LOG ENTRY 38
Our last kilometers in India before reaching one of the nicest country so far in our trip. But before we can enjoy the breathtaking views of the Mount Everest, we still have to deal with the Indian border patrol and also we have no idea how the Nepalese civil war will affect our trip.
The last section in India throw everything at us. Shortly after we left the motel the rain started to fall like there is no tomorrow. After getting sufficiently wet we stopped for a breakfast in a roadside truck stop. We learnt that earlier that the only safe way eating something in these places is if they serve the food on a bamboo or banana leaf. Why so? The dishes normally only swiped down with a dirt cloth or washed in the dirty water flowing behind all of these establishments. The only way to stay safe is to eat from leafs which are non re-usable. After the breakfast the weather started to clear out and we reached the first road in India where we had to pay money. It wasn't like a regular highway or in fact anything different than the free roads, just a toll boot and around 10 kilometers of paved road.
Yes, that's right, around 10 kilometers of paved road, the rest was dirt or mud to be precise. Not as we are complaining or anything but it was surprising. Later on the muddy road turned into a brick road. Felt like we are riding on Hadrian's road towards Rome, except the mixture of elephants and colorful Hino trucks. The earlier rain also made this reddish bricks very slippery, the only reason we could ride on it safely is that the cracks and elevation difference between the bricks provided enough uneven surface for a good traction. As we approached the Nepalese border the road was getting worst. At one point we thought that we are on the wrong way, even thought locals confirmed that we are heading to the right direction you still can't be hundred percent sure in India. When we arrived to the border town our hopes started to be fulfilled. After a brief going around in the town we found the right track, which was clearly only used by cows and headed to the border post. On the Indian side the border ranger had no idea about the Carnet or even about our passports. He wrote one page full, we didn't understand what is going on but later someone translated his writing and it was basically a short story saying that we were there and left India at that day and time, no stamp was used.
Crossing over to Nepal
To reach over to the Nepalese side we had to cross a little dam. It was so narrow at some points that we almost couldn't get through with the panniers on. Custom on the other side was great, nothing like their counterparts in India. The officer spoke English and right away knew what the Carnet is and how they have to fill it out. First experience good. Normally we have problems at the borders, well lately and this puts a rather sour taste in our mouth for the first few days in the country. This seems to change now, everything is smooth, problem free and most of all, done in an exceptionally friendly way. After leaving the border we realize that the civil war between the Maoist rebels and the government forces are still on and we most likely will see more than we paid for. Military units marching everywhere in columns, escorted by armored vehicles, main intersections are guarded by tanks with their turrets facing you and barb wire on both side of the road. However, behind all those weapons, uniforms and sandbags, all we see is wide smiles and welcoming waving.
Curios locals at one of our rest point
Shortly after the border we stopped for our favorite refresher, an Indian spicy tea. It didn't take long until the local villagers surrounded us for a photo op, not sure how often they see European travelers here on bikes -probably often- but they really looked at us like we just came from the Moon. For the rest of the day we started to go up hill and got a preview what sort of riding we should expect for the following days. The roads are great, similar to Hungarian roads but the scenery is outstanding. To see more pictures of the incredibly pretty Nepalese countryside and read how our first encounter went with the armed Maoist rebels in the forest, come back and read LOG ENTRY 39.