we took three buses from Sauraha, Nepal, to Kolkata (Calcutta), India. no bus trip in the states will ever be hard again. im sure buses can be worse, cause these werent THAT bad, but it was lengthy and crowded. with the exception of a few hours, we were on buses from 7am monday morning until 8 am tuesday morning.
the first leg, 450 km from central nepal to eatern nepal, was the first of its kind for me. it was a local bus, with locals riding it. thats what local bus means. there arent any rules regarding how many people can be on the bus. if there is standing room, then you can get on. so, much of the time the isles were packed. if theres no room IN the bus, then you can get ON TOP of the bus. we kept our bags with us because we were worried about theft, but our leg room suffered as a result. there were 8-10 checkpoints along the Mahendra Hwy, the only decent road in eastern nepal. most of the locals were forced to get out and walk for a short distance while we got to stay in the bus. the driver was blasting some local tunes pretty much the entire way. they werent bad. the scenery and views of rural life in nepal were outstanding. just to be able to experience the lifestyle, if only for a few hours, made the trip worthwhile. oh, and this is by far the cheapest way to go. 11 hours after we departed, we arrived in the border town of kakarbhitta. a trip of this distance wouldve taken 5 hours in the states. we got to the border, got a departure stamp and walked across the bridge to the indian side. we had to search diligently for the immigration office. no one was concerned with illegals, thats for sure. we got our indian stamp and got on another bus for Siliguri.
this leg was scary. i thought driving was crazy in moscow, then i thought it was nuts in beijing until i saw it in kathmandu. but the way our indian driver was getting it done was insane. the only way to stomach it is to trust that he knows his machine. its an extension of his body and he drives it well. it was a short ride, about an hour. one thing i should mention is the idea of personal space in these countries. it isnt there. in america, we are given 18 inches of personal space when we're born. no one is allowed to violate this without permission. if they do, we have the right to get offended. at least, this is what it seems like to me. but in china, nepal and especially india...not so. one guy in this bus leaned over me to pay for his ticket. he layed across my lap, his forearms on my thighs, and payed. but i guess he was comfy, cause he just decided to hang out for a bit - on my lap. so i let him. no one else seemed wierded out by it. but had he decided to go any further, be sure that i would have drawn the line. this leg ended with a guy grabbing our bags at our stop. he said hed get us onto the "rocket" bus we were looking for to calcutta. we followed him across the street to his shanty ticket office and, under much pressure, bought tickets to calcutta. they put us in a rickshaw (now were in the streets on a rickshaw, not a bus) and the peddler took us down the street and stuck us on a bus to calcutta. we didnt even have time to eat dinner, or pee.
this bus was nice, like a plane. it had overhead compartments, the whole shebang. but the roads were horrible and we were in the very back with a smoker/drinker/loud cell phone talker. triple whammy. sleeping was difficult and much needed. the cheesy indian flicks playing on the tv didnt make it much easier to rest, but they provided a good laugh and made me thankful for american movies. this ride took 12 hours. so now we're in calcutta.
there was alot that happened in these 24 hours that werent recorded here. you got the clif notes. before it all started, i prayed that God would make it all fall into our laps. thats exactly the way it happened. in fact, it happened so fast that it was stressful. but it worked like a charm.