Turkey, India and the UK.

We remain in three separate groups.

The three French vans are in Turkey on their way back to France, the last SMS message from them on 2002-11-17, reads:

Venons d'entrer en Turquie. Tout va bien.

The rest of the Anglophones are now in Agra (India) having sent the following report on their impressions of Nepal.

The Taj Mahal, Agra (an old photo)Nepal has made a good impression. We've been here for just over two weeks, met some of the most charming and straightforward people on our entire journey and seen some of the most attractive scenery too.

Despite this, we've spent more than half our Nepal days in the Janashakti Auto Workshop (recommended) and we've been reduced to three vehicles after starting out with seven (not Janashakti's fault!).

In the Kathmandu valley, alongside getting the vans serviced and repaired, we managed to stitch in visits to Kathmandu itself, Patan (also known as Lalitpur, and the town where the garage is located) and Bhaktapur, the centres of each of which are crammed with striking Hindu and Buddhist architecture. We were very lucky to be in these historic and beautiful places just as Tihar (Diwali) was being celebrated which quadrupled the pleasure.

From Patan we took a trip down to Royal Chitwan National Park, following in Pat and Stephen's footsteps - but did not see their rhinos (spit!). What we did see was extraordinary bird life, including on one walk alone five types of stork, and on another, four types of kingfisher. And we registered something of a first when one of our party suffered serious motion sickness caused by riding on the back of an elephant!But we did!

Following the good Mahendra Highway westwards parallel to the Indian border, we encountered our second Nepali bandhe. Bandhe means closure or strike. On our first day in the country, we were not troubled by traffic and discovered later that this was because the Maoist insurgents had declared that 'Nepal is closed'. On 10 November, a three day bandhe started whilst we were in territory where the Maoists have a strong presence. (We were unable to use two bridges they had blown up, and villagers told us that they saw the Maoist fighters at night). Unfortunately this coincided with a major breakdown for K-Nine which were rendered immobile by a fuel line blockage. With garages closed, we faced the prospect of several nights parked on the road in the middle of countryside that is hosting a civil war!

Fortunately, the Maoists are friendly to tourists (most of whom have been driven away by the war), we never felt threatened, and the kind villagers were able to supply a mechanic with little difficulty, and we were able to progress within less than 24 hours.

The bandhe had the effect of reducing traffic on the road to three English motorhomes and a handful of police and army vehicles bristling with firepower, and led to us having two armed escorts into Mahendranagar and then to the border.

P.S. let it be known that nice Nepal also caused Kon-Tiki's 10th and 11th punctures of the trip!

Mog on a 40ft flat-rack.We (Mog) are back in the UK having loaded Mog onto a 40 foot flat-rack at Mumbai container port and flown back to the UK.

Mog should arrive here around 2002-12-12.

The shipping was arranged (very efficiently) by Mr. Charles Peter of Schenker India Ltd, Silk Mills Compound, 2nd Floor, 5, Chunawala Estate, Kondivita Road, Marol, Andheri East, Andheri Kurla Road Mumbai: 400059. Telephone: 022-8234151-2-3-4-5, Mobile: 9820063575.

Stephen Stewart.

Home - This page last changed on 2002-11-19