhausted with hunger. After refilling bikes; Rameshwor dai remembered a place for lunch at Nawalparasi, and we all rushed behind him. The place was alongside the road, extended to Narayani River. Since I was injured and the aberrations had to be clean, I asked for lukewarm salt water and cleaned them; while all friends were sun-basking watching the swiftly flowing river at the horizon. We had a decent lunch, relaxed a bit and then packed the gear to make a move. We rushed towards Butwal for a next group up, Swastica had her part of lunch here.

On our way to Bhalubang : First Stay of the night awaits
It was already late and with Kohalpur as our 1st days target we rushed again. Night spread out quickly as the sun lowered down, we were now driving in the dark, on a highway, lights flickering here and there. It was, a bit scary as well.

As for me who loves biking at night, was a trance state, where I didn’t feel pain in my injured leg, just the drive, the solemnness and the darkness.

Rameshwor dai was always on the lead, as we couldn’t get to his speed in any way; plus, the bike was a monster. In any point in time he would be 10’s of km ahead of us. So no competition there.

We were driving through the night, Rameshwor dai had reached Bhalugang and awaited us for a group up. As we got there, all of us were tired, hungry and sleepy as well. We changed the 1st day’s target and called it a night right here. With everyone fresh and change over at hotel, we got downstairs for a couple of beers and dinner. Most of us opted for beers and some snacks, while some had a dinner.

Sitting just outside the hotel, alongside the road, watching the road trail, with beers, some snacks, couple of thoughts dancing around the brain. Recalling how hard it was to manage office leave and wondering in awe, in awe that we did make the move and we are finally here. It was a moment, just a beautiful moment.

Meanwhile, now Rameshwor dai and Bikki were strangers no more. We shared experience, made fun of each other; strolled alongside the road, over the bridge of Rapti, (nothing happened here) finally returned to hotel to call it a night, with a reminder that all should be ready by 5 am the next day.

Day 02 : Bhalubang to Manma

Early morning at Bhalubang
Early morning, we got up and got ready to roll again. It was still dark so we had to light on the headlight and keep pressing. Whenever we were to come up to a crossing (bridge), thick fog would make the visibility weak; on top of that for a guy with specs, riding on a bike was too difficult. Following the lane was all that could be done and that too with great care as we could see people on their bicycle moving through the fog. We just wondered, how can anyone ride bicycle on that road, so early morning; that too with, very few clothes on their skin; exposed to the winter air.

Slowly morning broke in, we silenced the headlight.

Moving past the Banke National Park, and the straight path with out much turnings; we reached Kohalpur, and as usual, Rameshwor dai was already there along with Ram who reached a bit latter. We grouped up, had a decent breakfast and moved again to Surkhet for a proper lunch. After few hours ride we reached Surkhet, got some of the bikes refilled; we searched for a place for a proper lunch, but failed. We continued with our ride empty stomach, but as we reached Rata-nangla, it was unbearable with hunger; thus, made a lunch stop. Also I needed to clean my aberrations, as it was beginning to worsen. The pain had spiked and I was too tired with injury that it would been difficult to drive. So with group talk, Bikki ended up driving my bike while Madhuri would sit as pillion to Ram, as for me, with Juleep.

The fun part of pillion rider is, one is free to take photographs or even a video, with a bit of balance obviously. So I was busy taking photos. As we travelled further, pitch road had started to fade out. It was experienced in patches, the flowing water along the road might have washed them off in places. We were beginning to experience the off road of the country for real. As the twilight broke in, we saw an amusing view with Bikki. He had bike headlight turned on. As we reached over him to find out that, he was wearing a dark shade. It was just too hilarious.

Target of the Day : Manma
As we travelled further, we could see Manma from a distance. Up on top of a hill, lights from the village were like stars up in the sky. We were driving along the Rakam Karnali road with hurdles along the way, we had to move through a tough trail. Bikki was struggling with the bike along the stony uphill, so I put a lid over the pain that I was having, and got on the bike. Bikki got back with Juleep while I drove with the bike. Finally we reached Manma, where Rameshwor dai had already booked us room at Hotel White House Manma Kalikot, yup always up front. After a quick changeover and some talks with hotel owner about the path to RARA, we decided to move at around 7 am the next day. We had a decent dinner, and as usual, I cleaned my injuries, had couple of beers with friend, and dozed off for the night.

Day 03 : Manma to Talcha Airport.

