Nepal 2021 Epic-Demic -Riders Perspective

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by jwrover, May 10, 2021.

  1. jwrover

    jwrover Long timer Super Supporter

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    Pandemic-
    adjective
    1. (of a disease) prevalent over a whole country or the world.

      EPIC-
      noun
      1. a long poem, typically one derived from ancient oral tradition, narrating the deeds and adventures of heroic or legendary figures or the history of a nation.

        DEMIC-
        demic in British English
        (ˈdɛmɪk) adjective. characteristic of or pertaining to a people or population.



    Nepal Epic-Demic - A land of Epic People

    2021, April 2-17.

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    As our flight crested out above northern Canada, on it’s way over the Pole route I put in my ear plugs and fell asleep.

    I woke briefly to see the map on the screen indicate we had cleared Greenland and were headed toward Poland. I drifted back into quiet darkness aboard the 777 heavy jet liner.

    When I woke next it was to an odd feeling of a hand touching my shoulder. No one was there, the seat beside me filled with the same snoring Lebanese Tech VP. I focused on the destination screen to recognize that we had just dropped south, past Hikkari in south eastern Turkey. The “Cockpit” view indicated that our next point on the horizon was Mosul, Iraq. Quickly switching the screen to the live feed belly cam- I was home!

    Not a home I had ever known, rather the home of my fathers, my mothers and my people. Having spent 50 years seated at the foot of my mothers generation; she the youngest of 5, and I of her 3; listening to the sorrow in my Grannies voice as she related the now 100 year distant tale of genocide committed against our family. The killing of my great grandfather and his sons in these very mountains I gazed upon from thirty-three thousand feet, and through 100 years to the month. It struck me with a chill and an exhilaration; I was the first Lazar to gaze upon this spot since that clash of Christianity and Islam shattered the line of my fathers, mothers and of Assyria.



    This trip to Nepal was obviously going to be a profound event in my life.


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    Entry-



    Ryan Coyer’s text arrived just as we lifted off from Doha, Qatar after a ten-hour layover.


    Gentlemen: prepare yourselves now for the worst customs & passport control experience I’ve ever had. MOST IMPORTANT: KEEP YOUR BOARDING PASS FROM DOHA TO KATHMANDU! you’ll need it. Also it’s $30 US cash for the 15 day visa now not $25.

    Please heed these words of advice. (1) upon deplaning, you’ll be outside. For a while. (2) First pieces of paperwork upon getting inside are (a) covid PCR test and (b) that wild Nepali form with the barcode. Now you’ll walk into the lion’s den. (3) Proceed to your RIGHT and go to the row of kiosks. There you fill out the application to pay the fee for the visa. The printers weren’t working. You’ll need to take a photo of the confirmation code (example pic to follow) upon completion. This will take at least 5 minutes once you reach the kiosk. (4) Armed with the application to pay the fee for the visa, now you must pay the fee for the visa. proceed back whence you entered the arrivals hall and stand on line to exchange $30 for a receipt of payment for the fee. You will need the confirmation code from the kiosk. Now, once you have the visa fee receipt, retrieve your boarding pass and passport and proceed to the lines for tourist/foreigner passport control. Frau Forlorn Hope will demand your boarding pass, receipt for visa fee, AND the visa form that Christophe sent. She will scowl, grimace, scribble some stuff in your passport. Then, with luck, your travails will resume after baggage claim. You’ll be in Christophe’s hands then. Godspeed.


    Day 1- Kathmandu.

    Exiting the plane into a sort of smog and fire haze, the Himalayas were invisible, but something so essential to the culture, its energy was still imposing. We had caught a brief glimpse of them; “Annapurna 1”, was all I heard the twenty-yo Nepali man say to his friend in what sounded like a Pigeon Nepali dialect-part English and mostly other.



    As I left the terminal to look through the crowd of some 150-200 people waiting across the road, I quickly spotted the 6’2 Christophe Noel standing just behind the wall of Nepalis. It was obvious and easy. He gestured above their heads directing me to the taxi stand. Brad, Robert and I were directed to two waiting taxis. We bustled our luggage, and selves in, and we were off into a dance of vehicles that only the locals seemed to know the steps. . Into the dance of vehicles. Hands and feet moving in a disconnected synchronicity that can only be experienced to understand. Cars, trucks, motorcycles, tuk-tuk’s and pedestrians, all moving like water filled with grains of sand and detritus. No one stopping, collision seemed eminent, but the property, and the timing, was too important to interrupt the seemingly chaotic water dance. But do keep all hands, arms and feet safely inside the vehicle-The margins for error are zero!



    After dropping luggage, a quick beer at check-in and a wipe of the face and we were back into the taxis and headed for the main temple complex. Fatigue and confidence in our drivers left me viewing the afore mentioned ballet with an ambivalent eye. I could now focus on the people, faces, storefronts, and life in the capital of the Himalayas.

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    The temples are approx 1500 years old, red brick and teak. A combination of Indian and Chinese architectural style— a cultural mix of Hindi and Buddhism. Yet we are reminded that it was, in actuality, Nepal where the Buddha first attained enlightenment. So perhaps Nepal is more a question of chicken and egg.

