Day 16 – Pokhara to Kathmandu

Pokhara seemed like a quiet little settlement, not small and the hotel we stayed at was simple yet elegant.

Was good to have good beds to rest in. It was the first night in Nepal and the first time that beef was on the menu.

Cows aren’t as sacred here as in India.

The surprise scene from our hotel at Pokhara of the Himalayas. Made us optimistic to get to Kathmandu.

We had left Denise parked after the days’ work checking the normal bits and pieces.

Our horn had cut out and Steve spent a couple of hours finding why. A fuse? A loose wire? Need to be sure. The set button on the Monit trip meter also stopped working. Important to change the inter mileage when needed.

The horn is an essential tool here. Like it used to be in NZ 60 years ago when rounding corners on unsealed roads. Here the horn goes almost full time. Car drivers react to it like it’s a demand for space. They mostly react. The music from the multitude of horn tones is deafening, and continuous.

We stayed in the hotel for dinner, and it seems that it was the wise thing to do. The steak bars/eateries served what looked like steak but was “not very nice”. Disappointing for those that partook. Considering that the only cows that we see along the road are somewhat boney and wormey is it any wonder? There are no beef cattle farmed here.

Some drama with the Polish team members in the bar, who, were very friendly when you got to know them, took exception to being told by a Brit that they would be beaten in the next P to P. Lots of drink consumed and the Brit was put into the pool. Even the bar manager who tried to intervene was put into the pool.

Good fun and no hard feelings.

Then to bed.

Some awoke with weary eyes and hangovers but we were all ready to go again. You really need to be fully alert when driving on these roads!!!

Looking forward to the not too long distance to travel, 211kms. Heading to the reason why most of us took on this challenge.

Once again on the road it commenced with the juddering of the road surface, river stone roads pretending to be highways. Where there was seal it was broken and potholed. From then on we got the firm impression that this was going to be hard. 211kms in a day is not far and our destination time in was to be 5.56 pm. Something was afoot!

Well it was hard. The roads didn’t get better and the truck and motorbike traffic became heavier. All heading for the capital.

The days program had us stopping for a passage control at a place called Kurintar.

We were to have lunch here. It was a cable car tourist attraction that traversed some two kilometres up some very steep hills to the top, at which there was nothing to see. We had a passage control up there so it was mandatory. So back down. The ride was great. The day had been amended from a Time Control competition to a Passage Control situation and MYC, as competitors know it, was also downgraded to a PC.

The scenes from the cable car at Kurintar.

Checked out at the PC at the exit and back on the road.

This was the beginning of the “steps”, a road that never ceased to climb up the steep country for what turned out to be three hours of hard grind.

The trucks were nose to tail all the way with jams occurring every few k’s.

Passing was just a pot luck manoeuvre either inside or outside the rows upfront. The diesel fumes were choking.

Sometimes a truck would appear coming down toward us and we would squeeze between two nose to tail trucks going up. That’s the way they do it here. If you don’t drive like they do, you’d still be at the bottom of the hill. The car has not been damaged for those who wondered!

The heat, dust and fumes were overwhelming! It was just awful. Breathing became almost impossible and Steve wore a face mask to mitigate the problem. He coughed and spluttered all the time passing vehicles and, cursing.

The reader could honestly not imagine the scene.

Optimistically we were still looking forward to the mind-held destination, Kathmandu.

We both had impressions of what it would look like. Cool, clean with large snow laden mountains with the city at its feet.

When we arrived at the summit, the change of environment worsened. Instead of a serene city bounded by mountains it was a city packed with trucks cars and motor bikes travelling in all directions raising dust from the unkempt and unsealed road surfaces. It was a huge dust bowl.

The scene was horrific.

Although it was Saturday and the population was all about, the scene was chaotic. Most everyone wore masks. You could hardly see 100 meters ahead.

Navigation was now really important as taking a wrong turn here would be a disaster. It would be nigh impossible to make a u-turn, although in saying that, just turning would be the norm here. It takes time and no one would really care. Anything is possible, it’s the stress.

Our health was suffering badly. Coughing and spluttering was the norm now and we looked forward now to the sanctuary of the Hyatt Regency.

Expectations were that it may not be as good as imagined, but, it turned out to be a jewel set into beautiful grass and tree surrounds. The contrast could not have been greater. From such poverty in the streets to the luxury of this hotel.

We turned into the long driveway to the hotel proper and more or less abandoned the car at the door to get inside. Wow! What a trip!

How all of the cars arrive without suffering some sort of either mechanical or body damage is amazing.

The rooms at the hotel were very nice and the clean white cool sheets on the bed were a welcome sight.

A wholesome shower to rid the dust and grime from our bodies was welcome.

First, getting our clothes laundered. We’d been in them day after day for almost seven days. So that will be great.

Then a few drinks and dinner. Nobody stayed up long. The day had worn the most resilient teams down.

Denise is a dream to perform as she has.

Steve had prepared her for this trip to a standard that would allow the most strenuous imagined conditions. She battled these extreme conditions with alacrity.

What a girl. We depend on her solely to get us there. Walking or fixing her up on the roadside just isn’t an option. You would die on the process by asphyxiation! Truely, it’s that bad!

So now two days of r and r.

General maintenance to Denise, doing up the loose bits of anything that could have come loose and cleaning the filters. They were clogged with diesel and dust probably like our lungs.

We are supposed to fly over the Himalaya’s on Monday but cloud (or could it be dust?) is said to be in the way.

We will see.

4 thoughts on “Day 16 – Pokhara to Kathmandu

  1. MY GOODNESS!!!! That you all survive!! I love reading your stories. Almost as if I’m in the backseat; if Denise had one, haha. Anty remembers all the thing you write about from their trip from Holland to Buthan in 2008. The blue bridge into Nepal, Tiger park must almost be the same as where you went. Only Anty and Mick were staying in little cabins of which they were not sure how ‘clean’ these were with creeping crawlers in corners, you know; and cold water from the tab.
    Katmandu was a great disappointment for Anty and Mick too. What a terrible mess with dirt and mess all over the place. What a pity for such a beautiful place. Knowing how bad this trip is from experience; we have great respect for the three of you that you suvive all this. Hope that the Buddhist saying: “Om mani padme hum” will help you on your travels.

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    1. Hi Sonja.
      Yes the myth was shattered for us. We’re flying up to the mountain by chopper to have a look. Hope it’s clear.
      That blue bridge is just outside immigration on the India side, for reference.
      The tiger resort did have a number of seperate cabins so it could be the same place.
      Strange though how nobody that I’ve met who’s been to Kathmandu has ever said it’s the pits!
      I don’t know why.
      But it’s worse that words can describe.
      It’s truely an endurance rally.
      Cheers from us both to you both.
      Stephen and Corgi.

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  2. Holy Moses you guys – it sure makes the heart beat all we can say is we following you with such excitement – be well and cough that crap out your lungs – plenty of gargle lots love Peter and sis

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