Guildford Travel Club Presents

Indian & Nepalese Himalayas

5th February 2019

Chris Beynon

The Speaker

Chris contrasts two regions in the foothills of the Himalaya. Arunachal Pradesh in NE India is a little-visited remote region of a very large country and makes an interesting comparison with the more mainstream tourist regions of Nepal, a country still recovering from years of political turmoil followed by a massive earthquake in 2015.

Arunachal Pradesh is in the far north-east of India, well to the east of Bangladesh and on the border with China.  It is well off the tourist trail, with hill tribes that until relatively recently still fought each other, and most of the villages comprise straw huts with open fires inside to cook over. The modern world is creeping in, with the inevitable mobile phones and even some cars - although the cars are kept under straw carports on the side of the straw huts!  Chris cycles through the region on what is effectively the only through road, although at times it's little more than a jeep track. Some "bridges" and "ferries" provide added adventure en-route!

In contrast Nepal is a much poorer country than India, yet in the main tourist areas between Pokhara and Kathmandu it's clearly far more developed than Arunachal Pradesh. For this trip Chris joins a mountain biking group to get a bit more off the beaten track, seeing a country still rebuilding itself after the 2015 earthquake. In places reconstruction is well underway, but in others it seems like nothing has happened since 2015.  Chris also visits the three old cities of the Kathmandu valley - Kathmandu itself, Patan and Bhaktapur, with their stunning Newar architecture and collectively a World Heritage Site.

Chris has always viewed cycling as the best way to see a country, and has now made nine trips across the Himalayas from Pakistan in the west to China in the east.

Friendly chaps - with rifles!
Typical rural scene, Arunachal Pradesh
Indian officials, uncharacteristically posing for a photograph
Yatkha Bahal stupa, Kathmandu
Earthquake damage, Nepal
Enterprising Nepali trader