Saturday 28th – Tuesday 31st October
Saturday – Today we’re hiring a moped and driving 31km to Nagarkot and a hashing event with Ben. Unfortunately Ben has a monkey emergency at home – apparently they’re pulling his washing off the line and trying to break into his house so he’s later than planned meeting us. We follow Ben on his moped.
The roads are rough and the traffic is bad and we arrive 40 minutes after the event should have started but they’re still in a large group waiting for Ben’s arrival.
We decide we should just walk this event and chat to various hashers. We’re climbing Nagarkot hill to the viewing platform but there’s thick cloud and continuous thunder. Finally we find ourselves in a hail storm but thankfully we’re near the top and the cafes where we can shelter. Once the storm has blown over we climb the viewing platform but sadly with so much cloud the views are disappointing.
Then it’s time to go back down to meet the hash hares. By the time we arrive everyone has gone to shower. This is an overnight event with most people staying in the Mystic Mountain Hotel. Unfortunately we have another trip booked tomorrow from Kathmandu so we have a head back down the hill with not even time for a beer.
The ride back is even worse because it’s dark and after the storms the roads are treacherously muddy. It takes us 2 hours to get back to Kathmandu and return the moped. By this time we’re both freezing and ache all over from the bone jarring potholes from a moped with no suspension.
Oh woe is me! It’s a 0510hrs alarm call and we head off to the Last Resort office and our 0545hrs bus. We’re not impressed that we don’t leave until 0605hrs and our bus stop is only 5 minutes from our hotel. What follows is a typically tedious 4 hour bus journey to the Last Resort Hotel and their adrenaline experiences. They do white water rafting and canyoning and bungee jumping but we’re here for the tandem bridge swing over the River Koshi. Admittedly this was my super dumb idea. We didn’t think I’d be able to jump solo from a bungee platform so the obvious solution – no, not stay at home although seeing the jump platforms I already wish I had, but tie myself to Darren so he could control and perform the leap without my assistance and possibly with my considerable resistance. These ideas are always great in theory. In order to reach the hotel, receive our briefing and get organised we have to cross the cable bridge across the Koshi canyon. But there’s controlled access because in the centre there are 2 jump platforms, 160 meters above the rocks and raging river below. Already there are people leaping to their death…… no, sorry, leaping off with a huge bungee tied to their ankles.
I don’t look too closely because I already regret coming up here and I’m wondering if I refuse will we get a refund. Or perhaps Daz should do a bungee and bridge swing and enjoy the thrill. Once over the other side we get our briefing, we’re all weighed again and then we’re sent onto the bridge. It all seems a bit chaotic because there’s solo bungee jumpers, solo bridge swingers and tandem bridge swingers. Some young lads are called forward and I’m hoping they’re doing the tandem swing so I can see how they’re tethered together but they’re just bungee jumpers and Daz and I are the first in line for the tandem swing. Well I feel really sick now and my legs are definitely shaking but I try not to be too obvious but I’m appalled to discover once we both step into our own harness we’re expected to hold on to each other and even worse I’m expected to actually jump!!! Shit, this wasn’t in my plan. Basically we then have the ropes clipped to our harnesses and we have to step (well shuffle grudgingly in my case)(Daz quote, “at this point I was surprised at how calm Hels appeared, even I was having some butterflies, this isn’t like jumping out of a plane!!) to the edge of the jump platform and on ‘3′ jump. As we shuffle forward I start muttering “ I don’t want to do this, I don’t want to do this” but there’s a jump master behind each of us and it’s a count of “1,2,3, jump” – we jump and they push. Then there’s a long belly curdling drop before the rope becomes taut and we swing up the canyon. Well I can tick that off.
After our jump there’s lunch and a chance to view our video and then an even more hellish bus trip back to Kathmandu.
Today we’re moving out of Thamel and the Brightstar Hotel. We want a change of scenery and it’s time to be reunited with our trikes. So since we’re up early, we pack and get a taxi and we’re at our new hotel by 9am. Then we walk to the British Army camp and pick up our trikes. We cycle back to the hotel – OMG I’ve really missed my trike! It’s fun weaving through traffic getting lots of shocked looks. An afternoon of trike maintenance for Darren.
We’ve got more new tyres so he can get rid of his third cheap tyre and there’s the Rohloff oil change to do and some new parts to fit.
