There are times, when you just don’t know what to do but just etching for a travel; that too, you don’t know where you really want to head out for. You don’t want to repeat the place you have already been and you feel like doing a solo thing. You know, not telling your friends, not even your parents, where you are heading for, is going to get them pissed real bad (at least brother was made known); with all the things that might happen or not happen you hop onto your bike. Now as you start your bike, you know that the destination has been fixed and there is no looking back (well, you need to look on the rearview mirror time and again as you travel, can’t be a dumb ass), finally the destination is to Kerung; the only trading port in operation between Nepal and China (as of today December 1, 2017).
Kathmandu to Galchi (55 Km, via app maps.me)
It was 8 a.m. when I started my bike and checked the fuel indicator to find it almost empty, so got it fueled in a near by petrol station. As I was paying for the petrol I found out same status was with the wallet, thus checked into ATM on the way to refuel my wallet too.
Driving out of Kathmandu is tough these days, I had to cross all the traffic that have been ruining this beautiful city; smokes and dust are just too intense, there were places where visibility was really poor. With a bit of wait at Kalanki, the biggest intersection of vehicles I started to move out of Kathmandu. Since I had rode the highway many times, the drive was fair and easy; communicating using side lights, thank you horn as you are offered to go ahead is always amusing. It was about 10 a.m. that I got to Galchi and had a breakfast, finally; fuel for the body. With exchange of good words with the restaurant owner, I was back on my bike.
Galchi to Syabru Bensi (94 km, Trisuli route, Pasang Lhamu Highway)
Riding along the bank of Trisuli river wasn’t much of hurdle, but there were places with a lot of pot holes to avoid and had to be really careful while going through ultisol (red clay soil); for the path was just too slippery (occasional skidding was at places). One of the village was even named after ultisol (Ratmate : red clay in nepalese language). Even though there were not much of vehicles running around but if one encounters a tipper/dump truck, be certain you are ready for a storm of dust rushing alongside the vehicle itself. Yup, one can say storm is coming.
Some of the places that I crossed before I stopped for a short break at Battar were : Ratmate, Pipaltar, Bidur (District Headquarter of Nuwakot). At Battar I had a short yet pleasant talk with an elderly woman, bought a scarf at her shop too. With exchange of pleasantries I head towards Trisuli Bazar(market), it was a big market; you can say kind of central place where you can get most of the things.
I nearly ran off to a different route, however I asked local people and got on the right track to Syabru Bensi.
It was uphill now, but the road although being narrow was very nice for a bike ride. I crossed Bhainse, Betrawati (a pilgrimage site), Dhaibung and now the off road track started; I was like damn. The off road stretched for kilometers and I was getting too tired with being all (much) careful so had to take rest, at least for a cup of coffee. I stopped at a local shop at Ramche, had a bit of conversation regarding the road condition with the shop owner too was pissed about it. Well in Nepal, everyone seemed to be pissed at politicians, and with every rights.
I bid good bye to the shop owner and with much struggle (well actually I am used to rough road, just to let you know its tough) I crossed Grang, Thade; phew!!! start of the good road and reached ACAP(Annapurna Conservation Area Project) checkpost.
Being a conservation area, security was tight at the checkpost. Some entry was made and a bit down the road I reached Dhunche(District Headquarter of Rasuwa), one of the known tourist area; could see tourist walking here and there.
Since I had rest just a while ago, I did not stop and continued my journey. From Dhunche it was all downhill and road too was damaged at places, especially at the turns. I crossed Thulo Bharkhu, Sano Bharkhu along the 12 downhill turns and finally reached Syabru Bensi.
I came across a forked road and asked the local folks for the route to Kerung, but I was yearning for another coffee break. I checked into the restaurant (forgot the name, damn), had a pleasant talk with senior people. They were surprised about my solo bike ride to the place, we had talk about travel, education, a bit of current ill politics ruining the country as well. One of the senior was Lama (Teacher in Tibetan Buddhism) who suggested me to get to Timure right away as it was already 2:30 pm and the gate to Kerung (across Timure) would close at 3 pm. I thanked him for the information and head towards Timure, only to know I had to drive in a gravel road yet to be pitched. After 20 minutes of ride I saw queue of shipping container along side the road to Timure, they were in a stand still and waiting there turns. It was hard to maneuver past the trucks with containers, I had to change the direction of rearview mirrors of the bike to pass through the tight spacing between the vehicles. At one place I had to request the driver so that I could pass ahead, yup it was too tough.
I let one of the driver hop in as a pillion rider as he too, was heading towards the trading port. The pillion rider dropped just before the check post and I rushed towards the port only to know I got to the place where I won’t be able to take my bike any further. Upon enquiry of the process there with a policeman, I knew that only people of Rasuwa could pass the port to Kerung; no one else, well you need to be one in a higher post or good political connections it seemed.
So the finding : The port was inaccessible for me, being not from Rasuwa and on top of that the port had closed, which was now a lesser thing for me.
Well, at least I know and saw the port on my own; lesser trophy, but hey, I still made it solo.
Upon strolling about half an hour at Timure, I made up my mind; not to stay at Timure but rather head to Sybru Bensi. Night had started to engulf and with high beam turned on, rushed towards Sybru Bensi following the gravel road back.
SYABRU BENSI (Enter Unknown Known Friend)
It was past 6 pm, I checked in at the same restaurant/guest house I had earlier in the day. The room had 2 beds while I was all alone, what a waste.
