Biking Asia with Mr Pumpy!
Cycling the South of India. The ride, the road, the facts

Go to Nepal Map!

Go to Nepal Topographical Map!

Cycling Nepal in brief:
Capital: Kathmandu
Language: Nepali
Religion: Hindu, Buddhist, some Muslim
Population: Lots in the Kathmandu Valley, moderate to thin in the Terai.
The People:

1. Kathmandu: Friendly, but it's a tourist town.
2. The Terai: Open, easy & welcoming
Personal safety: Excellent
Rip-offs: In Kathmandu - moderate,
in the Terai - non-existent
The Ride: Easy, beautiful
Road: Excellent
Distance/day: 100 km/day, easy
Left/right: Left hand side
Traffic: Moderate to very light
Bike shops:
1. Kathmandu: Good
2. The Terai: Basic
Hotels/guesthouses: Plenty
Food & drinks: Every 5/10 km
The Weather:
1. Kathmandu: Temperate
2. The Terai: Tropical
All up: It doesn't get any better!

The Reverse Route!
Nepalgunj to Kathmandu:
1. Nepalgunj to Narayanghat - 373 km
Flat to rolling, easy.
2. Narayanghat to the Top of the Kathmandu Valley - 135 km
Two days uphill all the way, getting steeper the closer you get to Kathmandu. A very solid workout!
Note: The last 15 km to the top are extremely steep!
3. Top of the Valley to KTM - 9 km
Downhill, then into Kathmandu. Easy.






Cycling Nepal: Over the hills and far away!
Kathmandu to Nepalgunj and Gonda (India) along the Terai!

Leg 1: Kathmandu to Nepalgung and the Indian Border - 517 km
A beautiful ride through the south of Nepal. Great scenery, friendly locals, a first class paved road, not much traffic, and surprisingly few hill climbs. "It doesn't get much better than this!" says Mr Pumpy, and I agree.

Leg 2: The Indian Border at Nepalgunj to Gonda (India) - 100 km
A simple run down a paved road into chaos.
You pass the usual towns, mud huts, cows and weird things, work your way through the traffic, dodge the potholes, and try to stay alive as best you can. Welcome to northern India, where the cycling is never easy. .

See Nepal Map at left.

General Information
Leg 1: Kathmandu to Nepalgunj & the Indian Border - 517 km

The Ride: A truly excellent ride. Mostly downhill to flat, a great road, minimal traffic and good but basic food and accommodation. The scenery is spectacular, the locals are friendly and it's as safe and relaxed as it gets.

The Road: Sealed, wide, smooth and in first class condition all of the way. Leaving Kathmandu, the run is effectively 130 km downhill (out of the Himalayan foothills) to Narayanghat, and then flat to rolling along the Terai all the way to Nepalgunj. This is one sweet road!

The road in fabulous Pumpyscope:
Down through the foothills:
Through the Terai:

The People/The Tourism:
The Nepalis are basically easy going and forgiving people, and have got their tourist priorities pretty well sorted. It's all basically straightforward - you pay for what you consume, and the rip-offs are minimal, depending on what you are trying to buy.

See Some Snaps... at left.

Kathmandu: Western tourists have been flooding into Kathmandu since around about the time 'All you need is Love' was first released in the late sixties. The lifestyle is laid-back, the architecture exotic, the food is good, the drugs are plentiful, and the whole exotic show is surrounded by the the Himalayas, the world's tallest mountain range, A tourist Mecca it is, and with pretty good reason. Kathmandu is a genuine one-off, and cycling around town is the fun way to go.
Unfortunately, however, the downside is that these days during the high seasons of June-July and Dec-Jan., the town is a sardine can of backpackers, trekkers, ferals, dope smokers and Nordic types in very clean clothes. As a result, it's not really Mr Pumpy's idea of 'getting out there', so he doesn't hang around too long.
"I'm just not into queuing up for a banana smoothie behind a long line of insanely healthy looking Swedes, Feely!" he says, and I know the feeling.

Still, cycling training regimes can take all shapes and sizes, so it's not all bad. See Kathmandu... the Other Side! at left.

The Kathmandu Valley: The Valley is only about 40 km from one end to the other, and you can easily spend a few days chuffing about visiting the many wonders and weird things, your bike being your greatest asset.

