Last night in Pokhara, and I realised I didn’t know where to get a nice thukpa. This was after the restaurant I counted on for acces to their wifi network (conveniently available from my hotel room but in need of a password) turned out to be already closed. Bandipur déja-vu.
Pokhara was a mixed pleasure. Backpackistan avant la lettre, a koopgoot for crusty dreadlocked hippies and goretex trekkers. Enjoyably quiet restaurants serving pseudo-mexican (backpacksmex?) and borsht in semi-secluded cushioned booths. Cocky caucasian males racing down the street nonchalantly on small Honda motorcycles. Sugarily orchestrated “om mani padme hum” chants out of every shop, illy coffee available on every corner. And not a mountain in sight – it’s a scam to attract tourists, I knew it. But the hills are beautiful, and the upper Seti is a spectacular river – best to be enjoyed on a raft bouncing down the rapids. When the first wave is about to hit you you wonder why the hell you put yourself in this situation, and after that every fresh spraying of the bluegreen water only makes it better. Paddle! Forward! Get down! All back!
Got here on the already trusted Bullet. Great to get to know it, find out about its likes and dislikes. Of course it has some problems which I’m finding out about, but since the ride here went well – two up and our luggage – I have all faith in it.
Sadly, Rick and Moniek of Hearts & Tears were unexpectedly not in Pokhara. Would have been great to meet them after having been in touch on email for a while and meeting Rick in Kathmandu. Helpful, friendly, and full of useful information. Their colleague Sonu helped me, received the carnet for me and tracked down a good mechanic right after the Tihar and Deepavali festivities that sent most Enfield doctors to their homes in India. Boom has a little garage on a lot with a showroom or workshop of Orion dirt bikes (must be cool to take one of those high, skinny, light bikes into the field). I told him what bothered me and mentioned going to India tomorrow. More than three quiet hours later (punctuated with great-smelling sweet clove tea (black, no milk) in the same glass mugs my parents have at home – they’re everywhere in this place!), my bike had had an oil change, the intermediate clutch plates had been scratched with a saw blade to improve friction, transmission adjusted, air filter and carburettor cleaned, brake-shoes sanded and brakes adjusted and whatever else it took to make it ready for the road, without going into actually replacing parts. At a fair price and done with great care and patience and attention, this was exactly what I had hoped to ask for. Ready for India!
On this last night, Restaurant Manamakama turned out to be still open for business as well as serving a good veg thukpa (though I’m still missing the Revolution Café’s spicy red version). Happily off-edge thanks to a neighbour’s small brown gift, I came home to pack and prepare the road-videoclip for uploading. (What’s this with the new version of everything? Do I really need to discover all the things my Tiger iMovie didn’t have that I doubtlessly need?) Ready for tomorrow – first long ride alone, looking forward. I hear the road is beautiful and quiet. Gorakhpur is apparently an easy goal – though my estimated time of departure will be somewhat later than initially hoped – need to find a memory card to replace my camera’s suddenly unresponsive one, find internet, get a keyring. The hip kind that’s long enough to be clasped to your mirror, so the police can’t take your keys away. Not that I’m counting on getting into trouble – all I need to do is get that intimidating carnet stamped.