We wanted to hire a moped locally so we could do a day of sightseeing that we couldn’t do last week because Daz was poorly. But there’s nowhere to hire one nearby. Sid (our hotelier) offers us his motorbike. What a really generous offer. So another early start because we have a date with the Indian Embassy – yup again. Today we need to hand in our passports but I insist we’re there by 9am so we’re at the front of the queue. It goes to plan and our passports are submitted. Tomorrow we will pick them up. Then from the Embassy we ride to the moped hire shop and hire a moped and drive both back to our hotel. We’re now free to go sightseeing. First we go to Boudhanath Stupa and I get to drive whilst Daz is MY pillion. Oh the power could go to a girl’s head! Boudhanath is the largest stupa in Nepal and the holiest Tibetan Buddhist temple outside Tibet. It is the center of Tibetan culture in Kathmandu and rich in Buddhist symbolism.
Then we head off to the Cremation Ghats. Despite being clogged with garbage and black with pollution, the fetid Bagmati River is actually an extremely sacred river; Pashupatinath is the Nepali equivalent of Varanasi on the sacred River Ganges. The cremation ghats along the Bagmati are used for open-air cremations, but only members of the royal family can be cremated immediately in front of Pashupatinath Temple.
The funerals of 10 members of the Nepali royal family took place here after the massacre in 2001. Fires burned here day and night after the 2015 earthquake as hundreds of families dealt with the human cost of the disaster. Funerals of ordinary Nepalis still take place daily on the ghats to the south of the temple. Bodies are wrapped in shrouds and laid out along the riverbank, then cremated on a wooden pyre in a surprisingly businesslike way. It’s a powerful place to contemplate notions of death and mortality.
Our last day before cycling resumes so I’m desperately trying to get ‘admin’ done. I’ve been trying to get Oakley to sponsor us because I need new Oakley lenses and they’re horrifically expensive and after trekking in Crocs we want to tell Crocs all about it – a lifetime supply wouldn’t go amiss. Our workaway in Pokhara has just cancelled; we’re trying to find storage for our trikes in Delhi and we need some help booking trains in India something we’ve failed to do despite spending several hours attempting to do so! Then there’s the usual blog writing and publishing and posting videos and uploading photos. We need to go to the Indian Embassy again today to pick up our passports so we leave early and treat ourselves to a Fire & Ice pizza. Then we head off to Thamel Desigual to do a spot of shopping for my favourite cousin Ann. Then it’s off to the Indian Embassy. Opening time is 5pm and despite the numbers ahead of us we have our passports with a 6 month dual entry Indian visa in our hands by 5.05pm. What a result! We’re so chuffed and mightily relieved – a 3 month visa would have caused us huge problems. A quick stop at our hotel to unload our gear and then we head to Bunker Hill and a quiz night. We’re expecting great things so we’re dismayed to discover there are only 3 teams participating. The first round: name 20 films related to Halloween (yup it’s a Halloween themed quiz) based on the 3 characters given. Well what a disaster. We’re hoping Ben and others will turn up soon to join us so we’ve got all the questions but unfortunately after each round our answer sheets have to be submitted. Well that was embarrassing. We’re into Round 3 before Ben turns up which makes the dismal quiz performance more entertaining. We barely had a chance to chat to Ben at the hash event so this is a lovely evening.
Thursday 2nd November
Kathmandu to Riverside Resort
Distance Cycled: 72.92 km
Total Distance: 16973.27 km
We’re off to a late start this morning – too many beers at the quiz night methinks. The beers in Nepal are great – they give you a headache even before you’ve gone to bed. Still nothing that a breakfast of fried egg on fried bread can’t sort out. Packing done, goodbyes to our hosts Sid and Shei and we’re off. It’ll be interesting to see how our first proper cycling day in 8 weeks pans out. Our first problem is that for the first time in 2 years we’re driving on the left. The problem isn’t that we’re on the left but that our mirrors that were on the left are now on the right. Habits die hard so we both keep looking for our left-hand mirror and then realise we’re looking on the wrong side. Weird! From our hotel we cycle out to the Kathmandu ring road and then after a couple of kilometers we take a back road to the main Pokhara road.
Several people have recommended this route the alternative is the main road out of Kathmandu which is an untarmac’d, dust bowl, hell! The back road is surprisingly good although there are some steep climbs. Twelve kms later and we hit the main road to Pokhara. We’ve experienced this road several times already but in a bus and the traffic has always been horrendous, so we agree to take it steady. The best thing is that it’s predominantly downhill. It’s all going well, barely any pedalling required, and then we meet our first traffic jam. We sit in the jam for 5 minutes, observing.
