In Nepal and loving it!

(Emily) On our first full day in Nepal, we took a leisurely breakfast knowing that as riding days go, the 26km to Lumbini was pretty much at the top of the doddle list. (We’d originally planned to get there the previous day after the border crossing but riding in the dark is not the most sensible idea in a new country and we’d been absolutely shattered.) It was a bumpy ride through farm land and we pulled in at one point to observe a group of enormous vultures clustered around some carrion in a field –  David Attenborough eat your heart out!

Lumbini is a tiny town, more of a village really, that gets a mention in the guidebooks on the strength of it being a Buddhist pilgrimage site; indeed, it is home to the birthplace of Buddha himself. Coolio! We rocked up and found a guesthouse pretty easily. As we waited outside the hotel for Fabian to go in and check out the rooms before committing, a Buddhist monk drew up alongside us on his motorbike to say hi – such an incongruous image, just brilliant! (James took a photo and promised to email it to him later, love it!) Once we’d freshened up, we strolled back down the road to the main attraction – the Buddhist complex. There were a few tourists around but generally it was quiet and calm, just what we had been hoping for. As we walked into the conservation area that houses the Buddhist monuments and monasteries , some Europeans were leaving on hire bikes and told us that given the size of the park, cycling was the way forward. A few minutes later, we too were on bicycles, feeling somewhat vulnerable due to the non-existent brakes, suspension or helmet!!

It wasn’t far to the main site – the Maya Devi Temple -  which houses the memorial stone that marks the exact spot where Buddha is said to have been born in 563 BC. It was a peaceful spot, with the temple set in the middle of a green lawn, surrounded by mature trees from which prayers flags fluttered in their hundreds.  We wandered around, soaking up the chilled atmosphere and enjoying watching the monks stroll around with the peaceful air of the self-fulfilled. We followed this up with a little cycle around the lake there – not the smoothest ride given the rocky track and we were all suffering from a bruised coccyx by the end! Good fun though : ) There wasn’t a whole lot else to do in town but that was fine by us; the guesthouse had wi-fi so we returned there for a bit of website updating. It was the perfect start to Nepal – relaxed, unhurried and stress-free.

The next morning, the plan was to ride north to Pokhara. Carl and Bene had already written to recommend a route – the Siddhartha Highway – which snakes its way through mountain valleys. We couldn’t wait! Well rested, we packed up early and, waved off by a American backpacker in his late 60’s who had taken a bit of a shine to Fabian (“You look like a model,” he breathed when Fabs appeared in his leathers!) we hit the road in high spirits. Things continued to look up when, half an hour later, we spied a neat little roadside café where we promptly stopped for breakfast; so civilised! (We’d not seen anything like this in the whole of India…) Another plus was that the traffic, although quite heavy, was much more manageable; drivers in Nepal actually use their mirrors and seem to have an awareness of their surroundings. How novel to ride along without the feeling that the other road users couldn’t care less if their reckless driving led to your demise! Things were going great, what’s more, the best was yet to come – once we left the plains and joined the Siddhartha Highway, the road began to wind its way up into a steep v-shaped valley which followed a wide, undulating river down below us. It was absolute heaven: empty roads, clear skies, the perfect temperature, lush greenery, stunning views, well- kept villages, warm smiling faces… lovely! In fact, when we stopped for a lunch of samosas and bananas on a grassy knoll overlooking the river, James said it was quite possibly the most pleasant day’s riding we’d had so far. Not necessarily the most adventurous, or exciting, or challenging, or beautiful (although there were definitely elements of all these things) but the most pleasant. Yep, for sheer riding pleasure, it was right up there.

The ride continued like this the whole way to Pokhara and, not only were the conditions perfect, but the timing was spot on too – at 170km, the day’s journey was just right (short enough to be able to ride at a leisurely pace stopping regularly for breaks and photos, safe in the knowledge that we’d arrive at our destination while it was still light; long enough to enjoy the great road). We rolled into Pokhara around 4pm and, after making our way to Lakeside where all the action is, found a fantastic guesthouse among the many on offer where the novel smell of freshly laundered sheets hit us as soon as we opened the door to our room. That had us so excited you’d have thought we were shooting a washing powder commercial! So, as you can probably already tell, our first impressions and experiences of Nepal were pretty damn good! We can hear the sighs of relief from our readers who, perhaps, have been getting a bit fed up with our moaning about India!! That chapter is behind us now and there are good times ahead…

3 Responses to “In Nepal and loving it!”

  1. Jess says:

    I’m sighing with relief…but mainly for your sake! xxx

  2. Jackson says:

    looks lush……like Fabian in his leathers!

  3. Julian says:

    Emily, you write as well The Fountain. High praise indeed. What a pair you two are!
    Nepal is now on the bucket list. If I get there in my 60s I promise not to take a shine to lads in leather.
    Any chance of another video from Fabian? Last one was so good.
    Are you not planning to ride tom Phuket? It is on the way to Malaysia isn’t it?
    Singapore is superb. What a positive and friendly place. Should be plenty of jobs there for you two brilliant people.

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