We woke up at around 6 am, searched for fuel shop and filled the bikes full, as we had to return back on the same. We had a nice breakfast at Manma, and with a bit of tune up of bike, we rolled again.

Along the travel, its toll was being felt by guys, Santosh was having problem with his hand, as continuous acceleration had made it sore and swollen a bit. He needed to rest time and again, as his hand wouldn’t allow, on top of that, tough trails were yet to come.

Manma, Nagma, Gothejeula : Where black topped road meets the off track
Initially we were rolling along the pitch road, but destroyed at places; now, we were welcomed by off road track. Fine powder like sand grains were at places, especially around the turnings, with big rocks to climb, double load ride was out of the question. Pillion rider had to get off, help the rider cross the path and move again. This too took toll on the one driving, and Santosh suffered a big time. As we were about to reach Nagma, right at the entry point, we saw a truck stuck. Lucky us, we had bikes, we were able to navigate and pass through the gaps to reach the open end. We were at Nagma and was right on time for lunch. Some guys went over to the suspension bridge and some to the bank of Karnali River for a photo shoot up, as for me, was busy cleaning my wounds.

After a good lunch at Nagma, we moved along, along the country side. For a off track road lover, I loved the ride; same could not be told about others. Madhuri was switched over to Ram, and she found Ram’s bike more comforting than mine. So, being a solo rider, I would drive a bit, take some snaps of the terrain and move on. Since the track was tough to drive, we made a rule to stop every 25 km before pressing on. Passing through all the dust and debris of sand, we reached Gothijeula-Sinja Valley.

Onward to Talcha : Chyakhura at Gothijeula-Sinja Valley
Here we had a small break and some photo shoots with the wild hen, chyakhura, petted by a local policeman. We had a couple of talks with him about the track and made us believe that we could reach RARA the same night. We thanked him and continued with the journey. The road was much intense to drive, dragging our average speed drastically, it was like 15–20 km per hour. We stopped by a hotel at Bhulbhule after about 2 hours of drive, had a cup of tea and biscuits; the owner lady briefed us about the road and to take care on the seven sharp turnings downhill past the Army Post. After a while we checked into Army Post for the vehicle registration and pressed further.

Sign of night was already sighted, it was started to get dark. Rameshwor dai flew off, with Ram and Madhuri right behind him. I was much further than Ram, while much further than me was Rajesh. As darkness grew, we all were like some wild animals wondering in the night, that shallow, hallow chilled night. Foxes could be seen up front the road. Catch up with Rameshwor dai and Ram was impossible, so I stopped by and waited for Rajesh. He caught up to me, bewildered about the road and how we were driving.

“Into the Darkness and all alone,” Yup, thats how we were driving.

He was happy to find me waiting, we had a bit of nature’s call, and waited for Santosh, Swastica, Juleep and Bikki. From day second, Juleep was tailing Santosh as he had known how difficult was for Santosh with his hands. We all stopped for a while, and talked about our trouble with ride. Santosh wished to drive alone, so that it might be a bit ease; and I agreed to have Swastica as a pillion rider. We then continued the track.

The path was very treacherous, there were times like we nearly slipped over, bumping, skidding was a common phenomenon. The good thing was, we all were together, and not far apart. We travelled further down the track and completed the seven turnings with hardship. As we lowered down, we saw that Rameshwor dai and Ram were waiting for us. Madhuri had trouble with her stomach, she was fearing altitude sickness herself, while I was like, with such greenery nobody should get altitude sickness. She slept a while in a tea shop, we shared our tale, had a sip of tea and again rushed towards RARA. For our target was now Talcha Airport, as RARA lake itself was too difficult to travel to and it was already past 8 pm.

We were driving through the pitch black night, like some fireflies who had lost their home. Moving through the terrain, we came to a forked path, took the right one to find yet another forked path. Since there were no sign post, we speculated and took the right hand path. Santosh had a surge of spike on his hands and called out for a time out. Myself, Swastica, Juleep and Bikki waited a bit while others charged on with the road. Only to know that the path was to Gamgadi not Talcha Airport, we had to return back and had to take the path that we left the second time. The trail was uphill, with powdered sand, Ram almost lost his balance with double load, so Madhuri got out and it was a bit of ease.

As we drove to the top, we came across an open field with black topped road ahead. Juleep rushed in happy, towards the black topped road, just to know … where we were driving was the airport itself. We were at the Talcha Airport runaway.

