Monique Rhodes

 

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Pharping, Nepal

20120413smallThese fields are kept in this amazing state by a few women and their water buffalos. No machinery at all.

 

 

 

The bus ride from....HELL!

Why did I decide to get a bus from India to Kathmandu? Whose nuts idea was it? I had the option to fly, a 45 minute flight. Before I knew it I would have been there. Oh no, but not me. Don't let me do something so sensible and easy. No, egged on by a friend who reminded me how I love to adventure I decided to take a 14 hour bus ride. The idea was that I would see the country as I made my way into it. But before I got on the bus there was a 6 hour drive to the Nepal border. And there I discovered that the only busses going up were night busses. Hmmm, that means very little sightseeing.

But I held my mind positively in adventure mode. Maybe I should have had an indication of what was in store when we drove to the Nepal border. I have never in my life seen a road like this. I have seen some bad roads in India but this one was out of control. The jeep I was in had to slow down literally every 5 seconds to negotiate another gigantic hole in the road. And he was driving on both sides of the road and still there was not a stretch of road that was not in this undriveable state. It took us ages to get to the border.

I did my research. I knew there were three bus companies that ran deluxe busses. In India, well Delhi to be precise, a deluxe bus means a relatively nice Volvo with air conditioning. So I was pretty relaxed when I got my ticket on the deluxe bus and was shown the picture of a Volvo with nice seats. I had done this before, twice now in India for 12 hours each. And I was cool with it. It wasn't a breeze but it also wasn't so terrible. No worries.

When at 5pm I was taken to my bus I did say rather loudly, "if you think that is a deluxe bus you have got to be kidding me!" But this was the bus. And I was assured it certainly was deluxe. And clearly the guy believed it. It was deluxe, Nepal style. I could feel my spirits sinking...14 hours in that? Oh my, my adventurer spirit is about to come in for a battering.

busrideWe got on. There was no AC. Just a window that one side didn't open and the other side gave wind burn to the guy behind me when I insisted on keeping it open. He may have had wind burn but I had stink burn from being in a bus with a bunch of mainly men who could have done with being dropped into a Rexona dip. I felt bad for him but I had to keep the window open. I may have passed out and my body may have liquified from the smell. It wouldn't be a good way to go. Then there was the issue of the "deluxe" bus having enough room for about half of my leg between me and the guy in front of me. So I was literally jammed into the seat in front of me. Nowhere to move or stretch. No where. And then he put his seat back so that his head was almost touching my chin. Oh my, what luck! Another person and their seat attached to the front of my body. The physical discomforts didn't end there. The road...the road...it wasn't a road. I am sure we drove up a riverbed for 14 hours. It surely can not have been a road. We rattled, off roaded, lurched, bumped and shook non stop for 14 solid hours, with the odd pee break. My back hurt first, then my shoulders, my neck got seriously jarred when the back left wheel, that I happened to be sitting over,  hit a huge bump, then my knees with no where to go jammed into the seat in front, well I can still hardly feel them. The guy next to me managed to fall asleep at one point. He turned on his side for comfort and managed to use my right side as a cushion for his butt. I surrendered. What was there to do? Perhaps that was my good deed for the day, to be a human butt cushion.

When we arrived in Kathmandu it could not have been a minute too soon. 14 hours later and I was dying. But I was also excited to see a new country. It was 7 in the morning as we drove through the streets. As a vegetarian of 15 years it has been a dream to eat in India. It is also like a large free range farm and the respect for the animals is something I have loved. I often give the odd cow or goat a wee pat as it wanders on its way through the streets. Everything feels interconnected. But I looked up and suddenly realised I was in a new environment. There in front of me was a truck with goats jammed in together. And then a truck of beautiful water buffaloes with their tails tied to the truck. I asked my driver if Nepal was vegetarian too. Oh no he said. Then I managed to look up to see at the side of the road two guys chop the head off a live goat. Oh my. I felt suddenly right out of my depth. A few minutes  later I saw a man and a woman doing something with the insides of a dog. Oh my, deep breath. Where am I? I'm not sure I will stomach this.

Nepal - everyone told me that the culture shock would be India and Nepal would be the reprieve. There was no culture shock in India. Suddenly it is here. I didn't expect it. Many more little goaties getting their heads chopped off in front of me and I'll be heading for the hills. Oh that's right...thank goodness in a few days I am!=

 

Bir, India

 

The view from my room, Dharamsala, India

 

"What do you mean, cows don't wear jewellery in New Zealand?"

 

 

This 12 year old boy exchanged a chance to practice his English...

...with a chance for me to photograph him. He was as delightful as his sweet face.

 
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