    The jewelry hawkers are the first to spot the six old white guys to grace their turf since the three month Pandemic lockdown twelve months ago. They are also some of the most beautiful faces (and eyes) I have seen at this station in society. Unlike the dead dark stares and hopeless complexions of the Mestizo and Aztec in Mexico, or the Quechua in Peru, these young women have a smile and glint that doesn’t bring up the normal arrogant and hard rebuke I normally feel for street vendors. I work hard to avoid their eye contact so that I am not drawn in, softened in my heart by their beauty and too quickly relieved of my Rupees! Brad is not so lucky. He makes the fatal mistake of an opening salvo. The women are now our consorts for the next hour. The prettiest of the bunch finally chasing Brad back into the taxi when we set off to our hotel. Brad spent $30 on two silver necklaces. He is happy with his purchase for Carol, his wife, wishes he’d bought another for Robert’s wife, and feels he haggled hard enough, “ They were so darn cute! I felt like a jerk haggling,” -My worries exactly!



    So far, and granted it’s only been 20 hours, Nepali people (in the gravest atmosphere in the harshest third world capitol I’ve yet visited) embody and prove the idiom: Nice Guys Finish Last. There is a sincerity in all they do and say that leaves you wondering “who has committed such undeserved harshness to them!?” Christophe simply enlightens us with two truisms about Nepalis: “They are a 7 of 10 culture. 7 out of every 10 things they do will be perfect and on point, the other 3...who knows what you’ll get? And, they are 15 minute resilient. No matter the problem to be solved; they will have a 7 of 10 resolution within 15 min. So it will last for 7 of the next 10 months.”


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    #1
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  2. Dessert Storm

    Dessert Storm Dances With Drunks

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    Fantastic right from the start! :clap
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  3. Red liner

    Red liner Been here awhile

    Joined:
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    I love Nepal. Lets go!
    #3
  4. liv2day

    liv2day Life is about how you handle Plan B Supporter

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    Incredible start to your report @jwrover! Fantastic writing style, thoroughly enjoyed your introduction and I'm now very curious about the history of your family (as weird as that may sound).

    Look forward to following along.
    #4
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  5. JoeBiker25

    JoeBiker25 Been here awhile

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    Fantastic pics!!! So Jealous :-)
    Enjoy and be safe!
    #5
  6. jwrover

    jwrover Long timer Super Supporter

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    Day 2

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    Loading into a fifteen-passenger van the six of us were driven two-hrs south/ southwest of KTM to an eco-camp where our bikes and sherpas awaited us. Sherpa is used here as a general job description by foreigners to describe those who provide all the life sustaining support white tourists require to trek Nepal. It is in reality one of the higher casts of the working class. Sherpa, like Magar and Llama are a people.



    Setting off, we travel in convoy along a Himalayan foothill route that resembles Maui’s Road to Hana on steroids -- circuitous, and checking for all our teeth upon completion. Along the way are all aspects and elements of life; men working all variety of jobs, women attending to all domestic endeavors, and children ages five and up walking several kilometers to school. The most striking image being five girls dressed in white, seated at a table that is perched on a grassy knoll atop an 800-foot ledge at a sweeping right hand bend. They were a host of angels in a green and smoky landscape. We later find out that they were in mourning --Heaven is a myth, Nepal is real.



    The ride passes through several villages, all their inhabitants semi-surprised and confused to see six white men on Enfields buzzing and honking through their nirvana. We arrive at our camp early in the afternoon and set about reveling in all the crazy episodes of the ride. Brad’s rear wheel hops, and then his near miss in a village traffic jam; whereupon, I rear-end him back into forward motion. The experience of me being purposely fumigated by a diesel truck pilot mimicking a Texan rolling coal. And, Robert’s ever bubbly smile and laugh describing the woman doing laundry with the roadside faucet, she threatened to spray him with a hose, -she had a beautiful, cheeky laugh.




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    Our bags soon arrived, and we set about installing modern USB charging on our vintage tech motos, much to the concern of Ramdev, our Nepali mechanic. It confuses him that we would all do our own work. His hands are flying as he tries to keep ahead of us - ever helping and pampering us. We find out later, during our tea time, that he is of the lowest caste in Nepal. His people suffer rebuke and deadly violence on an annual basis solely because of his/their birth status. We all immediately voice our resolve- that when we reach those places where he will be discriminated against; we six Americans ( all of different political persuasion) will be a wall and a force in his corner. A sentiment he has likely never enjoyed. “He is one of us”-- an Adventurer-on-motorcycle, who has our back all day long-we will have his.


    After our three course meal is served on polished steel chargers we talk, and drink, and head-off to bed one by one. It is cold tonight and the clandestine dogs are now waking to provide us their nightly serenade.


    Day 3




    Descend. Today we traveled a path that to some would seem a descent into Hades. We woke to freezing temps and ice on our bikes. We are served a hot breakfast of Nepali bullet coffee, eggs, nann and oatmeal. We head off further south to the borders of Chitwan NP. The first three hours were spent descending from 7700ft to 400ft along a paved and winding road that put TN’s Tail of the Dragon to utter shame. It was simply fantastic riding through feathery pine forests.


    After lunch we entered another world of Nepal -- bedlam. . Riding along a main thoroughfare that is normally active but not congested would have been fine; however trans-Asian traffic rerouted due to Indian politics has turned this route into a fifteenmile Calcutta-style shit show. This is the road from Hetauda to Piprahar, riding with right bikes in our group became a hot, dusty, smokey and death defying shit show. It took us four hours and we were split into two pods quickly. Led by Pilot rider Vishu- Brad, Robert and I became proficient at dueling for gaps of pavement, and air, with the hoard of vehicle loonacy. It was a sensory barrage completely juxtaposed from our morning experience.





