We had aimed to stay in Gorakhpur but with the late start and tough roads we only managed about 60 miles before it started to get dark. This was not helped by a long painful detour in Mau because I missed a turn. We had about 1000 rupees left and not enough fuel to go the whole way to the border anyway so we started looking for somewhere to stay. We stopped at a petrol station for a break and asked the guys there if there was a hotel nearby. They were really nice and helpful and explained there was one 4km up the road. It was less than 1000 rupees meaning we could also eat something.
It turned out we had been extremely lucky to find the place because in the morning we noted there was not much else in the way of hotels along the road and it still took a good 2 hours to reach Gorakhpur. Thankfully we got cash on the way which meant we could go straight through but we still managed to get lost and ended up on a busy detour though not as bad as Mau. As we approached the border the roads gradually became less busy and better surfaced. A young girl served us some crisps and biscuits at a roadside shop and was pleasant and polite. She was stunned when she realised it was a woman on the other bike.
The border was simpler and a lot less organised than the ones we had been through so far. There was an immigration office and customs office on the Indian side. A guy came up to us trying to tell us what to do and was not wearing any ID or uniform so I ignored him and went to the customs office with uniformed police outside. It turned out that the first guy was not a fixer and seemed to have something to do with the immigration so after some confusion we moved the bikes back down the busy road. It occurred to me if we had ridden fast enough we could have crossed the border anyway though then we would not have had the carnet stamped out which would have been a major problem later.
The immigration guy asked why I didn’t trust him and I explained we had problems with fixers at other borders and he was not wearing uniform etc. After he reassured us I went to complete the immigration forms and he explained the process and then mentioned a 100 rupee fee for each bike. I lost the rag and politely but sternly told him I would not be paying any fee and he immediately backed down, switching instead to helpful money changer.
After immigration was completed we got the carnets discharged while having a chat with a nice customs guy who had travelled a bit in Europe so knew some of the places we had been. I noticed one guy sitting in a back office whose sole job seemed to be playing with a pen on the table. I guessed that someone had to make sure it was done properly.
We crossed the open gates into Nepal and drove slowly along unable to spot immigration or customs offices. We parked the bikes up and found the customs where a helpful guy pointed us over to the small immigration office hidden at the back. We filled out some forms and noticed we unfortunately only had enough USD for a 15 day visa which left things a bit tight. At least we could extend it if we needed to. A passport photo was needed and that was all. Then we copied our new visas and photo pages and went over to customs where again everything was smooth. I asked the customs guy what we had to do next and he said we had to go get the customs officer signature “and then we gotta go man… visit Nee-paaal”.
As we rode out of the customs area I went slowly onto the shoulder to avoid a particularly nasty speed ramp. I was encouraged to see that I got reprimanded by a pedestrian who waved at me to go on the road. It seemed that there are slightly better driving standards here already.
Helen found the tourist office who suggested some hotels nearby with parking. We rode slowly about 4km and found the first one. A simple comfortable room for 1000rs a night, happy days. Tired but happy we fell asleep easily, now in our 13th country.