Journal - Napló
|Posted on November 20, 2010 at 4:40 AM|
I stepped on Nepalese ground at sundown (I got a visa at the border). I walked through an idyllic landscape until the nearest town. There was almost no traffic on the road. Sometimes a horse carriage passed by me, carrying 10-12 people; people working peacefully on the fields, grazing goats, cows - these made up the little details of the Nepalese landscape, and there seemed to be more space, at least compared to India.
After long months, I was able to detect tobacco and alcohol commercials on the walls of the village houses. Most of the dwellings - ready to accept neighbours - had windows only on the street front, the two side walls were solid and without any plaster.
Thanks to a local guy I was able to find cheap accommodation. At night there was a massive wind, with heaps of lightning on the sky but no rain at all.
The day after I had to realize that the Southeastern Nepalese world that seemed so peaceful the night before, was not so much different from the bustling India I knew.
I made a long walk from the city. The traffic was made up mostly of buses that blowed their horn constantly hunting for passengers, there was an occasional truck and only very rarely a personal vehicle.
The truck drivers, similarly to India, took hitchhikers occasionally, but looked at me with doubts. I was talking to a local guy, who invited me to join him on the other side of the road in the shade, saying that he will help to get a ride, when a truck stopped and on the driver's side an "I love America!" was to be heard to my greeting words. The smiling driver and his two colleagues were on their way to the capital, I was "good" for a few hundred kilometers.
In about half an hour we stopped at a tent beside the road. The family of one of the guys lived there. While he was preparing lunch I talked to the father, who introduced both his wives and his children. The little boys were brave in "enduring" my taking photos of them, the little girls and women were shyer, but they all laughed together when we looked at the pictures.
A giant tree and the ring around its body was the central place. At its left side there was a smaller tent that functioned as a store, and there was a little hut with clay walls – the kitchen. The Father was proud to show is empire, which he called very poor and wanted constantly to send me to the market of a town a few kilometers away, saying it has more sights.
As we continued to walk on the main road, after a few kilometers we diverged onto a smaller road. We were constantly jarred for about an hour as we went on the road that became three dimensional due to the masses of stones and holes on it. We passed by small villages – the boys were clearly out for some material to transport. It was already dark when it was decided what we will carry: buffalos to the slaughterhouse in the capital.
Good people don’t need too much room when they have to sit together. Well, buffalos sentenced to death apparently even need less. It is not enough that the animals, just like a „puzzle”, were able to form a perfect rectangle, they were also tied tightly to the wooden beams by their noses and tails.
It was night already when we left the site and drove back to the main road. There were four of u sin the cabin, and there were two people on the top of the cabin, who inspected the animals during the trip. The 3 guys took turns in driving and aside from numerous police control points, we just stopped to eat sometimes.
By morning one of the buffalos died. We stopped at a small village at the side of the road, where the inhabitants seemed to be happy about the dead animal. They dragged him through the road and the man started to remove its skin and we carried on towards Kathmandu. By afternoon the heat was so unbearable that we had to stop for 1-2 hours and sit in the shade at the side of the road and tie the buffalos one by one to the trees.
The landscape, which was flat up to now and had a jungle with tigers and elephants, was now becoming more hilly and then mountainous. The air has also become much more chilly, I believe (I hope) to the joy of the buffalos. We reached the city of Mungin by midnight, where I said good-bye to the guys. They carried on towards the East and I headed towards the bed of a cheap hotel room.
I was approximately 90 kilometers from Pokhara, were, at least to my latest info, Alex was to be found. I walked out of Mungin. The road went in curves along the hillside. The fresh air made me remember how I missed rain in the previous months. I only got short rides, so I was able to move forward slowly but it was perfect this way.
In a small village a little boy came to join me. Whenever a vehicle turned up, he glimpsed at me. If it was a bus or a taxi, I shook my head. He also shook his head and then we continued to sit together at the ditch. If a truck of a car turned up, I nodded and we both put out our hand to ask for a ride. After a while he judged himself whether the vehicle that appeared was appropriate and he only looked at me to control his decision. Our short friendship was sealed with a fast handshake, when a truck stopped and I said good-bye from my little partner and jumped in to the seat beside the driver.