Nothing is moving and plenty of drivers are out of their vehicles. I guess they’ve been here awhile? We decide to creep down on the right of the queuing traffic – we just need to be careful of oncoming vehicles. But there are no oncoming vehicles. After a couple of kilometers we find out why. The road is being resurfaced and traffic is both directions has been stopped. There are work lorries all over the road, spraying tar before laying the tarmac. Happily we’re waved forward and there’s just space for us to cycle without encroaching on the tar – we definitely don’t want to cover our tyres in sticky tar. Once past the road laying crew we practically have the road to ourselves. Wow this is really an unexpected treat. We push on enjoying our good fortune and stop for lunch having already done 35km. Lunch is a very tasty but inexpensive experience. After lunch the traffic volume increases but it seems far more acceptable on our trikes than on our bus rides. But we are tiring now. We thought we’d easily achieve 70km today but at 50km I’m already starting to flag and not long after hot-foot rears its ugly head and soon my feet are agony. We had 2 goals in mind for this afternoon – the first a restaurant stop we used coming back from our Manaslu trek and the second a camping resort. I’m questioning whether they’ll be achievable as at 3.30pm we’ve already lost a lot of light as the sun is blocked by the steep valley sides. We stop in one village to ask in the hotel how much rooms are, but I just want a little more mileage. Luckily we decide to just push on to the camping resort and think about eating once we’re settled. What a fortuitous decision. We reach the camping resort at 5pm but by the time we’ve found the right person to speak to about whether we can pitch our own tent it’s almost dark.
Happily they agree we can pitch our tent ($3 better than $10 for the earlier hotel room) and then we swing into action. Setting up camp but fortunately it’s a well remembered process. There’s a shower here but only cold water but it’s lovely to wash off the layer of dust we’ve accumulated. Well it’s been a little tough today but we’re very pleased with our performance. There’s a large group of Czechs in our ‘resort’. They are all packing up their mountain bikes into boxes; they’ve just been on a 10 day bike tour. Time for dinner and there’s a hot buffet laid on for the Czechs that we’re allowed to share. And then an early night might be in order.
Friday 3rd November
Riverside Resort to 2km beyond Dumre
Distance Cycled: 60.53 km
Total Distance: 17033.80 km
A bit of a rough night and rather noisy too with the traffic on the main road. The truck drivers (well and most other road users) love to use their horns gratuitously and excessively. It’s irritating enough when we’re cycling but really annoying when we’re trying to sleep. We’re up at 7am and since the resort are making breakfast for the Czechs, we decide to have that rather than DIY.
The Czechs are doing a couple of hours rafting before heading back to Kathmandu and their flights home. We have an uneventful few hours cycling; it’s really cloudy and overcast this morning. We’ve been following the River Trisuli downstream since Kathmandu (so it must be predominantly downhill) but 100km out of Kathmandu we leave the Trisuli and follow the River Marsyangdi upstream as far as Dumre. So there’s definitely more climbing now and the clouds have cleared so it’s hot, very hot.
We had 2 rest breaks today: at the first we treated ourselves to some stale cake that sucked all the moisture from our bodies; but the second stop, at a roadside shack, we had chow mein, pakodas and fried potato cakes – a resounding success. After Dumre there’s a long climb and we’re both pooped. Daz spots a water supply so we fill our reservoir and about 500m we spot a reasonable spot for wild camping.
This is our first wild camping experience in Nepal so it’ll be interesting to see how it works out. Bucket wash for us tonight!
Saturday 4th November
2km beyond Dumre to Pokhara
Distance Cycled: 63.87 km
Total Distance: 17097.67 km
Today we wake up and there’s mist everywhere. The tent is wet and there’s no chance it’ll dry in these conditions so it’s packed wet. We’re preparing breakfast when a truck loads of workers arrives. First they stand on the lower level with their shovels watching us.
Then they all troop up to our level for closer scrutiny. It’s ten minutes before they decide they’ve seen enough and wander off. We hit the road and the hill we started yesterday evening continues for another 3 km before a lovely 10km descent. We don’t realise it then but that’s the highlight of the day. What then follows is one of our most painful cycling days ever. We’re plagued by hot foot and recumbent bum and other spurious pains that don’t usually feature in our cycling. My feet hurt so much I’m torn between the desire to vomit or cry.
