I am writing this diary entry by the light of my head torch. Five kids are looking over my shoulder and I am being serenaded by a crazy old man. Next to me is my tent. Yep, I’m camping for my first time in Nepal. Everything was going smoothly until a pair of guys turned up, one of whom was the old man. The other man was pleasant and curious and despite a complete language barrier I managed to explain where I’d come from and where I was going. In contrast, the old man is mental. Every now and then he shouts at me and demands food, then returns to his singing. I really hope he goes away soon, although it’s only 6pm so I could be in store for an annoying time. The kids are nice and I’m taking their presence as evidence the old man is harmless. Every so often one of the kids cheekily pretends to steal the old man’s walking stick, which sends him off on an angry rant. Then he sings. Despite the situation, I am so happy to be camping again. It feels so right.
I had a slow morning packing my bike, sending off Newsletter 9 and enjoying a final meal. I thought last night’s was my last, but I decided to leave with a full stomach and save demolishing half of my food supplies straight away. I rode to a village called Singapur, where I found the west-heading road I’d seen on google maps. My plan is to take backroads west through the mountains. I failed to take screenshots of the map, however, and the road is no longer appearing on the screen, so I’m now riding completely blind. I don’t even know which village or town I will hit first. All I can do is keep heading west. I feel ready for the adventure.
I stopped around 3.30pm to give myself plenty of time (sunset is around 5.30pm) to set up camp, seeing as though I’m out of practise. I also wanted to try out my multi-fuel burner for the first time, burning kerosene. I had planned on testing it out while in the comfort of my guesthouse in Taplejung, but I never got around to it. I took my time (I am a conscientious instruction reader) and managed to get it going. I didn’t get it to run perfectly, but I produced a flame that boiled the water that cooked my rice. I don’t have any fresh vegetables so all I ate was rice with mixed spices. When I’m alone I’ll have some fruit but I don’t want to have food out in the presence of the old man as he’ll want it. My spot tracker has just finished telling my family I’m fine, so I’m going to stop writing, switch off my headlight and hope everyone leaves.
Fail. The kids have gone. Just when I thought the old man was about to leave too, he simply shifted himself towards my tent and laid down across its entrance. I thought he might be encouraged to leave if I disappeared inside my tent. I stepped over the old man and sat down in my tent with my legs in the vestibule, then zipped down the fly so I was completely hidden. The man tried opening the tent, then he stuck his hand under the fly and started poking around. It was like a horror movie where the zombie-like hand appears through a crack and tries to get hold of a hapless victim. I dodged his searching hand and stayed silent. He soon gave up and I was pleased to hear his rambling slowly fade away.
I should have known things weren’t over. The old man crossed paths with another man who had decided to investigate my tent, so the two of them soon approached. I was still in my tent and was thinking of just staying put when the new guy shouted out, ‘Hey Mister’. I thought he might speak some English, so I came out. He stood close to me and started talking in Nepalese. I could smell alcohol on his breath as he continued to talk and gesture wildly. Every now and then I would hear the word ‘cycle’ and he would point at my tent. Whenever he paused, I jumped in and said, ‘I’m sorry but I don’t understand anything you’re saying’, but this did nothing to deter him from continuing. The old man sat nearby and threw in the odd comment. After about 15 minutes I’d had enough. I said loudly, ‘Ok, I’m going to sleep’, pointing at my tent and making the sleeping pose. I then crawled into my tent, zipped it up and stayed still. The men said a couple of things to each other, then wandered off and disappeared. As I continued to lay still, two more groups of people passed by.
I’m camped beside a track near the bottom of the mountain slope. Terraced rice fields lay across the hill above me and there is a river below me. The trouble with being in such a hilly place is that the only flat piece of ground lies beside the track, which is clearly a bit of a thoroughfare. Things have been quiet for about twenty minutes now so I’m going to finish preparing for bed and get some proper rest.
|Distance ridden today||36.23km|
|Average cycling speed||11.5kph|
|Total distance ridden||15,389km|