Day 2: Malekhu-Arughat

STRAVA DATA

Hotel/Guest House: Third Step Hotel (500 rupees, WiFi)

We rode down to the bridge to cross over the river to get on the road to Dhadingbesi.  A steep climb of about a few kilometers, maybe 2km but not long.  I am feeling the backpack straps much more than yesterday.  Lugging a 20 lbs backpack up a hill was very slow.  I dropped down to my triple ring right at the base of the climb.  It’s the first time I’ve used my triple ring on the bike and was very grateful for a 10-speed with a triple!

I wasn’t sure if not wearing a bike shorts with padding was a good idea or having no bike gloves but you know what, it’s only skin.  It was an overcast day and a really nice breeze as we crested the climb then it was this wonderful rolling, paved riding through farms and small villages.  The road is still a highway but less traveled so it was a nice change.

We got to Dhadingbesi at a good time and stopped over to have some tea.  The tea house owner spoke really good English and asked us where we were going so we chatted a bit.  Since we are the only foreigner around the little town, people came by to check us out.  We parked our bike outside the tea house and people were coming over to look at “the” machine and started staring at us.  I know that it’s pretty rare for mountain bikers to ride along the trading route to Pokhara so we’ve become a bit of an entertainment each town we visit.

Doug wanted to stop longer but I sort of wanted to get going to get to Arughat.  It was the second day of my period and I really need to get where I need to go without dilly-dallying around.  I can see Doug is super tired and we have a big climb to Arughat, however I was also very tired and there are absolutely no restrooms around and it’s a bit complicated in terms of hygiene.  Sorry for the details but this is part of the realities of traveling as a woman.  I was starting to feel fatigued as we started our climbing but had to really hang on until we get to Arughat.  If we keep moving, we will get to our destination sooner even if we were slow.

We hit dirt after Dhadingbesi and the climb was tough.  The first few miles was very dusty and I really can’t believe buses go through the narrow, rocky and rutted out dirt roads.  We had to stop and find a spot on the side of the road and cover our faces so as not to eat dirt – literally!  The bus conductors laughed at us as we covered our faces as the dust clouds engulfed us.  I took a peak to see if the dust settled then we moved on.  There were some steep, very rocky sections where we had to get of our bikes to hike up.  It’s not too long but there were a few long hike a bike sections like going over smaller passes or notches on the hills.  In the mountains of Nepal, it is always a huge change in elevation really fast even if you don’t even feel it.  There was a long downhill of dirt and once again, some gnarly rocky stuff and I was surprised I rode through the whole thing.  I was at the point of just wanting to get over that really gnarly downhill.  We are talking about deep muddy sections, rutted out burms, rocky and constant jarring.  My back pack was digging on my lower back because the whole way down, I had to stand on my bike due to the technical terrain – I had no choice.  A few fish tailing and crazy skidding which I luckily survived being upright but definitely a rush.  We had to stop a few times to take a break – it was long.  The switchbacks were pretty gnarly.  We hit the river and felt a good breeze.  So tired from the downhill, we stopped and had lunch.

There was a restaurant stand by the river so we ordered two dal bat.  Rice, potatoes and cabbage curry and lentil soup.  I ordered us two boiled eggs for some protein.  It was more of a late lunch but we devoured it.  I ate with my hands like a local.  It actually felt great eating with hands.  There was a running faucet beside the table we sat at so we washed our hands.  There was soap available to use as well.  I noticed that local wash their hands thoroughly with soap before eating with their hands.  Soap and water is common rather than napkins or toilet paper.

There was a long climb to another small pass and a small rural town.  On the way up, it was getting warm and we stopped a few times.  We were getting pretty tired and really want to get to Arughat.  We found a colony of monkeys with monkey babies by the side of the road.  Lots and lots of goats in the rural areas.  I guess Nepalese use goats to clear the fields, which makes sense compared to Thailand where they burn the fields to clear the crop.  I prefer using goats.  It may take longer but much more environmentally friendly.  The farms were beautiful and there were a lot of children just getting out of school.

We got to the small village junction and asked a group of senior folks directions.  “Arughat,” I said and the woman pointed one way and the men pointed the other way.  The woman said, “main road” so we took her suggestion to later find out, we should have taken the men’s suggestions.  Both way led to Arughat but the more main road is what the men suggested.  It is also clear that I need to learn how to pronounce the words properly – I suck at pronouncing Nepalese words and hope to get better.  We have an English map with Nepal roads and towns in English so natives can’t read the English words on the map.  Anyway, we were actually on a very small dirt road that is very much less traveled but rocky and rutted out so it was tougher on a mountain bike.  The dirt road followed the river.  We found a guy with his motorbike on the ground and Doug tried to help but the guy was too drunk to understand what the heck he wanted.  I told Doug that he was too drunk, wasn’t hurt and it’s best that we move on.

We finally saw the bridge to Arughat!  Just a few meters of walk a bike because we were so damn exhausted, we got to town and found a hotel called Third Step hotel.  It had Wifi and the room were decent but without a bathroom.  The bathroom is outside (which was very common in rural guest houses) and luckily, there was a shower, even though it was cold water so we can clean up.  We were all dusty, stinky and just plain nasty dirty.  We really needed to get cleaned so as not to have bacteria start growing somewhere specially the groin and feet – must keep that clean.  Hygiene is crucial in Nepal specially in the rural areas.  It can make or break the trip so we hope to stay as clean as we can possibly can.

Doug gave me a tight hug when we got to the room.  He said, “you are so tough…”  I smiled at him and said, “you, too.”  We had that glance in our eyes telling both of us that everything is all right and that we will survive another day.  It’s hard to utter any other words to express our mixed emotions after a hard long day without holding back some tears of joy for accomplishing something really tough.  We both know how tough it was to get to Arughat and we still have another day to go before a good full rest day.  We had both had veggie macaroni dinner in the room and some milk tea to go with it.  Internet is always very slow outside of Kathmandu, I noticed but it works so it’s better than no internet at all.  The internet is one way of keeping in touch back home and that our family and friends are our virtual supporters throughout this journey.  It feels nice to just read stuff about their lives and just keeping in touch from far away.  I love the internet.

The next day will be short but a very long climb to Ghorka then a full rest day.  We hope to find a good hotel with a bathroom in the room, hot water, wifi and good food.

Tomorrow is another day and we both held each other tightly to sleep.

One day at a time to reach Pokhara…

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