Friday, 29 April 2011

A typical bus journey in Nepal

A local bus journey is a precursor to any trek in Nepal and is similar to an unpleasant vaccination before going on holiday. It involves everyone, together with belongings including the kitchen sink, cramming onto a decrepit bus. People squeeze themselves inside and when there is no more space they climb onto the roof. Our bus had the addition of a small, although highly decorative, shrine, complete with offerings, on the dashboard. James gave his seat up to an elderly monk wearing a grubby yellow fleece over his red robes. As the roller coaster ride began along the woefully inadequate, for the volume of traffic, road out of Kathmandu, the monk began to pray. The praying became more intense with every near miss.

Four hours in, and now off the paved road, the bus shuddered and bounced along next to precipitous drops. James regained his seat. Sat in the aisle next to him was a young girl who watched his every move. On her left hand she had 2 thumbs. With the ability to count to 11 she must have been getting ahead in school.

We were now stopping regularly so that the driver could realign the suspension with a sledge hammer. He'd borrow the hammer from the road labourers who were building the road we were travelling on using only hand tools. After a lot of banging we'd continue.

By the time we arrived in Arughat we were covered in dust, 3 thumbs was sitting on my lap and complete exhaustion had set in, but at least the most dangerous part of our trekking trip was over!

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