This is the culmination of a 6 day expedition to explore and experience he rich cultures and scenic beauty of Nepal. Today we bid farewell to this amazing and beautiful country. This is the story of our return journey from Pokhara to Kanpur and it was one hell of a ride.
It was 5.30 am and the morning was pleasant and cool. Having gulped in our German Bakery muffins and bread rolls, we set out to the Pokhara bus station. We had reserved a NR 500 bus ticket to take us to Sonauli through the picturesque Nepal countryside and to tell the truth, we were expecting a relaxed and calm 6.5 hour journey. Little did we know, that we were gonna have a crazy ride. We waited for our bus and watched aghast when it entered the bus station. It was a 20 seater local bus with about 40 passengers!! And we were supposed to travel in that bus. So much for our relaxed and quite journey. The seats were small and cramped and very uncomfortable. To make matters worse, one of us did not get his reserved seat as a lady with an infant refused to move. Our lack of proficiency in Nepal came as a curse as we could not argue with the local people; not that it would’ve made a difference. So 2 of us got a seat over the front wheel (Zero leg room) and the other found himself on top of the engine. After a brief struggle I pushed my legs into the gap between the 2 seats and placed my heavy bag on my laps. I could hardly move an inch and I have to stay in that seat, in the very same posture for just 6.5 hours. And the bus started its trip, and stopped once in every 10 minutes to take in more passengers.
I tried to get some sleep, but the chatter of passengers and the rumbling of the old engine kept me awake. The only consolation was the beauty of the landscape. Since it was early morning, the fog reduced the visibility to a few meters. With a gushing river gorge to our right, the speed of the bus was reduced significantly. After nearly 2 hours of travelling, my friend got promoted to a seat from the engine top. The deep gorges, the terraced farms, golden valleys made our day. After nearly 3.5 hour journey, the bus stopped in a small village for refreshments. It took me close to 3 minutes to wriggle out of my seats and I could hardly feel my legs. It felt really great to finally stretch my legs. 30 minutes later, we were back on the road and I was back in my awkward seat.
It is during times like this that Relativity comes to plays. Minutes flew like hours and hours like days. The best feeling in the world was when the bus finally arrived in Bhairawa. We hopped of the bus and it was like being released from a concentration camp. The air felt so great, though it was scorching hot. After taking a savari to the border, it was time to bid adios to Nepal. But we had some unfinished business left. After keeping a few Nepali Rupees as souvenirs, we converted the rest back to Indian currency, and guess what, there is commission for this transaction (Not for IC to NR) . We also went to the tourist information center and thanked the guy for providing the maps and the brochures. If it weren’t for those, we’d have ended up in more trouble. Now its time to cross the border and the board “Welcome to India” was really pulling me into my motherland.
We’re back in India. But not yet in Kanpur. We got into an UP Government bus to Gorakhpur. The journey took close to 3.5 hours and we fell asleep as we were really tired. Once in Gorakhpur, we found ourselves in the “not-so-bad” railway waiting room, after dinner. After waiting for a couple of hours, we boarded our train to Kanpur. I slipped into a deep sleep almost immediately. Early morning we arrived at Kanpur Central Railway station and hired an auto to take us back to IIT. Room sweet room! I was back in my room even before the sun reported for duty.This was the end of a week-long adventure with Ashwin and Vijin.
Now, for some statistics. We traveled through 3rd AC, Sleeper and General Class in trains and when it came to buses, we used a Volvo, a Tourist bus, Govt buses, local buses. We also experienced the Tempos, Minis, Micros and Rickshaws in this journey. Our cuisines varied from Indian, Chinese, Tibetan, German and Nepali and was vegetarian. Now for the expenditure part, excluding shopping, the grand total expense per head was just Rs.5800 (US $110).
This winds up my Nepal Travelogue. And I really wanna visit this place again, this time for adventure sports. Every journey gives us a number of memories to cherish for a life time. And this trip is not an exception. I’d like to thank Ashwin and Vijin for coming with me and I express my sincere gratitude to everyone who helped me through this journey.
This is Jibu Tom Jose, signing off.
PS : End of Nepal Series