We set off from Pokhara after what was to be our final real coffee. It was time to get back on the bike and head to Tansen. We’ll miss the cows walking down the street, the beautiful food, the fresh ground coffee and the lazy days. Over the previous few days the only way to get the bike started was with a jump start, we we’re hoping a little R&R had help the bike into recovery. It hadn’t. First jump start of the day was luckily only a small push down the road. Paul has luckily started to develop a little patience with these things and only managed to shout at me for not pushing fast enough once or twice within the first minutes of the day, a marked improvement for him.
The ride along the Siddartha highway from Pokhara was pretty spectacular with mostly endless hairpins, cliffs and 360 degree views over the valleys but the decked out trucks with their tastles, tinsel and flashing lights were of course still manned by drivers unaffected by the fear of imminent death, making our deaths more likely. The hills grew and turned greener at every bend, the monsoon season has saturated the landscape so everything is vibrant. We were lucky enough to beat the rains most of the way, only falling victim to one sudden downpour.
We were en-route to Tansen on the recommendation of Mr Sherap [guy we hire the Enfield from] and confirmed by the Lonely Planet as a majestic ancient hillside town with lots to see. When we got there we were left a bit disappointed; it was pretty dirty, no historic houses, hotels were a rip off and the roads had been left to decay maybe that was where it was determined it was ‘ancient’. The journey took us 6 hours to tackle on the windy mountainside roads, although be it with numerous break stops. The straight line distance however from Pokhara to Tansen was actually only 35 miles but the road distance is nearer to 150.
We knew before we got there the hotels would be limited as its completely off the tourist trail, but armed with another Lonely Planet recommendation we headed for the hill top hotel – their top pick. It was not much from outside or inside and for the pleasure of the worse room we have seen, they wanted the most money. He added a 40% discount when we were leaving – too late squire, we’re off. We were tempted though as we knew the Enfield was not going to start without a bit of effort.
Tired and flagging after no food all day, we sure enough had to jump start it once again much to the entertainment of the hoteliers. After heading to the top the only way was down. Down very steep narrow streets where the road was crumbled to almost non-existence. At one point the road was completely gone and only a small ridge existed, there were a couple of lads sitting at a nearby shop and after seeing our faces on realising we would have to balance our way through they laughed and gestured sympathetically. The alternative would be try to turn round though the road was really steep and narrow, just as we were contemplating the alternative a guy on a bike rides past without hesitation and goes straight through, so following his lead Paul navigated over the windy ridge without me on the back.
Successfully over we continued to navigate the backstreets until we settled on hotel white lake, which wasn’t actually near a white lake, or any other lake. It gets the name from the rain clouds which form in the valley. They had a sister hotel next door that was cheaper but I definitely couldn’t stomach the musky smell and the windowless hell for even one night. We paid 2000 rupees for the misfortune of smelly bed sheets and a fan that could only be coaxed into spinning by manually twiddling it. Despite it being a rip off, the view from our balcony made us a little forgiving. A chocolate and crisp dinner was the only thing on the menu, as by the time we went out everyone was pulling the shutters down at 8pm with a few pop-up restaurants remaining – not the trendy kind. Maybe it’s one of those places that grows on you or maybe we were being precious Pokhara princesses – either way we were ready to leave the next day.