Whilst we were in Patan we received news from afar, and it wasn’t good news. Conveniently enough we were only a stone’s throw from Nepal’s only international airport. If anyone needed to jump on a plane, being near Kathmandu airport was sensible. However, the bike needed some love too and this would be difficult in the dusty laneways of the inner city. So we headed a little way west to an interesting little village called Panauti.
We found a quaint little homestay and began to relax and discuss bike parking options. One of the owner’s options was to park it in the ancient heritage temple grounds. He assured me it would be very safe under a policeman’s watchful eye, but I declined as it would surely ruin many a tourist photograph! Then we were surprised by two guests who arrived. George and Jess had trudged their way around most of Nepal, walking up mountains and from town to town. We’d met them months earlier in Tansen just as we were leaving the place. This time they were tired and smelly and were our captives for the night.
The bike parking was seemingly ok, but we had some trouble getting any water at all out of the toilet, sink or shower. Our host, Krishna implied that water came and went, and that perhaps this was the same all across town. I didn’t think I could be comfortable in this place for a few weeks, which was a shame. After some snacks and drinks in town, Krishna entertained us with some local raksi (rice or millet alcohol) and his wife filled our stomachs with delicious hot food. A tiny bit pissed, we booked Nickiy a flight to Amsterdam later that night.
Short on deliberation time, we went to the district capital the next day, which was the next town westwards. In Dhulikhel we found a slightly soulless but very comfortable hotel and we settled in. The next day, single ticket in hand, Nickiy jumped on her plane bound for Schipol. I began doing some major servicing on the bike shortly after that and spent the next week or so living the solitary life.
We did not have much longer before our second visit to the sprawl of India. But, we needed visas again. As Nickiy applied for hers in the efficiency of the Netherlands, I got my knuckles rapped at the visa agency in Kathmandu. As she received her 1 year, multi-entry visa, I was offered another lame 3 month, single-entry runner-up prize. This time I protested and said that it “wasn’t safe” for me to drive to Goa and back in that time. Backed up by another pointless appeal letter, I picked up my visa as Nickiy arrived off her return flight. The Indians had given me one extra month. Wow!
Nickiy’s time in Amsterdam had not been very pleasant. Much of her family had rushed there because sister Clare had succumbed to a sudden illness. Very soon after Nickiy arrived, Clare passed away and everyone scrambled to process this reality. After a lovely funeral and a lot of sorting out of the estate, Nickiy flew back to Kathmandu. A short stopover with friends in London helped lift her spirits before she had to deal with long-distance motorbike travel again.
Rest in peace Clare, you will be sorely missed by us all.