Nepal was like a breath of fresh air for me, both literally and figuratively. About 20 miles after crossing from India to Nepal you start to climb into the mountains and get away from the constant smoke, smog, and haze that seems to never disappear on India’s flatlands.
But first let me tell you about my border crossing. Apart from almost getting hit by oncoming vehicles or having animals jump out in front of me while riding down the road, this was by far the scariest experience I’ve had on the trip. I’m sure most of you have not heard about the Indian governments’ blockade on Nepal going on right now. But to sum it up, Nepal changed their constitution and the Indian government doesn’t feel like it gives enough representation to the Nepalese of Indian descent living along the border enough representation. So the Indian government response was to block trucks, cargo, and fuel from going into Nepal. This is creating major social unrest because Nepal was getting 100% of their fuel from India. People are suffering and dying because of this and I haven’t read one article in the news about it, it really blows my mind. It started about 12 miles from the border where there is semi-truck after semi-truck parked along both sides of the road. Think about how many trucks that is! 12 miles, both sides of the road, all the way to the border! I knew something was up long before I reached the border.
Arriving at the border the Indian officials told me I couldn’t cross because it was too dangerous on the Nepal side. After about 15 minutes of talking through it one of the Indian officials said he would walk across and ask the Nepalese border patrol if it was alright for me to pass, they agreed to let me through. After finishing the border formalities with India, I road across the bridge into Nepal. The Nepal side was like a ghost town, completely different than any border I’ve crossed so far. The only people I saw were about 30 army troops standing in the center of the road in full riot gear. I couldn’t see where the customs or immigration buildings were so I rode up to troops. One of the higher ranking guys spoke English and informed me that all customs and immigrations offices were closed because nobody was crossing the border. I was told to ride 4 hours to Katmandu and check into immigration there. Now if this sounds completely screwed up, IT IS!! Being in a country with no stamp and no paperwork for my motorcycle is just asking for trouble. I really had no other option at that point so I continued to ride on. About a mile down the road I was stopped by more troops in full riot gear and guess what they wanted to see? The immigration stamp and import paperwork for my motorcycle! I sat there for about 20 mins trying to explain to them their buddies down the road just told me to ride to Katmandu and they should call them on the radio to verify. Finally someone with some sort of authority that spoke English arrived but his message was not what I wanted to hear. He told me I had to wait two or three hours for the customs and immigration guys to get there so I could get all my paperwork sorted and get on the road. So there I waited, talking with the guy that spoke English, showing him pictures of my trip and admiring the beautiful Nepalese army girls. Maybe it was their uniform, maybe it was the fact they were walking around carrying AK-47s looking and smiling at me every once in a while, I don’t know but they were beautiful. Anyways, the guys finally showed up two and a half hours later and after another half hour after that I was on the road.
Leaving the group of soldiers and immigration guys I thought I was free all the way to Katmandu. I was wrong, completely wrong. No more than another mile down the road I came to the center of town where another 50-75 soldiers in full riot gear were standing in the middle of the road, except these guys were in formation. They were the first people I saw during that mile stretch of riding through town. I slowed as I approach and when I got within 20 feet I could finally see down the street they were facing. Sure enough there was a full on riot happening! Bricks, rocks, and Molotov cocktails getting thrown at police. Tires burning in the streets and the army holding back the crowd with firehoses. I sat there for about 5 seconds watching the madness unfold before I was yelled at to keep moving. Thinking once again I was out of the woods, I pressed on only to run into a blockade the locals had set up across the road. Big trees, concrete barriers, broken glass, and you could see all the black circles in the road where they had been burning tires. Looking to the left and right there was no way for me to get around it because both sides of the road had a small pond on each side. Quickly scanning my GPS and surroundings I found out I needed to backtrack about 2 blocks to a dirt road that looked like it went around the outside of town. As I’m working to get my bike turned around about 15-20 teenage kids appear from behind a fence holding pieces of wood, tree branches, and containers with who knows what. They spotted me and started to jog my way. I thought it was a real possibility my trip might end here. I started to go through my head what to use for a weapon and which one I’m going after first. As they got closer I can see that they have smiles on their face. Thank God they were more interested in looking at my motorcycle than trying to steal it, my fuel, and all my gear. After letting them have a look and showing them the road I was going to take they gave me the thumbs up, helped me push my motorcycle around and I was off. The rest of the trip to Katmandu I was on edge but made it there after a pretty uneventful yet beautiful drive that evening.
The next couple days I joined up with Frank, Petra, and Chris once again. We did the usually hanging out, drinking beers, and having a great time. Along with that I was busy lining up my visa for Myanmar and sourcing all the gear in needed for the trek to Base Camp Everest! With everything in place I was ready to get on a 5:50am flight to Lukla airport. One of the craziest and most dangerous airports in the world. Planes come into land on a steep incline so they can slow down on 460m strip. Takeoff is an all or nothing game. Once the plane starts rolling down the runway there is no way it can stop and if it doesn’t get airborne there is a surely fatal drop off the cliff into the canyon below.
My 12 day trek to Everest Base Camp was nothing short of incredible. This was another thing I had dreamed about before I left on my trip around the world. Being in the mountains trekking for that long was great for my mind, body, and soul. There is something inspirational about being in a place like that with people doing extraordinary things every day. I put climbing Everest on my bucket list and it is one thing I will do in my life. I guarantee that. My guide Tulu was great and staying at the Teahouses along the trail was an experience in and of itself. They are the most basic rooms you can imagine. Most are freezing cold at night, the beds are a thin mattresses on plywood and the comforters didn’t cut it so I slept in my sleeping bag every night. Electricity is a hot commodity if they have it. Some days I had to pay $5 just to charge my phone/camera! Another thing is the amount of food you consume on a trip like that. Everyday were huge breakfasts, lunches, and dinners. Always lots of eggs, noodles, dal baht, and tea just to try to keep your energy levels up for the next grueling hike. The highest point I reached during the trip was 18,481ft (5633m). That is only 1,840ft below the top of Mt. Denali! I decided that is another mountain I will climb in the next few years.
Everest Base Camp was different than I expected because it was totally deserted. They had shut down climbing in 2015 due to the earthquake that rocked Nepal last year. Also, nobody really climbs it at that time of year anyways. I didn’t realize they pack absolutely everything out. Looking up at the Khumbu icefall from base camp it’s hard to imagine so many climbers make it through that section. It would be extremely intimidating sitting at EBC acclimatizing for your climb looking up at that every day. After reaching EBC and Kala Patthar it was time to start the trek back down the mountain. The trip down was just as great and since you have pictures of almost everything already it’s great to hike and enjoy the surroundings. Getting back to Katmandu I relaxed for a couple days, got a couple massages and went out with some folks I had met on the trek. Leaving Gina behind in Nepal the next stop of my trip was China!