BootsnAll Travel Network



Archive for June, 2008

« Home

Once in a lifetime or make that second time but first wasn’t optional

Thursday, June 19th, 2008

100_6254.jpg
BEFORE

100_6263.jpg
AFTER

See the difference. No its not the shirt.

Well, I had planned to do my usual once a year haircut back in October on my birthday, but I was so pissed off at those flyaway hairs that are not long enough to fit in the back pony tail and constantly agitate my face. Well, six months later I showed those bastards. After that I had planned to try and do something spiritual and have it shaved off at some religious place where people shave their head to show their piousness and lack of “needing” anything. Well, I just couldn’t get into the religious swing of thing, so this just ended up being a good time. I also wanted to do it as I figure it is one of those things that everybody should do once in their life outside of Chemotherapy, baldness, swimmer, etc. How can you know unless you try. So, after getting my camera fixed I headed for my local barber shop and explained for a bit that yes I wanted my head to look like my ass. It was pretty painless and I really like it. Beyond the not having to maintain long hair, the constant agitation of hair on my face, the not being able to see when the wind/fan/motorcycle blows hair in my face, and the constantly having to either band it or wear a bandana, I think it looks pretty good. Other cool things is that I startle myself whenever I look in the mirror, my shirts get stuck on the velcro like stubble, and people think I am a Monk and are surprised when I am hanging around the westerners with my American accent. I really shocked people when I strolled around with my newly purchased aluminum handled umbrella wedged on my back between my day pack. It looks like a sword handle sticking out and I get tons of stares from people thinking I am some out of date ninja strolling around.

I didn’t get that cool shineyness yet so when I get back I might have it shaved again and then do it again with a standard razor and soap to see if I can get it totally bald. After that pick up some engine oil or grease or whatever shiney head people use and get that cap beaming. (Yazeed- could use your help on this.)

So that’s up to date of whats up with Steve. Be out of the loop for about a month so don’t expect too much although the whole trekking route you can get pizzas and internet access. I’m lazy and cheap.

Ciao

Manali to Nepal

Thursday, June 19th, 2008

100_6230.jpg
I spent about five days in the resort town of Manali. The area was beautiful and would have been an incredible place to hang out as it was in the 2500M range which was temperature perfect, the area is covered in Pine trees and raging rivers, and the high snow covered peaks surround the area. The major negative however is that it is a MAJOR Indian and foreigner tourist destination. All those masses of people who are up at the pass experiencing snow pretty much base out of Manali as well as the most of India who have the money and time to escape the heat that is overwhelming 98% of the second most populous country in the world. It was a total mad house and not my choices of places to rest and recover. It was however a major Enfield Bullet city, so there were a lot of shops where I spent a lot of time buying stuff to repair all the damage received from coming over the hill. As I wrote before, I was really lucky about making it over and I really had Schwinn to thank. That meant a pretty much open budget to get it put back together again. I could not find a mechanic that I could trust, so did most of the repairs myself. After those five days it was enough and I headed off to the Parvati Valley, home of hippies and hash.

I managed three days in the Parvati Valley as the place I stayed was Manali similar except that it was more village like and catered to the Israeli backpackers that pretty much made up the population of the town. The people at my hotel dubbed it little Israel. I had tv and a nice room so it was a pleasant few days. There were a lot of hikes through the steep ravines, but I wasn’t really up to it and ended up doing a few river treks to break up the day.

