Kathmandu-New Delhi-Leh, flying with bikes
With all our gear, bikes and bags, shifting cities via planes and taxis is an adventure in itself. We spent our last morning in Kathmandu carefully packing our bikes in bubble wrap. The hotel staff stood watching and giggling at us. Why bring our bikes all this way just to wrap them up.
We were flying from Kathmandu to New Delhi and then up to Leh. Taking the bikes throughthe 16 security checks at Kathmandu airport didn’t make us any friends. They saw us as extremely annoying and possibly stupid.
Our combined luggage came in at 68 kgs. We panicked and thought that all our remiaining cash would be spent on the excess luggage. They only charged for 5kgs, which was great. Even better was that they only charged us 600 rupees, which is about $6. The cheapest excess luggage fee ever.
As we waited to board the flight we could see the luggage handlers throwing our precious steads around like worthless toys. The best thing for us to do was to look away, there was nothing we could do, apart from shed a tear or two.
When we arrived in New Delhi, we found our bikes happily waiting for us beside the luggage carasoul. We loaded them onto a trolley and again people stared at us like freaks, or just stupid westerners. Gavin carefully manouvered the wide load through the doors and soon we were boarding our bus to the domestic terminal.
Unfortunately for all the other passengers we werethe last on the bus, and our terminal was the last stop. Everytime someone had to get off, they had to fish their luggage out from beneath our three bikes and ten panier bags. We sat sheepishly in our seats trying not to attract any attention. Particularly from the guy in the front seat with the AK47.
Our flight to Leh, was another 12 hours away. We all imagined our night at New Delhi airport as a romantic dusty old world experience, with beggers, tradional food and uninviting toilets. Instead we found a bright, shiney, shopping mal, air conditioned to freezing point. After some sweet talking from Gav, we were able to check in 10 hours early and after passing through the gates were were greeted by KFC, 35 televisions showing different bollywood movies, coffee shops and shiney clean seats. It was a long, cold night, and somewhat eery because of the shallow western atmosphere. This wasn’t the NewDelhi we were expecting. Although we were grateful for the clean western toilets.
At 5am we boarded our flight. On the way we were treated to a spectacular introduction to the Himalayan mountains. The snow capped mountains breaking through the clouds were wonderful and a little daunting. We were going to be riding through these guys.
Our arrival at the worlds highest airport didn’t make us any friends either. The tiny luggage carasoul was jammed to a stop when our bikes blocked the entry window. The room was filled with angry rants from Italian trekkers, who had no time for cyclists.
The only person happy to see us that day was our taxi driver who happily loaded our bikes onto the roof of his car and welcomed us to his home town. We had finally made it to Leh, 3500m above sea level and in the middle of a completely foreign and overwhelming environment. In a couple of days we would start our cycling adventure.
Entry filed under: Uncategorized.