28th March, 2009
OK, so you’re in Katmandu. That don’t impress me much! This tune keeps running through my head, sung by Shania Twain. It’s not that I’m not impressed; the tune is just running through my head. But the trip to Katmandu was shitty, and I don’t mean that in a good way. It all began on:
26th March, 2009
I woke up just like any other day. I had a really delicious breakfast of porridge and apples and chai. I watched CNN until the power went out. I packed my luggage and decided I would put all the stuff I wouldn’t need for the rest of the trip in my Bodhi bag, and get the tailor down the road to sew it up in a parcel and then I could mail it from Patna. Unfortunately, he had no parcel cloth so couldn’t do it. It was weird though. It was really hot. OK 38 degrees Celsius is really hot, but I’m kinda used to it. I was sweating and really hot. And tired. And my muscles were aching. It didn’t really hit me until I checked out of the hotel and started walking down the road to find the bus stop so I could catch the bus to Patna. My pack was really heavy which didn’t really make much sense since I had taken a bunch a stuff out of it to mail and put it in the Bodhi bag.
Then, as I was trudging down the street, it hit me. I musta got some kinda food poisoning or something. I remembered my stool was not just soft, but quite liquid in the morning. I usually try to eeat some meat, as a completely vegetarian diet gives me the runs. And I thought back to my last meal (not the breakfast; it was only ¾ of an hour before. The ants and the cockroaches at the Ohm Restaurant! OK, here’s some advice when you get to Badhgaya: Don’t eat at the Ohm Restaurant.
Anyway, I finally got to this Tourist Office. A real bona fide government run tourist place, and they tell me to chill (not in those words of course) and they book my bus ticket. Only there’s no room on the bus. So, they get me an autorickshaw even though I wanted to just go out on the street to where the last autorickshaw driver gave me directions to get to their office. They want a 50 Rs. deposit and tell me to give the autorickshaw driver 100 Rs. After I got out of sight from the office, I gave him another 50 cause I think these places rip the drivers off by booking them. The driver doesn’t know till he gets there he has a foreigner, and has already accepted the lower Indian rate. Anyway, he gets me to the station, and there’s a train leaving at 1:15 and another at 3:15 (express). I decided I’d get the 1:15 cause I didn’t feel like sitting around the station for a couple of hours. My muscles were really sore, and I could hardly lift my pack. So I get a cheap regular seating ticket, and stop in the Tourist Help Center to find out what platform the train to Patna was on. He insisted I sign his book: name passport number, destination, nationality and a buncha other stuff. It’s like 1:10 by now. I’m gonna miss my train! So, anyway, I get the info and really have to hustle cause the train is waiting on the station. And it’s full! The first four carriages are reserved for military use oonly, which only leaves two general seating carriages. I manage to squeez into the door just as the train starts to move. I finally work my way into the carriage and find a place to staore my bag, but it’s shoulder to shoulder standing room, and did I mention hot? I was beginning to think I might have the flu or something. It was like the flu only no sniffles, though I am left with a sore throat, and a bit of a tickle today.
So, anyway, I finally get a corner of a seat to sit on, but my butt got sore and I had to stand up. Did I mention the food sellers? They came on with their stuff and for some reason always stopped in front of me with the food basket. The smell actually made me nauseous enough to start guaging the distance between me and the open carriage door. It was cramped all the way to Patna.
So I get there, and the LPG says there’s an evening bus and two morning buses from the government bus station so I get into a shared autorickshaw, and they take me to the wrong bus station. And he won’t take me back. I finally have to get out and finally found an autorickshaw driver to take me to the Ghandi Mautema station, but he only takes me as far as the train station (from whence I came) I offer him 150 rupees. He won’t go! Finally, a cycle rickshaw driver saves me, and I take the bicycle rickshaw to the Ghandi Mautema Bus station. We get lost, ask directions, cycle past it, backtrack and I gave him 200 Rs. for his effort. He was only asking 75 rupees, but I think the cycle guys should get more than the auto guys cuse of the effort they have to put in it. And the bicycle ride is far calmer and you can see more.
So, I get there, find the right ticket window, but I think the guy is telling me there is no morning bus. I go to the office and they confirm the only bus is at 10PM. I’m not entirely convinced there isn’t a 9:15 AM bus from that station but I decide I can’t take a chance they’re wrong. So I have 6 hours to wait, and I get the runs. I have to keep going to the latrine at 2 rupees a pop, nd there’s no place to leave my luggage. I was absolutely miserable. I was really, really tired as well. And my pack got heavier. And the Bodhi bag kept slipping from my shoulder. And hears the topper: my pants kept falling off. I think I’ve lost some weight since I started the trip, and my pants are getting quite baggy. I decided I might be dehydrated or suffering from heat stroke, so I bought some mango juice and some water. I had about three sips of each and five minutes later threw up. Luckily the street sewers in most of India re open so I had a place to spew.
I finally found a little spot and sat down, and catnapped for a while, only getting up to go to the toilet. Then I remember I have pills on me, and I pop a 292. My muscles stopped aching almost right away and I begin to feel better. I’m still catnapping, and eventually feel good enough to get up and go over to the ice cream bicycle guy and buy an orange ice lolly. It was so good I had four, and I think my core body temperature began to drop and I felt quite better. Eventually I figured out which bus was the one to Roxaull and then found out I had to take the slip of paper, I thought was my ticket back to the window where I paid for it so I could get the real icket. This I did.