But we’re determined to make Pokhara today so we push on, our progress slowing by the hour. Finally we arrive at the Angel Hotel, Pokhara where Cynthia (our friend from our Changu Narayan workaway) is there to meet us.
She’s been waiting since 2pm – bless her. It’s so great to see her again – she’s such fun to be around. Well what a relief to be off the trikes. Time for a hot shower, some nice food, a beer or 2 whilst we catch up on all our gossip. We can only pray that the pain today was due to 8/9 weeks trike free. When we head from Pokhara to India we definitely need to keep strict adherence to a gradual introduction (50km per day limit) because overdoing it over the last 3 days has cost us dear!
Sunday 5th November
Today it’s a day of relaxation. We go out for a nice breakfast and then later join Cynthia to do some sightseeing.
We also need to check out her Royal Enfield, Himalayan motorbike. Tomorrow she’s going on an off road motorcycling trek so she wants to check that she can touch the floor and that she can change gear in her trainers.
She also needs to check that the jacket and helmet from their company coordinate with her other existing clothing, the predominant colour being pink. Image is everything! Then Daz and I attempt to hire a motorbike for next weekend – we want to go back to Kathmandu because MAS(A), my old unit, are coming out here for adventurous training. In Kathmandu it’s possible to hire mopeds and motorcycles but from Pokhara some new rule has recently been introduced; tourists hiring motorcycles need a guide. Perhaps this new legislation has pushed up the daily hire fees for a motorcycle which are extortionate ($35 per day) whilst in Kathmandu it was $10 per day. And we’ll still be breaking the law and risk a high fine and the bike being confiscated. So we’ll have to take the bus, which means a longer journey but it’s cheaper and not on the side of law breaking.
Then there’s always time for beer and food and haircuts for Daz and Cynthia.
Monday 6th November
Pokhara to Lovely Hill, workaway
Distance Cycled: 5.42 km
Total Distance: 17103.09 km
This morning we say farewell to Cynthia. She’s off on a 2 day motorbiking trek.
We head to yesterday’s breakfast venue so we can watch for her departure with the rest of the group. We see her pass and she’s looking cool and nicely co-ordinated but she’s too fast for any decent photos – disappointing!
Back at the hotel we finally get our arses into gear, pack up and cycle to our workaway. It’s only a short distance but up a huge hill. Ashok, our host, has a small-holding with many fruit trees, banana and coffee plants. He also has 4 water buffalo, a cow and 2 calves. The buffalo are milked twice a day and the milk sold in Pokhara. Also here is Ashok’s wife, Sunita, his mother, their 3 children and another work-awayer from Germany, Laura. Ashok shows us our room and around the small holding and then we relax. Then at 3.20pm he suggests a walk. Well it’s a bit more than a walk. We walk up to the top of Lovely Hill and get views of Manaslu Peak, Fisli Peak (a holy site to the Nepalis so walking/climbing it is prohibited) and down over Pokhara and the lake.
It’s almost sunset but we start our return and about half way down Ashok points back to the snow-capped peaks which are now a beautiful orangey – peach colour in the setting sun. We continue our descent and we finish our walk in the dark. We’ve been out 2 hours 40. I was expecting a nice short jaunt. We are both starving now having had no lunch, so we hope Sonita’s dal bhat is as delicious as other workawayers have described.
Tuesday 7th – Friday 10th November
Lovely Hill Workaway
Today we start by preparing the garlic beds. We turn over the soil with a hoe then remove the stones and break up the lumps by hand. Then we prepare troughs for the garlic, plant individually cloves then cover.
Over the entire bed we spread chopped foliage to keep the soil cool and moist. By 10am we’ve planted 3 garlic beds and it’s time for breakfast – Dal baht – but it’s definitely a very tasty version. After breakfast we could stop working but Daz and I ask for another job and our job to chop down 3 large bamboo canes and trim them of shoots.
We also need to extract and trim a cane that’s already been cut down but which is caught amongst all the other bamboo.
This morning we discover a leopard visited last night, tore into the poultry coop and took the turkey. There’s a trail of blood and feathers.
Today we weed a plot in preparation for spinach planting. We have new arrivals today, Annette and Ivarrs from Latvia. After breakfast our extra chore is to start clearing the ginger bed.
