Peter's Travels – a motorcycle adventure in Nepal

My name is Peter van der Graaf and I am traveling with my motorcycle from The Netherlands to Australia.

This movie is about my time in Nepal, but first let me summarize the previous two months in Pakistan and India.

Riding with Martin throughPakistan was sometimes a bit stressful.

Mainly because of the police overprotecting us for almost three weeks, making sure the only way we were experiencing the country was from our motorbikes.

Long days in the heat with almost no breaks made us feel hungry, exhausted and frustrated.

India wasn’t much better.

Me and Martin said goodbye to get the intenseexperience of traveling alone again.

But sometimes it was a bit too intense.

At the time I finally got here, I felt the lowest in my trip so far.

I'm having diarrhea for weeks and I feel nausea the whole day.

My aching body makes my mind spin in negative thoughts.

There’s no question of stopping my trip, but I’m not enjoying it at all anymore.

On my second day in Nepal the owner of my guesthouse brought me to this lift, and gave me a password I had to tell the ticket office to get on for free.

There was supposed to be a very famous temple on the mountain, but I never found it.

Apparently it was next to the elevator station.

But I went the wrong way and ended up hiking the mountain with an american couple.

What I did find though was the kindness of the Nepali People.

The last days in India I was surrounded in no time every time I stopped.

The big crowds would stare in silence from a short distance.

It made me freak out, I couldn’t get the rest I needed during a day of riding.

In Nepal, the people respectedmy personal space, they say hello with a big smile and ask about my trip.

At my time being in Nepal a fuelcrisis is going on, so I have to ride with low rpms.

The roads are empty though and after the hectic Indian traffic I can finally relax on my motorcycle.

But it also means I’m again missing outon the Himalaya mountains.

The Himalayas were supposed to be the scenic highlight of my trip.

In Pakistan, I wasn’t allowed by the Policeto ride the beautiful Karakoram Highway, because of the sudden risk of a terrorist attackon a Shia festival in Gilgit.

In India, heavy snow fall destroyed my dream of riding the famous Leh-Manali route.

I felt like I had failed as a motorcycle adventurer, and took it on myself for missing out on these magical places I dreamed about before setting off on this trip.

Feeling physically and mentally lowopened the door for these crazy thoughts.

But I still had to go to Kathmanduto get my visa for Myanmar.

So with my tank and sparecans full, I drove to the capital, hoping I would have enough.

At all the borders blockades stopped truckswith fuel and supplies from getting into the country.

The government of Nepal has accusedIndia of imposing the blockades as a reaction to their new Maoist government and their new Constutions.

India denies, stating the blockades are imposed by the Madhesi, a minority groupin Nepal with strong ties to India, who are protesting against a new Constitution of Nepal, because it’s marginalizing them.

The consequences are clear.

The roads are empty and many vehicles are stranded along them.

Fuel is hard to get by.

This is a gasstation in India just before the border with Nepal.

I could only get fuel on the black marketwhere I paid 3-5 dollars a liter.

It’s a lucrative business, for some… I heard rumors of maffia making a lot of money and paying people for keeping up the blockades.

The fuellcrisis also ment people had no gas to cook on and many restaurants couldn’t offer the meals they usually served.

The economy of Nepal is based on tourism and now the tourists stayed away.

As I ride through Kathmandu an impressive protest of school kids is going on.

Thousands of kids formed a line shouting things like: 'Back off India!'.

To me, the fuelcrisis seemed like a stupid political game, in which the people, who not long ago also endured a devastating earthquake, were the ones who paid the price and had to suffer the most.

I visited the hospital and leftwith a bag full of medicine for my stomach problems.

When I got back to my hostel I met the owner of a travel agency, who offered me a trekking tour with a guide in the Annapurna Conservation Area.

I felt like it was exactly what I needed to get my mind straight.

And so I left my motorbike in the capital and went into the mountains to walk for five days with my guide Shiva.

Taking a guide was expensive and not really necessary.

But it was nice my days were suddenly organized by someone else, and I could focus completely on enjoying the trek.

The thousands of staircase steps were a pain in the ass, literally.

However, the physical strain brought me in a meditative state.

The peaceful surroundings calmed me down, and as I followed the path that lay in front of me, I began to take a journey in my own mind as well.

Finally for a moment I couldstep out of my adventure and put things in perspective.

When you’re traveling alone, you can sometimes lose yourself in thoughts.

Not always will people back home understand what you are going through, “You’re on holiday! What are you complaining about?” Actually I didn’t even know where to start explaining.

Looking back I just needed a break from all the adventure.

I was traveling way too fast, even making long crazy days while I was sick.

The culture shock made me drive on like crazy.

There were also very intense moments that shook me up.

Like meeting a big tough Pakistani soldier being moved to tears, as he told me that Islam has nothing to do with terrorism.

Or when I was riding through villages in the North of Pakistan, where I was stared at by hundreds of Bin Laden lookalikes.

But when you start talking to them, they are just really nice people.

And it didn’t take long forthe western prejudiced view to be out of my system.

And when I got to India, free from escorts and bodyguardsand no more travel companion to talk to, it was just me, India and theculture shock… While trekking I was going to bed with sunset around 19.

00 and waking up at 5.

00.

The medicine started to work and finally my body didn’thave trouble with the food.

It didn’t take long before I started to feel better.

I was also meeting other travelers again.

Finally I could have anormal conversation with people.

My guide Shiva was smart and funny, and told me a lot about the Nepali culture as well.

But the highlight of the trekking tour was a visit to the hot springs, where I relaxed for a couple of hours and listened to stories of an old German hippy who traveled my route in the seventies.

He started his trip ridinga mercedes car to Iran, bribed the customs and sold it.

He then had enough money to travel on for months.

In Pakistan, he climbed into the back of a truck full of sheep and hid until he got himself in the mountains between Pakistan en Afghanistan.

There he stepped inside a world where opium and weapons were being sold openly everywhere on the streets.

An experience hard to have now.

Back in Kathmandu I meet Martin again at theworkshop of the Pushpa brothers.

Many overlanders come here to let them take care of their bikes.

And for a reason, these guys work like surgeons, almost offering a goat at a temple for the well being of your bike.

I do an oil change, replace my brake pads and mount the fronttire I got from Martin back in Iran.

It was time to hit the road again.

After the beautiful scenery I stopped along the road at a sign for a Hotel.

What I didn’t know is that a hotel in Nepal isn’t always a place to sleep, but most of the time a restaurant for truck drivers.

I got of my bike and askedthe owner if I could stay, and to show me the rooms.

He said 'yes' and showed me his ownbedroom behind the kitchen and then asked if I had a tent.

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.

They didn’t mind my visit at all, I feltright away at home.

Zanika made sure I wasn’t feeling hungry any second.

Her husband Bajra happened to be the local dealer.

Besides weed and magic mushrooms I could easily get hold on petrol, having no worries at all for getting strandedriding out of the country back to India.

And so my time in Nepal was over.

I got what I needed, physically I was feeling betterand I had a peace of mind.

I hope you enjoyed my movie.

And if you wish to see more of my adventure please like my facebook pageor visit my website.

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