Sunday, October 17, 2010

Day 4: Kathmandu to Kurintar

I awoke to Kathmandu’s curious dawn chorus. Barking dogs gave way to screeching birds then the occasional howl of monkeys, all set to a gradual crescendo of blaring car horns. The soundtrack of Kathmandu.

We fought jet-lag with a solid sleep in, which seems to have knocked my man flu on its arse. Breakfast of porridge, toast and tea filled in the time while we waited for our permits. The minutes and hours ticked by as our impatience grew, itching to escape the din. The 10AM time got pushed back to 11, and only by 12 did we have permits in hand and could finally hit the road.

Ventanas ready to roll.

Ollie waits (im)paitently
The delay had pushed our schedule back so we frantically set off through the hustle to Besi Sahar, some 170km away. Leaving the city, buildings thinned and the stench changed from the exhaust of vehicles  to that of animals as we climbed a hill signalling the edge of Kathmandu.

Trucks and busses appeared to be backed up so an intense game of bicycle tetris ensued. Riding across the centreline or ducking through handlebar wide gaps in the queue when trucks came perilously close.

Jammed for about 10km, traffic appeared to only be stopped for a single work crew collecting gravel from the roadside. I couldn’t help thinking that such whimsical traffic management would cause some highly strung kiwi to flip out in violent display of road rage. The Nepalese were content to sit in their vehicles and chill, smiling and waving as we rode past.

Ollie smiles despite the dampness
Rain fell but the air was warm so we continued to clock up the miles, stopping only to secure a floppy dry bag to Michi's Freeload & removing a screeching brake pad spring.

About 3 hours in to the ride Michi began to fade so we reassessed our ambitious distance goal.
Michi during a dryer section of the ride
As luck would have it, about 5:30PM just as dusk was settling we came across a dry oasis in the rain, the Riverside Springs Resort. Rooms were luxury and the promise of hot showers and dinner made the exorbitant room rate seem reasonable.

Dinner was rice themed, with fried rice and rice pudding washed down with a banana lassi. A brief scout for after dinner entertainment proved fruitless, so we retired to our rooms for a deep contented sleep, joined by the local reptilian population who clung to the inside of the window screens.

Lizards on the windows at the Luxury Riverside Spirngs Resort

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