Well, after an adventurous month in India we have made our way up to Nepal and the land of the Himalaya Mountains. We haven’t finished our plans for India by a long stretch but with weather driving our direction we decided to go to Nepal for a couple of months – a time when it is said to be warm and inviting and a good time to visit.
India was certainly an eye opener. It was pretty much everything that I had expected plus a few extras, both good and not so. The south of India, Kerala state was all beaches and easy travel with friendly open people that seemed ok with not hassling tourists too hard. Then Delhi, where I found more of the India that I had expected. A lot of people (10 million in the city alone) with a lot of diversity. From the uber rich to the truly poor, Delhi was certainly a melting pot of humanity in all its glory. But somehow that heaving city made a really positive impression on me and even though 9 days were a few too many in the cramped streets of the main bazaar area I could definitely do Delhi again and again.
Seeing the famed Taj Mahal was jaw dropping and actually did fulfil my expectations. You know how sometimes you go to a famous place and when you get there it can be a bit underwhelming? Well, the Taj was everything except that. I want to go back again in a different season and see it when the waters of the river on which it stands are high, and when the countryside is lush and green, not hot and crispy from the summer’s heat. Agra was a big win.
And then there was Varanasi… well, it kinda fits with meeting expectations (it was exactly as I had thought it would be – ugly but interesting) but I would have to say that the 2 days we spent there were enough. Enough for both this trip and any further India jaunts. Varanasi got the big “tick it off”, been there done that, don’t need to go back.
I think the thing for me that was most unexpected was the degree of difficulty in travelling India on the Enfield. I knew that it would be hard on me physically to tuck in behind Dave for mile after mile, unable to move much and just sightseeing but I had no idea just how tiring or monotonous it would be. The scenery was parched and dusty, flat fields of cultivated land with scrappy villages dotting the roadside. And the roads and the traffic are unimaginable. Chaos reigns. Everyone drives like they own the road and the most dangerous vehicle is a 4WD with an official in it. They just blare their horn and drive – to hell with anyone else in the way. The actual road surface is shameful. From Varanasi north we averaged 25km/hr. The road just wasn’t. I reckon they laid the bitumen 30-40 years ago (maybe longer) and have never done anything to it. It would be more accurate to say that it was a collection of deep potholes, some measuring meters across, that were roughly connected with patches of tarseal. Horrific and exhausting. That said – all part of the experience.
So now we are in Nepal. Pokhara to be exact and it is such a difference. The whole vibe here is much more laid back; on the roads, in the people, in the numerous bars and restaurants. So we have just stopped. After the frenetic race across northern India we have now found a place to catch a little RnR and are loving it. If we accomplish 2 things a day we are calling that a win. It is lovely to just hang for a minute and revive the system.
So have we finished with India? Hell no! The rough plan (which by now you guys know is constantly changing) is a couple of months here in Nepal then over to north eastern India to check out the mountains in the cooler autumn months. India still has a heap that I want to see and experience. I loved what we did, and I am happy that we saw the things we saw, but for now it is good to just look at the mountains (when the haze clears) and just chill for a bit. I’ve heard that there are a few walks to do around here (tongue in cheek – this is the trekking capital of the world) so we might just find ourselves taking a stroll at some point. Until then – Namaste! (The standard greeting here meaning literally ‘I bow to you’).
Oh and for those that don’t catch us on Facebook, it finally happened. Delhi Belly struck with vengeance. Coming out of India we both ended up sick. We spent 2 days at a hotel just over the border taking it in turns. Thankfully though I had done the homework before we left (Yay for Doctor Deb the Travel Doctor) and after some serious drugs we were back on the bike and able to continue. Just a quick note to couples travelling – don’t assume that one course of each antibiotic will be enough. For 2 people you need 2 courses *doh*. Thankfully getting drugs here is a simple matter of walking into a pharmacy and asking for whatever you need, no prescription necessary. Yay for Dave getting better first so that he could take the bike to go and get a fresh supply 🙂 All good now though and ready for the next adventure.
Aussie steak on the menu – happy diners!! Sadly it was a fairly ordinary piece of meat but it was cooked to perfection and we both thoroughly enjoyed our first beef in 2 months.
Pokhara is like an adventure capital of the region and on any non-rainy morning or afternoon there are literally dozens of paragliders taking in the views and cruising the thermals. Amazing that they don’t crash into each other.
One morning the mist cleared and the clouds lifted enough for a glimpse of mountain. This spiky peak is called Fishtail and is an unclimbed sacred mountain of approx 7,000m. It was impressive but the clouds came and claimed it before I could get a decent shot. I am sure there will be other mountains and other photographic chances 🙂