Kathmandu airport is quite a hectic place. The queues and confusion in the visa application hall reminded us that a new country (as well as excitement and adventure) meant a new language and different ways of being.
The first thing to catch us off guard was the head shaking. Here shaking your head and shrugging a little means of course, yes or general agreement. Nodding your head is right out.
The second thing to catch us out was the idea that we are carrying too much kit. We are carrying too much weight and we need to shed some non-essential items before we hit the real mountains. Having said that, if you compare the loads that Nepali women carry on their heads over the same mountain passes with our lean mountain bikes and our ultralight gear we look like a right pair of soft southerners.
We have come to the conclusion that the Nepali people are hard as nails, not just because the environment demands it but because they carry themselves with such grace and style. On our first epic howler of a day, whenever I started to feel like we were crazy to be out here, cycling through rivers of mud past houses damaged by the 2015 earthquakes, in a thunderstorm a beautifully dressed lady would appear. Soaked through, you would be forgiven for thinking we’d both gone ten rounds with a Yeti. Each Nepali lady that appeared gliding above the muddy mountain track looked like a million dollars and smelt like Spring. We really must try to look less tired, sweaty and bedraggled in front of the locals.
Next up, road categorisation. Red roads are A roads, yellow roads are main roads and white roads are minor, just like the UK, right? Please see pictures of the “main roads” we have encountered so far. There aren’t going to be any easy rides in Nepal, even the downhill is exhausting.
Most importantly the food here is lovely. We both hope that Dahl Baht, Thukpa soup and Buffalo Momo are the key to channelling our inner mountain goats.