Friday, November 21, 2014

Day 2 - Kathmandu; International Guest House, Paknojol & Thamel

Early to rise.  That was my plan.  Unfortunately jet lag had other ideas for me.  Getting to sleep proved difficult as I have again shot 3 hours and 45 minutes into the future.  Yes. 3 Hours & 45 Minutes... Somehow Nepal falls between time zones, I guess.  I don't know why but I bet there is a very good reason.  So when midnight finally rolled around my body still thought it was 8:15pm - Cairo Time.  And consequently when 7am sprung its spritely head, my body felt that it was 3:15am.

I slept as long as I could.  My room was directly above the parking/dropoff/loading area, where trekkers were busily loading minivans with duffles and backpacks all morning.  Sleep was but an interpretation of the word.  More like jet lag laze.  When I heard the rumble of a Royal Enfield outside my window, my laze morphed to haze and I rolled myself down to the lobby.

Mr. Ganesh, the manager of the International Guesthouse, had promised that he would have his friend bring by a Royal Enfield Classic 350 that I might be interested in.  Before I'd come down to the lobby, I peeked out the curtains and saw the crew giving her a quick wash down.

Ganesh was very excited for me to see the bike, ushering me to the courtyard, proudly pointing to the now shining Enfield.  I looked the bike over.  Tires were surprisingly 75%, chain well lubed, and it was sure pretty.  But no luggage racks... and the biggest con... it was a 350UCE carbureted model.
I still had my mind set on the Classic 500EFI model.  George Rohn and Bob Koslick had promptly replied to my email inquiry for support on my gut feeling that the 500EFI was the right way to go.

Koslick gave me food for thought, pros and cons, but mostly leaning towards the EFI model.  His only real con was availability and cost of parts should I have a breakdown.

George's reply came via his electronic communicator, whose name I'll keep confidential, as she is not likely all over the internet, and may not wish to be so.  Simply put, she emailed, "George says 500EFI is the way to go."  And seeing as he is Fairbanks' Royal Enfield importer and service facility, and all around motorcycle guru, his word, however succinct, bears significant influence in my world.

Side Note:  I bought a vintage 1983 BMW R80GS from George a year ago.  I had been bugging him to sell me his for 2 years... He just kept telling me I was 19th in line, which might be similar to the 19th hole on the golf course.

When he found this rare motorcycle for me, I was a mere three weeks from leaving for Egypt for my first 6 month tour.  I told him, "George this couldn't have come up at a more terrible time for me."  He shrugged nonchalantly and said, "That's ok Justin, it won't be here when you get back," and walked away.  I wish I had that luxury when selling bikes!  George is a character, in the fullest sense of the word.  I barely know him, but I look up to him as a motorcycle icon.  I couldn't be prouder to be leading the way with the BMW franchise he started in 1963, the first BMW Motorcycles Dealer in the State of Alaska.  No short feat, Alaska had only achieved statehood a few years earlier!

With all of these feelings swirling around in my hazy mind, I told Ganesh I was going to take my breakfast in the sunny garden and think about it.  I spaced out snapping a picture of it, but I robbed this one from Google Images.

Breakfast was good and simple... Toast, butter, jam, a muffin, some scrambled eggs, mango juice, and weak coffee.  But the setting was delightful...

After breakfast, I sat down in Ganesh's office and had a chat about details with him.  I asked how much his friend wanted for rent on the 350UCE.  "$20/day," he responded without hesitation.
And he followed up with how it is much better to have a smaller bike in a crowded city like Kathmandu.  It was then that I made a terrible mistake, a mistake I've made before in this situation, and one I make nearly daily in other situations; I OPENED MY MOUTH AND BEGAN TO SPEAK!

I told him my plan to ride to Jomsom and beyond.  Oh stupid fool!

I spent the next half hour listening to how terrible the roads would be, how difficult the riding would be.  How if I were to even be able to find fuel, find the route, I'd certainly be driven clear off the road.

Funny.  I wanted to tell him how many dozens of people told me I couldn't ride a motorcycle to the bottom of South America.  Or even how many people, in whatever country I was in at the time, would tell me I'd never make it through the next country without being robbed, shot, put in jail, etc.

Want to be talked out of a grand adventure?  Tell someone your plans.  They'll be certain to tell you it's just not possible.

I told Ganesh I'd consider the 350UCE.  Yes, even though it was impossible, he was still willing broker the rental with his friend's personal bike.  

I spent the next few hours glued to my laptop with work.  Shuffling inventory, reading emails, writing emails, learning late about a training for the new BMW models this spring in Portugal, which lead to numerous hilarious emails with Outpost Alaska - Trail's End BMW kingpin John Haddad, my boss.  They went along these lines...
Justin:  "John, BMW is putting on an International Dealer Conference and Training on the new 2015 models in Portugal in March."

John:  "Yeah I know.  I was hoping to keep that email from ever getting to your inbox."

Enter a flurry of emails to New Jersey, Washington, Fairbanks, Emirates Airlines in Dubai...  This is going to be a freaking long shot.  But the thought of riding the brand new BMW S1000RR on a racetrack...

 and the new R1200RS...

 and let's not forget the new R1200R...

and of course the new F800R...

And most importantly for our region the new Sport-Adventure Hybrid... the S1000XR!

Seems like scrambling through some hasty emails might just be worth it...

But back to the journey at hand, Expedition Nepal.

My two other resources for Royal Enfields to pursue are BS Motorbikes in Thamel.  The name alone has me questioning.  And  Both have nice websites and has been johnny-on-the-spot responding to emails.

Ganesh informed me that the hotel is overbooked for today, so I need to move across the street to the Millennium Friendly Hotel.  Quick shower, pack up, luggage into storage and move 100 yards away to a less fancy but certainly manageable room.  The bonus:  saves me $12 bucks.

I made a quick tour of Thamel, getting lost of course, to check on BS Motorbikes.  Well, lives up to its name.  Dingy dirty shop with a guy sleeping on the stoop and not a Royal Enfield to be seen.  To their defense their website seems really geared towards tours with rentals a sideline.  So not to give them a bad rap, but they fall to the bottom of my list for now.'s A. Gurung emailed back some bad news.  The 2010 model 500EFI Classic he offered me for $45/day with a 20% discount for 21 days rental has now been booked.  I asked him what my options would be...

He responded that he only has one bike available.  It is a 2014 Royal Enfield 500EFI Classic complete with luggage racks.  It normally rents for $60/day.  Ugggghhhhh.

He said he would hold it for one day so I could think about it.

And so I would.  I had some pork fried rice at my favorite local restaurant Yling-Yling with some tasty ginger tea with lemon and honey and retired to my spartan room forcing myself to sleep rather than roam the seedy nighttime streets of Thamel.

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