The morning we left we were running around to pack and also send off a package back to the US of stuff that we didn’t need and of a couple of souvenirs. We ended up leaving a bit late but we headed out of Kathmandu along what seemed like a nice highway. Around 4pm we started to notice a lot of construction. We were on the highway that’s currently being funded by Japan. Nepal has two other highways, one funded by India and one funded by China! The road started to become reddish colored fesh-fesh…but this was the road that we had checked online on a few sights. This couldn’t be right! We pushed on thinking we’d find accommodation when we hit the Mahendranagar highway (the India funded one) but as we moved on it got dark and the road showed no sign of improvement. The road was taking us through river beds and up and down the mountains over and over again through one detour after another. We noticed small settlements set up along the construction and we traced our way back to a particular turn. There was a man there and we explained we couldn’t go any further and we needed a place to stay for the night. He offered us a room in his house above his convenience store and offered to store the bike with the atta chaki and all the bags of atta! It was a classic sight! The room we had taken for the night seemed to be that of a school teacher. Her notes and English exams she had given the class were scattered on the table. It’s so interesting to see how people live.
We survived the night and heartily thanked the owner but they would not take any money or any other sort of thanks for the stay, nice people. We set out ready to tackle what was waiting for us. Little did we know that this would be the hardest day for us. We got through the ups and downs but hit a riverbed where we miscalculated the rocks and ended up falling over in the water that ended up going up to the middle of our shins. It really woke us up and we ended up riding to the border wet and sandy!
We were able to get to the border by 4pm and we completed Nepali and Indian immigration and customs with no headache. We thought we’d stay in Kurseong, because it didn’t seem too far away. As we got closer to the Kurseong-Darjeeling road we were told by multiple people that the main highway is closed due to landslide so we would have to take an alternate route. As we made our way up the alternate road, we noticed this was going up. It was going to be very loopy! We made our way up the inclined road and there was a sharp turn and we ate it! We didn’t fall as hard but it shook us up! There was a van also coming up the same way, I had to flag it down because by this time and the angle the bike was at we could not pick up the bike at all. The van stopped and there were about 6 men that came out, which was a bit intimidating at this time of night. They were very nice though they all grabbed a part of the bike and at once their ‘leader’ said ‘Jor lago!’ and the bike came up. We got back on the bike and on the very next turn we didn’t have enough acceleration and we fell again. This time was a bit harder and little did we know we fell in dusty brown dirt. This fall really shook us up. We were tired and frustrated. After falling 3 times in one day and the last two times falling on a narrow road with a straight drop had my nerves wrought! Nick was feeling terrible in that he couldn’t believe it happened again. We had done much tougher roads before, so what happened now? We had both yelled when we fell so the van of men heard us and they came to our rescue again. This time they told us to speed up some more (which is what we should’ve done from the beginning!). After finally getting the nerve to get back on the bike we felt our elbows were a little sore but most of everything else was okay. We had a couple more kilometers of those nasty Gata Loops and then we would finally hit some small towns. Finally we hit Kurseong. There were just a few hotels and we stopped at one. The only room they had was super dingy and shared a wall with the speakers blaring music at a wedding next door. Plus there was no room to park the bike. I was standing with the bike when the cutest little kids came to ask a million questions and call me ‘Aunty’. Once again the company of children made me forget all my fatigue and frustration. Nick came out of the hotel and said they found a place for us. This guy who knew where to direct us ran in front of us (he ran like a robot on drugs which also lightened my spirits). He led us to this building that looked to be of the old British kind. As we pulled into the courtyard to park the bike, we noticed a VW Beetle suspended in air, a train engine as an entrance to a café among other randomness. When we made our way inside, it was like a museum. Turns out this hotel was Cochrane’s Place. It was owned by a British barrister named Cochrane (of course) and later bought by a maharaja after Independence. Now it is in the hands of a Punjabi lady in Calcutta. During renovation half the house collapsed but they did an amazing job, I can’t tell where the old ends and new begins! The decoration is also very eclectic but has relevance to the area and time period the property was built. We stayed in the British Railways end and our room was decorated as such. They also had the warm oven going in the dining area and had already prepared rice, a mixed veg subzi and daal. After dinner we took a nice hot shower and went to sleep. After such a tough day it was as if we were in a dream…Nepal seemed very far away!