It’s a mass of weeds with ginger plants in between, so we need to clear around the ginger and move the mass of bamboo canes. In the afternoon when it’s time to milk the buffalo I get a demonstration and then have a go at milking. It’s harder than it looks and I was worried the buff would kick! But I managed to get some out!
Later we also have a go at churning butter, a tiresome job involving pulling on strings wrapped around a paddle sitting in an earthenware jug full of milk and curds. This pulling motion spins the paddle in the jug and after a good 10 or 15 minutes it starts to turn to butter, which is good because my arms are about to fall off!
In the evening the pregnant water buffalo gives birth to a male calf.
A male calf is no good to Ashok, obviously he won’t give milk and since Ashok is Hindu from the Brahmin caste they aren’t permitted to eat water buffalo so once this calf is a bit older it’ll go to the vulture sanctuary as food for the vultures.
Today we finish clearing the ginger bed and move all the bamboo up to the top terrace for firewood. Unfortunately the bamboo is holding lots of ant nests, and when they get on you they bite, lots… Daz is jigging and dancing half the morning!!
Here there’re 2 wood fires ; one to heat water for the buffalos and one to boil the big kettle. In addition they have a manure well that produces methane for cooking in the kitchen.
Daz and Ivarrs spend the morning move the manure pile away from the buffalos and onto two terraces of the garden and dig it in. At 10am, dal bhat time, Cynthia arrives, she is joining us on the farm for a week. Laura leaves today to spend some time in Pokhara then go on a short trek.
After breakfast our extra chore today is to start clearing the turmeric terrace and trim off the large leaves from all the tumeric. There are also many banana trees on this terrace and we pull off the dead leaves and cut down the smaller trunks to encourage growth and bananas from the larger trunks.
Cynthia gives us a hand even though she’s just arrived. It’s great that she’s here; we love her company. There are some huge spiders about in this ‘jungle’, Daz’s brother would love it!!
In the evenings we sit on the patio playing cards and waiting for dinner.
Today all 5 of us are working on making a new Spinach bed, this means weeding, clearing old trellises and then digging over the hard soil. Daz also gets tasked with pruning trees, then Ivars chops the prunings for fodder for the goat.
During the day Ashok takes me and Daz to go and take two huge bunches of bananas down. This entails holding the tree with some bamboo supports then Daz chops the tree, we then lower it with the supports gently to the ground. There are a couple of bananas that are ripe, these are delicious straight off the tree.
The others are still green so we chop them off the stalk into bunches and put them in a big sack to ripen for a couple of days. Ashok also takes a juicy ripe avocado from a tree and we share it around. It’s huge and scrummy. After dal bhat Daz goes off with Ashok to get bus tickets for our trip back to Kathmandu this weekend . When he comes back he’s riding a motorbike!! Apparently the 700Rs bus tickets had all sold out and only the luxury tickets are left – 5000RS for 2 tickets. That’s $50 each way and the motorbike is $8 a day for 2 days. Well at least it means we don’t have to get up at sparrow’s fart to get the bus tomorrow!!
Whilst he’s been away Cynthia and I do more work on the turmeric beds from yesterday.
Saturday 11th and Sunday 12th November
Road Trip to Kathmandu
After a cup of coffee and a biscuit breakfast we set off on the motorbike for Kathmandu. Daz driving and me on the back with a small rucksack. It’s a bit chilly and there’s fog so what with the moisture in the air and dust from the road Daz’s sunglasses and visor are soon useless and he has to ride without any eye protection. Dust and fog is playing havoc and our speed is cut. Fortunately after an hour and a half the fog lets up and we swap positions so I can get our speed back up!! To cut a long story short the journey of 200km takes seven hours!!!
What with traffic, potholes, cows in the road, numb arses and the climb up to Kathmandu we are worn out. Riding pillion becomes painful after about 45 minutes, there’s barely any cushioning on the back and after several hours the pain is excruciating. So we have to regularly switch riders. Finally in Kathmandu we head over to Patan and the Army camp but the guys from the UK haven’t arrived yet so we pop around the corner for a coffee. We don’t have to wait long when we get a call from Rob Shakya the team leader. They’re here. We walk to the camp and are greeted by familiar faces from our old Army days, Tommy, Rob, Craig, Dave, Sally, Andy and the rest. It’s absolutely amazing to see them again and we chat with them whilst they find their accommodation. Tommy has brought us out our water filter and some Christmas presents from Brett and Kate, our friends in the UK! Thanks guys. We agree a meeting point and time to meet later and leave everyone to get settled in. We ride from Patan to Thamel, and pop into the Brightstar hotel again. We receive a warm welcome but they are full! Oh well, we pop around the corner to another hotel, there are literally hundreds of guesthouses and hotels in Thamel. We get shown a nice room and although it’s a bit more expensive, breakfast is included. Time to shower; we are filthy, covered in dust and grime. Then go in search of food before meeting everyone, otherwise we will end up drinking on empty stomachs!! Suitably fed we meet the guys in Tom and Jerry’s a favourite bar of many in Kathmandu. We end up answering everyone’s questions about our travels and recounting highs (lots) and lows (hardly any!) of the past 2 years and 11 months.
