27 may / 16 june 05
As the first rays of sun just started warming us, we left our high Tibetan plateau, at 4000 meters above sea level... Only 5 small degrees as we get on our bikes. From there, the road goes down, and down, and down, until we reach the 600 m mark! As we stop to eat our first dhal bat (staple meal in Nepal, made of rice and lentils/curry), our thermometers record a whooping 53 degrees!
A few hours going down and the change is radical: the heat, the smells, the noise, the colours, the crowds, the buses, the animals, the clothing... As we take layer after layer of clothing off, we find it hard to believe the change can be that dramatic and quick. We are like caught in a storm: horn honking sounds and temple bells, fried doughnuts, currys ready to be eaten, and wonderful mangoes, gold, blue and even fluorescent yellow saris, goats and cows relaxing on the road, and finally the ever-so green rice paddies that seem so harsh to our eyes that got used to the empty and extreme spaces of Tibet. In the middle of all of that, we make our way to Kathmandu.
Our hearts are beating hard: this is it, we have crossed the Himalayas! And we are back in free territory: no more check points, and hiding games with the police. We are racing towards Kathmandu, its shower, its fruit and bountiful food, its pace and its secrets...!
Entering Nepal is also saying goodbye to our initial project: cycling western Tibet and Central Asia before getting into Iran. Issues with visas made us go west from Lhasa, into Nepal, India, Pakistan before meeting again our original route in Iran. We take this change as a new opportunity and keep Central Asia in the back of our mind for another time!