Friday, August 1, 2008

I, Jessica Leas, hereby swear to always listen to travel advice...

Everyone told me, don't go by land. I thought they were all wussies. I mean it is around $200 to fly one way to Kathmandu and $50 to take the bus. No contest.

Well, first my travel agent totally ripped me off (and how sad for them that I am actually returning to Delhi and will definitely be in to see them). The bus is actually only $25. I was told the bus was 'delux' and there would be many other foreigners (important for me because I'm alone and it would have been nice to connect with people prior to arriving to tag along with), etc. The bus, shall we say was less than my definition of 'delux' (no rear shocks, no AC, most of the seats were broken, etc.) and I was the only foreigner. Oh, and the only one stupid enough to pay $50 for the fare.

But I was willing to allow all that to pass because I really wanted to get to Nepal. I didn't want to loose another day by going immediately back to the travel agent to get a refund and then finding another bus company. I did actually call the travel agent to complain and they have said they will refund my money when I return.

I should have listened to everyone and my gut and not gotten on that bus! It was supposed to take 18 hours to the Nepal border and then 6 more to Kathmandu. We left four hours late and then our drivers apeared to be lost for a good three hours somewhere in the middle. We got to the border 28 hours after we departed. I got my newly overpriced visa (Nepal just raised their prices and they didn't tell their consulate in Sri Lanka) re-boarded the bus and waited for my fellow passengers to eat dinner. It was late so all the money changing places were closed. Hey Rach, is this sounding familiar?

Then we sat there all night. In the morning we moved about 5 km. And we sat some more. Finally I was told that five people were killed up ahead and they aren't letting anyone by.

We sat there for three days!

The story, as well as I can pieced it together (no one spoke English very well on my bus) is that three (notice the number reduced) people were killed by passing traffic and the village was holding the highway hostage until they received money from the government. Apparently these negotiations took three days. I was told we couldn't go forward because they would set the bus on fire. I was also told this happened all the time on this route to Kathmandu.

And apparently we couldn't go back because the rich foreigner, who had already paid twice as much as everyone else, was not willing to pay for the petrol for the entire bus to go a different route. That is right, they wanted me to pay for the extra petrol. They said they asked everyone, but when I refused to pay another cent, it was clear I was the only one asked and the others were not willing to split the bill. Well that and the fact that they wanted 500 Indian rupees each, which is more than $10 (like I don't know how much petrol would cost for a 100 km detour).

So we sat.

I was actually routinely verbally abused by the bus operators for my lack of financial sponsorship. So I totally broke down on the morning of day three and started yelling and screaming (and yes, crying) that we needed to move the bus. Remember, I was hot and dirty and tired (this is day four of sitting on a bus) and I hadn't been eating. I didn't have any Nepali money. So I mentioned this, "how do you expect me to pay for petrol when I can't even afford to eat." I was just hoping this out burst would shut them up, but it made some of the other passengers feel bad for me and they kept buying me food, which was actually very nice (I gave them dollars to pay them back and I did have to beg them to take the money).

Anyway, after 108 hours of sitting on the bus, I have arrived in Kathmandu. Yeah!

I'll have to tell you about my rickshaw accident in Delhi another time. Now I need to find coffee (I changed some money).

1 comment:

Nilusha Edirisinghe said...

Goodness gracious,Jessica! You are totally insane to put yourself in so much danger. What are you doing in that foresaken country? Nepal? 4 days rustifying in a bus? What were you thinking?That's too long in the danger zone.

Try to get out of that place immediately.

1.Trust yourself.
2.Be aware of your surroundings
3.Pay attention to the people around you.
4. Act confident and focused