|<< Kathmandu, 21-Mar-2013 >>|
Nepal, Nepal, Nepal!
Hellish transfer from Sikkim to Kathmandu and beautiful Nepal along the way
Well, trip from Pelling to Kathmandu was another “epic” transfer. 7 hours bus rise from mountainous Pelling down to Siliguri, from there 1,5 hours in the most jammed bus I took in India (I considered it to be very representative last ride in Indian public transport), then 1,5 hour spent on the Indian – Nepali border (only pedestrian crossing), night in Nepali border town Kakarbhitta and then 15 hours bus ride from there to Kathmandu.
But there’s something I’d like to tell the world: The border officer on Indian side of the border is THE BIGGEST FUCKING IDIOT I HAVE EVER MET IN MY LIFE! May Poseidon CURSE HIM for eternity!
When I came to the border from that crammed bus, some Indian soldiers pointed me to the foreigners’ border crossing office (Indians and Nepalese can cross the border freely, without any ID), where I had to wait for 15 minutes, until his Highness the Fucking Officer showed up, and then…
First he asked me to fill some form (name, passport number, …) – OK, that’s normal for India. It took me 2 minutes to fill it in. It took him 10 minutes to read it, and then he started to SLOOOOOOWLY rewrite every word that I wrote, just next to it. “Name: Marcel Strbak”, and he added “Marcel Strbak”, and so on for every single item on the form. Then he started to beautify the letters and numbers that I wrote, he obviously wasn’t satisfied with my “2”s and “a”s… When he was through with the esthetics, he started to ask me really bright questions such as: “Are you going to Nepal?”. I really wanted to tell him: “No you fucking retard, I’m going to Spain, that’s why I’m on Indian – Nepali border!!!” but I held back my words (still learning to overcome the anger….), you know what they say: “Never argue with a border officer”. So I answered some of his intelligent questions and then the worst part started: he started to browse through my passport. But not like every other border officer, who just checks if you haven’t overstayed your visa, or if you don’t have some non-entry stamp in your passport. He started to study all my visas, and hell, there’s a lot of them in my passport. It would go like this:
“What is this?”
And he started to read some non-sense words from the Vietnamese visa (Vietnam uses Latin alphabet).
“And what is this?”
“That’s Indonesian visa”
“Aaaaah, Indonesia! And this?”
“That’s Georgia. Excuse me, is that important?”
“Georgia? Where is that?”
“South of Russia. Excuse me, IS THAT IMPORTANT???”
And it continued like this for next 5-6 visas in my passport, until he reached Chinese visa, and asked me the most idiotic thing I have ever heard in my life:
“Your Chinese visa – when does it expire?”
I looked at him in awe, but he continued to strengthen proofs of his mental subnormality : “Look, it’s expired!”
“Yes, the expiration date is December 2012, I was there in October. Where’s the problem?”
“But it’s December!”
“WHAT? Excuse me, I’m going from India to Nepal, may I ask you WHY IS EXPIRATION DATE OF MY CHINESE VISA IMPORTANT FOR THIS CROSSING? I’M NOT GOING TO CHINA!” I couldn’t hold myself back anymore and almost shouted at him.
“It is very important!” he said, but luckily, in spark of sudden raise of intelligence over 50, he gave up his investigation of my Chinese visa and moved on to my Indian visa.
And here, finally, the expected problem with my Indian visa started. When I had applied for Indian visa in Bratislava, the Indian consul by mistake gave me 3-months visa instead of 6-months visa. When I told her that I had applied for 6-months visa, she just fixed it in typical Indian way - changed the expiration date with a black marker and put her signature next to it, to “prove” that the correction was made by her. Until now, none of the Indian border officers cared about this (and remember that I have already entered India twice with it and left once), but of course Mr. Smart started to investigate this issue, consult it with his supervisor, then with the nearby standing soldier and finally with the doorman! It seemed to me that I was the only foreigner who crossed that border on that day and that fucking retard was excited and he can finally “DO” something, meaning to waste as much time as possible. Multiple times I told him, that I wanted to catch a bus to Kathmandu from Nepali side of the border and it was getting late, but His Highness the Idiot, just replied that there were many buses to Kathmandu and there was no reason to hurry. After my pleas “Please, just let me out of here!!!” and after almost 1 hour spent by this ridiculous theater of human and bureaucratic stupidity he let me out, and I rushed to the Nepali border where the process took 5 minutes and found out, that because of that Brainwashed Cretin I just missed the last bus to Kathmandu and had to spend a night in the most unattractive Nepali border town. My bus from Pelling started at 7:00, I was at the border at 15:30, I was the only foreigner at the border, but I still missed the last bus which left at 17:15. Damn him!
