Biking is the thing to do in Kathmandu! Many tourists mountain bike, but more importantly, many locals, tourists and expats get around town on bicycle. The city is relatively small, so bike is a great means of transportation.
On Saturday, after a long outing of errands and a nice lunch, we stumbled upon THE COOLEST NEW ADDITION to the Bhave Family! A tag-a-long bike for Sumanth to ride! He is a great biker and has been riding without training wheels all around NC for almost 2 years, however, in Kathmandu, bike rides are SO different, that we feel more comfortable only having to “look after” Janani and Sajjan on their bikes and know that Sumanth is taken care of. A tag-a-long bike is half of a kid’s bike (handle bar, seat, peddles, and back wheel) attached to the back of an adult’s bike (connected to the seat post). It allows the child to pedal and contribute to the movement of the bike, but gives full control of navigation to the adult. We stumbled upon this second-hand piece, originally from Australia, at the 5th bike store we visited – felt so lucky!
We have had the great pleasure of meeting Caleb & Emily Spear – another young expat family, originally from Colorado, USA, living in Kathmandu. Yesterday, they took us on our first family bike ride here in Patan. First, I’ll introduce you to the Spear family, then tell you about our AMAZING outing!
Caleb and Emily started a non-profit organization called Portal Bikes – they build bikes to help people “create pathways out of poverty.” Their bikes are elongated with a chain almost double that of a standard bike. A small apparatus (water pump, corn kernel remover, basic washing machine)can be attached to the bike and powered with the energy derived from pedaling. Or up to 3 small children can ride on the back, or significant amount of cargo can be carried along the back sides. They have 2 boys, Zion age 8 and Anatolli age 6. Extremely neat family, bikes and non-profit organization!!
We met up at Caleb & Emily’s house (5 min walk from our house) on Sunday morning. Using our adult bike and tag-a-long, and 2 of their portal bikes, 1 of their adult mountain bikes, and 2 of their kid’s 20 inch bikes, the nine of us were off! We zigzagged in and out of the alley ways of Patan, stopping every once in a while to check the map, regroup, or switch who was riding on which bike! Riding in the streets of Kathmandu – how do I begin to describe it!?! SO much visual stimulation, taking in so much information and making numerous split-second decisions. We are constantly dodging cars, motorcycles, other cyclists, pedestrians, dogs, and pot holes! But it is SO much fun… Our speed is relatively slow, so it didn’t feel dangerous – just VERY challenging.
After riding 2-3 miles, we ended up at Patan Darbar Square. The parents took turns watching the bikes and meandering around with the kids. They fed the birds, climbed the elephant statues, ate some mint leaves in the medicinal garden and scurried around the numerous ladders and pathways in the museum! Our collection of bikes was a sight to see…
We rode for another bit and then out of nowhere, discovered a Children’s Playground! The Spear family, who has been in Nepal for almost a year, and us were shocked to find it. It was fully equipped with 2 slides, 4 swings, 3 seesaws, monkey bars and 2 trees great for climbing. Unfortunately, even though there are 3 million of people in Kathmandu, public and green spaces are very limited. Even though this playground was old, dingy and not well maintained, it was a pleasant surprise and we will definitely revisit it soon…
We ended up at Yellow House Bed & Breakfast and had a yummy brunch and enjoyed a bit of shopping at the farmers market! I got fresh ghee (clarified butter) and flax seeds. We are looking forward to equipping the rest of our family with bikes in the next week or so! A 24 inch bike for Janani, a 20 inch bike for Sajjan and a mountain bike for me. We’ll be biking all around town in no time! Can’t wait to see how the rides in the monsoon rains will pan out – I’m sure the kids will have a blast riding through all the puddles :-).