#Travel: 'What I learnt on my biker road-trip honeymoon in Nepal'

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Our first hurdle was luggage. All we had space for was a saddlebag, and she was not happy when she found out. (Mohit Khushalani)

They say the first year is the hardest. For us, it was the first week. We decided, for our honeymoon, to go on a long-distance bike trip. I’m a motorcycle enthusiast, she’s not. All we had for luggage was a saddlebag, and I hadn’t found a way to tell her that. When I finally did, she took a deep breath and said “You’ll be carrying it when we’re not riding”.

We landed in Kathmandu, checked into a cozy hotel, had a romantic dinner. Our pre-booked motorcycle would arrive the next morning. Destination: Nepal’s Chitwan Wildlife Sanctuary, about 170 km away. In mountain miles, that might as well have been 500 km, but that was the point! Is it even a honeymoon if we don’t go wild!?, I said, excited. I was met with a cool stare.

As it turned out, the trip let us spend uninterrupted time together, learning things about each other; we came back a little wiser about how to conduct a marriage. And really, isn’t that what honeymoons are for?

The first few hours were a biker’s dream. Steep uphills, steeper downhills, picturesque hairpin bends. I think my excitement was more of a shock to her than the rutted roads.

The first few hours were a biker’s dream. Steep uphills, steeper downhills, picturesque hairpin bends. I think my excitement was more of a shock to her than the rutted roads. ( Mohit Khushalani )

The first few hours of our journey were a biker’s dream! Steep uphills, steeper downhills, those picturesque hairpin bends. I think my excitement was more of a shock to her than the rutted roads. With contrasting moods and expressions, we persisted. Don’t worry; it’ll get better, I told her (and myself). Lesson 1: Don’t let your differences scare you.

We expected bad roads, but not no roads. Some of the bumps were so hard, the bike and my wife’s back took a beating. When I mentioned this, contritely and with sympathy, it was pointed out to me that I had (apparently, ‘once again’) put the bike first. Every bump after caused trepidation; any minute now either the bike or my wife might snap. I decided to put her first. We stopped often, so she could stretch her tired muscles and sip on comforting hot tea. We took in the spectacular mountain views and ate her favourite snacks, which I had packed. These became some of our most treasured memories. Lesson 2: Put her first.

In the end, we both had a good time. I learnt to put her first. We stopped often, for comforting tea and her favourite snacks, which I had packed. We took in the spectacular mountain views. These remain some of our most treasured memories.

In the end, we both had a good time. I learnt to put her first. We stopped often, for comforting tea and her favourite snacks, which I had packed. We took in the spectacular mountain views. These remain some of our most treasured memories. ( Mohit Khushalani )

The next three hours were straight out of a movie. Beautiful flat country roads, a river and valley on one side, mountains on the other. To quote Motorcycle Diaries – we looked like outlaws, commanding attention everywhere we went. We reached our hotel at about 6 pm. A beautiful boutique affair with earthy exteriors and plush interiors. Just what she adores. In minutes, the bike and bad roads were forgotten. Lesson 3: A well-planned surprise is a great way to say, ‘I love you’.

A short ride and an even shorter boat ride lead us to Chitwan National Park. Since it was the first jungle safari either of us had ever been on, we were finally both exhilarated. We encountered the single-horned rhino. Up close! Saw prancing deer, ghariyal and rare types of storks. The next day, we headed to Pokhara. The road was good about 80% of the way, but we’d known about the bad patch from the start, made our way through it and whizzed on. Lesson 4: Expect the bumps, and know that you’ll get past them.

We had our own road song by this time (Steppenwolf’s ‘Born to be wild’). That track changed to ‘let’s stop; my back is hurting’, lyrics composed by my wife. We laughed about that then and we laugh about it now.

By the time we got to Pokhara, all she wanted to do was relax with the promised Phewa lake view and a glass of wine. There was no wine. It was a village with houses and a few shops. “The hotel doesn’t even have a lobby,” she snapped. I watched her stride off and thought I owed her some space. I opened the windows, poured myself a cola, looked out at the view. Our bare little ‘cottage’ overlooked mighty mountains and the beautiful lake. The minutes ticked by… 5, 10, 20. I waited. She poured herself the only drink available and joined me. ‘It’s a nice view,’ she said. Lesson 5: Sometimes, all you can do is give it time.

First Published: Aug 23, 2019 14:21 IST

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