I am the original 'Uneasy Rider' .. not especially blessed with much natural motorcycling talent, nor am I a particularly courageous motorcycle rider.
Nevertheless I went 'Right Way Round' New Zealand (at least twice) followed by a wonderful ride around Australia.

Then it was up to southeast Asia, around Indo-China, across southern Central Asia to the Middle East, Asia Minor .. and finally into Europe.

Right Way Round - all the way home .. from New Zealand to England, 2-up on a Honda Transalp.

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PROGRESS SO FAR - Distance covered across Western Europe: 6,411 km [3,984 miles] - as at Thursday, October-22nd, 2015

Thursday, 19 December 2013

Rape and Marijuana

Thursday, 12th December

I don't think I've ever ridden around so many corners and bends as I did after lunch during the 4-hour journey down the dramatic Siddhartha Hwy on Thursday-12th. 130 'technical' kilometres [81 miles] - hardly ever getting out of first, second and third gears.

Great fun .. but very exhausting. We made it to the scenic mountain township of Tansen by late afternoon.

Tansen is an old city, almost medieval, perched above the Kali Gandaki River, with an amazing Palpali history and some marvelous Nawari architecture. I think we ate the best chicken and fish 'sizzler' platters anywhere around Asia at Tansen. Sensational food and service at the Nanglo West Restaurant. Highly recommended.

Everything shuts down at 8:00 pm in Tansen .. so we found out. Buy your beer early!

Friday-13th

Dawn at Tansen - altitude 1,091 m [3,579 ft] - up over the bowl-shaped Madi Valley shrouded in a blanket of mist, earning it the moniker of 'White Lake' - and it's easy to see why.  The air up there was like champagne - so fresh and clear.

By late morning we had travelled a further 65 km [41 mi] south, through the flat, dry and dusty, quite unremarkable city of Butwal to ..  

.. Bhairawa, the gateway to Lumbini, where one of history's most significant and revered figures was born around the year 563 BC - namely, Siddhartha Gautama, better known as Lord Buddha.

As we approached the historical settlement of Lumbini my GPS unit diverted us off the main highway - I had no complaints - along a dirt track that led us across open fields and through a tiny village - more of a hamlet really - where we drew a lot of attention from the locals.

Grandma with a very bemused baby.

Chinese facial features this far south give way for more 'Indian' characteristics, which is not surprising because at this point we were no more than 25 km [15½ mi] from the border with India.

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Most tourists tend to rush through Lumbini, allowing only a few hours to look around the Development Zone and its Buddhist monasteries - a UNESCO World Heritage Site - just to snap some souvenir photographs before moving onto their next destination. But we stayed at Lumbini for two nights, persuading ourselves to do so, as a major Buddhist pilgrimage was gathering around the town in order to meditate together and generally promote world peace, which can't be all bad.

At the same time we spent a very pleasant afternoon in the company of a few fellow motorcycling travellers from America, Australia and Scandinavia, all riding east from where we have just come from - and a German girl, backpacking broadly in the same direction as us.

.. just watching the world go by in Bazaar Road, Lumbini Village. Mahayana Monks in there maroon robes accompanied by saffron-colour robed [Theravada ?] Monks blowing horns and clashing cymbals all around. A bizarre 2-3 hours in the bazaar .. so to speak.

We encroached into the monks' meetings a couple of times - always asking permission beforehand - just to soak-up the contagious atmosphere.

Very friendly people indeed.



I recorded some of the monks' prayers and chanting - click on the forward play arrow above to ::LISTEN::

This is the Maya Devi Temple, which marks the spot where Queen Maya Devi gave birth to Siddhartha Gautama, known throughout the world later in his life as 'Buddha'.

Since the 4 km by 2.5 km Development Zone was founded in 1978, Buddhist nations around the world have been constructing extravagant temples and monasteries to create a fascinating insight into Buddhist philosophy. We visited a couple of the monasteries, but as they are spread-out quite widely across the Zone we gave-up after a while when our aching feet started to protest.

Aww! I couldn't resist clicking my camera's shutter button when I spotted these two.

Strange fauna in Lumbini? I have no idea what sort of flower this is, but it's strikingly pretty.