The bus left late. And the road was really bumpy. Thankfully, even though I had intestinal cramps I didn’t have uncontrollable runs. There was one point when I thought I would have to ask the driver to pull over, but it passed after some excruciating moments. Eventually the bus stopped in the middle of nowhere and we all got out and peed by the side of the highway. I have no idea what the terrain is like between Patna and Roxaull is like, but it’s realy really bumpy. TO make things worse the guy beside me kept pushing my arm off the seat arm rest, and the seat in fron of me, tilted back, bounced up and down so badly, it kept whacking my legs. Then it got cold. I wrapped my self inside my sleeping bag, but when I sat down, I discovered my mango juice bottle had spilled all over my seat.
It was quite wet. It was probably the most uncomfortable night I have ever spent. We arrived at Roxaull in the early morning of:
27th March, 2009
nd just as I stood up, poop dripped out of my butt. And every time I lifted or moved something, more poop dripped out. I had separted the small pack from the big pack on my backpack so it would fit in the overhaed shelf, so now my arms were full with two packs and my Bodhi bag and my pants were slipping down and poop was dripping out my ass. Then a bicycle rickshaw guy insited he take me to the border crossing right away. I told him I had to find a toilet first. Finally I realized there was no toilet by the bus, so away we go.
And he passes a toilet! I was a little perturbed. Still he took me to a nicer one. I go in, and I gotta just take my pants off and my underwear, and all my money falls out of my pocket and spills in the toilet! ON top of that, when I bend over to pick it up, all the stuff in my shirt pocket falls out. I finally get everything back and leave my underwear behind me. My pants are wet though, and it’s very uncomfortable. SO we stop to exchange some Indian money for some Nepali money 1600 Nepali rupees for 1000 Indian. And a 70 Rupee exchange fee. My first black market exchange for the trip. He then takes me through the border where there’s an exit fee of 70 rupees on the India side and the $25 USD Nepalese visa costs $30. And then drops me at a dreaded Tourist booking office. Turns out he wants 300 Rupees for the whole thing. I objected for a moment, then decided it wasn’t worth the hassle. SO I pay 300 Rs. for the bus to Katmandu. While I’m waiting I have a couple of chais at the chai shack next door. I feel better.
Then the tour guide guy says the bus is gonna be late and for an extra 300 Rs. I can take a taxi to Katmandu. I agree. But then we gotta go by bicycle rickshaw to where the taxi is located, and he hogs almost the whole seat. And when we get there, what a scene. There are people grabbing the handlebars of the rickshaw to pull us over to their taxi or bus or whatever. Big arguments break out between opposing factions, pulling the bicycle this way then that, then the Tour Operator guide has to get out and yell and tug the bicycle rickshaw over to where he wants to go and when its all over I gotta pay the rickshaw driver 100 Rs. I give it to him in Nepalese.
And the fighting actually doesn’t stop there. I saw one traveller being pushed into a tour office. And a couple of touts slap each other. It was very bizarre. No one seemed to get hurt, and no one seemed to be put out much by it all. I’ll tell you this though: this is the part of Bijargh or whatever the place is, to get your taxi. This is why: The tour guide already had 300 Rupees of my money and I had to pay the taxi owner ( a 4x4 Toyota) another 300 Rs. (500 Nepalese). So the tour operrator keeps the original 300 and I pay the same fare as everyone else to the taxi operator. But I’ll tell ya this as well: the trip was worth it. The drive through the mountains to Katmandu was awesome, and the road is rough, but the seats in the Toyota were pretty comfy. And the views were spectacular. Most of them I don’t have pictures as I was on the mountain side of the 4x4. Stiill, from time to time, I got a shot off. Not always what I was intending to take. The road is quite bumpy, and can only be traveersed by motorcycles and landcruisers.
So, I get to Katmandu, and the place where the ride stops is awful. So I take a cab and he drives me to the tourist area. The first place he takes me to doesn’t have TV so some tout grabs us and takes me to ever increasingly expensive and soulless hotels, so we ditch him and I decide to take the first place. t\he courtyard looked cool, and has a café called the New Orleans café, and THEY HAVE LATTES! So, the room is only 300 Nepalis Rs. It’s actually cool here. After being in 38 degrees for so long, I was quite put out by it. It’s only about 25 C here. I had a great beef kabob in almond sauce with cashew salad at the New Orleans Cafe
Disaster befalls me later in my hotel room! They moved me to a bigger room with a TV at no extra cost, but before that, as I was getting the stuff ready for mailing, I realize I've lost my India Lonely Planet Guide. I'm pretty sure I left it on the bus in Raxaull, cause I was in a hurry and the bag was up on the rack and the stupid book must have fallen out. I don't NEED the book, but it would have been a good resource for later, but all the leaves I collected from the Bodhi Tree were inside the book! Woe is me! I had thought, properly mounted, they would make cool gifts. I have only a teeny little leaf I left in my notebook for good luck left. Dang it! Now would be a really good time for Trans Dimensional Shift Theory to kick in the Temporal Adjustment Reaction (TAR).
Here’s something: I went to the ATM to get some cash. AND LEFT MY CARD IN THE MACHINE! Luckily a woman from Denmark got it for me and called me back. Then I noticed the receipts for the cash machine were one transaction behind and my receipt was someone else’s Still, I gotta find the Post Office today and then mail the stuff off I’m not keeping. I might buy a little violin type thingie a guy was trying to sell me yesterday from him before I mail everything off.