Nepal | Nov'19 | Motorcycle Trip

Hi All

Disclaimer : I'm bad at drafting a TL, so I will try to keep it short & sweet and limited to where it needs an explanation. I'm a dormant member of this platform but observe you guys from 'sidelines' and enjoy all the posts. Thank you for everything!

2015 Autumn: In one such travelogue on BCM touring (I guess it was Masterji's) I came to know about this place called Marpha. Some more google image search and I realized, it not just Marpha, the entire Country (Nepal) is worth a visit. Many more months of google search and I had a detailed list of places, things to do, food to taste etc in Nepal.
2015 Winter : By now the itinerary had already become 25+ days of stay within Nepal and many more hurdles that I have to overcome. To name a few, renew my driving license, split the itinerary into two (no Company allows a vacation leave of 25 continuous days), should I take my 7 yr old Avenger 220 which had a pathetic ground clearance and deteriorating engine performance, solo or with a pilion ? etc.
2016 Summer : Lets wait and get a Royal Enfield Himalayan. This would be a terrific machine to ride to the place. But hey the waiting time is 3 months. ok now worries, let wait for Autumn. Heard fall in Nepal is awesome.
2016 Fall : Damn, Royal Enfield Himalayan has started earning host of negative reviews. Lets wait for G310GS or KTM 390 Adventure. I'm sure they wont take eternity to release ;-)
2017 Feb : Not sure why, all my cousins decided to get married one by one. Damn when do I take leaves for Nepal !!!
2017 late winter : With a overload of work on professional front this took a backseat while I kept staring at BCM forum and google images. 'One day for sure, one day' is the only thing I said to myself.
2018 Mar : More hurdles......."Shayad iss zindegi mein Marpha jana mere naseeb mein nahi likha hai".
2018 Winter : "Boss ko bata diya hai, August'19 ka chutti confirmed hai. Ek cousin ko bhi pata liya hai jo saat chalega. Locally bike hire kar lenge aur duniye jeet lenge :) ".
2019 Mar : "Damn !!! Project phir se delay ho gaya hai, meri chutti to cancel".
"Boss ab project lagta hai Sep19 ko launch hoga, to main Nov'19 safe side mein chutti plan karlun ?"
"Thank you Boss."
2019 Sep : "Boss aisa kaise chalega, Project everytime delay ho jata hai aur mera chutti cancel. Upar se Cousin ki gali suno alag se. Mujhe nahi lagta nai Project Nov19 mein bhi launch hoga, isliye mai Nov ko chala."
Not that Boss was convinced, but I stayed glued to my stand :)

So finally after 5years of if then else, what if, case etc I was heading for Nepal.....yahooooooooooooooooo !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

The itenarary : Nov 2019
9th : Fly to Siliguri from Bangalore. By evening take a bus from Siliguri to Kathmandu
10th : Kathmandu local, hire a motorcycle. If time permits leave today and head towards Pokhara as far as possible.
11th : Reach Pokhara + local site seeing.
12th : Pokhara to Muktinath
13th : Muktinath & Marpha.
14th : Return to Pokhara
15th : Return to Kathmandu
16th : Kathmandu local and take a direct night bus to Siliguri.

Reality : Itinerary took a backseat once we crossed Kathmandu :)

Nepal, the movie : # Somewhere in Nepal

Day 1 : Siliguri to Kathmandu
Day 2 : Kathmandu Local
Day 3 : Kathmandu to Phedi, Pokhara
Day 4 : Phedi, Pokhara to Lete

Day 5 : Lete to Muktinath and back to Beni
Day 6 : Beni to Manokamana
Day 7 & 8 : Manokamana to KTM

Day 1 - 9th Nov:
There are two options to reach Kathmandu from Siliguri. A direct bus from Silguri (starts @ 3:30 pm, INR 1350). Or Take bus to Panitanki more from Siliguri and then another bus from Kakarbhita to Kathmandu. Obviously the later is a bit cumbersome but there is a surety attached to it. There is only 1 bus departing from Siliguri every evening. For some reason if the bus cancels or breaks-down in India, we wont be able to reach Kakarbhita (1.5 hrs from Siliguri) before 5:30 (the last bus to KTM from Kakarbhita is @ 5:30). So we opted to take the cumbersome route and took a bus to Panitanki More and then another to KTM from kakarbhita. Kakarbhita to KTM costed NPR 1650 (a/c seater). This is a small bus but we could see there are options of large buses with better comfort. By the time we went, tickets for the big buses were full booked.

