Siliguri – Charaali

Spent the morning in the city waiting for my Indian SIM card to be activated. For some reason this had to be done in the shop where I bought it yesterday.

I left Siliguri around noon and cycled straight westward, to the Nepali border.

At the Indian checkpoint I met a group of German cyclists. They were on an organized tour and were waiting for their bikes. They had tried to cross at a different crossing further north, which is closed for foreigners. I don’t know why, but instead of cycling down they’d rented a car that took their bikes down to this crossing.
One of the guys asked me about my framebag, and where to get one. Unfortunately, I had to tell him that my business is not up and running yet…

On the Nepali side, on the western bank of the Mechi river, the immigration and customs situation was a bit unclear. It doesn’t seem to be customary here (as in, on the Indian sub-continent?) to have toll road-like immigration offices. Indians and Nepalis, who make up most of the border traffic here, can cross the border unrestricted, that is, without any document checks (and maybe even without any documents at all). Immigration offices are therefore placed somewhere at the side of the road and especially in Nepal it felt like I could have cycled past without anyone taking notice.
I did stop, of course, and bought my 15-day visa-on-arrival for US$ 25.

Fun fact of the day: While Indian Rupees are legal tender in Nepal, for reasons unknown the Indian 500 and 1000 Rupee notes are not only not accepted in Nepal, it is also illegal to carry them around or to try to change them. What can I say, most of my cash is in notes of 500 Indian Rupees.

My first impression of Nepal: it is more colorful. The houses, at least, are.

I kept cycling westward for a dozen or so kilometers and found a simple place to sleep at the junction from where I will head north tomorrow, into the Himalayas.

Cycled: 52km

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