Kathmandu (Nepal), 13.07.2013
The hassle and delay checking out at the hotel were quickly forgotten as we started our day driving through the fields around Lumbini in the early morning. We still didn’t totally believe the peace on the road, but the Nepalese do indeed drive normally, quietly, in a civilised way. At Siddharthanagar we entered the Siddharta highway, that soon after started its ascent into the hills. We were amazed by the countryside. The mere sight of hills and mountains was so refreshing, the temperature dropped to 25 degrees as we climbed up slowly.
The road was good, with occasional landslides or potholes. We admired the hills in lush jungle vegetation, the rocks covered with light green fern, the waterfalls. In every possible place people have built terraces to cultivate the land, creating marvellous landscapes, the clear water on the fields reflecting the sky and mountains above them. What a beauty. We drove silently soaking up the impressions. We also turned off the air conditioning and opened the windows for the first time in weeks! It felt great. The road winded up the hills, passing many small villages, as we reached Tanzen, a sleepy mountain town where we stopped to buy some food and fruit. The houses of the old part of town reminded us of the mountain villages in Switzerland or Spain with their low ceilings, plenty of wooden elements, white and inclined walls. The woodwork has a distinctive style and ornament though.
We noticed plenty of locals washing themselves throughout the day in the clear mountain water coming down in waterfalls everywhere, like natural showers. We would have loved to jump under one of them too. At lunchtime we reached Pokhara, a bigger city on a lake. Unfortunately the sky was full of clouds, and we couldn’t see any mountains. It stayed like this throughout the day. We came to Nepal also to admire the Himalayas, the highest mountains in the world, and couldn’t see above 1500m so far 😉
After lunch we fuelled up and took the highway to Kathmandu. The road lead through a much larger, broader valley then the one in the morning. After a couple of km the road was closed. A small car had hit a concrete pole at the side of the road and it had fallen on the car. A crane was trying to free the car again. Plenty of locals stood around the accident, and the line of cars and buses waiting grew longer and longer. After almost half an hour the road was free again and we drove on for several hours, admiring the jungle on the mountains around us. As it started to get dark, the road narrowed, the trucks started slowing down and overtaking each other, and the cars and motorbikes converted the whole thing into a mountain race. The darker it got, the more aggressive the race. Until at some point everybody stopped in the middle of a mountain slope, in pitch black night. The road was closed, or vehicles had blocked it. We turned off the engine, opened the hood to cool the car, and waited outside trying to understand what had happened. Within minutes kids selling water and food came walking through the waiting cars. Then at some point everybody got into their cars again and drove on, as if nothing had happened.
At around 20:30 we reached Kathmandu. It was so dark we didn’t see much, and the air was filled with dust and smog, the buses around here blow black clouds of diesel fumes into the air constantly. We somehow found the way to the hotel, that revealed to be a gem (thanks Timo for the recommendation!). The buildings and courtyards were mostly old Nepalese construction, beautifully restored, a mix of bricks and dark wood. Plants, flowers, water were everywhere, from the pool to fountains to little decorative basins. We opted for a quick dinner in the Japanese restaurant and had our first sushi on this journey. Tomorrow we will have to discover more of this place.
Trip data for the day
– Km driven: 417
– Hrs on the road: 13,5h
– Diesel l/100km: 11,5 (99 Nepalese Rupees per 1l Diesel, €0,79)