    Turning off this Hwy to Hell, we stopped beside a tree to wait for our second pod of riders. There in the tree was a sign that read: “Jesus is your salvation” -- this, and an even greater contradiction, greeted us from a Tahru village on the NW corner of Chitwan. The people, whose story is chronicled in “The Jungle Book,” live in an immaculate, almost Western US, laid out village homestay community. At the heart, is a heritage center where we are presented with a hand tied lay, and Hindi chalk blessing by some of the most stunning women and girls. Later in the evening, we are provided a spicy, yet wonderful, curry dinner and ceremonial dance usually reserved for harvest in the Fall. Namaste.


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    This night, we can finally sleep, a night devoid of neurotic, and cacophonous dog barking - again, a fantastic contrast of realities in a Country not much bigger than Arkansas. I dream of the next day’s ride out of this pastoral region and back through the chaos. On the other side begins our ascent to the high Himalaya!
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  7. docwyte

    docwyte Long timer

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    In for more
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  8. Tricepilot

    Tricepilot Bailando Con Las Estrellas Super Moderator Super Supporter

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    My ride on a Royal Enfield across Nepal was probably the most epic thing I've ever done
    #8
  9. Quitou

    Quitou Himalayan Ride Guide - Nepal

    Joined:
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    Colorado / Nepal
    And you did it in epic style. What a route that was.
    #9
  10. Quitou

    Quitou Himalayan Ride Guide - Nepal

    Joined:
    Jan 20, 2016
    Oddometer:
    275
    Location:
    Colorado / Nepal
    2021_0406_14475700.jpg Day Two Tarmac

    I'll obviously let you tell the tale, but just wanted to slip in this photo. This is one of the best roads I have ever ridden in Nepal, and I've ridden a bunch of them in 200+ days of travel.

    I'm so stoked you guys were able to join us.
    #10
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  11. jwrover

    jwrover Long timer Super Supporter

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    Day 4
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    Pulling away from our homestay, we make easy progress early, and safely, along That Hwy. In 6 km, we turn north and instantly the climb begins. We will now follow an ancient trade route north. It originates in Delhi and reaches to the old Silk Road; in Nepal it will carry us to the Lo Manthang. The first 2 km of this climb signal what our day will be about: school children, by the dozens, are walking on either side of the road. As always, beautifully clean and uniformed in pressed shirts, ties and the girls in skirts. There is something in particular about the faces of Nepali children that has me captivated. Yes, you can see the various characters; the studious, the jokester (my spirit animal), the grumpy, the popular, angsty, and bored are all making their way to school like all school children, but Buddha’s eyes are alive in these children -- especially the girls. Dark chocolate almonds with a twinkly fire, completely oblivious of their “condition” in life. To me it is the banner of a happy childhood amongst safe and friendly people. I seldom see this in America anymore.


    Our ascent travels through terrain so similar to the San Gabriel’s in SoCal that memories of my youth flood back. The heat and the dryness overwhelms like a wave from a bread oven, a desolate series of sloping terrain. southwestern Nepal is in a drought; even the rock and road surface are similar--dusty. Topping out near 6000 ft, we rest while Vishu goes ahead to the blue roofs on the next ridge.





    Our purpose for this trip, mine at least, is ethical truth and charity. Setting the seeds, testing your character and will; preparing oneself for life, succeeding; being a husband and father -- these are all the things I’ve expected of myself over my first 50 years. Now is the time of reckoning. Hope and faith, these are things that will help define you but not your legacy. Charity toward others, doing a thing for the welfare of others, facilitating someone else’s wellbeing-- that is how I want to be measured for the next 50. Wealth is built, and building, but what is it truly worth if I spend its capital only on myself?


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    Clean drinking water is fundamental to ensuring the light in those little eyes stay pure. A school seems the perfect place to begin. The 160 students are educated in tin roofed, concrete walled blocks, with few windows, and only a handful of teachers. Each classroom has a blank, single dry erase board put to no use because there are no dry erase pens. Someone else’s best intended charity project seems to have lacked sustainability. Followthrough has already been addressed with our project.

    Intent is wonderful in these areas but follow through is what counts. Clean Drink Nepal and Clean Drink Adventures have already prepped our arrival by meeting with the Principal last week and will continue for many more planned equipment trainings. Vishu and the moto-boys will make around fifteen trips back to this village in the next year alone. But today we are about groundwork. Setting the initial seed of understanding and acceptance. The best place to start is on the next generation of parents, teachers and leaders before they do that.


    (*Post Script- As of May 8, 2021 Nepal has gone back into a nationwide military enforced lockdown to fight a third wave of Covid19. Our MSR Chlorination Systems are now put to use in full effect to provide sanitation cleaning solutions for the schools.)


    Middle school aged children, approximately thirty, see us pull up on our motorcycles like some wild force of white haired, blue-eyed devils. Thankfully, I am a little less shocking and perhaps approachable because of my dark hair, brown eyes and Assyrian heritage. The children file out of their classroom with benches and desks in hand. These are well disciplined and orderly pupils. But the eyes. Look deep and their nervous inquisitiveness, and cheekiness shows itself. Girls are brave here. They are the ambassadors of smiles, giggles, and first approach. One in particular cannot stop staring at me. When I look her way, she giggles, covers her smile with a hand, and darts her glance forward into a thoughtful gaze. As if to say “No teacher, I am hard at contemplating your lecture! This stranger is a frivolous distraction. I will work harder” The minute I look away, I feel her eyes back on me as these childlike fibs are tossed back onto the pile of things adults like to hear.


    As Vishu and Christophe work through their presentation, the children and staff are pulled in. They attentively answer questions set to lead them to the most basic of understandings: “many of you have been made sick over the years by the unseen.”

