Catch Me if You Can
Left Marpha on the 17th after a long night of heavy raining. We had passed numerous areas on the way up to Muktinath where landslides were waiting to happen, so over breakfast we assumed we were in for a treat, and we were. We drove along the river and noticed fresh landslides on the other side of the river; it was just a matter of time before we came upon one on our side. When we arrived at the first major landslide it was a little unnerving. The road was completely swallowed by the slide and some locals had chipped away at rock and dug out mud to make a small path to cross by foot, but we were on bikes. They agreed to help us across (at a fee of course). Once we started across the sky opened and it began to rain heavily, and towering above us was the mountainside that was still spewing rocks down at a medium pace. You could see the urgency in everyone’s eyes that we needed to get these bike across and fast because more of the mountain was about to come down. When pushing the bike across some of the locals were slipping and if it was a bad slip you would fall a few hundred feet down into the gorge (perfect word to describe what a gorge is don’t you think…). Looking back after we had crossed you start to think, “Damn did just do that, idiots.”
There was no help on the next slide we came to. This one had fallen trees with it to add to the challenge. Again heavy rain meant rocks were slowly loosening and rolling down the hill at you. We got my bike across first slowly. The last 20yards were just wide enough to where I figured we could ride it across. My bike made it but when my guide tried to do the same I suddenly heard a crash and he had fallen towards the down hill side and was luckily pinned by the bike. I quickly scrambled over to pull the bike off him as well as give him an anchor to hold on to so we didn’t lose him. Adrenalin pumping, we got him up and zipped far away from the area before the other half of the mountain decided to come down.
After a few smaller landslides and various creek crossings we stopped for tea. We started to discuss the last hour or so and he quickly said “no fucking way am I coming back here during monsoon season, this is crazy.” The only reason he agreed to do the run is because all his trips had been cancelled due to the earthquake and he’s had zero business since. When I proposed something a little more dangerous he figured this would fill the need, and it did. I later met his wife who forbid him to ever go during monsoon season again, there was no arguing from his side.
We reached Pokhara and pretty much crashed on arrival. The next morning we attempted to paraglide but the weather wasn’t permitting, so we headed towards Kathmandu. This time I was on the Honda XR400 so powered my way around trucks and left my guide behind. Was enjoying the solo ride until I arrived at various checkpoints the police wanted to give me tickets for not having mirrors, and once for going around a traffic stop (just seemed easier). Would have been nice to have the guide tell them to back off but without him it seemed better to just gun it. Because the XR is difficult to start it doesn’t have a key, so each time they would reach down turn the bike off and take the key I would hit the gas and pray they didn’t have another stop just around the corner, they did not. Another fun way to get a little adrenalin kick.
The last few days in Kathmandu I have been trying to solve the issues surrounding the Pakistan visa, Myanmar bridge collapse, and China problem. China was officially ruled out since it’s going to take months to get into. After weeks of trying to get ahold of the Pakistan embassy in Denmark they finally decided to pick up the phone. The authorities were skeptical of my intentions in Pakistan but granted the visa anyway (definitely had a beer to celebrate). Then I got word the bridges in Myanmar were fixed and I could head back and reunite with the chariot, but right before I booked flights they informed me that I need another permit to drive in Myanmar and that it could possibly take 2 weeks…They put a rush order in and I should (key word “should”) hopefully have it by the 25th. Then the Indians decided to join in the mess with PK game and closed the Myanmar – India border for some reason (of course). We are hoping that’s sorted by the 25th but its India, soooo, yeah. I still have parts in Singapore I’ve been trying to receive and apparently sending them to Nepal isn’t that easy. Lots of documents need so we came up for a way around this. Galloping Golden Gary as he is called is in Hong Kong this weekend, and for some reason the cheapest, and best way to get to Yangon (3hr flight from Kathmandu) is to fly via Bangladesh to Hong Kong, hang out for a day, then take a direct flight to Yangon. This option is $400 cheaper than anything else which makes zero sense but kind of works out for me. I get my parts and the Indians have time to chill out and have a chai and reopen the border. Fingers crossed. Only issue now is Nigel is still missing a Pakistan visa. If/when he gets his we are back on track and ready for the next travel hurdle. Bring it.