Security personal asked us to park our bikes on the side and guided to the hotel near by. My legs were killing me, and I needed to have dressing on the injury. After clean up, we got around the dining room, the fireplace was just too good to neglect. We had a record breaking omelette that night as snacks to the beers. On top of that we had dinner as well. Meat lovers were at displease that night.

We had a small group talk on tomorrows trip, as we needed to walk at least 2 hours to get into RARA, stay there and return the next day. For which we had to book the room at Talcha, as we were not in need of all the things. With such thought in mind, we slept through the night. The remembering portion here, besides the rough ride;…. was song by Ram …. Karnali Salala the songs which he created on the fly.

Day 04 : Talcha Airport to Rara Lake.

Waking up early in the morning was not a big issue, but the morning ritual of flushing and clearing stomach was a big thing for me. With crack on the knee and bruises on the legs, squatting was a mountainous effort for me; but, one can’t escape the natures call, endurance was all that was for me.

Everyone had a bit of breakfast, stuffed all the belongings in one of the room and set out towards the lake. Myself and Rameshwor dai moved first, thinking others will eventually catch up to us since I was the slowest walker amongst the group. The fun thing here was, my speed was on par with Rameshwor dai, that too with injuries.

We walked up the trail, though it was fair and easy; I had to constantly think about my leg not getting hurt further more. We had couple of selfies as we moved up and down the trail, exchanging pleasantries with the passer by regarding distance and time to reach the lake. We befriended a young recruit on our way down hill, had good exchange of information; he told us how hard it was for him in that terrain away from home and some rules regarding the area. It was a conservation area, restricting any kind of pollution and fined with punishment if anyone found litter the place. It was a heads up, none the less we were the traveller following the motto of travel :

Take only photograph, leave only footprint.

Hence, no trouble there.

We had reached the RARA lake, but rest of the team were yet to catch up with us. As we were taking photos on the pier, Juleep, Ram and Rajesh showed up. They were surprised on how I managed to walk, as Juleep had trouble walking the trail himself.

When heart desires may be pain can be set aside, thats what I thought about my walk; even further, how I was able to be in that pier, admiring the calm clear blue lake.

From the pier we could see the hotel, across the lake; though there was a boat sailing at a distance further away, we were not in time to catch up to it when it was at the pier. Two of us continued with the walk, while rest waited for remaining to catch up. We might have walked may be another hour or more till we reached the army check post for the entry. After scribing down our information, we walked all the way to the resting place, yup, Daphe Hotel standing tall by the side of the lake.

Daphe Hotel : By the lake side
I called forth for lukewarm salt water as usual to clean my injuries and also ordered for Rhododendron and Sea Buckthorn juice to quench our thirst. The juice was just too good, felt like elixir to our worn out body. As we were having a round of juice, guys have started to show up; with a big cheers and proud face we could finally say:

YES, We are here, all of us.

As we sat there peacefully, room boys prepared rooms for us. We went over our rooms to freshen up. Since Swastica had lost her spectacles along the way, she head out with Santosh to search for it, while some travelled to other end of the lake, as for me, I dozed off to energize my worn out body.

After couple of hours, I woke up to find no one around and head out to the open ground. I took some pictures, sat on a perch; the air was chilly enough to give a shiver, but none the less, the majestic view of lake neutralized it all. I could see guys returning back, we talked a bit watching the lake and then head out towards the dining hall. The fireplace at dining hall was a bliss.

We placed our orders, vegetarians had their way while non-vegetarians feasted on the goat meat. Beer and the meat was the dinner menu for most of us, as only few had regular thaali (daal, bhaat n tarkari) too. Dinner time was a fun filled moment as we were glued to the love life talks of Rameshwor dai about his crushes he had in due coarse of time. Bikki jumped into the lovey dovey bandwagon and one talk led to next. May be the beer was talking, but its always a swell of a moment people opening up; bonding us even closer. We recalled the travel, and feared the path as we’ll have to cross all the hurdles yet again on our way back home.

But who would worry, we made it here.

As we were having last of the dinner and beers, room boy told us that we would be able to cross the lake via raft boats, if we were to be at the army check post by 7 am. Lucky us, boat guy was in the vicinity and made a kind of confirmation for the next days ride. So without further a due, we all returned to our rooms except for Rameshwor Dai and Bikki who were still having a good moment bonding.