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    Water-borne illness kills 15,000 children a year in Nepal. Covid killed 4000 people last year. This village has lost several children, and elderly, to waterborne disease over the past few years; with no understanding that it was the water and easily preventable. Today the seed was planted to change that. Over the coming months this will take root; and perhaps, the spark in “Nani’s” eyes will not go out. Nani, (little girl in Nepali) and I have been average students today. Half listening, half playing our little game. She has climbed squarely into my heart. There is something in children of this transition age that has always enthralled me. Perhaps because unlike most, I really enjoyed middle school. It was a great time for me. I loved teaching middle school for 3 years and still have former students as friends. Connections and bonds are made on personality and raw human connection; not purpose or intent -- but by pure nature. Nani has done that to me again.


    When ending our presentation, I ask Christophe if it is appropriate to interact with the students. I want Nani to know more of me and take all she can from this brief experience. So I go over and say hello: “Namaste Nani”, she responds and giggles with her two other friends. I show her two photos. First, my daughters and wife from a family photo shoot, posed as “Charlie’s Angels”. The three instantly recognize the pose, giggle and laugh and point. Nani says something in Nepali, I look to Vishu, who is dutifully watching over, ready to translate, “beautiful wife movie star,” he blurts and smiles. Then, I show a full family photo and point to my son, using their word “Baboo” (little boy). All three erupt in laughter. He is 6’1” with a mop of curly hair. Nothing like anyone they’ve ever seen. The teachers begin calling the students back to class; benches and desks are moved back by all. Nani and a friend lifting a wide wooden bench. I know none of my female students would have ever deigned to relocate such a large piece of furniture. I am again amazed at the force these girls are here in Nepal. Before riding off, Ryan and I purposefully walk over to the newly treated water dispenser, fill our bottles and take a long drink. All in plain sight of the students, staff and a few parents who have emerged on the perimeter. Looking out a window, Nani and I furiously wave and yell goodbye! She is with me now, like all my favorite students, locked in that chamber of loving memories.

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    The next 3 hours are an up and down hot test of balance, fun, laughs, crashes and above all else dust! FeshFesh to be precise! Photos following one glorious get off tell the best tale. We camp next to a river. Fully clothed is the only option for me. This dust must be beaten off my gear by its natural enemy- a dip in the river it is!

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    Beer, recollection and rest are the order of the evening. What a day!!


    Day 5


    A tale of two days

    We are now following a river that will be our guide all the way to the Mustang. The Kali Gandaki River flows at a volume similar to the Colorado river, yet with much greater geologic impact. We are still only in the “foothills” but they make for10K foot summits and deep gorges that must be traversed.


    Along an unusually well developed road project, we pass through a flat river basin. Our mission today is not only distance but water filtration. Over the past few years MSR, in collaboration with kidney dialysis doctors, and the US Marine Corp have developed a field deployable filter that removes bacteria and viruses down to .0001 microns. MSR, believing they had answered the question being asked by the US Govt, produced 10K of these filters. The gov’t in its “drawdown” phase of war, canceled the contract prior to taking delivery of its $10 mil filter project --enter Clean Drink Fund Nepal. We stop at this little roadside hamlet of eight families, selling bottled water, and God knows how old bags of chips. The daily water they pull- from a gov’t spigot is of dubious origin. It is here we will deploy the first MSR filter in Nepal. Then I am honored with giving the ”sales pitch,” a test of whether my skills are universal..

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    Thirty years ago, I was told by a college buddy that I could sell bar-be-cue ribs to a woman wearing white gloves. At the time, I took it as an observation on the vast gap between my future wife’s beauty and my average looks. Since then it has been a reliable and often lucrative ability.


    This pitch however was far from straight forward. First, I advise that six white devils and three Nepali on motorcycles not all approach a lone woman at a roadside shop, and ask her about her intestinal health. Seeing this unfold I ask the others to step back while Vishu, Christoph, Ramdev and I have a chat with her. She is shockingly cute and pleasantly smiling throughout our whole conversation. As this pitch was my idea (the old Hoover vacuum cold call door knock) I ask Vishu to translate. I begin by asking why she hangs one selection of chips out front and the other back in the store? (Keep in mind this “store” is more a shed than a Sip’n’Go.) She smiles and plays along. The ones out front have a pretty Bollywood star and sell better to the truckers… -- sex sells even on the roof of the world. Having established her basic knowledge of selling on the margin, I then ask him to engage her in a philosophical exemplar. Were she to offer us a hospitable glass of water, and me being American, having choices between spigot, bottled, or this filtered version of spigot, I would surely choose the filtered offering. Setting her up to engage in the “better-best” debate… -- a total failure when background knowledge presents these two realities: What the fuck is America? And you’d buy the bottled water so you get the bottle to carry it in. I forgot that practicality dictates all water is the same in her mind, and a bottle is obviously better value. Her hospitality karma would be enhanced by giving me this wonderful carrying vessel. Thirty years of education, training, sales success and economic theory just got kicked in the teeth by this beautiful, practical and completely uneducated Nepali roadside merchant. Ain’t Karma a bitch!?


    My western arrogance was nicely packaged and swallowed in bitter pill form, I stepped back and let Vishu and Christoph engage alone. Then I see the other piece I was missing in my chess match: patriarchy. The old wizened mother standing just off stage has retrieved her equally aged husband, the head of this hamlet. These white devils are not leaving easily and he may need to assert his position. Here is where we begin to make ground. Vishu knew this was the one we needed to speak to. Within minutes the two younger sisters have come out of their huts, and the whole family unit all huddle around asking questions. Christoph gives the hooked sign to Ramdev; he and I proceed to set up the 20L bucket with filter attachment and begin our demonstration. By the end, they are asking for four more units, as these look great but do not provide enough flow to support all eight houses. All the ladies want the Betty Crocker toaster oven for their kitchen!! Ain’t Consumerism great!?



