The Long Ride (and Walk) Back to Kathmandu

Kathmandu Travel Blog

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The line of cars, buses, and trucks in front of us...

Our bus from Pokhara left at 7:00 AM for the journey back to Kathmandu.  Unlike the way out when we journeyed by a private bus we were joining one of the tourist buses setting off from the bus terminal.  So we had a full load of passengers.  The journey started off smoothly, some good final views of the Annapurna Himal and especially Machhupuchare.  We had a short break around 9 AM and a lunch break shortly after noon, which is where the proverbial shit hit the fan.

Chitre informed us that a short ways up the road there was an accident/demonstration that had closed the road.

...and the line of cars, buses, and trucks behind us
  Being Nepal there was no effective detour (the only real way was to go all the way back to Pokhara south towards the Terai and back across and up to Kathmandu) so we had lunch and eventually got back on the bus and headed east.  After 20-30 minutes we reached the line of cars, buses, trucks, motorbikes stopped by the situation ahead of us and joined the throngs massing on the side of the road.

We sat for about 90 minutes or so before Chitre signalled that we should grab our gear off the roof of the bus and get ready to walk.  He had been on his mobile trying to find out any info about the situation and determined that things weren't moving anywhere and that the road would not clear.  So we were going to walk with our gear to the other side of the scene and try to find a ride back to Kathmandu from there.

Biding Time in the traffic jam.
  Now we had left behind 2 of our porters and 1 assistant guide in Pokhara where they lived so we had to carry more than we were accustomed too, but we managed.

The biggest problem was that we were not prepared for walking.  It was probably 27-28 C (80-82 F) and most of us did not have much in the way of water that we were carrying.  If a store did still have water along the road it was charging about six times the standard price for water (and honestly most places did not have any left in the first place).  So we were hot, thirsty, relatively burdened and had to walk about 7km (4.3 miles) to the scene of the activity.  At some time earlier in the day a truck hauling a load of onions had crashed killing two people.  Instead of police arriving and investigating and settling matters, family members and villagers arrive, close the road, and demand recompense before allowing the scene to be cleared.

Trying to get past the demonstration/accident scene
  Apparently if they wait to try to settle in some court they will effectively see nothing.  While armed police/army were monitoring the situation, they were there more to maintain a sense of calm as opposed to dealing with the situation.

It was a very tense environment as we walked through the site.  I wanted to snap a few photos, but at the same time between the police and locals, I did not want to spend much time in the area or get noticed snapping a photo of the "wrong" thing.  So I and the rest of the group passed quickly through and walked for another 3 km (2 miles) while Chitre worked to negotiate passage back to Kathmande with a driver on the road.  Since many people on this side of the scene were doing the same thing we did, heading west instead of east there were many empty vehicles waiting along the road.  But they knew they were at a premium and so like the local shop owners they were charging an exorbitant amount to turn around.  Finally found a reasonable one (and this made me glad I was travelling as part of a small group excursion here) and all of us crammed into a small mini-van for the final leg of our journey.

It took forever to get out of the jam of traffic and people on the road.  It was 2.5 hours more in the crammed conditions of the mini-van before arriving in Kathmandu.  What should have been a 7 hour trip ended up taking 12+ hours before we arrived back at the Kathmandu Guesthouse.  It could have been worse, but it was a long, hot, dusty, day.  Everyone cleaned up for a final dinner as a group at RumDoodle in Thamel.  But no after dinner partying tonight - everyone was too exhausted by the days adventure.

Said goodbyes to Claire, Michelle, and Carol who were leaving early in the morning.  The rest of us planned to gather tomorrow morning before we too would scatter with the wind for various locations around the globe.

kelleeoo says:
Another good travel story!
Posted on: Jul 12, 2009
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The line of cars, buses, and truck…
The line of cars, buses, and truc…
...and the line of cars, buses, an…
...and the line of cars, buses, a…
Biding Time in the traffic jam.
Biding Time in the traffic jam.
Trying to get past the demonstrati…
Trying to get past the demonstrat…
photo by: sharonburgher