The Terai: The Terai is the tropical southern area of Nepal that borders India. Geographically it's characterised by flat to rolling plains, which makes for great cycling. It's also thinly populated, and the locals are as trustworthy and laid back as it gets.
In Kathmandu, when you start getting that 'canned experience on special today' feeling, it might be time to get on the bike and head out into the Terai.

See Nepal Topographical Map, and Out in the Terai... at left.

The Traffic:
Kathmandu: The city is a mess of winding roads and alleyways, and the traffic is congested and chaotic, but slow. Bicycles are common, so just be careful when you come around corners and you'll be sweet.
The Valley: The traffic around the Valley is moderate to busy, depending on the time of day. It tends to chaos, but the aggression factor is low, so just stay alert, be careful at intersections and all will be well.
The Foothills/The Terai: As soon as you leave the Kathmandu Valley the traffic volume drops off markedly, and the further west you head, the thinner it gets. By the time you arrive in Chanauta, you can have a full ten minutes on the road without a single motorised vehicle, which is something indeed. Cycling out here is nothing short of marvelous.

Road Safety: Considering the good roads, the moderate to thin traffic volume and the fairly polite drivers, this ride comes up trumps on safety.
A lot of the traffic outside of the Valley consists of buses and trucks, which may be pushing along at a crack, but by and large stick to the rules.
On the scale of things traffic and safety, Nepal is a 9!

Road Carnage: Despite the excellent safety standard, Mr Pumpy had two traffic related near-death experiences on this ride, the closest he's ever come to taking that big bike path up into the sky.
The moral of the tale is that no matter how safe it looks, it pays to remember, every once in a while, like Mr Pumpy, that you are on a bike, and mortal.

See Mr Pumpy's Near-Death Experiences 1 & 3 below.

Hills (to climb): Three of note.
Hill 1 Kathmandu Valley: A soft 5 km climb out of the Valley through Tangkot. Easy. (See Hill Climb No.1 in The Ride in Detail, below.)
Hill 2 Dumkibas: A steep 7 km climb straight up the hill just past Dumkibas. Tough. (See Dumkibas, below.)
Hill 3 Chanauta: A stiff 12 km climb up through the mountains 13 km past Chanauta. Grinding. (See Mr Pumpy's Near-Death Experience No.2, below.)

Visa: The usual Nepali tourist visa is for six weeks, and if you've got that amount of time to spend, you can do worse than to spend it on this ride.

Time: If you are fit you can easily average 125 km/day on this ride, and make it into Nepalgunj in 4 days.
However, once you get out into the Terai human time slows down immensely (along with Mr Pumpy), so if you're looking to get your head out of the machine, why rush? Take a month, take two!

If you are going on to Mahendranegar (and India) from Kohalpur/Nepalgunj, add on another 2 or 3 days at speed, a week if your belief structure is losing a few spokes.

Best time to go:
1. Dry Season: December - February: The cool months of December through February are the most popular time to visit Nepal and India, and a good time to cycle. The skies are clear, there's no rain and, theoretically, the temperature sits at around 20 to 25 degrees Celsius most days. Make sure you slap on some sunburn cream.
Pre-monsoon: March - May: The least best time to go is pre-monsoon, when the weather is sticky and hot and the air tends to be dusty.
3. Monsoon: June - August: The monsoon is a fair time to go, all things considered. As with any monsoon, the rain varies from day to day, coming in patches, sometimes light, sometimes heavy, and you can generally work your way around it. The main requirement for riding in the monsoon period is a paved road, and preferably not too much traffic, "The rain is a good excuse to sit in a teahouse and soak up the family warmth!" says Mr Pumpy, and I agree.
4. Post-monsoon: September - November: The best cycling season. The skies are clear of dust, the paddies are green and there's still some cloud cover, taking the bite out of the sun.

See Cycling the Monsoon! at left.

Health/Microbes: No too bad on the scale of things Asian: better than India, worse than Thailand, and about equivalent to Indonesia. You pay your money, you take your chances, and use common sense. .
See also Food and Accommodation below.

is the standard, traditional Nepali meal, available everywhere.
Daal-Bhat (as it's called) consists of daal (lentils), bhat (white rice), kari (curried vegetable), and achar (spicy relish). Common side dishes are aloo (potato), fried meat (buffalo or goat), eggs, chapattis and the occasional nondescript mushy thing.
Daal-bhat will never make it into the Michelin Guide, and although it's kinda boring, it's actually a well balanced meal, and good for cycling. You can do a lot worse.