I was still awake while all were sleeping soundly, the pain in my leg was getting sharp, which left me restless and sleepless. I got a phone call from Subita, who had already covered Rara and Phoksundo Lake in her 25 days of trekking. I told her about my state, she was worried about my condition and shared, she too had difficulty making the trek. She had bled through the toe fingers, how porters told she won’t be able to make it through the trail; recalling how walking through the trail wasn’t a big deal than the mental journey one would have inside, against all the odds. Knowing that might have uplifted me a bit, I guess, as I don’t know how long we had a conversation and at what time I fell asleep. But I did sleep through the night afterwards, less worried about return path, pain and eventually myself.

Day 05 : Rara Lake to Manma

Morning shows the day : The Return back
Early morning by 6 am we got ourself ready. We had a morning coffee, morning photo shoots, some juices as a souvenir back home, and cleared all the bills of the hotel. We all got to the boat by the army check post, but, we had to wait for the oarsmen and also we had to pay for the ride. A couple joined our boat, they were on a field visit to Kalikot District and were at RARA for sight-seeing. We exchanged our travel experience and noticed that the female companion was Japanese, we were amused too as she spoke to us in Nepalese Language quite easily. They shared how scary was for them to travel via a bus, and we readily agreed as we had witnessed the scenario. If our bikes were behind a bus, we could see that in that rough track, one out of four wheels would always be in air. For a track so rough and narrow, it was always a pain for a pass through. Taking bikes along that road was the wisest decision, thats what we assumed; ignoring all the aches all over the body.

Floating over the lake
Exchanging pleasantries, taking photo, we reached the pier across. It took more than an hour to cross the lake, we thought like, since it was a lake and it would always be difficult to paddle through the still water. Now, standing at the pier again, staring at the lake, recalling how we reached, and to realize, it was already time to bid good bye.

We back trailed the path, as we were about to arrive at Talcha Airport we stop by at a resting place where small kids to0 were catching some air. They were carrying loads with them all the way to hotel at Rara Lake. They were very shy, but they did reply our questions regarding their study and education. We had known that education was sparse in such a remote part of the country, which they confirmed by saying that they had more off days than the study days. We took some photos with them, Swastica was very excited about their innocence and how they posed for the photo on our request. We parted by giving them chocolates and few money with a request, a request to read well. Giving money might not have been a good decision, but it did feel good for ourself. Our best wishes are with those kids.

Kids and the Pose : Photo adored by us, but most highly by Swastica.
With couple of minutes of walk, we got to the hotel. We stuffed our stomach, stuffed our luggages and headed to the airport where our beloved bikes were talking to each other. They might have been yelling at us with something like “Where the hell have you been ? Leaving all of us in dust and cold winter air.” As we removed the dust, airport staff signaled us for the lift off, as real aircraft was due for landing in couple of minutes.

Talcha Airport : The Runaway
It was mid noon that we started our engine. We had our last look at the runaway strip and then charged into the off track that we had overcome. Santosh was complaining about his hand, so Swastica got into my bike as a pillion rider and rest was as usual. Swastica knew that it would not be easy for me too, but among all the odds I do enjoy the rough terrains and on top of that experience counts; for I have more experience of such roads.

Pain was just a thing to endure, nothing more.

Our first short stoppage was on the same hotel at Bhulbhule. The fun thing about returning from a destination is that the path seems to have shortened a bit, as we got there unexpectedly early. We moved again, but this time our path was blocked by a truck rolling ahead in a narrow road, it took a while to pierce through the thick cloudy dust behind the truck to take a lead. We lowered further down hill, drove a quite a distance for another occasional break. It took nearly 2–3 hours to reach Gothijeula-Sinja Valley, where we had a decent break, feasting on peanuts, oranges and a cup of tea.

We hurried with the driving and was on our way to Nagma, Rameshwor dai and Ram with Madhuri were on the lead and far from us. We stopped for a very old wooden bridge, to our surprise, Bikki told us that his one of the reason to tag along the trip was to witness that bridge. We had couple of photo shots and then rushed to Nagma, with headlights turned on, welcoming the night.

At Nagma, we got information that if we were able to cross a check point before 6 pm, we would be allowed to pass, else we would have to stop. Since we had set Manma as our resting place for the day, we pressed on the accelerator. We got to the check point, but it was already past 6 pm, with much request to the personnel at the check point we were allowed to pass. With a big sigh of relief, we were on the move, there were couple of times that pillion rider had to drop off so that biker would pull through rough track alone.