    Vishu and Christoph commit to returning in May to confirm they are still using this filter properly and that the additional ones will be given only if this one is used. All are free and will last for 30k gallons or approx three-years. This is a huge milestone for Clean Drink Fund. They have made the first step in bridging from the educational environment to the domestic.


    Marsyangi Magar. MSR water filter #1.


    (While editing this I realize that the younger sister in pink; who I flirted with by taking her photo as she took mine; is named Marsyangi…My wife’s name is Marcy…Huh, karma)


    We load up and ride off feeling quite chuffed with ourselves. Making our way off this geologic bench and down to the river, we stop for a brief lunch under a banyan tree -- all sitting on a ledge like Buddha, awaiting our next revelation and further enlightenment!

    Karma is a bitch remember. About 30 min later, as we rounded a bend headed for our night’s camp, some 30km ahead: “BANG!” The third rider back has apexed a right turn he thought was a straightaway and locked crash bars with a local 20’s something. The bikes make contact at about 35 mph. Nepali kid goes over the bar and lands about seven-feet forward; our man (name redacted to protect the other riders from his spouse’s ire for the next decade) goes off his seat and lays down to his left. This happens about four-bike lengths in front of me. “OH FUCK!! Oh fuck oh fuck.” I pull to the side, blasting my horn to alert the front riders; jumping off, both men are standing dazed and shaken, their bikes locked like two fallen rams on the side of a mountain. “Thank God, Buddha and Ganesh.” Both are alive, and the worst injury is a cut and most likely a broken thumb on the Nepali guy. Our Man is frazzled, and hurt emotionally by his mistake. He will recover with time, sleep, and reassurance. These things happen. So much so, that Vishu and Christoph are in action instantly. The next two-hours are a master class in Third World roadside negotiation, bureaucratic police ineptitude, 20’s something opportunism, bribery and Nepali socio-politic cast system. To give more detail would take a master’s thesis, and jeopardize well established connections and leverage that allow operations like Clean Drink to achieve what they do for the rural Nepali people. Suffice to say, it may seem like an ugly system, but it was said best in “The Man who would be King”: “different countries, different customs. We must’nt by judgmental, Peachy.” All are well and the system worked.

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    Cautiously, we finish our ride in good form and fashion, and set camp in the bottom of a gorge on a military helipad. As night falls, the lights in the homes and huts twinkling on mountainside make for a fairy tale village in a distant land. We all need sleep to process the day.

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    #11
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  12. Quitou

    Quitou Himalayan Ride Guide - Nepal

    Joined:
    Jan 20, 2016
    Oddometer:
    275
    Location:
    Colorado / Nepal
    If I may jump in again...

    Over the years Vishu and I have given hundreds of presentations in rural villages espousing the benefits of safe drinking water. Not to say our pitch is dialed in now, I will admit the first attempt was abysmal. Our audience included a dozen rural villagers and two cows, all of whom were likely not compelled to adopt our purification tools.

    For this trip we wanted jwrover to get the full safe water experience and he was eager to dive in head first. We handed him an MSR Guardian Gravity water filter and had Vishu serve as the translator. Then jwrover gave his pitch. It's a critical part of the processl. It's one thing to haul a lifesaving water filter to Nepal. It's an entirely different thing to compell locals to use it. Jwrover nailed it.

    This picture doesn't tell the whole story, but what is happening here is profound. The MSR Guardian Gravity is the most advanced filter ever devised. Funded by DARPA and developed in the world's most respected water science lab in Seattle, it has never been implemented outside of the USA. This photo documents the first application of this tool in the field. And jwrover gave the pitch that put it in action.

    By the time we left, the eight other households in the immediate area were asking for their own in-home filter. SUCCESS.

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    #12
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  13. Red liner

    Red liner Been here awhile

    Joined:
    May 16, 2013
    Oddometer:
    999
    Riding and making a difference. Perfect!
    #13
    scudo and Quitou like this.
  14. liv2day

    liv2day Life is about how you handle Plan B Supporter

    Joined:
    Jan 19, 2016
    Oddometer:
    2,876
    Location:
    Sherwood, Oregon
    Catching up on the last several days you posted and have completely enjoyed the images and story you've weaved throughout the your experience. Simply stunning.

    Quoted this as it resonates deeply with me and makes me appreciate the kindness humans can impart on others. Not going to impugn a culture I do not understand, but it's heartwarming to read the 6 of you brought him into the group to save him from discrimination.

    Appreciate the RR @jwrover.
    #14
  15. Quitou

    Quitou Himalayan Ride Guide - Nepal

    Joined:
    Jan 20, 2016
    Oddometer:
    275
    Location:
    Colorado / Nepal
    As an organization founded by an American (me) and a Nepali, we're very sensitive to cultural influence. That often means knowing when to bend the norm, and when to respect local customs. There are 118 ethnic, cultural, tribal, and religious groups in Nepal and our staff has people of Magar, Tamang, Gurung, Rai, and other ethnic groups. Some are Hindu, others Buddhists. We value their work position far more than their cultural rank.