Kathmandu is a cyclist's foody bits dream: pizza, hamburgers, steak, pasta, German bread, Swiss cheese, cappuccinos, yoghurt shakes, chocolate cake, hash cookies... you name it, you can get it.
The Valley also sports a lot of good cafes and eateries.
Out in the Terai things culinary turn rapidly basic, and you'll be eating a lot of daal-bhat, every day, just like the Nepalis.
Now, I know a big plate of fried goat is hard to resist after a long day in the saddle, but still, it pays to be careful with the meat.

Bottled water
is available everywhere, as are teashops serving good, strong, milky tea. Same-same sweets, chocolate and boiled lollies. No worries!

• Kathmandu
is loaded with hotels and guesthouses, all prices, all levels of cleanliness, from 5 dollars and up.

• In the Terai
guesthouses are also plentiful, if basic, most small towns sporting at least one.
Cleanliness varies, but the further out you get, the 'cleaner' the dirt gets, if that makes any sense.
Take a light bed sheet and a pillow slip if you're worried about bed bugs, and some rubber flip-flops for walking about in the share bathroom with the goats.
There's better class hotels in the bigger burgs, with towels, TVs and less microbe stress; you get what you pay for.
3 dollars will get you a basic room in a guesthouse with a hard bed and an outside loo, and 10 dollars will get you the Bicycle Suite in the local hotel.

Camping: Once you're through Narayanghat the camping possibilities are endless. Camp in a field by a river, snuggle up to your bike under the stars, whisper sweet things... it could be worse.

In Kathmandu and the Valley, lock your bike and keep an eye on things at all times! It's a tourist burg, and robberies happen.
• Out in the Terai take the usual precautions in the big towns, but in the small villages you'd be awfully stiff to get your bike nicked. Life out here is basically quiet, personal and honest; they don't see a lot of tourists outside of a bus, and will treat you with great respect.

Personal Safety: As safe as it gets.
The Maoist Insurgency is over (not that it was ever a problem for tourists) and politically things have settled down to the usual mystifying pan-Asian fracas.
The Nepalis themselves are basically a peaceful, well mannered lot, and the last thing anybody wants to do is harm a tourist on a bike. Have no fear.

Women cyclists: Perfectly safe, even if you cycle alone. The Nepalis are pretty OK on the annoying, small-brained male side of the equation, and as usual, the local women, although aghast at your bold cycling endeavour, will welcome you with open arms.
"Proceed with confidence, fair cycling gal!" says Mr Pumpy, and he would know.



Bike Jihad/Al Qaeda: Not a problem! There's a minority Muslim population in Nepal, centred mostly in the Terai adjacent to India, but you'd be hard pressed to find any radical behaviour.
Asia's a big place, and a bomb in the Marriott Hotel in Jakarta, or a run of bombs in Mumbai, as awful as they may be, have little bearing on touring cycling; your own fear may be the problem.
"Eyes on the bus, not on the bombs!" says Mr Pumpy, and I'm with the program.

See Bike Jihad! at left.

Money: In Kathmandu prices tend to be 'tourist' and you can easily blow 30 to 40 dollars US a day just on basics, viz.; 10 dollars for a hotel, 5 or 6 dollars for lunch, 10 to 15 dollars for dinner and so on.
Of course you can do it cheaper. Eat where the locals eat, cut down on the yoghurt-fruit shakes and you can get by for under 20 dollars a day.
Out in the Terai things are basic and cheap. A bare-bones guesthouse will cost you about 3 to 5 dollars a night, a decent hotel about 10. You can get a good plate of daal-bhat for 2 or 3 dollars and drinks are the usual one dollar or so.
If you budget on about 20 to 30 dollars/day for basics, you'll be sweet, 40 dollars and up if you're flush.

See Let's talk money! at left, although it probably won't help you much.

ATMs/Money Change: There are ATMs in Kathmandu and in the bigger burgs out in the Terai. It's possible to change major currencies at all the banks/money changers, but still, keep the usual 100 US dollars in small notes tucked into your wallet at all times, just in case.

Internet: Kathmandu is loaded with cheap internet cafes, and the speed is workable depending on the usual factors. Out in the Terai, the bigger towns all have a cafe or three, but once you leave the burgs, forget it.

