Thursday, January 14, 2010

Nepal Tour Part 5 – The Himalayan Cruise: Gorakhpur to Kathmandu Bus Trip

The bus seemed like heaven after the torrid experience in the Jhansi - Gorakhpur train. But then we are here to experience India and we are getting a taste of it. The mood change was pretty evident in all the faces. The tiredness of travelling for the last three nights in train seem to have gone and there was a sudden surge of energy. Quickly every one swung to action. Just see the happy faces in the bus

The excitement of travelling by road over the mighty himalayas was slowly getting to head. The climate was changing slowly. Some 60 kms more to travel through India and we will be knocking at the doors of the Nepal border.
We took a small break once daylight made a beeline entry. The temperature was really cool. Seen here are entire gang which took this memorable trip.

We could soon feel the terrain change from the plains to hills. The bus was slowly but steadily making its progress and soon we could see the checkpost. First it was the Indian checkpost, with men from the Indian Army manning the checkpost. The driver and two among us headed to meet the officer. The officer was an elderly guy who seemed to have football kept under his belly, his shirts buttons finding it real hard to keep his shirts closed and his mouth completely red by chewing of Pan.  He urged us to disclose the equipment which we had with us, including cameras, walkman etc so that they won't charge duty on our return trip. We meticulously listed all the items and handed it over to the officer. He asked whether whatever written is true and then signed the paper. Thatz it no more formalities there. We are on road again.

The check post ordeal
The moment we were waiting for arrived soon - the Nepal checkpost and there was a drastic difference in the look and feel of the person manning that checkpost. Driver of our bus informed that it will take atleast an hour to proceed from this point. Time for us to have some fun roaming around while the tour representatives went with the letter from college authorities to meet the checkpost officials.

The first thing we noticed was the presence of some vehicles which we do not usually get to see in Indian roads.

Decided to have something to fill our tummies. There were only some small food stalls around. Tea was good but the snacks which they served were different. Most of us did not like it and had to rely on the ever reliable bread and biscuits.

The tour representatives and the driver had a tough time negotiating with the check post officials and finally arrived at some figure for letting us proceed. 

Into the roads of Nepal
We are now travelling through the roads of Nepal, superbly mainatained roads, one will never feel that he is travelling through a ghat section. Such is the condition of the roads there and we were feeling like gliding. It was the same bus but this change in road condition has its impact on the comfort of the journey. The speed at which distances were being covered also increased.

We were on some very large mountains and making roads through this kind of terrain itself is a challenge leave alone the art of maintaining it in silky smooth condition. At some places we were made to wait because the number of vehicles allowed in the road for the next stretch of 10 kilometers were limited. Only when one of the vehicles inside this 10km stretch goes out can another one step in. This was done to meet the load carrying capacity of the road built by cutting the mountain sides. We thought our wait will be prolonged a lot. But after just 10 minutes we were let in. We were amazed by the meticoulous planning involved in implementing these kind of strategy as a preventive maintenance measure for roads which will reduce the downtime of these roads, something which we have never seen in India.

The ghat section here was quite different what we normally see in the southern state of India. Here the mountains were huge (ofcourse himalayas ought to be huge) and greenery was a little bit more on the darker side.

The discussions inside the bus almost stopped since we were pretty awed by the scenary outside and we were crowding on the side of the bus from where amazing views are present. At times it felt quite scary too, coz one wrong move by the driver and we are part of history. Even finding the debris of an accident is daunting task because of the shallowness of the valley.

At many places clean water was gushing out through the rocks and pipes have been placed through which this water stream will flow down to the road side. We stopped at one such stream and had an experience of the pure and uncontaminated water.
Yesterday at the same time we were grimly watching the plight of fellow travellers who were quenching there thirst from the water taken from a lake filled with sewage and today we are here bathing, drinking and playing with the pure and cold water provided by nature.
Only travels can give us such kind of diverse experience within a short span of time.
The driver stopped the bus nearby a small hotel for our lunch. We were not thinking about lunch at all because our mind was fully dedicated to the visual treat on display, something which we were seeing for the first time in our life.
The hotel was a typical village hotel. It seemed to be manned by a husband and wife. They also spoke Hindi. The dressing of ladies was quite different from what we see in India and this was immediate talking point as was expected from a group of youths.
Lunch was on our table and we were looking at each other watching the food being served. It was white rice and the side dish was different kinds of leaves. We were wondering whether we were supposed to eat those leaves or not. Saw our driver happily feeding on these leaves. Reluctantly we too tasted the leaves and that is it, we were not able to continue as it tasted sour. Our lunch was over immediately. Paid the hotel for the lunch and proceeded to the bus. Again bread and biscuits helped us to revitalize to a certain extent.

We were wondering whether this kind of food is in store for us for the next two days. But even if we starve, we will not complain, since the experience of this travel was simply awesome.

The journey continued after the lunch and the terrain still continued to astonish.

It was 7pm in the evening when we could see lot of lights at a distance and driver announced that Kathmandu town is visible from here. We reached the entry point of the town and again there was a checkpost. Policemen in their customary uniform entered the bus and began to press each and every luggage. Driver informed us that, unless we pay them something they will keep on doing this. Immediately we took out some moolah and gave to the policeman and he immediately stopped the ordeal and let us go. We understood how to get things done in Nepal.

The bus slowly rolled into a posh hotel and when the driver announced that this is where we are going to stay, most of us were still wondering about the beautiful hotel.

Part 6 - First Night at Kathmandu (Click to read)

The story so far: (Click to read)

Part 1 - The plan

Part 2 - The Approvals

Part 3 - The Journey begins - Palghat - Jhansi

Part 4 - Another side of Life - Jhansi - Gorakhpur
Part 5 - The Himalayan Cruise: Gorakhpur - Kathmandu Bus Trip 

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