    I also decided long ago, if we as two co-founders wear $1,000 riding suits, so too will our mechanic of a lower cultural caste. He's not lower caste in our little tribe. But I also know to enter a room before him so locals don't think him disrespectful. I call him "ji" or sir all the time, but not when it might cause him trouble. It is a delicate dance, but our team is family more than staff, and they know it. I'm super proud of that.
    #15
    squadraquota, scudo, Bt10 and 2 others like this.
  16. liv2day

    liv2day Life is about how you handle Plan B Supporter

    Joined:
    Jan 19, 2016
    Oddometer:
    2,876
    Location:
    Sherwood, Oregon
    Simply brilliant. Not going to hijack, but the world needs more people like you.
    #16
  17. jwrover

    jwrover Long timer Super Supporter

    Joined:
    Jul 30, 2006
    Oddometer:
    1,130
    Location:
    Ouray, Colorado, USA
    Day 6


    Bridges




    Brad is starting to feel ill. The first of us to experience stomach issues makes the rest of us hypersensitive, now Pepto tablets are a prophylactic, hand washing and food safety a priority.


    But today is Bridge Day! Something we have all been anxiously awaiting. Nepal’s Himalaya regions are known for narrow metal suspension bridges; lifelines of commerce to various cliff side communities. They are also motorbike routes! This creates a mystery and trepidation in the adventure motorcycle world, unlike any other navigable route. It is counter intuitive and just feels reckless. It turns out to be fun, relatively easy (the entry and exit is often the toughest part) and after a day of several crossings, becomes commonplace. The second highest and longest is, nonetheless, marvelous to ride on a Royal Enfield Bullet 350!!!


    By lunch it is clear that Brad is worsening. And as we pull into the river camp at 5pm, he is nauseous, and retreats to bed with no dinner, only electrolytes.


    Ramdev

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    Within the fibers of this story and throughout the marrow of this adventure are the people of Nepal. As mentioned before, but something that cannot be understated -- they are superlative in their politeness and positive nature. But there is a toughness that must be given its due. Those who have heard of the Ghurka military regiments know about the fierceness of these warriors. If you are unfamiliar Google their WW2 accounts.


    All of these characteristics are personified in one man on our support crew. “Ramdev” -- Raj Kumar Nepali, a member of the lowest caste in Nepal. Last name Nepali means he has not enough worth to have a last name. His people are like the dirt we walk on. His nickname, Ramdev, given to him by his coworkers is because of his habit of dismounting the motorcycles and squatting immediately to lower himself against others -- a habit known by a swami of some fame.


    Rather, he embodies some of the greatest characteristics of nobility, industry and strength of the Nepali people. Due to the accident mentioned above, Ramdev set out on a 48 hour work day. Having ridden with us to the point of the accident, he then traveled with the injured local to the hospital to ensure he was safe and to witness his treatment for Christophe. Then, in a diplomatic masterstroke, befriended the Brama (highest caste) youngster, took him to a hotel, fed him, and bunked with him. Ramdev paid for it all. Three hours later, he took a six hour bus ride to collect parts for the damaged Enfield, arriving back at the police station (where it was being held),- liberated it, fixed the front wheel, loaded the new forks and other steering parts on board, and rode the damaged bike two hours back to his shop. Setting to work, he did a total rebuild of the entire front end, and completed his task at 11pm. He then rode through the night, joining our river camp at 5am. As a stand-in mechanic, he left us with a boy of fourteen (with more impressive skills than any motorcycle mechanic the US has produced -- Period!), Ramdev had the young technician perform the evening service on the bikes. Ramdev arrived and paused only to finish some black tea, and Dal Baht, then set to work on checking all the boy’s work. Shortly thereafter,we began our three hour ride into the high Himalaya with Ramdev riding sweep once again. Likely, the most impressive work ethic I have witnessed, probably ever.


    At every instance, when you think he is not listening to your question, he hands you the answer before you finish. When you expect he has not heard or understood your joke; his head tilts slightly back and a soft chuckle rolls forth, followed by a knowing glance. Ramdev is approx thirty-years old. He looks more like twenty-five, and acts more like sixty. I have the utmost respect for this man. He is of the highest caliber of Nepalese people. His caste is a lie.



    The Lo Manthang


    Brad has been given antibiotics and will ride in the truck today. This is more emotionally crushing for him than physical. It was he and I that planned this trip. The next three days are the climax, and I would hate for him to miss-out due to illness. Here’s to hoping modern medicine will do it’s trick!



    If you have ever watched a YouTube video of motorcycling in Nepal, then you have seen all the elements of today’s ride. It was characteristically full and amazing. It is the first time you see the peaks move out of the clouds. It is the moment of reflection and recognition of why they are so sacred. Not only to the Hindi, and the Buddhist -- but to all who come to their feet to seek enlightenment. Heaven is a myth, Nepal is real!

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    Nilgiri is the first to show itself. Sitting at a roadside teahouse, the breeze moves the lowland smoke away for just a few moments. Sitting at 6000-ft elevation, you gaze up to 24000’ -- the line of sight is only twentyfive-miles. Looming, towering, soaring fall short of the absolute presence these peak’s command. And we are not yet in full panorama of them. The day will be a rise and fall of excitement and pointing to one another in amazement.


    Brad is going to be housed in a trekking lodge this evening, he needs good sleep, warmth, a western toilet, and comfort to get him back on a bike. Tomorrow is Sunday, his favorite day, so God willing he shall be favored justly. Unfortunately, the revelation that Christophe must stay with Brad, spurs the Coyer boys to take this same opportunity at comfort. Christophe and Vishu’s plan to surprise us with staying on a Tibetan family apple orchard gets wrecked. Still, Robert and I acquiesce to staying in the lodge to keep our team together in its experience -- I think we can endure the sacrifice. But Robert, Christophe and I take the evening ride to the farm and appreciate the hospitality.. After a twenty five-minute ride, each way on an amazing Nepali single track, we determine that breakfast will definitely be had at the farm! It’s breathtaking!



