An extract from Jon Moore's journal during The Deck's two week rickshaw ride from Goa to Pokhara for

The Shaw Must Go On




At three o’clock this morning, I sat bolt upright in bed. If the lightning hadn’t struck the hotel roof above us, the crack of thunder had certainly woken up everyone in the crew (apart from Katie). The thought of today’s drive kept me awake – consumed by images of a road, which we knew had already claimed at least one rickshaw.

The flat roads of Uttar Pradesh were behind us. What lay ahead were the mountainous foothills of the Himalayas. We already knew we faced the threat of landslides and muddy adverse cambers. Now for me, a big decision - to take the longer, safer but visually less splendid route. Or to risk lives and take the more direct road to Pokhara, which would climb almost immediately up to 1500 metres and test the rickshaw’s uphill stamina and the road-holding of its three tiny wheels.

With our Executive Producer’s expectations in mind, I decided to cast our fate into the hands of Lord Buddha. So after breakfast, we crossed the road to the place where he was born.

What a serene place. And what a place to reflect on the journey so far. In a peaceful garden, strewn with the ruins of the Maya Devi temple, payer flags fluttered from the tree where his mother, Queen Maya Devi is said to have gone into labour more than two-and-a-half thousand years ago.

Monks on pilgrimage strolled the gardens with nothing more than their orange robes, a single bag of simple belongings, a digital camera and a handphone. As we paid our respects, the rainclouds cleared, the sun came out and Buddha whispered, “Take the mountain road.”

“This is a man who knows good telly.” I thought.

Back at the hotel, Virendra our mechanic changed a balding tyre and assured us that The Shaw was ready for her assault on the Himalayas. Today’s drive would be slow and steep, so we decided on Tansen as our destination and hit the road.

The drive was incredible. We hit a landslide almost as soon as we began to climb, which made us all wonder how passable the following 100km would be. But soon enough, the mud and rocks cleared and the fun began.

We’ve made it to the Hotel Sri Nagar, 50 metres above the bustling hill-town of Tansen, perched high up in the middle of the Western Range in the south of Nepal. Katie and Shelley are playing with the kids in the village. Around them, pigs and goats roam freely. Our evening meal is about to be served on a balcony, which hangs over a plunging valley, and our cosy beds await in wood-panelled bedrooms with net curtains. Maps of mountain treks and panoramic photographs of the Annapurna Range cover the reception walls. Racks for muddy boots and hooks for hanging wet Gore-Tex remind me of hiking in the Lake District. But Great Gable and Scafell would look up in awe if they were to meet the peaks here.

With the afternoon mist rolling in, it’s hard to tell what kind of views we can expect come morning. But I have a good feeling we’re in for a nice surprise.

Tomorrow our long journey will end. This evening, it feels like we can see all the way back across the whole of India to where we started two weeks ago in Goa, and see forward the last 200km to our destination, far below in the Pokhara Valley.

If there was ever a time to reflect, this is it.

To read more, read forwards from here...