There is so much to love about riding hill country. I loved it in Indonesia and I’m loving it here in Nepal. It is just so much more interesting to be twisting and turning and gaining a wide-scale view of the landscape you’ve been working hard to get through. Today was much easier than I expected as it wasn’t entirely uphill. In fact, at least half and probably more was downhill. The scenery was spectacular: green hills dotted with hamlets or covered with neat rows of tea plantations.

I had a happy send off from Kolbung, and was delighted when Madan said the noodle soup, massive dinner and whiskey/honey drink were all gifts. I wished him and his family well. He was so nice to me last night and kept telling me to think of myself as one of the family. I stopped for lunch at the bridge that crosses the Mai Khola River. It was between here and Ilam that I was challenged by some decent climbing. Ilam is a bustling town spread along a sloping main street. I loved riding through the hustle and bustle being gawked at. The attention is warm and inviting, owing to the Nepalese people’s friendly charm. Much different from the attention received in Bangladesh and India.

I enquired at a few guesthouses on my way up the hill before reaching the roundabout area where I was immediately drawn to a street side trolley selling momo and spring rolls. I visited the fruit market, then returned to Sagarmartha Guesthouse, definitely the best deal of the bunch. It even comes with my own balcony overlooking a sheer drop, providing views across the valley. Many houses are beautifully adorned with colourful lights. It is the middle of Diwali, so most places are decorated and the occasional firework explodes, followed by kids’ happy laughter. I ate dinner with the guy who runs the guesthouse. He is 29 years old. He cooked a typical Nepali meal and it was amazing. After dinner I did some work on my bike. I have attempted a repair to a weak spot on my side wall that is starting to break open. I stuck a glue-less patch on both the inside and outside. I also tightened my Brooks saddle. I tried to tighten my pedal clip system but couldn’t – my feet are super loose in the SPDs but I can’t seem to tighten the screws. I will have to put up with it for a few months while my SPD sandals continue to break and then I will get a new pedal system with straps instead of a clip system.

Right now I’m lying in bed listening to a group of youngsters outside singing songs. I have just been out on the balcony watching them. It seems they move through the neighbourhood singing. Every now and then some tiny figures would sneak off to light fireworks. Lights are strung across the hills. The atmosphere is lovely. I just wish I was a local so I could properly join in the festivities.

Tea country

Accommodation $ Guesthouse
Distance ridden today 51.9km
Average cycling speed 11kph
Total distance ridden 15,159km