After 3 hours of fun and games with Nepalese Customs officials, dodgy agents and the exchange of 4000 rupees (only about $50), I finally extracted the bike from the grips of Tribhuwan Airport. Thai Cargo were great though.
Riding back from the the airport to the Kathmandu Guest House (KGH) in Thamel District was surprisingly easy apart from a couple of roadblocks, two political street demonstrations and a nutcase waving a huge political flag in the street as I rode past.
My time in Kathmandu comes to an end tomorrow (Tuesday) as I escape the chaos and head for the countryside. Before I can do that though, there is a small question of petrol. With all the strikes surrounding the new constitution, all of the petrol stations are closed. Some people are selling it privately by the gallon. The only places with bowsers are the police headquarters and the army. They are only open between 5 and 6pm though.
The arrival of the big yellow monster in the carpark of the KGH has certainly had a dramatic effect on my social life/standing. For the first 2-3 days, the so-called “adventure” tourists showed very little interest in my travel plans. However, after the bike turned up, all of a sudden people wanted to talk to me about my trip, offer me beds in foreign countries or take me out for dinner. I preferred it when they didn’t give me a second glance.
The local Nepalese people, however, are great – helpful, humble and very generous (even when most have very little to give). In fact, they are everything that most of the Western tourists are not. As in most Asian countries the rich are very, very rich and the poor are very, very poor. If it weren’t for the powerlines and and dilapidated advertising, some parts of Kathmandu could be straight out of the 14th century.
Tomorrow I head for Gorkha – the original imperial capital of Nepal (before it moved to Kathmandu) and home of the famous Gurkhas and the deadly khukuri knife/dagger. Gorkha is only 140km from Kathmandu but the locals say it will take at least 3-4 hours. The local bus takes seven hours!! Oh, for the Marlborough stretch!!
Wish me luck!
PS. I will upload some photos when I can find a way of doing it without crashing the dodgy internet connection.
PPS. Finally found a computer that doesn’t crash. Hopefully will be able to add a few more.