The road climbed, twisted and turned. Every time I reached a substantial settlement I checked my map to see if I had reached Butwal. Finally one last turn close to the hillside and I rode downwards to the city of Butwal which stretched out to my right. My initial reaction was one of disappointment. It did not look very inviting.
Once over a high bridge I cycled downhill on a wide road past high-rise buildings and businesses until I found the bus station and the hotels nearby. I checked into a room at the Hotel Park Plaza which overlooked the bus station. It was, as seems to be the way, a bit grubby. It had not even been cleaned since the last occupants left. Once pointed out I was quickly provided with clean sheets.
Butwal is relatively modern having been extensively developed since the 1950’s when Nepal finally opened its borders. It is a staging post between India and the rest of Nepal.
I decided to stay several nights to rest and prepare for the next part of my journey. I also needed to recover from mosquito bites and a swollen left leg. I had fallen off my bike trying to avoid being speared by the wavering end of a long bamboo pole. It was being carried along the road ahead of me and I had to react quickly when it swung in my direction. In addition I had later slipped into a hole walking my bike by the roadside and banged my left shin causing a sizeable haematoma. My leg hurt and the mosquito bites on my face and arms were a nuisance. A few days staying at a hotel in Butwal was a good idea.
However the next day I walked my socks off exploring the city. It is divided up into three parts. A wide river cuts it into two. On one side is an industrial estate with basic housing on a dry rocky island. On the other is the markets, businesses, bus station and better residential suburbs. The third area, and one I discovered on my final day, is a small residential area to the North. I found this last place the most interesting as it was the oldest and had many well crafted wooden buildings.
I had some apprehension about my route north on Highway 10. It looks quite daunting on the map as it climbs towards Tansen and Pokhara. However I thought I would give it a go. I had breakfast at my local roadside restaurant, bought some provisions and set off on my fully loaded bike towards the pass to the North of Butwal.