Monday, October 18, 2010

Day 5: Kurintar to Besi Sahar

All smiles as we hit the road
Breakfast of porridge, toast and pancakes gave way to a slightly delayed 8:30AM departure, some bike fettling required to install a rear brake pad that had been overwhelmed by the road gunk of yesterday.

Off on the road we were setting a cracking pace, taking advantage of the morning sun which cast a warm light on the tropical vistas surrounding us.

Michi rides past luminous rice paddies
Some foliage was so luminous that it was almost as if it had been freshly painted and was waiting to dry. This was a sure sign that the recently finished monsoon season had done wonders for the local crops. We’d timed our trip to perfection as attempting the route we’d chosen during the monsoon would have been akin to riding our bikes across a fire fighting equipment testing field.

The first time through Dumre we rode straight past the unmarked turnoff, only it wasn’t until the wrong side of a 600m climb that we realised our error. Back tracking 13km we made the turn, but by now the heat had become oppressive.

A pale skinned person of Swiss origin, Michi was more at home in the cool mountain air rather than the smothering heat blanket of the jungle, and began to melt into the road mirages. I too was suffering, a curious tingling in my feet spreading to my face, perhaps an early symptom of heat stroke.

Along the road we befriended a group of Nepalese high school kids who offered us a Sherpa style push up a steep section of road. We were stoked to learn they knew of Ed Hilary, and discussed what they had learnt today at school while we filled our water bladders from a roadside hose.

Our school age sherpas after their generous push

Stopping at a river to cool off feet and heads, I saw a snake, lizard, ants, dragon flies, spiders and a cow, all in one shady nook of the river. The sheer diversity of life in a small section of this tropical region was dazzling.
A dragon fly joins us to rest in the cool beside the river
Fortunately the Nepalese had revised their minimalist road signage policy to include distance markers, so counting down the kilometres it was with great relief when we pulled into Besi Sahar, booking a room at the Tukuche Peak hotel, the first clean lodgings we found.

An epic dinner ensued and the days ardours melted away in a mist of Fanta, fried rice, burger and naan bread. It was a hard day on the road, and tomorrow we begin the trail proper. We’ve a 2000m difference in height between Besi Sahar and Chamche, with hopefully not too many undulations in between. Today we made the error of skipping lunch, and 8 hours of riding on three Mountain man bars brought me to within a gnat’s whisker of the dreaded bonk. Dinner was however that much sweeter!

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