In a drunken fit of brilliance and stupidity, I, along with my long lost Nepali brother Swayambhu made a pact. We would drive his 1 speed scooter from Kathmandu to Pokhara at the base of the Annapurna range of the Himalayas. I have been witness to more than a handful of such intoxicated plans and promises, and am old enough to know they rarely come to fruition. Well, this time was a marvelous exception to that rule. We christened our abiding beast before venturing off.
Having spent the past two days reacquainting myself with the intricacies and complete lack of order inherent on Nepali roads, I was sure this was journey would be no less than death defying. Coming over the pass out of the Kathmandu was dusty, rough and winding.
The distance from Kathmandu to Pokhara is roughly 200 kilometers, and at these speeds we would be arriving next morning! Thankfully the initial mountain pass was by far the roughest stretch of road, due to it’s daily abuse by overloaded Tata Trucks with zero regard for road safety.
The fun really started when the highway opened up and people could let their feet hang heavy on the gas pedals. Passing became a constant game of Chicken, and were the newborn chicks compared to 30 seater buses vying to shave that precious 30 seconds off their arrival times.
After getting accustomed to the extremely safe driving habits of my brother Swayambhu, and adjusting the 40 pound backpack full of camera gear on my back. I began actually enjoying the ride. The scenery on this highway is indescribably beautiful.
If I haven’t said this yet, it should be noted that a journey such as this is absolute hell on your back, legs, ass….. whole body really. So about three hours in and less than halfway, we stopped at a riverside town for some deep fried local treats. I would normally be reticent to even touch fish or prawns in Nepal, but these were fresh out of the river.
With a belly full of unquestionably delicious and satisfying food, we prepared for the hours that awaited us ahead. The views just got increasingly more beautiful the further we got into the steep valleys.
The kilometer markers seemed to get progressively farther apart, and what once was 20 km became 10. The soreness became more and more apparent as we passed small town settings that would be right at home hundreds of years ago.
The sun began to fade behind the all-surrounding mountains. And any hope of reaching Pokhara before dark was lost. We stopped at a place to have a smoke and rest our legs.
There are no photos of the last 50 km or so, I’ll just suffice to say that they were dark, scary, and rainy. It was not a fun hour, but I would not have traded it for the world. I say this because after a restful night’s sleep, I awoke to this.