Craig’s Travel Diary

Sunday, 25 Mar 2007

Location: Kathmandu, Nepal

MapHello everyone!

Well you'll be glad to know I've crossed the Indian border and come through unscathed.....just! On Tuesday I set off on my monster journey from Darjeeling to Kathmandu, little did I know the fun which awaited me! I made it through the border ok, Indian Immigration was suprisingly straight forward and a ten minute hitch on the back of a motorbike across the border bridge and I was in Nepal. My visa took a bit of time to be issued but once I realised a back hander was required the visa came quick enough.

Once I reached the Nepal side it was chaos with touts and vendors for buses so I just picked one and bought my ticket. This was at about 1pm and my bus was at 2 so I made my way to the bus which was getting packed up with allsorts of fruit and veg etc. It got to 5 o'clock and the bus still hadn't finished been packed and at 6 the driver and the rest of the passengers wandered off to a field to play bingo of all things which took another hour. Finally 5 hours late the bus set off.

(Briefly, as the Nepal elections are coming up soon and the current monarch is less than popular, such groups as the communist Maoists and the Nepal army are pretty much destroying the country but one thing they agree on is to promote tourism as its the countries main Industry.)

I was lucky enough to only have to share my seat with one other person, the bus was unbelievably packed, just as you thought no-one else could get on, on hop a few more. After about 10 minutes into the journey we were stopped for the first time by the official Nepalese army making routine checks. But the further we traveled into the night the more we seemed to be stopped. I couldn't always work out who it was but on a number of occasions an armed group would leap into the road and the bus would halt and money would change hands. Later I found out that it was different political groups charging a 'tax' for traveling on the road. Luckily my British passport has never been so useful and made sure I didn't have to pay a rupee! Later in the journey we where traveling down the road and suddenly screeched to a halt at the side of the road, one if the tires had blown out because of all the weight. This took another 2 hours to sort out! The driver then decided to call it a day and dropped us off at the nearest town, this was at 9 the next morning. I managed to find a hotel but this place wasn't too tourist friendly, I had to practically act out anything I wanted as no-one seemed to know any English or understand my dodgy Hindi. Coupled with this I ran out of cash with no ATM's around and only $10 left which I ended up exchanging for about half the value so that I could get a bus out to Kathmandu. The next day I got the bus which actually arrived in Kathmandu an hour early!

Most people I spoke to were flying the border which is pretty expensive which is why I chose the land option but I have to say if anyone asked me I'd recommend the flying option. To be honest I'm glad I've done it that way as I can tell the tale with a smile on my face but there's something oddly disconcerting about being woken up by the butt of a shot gun poked in your shoulder and a light shinning in your eyes with some fella muttering away in Nepalese!!!

Kathmandu is a really cool place, just what I needed after India! I've been exploring the capital and eating, well.......not curry! I met a local guy on the bus in and he insisted on taking me round all the city sites and pretty much paying for everything which was nice, people are a lot different than their Indian counterparts here! Off to do 4 days of canyoning and rafting tomorrow just South of the Tibet border which I'm really looking forward too!

Hope you all ok back home and not too upset about England's result! Tarar for now!