Bike Shops: There's a couple of well equipped bike shops in Thamel, the main tourist area in Kathmandu. They can do OK repairs and sell a small range of quality gear.
Outside of the Valley things turn drastically low tech. Each town has a small bike shop of sorts doing basic repairs. The happy bike chap will fix a puncture, replace tyres, tubes and spokes, and true your wheel, all with a smile, all for a buck or two. Not bad!
Just make sure you're riding on 26 inch wheels, and don't forget to tip!

To Mahendranegar& India (Delhi) in the far west: If you're continuing on to Mahendranegar and entering India from the far west of Nepal, it's about another 250 km on from Kohalpur (Nepalgunj) to the border. From the Nepal/Indian border at Mahendranegar it's about 300 km to Delhi.
The Nepali road remains excellent, but the villages and guesthouses thin out appreciably. You may need to camp by a river, sling a hammock on temple outhouse or ingratiate yourself with a local family.
(Mr Pumpy is enormously good at ingratiating himself, so we at Team Pumpy never have a problem.)
If you do stay with a family, 5 dollars for a bed and a meal should be smiles all around and win-win.


The Ride in Detail
Leg 1: Kathmandu to Nepalgunj & the Indian Border - 517 km

Start: Kathmandu to the Top of the Kathmandu Valley - 9 km
• From Kathmandu (KTM) - 9 km

From Kathmandu (the central Durbar Square) head west for about 4 km out of the city (towards Pokhara) along the Tribuvan Path (Highway) to the bottom of the hill.

Hill climb No.1: To the Top of the Valley - 5 km
From the bottom of the hill, it's an easy 3 km climb up to Tangkot, a small village that serves good morning tea.
From Tangkot it's a further 2 km climb up the hill to the Police Check Post at the top.

The morning traffic is mixed: busy in parts, thin in others, but always chaotic and dusty. The road is sealed and in good condition.

The View Magnificent: The Top of the Valley!
Just around the corner from the Police Post is the Top of the Kathmandu Valley, and the view is simply astonishing! The mountains rise, and the road before you curves, twists and falls in basically one long downhill sweep all the way to Narayanghat.
All you gotta do is push yourself over the edge and start freewheeling...

Top of the Kathmandu Valley to Mugling Bazaar - 101 km
• From Kathmandu (KTM) - 110 km

At the top of the Kathmandu Valley check your brakes; you'll be needing them. The kick-off is a very steep and winding 15 km plunge down the side of the mountain into the Trisuli River Valley. It's a roller coaster ride of pure joy.

The traffic is light, there's guesthouses dotted along the road at 10-15 km intervals and plenty of food and drink stops.

The Trisuli River
The Trisuli River runs beside the road, down on your right hand side, all the way to Narayanghat. She's a thundering young lady of immense power and beauty, and
Mr Pumpy was extremely taken. "She's my kinda gal, Feely!" he said, more than once.

Maleku is a nondescript village (71 km from Kathmandu, 30 from Mugling Bazaar) that roughly marks the half way point on the long fall to Narayanghat. If you want to save some of the freewheeling up for tomorrow, it might be worth stopping here for the night. There are three basic guesthouses and a few eateries, but not a lot else.

There is, however, guesthouses dotted all along the road, so you can simply pull into the first one that takes your fancy.

Out of Maleku the road continues downhill, wide and generous. Approaching Mugling there's a few short, easy uphill sections, but nothing to worry about, other than you need to actually start pedaling for a change.

Mugling Bazaar
Mugling Bazaar is a small, bus terminal town, perched on the bank of the Trisuli River and surrounded by mountains. It's busy and scrappy, but curious enough in its own way. There's a heap of hotels, guesthouses, restaurants and helpful Nepalis, so no problem finding decent food and digs.

At the town limit are the turn offs to Narayanghat and Pokhara.

The Road to Pokhara - 125 km (approx.)
If you're heading to Pokhara, continue straight on down the road to the west end of Mugling Bazaar, and keep going for about 125 km. The road's good and it's up and down most of the way.

From Pokhara you can head 125 km (approx.) south to Butwal and reconnect with the Mr Pumpy route.

Mugling Bazaar to Narayangaht - 34 km
from KTM - 144 km

Take the left fork in the road at the west end of Mugling Bazaar, cross the bridge and keep going (southwest) to Narayanghat.

It's a spectacular run. The road clings tenaciously to the side of the mountain and down below the Trisuli River rumbles on. "I like a woman with staying power, Feely!" said Mr Pumpy, more than once. (See The Trisuli River, above.)

