Silke and Hauke

We are Silke (25) and Hauke (29) and last summer we left Germany for a cycling trip towards Asia. silke.grabhorn@web.de haukehinz@yahoo.de
Living in: Elsfleth, Deutschland
  • Day253

    Namasté India!

    May 9 in India

    Crossing the border into overpopulated India was quite easy. The first days of cycling were characterized by smooth roads, intense heat, bad air quality, chaotic city traffic, disgusting smell of burning piles of trash, cows and pigs crossing the road. And to be honest, the only thing that whetted our appetite was the amazing food and the beginning of the mango season :) But it became better and better...more impressions will follow.

    By the way, we’re in the mountains of Himachal Pradesh now, at the place where the Daila Lama lives, going to do a meditation course and will be back online in 10 days.

    See you soon :)
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  • Day251

    Goodbye Nepal!

    May 7 in Nepal

    During the last almost two months, we immersed ourselves quite well in this foreign country and it felt again a bit weird to leave. Nepal is a very diverse country with so many different ethnic groups, cultures and traditions, ever-smiling people, a strikingly young population and breathtaking landscapes.

    The time we spent here was intense, exciting and rich in variety. Poverty and joy of life lie incredibly close to each other.
    And there are so many kids everywhere! They are so quick and super curious and we could spend whole days greeting them, slapping hands and kidding around with these balls of energy :) There must be something special about Nepalese kids because as soon as we entered India, it changed and they are mostly just staring at us, appearing frightened somehow.
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  • Day248

    We wanted to give it another chance to see a wild Bengal tiger and stopped by at the Bardia Nationalpark to do a 12 hours walking safari. The park is famous for its large population of tigers but only a few tourists make it to this remote area.

    Accompanied by Prem, our friendly guide, and Santosh, a brave bamboo fighter, we spent a whole day in the jungle, walking through deep bush, crossing crocodile rivers, watching out for wildlife - and waiting almost five hours for the tiger, at a spot by the river, silent and hidden in the bush, endurance and patience were essential...

    We were lucky: 2 wild Rhinos, a wild elephant (our first one!), herds of deer, monkeys and crocodiles. But not too lucky: No tiger. 30 minutes more at the spot by the river and we would have seen it, a group which stayed there longer saw it, damn!
    Anyway, it was an amazing day in an amazing jungle.

    The next day was full of surprises then: Someone had stolen our speedometers, our tent sticks, one of our cyclists‘ wallets and a drinking bottle over night. We had our bicycles in front of the door of Prem‘s homestay and left some things on them. Luckily, our tent and the sleeping pads were still there. How could that happen in a remote village with less than 50 homes? Must have been a kid or youth. The whole family and neighbors helped searching and we could find some things in the fields. But the tools, our speedometers and our repair kit was gone, and one tent stick broken. Not a perfect start into a new day...

    For good luck, the family put the red color on our forehead, called 'Tika'. And this should help: When we left the park cycling along the road that goes through the bufferzone, a safari jeep suddenly stopped a hundred meters in front of us and we heard the Indian tourists screaming. There was a tunnel for water underneath the road and 3(!!!) tigers had just crossed the road through it! When we got there, we could only hear the alarm sounds of the birds and the rustling as the tigers disappeared in the forest. So we stood there, listening and waiting. And then suddenly another tiger came through the tunnel! We couldn’t believe our fortune, we had just seen a wild Bengal tiger, a few meters from us, incredible, what a powerful animal! The following 15 kilometers to the next town became the most scary ones we cycled so far because we knew we were in real danger now. Before, it was just roadsigns saying that there were tigers... but there are, we saw it!

    The rest of this exciting day offered us another puncture and a nice, grassy camp spot with many kids around :)
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  • Day245

    Did we write that cyclists world is small? Yes it is: On a busy crossroad we bumped into Anneke & Tane from New Zealand who we celebrated Christmas and New Years Eve with in Iran, and Milda & Dovydas from Lithuania, two more enthusiastic cyclists. A few minutes earlier or later, and we would have missed each other...incredible, and time to touch glasses, with fresh sugarcane juice for sure. It was so great to see you guys!

    In this mainly flat area of Nepal, we didn’t only meet foreign touring cyclists, no, cycling in general is quite popular to get to school, to work or to transport goods - and we like that very much :)

    We knew that India would be different, not to say chaotic, right behind the border, so we enjoyed these days even more. Although it was usually above 40 degrees with lots of mosquitoes, being here in Nepal among with great people and kids and camping in the forests was just great.
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  • Day243

    Lumbini

    April 29 in Nepal

    The Siddharta Highway from Pokhara south into the Terai plain is beautiful, great to cycle and there’s surprisingly little traffic, but it also means that you’re leaving the gorgeous mountains behind, so actually a sad story.
    We wanted to go to the far West of Nepal and then cross to India, so we had to do it.

    And then we accidentally met Gabriel on the road, coming from India! We knew that he was heading towards Pokhara, so chances weren‘t too bad, but it was so amazing to meet him again! We cycled so many days together in Iran a couple of months ago and now we’re here in Nepal - cyclists world is still small :)

    Lumbini was not much of a detour, so we took a rest day there to explore the birthplace of Siddharta Gautama, the Buddha. There is a huge garden with many temples and monasteries from different countries, even Germany and Austria, and it felt a bit like being on an Expo with the subject ‚Buddhist temples‘. But it was nice to visit them and spend some time under the mango trees.

