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Himalaya Adventure 2018 Chapter Two

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Dispatch from Joe Harosky

The Kingdom of Bhutan is often perceived by Westerners as a country encapsulating mysticism, remoteness, and reclusiveness. All of which turned out to be true in many ways. The natural state of the country and composure of the people are truly remarkable characteristics of this nation.  Bhutan focuses on the quality of a visitor’s experience instead of the typical norm of nations focusing on increasing tourist numbers. This is accomplished by implementing a daily minimum for travel expenditures and requiring tourists to have an authorized permit and guide. All of this results in a “high quality” visit as intended by Bhutan.  A quality level that readers of Robert Pirsig’s writings may understand best. 


This enchanted country encapsulates the world’s finest outlying frontier for motorcycle riding.  Riding in Bhutan is truly a unique experience due to the scenic roads, changes in elevation, and drastic changes in road quality.  I often wondered while riding through the Himalayan highlands in Bhutan how roads are constructed and maintained in such arduous mountain ranges.  The roads in the Himalayan highlands consist of portions of new asphalt as well as dirt roads.  The quality of the roads change at a moments notice and even the best of riders are sure to be challenged at unexpected moments. 


Ten days in Bhutan allowed us to travel the entire length of the country from West to East. I feel as though there is still much to learn about Bhutan since the land locked country has remained fairly secluded from the rest of the world for so long.  I assess that Bhutan is at a crossroads in time and in for some upcoming challenges as the country opens arms to the modern world while simultaneously trying to maintain its spirituality.  Time alone will tell as the tea leaves fall. 



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Dispatch from Gary Schmidt

On September 20 we left Tibet and entered Nepal.  What a surprise for me.  First surprise was the fact that unlike Tibet, Nepal is a Hindu country, not a Buddhist country.  Also, it is very poor.  As we rode through the countryside I saw people living in very poor conditions.  I would say it’s on the level of some of the poorer countries in Africa.


And the last surprise was the road from the border to Kathmandu was the worst road I have ever seen.  It was 48 miles of deep slippery mud.  I got as far as 6 miles before I was completely worn out.  My friend Steve and I hired a mini pick up and Helge loaded and secured our bikes in the truck.  There was no way Steve or I could have rode our bikes through that mud. 

The younger guys, 45 - 63, made it all the way without a fall.  They are not just younger but they are really superb riders.

We were in Kathmandu for 3 nights and had a great time.  The city is very dusty and dirty but all the people we interacted with in Nepal are very nice.  Just like everyone in every country I have ever been in.  We found a nice small outdoor restaurant near out hotel run by a Korean lady who took good care of us.


After Kathmandu we rode to Chitwan, Nepal for 2 nights at the Barahi Jungle Lodge.  It was super nice and I actually had the highlight of the trip for me when I took a shower provided by an elephant.  The elephants get a bath every day in the river and Steve and I volunteered to ride them into the water along with the “jockey”.  The elephant then began to soak me with water from his trunk around 30 times or so.  I don’t think I stopped laughing the whole time.  It was a blast!


Later that day we went on an elephant safari and saw lots of wild animals including 2 rhinos.

Next we entered Bhutan.  What a wonderful place!  The country is beautiful and the people are wonderful.  We had a great time in our 11 days in Bhutan.  We visited many monasteries, including the Tiger’s Nest outside of Paro, Bhutan.  This is a monastery built up on the side of a mountain.  It’s a 3 hour hike up to it and another 3 hours back to the parking lot.  It’s crazy how they built a monastery in an impossible place.


We were sad to leave Bhutan partly because we were headed to India.



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Dispatch from Steve Becker

I feel as though I have already experienced a lifetime adventure, having toured Nepal beginning with the Barahi Jungle Lodge where we plowed through the forest atop elephants while observing local animal life  including rhinos! A highlight of my jungle experience was jointly bathing with my elephant, as you can see in the photo gallery below. I’m not sure who was bathing who. 

From there, Siliguri, India, where we spent one night, and I practiced my defensive riding in perhaps the heaviest and most aggressive traffic I have experienced. Many near misses, no calamities. 


