Monday, May 3, 2010

Maybe Next Time, Nepal

Nepal was pretty much a failed attempt. I got stuck at the border crossing overnight because I had missed the last bus from Kakarvitta to Kathmandu. I shacked up in a hole in the wall and was up at 4am, with the wheels on the bus moving by 5. I noticed instantly the police presence on the roads of Nepal which shocked me in a country known for being peaceful and friendly. We were stopped and searched at least once an hour.
The drive was breathtaking. We were on a cliff road most of the time following a river through a mountainous valley, cross country. The journey was to take 10 hours and we were pretty much on time when I saw a sign for 33km to Kathmandu. This is where it all went wrong. Long painful story short, we were held up in the dark, on a mountain, in bumber to bumper traffic, unable to budge for almost another 10 hours. No one spoke English and all I really understood about our immobility was a "strike". The police? The drivers? At this point, who knew? (Did I mention there was a basket full of at least half a dozen chicks at my feet? Or what about the fact I hadn't eaten anything but crackers and water all day cause the food stops were not even an option or me?)

Turns out the whole country was affected by bus loads of Communist Maoists protesting the current government, the focal point of course being the capitol, Kathmandu. I arrived into the city in the midst of mayhem. It wasn't until 3am I finally got into the right guesthouse, AFTER my cab driver ripped me off AND my wallet was stolen. All in all, not a good way to mark my arrival into a new country.

The 2 reasons I went to Nepal were to volunteer at an orphange for a week in Kathmandu and then get to Pokhara and do a trek through the mountains. Fail on both accounts. I spent a week in Kathmandu, with the whole city shutdown and only certain things open from 6-8pm. The protests started out peaceful, but under strained conditions things started to happen and get worse on a daily basis. We walked around much of the city so I definately got a feel for Kathmandu, but all forms of transportation (except police, army, UN, press, ambulances, and airport shuttles for tourists) were halted throughout the coutry- so getting to Pokhara and trekking was out of the question. I decided to cut my losses and get back to India. After an entire day at the embassy with a million other travellers doing the same thing, I got permission to re-enter India early on my visa and booked a flight out.
I am disappointed not to have been able to get the most out of Nepal, but on the flipside it was so interesting to see a country on the brink of a revolution. The violence was scary and made me realise how far away from home and democracy I am, but now in retrospect I am glad I got to see it first hand, in such a foreign place.

1 comment:

Travelling Chick said...

fascinating perspective .. certainly a scary time but it feels like you came away with it in a positive light .. glad to hear you were safe... and yet also glad for you that you had an experience like that...amazingly transforming..