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Small Buses to Pokhara

Belahiya, Nepal – Sunauli in India, Belahiya on the Nepal side. We woke up at 6 a.m. and headed over to the immigration office to get our visas and get stamped into Nepal. We arrived at the immigration office and the dudes were standing outside watching us approach from the Nepal side not the Indian side. Evidently, it did not phase them because they issued our visas, no problem but one officer did mention sarcastically that there was not an extra $10 included with our visa payments for him.

From immigration, it was to the bank to change money. US $1 equals 50 Nepalese rupees. The bank was also changing over Indian rupees, so it is technically illegal to take them out of India and the bank people were changing them over without any transaction record, imagine that. We had one more bus ride to endure to Pokhara before we could truly begin to enjoy Nepal. Our bus pulled up a little later and there was the mad dash to get a seat. When the bus pulled up, there was a swarm of Nepalese boys, each one trying to get your pack out of your hand to carry it to the bus’ roof for the extortionate amount of 10 rupees.

We boarded the bus and after sitting in my seat for about two seconds, I came to the realization that all Nepalese people must be under 5 feet height because my feet were not touching the floor due to the fact that the seat in front of me was so close the my kneecaps prevented the soles of my shoes from moving any lower plus there was not enough room to put our daypacks under our feet, so we tossed them into the aisle along with everyone else’s packs. The bus was absolutely jam-packed and some of the women with children were given small stools so that they could sit in the aisle of the bus. Our bus finally departed. One thing India and Nepal do have in common is that nothing is ever on time.

Into the Himalayan foothills on one of those narrow winding roads that you always read about in the paper when a Nepalese bus goes over the edge and kills 20. Not 15 minutes after we had began our ascent <!– /* Style Definitions */ p.MsoNormal, li.MsoNormal, div.MsoNormal {mso-style-parent:””; margin:0in; margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:10.0pt; font-family:”Times New Roman”; mso-fareast-font-family:”Times New Roman”;} p.MsoBodyTextIndent, li.MsoBodyTextIndent, div.MsoBodyTextIndent {margin:0in; margin-bottom:.0001pt; text-indent:.5in; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:12.0pt; font-family:”Times New Roman”; mso-fareast-font-family:”Times New Roman”;} @page Section1 {size:8.5in 11.0in; margin:1.0in 1.25in 1.0in 1.25in; mso-header-margin:.5in; mso-footer-margin:.5in; mso-paper-source:0;} div.Section1 {page:Section1;} –>

on this road with no guard rails and major cliff drops, we saw a large truck balanced on a boulder 20 to 30 feet below the level of the road. The truck was surrounded by people who seem to be trying to figure out how to go about getting the truck back up to the road, all this within the first hour of our first Nepalese bus ride.

Our bus was supposed to be tourist bus but it was really half tourist express and half local, so I continued to stop for 20 minutes at a time in most small villages. This was only supposed to be a nine-hour bus ride but at this rate who knew how long it was going to take us. The bus climbed higher and higher, passed the terraced fields, the mountain farmers were tending. Our bus made a few more useless stops, then it began to rain. I thought the monsoon was not until May rain great. Now the bus had a fighting chance to really slide off the road into the river. We drove and drove and drove and more people got on and we drove some more.

Our driver would be driving down into the valleys and it accelerated into a 25 km an hour hairpin turn, then slammed on the brakes just as we started turning plus it was not like all 75 people on the bus could not see the turn. We had all been staring at it for 10 minutes, why accelerate. Rich and I decided it was because the driver did not know which paddle was the brake and which paddle was the gas. So, he just pressed both of them at the same time in order to figure out which was the brake. We descended down into the Pokhara valley and stopped at the checkpoint a little bit out of town. After checking in with the police, the hotel touts started their swarm.

This was different though because they were all really mellow, cordial, and no pressure on you whatsoever. Come to my hotel and if you do not like it, okay was the usual response, so mellow. It was going to take us a few days to get used to this lifestyle. The touts piled on to the bus with us and when the bus finally dropped us off, Rich and I decided to go to the Hotel Riz with a dude named Babu Ram. He was very mellow and after we had checked into our room, I had another well earned beer before crashing out.

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