On Sunday (9.11.08 - Tansen), after a hefty 'continental breakfast' (= juice, sliced fruit, scrambled eggs, 4 peices of toast, butter & jam, coffee) I thought a walk was in order, so headed off. Before I knew it, and without being conscious of making an actual decision to do so, I found myself on a 15km round trip/walk to a place called Ranighat Durbar (or Palace) - a baroque palace built in the 1890's on the banks of the Kali Gandaki River. What an amzing walk it was... alongside a river for much of the way, past ravines you could not see the bottom of, through waterfalls, past small villages, huge Banyan & Mango trees, and countless Nepalese - and with the Annapurna Range in the far distance - just magical! The palace itself seemed very oddly placed - as if in the middle of nowhere, except that there were hundreds, maybe thousands, of Nepalese there having a day out ... no other Western tourists to be seen, I felt as if I had just stepped in from Mars. It was quite a carnival atmosphere, and various fair-like games were going on - drop a loop on the end of a stick over the neck of a bottle of beer, throw a hoop over a packet of biscuits or a trinket, & they were yours ... All up, the round trip, utterly unplanned, took about 6 or so hours, and it was just getting dark as I returned to Tansen. I figured on staying another night but was told that where I was staying was all booked out by a tour group. I could've moved elsewhere I suppose, but figured I might as well head off the next morning. Tansen is not a very 'happening' place - I'd gone out at 7:15 to have a meal at the place reputed to be the place for "sampling Nepali delights" to find that they were packing up before I'd even quite finished eating, and when I left the building - at 8:30pm - the whole town had closed down.
Day 6 cycling: TANSEN to LUMBINI
DST = 80.9km; RTM = 3hrs 58 min; AVS = 20.3km/hr; MAX = 47.2km/hr
ODO (i.e overall odometer reading) = 438 km
After another hearty 'continental breakfast', I headed out of town - 3.8km back down the hill to the main highway to Butwal. This was an excellent ride - the road surface, except for a few shocking patches, was pretty good, and the ride was mostly downhill or on the flat, and the scenery was surprisingly dramatic - I somehow had expected it to be a bit of an anticlimax after the really mountainous areas I'd cycled through. But no - there were some really stunning, precipitous sections that left me feeling a little nervous, and drawn toward the centre of the road. Cycling too near the edge left me feeling edgy. I also began to remind myself to take it easy - no need to be quite so 'nose down, bum up' about the riding as I can tend toward - the whole point about riding the bike is to take things in, take one's time, stop & sit down & just soak things up ... Butwal was 'bike city' - people on bikes everywhere, a bike lane through the main part of town, and most of the public transport seemed to be 3-wheeler bicycles. The next stretch - Butwal to Bhairawa - was not so pleasant - heaps of traffic & fumes, and I was shocked to realise how flat it had all become - no mountains ahead or to the sides of me. Buddha may have been born in the area but there was little sense of much compassion, tolerance or patience having permeated into this stretch of road. Finally, Lumbini, and the Lumbini Village Lodge, a cheap but pleasant place (except for the mosquitoes) ...