We left Tansen fairly early. With Helen not feeling well again it seemed to heap a sense of more urgency and stress on me that we should try to clear the rest of the road up quickly and get to Pokhara.
The road that followed was amazing. The google map on the satnav wrongly showed the next section being straight for about 60km and I had to stop to check directions with some people after we were about 5km off the displayed road. But yes, we were still on the right road and it was thankfully not straight. There was about 90 miles of it and our average speed dropped to around 20mph so it still took us around 5 hours. It was mostly smooth tarmac formed into bend after bend after bend. There was barely a 500m straight piece of road for the whole day. I was enjoying leaning the bike into all the turns, pushing my luck occasionally that there might be gravel around the next one.
We passed buses and waved at people who smiled back. Schoolgirls giggled and schoolboys cheered. The sun shone down and the temperature was a pleasant 20ish degrees. It was almost impossible to believe everything coming together so beautifully compared with the roads we had ridden on for a month before. I looked down at the dashboard and saw the key in the ignition in the on position, right where it should be, the bikes proper state – not parked up in the cold waiting for something to happen. She was built for exactly this kind of day and seemed to relish chewing up the uphill turns and dispatching buses and lorries with torquey ease. It was one of those epiphany biking days that happens so rarely, only this time I recognised it at the time.
By the time we got to Pokhara my arms were even starting to get tired from having put the bike through about a billion turns, something that’s never happened before. I was tired but happy. Helen was feeling a little better but had been unable to fully enjoy the road. As we sat by the lakeside, bewildered by the hundreds of hotels and restaurants, a guy pulled up on a bike and started asking where we were going, trying to get us to go to his hotel. He asked what our budget was and we replied 500rs (about four quid something). To our surprise he accepted this and off we went. We rounded the day off with a steak at the New Everest Steak House (sorry Jonny I couldn’t wait), our first proper feed of decent meat in months.
We got up early the following morning to head up to the world peace pagoda which overlooked Pokhara. Helen was still not feeling great as we climbed aboard my bike and headed back out the road to the path up to the pagoda. There were 2 paths but the first one turned bad straight away so we opted for the second one. This one started out as tarmac but then disintegrated into sandy gravel path. Undeterred we attempted it anyway, 2up on a fully loaded bike. We got about halfway up before I thought better of it. I tried to park the bike at a curve and ended up dropping it twice, first on one side then on the other. The second time was particularly hard to pick up since the bike was lying on a slight downhill into the turn.
We walked the rest of the way up and took some pictures. Some young guys in uniform arrived off a bus, probably army cadets or something. Helen was still feeling unwell so despite her reluctance agreed to go see yet another doctor. This time the hotel guy recommended a good private doctor who took the case seriously having seen the antibiotics she had taken and even examined her as well. He decided to admit her while some samples were taken and start on a course of 2 IV antibiotics.
Over the next three days Helen became more and more bored, not liking being on the other side of the bed and occasionally tweaking the IV to run faster or slower. As I lay there watching the drip slowly feed into her arm I couldn’t help but wonder if it could be adapted into the perfect chain oiler, complete with flow control.
On one day we had a gap between IV drips and the doctor said we could go out for an hour or so. We did NOT use this opportunity to go to a bar to sip coke where we did NOT meet a nice Ozzie guy called Nathan who ran a bar which he had built himself called “Bullet Basecamp“. Had we been there we would have seen the inside all decorated with bits of scrap bikes and cars welded into furniture and a pool table perpetually surrounded by plucky kids. Imagine what it would have looked like Helen sitting in a bar, sipping coke, with the IV connection still in her hand..(ahem)
Anyway, after a couple of days the results came back that Helen had a strange strain of E-coli and also Giardiasis which were not sensitive to any of the antibiotics she was given for the last 6 weeks but hopefully covered by the IV ones she‘d had in Pokhara. There was some relief for both of us at least knowing what the problem was all along and hopefully it was sorted. We went to the Gurkha museum still wondering when or if the insurance company were going to confirm they are paying for all this.