Once we entered Kakarbhita we converted INR to NPR 1.6 per INR and took a Nepal sim card. Instead of bothering on which network connectivity is good, we straightaway headed for Ncell. For first timers, the moment you enter Nepal (i.e Kakarbhita) you can experience a distinct difference of how inhabitants of Nepal are compared to their Indian counterparts. Even to the extent of how Nepali is spoken in a span of 1 km distance across border. Having stayed in Siliguri for over 23 year of my life, I was able to quickly grasp it. We had some time to spare before we boarded out bus, so we spent hanging around, had our lunch had a brief chat with few locals etc.
BTW my style of travelling is to experience everything in depth. Thus I prefer local food, staying with locals even if it means going below my comfort zone and lots of discussion with the locals (even if it means I'm missing on visiting a couple of site seeing). While purchasing the Ncell connection, I had a long chat with the dude selling it (a shop right adjacent to the bus stop). I could figure out that there is a strong dislike for Modi in some parts of Nepal, few even make fun of him and consider Mamta Banerjee a superior leader. Few Nepali people are even unhappy of Indian influence on Nepal etc. There are panchayats named after Modi, a Modi river, a Modi bridge etc. I could sense Nepalis are not really happy with the influence of India and China on their nation. And trust me the influence is real and tangible. The discussions were turning from interesting to being diplomatic for me. For the next 45 mins we hung around the market nearby and prepared ourselves for a 15 hour long bus ride.

Lower Mustang : A teaser of what we were about to experience for next few days. Final stretch of Kagbeni to Muktinath.
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Typical Nepali attire. Though the young generation rarely wear these, but I could find folks from mountainous areas still grounded to their culture.
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This is called churpi. Yak condensed cheese.
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Nepal being a cold country has more alcohol shops than pharmacy :) They also have a brilliant vodka brand named 'Ruslan' which can beat Smirnoff hands down. Nepal is also a major exporter of cigarettes and alcohol.
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Leaving Kakarbhita.
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Here we come Nepal.....finally it is happening !!!

More of Day 2 in next post.
Kathmandu
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DAY 2: KATHMANDU LOCAL

One interesting fact about travelling to KTM by bus is, in that 15 hours journey, the bus will stop for numerous breaks. Which is good for few but we were getting impatient. One because we weren't able to relate to why it should take 15 hours for a 437 km (per google maps) ride and second I started from Bangalore @ 4 am and would reach KTM by 8 am next day using multi modal transport, that was getting to my nerves. Refer the first pic.

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Later I realized all the buses actually takes a completely different route to reach KTM, which is 200 km long, but it surfs through plains, mostly (refer second pic). But then what was google map saying ? Google map is useless in Nepal...more on this later.

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Anyway we reached Kathmandu by 8 am. The temperature difference was quite evident. Somewhere around 10 degrees around a place called Swyanbhu Bus stop (ring road). Per the plan if we have to get our bikes, do a quick local site seeing and few other things then Thamel is the place to stay. Besides being city center, it also has everything that a traveler needs. Another quick google search and it tells me 20 mins walking distance from Swyambhu bus stop. We chose to walk under the bright morning Sun. Remember google map does not work ? After 10mins of walk when we checked again, now it showed another 35 mins :-( for the same route. BTW compared to Indian cities, KTM probably is the size of a tier II city, so walking is not a big pain.
Anyway the map also showed that Darbar square (which is one of the main attractions in KTM) is on the way. To save time (and also given that most hotels check-in by 10 am) we decided to cover Darbar square on the way.

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Darbar square. The entire place was mostly destroyed during the earth quake that jolted Nepal a few years back. The logs that you see are to support the structure so that it does not fall apart. What is interesting is the repair work being done is very slow paced focusing on 'how to retain the originality of the old building'. The selection of bricks, colors on them, use of cement, design everything is so focused on 'retain our culture'. Truly inspiring on how to bounce back when things take a wrong turn.

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After a hot cup of tea at Darbar square we headed for our hostel search. Took two beds on the top floor of Wanderthirst hostel, which also provided a spectacular view of KTM. Wanderthirst has private rooms too if you want to.

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Next We headed to hire a motorcycle, had an authentic Nepali thali called 'Thakali Set', roamed around PashupatiNath Mandir, Thamel area and then back to hostel for a good 8 hrs sleep and get ready for the first day of our bike ride,
Photography is not allowed inside the temple, thus all we clicked are its outer structure.

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'Thakali Set' - Equivalent of Indian thali, but much more nutritious. The dough there is called 'Dodhi', something similar to raagi dough that South Indians have. Spinach and Gundru (that small little thing beside chutney) are staple. Gundru is a locally found vegetable, mostly made as a pickle. Slightly nutty in texture and mild sour.

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Thamel area.

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DAY 3 : Kathmandu to Pokhara. The motorcycle trip begins today. Our partner for next 5 days, a 2018 Yamaha FZ25. Short test ride sounded convincing. More on this in next post.

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foadbear

Pirates Skulls and Bones
You took the bike on rent from Pokhra? What were the charges?

I am planning to go to Mutktinath in February. I will hire a bike there, will go to Pokhra from my home by car.

I will be following your travelogue quite closely :)

Godspeed.
 
You took the bike on rent from Pokhra? What were the charges?

I am planning to go to Mutktinath in February. I will hire a bike there, will go to Pokhra from my home by car.

I will be following your travelogue quite closely :)

Godspeed.
We hired it from Kathmandu. NPR 2000 per day. No deposit. But I guess if you don't carry a pillion, don't travel to Muktinath or visit the place during offseason the charges marginally differ. Charges from Pokhara I guess will be slightly expensive but then Feb is an off season.

By Feb either it will be completely covered in snow (after Jomsom) and also cloudy or the snow would start to melt. If it is later, then I wish you the best :)

Visit Nepal, irrespective. Its a lovely nation !!!
 
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