Bike Trip to Nepal - A Long Awaited Dream Realized

preetdhar80

Member
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 the 'sidelines' and enjoy all the posts. Thank you for everything!


2015 Autumn: In one such travelogue on BCMTouring (I guess it was Masterji's) I came to know about this place called Marpha. Some more google image search and I realized that it is not just Marpha. Rather, entire 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-year-old Avenger 220 which had a pathetic ground clearance and deteriorating engine performance, solo or with a pillion? etc.

2016 Summer: let's 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 no worries, let wait for Autumn. Heard fall in Nepal is awesome.

2016 Fall: Damn, Royal Enfield Himalayan has started earning a host of negative reviews. Let's wait for G310GS or KTM 390 Adventure. I'm sure they won't take an eternity to release.

2017 Feb: Not sure why but all my cousins decided to get married one by one. Damn, when do I take leaves for Nepal !!!

2017 late winter: With an overload of work on the professional front, this plan took a backseat while I kept staring at the BCMT 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 saath chalega. Locally bike hire kar lenge aur duniye jeet lenge :) ".

2019 Mar: "Damn !!! The project is delayed again and my leaves are cancelled once more".

"Boss this project will most probably launched now in Sep19. So can I plan my leaves in November 2019?”

"Thank you Boss."

2019 Sep: "Boss aisa kaise chalega? This project keeps getting delayed and my leaves keep getting cancelled. Upar se Cousin ki gali suno alag se. I do not think think this will get launched now in November as well. So either way, I am going to go."

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 !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
 

preetdhar80

Member

The Itinerary


The initial itinerary that we planned looked like this. But it remained applicable only until we reached Nepal. All our planning took a backseat once we crossed Kathmandu.

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.
 

preetdhar80

Member

Day 1 - Bangalore to Siliguri to Kathmandu


The first part of the journey was easy. We boarded a flight from Bangalore to Siliguri.

There are two options to reach Kathmandu from Siliguri. There is a direct bus available from Siliguri that starts at 3:30 pm and costs INR 1350 per person. Or you can take the bus to Panitanki more from Siliguri and then another bus from Kakarbhitta to Kathmandu.

Obviously, the latter 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 won't be able to reach Kakarbhitta (1.5 hrs from Siliguri) before 5:30. The last bus to Kathmandu from Kakarbhitta is @ 5:30.

So we opted to take the cumbersome route and took a bus to Panitanki More and then another to Kathmandu from Kakarbhitta. Kakarbhitta to Kathmandu costs 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 fully booked.

Once we entered Kakarbhitta, 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 Kakarbhitta) you can experience a distinct difference in 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 the border. Having stayed in Siliguri for over 23 years of my life, I was able to quickly grasp it.

We had some time to spare before we boarded our bus. So we spent it hanging around, had our lunch, had a brief chat with few locals, etc.

By the way, my style of traveling 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 sites). 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 with 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 the next few days. Final stretch of Kagbeni to Muktinath.

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Typical Nepali attire. Though the young generation rarely wears 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 a 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 Kakarbhitta.

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Here we come Nepal. Finally, it is happening !!!


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preetdhar80

Member

Day 2 - Kathmandu


One interesting fact about traveling to Kathmandu by bus is that in 15 hours journey, the bus will stop for numerous breaks. This is good for a 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. Second, I started from Bangalore @ 4 am and would reach Kathmandu by 8 am the next day using multi-modal transport. This was getting on my nerves.


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I later realized all the buses actually take a completely different route to reach Kathmandu, which is 200 km long, but it surfs through plains, mostly. But then what was google Maps 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 the city center, it also has everything that a traveler needs. Another quick google search told me 20 minutes walking distance from Swyambhu bus stop. We chose to walk under the bright morning Sun. Remember google Maps does not work? After 10 minutes of a walk when we checked again, now it showed another 35 mins, for the same route. By the way, compared to Indian cities, Kathmandu 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 Kathmandu) was 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 earthquake 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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preetdhar80

Member
Day 2 - Kathmandu

One interesting fact about traveling to Kathmandu by bus is that in 15 hours journey, the bus will stop for numerous breaks. This is good for a 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. Second, I started from Bangalore @ 4 am and would reach Kathmandu by 8 am the next day using multi-modal transport. This was getting on my nerves.

map

I later realized all the buses actually take a completely different route to reach Kathmandu, which is 200 km long, but it surfs through plains, mostly. But then what was google Maps saying? Google map is useless in Nepal. More on this later.



Actual Route.jpg



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 the city center, it also has everything that a traveler needs. Another quick google search told me 20 minutes walking distance from Swyambhu bus stop. We chose to walk under the bright morning Sun. Remember google Maps does not work? After 10 minutes of a walk when we checked again, now it showed another 35 mins, for the same route. By the way, compared to Indian cities, Kathmandu 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 Kathmandu) was 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 earthquake 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. We took two beds on the top floor of Wanderthirst hostel, which also provided a spectacular view of Kathmandu. 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 the hostel for a good 8 hours 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 a staple. Gundru is a locally found vegetable, mostly made as a pickle. Slightly nutty in texture and mildly sour.



