1 week down our adventure and oh my, what an adventure this is. Although we thought we left well prepared, we were not up to what we have experienced so far. So many impressions in so few days, so different from the life we know. Our head is exploding…
About the cycling:
We planned on mounting our bicycles at the airport and drive into town. We had a hotel booked and a gps to bring us there, so that should work out fine right? And I must say we did a good job, blending in with the crazy traffic, the honking, the driving on the left, the cows on the street, the dust, the smog and the assertiveness of all local drivers. We reached the hotel without any damage. We simply survived our first km’s in Nepal, ouf.
2 days later, we left Kathmandu towards the midlands. Leaving the city during peak hour was mindblowing. People and cars and motorbikes and rikshaws simply everywhere. Dust, smog, traffic jams, driving via temples and through slums. It took over 1 hour to cross the 7km to leave the city and we were exhausted.
The road conditions in general are mediocre here in Nepal. Sometimes you have kilometers full of asphalt, then all of the sudden you would need a 4-wheel drive. It’s good to be wearing a sports bra I can tell you!
But the thing that is most new to us is the endless honking. In Belgium, drivers honk mainly because they’re highly annoyed. Here all cars honk all the time, just to say they’re coming by, or to say hello. On busy streets it can get really loud!
– An ordinary crossing in Kathmandu –
Where we are sleeping:
Besides the one night in a hotel we booked in Kathmandu, nothing was planned. Already on the plane we decided to make it 2 nights, to recover from the flight and have time to adjust. That proved to be a really good idea.
The next accomodations were very different. We slept one night in a Buddhist Monestary since it was the first hotel we found after a heavy first day of cycling. It was over budget but we had no energy left to look further. The guided tour in the monestary, seeing kid monks learning how to meditate, made it a very special experience.
The third night we unexpectedly ended up in our tent. There were just no hotels or guestrooms in the village we ended up, and the next village was too far away. After some negotations with the local restaurant holder we managed to get a flat spot of land near the main road. Sweaty and smelly, we ended up in our sleeping bags around 7pm since the sun was down and nothing left to do. In the night it started raining, so all is proved to be waterproof now.
The next days we take the hotels we can find. There’s not a lot of choice since we’re in non touristic areas, but we indulge the airco/fan, and mainly the shower to rinse of the sweat and dust and strong impressions from the road.
We look forward to be back in the tent, as soon as the setting is more appropriate!
What we are eating:
Curry, dal, potatoes, rice, noodles, momos. In the morning, at lunch and in the evening. Yes, also curry in the morning. It tastes pretty good actually!
We prefer the local restaurants: because they are super cheap, and because they are super tasty (if you like your share of spice). At least half of the places we’ve been to hasn’t had a european guest ever. Don’t look too much to the interior, and don’t expect professional kitchen equipment. The good taste doesn’t depend on that. The smell is something different however; we haven’t dared to go to the toilet in one of these restaurants yet, and plan to postpone that for as long as we can!
– chicken momos –
– breakfast with curry and chai –
What we are seeing:
We didn’t want to only do the classic sightseeing. We wanted to take a deep dive into local life. And we did. Before we realised well, we left the city centre and cycled through rural Nepal. Where kids go to school to about 13 years old. Then start working to earn a little roupi for the family. Where houses are shabby and tiny. Where water comes from a big barrel in front of the house instead of a tap. Where man and woman spit on the ground. Where streets neither houses are paved. Where laundry hangs in front of the house so all neighbours can see. Where man and women are sitting in front of their small shop or restaurant, waiting the full day for the few customers that come. Where litter is litteraly everywhere. Where little to no English is spoken.
But also where almost everybody smiles when you pass, where kids wave or say namaste. Where you can have really nice chats with those who do speak English. Where all the kids smile. Where it’s safe to park your bicycle outside the restaurant without any worry. Where all the kids smile. Where woman just dance in front of their store. Where all the kids smile. Where the carwash is simply driving next to the river and start splashing. Where all the kids smile. Where hindu ladies look magnificent in the colourfull sari’s and nothing is grey/black. Where all the kids smile. Where you cycle through green valleys and can freshen up by its waterfall. Where all the kids smile.
1 week down our adventure and we’re definitely out of our comfort zone. So far that we wonder if we decided well to start so far away from home. There is a thing or two to say about starting such a trip from your own doorstep, learning and growing in all these areas step by step.
But then again, if we wanted life to be easy, we should have stayed in front of the television. And the good news is, as from yesterday, we start to feel a little bit more at ease.