After some driving, we had to cross over a road with river flowing over it, more like a small pond on the road; where we witnessed a comic scene. Ram tried to pass through the water with pillion rider Madhuri, but he lost control and both of them fell down into the water. Rameshwor dai witnessing that, jumped off his bike to help Ram, but he had forgotten to extend the bike stand; ending his bike kissing the ground. Bikki got off Juleep for an aid, and the aid was needed for Rameshwor dai to pull off his monstor bike, while Ram crossed the pond on his own. I entered the water, even though I did not fall off, my legs were completely submerged.

Yup, It was already night, and guess what, we were wet too.

With everyone crossing the scene, driving continued. We were traversing the landscape, late at night. We got on the black topped road and pressed on with acceleration. It was now around 15–25 km to Manma, we had to make an up hill drive, I urged Swastica to hold on, but my leg did not give in, ending with losing balance and Swastica landed on the ground towards the hill side. Luckily, the landing was soft and no injuries there, guys helped me with the bike and got on to the clear path, and journey continued.

Rameshwor dai and this time Rajesh were on the lead, as for the rest of us, we drove slowly maintaining the distance among each other with occasional breaks. It was almost 10 pm that we reached Manma, with no clue of the leads. We were resting our ass off as Ram rushed for a search of the leads but came empty handed. We had assumed that we would be staying at the same hotel, but there were no sign of lead’s bikes. It was a while that Rajesh returned back with the news that most hotels were booked already, however he was able to find one for the stay. We rushed through the alleys of Manma to reach our hotel. Though the hotel owner was a bit cynical, he showed courtesy by preparing dinner for us, clock had already hit past 10:30 pm by then.

In the room we had couple of beers, girls on their room were complaining about not having light. Finding room alone was a blessing, so we did not argue much to that. Rameshwor dai played a comedy recording, and we rolled over laughing to that. Hotel owner called out for dinner and we all filled our tummy and called it a night.

The hilarious thing here was: While traveling from Manma to Talcha Airport, It took us almost 14 hours of drive( morning 7 am to 9 pm at night); but while returning back it took 10 hours ( 12 pm noon till 10 pm ). We just wondered, “Now ain’t that something ?”

Day 06 : Manma to Kohalpur

We checked out of the hotel with much regards, thanked the owner for all the hospitality, especially for cooking dinner for us last night. We had our breakfast, and started to roll down Manma hill. The same hurdles with road were there, but this time it was less of a trouble; for we were kinda experienced or at least familiarized. Santosh with trouble in his hand, had to let Juleep do a tough crossing at the lowest part of the downhill, rest of the travel he drove all by himself. We had a short stop at a smaller bazaar to fill fuel tanks and then headed along the banks of Rakam Karnali.

Along the banks of Rakam Karnali
As we were moving along the river side, Rameshwor dai noticed some clanging noise and found out the rails of Saree Guard (thats what we call) were broken. We tried to tie it up but tying up was just not working as the noise persisted; so we tried to take it out using the tools that came up with the bike, which also failed. Hence ended up taking it out forcefully and kept aside to weld; which did not happen till we were at Kathmandu. Juleep ended up with a cool pose with the saree guard.

The return path was much good then, but the road being narrow we had to be very careful around the corner and when there was a vehicle approaching towards us. We would be honking horns every time we were at any turnings. About 5 hours of drive we stopped at Gurase for the lunch. With stomach filled in, we moved towards Surkhet. Swastica was having problem with contact lens as it had started to get dry with no solution to secure it wet. I drove early so that we could hunt for the solution at any optical in Surkhet, which was in vain. We searched for the solution everywhere, even landed at Eye Hospital but it was closed off. A local fellow at the hospital tried his best effort to help us by leading to few opticals which we had already visited. We thanked the fellow for his effort and parted to meet our friend at the nearest fuel station. We had still quite some kilometers to cover so we drove right away as all grouped up.

Night was beginning to spread and my favourite time to drive as well. Swastica was enjoying the ride as we pierced through the pitch black night, accompanied by few buses, trucks and other bikers as we move along.

It wasn’t till 9 pm that we got into Kohalpur. As usual Rameshwor dai was the first to make it there. He made a booking at Hotel Pop Life, which was a very good hotel with just the right price. Full AC with free toiletries, it was number of days that we had checked into a luxury hotel. With everyone freshened up, we got together for a party, party for successfully making it to RARA. That night we planned for a short trip to Chisapani, to see the mighty Karnali Bridge, which linked the Mid-Western Development Region with the Far-Western Development Region.