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Thamel area.



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preetdhar80

Member
After a hot cup of tea at Darbar square, we headed for our hostel search. We took two beds on the top floor of Wanderthirst hostel, which also provided a spectacular view of Kathmandu. 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 the hostel for a good 8 hours 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.



bike-trip-to-nepal-10.jpg


bike-trip-to-nepal-11.jpg


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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 a staple. Gundru is a locally found vegetable, mostly made as a pickle. Slightly nutty in texture and mildly sour.


bike-trip-to-nepal-13.jpg
 

preetdhar80

Member

DAY 3: Kathmandu to Pokhara​


The motorcycle trip begins today. Our partner for the next 5 days, a 2018 Yamaha FZ25. A short test ride sounded convincing.


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We hired it from Kathmandu. The rate was NPR 2000 per day. No deposit was required.

The plan was to reach Pokhara by 2 pm and then do some local site seeing. We however reached terribly late and had to skip Pokhara sightseeing.

The alarm rang at 6:30 and we were prompt enough to get ready by 7:00.


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By 7:20, were at the outskirts of Kathmandu. The road was reasonably wide two-laned and smooth too (this being part of the national highway). Additionally, with FZ25s smooth engine, we were maintaining an average of 50 km/hr.

This is also the same road we took while coming from Siliguri to Kathmandu.


Break 1: After an hour or so, we stopped for a short breakfast break at Dharke. After this, the climb started building up and the roads getting worse but not to the extent that it would jeopardize our schedule.



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Today is supposed to be a smooth easy ride of 201 km, having read all the reviews on various forums. We stopped referring to google Maps after the first few experiences. The road is scenic and every now and then you can see a hanging bridge. Most of the villages in Nepal are connected by these hanging bridges. Also if you have an affinity to experience different things, you can take many detours to lovely villages.


Break 2: Around 45 mins after Dharke we found this hanging bridge. You can do river rafting for NPR 1500 per person (kayak). But river Gandaki seemed very subtle at this section, compared to the ones in Hrishikesh. So we skipped. Gandaki and/or its tributaries run along the entire stretch of Kathmandu to Kagbeni.


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Break 3: By now the views were getting better and better. The weather perfect for a slow-paced vacation ride. We finished our lunch while we enjoyed this view.



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Break 4: We took a detour to a small village that had this amazing hanging bridge.



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As you would guess, all our adventures and detours were taking a toll on our plan and by the time we were at the outskirts of Pokhara, it was 3:30 pm. We didn’t have any bookings done in Pokhara which meant by the time we find something, freshen up and do some sightseeing it will be dark. It just was not worth it. We decided to continue our journey ahead of Pokhara and stay wherever it gets dark. We would cover Pokhara on our way back. Before we left Pokhara, we also decided to fill some Mobil and get basic chain cleaning, etc while we sipped tea. As soon as you cross Pokhara, you can easily relate that things are going to change, the road, the view, the mountains, and how you tackle the roads.


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The further we moved from Pokhara, the darker the clouds became and the roads worse. By now, we were 20 km after Pokhara in a valley at a place closer to Phedi, sparsely populated and surrounded by huge mountains. We started to get an initial feel of the kind of roads that lay ahead of us. Anymore adventure for today and we may have to struggle for our night stay, given the road was heading for a climb.



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preetdhar80

Member
We quickly looked for a homestay and arranged a room at Mrs. Chandrasudha’s house. She does not run a homestay, but given our condition (& me speaking Nepali helped) she offered one of her rooms for a mere NPR 600 (INR 375) + food extra. It was a brand new room that they made for themselves. What a deal and that too now we can experience how a Nepali family lives in Nepal, possibly experience their food too. What else can we ask for? To top it up her house is right adjacent to a tributary of Gandaki river, what a view !!!



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As the sun started to set, we had a nice cup of Nepali masala black tea while having a chit-chat with Mrs. Chandrasudha and her daughter. By 7 pm we even dared to take a dip in the ice-cold river, trust me our blood pretty much froze within seconds. No pictures for the shower though. Mrs. Chandrasudha prepared a typical Nepali chicken thali. The dal was prepared in ghee with burnt garlic and burnt onion and tasted very unique. She also offered us Ruslan, a famous vodka brand of Nepal. If you ever visit Nepal do not forget to try Ruslan. Much closer to Absolut. I repeat do not miss Ruslan !!!



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To this day, Nepal was reasonably predictable. But what we experienced from Day 4 onwards was beyond imagination.
 

rajkumar. r

Member
Nice...Waiting for more...
A doubt..Is Indian Driving License is enough for Ride in Nepal or International Driving License needed?
 
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