I headed to the dining room and started having talks with the people. There were two elderly folks and a woman, all engaged in some government project. With a cup of tea, we talked a lot regarding how education can be improved, a bit (much) of politics yet again, parenting and god knows what else. (In all case I was the one talking the most, there were times I surprised myself; how much I could talk).
Enter my unknown known friend Jamal.
As I was busy talking with the folks, a foreigner stepped inside the guest house asking about availability of a room; I stepped up and asked if he would like to share room with me, the next bed in the room was waste anyway. He agreed with the idea and also agreed to split up the money, hence I saved half the money myself; clever ain’t I? My unknown known friend Jamal was from Korea, a clever fellow who managed to pick some nepalese words for communication; with his appearance everyone would have mistaken him for a nepalese coming from Rai or Gurung ethnicity. As he went up to the room for change over, I continued talk with the local folks till the dinner time.
Its hard to find a good communication among people, also when you don’t know anything about next person you are sharing your room for the night; it might seem even harder, but it wasn’t the case with Jamal. He loved to share his experience about Nepal and being a traveller myself, I loved to share my part of experience as well. He had been trekking to Langtang and ended up at Sybru bensi for the night, the thing he found surprising was my clarity on spoken English; proud myself (thanks goes to my sister-in-law who comes from Netherlands :D). We kept exchanging information regarding many things, whether it be the Genome code of humans acting as GOD or as simple as the basic rule of traveling. When I told him the rule of traveling “Take only photograph, leave only footprint.”, he was like woooaahhh nice bro.
We started our talk from 8 pm and ended at around 10:30 pm, now you can be assured that we covered many topics; since I love philosophy (not religious, as of date), he was impressed with how I see things differently than any normal people.
My friend Jamal while traveling on a local bus got drowsy and got a bang on his head as the bus jerked. It was not a bang as per him, it was a BAANNNGGG; and it happened twice. Now to save himself he clutched on to the wall of the bus and what he saw was, two men before him were sleeping peacefully; yup, nepalese sleeping bodies are immune to jerks was his finding.
As he wanted to know the travel route, he opened up Google Map; the thing he found out was, he was traveling on a HIGHWAY. His sense of highway was completely shattered by our HIGHWAY.
Before we called it a night, I offered him lift back to Kathmandu the next day; but with his travel kit he was terrified, thus declined my offer. If only he had known how I was able to travel cross country with two of those bags that too in a motor bike, he wouldn’t have been so afraid.
Syabru Bensi to Kathmandu (via Battar)
6 am, Jamal was packing his bag and getting ready for the 7 am bus to Kathmandu, while I was half asleep myself. We had a bit of conversation and I forwarded him my visiting card so that we could meet in Kathmandu. After freshening up my self, we checked out of the room and headed to the dining room to clear the bills. I stayed for a cup of coffee while Jamal was all set to go catch the bus but not till we had a photo to capture the moment. With a wish to meet in Kathmandu, Jamal was on his way.
I cleared my pending bills and again met up with the local folks from yesterday, they too had night stay at the same hotel(damn, I still don’t know the name of the hotel). Since I was returning solo, the hotel owner lady asked if I could provide lift to the woman who was working on a government project, she was in a rush to get to her office and bus would simply take time. I agreed on the same and I got a free coffee too for being humble and for the good talks from last night, that was my earning I guessed.
I checked out at around 7:30 pm with my pillion rider. We talked all the way to her destination, which was Kalikasthan (39 KM); she offered me breakfast for being kind, I thanked her offer but did not feel like stopping, thus continued my journey back home. However, I did hand her my visiting card since we might meet again in Kathmandu.
I stopped for couple of photo along the down hill and came across an elderly asking for a lift. I gladly provided the lift, upon talking he too was heading for Kathmandu and told me that he was blessed to find me; it was way too flattery for myself. My intention was to go on a different path to reach Kathmandu and my pillion rider was aware of the path, thus he was useful as well; well, we were useful to one another.
Reaching Battar, there was a small road extended to the east and we headed that way. The path was way too small at places, rough but none the less I had a nag to go on that route, thus followed as per the instruction of the elderly who was struggling to stay on one spot on the seat (the path was rough with much bumps). I asked for a resting place as I did not have any breakfast and he suggested a place, which I assumed to be near by; but didn’t reach there until 1 hour of bike ride, I was pissed with hunger. Grrrrr !!!
It was 10 pm, we stopped at Thansing; I had a decent breakfast while the elderly had just tea and his medical supplement, poor fellow was patient of pressure. We had quite a talk, I even managed to change his thought on cross cultural marriage. His son was in love with a girl from different culture and he was very worried but after my talk, he seemed to take it with ease (damn, me a love guru, holy molly). My only wish is, hope best be between all of them.
We then got on the bike and headed for Gurje Bhanjyang which can be taken as an entry point to Kathmandu from Nuwakot. The way was easy but the elderly was coughing a lot, might be due to gush of dust as vehicles passed by or due to the raising cold of the season. We had almost reached Tokha when I asked for confirmation on where to drop him, and Balaju was the place. At around 11:30 pm, we were at Balaju biding farewell, with a wish we might meet again.
The pain of driving in the dustmandu (sarcasm for Kathmandu) rushed back as I was driving along the highway. At around 2 pm, with a tea break in between I then reached the place; the place called HOME.