India to Nepal – Crossing the Nepalgunj Border
India to Nepal was our first border crossing by bike, and although it was challenging to get the border, the crossing itself could hardly have been any more pleasant.
We had two miserable days of riding from Gonda to the Nepal border. The first day we pedaled through interminable rain, where every passing car splashed us with muddy water – turning us, our bags, and the bikes to the dingy dung-brown that I have come to associate with the north of India.
The second day we had clear skies, but the road itself was a under construction – an entire day of jouncing over loose gravel, sliding in sand, and walking the bike up and down huge dirt banks. By the time we approached the border to Nepal, we were grumpy, dirty, and ready to be anywhere but north India.
The border-crossing itself was confusing, but easy. Our bags were briefly checked on the Indian side, then we visited an adjacent office on the Nepal side to write down our passport numbers. If we hadn’t done so much reading-up on the border crossing, we might have missed the most crucial step: getting visas and having our passports stamped. But we asked all the officials we saw on the road and were eventually pointed to a house (there was an immigration office sign, but the sign had fallen down and was blocked by parked cars).
Inside the house, we met the border crossing agent – who greeted us and then left us in the capable hands of her 14-year-old daughter – Prabati – while we filled out paperwork. While Dmitry dealt with actually getting the visas, Prabati and I chatted and watched One Direction videos on the computer. The whole interaction set the tone for many of our experiences in Nepal: taking something that might otherwise be tedious or anxiety-inducing and turning it into something unexpected and delightful.
Our first stop after immigration was the border town of Nepalgunj in the southwest of Nepal. Nepalgunj doesn’t have much to recommend it, but it is home to Traveller’s Village – an exceptional hotel run by an American named Candy. After two miserable days on the road we feasted at Candy’s restaurant: lunch of burgers and beers, dinner of pasta and red wine. Oh, and lemon merengue pie. We were so hungry, we forgot to take pictures.