There's plenty of funky chai-shops along the way that may not have electricity, but make up for it with good tea, good cheer, nourishing food, no rip-offs and the occasional monkey. It's good!

Exit the mountains - Enter the Terai!
24 km on from Mugling (10 km before Narayanghat) you leave the mountains behind - Welcome to the Terai! The road levels off and the scenery opens into rolling plains and open paddy fields, and it may be tempting to hop a bus back up to Kathmandu and do it all again.

Narayanghat lies at the confluence of the Trisuli and the Kali Kandaki Rivers, a large sprawling town where the locals can't quite work out why tourists shun the place.
It may simply be the Neo-Indian architecture, that ad hoc muddle of square concrete buildings lavishly decorated with electrical wiring, but in fact, Narayanghat is an interesting town.
It's immensely laid-back, the folks are helpful, and there's lots of alleyways, shops, markets and teahouses for you to discover as you tootle about on the bike.
There's a few decent hotels around the bus station (on your right as you enter the town proper) and s
unset over the river from the top floor is worth catching.
"The great thing about a town like this," said Mr Pumpy, "is that the backpackers just blow through and leave it all for us!" Roll on noble cyclists!

Narayanghat to Dumkibas - 63 km
from KTM - 207 km

The road continues good and fast southwest out of Narayanghat, past the Chitwan National Park and through long stretches of dense forest. You roll into valleys, cross rivers and climb out again, over and over, and Mr Pumpy couldn't get enough of it.

"This is close to cycling heaven, Feely!" he laughed, and who could argue?

Monkeys, birds and waving kids dot the landscape, and there are small villages every 5 or 10 kilometres that invariably sport a teashop, a guesthouse, and a Photocopy Depot, which may prove handy.

Just before Dumkibas there's a long, sweet 8 km roll into the Binai Khola River Valley, with the landscape spreading out around you into all things green and tropical.

Dumkibas is a small, nothing of a village, but the folks are as friendly as it gets. There's a small, very basic guesthouse on the north side of the road and a few rudimentary eateries opposite.

If you stop for the night, you've got a stiff climb out of town just after breakfast, so get a good night's kip.

Dumkibas to Butwal - 51 km
from KTM - 258 km

Hill Climb No.2: Dumkibas
There's a steep 7 km climb straight up the hill just out of Dumkibas, and it will test you. Mercifully, there's teashops at the top.

It'll take you at least an hour to make the summit, more if you collapse half way.

From the top it's a 7 km rush down the other side of the mountain onto rolling flatlands and sweeping river valleys. The country is nothing short of exquisite. There's villages every 5 to 10 kilometres all the way to Butwal, and guesthouses abound.

Butwal: City of Hope, Birthplace of the Mother of the Lord Buddha.
Butwal sprawls along the highway, busy and haggard. The birthplace of the mother of the Lord Buddha (Peace be upon Him!) it may be, but it's still a dog. There's a few hotels and a lot of cafes.

Turn right at the T-intersection as you come into town, head up towards the Butwal Bridge, and you're on your way to Chanauta.

The Kali Kandaki River and the Butwal Bridge
The Kali Kandaki River, Trisuli's big sister, thunders her way under the Butwal Bridge like an army invading, and she's quite an experience. "This is my kinda gal, Feely!" said Mr Pumpy, standing on the bridge with his arms outstretched.
"What happened to the Trisuli?" I asked.
"I like 'em both!" he said, and then he cycled off.

The alternative Buddhist Route through Lumbini
Turn left at the T-intersection as you come into Butwal, and you're on your way to Sunauli (the Indian Border) and Lumbini, the birth place of the Lord Buddha Himself (Peace be upon Him!), about 50 km away.

You can hook back onto the main drag at Chanauta.

For an even deeper spiritual experience, see Mr Pumpy's Gwiffing your way to enlightenment! at left.

Butwal to Chanauta - 65 km
• from KTM - 323 km

Turn right (north) at the T-intersection as you come into Butwal, head a kilometre or so up along the river, turn left (west) over the Butwal Bridge, and you're on your way to Chanauta.

The first 5 or so kilometres out of town is a treat; the road weaves around the mountains, skirts the river and gets Mr P's official stamp of approval. After that it's a flat, sweet run all the way to Chanauta; cute villages, scrappy villages, forests and the welcoming, uncluttered arms of all things Nepali.

