16th November 2014 – Basantpur, Nepal
I was ticked and teased first, only to return to torture later, And it wasn’t the roads of a neighbour, it was my own country. But I had lived to see another day, and breath another whiff, Of the chaotic air in my land, where I was born, and remain free.
I expected the Terai torture to continue today as well. But it didn’t. Surprisingly, Nepal sent me off with amazing roads for the last 200 Kms of my journey. No hill, no bumps, cruising all the way. And with some good views too, like the bridge at Basantpur, in Eastern Nepal. And I finally crossed the border.
The border crossing deserves a special mention. I had not yet been caught by the cops for riding after my permit expired, so I was fully expectant of facing the music at the border. I even had some Nepali currency, just in case, for the fines. At the end of the eastern border, is a small town called Kakarbitta. And at the end of the town, is a bridge called the Mechi bridge. I rode through the bridge, and when I reached the other side, I saw the board “Indian immigration department”. I had just crossed out of Nepal, and did not even know it!
I was now in the state of West Bengal, my 12th state in India after Kerala, Pondicherry, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Goa, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Delhi, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. (Technically, my 14th state, if you consider that I also had to cross Andhra Pradesh and Haryana during 2 of my rides). And West Bengal smelled like home, imperfect as it may be.
I only had 70 KM from the border to Darjeeling, and never in my life did I expect to take 5 hours to reach there. There is a decent highway on this road, but at some parts, the road had simply vanished. Add to the fact that this was a steep climb, as you had to climb to an elevation of 2000 metres. And towards evening, I had to stop multiple times to just warm up my hands.
I thought Nepal had prepared me sufficiently for cold climates. I am trying to tell that to my numb toes now.