Stay at Hotel Pop Life : Enjoyed food, luxury and above all tour talks

Day 07 : Kohalpur to Butwal

We got ready early in the morning and since Chisapani was just 77 km apart, we could leave our belongings and could make it by 12 pm, i.e. the check out time. The ride was fair and easy except for a big pot hole at the middle of the road as we were nearing the bridge. We were doing 80 km/hr, and most of us bumped into it. I nearly had a lift off, had I lost my balance and fell off my bike, I would have ended up with much injuries. It was a miracle, even though we experienced the lift off at the bump, no one got injured.

Sleeping government and unaware people, was the case for the patched up highway.

We could see the bridge at a distance, as we closed in, the lost feeling hit me back. Feeling about the fierce wind blowing on the bridge, the feeling I had about a year back, when I toured Khaptad National Park, with Nutan. It was quite a fun to watch reactions of my friends, as, though I had told them about the bridge, I had forgotten to tell them about the strong wind. Actually which I had forgotten myself. We were thrilled about the air, hitting us hard, it was difficult to drive through the bridge as the current was just too strong. Being excited all off us, we strolled alongside the bridge and had plenty of photo shoots. The bridge being very famous landmark of the nation, people from different parts would make a visit to it. There were number of School buses lined up and we could see children having a good time, all of them taking selfies, and trying to get the best view from their view finder.

Mighty Karnali Bridge at Chisapani, Karnali.

Fooling around Karnali Bridge : Enjoying the wind on our face.

Fish Festival : Munching on the Sea Food, in our case River Food
We checked into a local hotel, for a cup of tea and plenty of fishes. This place being a resting stop for the highway buses and also famous for the fishes. So, we can say that, a kinda happening place for highway travelers. Non-vegetarians got stuffed with fishes, while the vegetarians had tea and sel roti. We always wondered about the vegetarians, as it was easy to get non-veg items than veg items; and tour generally may not be favorable. At the same time we did respect for the patience, the patience of being vegetarian.

We enjoyed our last round of blast of air on the bridge and returned back to Kohalpur. It was just about time to check out when we reached the hotel. We stacked our belongings at the reception and headed for a bike wash, few stayed by the reception; keeping keen eyes on our backpacks.

Respecting our rides
It took quite a time, as there were 6 bikes and each needed proper tune up as well; for it has been through a tough trails. All of them had taken a toll and needed proper respect as well. With all sparkled, we got to the hotel to pick our belongings and pillion riders. Madhuri stayed with Ram while I was freed of pillion rider. As an exchange I had to carry backpack of Ram, which all of us complained it for a rock. It was very heavy, just too heavy; we wondered why Ram carried so many things with him.

We started rolling along the highway. The trend of driving for a while, resting a bit and continue was all repeating.

Deja vu, but in a reverse direction.

About 3–4 hours of driving, we stopped at Bhalubang; the place where we had our first night. We gathered up at a local hotel by the side of a police station, had few chow meins, momos, teas and a bit of rest as well. It was already started to get dark and with Butwal as our stop we head out. Bikes needed refueling, so we stopped by the nearest petrol pump. I filled in first and drove away, while others followed. I had thought, if not anyone, Rameshwor dai would catch up to me; but no one caught up to me. My sheer love with the night ride lend me strength to pierce through the darkness, exchanging flash light and high beams with the passerby’s. I was already at Gorusinge, I had a call with my brother as I waited on the side line. Even though I waited for 15–20 minutes, nobody came. Thinking guys might be taking more time out, I started to roll again; again, enjoying the pitch black dark, blissed out in a way. If I had any confusion about the path, I asked anyone along the road side. It was around 9 pm that I reached Butwal.

I stopped by at a tea shop for a cup of tea, guys started to show up; one after another. While we were at Kohalpur, Bikki being known about the workaround of Butwal had already booked us room at Hotel Brindavan. We checked in to find it that it too was a luxury hotel, good old Bikki. Last night of the trip was mesmerizing.

