Mahendranagar, The Epic Journey
On Tuesday the 15th of May I decided to leave Pokhara. I packed my bags, checked out of my bug ridden guest h ouse (NRS90/night - about 67p), strolled the ten minutes journey to the bus stop, went to the bus station, bought my ticket, stood around talking to a French guy, found out Maoists had blocked the road and our bus was cancelled.
Generally I'm on the side of the Maoists, they're fighting for the people who are mostly ignored by the king and the government. But it's not so much fun when it affects me.
Luckily, there was one silver lining to this cloud as you shall see...
I talked to the French guy a bit more as we went for the bus back to town, his name was John (I've met so many Johns it's unbelievable. I found five in Kathmandu, 3 in just one nig ht). We got to the bus but it was full, we thought we'd have to wait for the next one but no.... we got to ride on top.
It was very uncomfortable but very cool, the wind in our hair (kindof, mines very short now, John had none), dodging hanging branches and electrical cables and getting envious star es from the other tourists. It was like being on top of the world but better, like on top of the bus on top of the world.
Unfortunately, the bus dropped us off at the wrong end of town. We were both reluctant to spend more on a taxi than we were on the room so we set off on a 25 minute walk (with heavy bags) to the guest house.
Soon after we arrived. I explained to the men what happened (the laughed) and I moved back into my room.
The next day I packed my bags, checked out of my bug ridden guest house (NRS90/night - about 67p), strolled the ten minutes journey to the bus stop, went to the bus station, bought my ticket, stood around talking to a French guy who I now knew the name of and then got on the bus.
Supposedly a 16 hour overnight journey we departed at 1pm expecting to arrive by 5am. The estimated journey times are always excessively optimistic so John asked the driver when we would arrive and was told between 7 and 8am. Thus putting the journey at an increased time of 18-19 hours.
Around 7pm we passed through Lumbini, the birthplace of Buddha. One of the places I intended to visit but didn't. By night it didn't seem like I had missed much. We stopped for a break so I can now claim that I had a wee in the town that Buddha was bo rn.
I was quite hungry by the time we stopped at 10pm for some Dal Bhatt (Lentils in sauce with rice) and lots of chapatis. It was quite stuffed afterwards.
I woke at 5am (after my 30 minutes)and we stopped for a break. I went out for a stroll (16 hours without much movement isn't so good for the legs) , the sun was just coming up but it was still quite cold. I knew that later I'd be wishing again for the cold but at the time it was unpleasant.
We got back on the bus and set off again. Around 6.30am we stopped. Some villages had blocked the road and wouldn't let us past. They had a Maoist sign with some Nepali written on it. I asked someone and they said that the sign was demanding food for the villagers who were starving.
For two hours the driver and the bus boys wondering around seemingly doing nothing. Some local kids got on the bus to have a look at us. I was sat at the front by the door (the sea t with the most legroom) so a lot of these kids had a good stare at my white skin and orange hair.
I got to stare back after a bit when I noticed that one of the boys had four thumbs. They were obviously useless and didn't work. One was long and spindly but just bone and no musc le. The other was a little blob maybe 2cm long with a nail on the end. He went away after a bit.
After the two hours we turned around and, although we all feared we might be going back, instead took a detour around some villages.
The people of these villages, quite obviously not used to a bus on the dirt path between their huts, stared with quite a bit of wonder.
The detour took 2 1/2 hours and brought us out not much further than where we'd been before the road block. It was quite interesting though.
We passed through 2 rivers, I expected that we get stuck in the mud at the bottom but we didn't. The villages we passed through all had cannabis growing like the weed that it is. It is, of course, illegal in Nepal but the government does ignore this part of the country so I suppose that makes it ok.
I expect that it mostly just grew there naturally and the locals, not seeing much a point, didn't bother to go around removing it. Still, I bet they noticed their lack of food more at night when they all got the munchies.
Just before noon we arrived in Mahendranagar. It had been a long long 23 hour journey and everyone was tired and hungry. I had some Dal Bhatt and chapatis with John and then he lef t for India.
I had to sleep (and I had a tiger to hunt before I left Nepal) so I looked at and declined a couple of grotty hotels before finding Hotel Gangotri with a fan and a tv and clocks wi th world times over the reception. I checked in, asked the hotel to arrange a trip to Sukla Phanta Park for me, went to my room, showered and then went to sleep. It was 2pm.
I woke again at 5am and, at 6am, went to find Malu Pothi.