The plan was to reach 27N88E, an unvisited degree confluence, today, and then go as far as Phikkal, which I had come through yesterday. According to one of my maps the confluence is located not far from the road connecting the villages of Jamuna and Pyang.
Straight line distances between all the places are not huge, a few kilometers here, a few there. But the winding roads easily double that.
So I continued on the paved main road, which climbed up to Ilam, then near Barbote I took a right turn onto an unpaved track. It was quite stony but not too steep and ok to ride, albeit slowly. It then descended quite steeply into a valey where a bridge crossed a river. I felt very happy to go down this way, not up. On the other side the track climbed up, and impossibly steep so. Every now and then I had to get off the bike and push.
The sun was setting already when I finally cycled past the confluence. It was 150 meters off the track, on a steep hillside. But for today, finding a place to sleep had priority. Locals had told me that there was a hotel in Pyang, not far ahead. I did find it, roughly 2km from the confluence.
The hotel is more of a homestay. I’m sleeping in the same room as my host. The same thing happened in Iran, where the guy dragged the mattress from his bedroom to the living room to sleep in the same room with me. I don’t know whether that is a sign of respect, or if they think I might run away with their possessions during the night.
His brother showed up after dinner and told me that they’d rarely seen any westerners here, if at all. Especially none on a bike. He also asked me how long I wanted to stay, and that they’d like to show me a Red Panda. Apparently that’s a rare species found in the mountains near-by, but I hadn’t heard of it. They said that tomorrow was impossible, maybe the day after would work, and I should stay a little longer. Why it was impossible they didn’t say.