The Journey from Hell
Day 52: Never have I ever had such a hellish experience on transport anywhere in the world other than going from India to Nepal. Jess is a Wanderer tells you how NOT to do this trip!
The plan: a lazy morning and then a last jaunt around town before a tasty curry to see us on our way and it’s goodbye India, hello Nepal on an overnight bus leaving at 10pm. We’d spent all our Indian rupees and everything was set. We were so organised. We'd seen this ticket online, a travel agent had offered to sell it to us and in the end, our hotel concierge booked it for us. It was perfect. We were so organised.
Or so we thought.
You know where this is going, right?
So the time has come, we are in the lobby and the tuk-tuk driver has come to collect us. Arriving at the bus station, he dumps us at stand 8 and we just have an hour to wait.
That’s when we discuss checking the ticket and checking stand 8. And when we realise the ticket is missing. And when we start to panic. Fortunately a nice, young chap was sitting near us - so in popular tradition - I pounded on him and used his phone to call the hotel and get a replacement ticket on the way. Oh, India. You’re so good sometimes.
Then we found the ticket! Still on the phone to the hotel, Sanjeev is relieved as it saves him a journey to the bus station and he can get on with his evening. On the phone, he tells me to check with the office which platform we should be at.
That’s when the world ended.
Now, it’s 21:50 and Sanjeev (hotel manager) on the phone announces that the ticket (which he arranged) was for 10am. Not 10pm.
Well, that was unexpected. He assured us to stay calm and that he’d be there imminently. Also, this bus station is absolutely not the place where you want to get stuck. Cows milling around, homeless bodies lying all over the place and the men doing everything in their power to stand near us or talk to us. Definitely not our most comfortable Indian experience.
Fast forward, Sanjeev arrives and tells us (as we’ve made plans for the next few days in Nepal) that we can match up to our original timings if we ‘do what the locals do’. Well... I’m always up for an adventure. Wolvo wasn’t so keen but there we were. Six hours on a local, rickety old bus, cramped, sweaty, people coughing, spluttering and spitting out of the windows, mosquito-ridden... truly horrific. But... we had to get to Nepal!
We got dropped off at the bus station in Gurakhpur where no one spoke English at around 4;15. It was dark. Like pitch black. There was a hub of activity growing around us as men gathered around to see our pale, lost faces. Genuinely think we’re the only Europeans to ever have visited that end of town. We were, however, supposed to be on a luxury AC direct bus filled with foreigners and reclining seats. But that would have bWe had no idea where we were going or what ‘border’ is in Hindustan... we tried to seeker boring and comfortable. We decided to seek refuge in a hotel and wait for it to get light but it was closed. Eventually a chap approached us and started listing places we may be wanting to go to. Fortunately we recognised the border town and hopped in a tuk-tuk to the railway station.
At the station we were put onto another rickety old bus and sent on our way. Church pews. Hard, practically wooden church pews are what we’re sitting on. You slide off around every corner and bounce to the moon over every bump.
Also, the hotel refunded our £30+ ticket fare and now the journey is only going to cost us £10 so we’re rich again! And very thankful as we had spent the last of our money!!! What excellent customer service.
So I’m writing this on my phone as the last of the Indian countryside passes us by. The sun is just rising so there’s a mist over the fields. Villages are disappearing past - cows and monkeys lying in the road. Women tending to chickens, hanging out their brightly coloured saris and pumping water. Men in vests spitting tobacco, tinkering with motorbikes and sweeping the road. A new Day has begun. A day that we started in India and will finish in Nepal. Genuinely excited to see what’s in store...and once we’re off this bus, all will be well with the world.
Not writing anymore because this bus is so mental that I keep flying out of my seat - head hitting ceiling style - due to the bumps in the road. Really should have worn a better bra. Over it now.
We arrived in Sunauli where the Indian/Nepalese border can be found. After getting our ‘out’ stamp from India, we changed the last of our money from the refunded bus ticket into Nepalese rupees and began the 600m walk across the border. The large air-conditioned buses gleaming on the horizon like the hopes and dreams that had been shattered in the last twelve hours. But that didn’t matter now. There they were. Ready to take us on a luxury journey to our next destination.
We went into the visa office, filled the forms, stuck on our passport photos, signed our lives away and paid $25 each. We’d managed to sneak in front of two coach loads of tourists on an organised tour. It was also their buses we could see in the distance. These weren’t on standby for the average Joe, these had been chartered by a Thompsons-esque company. Oh well, our air conditioned bus must be on its way.
That’s when we met Pappu and he took us to a booking office to secure a seat on the bus of dreams. Only he said the exact bus we wanted wasn’t going until 8pm and right now it was only just after 8am so that was no good. We asked what the next best option was, he told us of reclining seats, baggage storage and a smaller, faster vehicle. We asked lots of questions and were told lots of answers and decided to book on to the 9 o clock service. It would take 9 hours and we’d arrive at 6pm. A bit rubbish but what else could we do, we each paid £4 and ambled over to our chariot.
Ah. It was slightly larger than a minibus and the seats did not recline. We were the only passengers until 90 minutes later, the entire vehicle was full. People seated, people standing, people in the aisle... and no AC!! I actually saw my life flash before my eyes. How is this going to be survivable??? My eyeballs were even sweating. Somehow I’d managed to fall asleep and when I woke up, it was to Wolvo announcing she was flying back to England once we arrived.
A bit dramatic you might say. Except for she had a rather large sweaty lady plonked onto her knee... she stayed there, despite Wolvo’s protests, for around an hour and when we tried to ask the 12 year old boy who seemed to be in charge to move her, he simply replied, ‘Yes have manners’. Oh dear.
The journey progressed from bad to worse with far too many stops, far too many people being let on board and far too hot a blazing temperature outside. Half the passengers were even hanging off the outside of the bus! Oh also, it did not take 9 hours. As I’m writing this is 7:30 which means we are sitting on 10.5 hours. Nepal, I am not impressed. Here’s hoping the next two weeks perk up a bit, I need to see some improvement!!!!!!!
Final journey time from hotel to hotel = 25.5 hours. But, you know what? Travelling isn't always glamorous and this post would have been hellish boring with a hellish journey to report about!!
Also I’ve got a mighty cold as a result of catching someone’s cough in my mouth. Oh, if only the world would learn to use their own hands to catch their own coughs!!!