It’s fab catching up with everyone and hearing their news too. It’s so strange chatting to them all – they’re still embedded in the Army system (and mostly Army Hq) which we left 3 years ago. And our experiences over those 3 years couldn’t be more different. The group splits up and we head off to Sam’s bar with Craig, Dave, Andy and Luke. More beer follows but fortunately the guys have got to be back on the transport at half nine so we can’t get too drunk… just a little. It’s an emotional time as we say goodbye to everyone, knowing we won’t see them again, but it’s been super to see them and chew the fat! Thanks guys for sharing the evening with us, a great evening. We hope you enjoy your trek and return to the UK safely.
Next morning, only slightly the worse for wear we have a good breakfast and a large amount of coffee before sitting our beleaguered arses on the bike again and repeating the ride in reverse. This time it only takes us 6 and a half hours of pain and hellish road conditions!!
Back in Pokhara at 3pm Daz drops me at a coffee shop and goes to pick up Cynthia from the workaway. We are meeting some more friends from the road, Dave and Karin from Holland who we last saw on their motorbikes over the Pamir Highway (several times). They have arrived In Pokhara and will do a short trek before heading to Kathmandu. Yet again it’s great to catch up and hear about their travels through China, Pakistan, India and into Nepal.
We enjoy a beer and then a very good meal in a back street eatery that Cynthia discovered. The food is great and it’s fun that the owner keeps forgetting what we have ordered and coming back to remind himself. Another fab evening catching up with friends.
On our way home we see a chickens being loaded and destined for Kathmandu.
Monday 13th to Friday 17th November
Lovely Hill Workaway
Back to work this morning and after finishing off a bit of digging and manuring of a new vegetable patch we all move down to the turmeric terrace.
Ivarrs is already there with Ashok having fun chopping down a tree and then chopping it up. Ashok shows us how to harvest the turmeric. It involves digging a small channel beside the plant then using a crowbar to wedge under the plant and lever up the huge clump of roots.
As Daz does this us girls break up the clumps and start filling two large wicker baskets with the turmeric roots. There’s tons of the stuff to be dug up and it’s all over the place. After a while Ashok tells us that a basket and a half is enough for now. This only takes about 2 rows of plants before we have our quota. Now begins the laborious task of washing it and then slicing it up so it can dry in the sun before Ashok takes it to be ground into powder.
Daz is chopping as the rest of us wash. By the time dal bhat is ready we have barely touched the huge amount we collected and it looks like it will take us another day or two to finish off even this ‘small’ quantity. I’d hate to think how long the rest of the terrace will take to pick, wash and chop!!!
Today it’s all about finishing the turmeric preparation and thankfully between Daz, Annette, Cynthia and me we get it all washed and sliced to dry in the sun.
Considering that was only 1 and a half baskets and that took about 6 hours prep and there’s a whole terrace of plants still to dig up, I’m glad I’m going at the weekend.
Whilst we did that, Ivarrs collects some firewood and then coffee cherries and then ‘de-beans’ them for drying.
Today we (Daz and I) have a very weedy terrace all to ourselves. We love a challenge like this and the transformation from weeds, rubbish and stumps to a beautifully clear and dug over bed is always satisfying. Nice!
Meanwhile Ivarrs and Annette plant avocado stones in soil in polythene bags.
Cynthia takes a well earned day off; the physicality of the work here is causing considerable pain for her.
In the afternoon we take a walk with Ashok. We had hoped to go into the jungle to see leopard but Ashok has other ideas. We walk up to the new Jurassic resort, currently under construction, it’ll have incredible views when it’s finished.
