Yamaha Journey Vol.16
The Hustle of Delhi
The chaos and hustle of Delhi is a dramatic change from the endless, wide open plains of Central Asia, where we'd barely seen another person and foreigners were a rarity. We had flown the motorcycle from Bishkek to India because we wanted to avoid an expensive and difficult trip through China with the motorcycle. It took several days to reclaim the motorcycle through customs, but finally it was returned and now I was riding through a city that was home to over twenty million. There were blaring horns, cyclones of dust and women in brightly colored saris. I got lost down some dusty backstreets before reaching Paharganj. It's a hilly neighborhood west of the railway station that teems with backpackers, hippies in tie-dye and travelers looking for a cheap place to stay. I park the motorcycle and head out to a small local restaurant where we eat some of the hottest and best vindaloo I've ever had, before easing the burning sensation with a delicious banana lassi.
The Elephants of Nepal
A few days later we leave for the Nepalese border and ride with the giant Himalayan range and its snow-capped peaks on my left. Just before crossing we stop to eat. Some happy and beautiful children, with blazing white smiles, scamper up, fascinated with us and the motorcycle. We find the Nepalese people friendly and open. A local hotelier let us sleep in a small shed. He spoke a little French and brought us fresh fruit and rice every night. We always felt Nepal would just be huge mountains but we were amazed at the subtropical oasis we found the next day when Valentin and Fred explore the park, a lush forest that rhinos, tigers and elephants roam freely. Valentin and Fred swim in the river to cool off and play with local children. Valentin is overwhelmed when he finds an elephant nursery and is able to pet baby elephants.
After a few days, we set out for Pokhara. Fred rents a motorcycle to ride alongside. Valentin climbs on behind me and thrills at the deep turns and the broad sunlight that throws the amazing colors of the landscape into sharp relief. The road is well paved as we wind through lush, green valleys with rice terraces and banana trees. We stay the night in Pokhara, a bustling city full of restaurants and companies that offer hang gliding in the Himalayas. The next day the road becomes narrow and twisting as I climb higher into the mountains en route to Kathmandu, Nepal's capital.
The snow-capped peaks of the Himalaya
The Sleek, Modern City of Bangkok
After the quaint mountain kingdom of Nepal, Bangkok is a vast, shining modern city with huge European-like highways and jutting towers. We get an air-conditioned taxi to our hotel and reserve a room with a pool near the back door. I return to the airport to get the Yamaha. It could not have been easier getting it through, unlike the difficulty I had in other countries where officials requested that I pay a bribe to release it. Motorcycles are banned from the main highways in Thailand so I have to follow back roads through the city and get lost once more. I stop to change the oil. Over the next few days we enjoy fresh and cheap street food: pad thai and fresh salads, washed down with Singha (Thai) beer.