I was waving at a bridge, when a white car stopped. Three soldiers and the girlfriend of one of them (so altogether four people) were heading to Pokhara. They boys were all Nepalese but they had been serving in the British Army for years. They just returned from a mission in Afghanistan and now they were on leave in the mountains that once used to be their home.
We had been on our was for 15-20 minutes when something started knocking on the top of the car. It started to occur more and more often. We stopped and waited under a tree to let the hail reach its full power. Once we arrived to an inhabited area we saw kids playing with ice and white snow spots from the car. When we got to Pohhara the guys got me cheap accommodation and then we agreed that we hope to see each other soon and said good bye.
Days 300-306, Pokhara
Pokhara, a city at a lakeside is a well-known tourist attraction. Along the main street that runs on the lakeside and on the small streets that start from it, there are hotels, bars, internet cafés and agencies organizing mountain trips beside each other. As you get further away from the lake the little streets run up to the mountainside and the hotels are replaced by residential buildings and little stores.
It took us 3 days to find each other with Alex. The mobile phones were unable to communicate so hope entered the world wide net and it was not without success. On the third day Alex knocked on my door. He returned to the city after a three-day camping trip and read my letter.
Although we did not participate in the organized trips oin the mountains, we didn’t only tour the city. We climbed up to the Peace Stupha, which was erected by a Japanese group on the top of one of the mountains. As we were on our way down on the other side of the mountain, we arrived to the lakeside where you could rent a boat to get back to the city.
And older women addressed us asking whether we wanted to cross together and thereby reduce costs. Of course!
We all went into the office and bought a ticket. Renting a boat cost 200 rupees. It was compulsory to get an oarsman as well so that the boat could return after the crossing. The lady didn’t pay but we didn’t remind her because it was probably a huge sum for her. The oarsman already let the boat loose but when she saw the lady he indicated in a rough manner that he will only take the two of us (Alex and me). What?? But we paid for the boat and not for the number of people. He was insistent. We went back to the ticket salesman, who said that we did not arrive together with the lady so we cannot go together in the same boat. I got angry. I gave back the ticket but this was the moment when the argument really got on its way.
There are a lot of tourists going up to the stupha every day and the most of them cross the lake from the foot of the mountain by boat as the road (where we went) meant a detour of several kilometers in the labyrinth of the woods. There was only one place to rent a boat so they had a monopoly and they did not want to let the women to go to shopping to the city with a discount she was entitled to.
The people with the boats were adamant. Eventually the lady bought a ticket and crossed. We, however, remained stubborn. In the end we wanted to buy one of the old and worn boats and spend the next day with providing free transport to the locals but this was too much for our budget. At least we excluded the chance that they make money on us and we almost started to walk back when we realized that the restaurant of the nearby hotel offers a free boat ride. We went over, had lunch for 250 rupees and then had ourselves taken over to the city for free.
Not matter how I look at it, we lost the battle because the lady paid eventually, but even this minor revenge seemed sweet.
We left the city on foot. In the hospital Alex got his last vaccination against rabies and - having found some shelter from the rain that had just started - we stopped in a roofed bus stop at the side of the road. We waited for maybe an hour when a truck stopped. He took us to Mungin. We spent the night there and the day after we reached the capital with a long ride.
The road between Pokhara and Kathmandu runs through a fairy tale landscape. There are terraced and divided rice fields along the hills and mountains, looking so green that you think you are quenching your thirst just by looking at them. The untouched parts are covered by thick forest.
The road often climbs up steeply up high. On these parts it is enough to have one broken down vehicle and a long queue is guaranteed. The trucks with a larger load always have to have stoppers behind the wheels when they stop. They go a few meters uphill, the driver’s partner jumps out from the cabin, and puts a stopper behind a wheel. After having waited for long, when the queue starts to move, the truck makes an effort to carry on as well, the same person takes the stopper and jumps back into the cabin. This is repeated at every few meters, sometimes for hours on the curved mountain roads.
We reached Katmandu valley in the afternoon, where, after a phone call, we could shake hands with our couchsurfing host, Hem.