    It was quite striking to see how many monks we encountered were busy with their smartphone, telephoning, wearing a headset and trendy sunglasses, taking selfies and that they were traveling with the most fancy minibuses. For us, it doesn’t fit the mould...
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  • Day240

    Back in hippie town

    April 26 in Nepal

    You can still see many white elderlies that are stuck in Pokhara since the hippie movement. Although it’s the second biggest city in Nepal, the lazy atmosphere, especially near the Phewa lake, has nothing in common with Kathmandu. Thus, we took some days to recover and the family restaurant next to our guesthouse became our regular dining room.

    We also met Stijn there who is still busy building a hostel for the kids of a remote school. It was great to see him again after spending so much time together in Iran. And his stories about 7-year-old kids being so responsible for themselves, doing their laundry, cooking food for the group, and himself carrying and smashing huge rocks by hand for the construction were amazing!

    And... it was time for Hauke to redeem his birthday voucher to go paragliding. Silke still has great ideas to make presents! It’s so amazing to glide through the air, noiseless, flying circles like a bird, using the upwind to go higher, drop down and go high again, watching the scenery from above. Thank you :)
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  • Day237

    Back to reality

    April 23 in Nepal

    A long steep descent (1800m down!) into a desertic landscape and further to Muktinath followed behind the pass (on the same day we climbed it because there’s no accommodation) - it took our remaining energy and we were so glad to finally find a meal and a comfortable bed!

    Muktinath is a pilgrimage site for Buddhists and since the hiking trail from Pokhara has been turned into a jeep trail it’s been commercialized. Thus, much concrete makes the townscape now and the bustle was a bit too much for us after two weeks in peaceful little villages.

    While we continued to trek down from Muktinath on a beautiful side track to Jomsom, avoiding the jeep track, the landscape changed to flourish green and the apple blossom season had started.
    This region is actually famous for its delicious apples (we loved and we will miss the apple pies up there!).

    For timing reasons (we got accepted for meditation course in India that we didn’t want to miss), we chose to take a bus from Jomsom to Pokhara, it’s 150km and took incredible bumpy 13 hours including rockfall and a crash with a jeep on the narrow „road“, sometimes on the debris in the riverbed - our conclusion:

    A bus ride on this road: never again!
    Trekking in the Himalayas: again and again!
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  • Day235

    Thorong La

    April 21 in Nepal

    A couple of days of more ‘up and down and up and down’ took us to the Thorong High Camp at about 4900m. Although we arrived there quite early in the morning we decided to not continue to the pass and down on the other side, other than all our fellow trekkers - we were just too exhausted. So for the moment we were the only ones at the camp. But this should change throughout the day and people ended up sleeping on the ground in the packed dining room.

    We started to feel more and more sick because of the altitude. At least when the snowfall started in the afternoon we regretted our decision to stay. But the atmosphere in the camp was so mystic, everyone was so excited about the next day (can we go or do we have to stay?), almost everyone had to fight one’s symptoms of altitude sickness and it felt like being part of a large trekkers community with so many familiar faces and so many stories to tell. And many people in a packed room cause some welcome heat as well :)

    Our decision turned out to be a good one: The next morning was beautiful with a clear sky, a shining sun and fresh snow enchanting the landscape.

    The ascent to the pass was incredibly demanding then, both physically and mentally. It went about our iron will, our concentration and focus on the path, our mutual motivations, our sucking for oxygen, going step by step, no more talking, slowly, slowly, slowly, further and further, higher and higher, pushing our limits. From time to time, dazed trekkers sitting on a horse were passing by.

    These 4 hours were probably the most intense of our lives, we had never breathed so thin air and we made it to the Thorong La on our own, followed by tears of joy and goose bumps. 5416m and it’s such an incredible feeling to be up there but so worth it!
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  • Day232

    Tilicho Lake

    April 18 in Nepal

    Although the Tilicho lake is not the highest altitude lake in the world as the Nepalese claim it to be, at almost 5000m, it is quite high and for us it was really demanding to get there as we had never been on such a high level. Our first time above 5000m on the way up there, a great preparation for the Thorong La!

    Surrounded by white shimmering glaciers the big icy lake with the Tilicho peak (7134m) is a sheer beauty, so that we took a long rest by the lake, catching our breath, soaking in the stunning views and relaxing our muscles.

    Our muscles were indeed quite stiff, not only because one part was characterized by narrow steep hairpins winding up the mountain, but also because other parts were so-called ‘landslide areas’. As rocks of different sizes were flying down from above along the narrow trekking path which wasn’t always clear, the gaping abyss a step aside, we found this part very frightening and were glad that we didn’t wait until the wind had picked up even more.

    However, we survived with some adrenaline rushes and stayed another night in the Tilicho Base camp at an altitude of 4150m, recharging our batteries with some Yak cheese, yummy! The cheese is absolutely delicious and you can get it everywhere at these heights - because that’s where the cute, woolly Yaks live :)
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  • Day229

    Ice Lake

    April 15 in Nepal

    Acclimatization is a terrible word but plays an important role if you want to go up as high as we wanted to. So we decided to climb up about 1200m to the Ice Lake which is at 4700m, stay there for a bit and climb back down.

    As we climbed up we could feel how the air became thinner and thinner, headache started, so we went slower and slower, like in slow-motion, but we made it to the lake! We had never been that high before and the scenery up there was just amazing. Climbing back down along the steep slopes wasn’t that much fun then.. but the views were worthwhile :)Read more

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