Monday, April 28, 2014

The local bus

So yesterday I took the local bus from Kathmandu to a town whose name I can't remember which is the starting place for the Langtang trek I am now on.  The bus was not as large as a regular commercial bus and on the back it had painted "express". 

First of all,  it was completely rusted out and totally falling apart. Had I known how many people would cram on it, I might have been more concerned. The bus had seats for approximately thirty people.  Small people.  The seats were bench seats like a school bus but seemed to be made of cement.  It wasn't more than two minutes before my tail bone was crying.  Did I mention the trip took 10 hours? 

It turns out that for locals they can come on the bus for free and stand in the aisle.  The aisle which was approximately 2 feet wide and 8 feet long (this is not a full-sized bus, if it were it couldn't get over the mountain roads).  There were no less than 30 people at any given time in the aisle.  They were draped over the seats as well and sitting on top of seated passengers.  My guide got two small children on his lap for half of the trip.  
Note the person outside as the bus is driving.
The fascinating part was that even though there's a law that no one can sit on the luggage on top of the bus,  as soon as we got out of the city people poured out to climb on top.  Whenever we came to a security checkpoint they had to either cram inside which was already a sardine can,  or walk around the checkpoint when it was possible and meet us further along. The bus had about 90 people on it.Some of whom were just hanging off of the side of it while the bus barreled along at moderate speeds.

Did I mention the woman in the seat directly in front of me was throwing up out of our shared window for about 8 of the 10  hours? She kept trying to eat at each stop and i knew I'd see it flying by my seat 30 minutes later.  Sure enough! 
Just hanging on to the side. The woman in front of me had taken a break from vomiting so I could take a picture.

Or that the reason it took two hours longer than expected it's because we got not one but two flat tires? And these tires are bigger than tractor tires.  At least three feet in diameter. 

And as goes without saying the road was very twisty and very rutted with a sheer drop thousands of feet on one side.  Like bhutan! At one part where they had earthquakes a few months back and had a massive landslide the road was barely wide enough for the bus and was seriously banked.  I was half expecting to see some of our fellow top side travelers falling past the window.  Luckily we all made it safely! And next time I am taking the tourist bus. 
Yes, this is the road.

1 comment:

asundman said...

Yes. This is the road. Gasp! And here I have been bitching about the Bhutanese roads. I'm such a drama queen.