Varanasi to Kathmandu

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February 23rd 2006
Published: March 26th 2006EDIT THIS ENTRY

Varanasi to Kathmandu

Well its catch up time again if I can remember the last time I wrote we were heading towards Kathmandu, Nepal. The first step of the trip was to catch a train from Varanasi to Gorakhpur, once again the train ride was pretty much as before but this time we didn’t have to get a sleeper as the train journey was a mere 6 hours - oh joy… So we arrive at Gorakhpur to spend the night and to say “culture shock” would be an understatement. We had previously met another couple heading towards Kathmandu at the train station who had made the journey before so we followed in their footprints to try and find a hotel that was at least stay-able for one night - trust me this was going to be a challenge with our given options. Suzanne checks out a couple of places and I can tell by the look on her face that she couldn’t exactly find the holiday inn never mind the Hilton. We eventually check into a room with an en suite, in fact to be precise it had two en suite’s, one minging bathroom and a 24hour roadside café - well gone have the days of staying in Palace’s with beautiful lake views I can tell you. Anyway as it’s only for a short night I guess we can put up with pretty much anything - even the hours of killing mozzies and listening to Bollywood music all night - yes it was as good as it sounds, anyway we survive the night and get up at 5.30 to try and find a taxi to take us to the India/Nepal border. Luckily this seems to be the norm and it’s not long until we’re approached by a few people for their service to the border, and it’s a few hours later we arrive and we’re transferred to a rickshaw and into Nepal Customs and amazingly we get our permits and are allowed through pretty darn quickly - a darn sight quicker than DFW airport I can tell you…
We then arrange for a mini-bus to Kathmandu as this is apparently a lot safer and about 5 hours quicker than the coach that stops to pick up everybody and everything - including chickens… and this is where the fun begins… We don’t even get a couple of miles out of town before we hit a stray dog but luckily I think the wee beggar might have been okay, it’s not long after that we see a few trucks which have been blown up by rebels - always nice to see on your hols, next stop Beirut. Shortly after we start to follow a twisting river through the valleys and the road itself is pretty hairy and it’s not a good sign when you can clearly see where various other cars and buses have broken through the barrier and plummeted below a couple of hundred feet into the river… and of course our driver of about 20 years of age thinks once again that the F1 championship is on the line and this is the final race of the season, once again we are involved with overtaking on blind corners and playing chicken with trucks with no where to turn… and of course with Suzanne and myself sat in the front seats makes for a much more enjoyable experience…
It’s not long until we see the witness marks of the first casualties of the day with a car having gone through the barrier and by the time we arrived there was just debris floating down the river - does this stop our driver - oh no, and we continue at Mach 10 until IT happens…
As I mentioned before myself and Suzanne are sat in the front seats with the driver and what does he do - bangs right into the a bus in front of us - luckily no one was hurt and it was just cosmetic damage but it certainly woke us up anyway. We then had to stop at the next town to see the local police to discuss/shout/point/argue who was to blame, well the local police really couldn’t care so we had to wait several hours while all this was sorted out before we set off again. And you guessed it, not only didn’t this slow our driver down but he now had to make up for lost time - and did I mention it got dark by now… you can only imagine… Anyway, a mere 14 hours later we arrive at Kathmandu and finally breath a sigh of relief.
The next few days we spend venturing around Kathmandu, which basically involves eating meat for the first time in a month - brilliant, visiting Durbar square where all the hippies used to hang out at the various temples and where we got to see a living goddess - that’s a first, trying to get a good deal on a base camp trek and checking out the fake North Face shops for equipment. After spending more time than I would of liked in too many trekking shops we eventually meet a guide who due to the lack of tourism in Nepal at the moment is contracting and offers to take us on the two week trek to Everest Base Camp… We leave on the 28th Feb - now were getting there…

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