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Tuesday-17th

It turned quite cool during our 2-day stopover in Lumbini. Daytime temperatures noticeably dropped by a good 5°-10°C.

On the road by 08:00 am. The four hour eastward ride across to Chitwan National Park was mostly cold and dank, until the altitude dropped as we approached the city of Bharatpur.

[Passing through Bharatpur] Someone's got a lot of ironing to do!

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Chitwan National Park

Some very familiar .. and some very strange growing activities are going-on around Chitwan NP.

Rape (or Rapeseed) - called 'Mustard' in Nepal - a lucrative 'cash crop' - is cultivated around this part of the country in huge quantities, even in the local inhabitants' back gardens. The farmlands were ablaze with the vivid, dazzling yellow plants, which reminding me of the English countryside during May & June.

And Marijuana or 'Herbal Cannabis' (as the British cops like to call it on their charge sheets.) Also known as: Weed, Pot, Mary-J, Ganja, Grass, Dope, Blow, Green and Devil's Lettuce. Tons of it growing wild in the hedgerows around Chitwan. You're probably looking at 500 dollars' worth .. right now!

.. makes [erm] great toilet paper.

Krishna, our personal guide for the two-nights' stopover at Green Park Resort, at Baghmara's Tiger Point, Chitwan. A Top Bloke with whom we formed a super relationship. Although tempted, I managed to avoid calling him 'Harry' (Hare)!

Our four modes of transport around Chitwan NP included:

Ox cart

Canoe

Elephant

Shanks's pony


Ride along!

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During our two-nights, three-days hugely discounted stay at Green Park (because it was out of season), we went on three different jungle trips where we saw much varied wildlife, such as:

Spotted deer


Crocodiles

.. strange insects. This tiny caterpillar was no more than a couple of centimetres in length.

[note: the amazing power of my little Olympus XZ-1 camera - in Super Macro mode]

.. and the elusive (and rare) one-horned rhinoceros.

In addition: barking deer, kingfishers, peacocks, wild boars.. and a female rhinoceros with her baby.

Chitwan National Park - yet another highlight of this trip, which sadly is now drawing to an end.

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150 km [93 mi] in an anti-clockwise direction brought us back to the lakeside city of Pokhara, where my trustworthy steed, which has carried us, and all our excessive lugage, yet another 4,750 Asian kilometres [2,952 miles] all told on this trip, without missing a single beat since we left Phnom Penh back in late October ..

.. received a fair reward, with a proper strip-down wash and polish - making her look as good as ever.

All spick-and-span, she will now spend the next four months laid-up under a dustsheet in the safekeeping of our newest aussie mates, of whom I will say more when we return to Pokhara around the second week in April [2014].

Looking ahead, the next up-and-coming leg of this long ride home will probably be one of the most challenging, for sure. Assuming we are successful in obtaining the necessary permits and visas, we intend to ride across northern India → Pakistan  → Iran → finishing in western Turkey .. and I can't wait for it all to start.

Yunno, I think I will keep on travelling around the world balancing on two wheels, in stages .. forever. It is true what they say: the restless soul of a motorcycle-traveller is indeed both a blessing and a curse.

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The luxurious facilities of Green Park Resort excepted, where the bedding is as soft as marshmallow, I have not slept well in Nepal due to a combination of: hard beds, lumpy pillows, barking dogs, loud roosters, crowing rooks and jackdaws, nightclub music, thin curtains, early sunrises, honking cars, and old folk hocking and gobbing their guts up during the small hours. Sometimes all of it going on at the same time!

December-21st. The shortest day - winter solstice, and it's time to go back home, where I'm really looking forward to resting my head on that old familiar pillow again for four more months, until springtime comes around. Next week it'll be Christmas at home in front of a glowing fire watching the Doctor Who Christmas Special .. with the precious members of my family around me. And it doesn't get better than that.

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From Ellen's journal: click on this link → Elephants, Rhinos and ~ Crocodiles

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I will finish this section of my blog with the same words that I posted back on October-26th:

'Thank you for clicking onto this tiny corner of the blogosphere. Thank you for displaying these words on your computer’s monitor (or your i-Thingy). Thank you for reading them. Indeed, thank you for being interested at all.'

Until next time.

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