Friday, 23 March 2012

Kathmandu

By Sanne

Arriving in Nepal was a bit of a culture shock. It is so different from anywhere we've been on this trip. It is definitely obvious that we're now in another part of the world. We arrived in the evening and shared a cab into town with an American couple. Packed into a tiny Suzuki minivan we started to realise just how bad Nepalese roads are as the van bounced from side to side through the potholed streets. Everything was completely dark as well as Kathmandu suffers from daily power cuts of up to 12 hours a day! Certainly the darkest capital city I have ever seen! That night we stayed in a room not much bigger than a shoebox, so we moved to another guesthouse the next day that also had a garden for parking our bikes.

The bikes we picked up two days later, and what a circus that was. We expected to be in and out of there in a couple of hours. Fast forward 6 hours later we're still there! Turns out you need an agent to sort out the paperwork. We tried to get out of this but to no avail. Apparently everyone, including locals, need one. From here on it was a lot of going back and forth, negotiating fees "you want me to pay you how much, for what exactly???", and a lot of waiting around. After three hours of this a gate opened and a forklift appeared carrying the crates with our bikes inside. It took us two hours to put the bikes together, surrounded by a mob of curious people. The men who had helped pulling the crates apart wanted a little bit for their effort for their "tea break" so we gave them a little something. But all up the fees we paid that day didn't exceed $30 so can't really complain.

Riding away from the cargo building we were again surrounded by a crowd of about 40 people who watched us ride off. Then came the next challenge - to navigate the Nepalese traffic. Well, the traffic is pretty chaotic but we expected that. What makes it worse though is the CONSTANT tooting of horns coming from bikes, cars, trucks, buses, you name it! Forget indicators - they're of no use here. No, the horn is where you really need to keep your finger firmly placed. They also don't like traffic lights here, instead they have the good old fashioned tradition of a police man directing the traffic from a little stoop in the middle of an intersection. It's like going back in time this place. Apart from the sound of horns, another sound is very present in Kathmandu - the hocking up of spit. I thought Indonesia was bad for spitting but Kathmandu takes the cake! The first day here I was inches away from being spat on as a lady stepped out of her shop and hocked a big one in my direction. Welcome to Kathmandu!

But spitting aside, the Nepalese are very friendly and you get met with "Namaste" (hello) wherever you go. We spent much of our time there at a little shop called Biplov Cold Store run by a Nepalese man called Krishna. Mostly we would go there with Frank to sit in the tiny shop and drink Everest Beer (which is actually pretty good). But every morning when we would pass the shop Krishna would stick his head out and go: "Hello friend, time for tea or later?" So soon having a morning chai with him became a daily ritual. Unfortunately it is not the cleanest of cities, but that goes for the majority of Asian cities that we've been to. They don't seem to get the idea of not littering and keeping their country beautiful. It's a real shame but hopefully with time more awareness will develop and you won't see rivers littered with rubbish anymore. Kathmandu is quite the tourist hub so it will be good to leave and see more of the rest of Nepal.

Welcome to Kathmandu!






Durbar Square

Glad to have our bikes back!

Looking out over the garden at our guesthouse and our bikes

Here you have actual schedules for when you will have power. Not much as you can see.

Our local hangout, Biplov Cold Store, always good for a beer, a cup of Chai tea or some Yak cheese

Mark and Frank, the German KTM rider

The roads could do with a bit of TLC...


And a bit of waste management wouldn't go astray either...

According to Hindu belief, cows are considered holy and wander freely around the city

Or lying in the street...They are alive by the way

Monkey Temple













Went for a ride in the hills around the Kathmandu Valley with Frank





Tried a rickshaw for the first time - pretty uncomfortable!

The view from the back of a rickshaw

Friday, 16 March 2012

1 Year On The Road!

By Sanne

Hard to believe that it is exactly one year since we set out from Perth and rode off into the unknown. We haven't really made it that far yet but that's because we try not to rush through the countries we pass.
And what a year it's been...8 countries, each one of them fascinating in their own right. And now it's on to the 9th - Nepal. Shipping of the bikes was pretty straightforward (read all about it on the Shipping page).
On our last day here Mark got himself a new tattoo to add to the collection.

Mark with Mr Thira, our shipping agent

Front wheel off, handlebars dismounted, all ready to get crated


The guys did a great job wrapping EVERYTHING in bubble and shrink wrap

That's it, ready to go to the airport

Bangkok traffic

Mark being a little cry baby

And the final result

Happy to be done!

You don't need a prescription to get meds around here - 
just pop down to the nearest street corner and you shall find.

Valium anyone?

Mark with Stef, the French Africa Twin rider and Frank, the German KTM rider. Frank is flying to Kathmandu same day as us whereas Stef will stay in Bangkok where he is trying hard to organise shipping to Africa. It has not been easy for him so we keep our fingers crossed that it will happen soon!

On our last night I just had to get my last serving of Sticky Rice with Mango - it's sooo good.