After a mercifully undisturbed night in an Indian sugarcane field, I packed up and started cycling towards the Nepalese border. The road passed through a forest, a welcome change from the dense population that had thus far been the norm in India.
I returned to a sprawling urban area at the border itself. The towns on either side seem merged into one. A bridge marks the border but there is little in the way of border formalities; locals seem to come and go as they please. I reached Nepalese immigration and had to turn around as I’d not yet been to their Indian equivalent.
Getting to Indian customs proved a slight problem. An immigration official stopped me on my way back and demanded to see my passport. She spoke very little English but demanded to see my Nepalese exit stamp. She did not understand when I said I hadn’t actually been to Nepal yet! Thankfully an English speaker showed up and translated. The new arrival, Sarita, showed me to the immigration office. It was no wonder I’d missed it; it was a small, nondescript, empty building.
After about half an hour an immigration official showed up and stamped me out of India. Nepalese immigration was quick and I soon purchased my Visa on Arrival. I cycled away from the border, through the city of Nepalgunj.
Once past the city, the road entered a huge forest. The only residents I saw were monkeys. Traffic was minimal – which meant no honking, a sharp contrast to India. I greatly enjoyed it. In the evening I set up camp in the woods, my nicest campsite in weeks.
I continued to roll along, with a series of hills for my second day in Nepal. Mountains made an appearance the day after, for the first time in a few weeks.
According to Ignace (a Belgian with whom I cycled in Tajikistan), these mountains featured some of the best scenery he’d seen on his trip. Unfortunately clouds were omnipresent during my time there and I never got to see much of a view.
After a couple of days I descended out of the mountains and into Pokhara, Nepal’s second largest city. That evening I met with a group of other cyclists for dinner: Ross, Pax, Robin and Sabina. I’d cycled with Ross and Pax in central Asia, and they’d more recently been cycling with Robin and Sabina, a Dutch couple. After a couple of rest days we all planned to cycle out of Pokhara together.
On one of those rest days Ross, Robin and I decided to ride a mountain bike trail around the nearby lake.
The road climbed steeply up. The surface was rough and there were a fair few pushing sections. Eventually we made our way up to a stupa atop a mountain.
We rode (and walked/carried) the bikes down a single-track trail. As we neared the city we saw a group of people filling bottles from a spring. They are then carried in baskets on women’s backs, secured with a strap around the forehead. The woman in the picture below was carrying around 30 litres.
We passed through some farmland. The fields were covered in monkeys!
We returned to Pokhara and met up with the women for lunch. We agreed to take another rest day tomorrow. Amongst the things I got done was purchasing a new tyre. It was 2.1 inches (53mm) wide, much wider than the tyres I usually use. The next couple of weeks would have particularly badly surfaced roads and I wanted the wide tyre for more comfort.
Another cyclist, Silas, arrived at my hotel. He decided he’d join us on our ride out of Pokhara, becoming the sixth member of our new group of cyclists.
November 18: 136 km
November 19: 154 km
November 20: 109 km
November 21: 95 km