Next day I spent 15 hours in the bus from Kakarbhitta to Kathmandu. Before arrival to Nepal, I was bit worried, that Nepal would too much like India, and so lacking element of a new destination, but this turned out to be really far from truth. The southern part of Nepal, flat plains known as Terrai, resemble rather Laos than India. The villages looked different from Indian ones, instead of ramshackle weird constructions from mud and pieces of plastic, Nepali villages were full of ramshackle wooden houses, which however radiated some rural charm, similar to that of Laos. I couldn’t make up my mind whether Nepal actually looked poorer or richer than India, but it definitely looked more pastoral. When the plains gave their way to mountains of central Nepal, the bus followed roads cut into cliffs above deep, deep gorges of amazingly turquoise rivers rushing down from Himalaya. From time to time there were isolated cottages and farms and many rice paddies occupying slopes of steep hills – Nepal is beautiful country, and I haven’t even seen the Himalaya yet.
Kathmandu. Lonely Planet says that “Kathmandu, ever since 1960’s has supplied the closed thing backpackers have to Disneyland” and that “Busy tourist Thamel district of Kathmandu can be challenged only by Bangkok’s Kho Sao Road” and well, they are damn right!
Thamel, typical “backpacker ghetto” is full of bars, shops with that insane pseudo-Indian backpacker clothes, trekking gear shops and restaurants, more bars, and hash dealers.
After India, arrival to Kathmandu was like coming back to civilization from a long journey across the ocean. They have here REAL pizza (Italian tasting, salty, not sweet dough!), real bars with real alcohol (in India Darjeeling with its 2 small and quiet bars seemed like crazy party town to me, and here there are 50 bars on area of 100x100m), live rock music in the bars and real shops! When I walked into a supermarket I was deeply confused by the huge selection of things that I could suddenly buy. I didn’t even know where to look, the boxes of all thinkable stuff surrounded me. In India the only shops I saw were street vendors and hole-in-wall tiny family shops, where you could always buy the same basic set of fundamental stuff, but with no selection whatsoever. And now, being in the real shop (and we still don’t talk of real supermarket like Tesco) I didn’t know what to buy, being so confused by the (unnecessary) huge selection of western vanity. Being unchained from Indian cuisine, my first meals were pizza, sushi, burger and tacos – you can all find it here! And in addition to all of this, there are hordes of Nepali bands blasting reasonably-good-sounding covers of The Doors and Pink Floyd. Ahhhh, back to The West, if only for few days.
Next day I had my first sightseeing day during this journey: I walked through the streets of Kathmandu and this city is solidly good. The traffic is much relaxed than in India (although all people that arrived to Kathmandu directly from Europe think that it’s horrible, hah, they haven’t seen what horrible really means!), the streets are much cleaner, there are (almost) no cows in the streets and the historic sights in the city are old, old, old. Kathmandu does not look like India. I would say, take bit of history and atmosphere of Varanasi, bit of tourist-industry and decadence of Bangkok, bit of trading spirit of Hanoi and bit of temples of Bali, mix, shake well and you have it: Kathmandu.
On 21.3.2013 evening I met with Cecile, French girl whom I, Samo and Janka had met in Ram’s Guesthouse in Sri Lanka and who had told me that she lived in Kathmandu. So upon my arrival I contacted her and we went for a drink together with her friend Lulu. Cecile teaches French kids of ex-pats living in Kathmandu. It was nice to re-meet somebody whom I had met before on my journey and to celebrate this meeting I spent unbelievable amount of 12 EUR in the bar, for 3 x rum & coke and food.
|MARCEL STRBAK | www.strbak.com | www.facebook.com/marcel.strbak|