Fourteen thousand miles, one thousand and twenty four litres of petrol, seventeen countries, seven litres of oil, six months, five clean passport pages remaining, four tyres, two punctures, two chains, only two toilet rolls, a few showers and a ton of money; it’s the end of the road. When you have no power, you have to stop, and with the Chinese government not playing visa ball, a small blond package along side you on the dark roads of Asia and the Afghan border shut, you begin to realize it may be time to conclude. The final straw is when you start to find yourself formulating plans to kill the locals, your bank account is looking terribly unhealthy; you then concede that it really is the end.
Riding into Kathmandu was a little bit of an anti climax. After throwing so much energy in the last two years, to planning, earning, choosing and making decisions about this trip, it’s all a bit peculiar when you roll into the dirty, smoggy, busy town which you had so pinned all your hopes and wishes to for all this time. There was no fanfare, no one cheering in the street, and as I made my grand entrance to the city, I slowly weaved my way through the streets to the backpacker enclave at Thamel and settled for yet another cheap hotel. I felt a little sad stepping off the bike for the last time, into my damp room, as if it was the end of a great relationship, a faithful partnership, which I had prematurely ended. Searching through the mountains of shipping agents, in their dark and smoky offices was a bigger nightmare still. As I hunted for the cheapest price, I found myself all the while wondering if I would ever see my bike, my baby, my partner again; lost in a flood of containers at Calcutta, accidentally shipped to Timbuktu, trying to save a few dollars seemed a cruel fate for such a good friend. Without fuss she was soon entombed in plywood and put on a truck to Eastern India, I hope I see her again someday.
The nicest thing about Kathmandu is the great selection of restaurants available, which is perhaps the best thing for the homesick traveler. The Nepali’s will have a go at anything, and most of the time do it successfully. Yet it wasn’t a full English fry up, or a good Beef steak which revived me from my temporary gloom, it was walking into the nargillah bar (hubble-bubble, arab water pipe) which sent the memories back flooding through my brain. I found myself sitting still in a kind of trance, as the smell of the sweet rich rosey tobacco of Arabia tickled my senses, at that very moment a waiter strutted past with a platter of hummus, another with a sizzling tandoori chicken. In a flash, I was back inside my tent, back in the desert, in an Afghan kebabi on the outskirts of tribal Peshawar, on the great Tibetan plains of North-East India, fighting through the thick mud on the fields of Gallipoli and once again I was in heaven. The adventure is dead, long live adventure.
I will be back in London on September 5th after spending some time in Kathmandu and returning by bus to Delhi. My intention is to take up my place at Manchester University to study Politics and International relations. I hope to take up a career on conclusion of my course as a photographer, writer, journalist, eccentric and professional dabbler. Please check keep checking Joeontheroad.co.uk; I have further plans to bicycle in Africa, a tour of England by foot and an exploration of Central-Asia via Tibet. Luckily I have age on my side, I turn twenty in January!
I would like mostly to thank my family and friends for supporting me on this trip, and like to apologize to my poor mummy who has slept for a total of around four hours in the last six months; she supported me unequivocally, despite her reservations about motorcycles, Arabs and street kebabs. I would also like to thank all those for checking this site; I have been amazed at the traffic and have been averaging around a hundred hits a day. Thank You and see you on the road sometime!