My next port of call was Nepal. The only thing is that it was 342miles away and a long jaunt. I’d been heavily researching border crossings and the various ways in which I could make such a trip in the most pain free way. Luckily I’d found a superb article written by Sharell Cook on Tripsavvy.com (link here) which gave superb information and negated any doubts I had, so I headed to the bus station in Varanasi and booked my ticket with the excellent single bus — no changes, or multiple stops — for the entire trip.
Now these guys know what a long journey is all about so bottles of water are handed out for all and the seats recline to a ridiculous angle allowing me to sleep most of the way. Except I’d forgotten how bad roads can be in Asia…
I was sat exactly at the back and was being bumped around considerably when I’d finally managed to fall asleep. 30 minutes later I was woken being launched about 3 inches vertically into the air! The bus was running at full speed and must’ve either hit a rock or a pot-hole, one of many to come during the first few hours… And that was another thing; the journey is expected to take between 20-30 hours — the longest I’d ever traveled via any vehicle — the longest being an 11 hour flight many years ago. Clare had decided to join me on the trip so for some time we had a laugh now and again which helped pass time.
The journey had both toilet and lunch breaks which helped enormously especially as my bladder is made from tissue paper. So when I was woken in the early hours, I assumed it to be another break but we were at the Nepal border — in why must have been rocket time! Off I hopped and we all had to cue at the Indian immigration office 300m before the actual border to obtain our exit stamps — mine being on it’s very last day!
I chatted to an Australian guy for whom this was his second attempt at crossing into Nepal. Unfortunately he’d got his dates wrong and overstayed by 2 days, where the previous border guard had denied his leaving, removed him from the bus and sent him back to another town to access an ATM to pay his — get this — $500+ (AUD) fine! Thank god I didn’t exceed MY visa.
After being eaten alive by early morning mozzies, I got my stamp and we were loaded back onto the bus where we crossed the border into the dusty and truck filled town of Sunauli. After 45mins of filling visa forms and waiting for my name to be called, I jumped for joy at my first land border crossing and Nepalese visa stamp giving me 30 days to explore this mountainous region. We were soon back on the bus and en route to Kathmandu with the last few hours taking us along the Trisuli river with sublime views and every now and again I’d be blessed with my very first sneak peaks of snow capped errmm … peaks above the very tall hillsides.
Online articles had all stated that this bus would take between 20–30 hours to complete so I was pleasantly surprised to find out that the stage call wasn’t for another break but for the terminus — we’d reached Kathmandu in just 16 hours — and both Clare and I were elated!