Chanauta is another sprawling, middle-sized dog of a town, but the folks are friendly and helpful.

There's three semi-grubby guesthouses in a line on the right hand side of the road just before the turn off (south) to India, and a funky eatery serving good Daal-Bhat opposite (near the big tree with the tethered goat).

This burg's not real high on Mr Pumpy's list of romantic weekend get-a-ways, but he was quite taken with the goat.

Chanauta to Bhalubang - 35 km
• f
rom KTM - 358 km

About 8 km out of Chanauta on the left hand side of the road is a small mini-mart selling food and drinks, and if you haven't stocked up in Chanauta, do so here. (See below.)

A further dead-flat 4 km along is Sunaika (Suranaika), or at least where Sunaika was before it got wholly abducted by a UFO and was never seen again. Strangely, it was marked large and red on our map, and after under-whelming Chanauta, Mr Pumpy was expecting pretty much the Las Vegas of the Terai.

"Maybe we can pull in and see a show, Feely?" he said. "The Ringo Starr All Star Band might be playing!"

Well, not quite; Sunaika doesn't exist, and Mr Pumpy didn't get to buy any water, nor did he get to see Ringo Starr (Peace be upon him!), but he did almost get to see John and George (Peace be upon them!).












Mr Pumpy
Spreads the Good Word!

See Mr Pumpy's Near Death Experience No.1 at left.

Hill Climb No.3: The hills beyond Chanauta - 12 km
13 km out of Chanauta (just past where Sunaika isn't), begins a grueling 12 km climb up through the hills.

The road goes up and up, cuts along gorges, hangs over rivers, whips back and forth, and then goes up again. It's rugged, ugly country, and tough going in the heat. Make sure you stock up with a couple of litres of water.

See Mr Pumpy's Near Death Experience No.2 at left.

As per Mr Pumpy's Near-Death Experience No.2, there's a water pipe jutting out of the rock, on your left hand side, at about the 8 km mark (est.) up the hill, and a shower may be in order.

Thankfully, there's a line of teashops at the top (actually two lines, the first line being a faux-summit, about a kilometre from the real top), and trust me, you will be stopping.

The climb will take you about 2 or 3 hours.

After you've re-hydrated with a couple of teas at the teashop on the top of the hill, and can now vaguely remember why you do this leg-cracking, mind-numbing activity called cycling, you get to ride one of the best legs of the whole trip...

The roller coaster into Bhalubang!
From the teashops at the crest of the climb the road weaves down, down, and up and down through the mountains like a fairground roller coaster. It's 10 km of unabashed fun! The view stretches out into a long verdant valley, the Rapati River rumbling below, and away in the distance lie villages, mountains and a sky so blue it'll steal your breath.

"I love it, Feely!" shouted Mr Pumpy, as we tore down the mountain, side by side, his two very recent near-death experiences forgotten in a sea of freewheeling cycling endorphins, for such is life on two wheels.

Bhalubang's a small, quaint town perched on the west bank of the Rapati (Rapati) River, beside a very large military base. It sports two basic guesthouses (on the left as you enter the town, just over the very long bridge), the usual eateries, a Muslim barber (see Al-Qaeda/Bike Jihad, above) and surprise of surprises, an English medium school for cute kids.

If you choose to spend the night, and wander out onto the bridge in the late afternoon, you'll be accosted by a gang of young schoolgirls wanting to know:
1. 'Do you travel in Nepal?',
2. 'Do like Nepal?' and,
3. 'Can you visit to our school and make a talk?'

Mr Pumpy answered correctly on all counts*, and the next day was doing his best to impart cycling wisdom to the sensitive, young minds at Deukhura Valley English Medium Boarding School.

(*The answers, if you never went to school, are: Yes, Yes, and Yes.)

See Mr Pumpy Spreads the Good Word! at left. (It must be said, in Mr Pumpy's favour, that he'd just survived two near-death experiences...)

Bhalubang to Lamahi - 25 km
• from KTM - 383 km

Enter the Remote Zone!
From Bhalubang the road curls flat and easy around the mountains, through villages, beside paddies, across rivers, inside a vast canopy air.

"We're really 'out there' now, Feely!" said Mr Pumpy, as we cycled leisurely along.
"Yup, so we are... " I said, vast canopies of air and a distinct lack of traffic also having an effect on the mind.

