Project 88. Motorbike trip in Nepal. Day 5. Around Pokhara, road to Panchance.

Date: 04/04/2017

Last night it was raining and weather forecast for mountains shows minus temperatures. So we had to entertain ourselves with some riding around Pokhara.

The weather was foggy early in the morning, but get better by 8 am and after breakfast we’ve driven the road, that continues from Lakeside to the East, guessing what we would find there.

The ride was great, despite the road conditions (another off road test drive). We’ve enjoyed riding along rice fields, small villages, water buffalos and, my favorite, goats. We found there were few lovely villages with little traffic full of authentic and natural life. People were working in fields, taking care of corn, tomatoes, cabbages. Men were sitting in local tea houses discussing some very important business (my guess), women were taking care of the houses and kids were running to school and playing on the streets. Kind of Idyll. Plus amazing scenic views towards the lake, fields and mountains. Beautiful ride. While our backs were quite stressed after couple hours of off road driving, but all the emotions that we’ve got covered it tons of times.

Project 88. Motorbike trip in Nepal. Day 3. Bandipur – Pokhara

Date: 02/04/2017

In the morning the weather was better, so we walked once again to the view point. The sky was still foggy, but Dhaulagiri (8167), Machhapuchhare (6997), Langtang Lirung (7246) Manaslu (8162) and Ganesh Himal (7406) were out there.

After a quick lunch, around 8 am, we got on our bike and drove back down to the main highway, from where there was around 60 km left to Pokhara.

The road did not improved much, trucks, busses, jeeps were still there. Closer to Pokhara the traffic became hazardous, but we did not care much, because we get amazing views toward Annapurna range during the ride.

Pokhara is a paradise for tourists, but even more for trekkers who arrive here after treks. It is never a question where to stay in Pokhara, there are hundreds, if not thousands of places to stay, sleep, eat, dine, shop etc in the Lakeside area. Getting the guest house with parking is not a big deal, but can be an issue if the guest house is located up on the hill on steep and narrow road.

We have chosen a little family run guest house with 6 room, just on the lake and got a nice in suite room with lake view for 8 dollars. There are a lot of things to enjoy and do in Pokhara. We were planning to stay there for a couple of days, waiting for the good weather, before heading up to mountains.

Pokhara changed a lot since we’ve been here 5 years ago and much more since 2007, when we’ve been here for the first time. But good thing is that our old favorite local café is still where it was, though it changed the name and owners… Food is still delicious there.

Despite the clear morning and sunny day, around 3 pm clouds came, and in evening heavy rain with hailstone disappointed our plans a bit. Rain and hailstone in Pokhara means snow and below zero temperatures up in the mountains. We had to wait.

Project 88. Motorbike trip in Nepal. Day 2. Kathmandu – Bandipur

Date: 01/04/2017
Today is fools day, and people say that fools are lucky. Asking for all the luck we can get, even agreed to be a bit crazy people, early morning on the 1st of April we have started to drive narrow streets of Thamel, out of the city towards main highway to Pokhara.

The total trip from Kathmandu to Pokhara, being only something like 200 km, can easily take 7 hours, and sometimes even more (back in 2007 we have spent 12 hours on a bus). The road is partly winding with only two lanes, packed with trucks, buses, tractors, jeeps and bikes. Driving through all this villages, rice fields, stone, cement and bricks factories, there is no chance to go faster then 50 km/h. Trucks sometimes drive with a speed of 20 km/h, driving car or bus on such a narrow road you can wait for a long time to pass them. For bikes things are different, but you can go only slightly faster. Even on the bike you can still stuck in traffic and wait for tens of minutes.

We decided to split the trip in two days. On the first day we have driven to Bandipur, a lovely small one street village with preserved Newari architecture. Which is located on a top of ridge, 1050 m above sea level.

The main challenge is to get out of Kathmandu to Prithvi highway to Pokhara. We decided to start early, 6-7 am, to avoid work traffic and heat. Planning the way out, we considered two options: the first one by the Ring Road, kind of high way around Kathmandu, and second one directly through the city. We have dismissed the first option, to avoid speedy trucks and cars, and, as we saw later, made a right choice. The Ring Road was partly under construction and traffic was forbidden on the part leading to Prithvi highway. For the first 20km the highway is also under an active construction of additional lanes, so we got all pleasure of bumpy road, crazy trucks speeding to deliver the next portion of stones to a construction site, dust, lots of dust, and noise. Happily it was over quite soon after Kathmandu and, totally covered in dust, we got into serpentine.

Bandipur is located around 120 km from Kathmandu, 10 km uphill from the main highway, you need to take a left turn after dusty town of Dumre.

We have been here 10 years ago, the village is still nice. Our lovely guest house, Heritage Guest House, is still there. It’s an old wood and stone building, soaked with traditional smell of milk, oil and fat, run by local family. Very basic but cozy rooms, with lovely views over the valley, are for the offer for 5-7 dollars.

There is only one issue with Bandipur – the main village, as well as nearly all guest houses, is located on a street surrounded by steps, so no vehicles can drive there. But there is a place just before steps that can offer an overnight parking for 100 Rs, they also have rooms if you decided to stay with them.

The village did not changed much in 10 years. Though it was quite close to the epicenter of destructive earthquake in 2015. Some houses were damaged and being restored now, the whole reconstruction is still under progress, but main street keeps it authentic looks and many houses survived the damage.

There are nice walks around Bandipur village, including Tundikhel view point where views towards Himalaya mountains suppose to be spectacular. But the weather were cloudy on that day, so we haven’t seen any mountains at all.

Soon after lunch time the sky got darker and storm arrived. For about 30 minutes we have witnessed a beautiful change of clouds in the storm sky, followed by a shower rain. As a result, electricity was down, so for the rest of the day the whole village became dark.

In the evening we got local meals from the restaurant beneath our room, and some local wine as well. It was kind of surprising experience – hot barley wine, with honey and, gee on top. Gee is a butter which is quite often used for cooking in Nepal and India. I’ve tasted the wine… and I would not want to repeat the experience – yayks.

Rain gave us sometime for evening promenade and after came back for the whole night.

Project 88. Motorbike trip in Nepal. Day 1. Test drive

Date: 31/03/2017
Driving around Kathmandu is a lot of fun. It’s not a kind of thing that would please you everyday. Commuting to work like this would be really awful. But for us, travelers who enjoy Asia, its lifestyle and bikes, especially Indian Royal Enfield, this was a great experience.

Today we took a bike for a short test drive. Yesterday we have chosen a bike, agreed to the rental price and asked mechanic to attach a luggage rack. After an early breakfast, we took it from the garage to ride across Kathmandu to Swayambhunath, down to Durbar square and then back to Thamel. The bike was good, streets were narrow, road was terrible, traffic was crazy – lots of fun. For experienced bikers only. For newbie it would be a disaster and quite dangerous.

Parking in Kathmandu is quite an issue, no bikes are left on the street after sunset and most of the day time parkings are locked up for the night. So we parked our bike in the parking lot of 5 star hotel nearby our modest guest house. We kindly asked permission from the hotel reception and security guy, they were happy to provide us with a space, they have lots of it. Next day when we departure, we tried to offer some payment for security guy, but he resisted, so we present him with couple of chocolates from Russia, a recent gift from our parents.

The owner of the rental shop, Ram, kindly provided us with an air pump and an extra tube, just in case. After packing our own gear and other stuff, we were ready to go.