100_6234.jpg
After the Parvati valley, I made my way down to what is called the hill stations. They are basically in the foothill/mountain areas where because of the elevation they stay cool in the summer. All of the towns were again booming with Indian tourists looking to escape the heat so it was a nightmare trying to find decent accommodation. I had targeted Shimla the biggest and most popular hill station town and arrived right at night time. The weather is turning from pre-monsoon to full on monsoon season so I got hit with a few showers. Since I was still at elevation, it became a bit cold as well. When I got to Shimla, it was like being right back in a big city market. People were all over, it was a wall to wall madhouse. I was be-friended by one of the local touts and because of Shimlas weird lay out where as the hotels are on non-vehicle areas, I had no way of hotel hopping to find a place. We hit a half dozen of the “low priced” places and quickly found out that they were either booked or holding out for someone to pay four times the going rate. After an hour of hopping around I was getting pissed and just wanted out of the nightmare. I figured even though it was night, it was cold and raining, and I was still in some pretty high twisty roads, there was no way I was going to stay in that town. I dropped the guy off and hit the road figuring I would find something out of the city. Well, it was a risky move and not the brightest option, as it really started to rain, the power blacked out so even the villages I was passing I couldn’t see a guest house even if there was one there. I made it about two hours down the road when I saw a sign illuminated by a kid playing on his cell phone. I pulled over and it was a little road side restaurant with a boutique hotel attached to it. I ended up talking them down to 600 rupees (even though I would have paid anything), and got myself and my bags into a room. It was a pretty sketchy move, but alas it all worked out okay.

100_6235.jpg
My next stop was the famous town of Rishikesh. Rishikesh became famous when the Beatles ended up staying at an Ashram (All-inclusive yaga and meditation center). It is also known as ground zero for Yogaites. For me it was just another Indian town with a bunch of temples, but it became very popular when I found a really good mechanic. I ended up dropping some cash getting Schwinn in better shape than it has ever been. Still worth it though after all the times when I jumped on the kick start it and it started right up. I’m just about ready to rank it as being more dedicated than a dog. Any ways, it was another five day stay with three hanging out at the shop and the other two for me to rest and a little sight seeing.

Leaving Rishikesh, it was time to get out of India as Monsoon season was upon us (June 15th) and I was getting a bit weary of India. The border was still a few days ride away and the Western border was deemed questionable as it is the most rural side of Nepal and the roads were easily shut down once the rains started. The morning I was going to leave another couple Justin and Miriam (Canadian) stopped by while I was loading my bike and we ended up having the same plans so we ended up riding together. They had been on the road for about five months and had to do the Visa run to Nepal as well. We ended up making the two day border run as well as visiting the Western Park/Reserve of Bardiya National Park. The park was probably the most interesting of the Nepalese parks, but because of its location did not receive a quarter of the visitors as the more popular Chitwan. We pretty much had the village to ourselves and when Miriam and Justin did a jungle trek there hadn’t been another visitor for a month. Unfortunately because of poaching and the Maoist military slaughtering some of the big game, seeing many of the big game was pretty much negligable. The only safari that I would ever join would be one for Tigers and even though they used to have one of the strongest populations, the guides say it was just not going to happen. I did luck out and saw a Rhino, Elephant, and deer by just walking along the bordering roads around the park. The Rhino was kind of this docile lawn maintainer and the elephant was used for taking tourists around, and I assume that because the few deer I saw were in the military compound that they were probably more like pets, I still consider it a successful self-done safari. The most interesting creatures all happened to be in my bathroom where I had this gigantic spider, two scorpions, and a poison arrow frog. It was like some odd dangerous creature death match situation. I was fine with it as I had a good mosquito net, and figured I might make a few rupees doing tours.
100_6241.jpg
100_62421.jpg
This is also where my trusty camera finally died as I am assuming that being rained on continually for a week as well as three years of pounding are probably not the best thing for sensitive electronics. I had hoped that it would survive until South East Asia where I could get electronics cheaply, but I was still amazed at how long it did last.

After the park we made a rainy dash for Polkhara, one of two main towns in Nepal and base for the AnnaPurna trek which is a three week marathon trek. And that is were I am now. The two big issues are that my camera was dead and I luckily got it repaired saving me a ton of money and also my laptop hard drive is now deceased. I have it in the shop and will work on it when I get back.

Michel, Edith, Nissan, and Roni the Israelis that I did the mountain passes are here so I have been hanging out with them as well. Nepal is a meat eating country so I have had my share of steaks already. The plan is that Nissan, Roni, Justin, Miriam and myself are going to do the full Annapurna circuit. It looks like tomorrow we leave.

FYI for motorcyclists going to do Nepal, there really is no hassle for foreigners bringing in an Indian bike as all you have to do is pay 75 NR’s for each day you plan on being in country. You can pay initially as much as you want and then re-new in Polkara or Kathmandu. Painless.