Bhalubang and the Rapati River mark a loose transition between 'rural' Terai' and the more 'remote', and the further west you go, the more 'out there' it all becomes.

Roll on vast, weird, beautiful world!

Lamahi is a compact, busy little town with a few hotels and guesthouses, a market and lots of shops. It's a way stop for buses on the way to and from Mahendranegar, Nepalgunj and Kathmandu.

Lamahi to Kusum - 54 km
• from KTM - 437 km

More beautiful road, more beautiful scenery; it just goes on and on. Most small villages along the way have shops and guesthouses of some shape or form, so wherever you choose to stop for the night, it'll be basic, but sweet.

About 25 km (est.) from Lamahi is the small road-junction post of Amile. There's two teahouses at the intersection, and on your right is a funky white Shiva Temple surrounded by grass and trees, leading down to the river. There is also, what appears to be, a rather large hand-drawn ferris wheel, or part thereof, surrounded by lots of curious boys. It's a fun stop.

Kusum is a small, nondescript village with two basic guesthouses perched quietly on the south side of the road, opposite a large Nepali army post.

Sporting sand bags, razor wire, searchlights and soldiers in various states of activity and dress, the army post is quite a sight. "It's just like in the movies, Feely!" said Mr Pumpy, and I had to agree. Just make sure you don't take any photos, in which case the soldiers may take you inside the wire and do strange things to your mind and body, which is probably not what you want.

Kusum to Kohalpur- 60 km
• from KTM - 497 km

More beautiful road, forests, rivers, villages, friendly people, cute kids, and healthy goats.

About 20 km (est.) out of Kusum is the Staff Hotel & Bar, Mr Pumpy's favourite Lodging and Fooding stop on the whole trip. However, life on two wheels being what it is, it was almost Mr Pumpy's last Lodging and Fooding stop ever.

See Mr Pumpy's Near-Death Experience No.3 at left.

Kohalpur stretches out along the highway just before the turn off to Nepalgunj. There's a run of guesthouses and good eateries, so if you're continuing on to Mahendranegar stay the night here, and head west in the morning.

To Mahendranegar& India in the far west:
From Kohalpur to Mahendranegar on the far western Nepal-Indian border, it's about 250 km along the same first class road, but out there in the far west the villages and guesthouses get a lot thinner on the ground. As a result, you may need to bed down in a cafe, farmer's house, the precincts of a temple or maybe under a tree at some point.
If you're camping, this leg is a bonanza.

Whatever the case, this being Asia, it'll work out!

From Mahendranegar it's about 300 km to Delhi.

Kohalpur to Nepalgunj - 12 km
from KTM - 509 km

Just past Kohalpur, turn left (south) off the highway and it's a 12 km flat run into Nepalgunj.

Nepalgunj is large and sprawling, noisy and disheveled, and really doesn't have much to offer other than an overnight stay before you cross into India. There's oodles of guesthouses, lots of shops, a bus station and plenty of helpful people.

Nepalgunj to The Indian Border - 8 km
from KTM - 517 km

From Nepalgunj town it's a straight, flat 8 km run to the border itself.

Immigration, both exit out of Nepal and entry into India, is straightforward; no queues, no bag searches, friendly enquiries about the bike and bingo!, you're out of Nepal and into India, for better or worser, surrounded by money changer wallas.










General Information
Leg 2: The Indian Border to Gonda - 100 km

Welcome to India!

The Ride: An easy enough ride into the usual chaos of northern India. You pass farms, villages, temples, trees, cows and the occasional bizarre oddity, but other than the fact that this is raw India without the tourists, there's not a lot to recommend.

The Road: Reasonable condition, sealed with intermittent potholes. Dead flat, no hills.

Traffic: Moderate, but always tricky; trucks and buses (with air-horns), cars and pedestrians (with no road sense) and a few cows (with no sense at all).

The People: Indian people are generally warm, friendly and helpful (albeit under a lot of stress), so when you are sitting in a tea house, or under a tree, surrounded by kids, goats and a talkative schoolteacher on his day off, things can be very ambient indeed. However, it can all go bad very quickly when you actually have to get something done, and your own stress level becomes part of the problem.

Safety/Theft: Despite having over one billion people living together in close proximity, India is a remarkably safe country. The microbes will get you long before the thuggees and fundamentalists, so simply take the usual precautions, and have no fear.
Regards theft, be vigilant with your bike and valuables at all times; if left unattended, your stuff will disappear.

