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February 28, 2010
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I rode the bus from Banepa to Kathmandu with a plan to spend the weekend in Royal Chitwan National Park.  When I met Liam and Susanne in Thamel, plans changed.  Instead of a 14 hour round trip bus ride, we were going to rent bicycles and ride from Kathmandu to a small town called Nagarkot, 32 km to the east.

The bikes were low quality department store mountain bikes, undoubtedly manufactured in nearby China, but they would do.  With backpacks and a hand drawn map we left Thamel and navigated the dangerous currents of Kathmandu traffic.  There are no real traffic rules on those streets so we rode cautiously and eventually made it out of the city without incident.

It started to rain and we rode through old towns.  Sad towns.  And people looked at us with disinterest as we pedaled through.  I sometimes felt as if I was making a mockery of their lives.  Rich white kids who ride bikes for the challenge of it, trying to find some sort of enlightenment from the physical struggle.  But physical struggle is not the source of enlightenment.  The families living under tin roofs and tarps who wash clothes in the vile river know physical struggle, but they are not enlightened.  They are just poor.  And we pedaled through.

An increase in the gradient of the road signaled the end of the Kathmandu valley, and the beginning of a difficult climb.  Susanne pushed ahead and Liam and I struggled.  We all stopped for a lunch of microwave noodles and Pepsi and enjoyed the scenery, and then pushed onward.

The road became steeper and more winding.  We got in to a rythm and pumped our legs to a beat that could belong in a techno song.

Oh wait.

That is a techno song.

We were being overtaken by a bus filled to 2 or 3 times capacity, and this bus was pumping the techno jams.  It took a long time for the bus to catch up with us because of the winding road, and for 30 minutes the Nepali sub-tropical forest pulsed with trance beats.

Nagarkot is on the summit of a forested hill overlooking Kathmandu.  We rode through the small town to our lodge, The Peaceful Cottage, dropped our bikes, and ordered dal bhat for dinner.  From the patio where we ate dinner we could see  Kathmandu 3,000 feet below.  Beyond the valley and far in the distant we could see the  Himalayan Mountains.  Their white peaks stood even higher than the clouds.

Himalaya at sunset. Photo by Jacob Buckner.

It was cold, so after we watched the sunset we ordered hot chocolate to our room and sipped it in bed.  We slept well.

It was still dark when our alarms went off and we climbed out of bed, put our shoes on, stepped outside and climbed the steep stairs to the roof of the hotel.  We stood as reverent spectators as the sun rose over the Himalaya.  It is hard to feel significant amidst such grandeur.

Liam watching the sunrise. Photo by Jacob Buckner.

We had decided to return to Kathmandu by a different route than the one we came on.  This road happened to be constructed of sharp, jagged cobblestones, and we rattled our bodies for many kilometers before stopping to rest amidst some farms and houses.

Liam on the descent from Nagarkot to Kathmandu. Photo by Jacob Buckner.

A man came out of his house and invited us to tea.  He boiled the tea over a cast iron stove and we admired his baby and his two-story rock and mortar home.  The ground floor served as the barn for his animals, while his family slept upstairs.

Bishwo taking a picture of his baby with Liam's camera. Photo by Jacob Buckner.

We thanked Bishwo for his kindness and returned to Kathmandu.

One Comment leave one →
  1. March 13, 2010 9:12 am

    Himalaya at sunset is beyond extraordinary…how in the world….???…this is truly the way we all should be the moment, in the real inspiring..!

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