24th November NEPAL
End up getting lost crossing some small town. Highway 9 was by-passing the place and I missed the moment. In the thick of it, traders, a bottle neck jam of rickshaws and motorbikes, cars. Through it I saw on Google Maps the track running to the river and a fella came and squeezed my thigh, he said, “it’s a river but you’re strong enough for it, it’ll just come up to here and he pointed to my knees. No way. The tar is suddenly replaced by dust and stones, motorbikes, rickshaws, goats, women carrying baskets of cut wood on their heads, dogs, it’s a swirl. I turn back. Not a hero.
"A land full of gods and gold and famine. Ugly as a rotting corpse and beautiful beyond belief …”
I ride on a super good road when suddenly I hear things that are not mechanical. Quietness. Birdsong. No trucks. I see tidiness, nicely built houses reborn out of something falling down. The road has no traffic because nothing from India except a handful of auto rickshaws and people on foot and bicycles are making deliveries to Nepal. Such non-sounds are promising.
I’m about to reach the Indian border post with Nepal. Cross the river along what looks like an antiquated mechanical river hydro dam barrage. The road is a stream bed.
It is what it is - approaching the Nepalese border post
No time to waste it's getting dark. People on blasted bicycles getting in my way. First room on the right the immigration man hails me over. "It's a heartbreak road, right?" What road, it was s tony track to the border. "You have to fill in the log book and get your stamp." There was a waiting room next door which as I glanced, a stage set from M.M.Kay's book 'Far Pavillions' not reads it it was as I imagine some colonial outpost to be with it's old rattan furniture and heavy dark stained wood, thick set, chairs and engravings on glazed windows like that "other India: that mixture of glamour and tawdriness, viciousness and nobility. A land full of gods and gold and famine. Ugly as a rotting corpse and beautiful beyond belief …”
Stamped. Stopped at next office. Corrugated and camaflage painted. No wind. Army guy filled in the foreigners log book. Constant flow of bicycles and slightly dodgy looking people. Poor as rats and on the grift, it's always like that at borders, God knows why.
Along the freshly laid tar I turned left onto a rocky track past more vendors and to the small immigration office on the left sunk down with its own garden of orange carnations. Nepal immigration was rotting as well. It was the climate, all mildew and no money but would be nice on a summers day. It is a summers day, well evening. Tommorow then. Standard blue painted interior, poster of a photo of a fella in the sort of hat you’d send someone to the naughty corner, bound to be the PM. Calendar, filing cabinet, desk, papers on the floor, electric goes again, still not processed, now getting dark, 6kms to go to the town I need to get to and I know what a nightmare it'll be in the dark. Deathly. I scanned the QR code - would you believe - filled in the form online, paid my thirty quid cash, electricity went again then back on, and again then all good, he got my email across his desk, printed off my visa and stuck it in my passport and said I could go. no more checks.
It’s dark. Dust rises, fast as the buses, it’s over my head in the lights that jerk past me skimming, the driver hidden behind a darkened screen as I imagine him wrestling with his wheel. How you always wrestle with a big coach wheel. he missed me, just. I tail a rickshaw me accelerating with steely force my battery pitched to max, the dust settling. I see school children, a group, cycling in white shirts, it’s a kind of madness, motorbikes everywhere, pointless having lights, easier if its anonymous and quick, another rickshaw, tuck in again. Traffic everywhere and the side, no streetlights, I’m at speed following any passing red light, protected, hang on, 2.9kms, not far, still alive, what it is to be living in this particular moment when shops appear. Kanchanpur in the province of Bhimdutta, at the very western edge of Nepal. “No westerners this way for months,” the fella said at immigration. I'm not fucking surprised.
Hotel. Check in. Eat Mo Mo's in a very palatable restaurant. Last time I had them was in the Gobi. As always. Ride. Eat. Blog. Takes hours. Time for bed.
Mo Mo's at Hotel Opera, Kanchanpur
Map of the Day