    Day 7


    26975 Dwalagiri


    This morning Brad looks human and himself again. He says he feels 80%.


    DwalCampAM2.jpg


    We set off from the hotel with a feeling of renewed energy, intent on a simple, short ride to last night’s intended camp at the farm. You know what they say about the best laid plans -- within half a mile it all falls apart. Dane and Brad stall at the top of a small paved hill -- calamity #1. Dane falls after rolling backwards for about three-feet. Robert and I stop and extract them from their mess. We move on about 500-yards to a simple little mud puddle -- calamity #2: Dane goes down with the defeated exclamation, know the world over:“Fuck this shit.” Christophe hears it, the remainder of our day, and our trip itinerary are adjusted, all due to one expletive, an American idiom. To be fair to Dane, he has not ridden in almost forty-years, and has taken falls every day of our trip. Christophe is concerned about his wellbeing and his overall enjoyment, along with the fact that an entire cycling season’s worth of damage has been done to this bike in just seven-days. Mid-trip culture fatigue was setting-in.


    We pull into this shangri-la of a farm and are met with a riverside camp set squarely at the foot of Dwalagiri. It will be a much needed rest day. Reading, hiking, a big lunch and a spattering of rain, punctuated by a rare campfire experience with the farmer and his boy. Taking in all that is gratifying in this pastoral landscape.
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    #17
    Briggski, Red liner and liv2day like this.
  18. Red liner

    Red liner Been here awhile

    Joined:
    May 16, 2013
    Oddometer:
    999
    Jesus Christ that picture of the campsite blew me away!
    #18
  19. Quitou

    Quitou Himalayan Ride Guide - Nepal

    Joined:
    Jan 20, 2016
    Oddometer:
    275
    Location:
    Colorado / Nepal
    That camp is my Shangri La. It is one of the most idyllic places I have ever visited. The little Tibetan farm is enchanting with a great little family. That young boy pictured above is a tyke I have watched grow every season from a tiny baby.

    Many a time I have arrived tired and dirty, spent the afternoon napping in the grass listening to goats much grass as clouds rolled over the 7th tallest peak in the world just on the other side of the river. That place is magical.

    Last year I wrote a magazine article for OutdoorX4, almost exclusively about - THAT SPOT.

    There's a short drone clip of that farm in this vid.

    #19
  20. jwrover

    jwrover Long timer Super Supporter

    Joined:
    Jul 30, 2006
    Oddometer:
    1,130
    Location:
    Ouray, Colorado, USA
    Day 8

    Jomsom- Kagbeni-Jahrkot


    Today was a ride back in history through 600 years of Tibetan and Nepalese Buddhism.



    Jomsom is more an airport hub and industrial center leading into the Mustang than it is a historic center. But it has been a commerce crossroads for centuries. The relics of ancient structures are layered beside, and underneath the trekking tourism trade.

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    Kagbeni is a first major step back in time sitting on a peninsula of land jutting into the upper Kahli Gandaki river gorge at 9,000 ft. At it’s center is the 600-year-old Buddhist monastery, small footpaths and passages make for a mysterious walk to view the 1000-year-old sacred text written in silver and gold Sanskrit. Piled stone altars and rows of prayer wheels are around each corner. As the ancient city bustles with Tibetan villagers working at centuries-old daily tasks..


    Strangely enough, the improved dirt road turns to tarmac and climbs to 12,500 ft. at Jahrkot and Muktinath. As the winds are high and drying, we opt to stay in a 400-year-old trekkers tea house. We are told that a woman was locked down here during the Covid-19 national quarantine for twelve months. The aged, leathery proprietor remembers “Madeline” was from Colorado. This ancient hamlet is chocked full of white washed, timbered cubes making for a Hollywood set vibe. Something straight out of Seven Years in Tibet. Wandering through its alley’s and paths brings us to another old monastery. This time, supported by a German NGO as a local school. Several children are playing tag in the courtyard and allow me the honor of being “IT” for three rounds! These Nepali children continue to capture my heart at every interaction. The little girls are so bright eyed and intelligent; a curse for the future as so many are destined to young arranged marriages; their husbands traditionally leaving them with children to raise while abroad in the Middle East working as construction labor. But today we are simply children playing a simple game that produces the same laughter the world over.

    2021-04-12 12.01.11.jpg


    On this evening we take a short run further up the line to our trip’s terminus and turnaround in Muktinath. A highly sacred Shiva temple, trekking station, and Bob Marley themed pizza parlor have apparently made for enough economic base to warrant the building of yet as unopened concrete block lodges. When the road is finally complete from Kaligery to Muktinath, the Shangri La that Hillary, Lowe, and Krakower opened to the world; will be ruined by the world. Mountaineers will be caught in their own hypocrisy.



    Our last night in the high Himalaya was spent at a trekking teahouse lodge in Jarhkot. This ancient Buddhist town allows us to witness the first phase of a week-long wedding ceremony. A Llama couple begin their separate journeys toward one another. She descends the mountain while he climbs. They will meet in their home village and will be joined. This ancient world with its ancient customs fosters Golden Era dreams of the first white man to venture this way. A German geologist who traversed the high Himalaya sometime in the 1920’s or 30’s would have found this hamlet much as it is today. Signs of a modernized future darkly cloud the back of my mind. When photographing these scenes, I try my best to hide and obscure the cars, motorcycles, tarmac, and a modern Bollywood style home thoughtlessly built adjacent to the 500-year-old family estate. The young Napali/New Yorker built the monstrosity when he returned home, he apologized for his oversight and pledges to paint it white hoping it will blend back into the terraced nirvana. He realizes our shock when he conveys that it was his Great Grandfather who lost track of which relative, some 400 years prior, had built the original, beautiful aging home at 12,500 ft.