From here we head towards the ridge overlooking Pokhara and the lakeside. Ashok shows us guava fruit and several orchards of Mulberry bushes. I assumed the Mulberry were immature hence the lack of fruit but here they’re not grown for fruit but for the silkworm which feeds off the foliage.
Then the Silk cocoons are picked and stored. When the new larva emerge they’ll be placed on the mulberry but the cocoons will be sold for silk. On the ridge we have a great view of Lakeside, Pokhara and as we continue we realise all the trees are moving and flapping.
There’s a troop of monkeys following us as we walk. From here we take the ‘shortcut’ back to the house.
This morning I’m wide awake at 4am and decide to take a sunrise walk. Stupid planning though because I’m about 2 hours early.
I go up to the nearest peak and already there are people congregating on the hill for their daily exercise regime; many are fans of ‘laughing’ yoga, a bizarre discipline that’s supposed to be good for one’s breathing. But that’s what we hear most mornings, the sound of cackling and laughing coming from the nearby hills.
After about 75 minutes the sky is starting to lighten and I’m walking along a path and there’s Daz. I left him in bed but apparently the stretching of the umbilical was too much for him and he was worried about me. He’s a little bit annoyed with me because I went out without him. (Daz-”well anything could have happened to Hels: landslide, leopard attack, got lost, gone to the pub without me, what’s a man to do?”) By now with sunrise only 15 minutes away the hill tops have large groups of exercising locals and some of their exercises are strange indeed. But coffee is calling so we return to the the house.
Today a mixed bag of chores. Ashok wants to construct a bamboo platform to store his hay for winter fodder for the animals. Daz and Ashok start the construction whilst Annette and I carry up numerous bamboo poles. Then Ashok moves down to the lower terraces with Ivarrs to cut down more bamboo.
I go down to assist with trimming the new bamboo and carrying up to the platform. Meanwhile Daz and Annette are busy digging holes for the platform’s legs, 9 in all. This is done with an iron bar to break up the soil and using their bare hands to dig out the soil from the hole. Daz breaks a nail, the big girl!! By dal bhat time they have the basic structure up, but it will need refining and finishing tomorrow.
Cynthia is given a new terrace to clear. After work Cynthia, Daz and I take a walk and have a few beers and some snacks. The Dal Baht here is very tasty but twice a day, everyday becomes a little monotonous. In the afternoon a new workawayer arrives. Georgina, a Brit, who’s spent the last few months in India. So we quiz her on her experiences and how she got on as a lone blonde female. She is still getting messages of love from married Indian men!
Back to more bamboo chopping. Daz and Ashok are busy climbing up above to cut branches out as it’s difficult to get the bamboo out of the entanglement with them still attached. Ivarrs and I keep busy chopping the cleared bamboo of the branch stubs once they are down.
Daz also gets to chop a large tree down with just a sickle! Fortunately Ashok didn’t see the finish ‘timber!’ moment as it nearly took out some of his prized coffee bushes! Daz and Ashok then walk the huge tree trunk up the path between the terraces to the hay platform. Meanwhile I am busy cutting foliage and greens for the animals as well as taking all the bamboo shoots and leaves up for more buffalo fodder. After work yesterday Daz roasted some dried coffee beans in a wok above a log fire. Although they looked burnt, by the time we had de-chaffed them they looked a little underdone.
Today we spend time grinding the roasted beans in a pestle and mortar then brew them. Yep, tastes like coffee, but definitely needs more roasting time. Georgina fancies a go, so we get her set up for roasting and talk her through it, this time ensuring a longer roast.
The de-chaffed results look much better but the proof will be in the tasting tomorrow.
Saturday – Last day on our workaway
Lovely Hill, workaway to Pokhara
Distance Cycled: 7.57 km
Total Distance: 17110.66 km
We are leaving our workaway today. For our last breakfast Daz decides to treat us all to egg and chapati.
Before we leave a few last tasks. Whilst I do a little light weeding Daz helps Ashok finish off the hayrick platform.
Then it’s packing and saying goodbye. Ashok and Sunita give us a little leaving ceremony, and send us on our way with red forehead tika and silk good luck scarves.
We cycle down into Pokhara where we will spend a couple of days sorting out admin out before cycling to India. Instead of heading straight to our hotel we decide a short detour is in order to see Fewa Lake and have breakfast.
Then we get settled back into the Angel Hotel. A relaxing day follows catching up on Masterchef and The Apprentice!! Admin can wait ‘til tomorrow!