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On the door to the new hall there's a twin pointed red flag with a white sun and moon in it. Without any difficult border formalities that door opens and I race with a strong wind in my back into Nepal. The Mahendra Highway through the Terai, the almost flat south part of Nepal, is of almost Dutch quality. I make enormous distances per day. One certain day I aim for 190 kms. However, it happens to be an unexpected hot day and to add to the difficulties there's a surprisingly high hill with a steep ascend at about 130kms. Although the descend is even steeper descend I don't manage to go further than 170 kms. I almost fall asleep on my bicycle. In a village I pass I buy some bread, water, eggs and unions, and a little further I put up my tent in a forest. Using my last energy I wash myself at a hand pump at the street. A guy appears who offers to pump up water for me. That makes washing quite a bit easier, so I accept. When I walk back to my tent he follows me - of course, I'm not that far outside India yet. When I come to my tent I start making diner while he makes himself comfortable outside; watching me. Suddenly he touches my shoulder and says: "You lovely... Me lovely..." and claps his hands together in a way that makes it clear he's trying to get laid... I'm too tired to get angry at the man, but I'm also not interested. He accepts my 'No', and leaves. And then something I haven't experienced in quite a while happens: there's nobody around my tent! Even the next morning, when I leave there are only three or four people watching! Oh, how quiet Nepal is in comparison to India! The only thing that becomes a little annoying is the children with their stretched out hands - and chewing gum chewing jaws - yelling 'Paisa, Paisa, Paisa" (money, money, money) to every white nose that shows up. After slightly more than a week cycling through the Terai I head into the Himalayas. For a change the road is once again of horrible quality. Uphill I'm about as fast as downhill. For the last 85 kms I need more than seven and a half hours!

Added to that I have a involuntary break. Just after lunch my luggage carrier breaks off so I can't go on until I find a solution. I tie it together with a break cable which has to last until Pokhara. It does. Near death I find the best campsite in all of south Asia, the one in Pokhara. Right now I'm testing my tent on monsoon-rain-proof-ness. However in about 5 days the monsoon will start and I hope that by then I'll sleep in a building again. If that is the fact I will report again from Lhasa.

Lhasa, July 8th 1999

Hi There!

My tent was monsoon-rain proof, but the next morning a colony termites has eaten its way into my luggage so now my ground sheet of my tent isn't perforated. Fortunately Brieke shows up only two days later. She's come back from Kathmandu, and suddenly I can live in a real house! Brieke spoils me with real Dutch food. After almost half a year of too spicy food, this is really a treat for me. The time that Brieke is at work, I spend in Pokhara. There's not much more to do than hang around and relax. Often I go and watch a movie in one of the lakeside restaurants. Once we go - with the Dutch Club - to an expensive hotel to eat and swim. Another time me and Brieke ride up a hill somewhere near Pokhara from which there's a nice view over town and on the Anapurna range. Fortunately we have clear day, so the views are majestic. And then it's time to continue my ride; off to Kathmandu. Some two hundred kms through a gorgeous part of Nepal. The last bit before Kathmandu consists of a steep climb, and the reward for all that pushing uphill - down into the Kathmandu valley - is very disappointingly short. This city, full of smelly cars is on a considerable higher altitude than the valley I just came from. Only a couple of days I stay with Jan, Briekes partner who teaches Dutch here in Kathmandu at the international school. But because I feel like trying to get into Tibet it is easier to move to Thamel. Thamel is the backpackers quarter of Kathmandu, where it will be easier for me to meet people with the same plans. Thamel is now - in the low season - only 50% foreigners and 50% Nepalese. All of these Nepalese are trying to sell something. "Hello, Rickshaw?" "No, my name is not Rickshaw." "Hello friend, want hash, good price, good quality!" "No, you appear to be so stoned that your good stuff must be finished by now!" "Tiger-balm/knife?" "AAAARRGH!" And quickly I run into the Tom and Jerry pub. So now I have indeed made a trekking in Nepal (see picture). As soon as I come back outside, somebody approaches me asking: "Want Nepalese woman? Very beautiful!"

One day I get two interesting emails. On comes from Ann and Malcom, the English couple which I met in Romania and in Esfahan (Iran). They happen to be in Kathmandu, and are about to travel back to Europe in some six months. It seems like Reg, their dog, still recognizes me. And enjoying an Irish Fantasy cocktail in the Irish Pub we exchange our experiences. It is great to see them again! The second email comes from Melvin de Vries, a Dutch guy who has come cycling to Kathmandu too, and who is dying to get into Tibet. We meet June 19th. And at that place there are two more cyclists and three non cyclists who want to try to get into Tibet cheaper. A tour from Kathmandu costs at least 200 US$. One of the other two cyclists decides not to join us, and the other is Lars Hansen, the Danish cyclist whom I've met before in Amritsar, India. On Monday we head by local bus to the Nepalese/Tibetan border. Because it was unclear to me which bus station our bus would leave, I missed the bus. But the people promised me that there would be a next bus and I would be able to take over on my friends. So I found a place on the roof of the bus. Partly to be able to keep an eye on my luggage, partly because the view from the roof is much better than from the insides. And indeed, the view is spectacular. The monsoon has practically started so the freshly washed green hills are white specked with hundreds of waterfalls.

My bus does indeed meet up with the bus my friends are in. And from there on we travel together the last kilometers. When we get to the border we have to talk with the guard at the bridge - who hasn't any real power - in order to make it up the hill into Zhang Mu. A truck takes us 14 kms uphill along an extremely bad unpaved road. This rough ride costs me my speedometer. The guards at Zhang Mu take our passports and they let us through to go find our guide, whom we pretended was there. But we don't find any affordable guide, so next morning we are politely - but unfriendly - ordered to go away. We park our bicycles in a hotel room which we pay for four nights. Then the six of us go back to Kathmandu where we keep a sort of goodbye party before Lars, Melvin and me join a tour into Tibet. We pay the 200 US$, and for that we are promised that we can get a drop off at the Mount Everest Base camp turnoff. Everything we ask, they say is possible...