Mother India - Varanasi - Kathmando PDF Print E-mail
Written by Peter Smith   
Saturday, 11 April 2009 11:13
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Day 43: Sunday 4th November: Varanasi - Kathmando

This was the earliest start yet. I haven't been up this early since the 6 till 2 shift at Handsworth Pit way back in 1962. As we left the hotel grounds, bang on time, at 5.00am and turned into the main street outside I was surprised to see it occupied by a substantial number of faces quietly waiting for daylight to break and staring inquisitively as we sneaked out into the last of the night. As soon as we left the city the lights on the bus went out and most of its passengers quickly slipped into the dreams so abruptly broken an hour earlier. Laying with head pressed against the window it was strange not to lookout on a scene bathed in early morning sun but a landscape shrouded in mist. Laying in the comfort and warmth of a hotel it is easy to ignore the fact that life for the masses here in Mother India is very hard but gets even harder after dark.

This journey turned into another nightmare trip. First a very long and boring drive up to the Nepalese border along a road totally unfit for carrying traffic. The border was yet another dumping ground for lorries and travellers. The actual border control was situated on the main street of the town and took an hour to get to because of all the vehicles queuing. The women had to use the most appalling toilet I have seen since Ecuador 1993. Once through the border we were told to expect another 10 hour drive up to Kathmandu.

The last of the daylight was not waisted on the most beautiful of scenery as we started to climb into the foothills of the Himalayas but our estimated time of arrival began to look ridiculous. As dark took over the drive became dangerous. The road started to climb steeply and the lorries coming down from Kathmandu just kept up their constant drive to overtake everything in front irrespective of the danger. At 10.00am Sue erupted into rage. We'd now been driving for six hours since Nepal without a toilet stop and fifteen in total. As by magic the bus stopped for what I thought was a toilet stop but on looking at JonPal's face it was obvious we were going no further. Whether by luck or judgment we were stopped at the entrance to a Nepalese travel lodge and after a ten minute wait Leighton confirmed they had enough room. Although I didn't have any Nepalese rupees and we'd been told by the guide in Varanasi not to take anything above 100 Indian notes because no one would change them the little man at the bar took them thank goodness.

The lodge had been built by the locals and was quite comfortable if not a bit damp. The rooms were stretched out above the bar and dining room terrace and lit by fairy lights and looked idyllic from the road. The service at the bar was good but food took an age even though a large sign said 'food 24 hours a day'. By the time our soup arrived I'd had three bottles of Ghauka and since I'd been up since 4.00am I was feeling a bit tipsy. I sat with JonPal and he was very annoyed about the length of the journey which was impossible in the time given by Andrew and Mark. I think it is becoming obvious they are office travellers. Their instructions said set off no later than 8.00am and a buffet tea will be waiting in Kathmandu. We had been travelling for sixteen hours with few breaks, hence the outrage by Sue, and on talking to the little barman who lived in Kathmandu it takes at least another three hours. It seems to me they're either ignorant of the distances and road conditions or they're prepared to endanger our lives and the reputation of the drivers for the sake of their precious timetable. I went to bed very, very tired and bitter because obviously we have lost one of our days in Kathmandu.

Last Updated on Sunday, 19 April 2009 20:05