Hotel Brindaban : Ending the Night Stay of Tour
With everyone freshened up, we gathered up in one of the room; called up for couple of chilled beers, snacks. It was a dinner of a kind. As we feasted on our last dinner, we had a fun night as well. Remembering all the bumpy ride, narrow roads and almost encounter with other vehicles, back pain, sore and swollen hands, but also the joy of long travel of how we made it, with hearts going gaga, we were all satisfied. Ram’s funny talks and love life stories of Rameshwor dai as well as Bikki was added charm of the night. We stayed quite a while awake, counted 14 empty beer bottles and then dozed to sleep, the last sleep of the tour.

Day 08 : Butwal to Kathmandu

Rameshwor dai was already freshened up and called me to have a cup of tea at the kitchen down stairs. We tried to wake up others but they gripped on sleeping; sleeping past the tea break. With supposed tea break at Narayangadh, we started our bikes. Rameshwor dai and Ram took off with the lead, Santosh was at his normal speed, while Juleep and Myself were exchanging leads time to time with one another. Me and Juleep caught up to each other driving side by side, we chatted a bit to make a short break at Dauune as we had been driving for more than an hour without a tea break. We took lead over Ram, and stopped at Daunne. We (Juleep, Me) stood by one of the local hotel and waved over Ram, still on the road, but he missed us, and went ahead. As for Santosh and Swastica, they were happy that we made the stop, they were thinking about stopping by themselves no matter what.

With Rameshwor dai almost making it to Narayangadh, Ram, may be 10 min behind him, we then moved from Daunne. I was doing the lazy drive for a while as last rider when I suddenly remembered that I would be passing through Nawalparasi, where Nutan’s house was situated. I made up my mind to drop in by his house, himself being at Kathmandu; so, pressed on to the accelerator; pressed past Santosh.

I had already maintained about 20 minutes lead to Santosh, when I entered Nawalparasi. Recalling the roads, I was able to drop in by Nutan’s house. I was happy to find his mother and father, and they were happy to see me as well; for friends visiting friends house was a kinda rarity these days. We talked a bit, even phoned Nutan and let him know about my position, he too said that he was glad that I dropped by his house.

With a glass of water and some fruits I bid farewell to my friends parents and head out to join my friends across Narayani river. We had another round of small break fast and made up our mind to use the Narayangadh — Muglin highway. Rameshwor dai as usual rocketed away with the lead while we struggled through the highway. Since the highway was undergoing extension, it was very difficult to drive through, though it was just 40 km, it reminded us of our off track ride of RARA.

High way obstruction : It happens all the time, accustomed to it, thanks for the narrow road and reckless drivers.
We drove few kilometers, and came across a road block. Fuel delivery truck and a tourist bus had a minor collision, occupying both lanes of road, leading to blockage. It didn’t take a while for vehicles to pile up on the road both sides. Both of the drivers were quarreling over one another for the blame, it took quite a while for a traffic police to came by and the blockage was lifted. We then rushed through the opening knowing Rameshwor dai waiting for us at Malekhu for the lunch.

As we got on to Muglin, we were welcomed by black topped road. Rajesh caught up to me and we drove together a distance. We got at Malekhu to search for Rameshwor dai, who had spare time to have his bike clean up, and waiting for us at the local hotel. It took a while but eventually everyone showed up and we had our lunch, the last lunch of the tour. Bikki took some photos of the place and after a bit of rest we drove along the highway towards Kathmandu.

Riders on the Storm : The Crew
Ram had asked me for a switchover of the loads, so Madhuri was my pillion rider while he carried his stone (The Backpack). We drove a while past Galchi, elevated a while and then had a short group up. Considering this as the last resting place, we pressed on for Kathmandu.

It was almost 6 pm that I reached Nagdhunga check post. I took alternative route to Kalanki, thinking guys would do the same. Rajesh being less known to the alternative route, tagged along the highway while we enjoyed narrow yet lest troubled path. As I got to Kalanki, I waited a bit; but it was better to go home directly than for a group up in that polluted environment, thus, bid farewell to all via the cell and headed towards Madhuri’s place.

I dropped Madhuri at her place while I headed towards cafe near the house. Yes, I didn’t go home right away for I was missing a cup of tea, a cup of tea from the elder sister at the cafe, my hang around place.

As I dropped in by the cafe, every known faces were excited. I told them my story of the tour and they were in awe, awe to know that I made it all the way through, despite the knee crack. After a few round of teas, experience sharing, I head out.

I head out to the place, the place which I call home to tell story of the tour, the tour about “How we travelled to RARA lake.”

Source: https://medium.com/@dadhiramp/2016-how-we-travelled-to-rara-lake-7d1c31da1859

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