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Published: January 14th 2012
View from the hotel we stayed at for 1 night in the crazy, busy city of Patna, India.
We finally made it to the Birgunj/Raxoul (Nepal/Indian) border crossing after about 10 long hours of riding in our taxi. Our driver had no idea what the protocol was when it came to exiting/entering countries. He drove us straight through the border and past both visa stations. Once we finally got him to understand what we needed to do,(ie. actually present our selves to the officials who handle Passport, Customs, Immigration control, both on the exiting of Nepal and the entering of India). It is never advisable to run a border between two countries the way our driver casually did. We had to turn around and attempt to cross the border back into Nepal unnoticed. This had us a little concerned, but we made it through with no problems. Once we got our passports properly stamped with exit visas from Nepal, we had to track down an individual who would stamp us into India. We have never seen a more porous border in all of our travel. We actually had to put serious work into entering India in a legal manner. The passport control office on the Indian side was not even manned when we finally found it. We waited for
a few minutes, the customs official was out for a smoke.
With the Visa issues safely resolved, we ended up buying yet another taxi to get us to Patna so we could catch a train to Varanasi. The ride we were about to experience made the crazy drive from Kathmandu seem like no problem whatsoever. We don't know what our driver was thinking, but it appeared as though he thought he was a NASCAR driver. Mike was in the front seat and Sarah was in the back. Mike had the benefit of having a seat belt as opposed to Sarah in the back. However, with the approximate 100 close call head on collisions we almost had - Mike was not feeling safe in the front. Our driver used his horn about 90% of the drive until it stopped working. We can honestly say that this was the craziest ride we have ever experienced in our lives. Two words: Adrenaline Rush! Before arriving to Patna, we had to cross the Mahatma Gandhi setu. This is the longest bridge in Asia. (Google it) For those of you who don't already know, Sarah has a fear of bridges. Lucky for her, the
adrenaline was so high it helped while crossing the river. The bridge is over 5km long and the traffic was so thick that we couldn't just cruise over it. It was stop and go the whole way and our driver still thought he was a NASCAR driver. The sections of the bridge were uneven and in some spots they were swaying up and down several inches. Rumor has it the bridge had been declared unsafe several months ago and they are planning on rebuilding it. We finally arrived to Patna SAFE and could not wait to get out of that vehicle. It was dark and we had no reservations anywhere to stay so we checked our Lonely Planet guidebook and picked the first hotel we saw. Thankfully they said they had one room available for one night which was perfect since we were going to go to the train station to get our tickets to Varanasi the next day. Checkout time was 12 noon and we headed to the station. We bought our tickets but the train was not to leave until 9PM. We were left to trek around Patna with our heavy packs for several hours. The town is
Waiting in the busy train station
so congested with people you cannot go anywhere without bumping into the person next to you or dodging people coming straight towards you. The Indian men spit everywhere so we were also dodging the spit flying left and right. They mix paan with tobacco that makes their spit bright red and it stains everything. We went to the train station about 6PM to wait for our train because we had nowhere else to go. There are virtually no places to sit and in the spots that are available have urine all over them. Indian men seem to be very fascinated with white women Sarah felt like she was a celebrity. For Sarah, though, this made her uncomfortable at times. She would hide behind Mike and the men would arrange themselves around him so they could hope to get another glance at her. Our train was delayed by 4 hours, so we waited in the freezing cold. The announcements were very unclear as to what was happening and at times we thought the train was cancelled or that maybe we had missed it. The Patna station is not very tourist friendly and no matter what official we went to, we couldn't
FREEZING while we waited, and waited, and waited for the train to get going.
get any information as to what was going on. We eventually got on the train at appx 1am and headed our way to Varanasi!
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