A Month in Nepal

I am sitting in an internet cafe in Southern India. We've been in India for a month. Since studying Hinduism and Buddhism at University, India is a place I've always wanted to come. Before our arrival people tended to look at us funny when we mentioned our plans to bike tour on the sub-continent.

Well, I am here to tell you, you ride your bike in and out of Kathmandu, Nepal and India seems like a day at the beach. Kathmandu is a city with narrow streets and tall buildings, it's easy to lose or have no bearing on your location from the time you turn your first corner. It feels surreal, like a video game, to share the road with pedestrians, motor cycles, buses, dump trucks, holy cows, dogs, Sadhus, and everything else you can imagine.

Riding out of Kathmandu was intense. A windy mountain road where buses (yes, plural) were flipped over, cars with tires that had fallen off, and long lines of black exhaust spewing trucks. On bikes we could thread the needle between the stalled traffic and the oncoming vehicles. At the end of the day covered in soot we found a hotel where the owner informed us we wouldn't look so dirty if our skin wasn't so white.

On our second day out of town we decided to stop and do a three day white water kayaking clinic. Pradeep, Nepal's free style kayaking champion, was our coach. He was perhaps the most patient teacher I've ever had. We spent our days learning to eskimo roll and running the Trisuli river, our nights were spent by beach bonfires, the whole experience culminated with Mikey and I running 3+ rapid. It was awesome and we would love to do it again at Royal Beach Camp Nepal.

Before the traffic thinned out I questioned Mikey's statements about Nepal being a great place to bike tour. He visited and toured in 2005 at the height of the civil war when the Maoists had put a bond on all motor vehicles. I kept thinking to myself how nice the roads would be without traffic.

Well, half way to Pokhara (a gateway city to trekking in the Himalayas) the traffic thinned out, the Himalayas became visible and it was clear that this was in fact an amazing place to be on bicycle. Riding from Pokhara to the Terrai plains region was the best road we biked in our multiple months of travel. The Terrai is flat, super flat, and we crushed some serious km on our way to Bardia National Park. The wildlife that Bardia is known for is its tigers and rhinos. Luck wasn't with us, but we did get to experience the gigantic leeches which resulted in me squeeling and teetering on the edge of tantrum as we walked through the parks tall grasses. With the noise I projected, it's no surprise we didn't see any larger wildlife.

After Bardia we spent 10 days in the village of Bauniyan. In 2005 Mikey stopped in Bauniyan and befriended two brothers who expressed an interest in establishing a school for impoverished children in their region. Over the years the brothers kept in contact with Mikey, or more accurately, his parents through calling the Church homestead. In 2008 the idea of a school became a reality, and from that time Grass Roots Education Nepal a Maryland based non-profit has been funding student scholarships and teacher development at the Mikey Medium English School in Bauniyan.

We were welcomed to Bauniyan by the students, their families, the teachers, and other community members. The Bhat brothers and their families were great hosts! Ambika Bhat has a wonderful laugh, and our antics gave her lots of material to fuel her giggle. Our attempts to cook Chapati bread on the fire was filled with misadventure resulting in deformed and ashy treats. Ever graceful, Ambika was sure to tell us we'd done a good job while chuckling all the while.

We were sad to leave Bauniyan, but our visas were expiring and India awaited...

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