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    On our turn back to the lodge, we pass under what initially looks to be a grain tower only to find ancient Buddhist murals adorning the coffered ceiling and walls. Artwork quality rivaling that in Rome and Paris slowly ticks away the centuries, unseen by most except these few hard-scratch Tibetan descendants.


    Day 9


    Like running the rapids of a mighty River!


    Today is about time and distance-- the last great motorcycle effort on the backs of our Royal Enfield Bullet! From Jarhkot to the Kahli Gandaki River at Baglung is 120-km but it will take us over 5 hours to make the descent. The road is set to have three areas blasted for expansion today, at 2:00pm! In order to get nine Enfields and two vehicles down past the blast area; we must hammer! Today is also Nepali New Year’s Eve, tomorrow will be 2078. The road is filled with pilgrims headed to the Shiva Temple in Muktinath, tourists trying to make Baglung, Pokhara and even KTM before midnight! It is as if we are ants on cork rafts running a mighty river .


    Broken up into three groups, I begin the descent with Robert, Brad, Christophe, Vishu, and Ramdev. Shortly after passing below 10K ft., Christophe begins to struggle with his diabetes. Vishu and Ramdev decide that he will dismount and wait for the truck to backtrack from Jomsom to fetch him. Ramdev and Brad head off quickly due to a broken rear brake on Brad’s bike. Vishu waits with Christophe. Robert and I wait about thiry minutes and then make for Jomsom on our own. The Coyer boys are ahead with Biki, having departed an hour before us to leisurely make Jomsom.


    After forty-five minutes of riding “improved gravel,” Robert and I make the coffee shop rendezvous spot. It takes another forty-five minutes for the next phase of our mobilization to take place-- Ramdev has made the mistake of wandering off with Brad’s key.

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    Biki, Ryan, Dane and I continue on at a steady but committed pace. Passing back down the valley along the Kali Gandaki. In and out, and across its banks and tributaries, we are racing the 2:00pm blasting timeline. If, as with our passing this way a few days ago, there is a broken down truck at the waterfalls, or a backhoe working the cliff edge that halts our progress, we will be stuck along the roadside until after dark. Our camp and food are down at the river camp in Baglun. Pace, solid riding and above all else focus are demanded.



    As we pull into the lower rendezvous, I am miraculously passed by Vishu at the last river crossing! Hot on his heels are Brad, Robert, Christophe, Ramdev, and Hary in the luggage truck. They covered a distance in two-hours that took us almost three! They must have been flying!!! We come to discover that our Nepali support crew are none too pleased with the pace and lack of Dal Baht breaks. Hahahaha. They understandably have an unwritten rule, or better yet demand, for quality Dal Baht every four-hours. Dal Baht Power: 24 hour!!

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    The last leg feels like it is taking far longer than necessary. The traffic levels are greater as the Nepali New Year’s Eve celebration time approaches. We pull into camp under the last thirty-minutes of daylight. Our riding on this trip is done. Tomorrow, we transit to Pokhara for a few nights decompression and shopping before heading to Kathmandu for our flight home. But tonight, we celebrate the arrival of 2078 with our new Nepali family-- and damn, can Ramdev dance!!!



    Conclusion


    In the ADVrider world there has been an escalation, a cold war of sorts between motorcycle manufacturers and best friends. Which bike can outgun the other around the world? Who can develop and sell the largest displacement “dirt bike” the world has ever seen? 990-1100-1200-1190-1250-1290… And now, Harley Davidson has gone Pan-American with a 1250cc 450lb rendering of a “dirt bike”…


    Having ridden 900 miles +/- on a 1945 technology Royal Enfield Bullet 350 along and across roads and tracks that rival those I normally ride on my KTM 500-exc in the San Juan mountains; I can honestly say…It’s all bullshit!

    IMG_2695.JPG

    There’s a particular revelation when one makes this discovery in a country as poor, yet amazingly, humble and hospitable as Nepal. I recall receiving a small pamphlet or booklet with my first adventure bike purchase back in 2006. With my KLR 650 came a 4” x 6” booklet that defined overland motorcycle traveling to be best at 350cc or below. At the time, it seemed absurd to receive such a publication with a 650cc bike…Now, I really do get it.


    And maybe that’s the biggest, and best take-away, from my trip to Nepal. Yes, we provided clean drinking water for the next three-years to 5000 people. Our extended fundraising has raised enough money for 200 more filters (households), and 300 more schools to be introduced to the program in the next two-years. Close to 50K people will get clean drinking water by these efforts. My western white angel halo is shining bright! Bullshit…


    What I take away from this trip of a lifetime is this:

    • Children are still the most important and beautiful resource a nation has.

    • Wealth and poverty are never an excuse for a lack of hospitality toward strangers.

    • Greet the world with a smile, wonderment and a simple question:”Where are you from, where are you going?”

    And lastly…Heaven is a myth, Nepal is real. Go see for yourself, respect as if you lived there-- and if you can, do it from the back of a Royal Enfield Bullet.


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    Namaste Nepal!! [​IMG]
    #20
    grace, DC950, Slick13 and 6 others like this.