Women cyclists: Any young Western woman on the street in India without male company will attract unwanted attention, and it can become annoying. If you are female it's best to cycle with company, preferably male. When it does all get too much you may find yourself becoming a little more fiery than is the usual lady-like thing back home, and what to do? It's India.

Food & Water: The food is the usual Northern Indian fare of rice, curry, daal, roti and tea, and bottled water is available everywhere.

Microbes: Microbes are a problem, and most days you are riding with an upset tummy (read: a mild case of the runs), although it's usually nothing too debilitating, believe it or not.
However, if you are from North America, Indian microbes love nothing better than to launch concerted jihad attacks on your sometimes overly germ free intestinal tract, and good luck.
Mr Pumpy recommends eating out of small cafes and street stalls where the food is fresh daily, and hasn't had too many people sticking their fingers in the daal. Avoid the meat, and when sitting down to dine, allow your American cyclist friends easy access to the ablution block.

Accommodation: There's a couple of hotels along the way, but not a great choice. It may be best to go straight through to Gonda from the border in one hop.

Camping: Finding a secluded camping spot anywhere in India short of the Himalayas might be difficult. The locals, being a curious lot, are likely to visit at 3 in the morning, just to ask you what you are doing. Not recommended.

The Ride in Detail
Leg 2: The Indian Border to Gonda - 100 km

Start: Indian Border to Nanpala - 20 km
• from KTM - 537 km

Indian Immigration is easy and straightforward. There's no queues, and the border guys love cyclists. If you tell them that you are cycling all the way to England they may even bring you a nice tea whilst the paper work is getting done.

The border town itself is a ramshackle gathering of hotels, shops, eateries, and money changer wallas. The road is a muddy (or dusty) cattle track (depending on the season) full of busy people, but once you're clear of the town things settle down, somewhat.

From the border town it's a 20 km dead flat straight run to Nanpala.

The scenery is pleasant - fields, villages, women in colourful dress etc, but you will have to concentrate on the road a little more than in laid-back, ambient Nepal.

Nanpala is a small town with no hotels, but it does have a train station if you decide to bail on the cycling. (Considering the light but annoying drizzle, the trucks, the air horns, the cows and the blind pedestrians, I do wonder why we at Team Pumpy didn't bail and just take the train to Gonda. Maybe we weren't thinking straight?)

Nanpala to Gonda - 80 km
from KTM - 617 km

More flat, sealed road, some potholes, and lots of trucks, air-horns and cows. There's plenty of teahouses and food shops along the way, numerous small towns and villages, the occasional hotel and not a few blind pedestrians.


Gonda - the Fly Capital of India!

Gonda is a your usual, sprawling, middle-sized Indian city, and on one level it's fascinating; this is raw, urban India without the over-size of a megapolis like Mumbai. There's a couple of hotels, lots of mosques and temples, not a few alleyways with weird stuff going on, and not a tourist to be seen.
On another level the city is a cauldron of frustration. English speakers, town maps, decipherable directions and anything that may vaguely be termed 'logical information' is a rare commodity, which can make for a difficult stay (notably if you are stuck in the rain for 3 days.)

Which brings me to the flies: I've never seen so many flies in any one place, in all of my life.

The Gonda Hotel: Amityville India
Question: How many flies can two cyclists burn to death in a hotel room with two butane lighters in one 20 minute maniacal whirly-whirl?
Answer: 112 (We counted the bodies!)
However, the hotel management assured us it's a seasonal thing. "Flies only come in the monsoon, sahibs! After monsoon, no flies!" said the nice man in the white shirt at the front desk.
"Oh, but we like to burn them!" replied Mr Pumpy, the light of the Apocalypse burning in his eyes. "Do you have any more rooms you'd like cleared?"
And then the frogs started up. Yeah, India, it's a trip.

See Gonda! at left.

Gonda to Delhi by Bike - 600 km approx.
Head west! Good luck!

Gonda to Delhi by Train - 12 hours
Gonda Junction (Gonda Station) is a main rail junction for journeys to all points Indian.
From Gonda Junction it's a 12 hour rail journey to Old Delhi Station, you in the front, bike in the luggage compartment. Again, it's the usual chaos: ticket, bike, train delays, seat number, carriage number, platform number and 'I wish I didn't need to use the toilet, but I do!', etc, but things work out in the end, somehow.

See Train to Old Delhi at left.