Print Edition - 2016-05-14  |  On Saturday

Road to recovery

Kathmandu

May 14, 2016-

In October, at the onset of the fuel-crisis that would cripple the country for several months, 11 Australian riders embarked on an arduous trip up to Muktinath on Royal Enfields. Pulling away from Pokhara on a pleasant autumn morning, the crew (from the Hearts and Tears Motorcycle Club) had salvaged enough fuel to make it to the revered shrine, one-way. Beyond that, they were counting on the kindness of strangers and the hope that the locals—hardened by the sheer remoteness of the terrain—were well stocked with fuel for the harsh winter just around the bend. 

The trip, as it turned out, was as much a ride-of-a-lifetime as it was a frantic treasure hunt for petrol—the crew scored four litres (packaged in one litre water bottles) at Tatopani, five at Lete, three at Marpha, then finally a jackpot of 35 liters at the dubiously-named Eklo Bhatti (Lone Tavern), just beyond Jomsom. If the group’s plan of forging ahead with the trip despite the fuel embargo had seemed obstinate at departure, by the end, it was, if anything, emblematic of any trip to Nepal—a bungle of chaos and uncertainty that somehow all works out in the end.

As Nepal continues to recover from the several natural and man-made disasters that strangled the country in 2015, it would serve well to note that epic tours like these are what will help locals to get back on their feet. Foreign aid and voluntourism will surely play a part in the years to come, but ultimately it will be seemingly foolhardy journeys into the heart of the Himalayas that will continue to sustain the tourism industry, a life blood of the economy, while pumping money directly into local communities.

The road to recovery, like the dirt tracks of Mustang, might be fraught with obstacles and precipitous drops, but with single-mindedness and dash of good fortune, the destination is never insurmountable. 

The views, of course, aren’t too shabby either. 

Text: Sanjit Pradhananga, Photos: Mathew Lynn

Published: 14-05-2016 07:59

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