But our reward awaited, as the next day we crossed the Indian border to Bhutan, a Buddhist country and now one of my favorite places on the planet. This is a country of wonderfully gracious people, and a role model for good world citizenship. No trash, no smoking, and a democracy supplemented by a royal family that the nation adores. And a negative carbon footprint-their forests absorb more crap from the atmosphere than the population generates. They measure not gross national product (GNP) but rather gross national happiness (GNH) - no kidding!


A highlight of Bhutan was our visit to the Tiger Nest Monastery in Paro. We recruited horses to take us halfway up the mountainside, hiked the rest of the way up, and afterwards trekked by foot all the way down-requiring an entire day. Words can’t do justice to describe the magnificence of this mountainside masterpiece, said to have been built on in a single year. 

From Bhutan we returned to India in route to Myanmar, where during our three days in  northeast India we enjoyed time in Kohima and Nagaland, highlighted by a very interesting visit to a small village, the home of our local guide. It was interesting to observe similarities and differences between India - Hindu, and Bhutan - Buddhist. We were fortunate to be passing through both nations during Buddhist and Hindu festivals, both being colorful and full of joy.


During our riding through Nepal, India and Bhutan I have experienced some of the best roads, worst roads, roads washed out, roads in construction, potholes,  mud, gravel and sand. And dust. Lots of dust. And I have enjoyed riding all of it. No mishaps so far!

I’m grateful to be traveling with Helge and such a great group of seasoned motorcycle guys from whom I’m learning a great deal on GPS navigation and skillful on road and off riding.


Next, on to Myanmar.



Steve's Gallery






Dispatch from Tom Botz


The minute we crossed from China into Nepal, I could tell we were entering a free (meaning fun) country.  Clearly Nepal is dirt poor, but the people are open and inquisitive, a lot of them are clearly having a good time, and quite a few people speak English.  Everywhere people want to talk to you.  Notable changes from China.


The asphalt ended at the border, from here on it was dirt, and trucks were everywhere. We climbed higher and higher on a road that started out easy dirt and beautiful but in the altitudes turned into the most insane road I’ve ever taken, replacing the road from Lethem to Georgetown for that honor (British Guyana, South America).  Very narrow, sheer cliff on the right, trucks coming at you, trucks to be passed, broken down trucks, potholes, mud and even heavy fog at times.


Making it to the hotel after a road like that feels like a huge accomplishment. We spent 3 nights in Kathmandu, which is a major mess.
We visited a site where people burn the bodies of their deceased and let the ashes drift down the river. We then crossed another mountain pass on a road with never-ending curves, the road the Beatles named their song "The Long and Winding Road” after.We ended up at a safari camp in Chitwan NP, where we spent a couple of fun days.

To get to Bhutan we had to go through NW India (Siliguri) for one day - pretty insane traffic. We spent 10 enjoyable days in Bhutan, a tiny country (under 1M inhabitants) that is amazingly civilized, quiet, organized, almost like a piece of Europe but no Europeans anywhere (except a few tourists).  As we were heading back toward the Himalayas (now from the south), the scenery and riding were spectacular.  
We spent a day hiking up to Tigers Nest and back.


Bhutan is smoke-free and has other forms of behavior- and thought control that result in a sanitized country with the feel of a big Disneyland. The Takin is the national animal of Bhutan and is essentially is huge rat with horns. Bhutan has stunning monasteries, hundreds of years old, in spectacular natural settings.


We did a big loop through Bhutan and from looking at the map I’m pretty sure saw most of what there is to see. Bhutan hires lots of Indians, including many women, to do its road work.

Borders are easy on this trip because Helge and the local guides are handling it all (customs out for the bike, immigration out, customs in for the bike, immigration in).  In Bhutan (as in China) you can only travel with a local guide (he drives a truck and meets you at night in every hotel).


The riding and the scenery in Bhutan were some of the best I’ve seen anywhere, and the people were super friendly.  What a great country.


For my LIVE location anytime, just click:



Tom's Gallery




Aaron's Gallery




Helge's Photo Gallery



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