I overdid it today and strained my left calf muscle. Having had a slow start leaving Dharan I was determined to make up time and pushed hard as a result. I had just two short breaks all day. The first was when I reached Bhantabari, where I had good luck with changing my 500 Indian rupee bank notes.

India has decided to abolish 500r and 1000r notes. From December 30 they will become useless pieces of paper. It’s possible to change the notes in India (though reportedly difficult, owing to the sheer number of people doing it), but I won’t be back in India until next year. I had 3,500r (AU$75) in 500r notes, so I was desperate to find a solution. As Bhantabari is a border town, I thought I might be able to find someone willing to do a deal. They would buy my Indian rupees, then arrange for them to be changed over the border in India.

As soon as I pulled over in town I was approached by a man who asked where I was going. I explained I wanted to change some Indian money. He told me the rate at which I could change it in town. The exchange rate he suggested was ridiculous, so I began to ignore him. I rode on a little and was soon approached by a young guy who similarly asked what I was doing there. Again, I explained what I wanted to do. As luck would have it, it turned out that this guy’s family runs a hotel in town and manages currency exchanges on the side. I changed my 3,500r for Nepali money at a very reasonable loss, with the unexpected gain of a free chow mein. Instead of losing AU$75, should I have not found a place to change my Indian money, I only lost AU$7 from today’s dealings.

Having dropped down onto the flats, I am now riding through Nepal’s Terai region. The Terai is completely different from the Nepal I have got to know in the mountains. I felt a bit like I was back in Bangladesh or India, both from the village life I observed and from the physical appearance of the people. Everyone I met was very friendly though and kids loved catching my attention with shouts of ‘Bye Bye’ as I went past. I reached Lahan just as the sun set, finding a cheap (400r) guesthouse in which to spend the night. I just hope my calf muscle recovers enough for another big day tomorrow.

Sunset on the Terai

Accommodation $ Guesthouse
Distance ridden today 124.16km
Average cycling speed 19.7kph
Total distance ridden 15,807km