Shoemans Trail

The quest for liberation

Tag: Bus

Long Island – On Robinson’s trail

On the ferry to Long Island I met Thomas from Switzerland, we instantly connected and somehow I was pretty sure we would travel together for the next days – of course that happened 😉

So after a good first chat on deck out in the sea breeze the ferry went to Straight Island, which is off the tourist trail, it’s the home if the Great Andamanes an ancient tribe almost extinct with only 43 members left – just a hand full of people enter – we were not even allowed to take pictures!
The ferry then took us to Long Island. Only 1 guest house for tourists is established, there is not much to do over here, living the Robinson life that’s what the guidebook says, actually there is a small village just by the jetty and it feels good the moment we disembark!
There are just two four wheelers on the island used to transport goods plus a handful of motorbikes, it’s a 20 minutes’ walk to Blue Planet Guest House on concrete trails through the jungle – simple island life with friendly people almost every little wooden house has a proper garden attached, the locals are hiding from the sun but venture out in the evening. The youth is busy at the football field where a couple of hours before the horses had fun with themselves 🙂 We saw a sea snake eating a crab right on the beach at low tide, which must have been a proper sunset feast.

After our visit at the forest department we got the permit for the walk to Lailaji bay, 90 minutes through the jungle with some good old trees – a nice little stroll.
The bay is a lovely stretch of white sand with some huts in the back that give a little shade, but you can find lovely spots underneath some big trees or palms as well, the waters just as splendid as in Havelock – the only difference we’re the only guests on the beach together with the lovely Finnish couple Hanu and Tiana. We tried some snorkelling off the rocks first but were not lucky finding the reef, it was a bit dangerous with the waves crushing at the rocky coast but we managed to get in and out in one piece. Later on we found the reef just the left hand side from the sandy stretch of the beach. In the shallow waters you can see colourful coral and small fish – it’s nice but not superb.
We decided to directly move on to North Andaman and not stay any longer for diving or hanging around, I had a feeling it wouldn’t be better than this and Thomas was running out of time on his trip. Up north the diving supposed to be the best in the Andamans so we went with the 7 a.m. ferry to Rangat, the best ferry ride of my life took us through thick forest of mangroves and lasted 1 hour such a peaceful journey in the early morning it felt like meditation.
From Rangat a rusty bus took us the rest of the way up north, 150 km in 5,5 hours, lots of curves, bad road conditions, lots of passengers squeezing in – a typical Indian bus experience 🙂 The road snaked along the coast and took us through thick mighty jungle, we smelled heavy rains and felt it just a glimpse of an eye later on – the first proper rain since the Nepali snow for me, the air stood thick and tropical this time!

Of course all windows were open in the bus and we had a little rain coming through, as it was one of the old busses, sent away from mainland, good enough to serve its last decades on the islands and lacking all comfort….
We were so done in the evening but if you want to go to the end of the world, where civilization is  scattered and the village becomes random houses along the small bumpy track, hidden in palms and thick bush, you take it as an adventure and the real adventure was just about to begin…

Kathmandu – Big city life

the capital is the biggest city in the country. twice the population of berlin although not that green in between, to me it’s a mix of indian, nepali and old european cities.
The city has been hit by april’s earthquake pretty hard, still debris is cleared, cracks in masonry and wodden poles supporting houses, so the structure doesn’t collapse. still a lot can be seen, not all is lost and still it’s amazing and beautiful to wander among the ancient walls – just sometimes you get the feeling it will collapse any second…
just by walking around in thamel – the main tourist hub – you see alot of temples, smaller and big in size, the back alleys are fun to explore, every now and then a stupa will come into sight.
durbar square, a former royal area, with a lot of temples, shrines, statues and stupas from different epochs and donated to various goddesses and gods.
of course the near city of patan has a durbar squar as well, now patan is more a suburb of kathmandu, the city is growing fast. i talked to a monk, he told me 5 years ago his monestary in kathmandu was not surrounded by houses and heavy traffic, gentrification knocking at the door…

public transport is existing but just with fully overloaded buses, mini buses or safa car – electrical vehicles going up to 20, roaring speeeed 😉
Tourist transport will include bike rickshaws taxis or organised tour buses – all of those charge you 10 to 20 times more the local transport, with the cheaper although, it’s harder to get around.
first you need to know where their leaving from, all the signs are in nepali – no english script, the shouters – who are conductors as well – shout directions, easy if you’re at the station, which is just a random spot on the main road, and wanna go to a temple, just say it’s name, he will nod or point you somewhere else, if you’re lucky the bus is almost empty and you can choose a spot, go for the ones in front next to the driver cause in the back, 5 min later, there will be twice the amount of people you think that will fit.
Of course more people are picked up along the road…some don’t want to get in the cuddling van though 😉

Soo many other hindu as well as buddihst temples on the cultural heritage list around the city, a lot of old stones, i took my time to appreciated the main ones for each belief, swayambhunath being a buddhist and pashupatinath being a hindu site. both of them got small forests supporting the energy flow.

enough of the words, let the pictures speak further…

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Indian buses and the nepali petrol run

From gorakhpur i took a local bus to sunauli, the town at the border to nepal, ride was supposed to take 3 hours, but as it happens with local buses, they leave when full, so all seats are taken and a couple of people standing in the aisle when we left and the bus will stop every minute or two to pick up people on the road, all of them were cramped in the aisle, you can actually fit a lot of people in there.

In india 3 people operating the bus, the driver, the conductor – selling you a ticket once you’re in the bus and the shouter, always hanging in the open door, shouting directions and getting people in the already overloaded bus…but that ride did pass and after a few police checkpoints with hundreds of trucks waiting we arrived at the border, immigration was straight forward and police was friendly so i went further to get a bus directly to pokhara the second biggest tourist town in nepal. the bus supposed to be a comfy one with adjustable seats – hell yeah!

When the bus arrived it didn’t seam so comfy, seats were not to be adjusted and no freedom for leg movement. i saw people carrying jerry cans on top and also in the bus, making the bus smell as you pass a gas station.

Just a bit of explanation, the nepali government just agreed on the new constitution but india doesn’t like that as the country on the subcontinent wants to build more roads to supply the small landlocked country so they get more gas, petrol and food from india, but actually they want to be independant and they don’t like the indians, thats why they also have their own time zone which is +15 min compared to indian time. So india imposed a petrol and gas ban to nepal, as the road to tibet is damaged because of the earthquake in april, no chinese truck can bring the valuable goods to nepal, the small country depends on the big one and india is playing it’s poker with it, on the head of the people!

So a lot of nepalis go with a bus to the indian border and get fuel in small amounts taking it back with the bus, nepali roads are not in a good condition so of course the cans shift, nepali busses are more cramped with people then the indian one’s so people need to step over the cans and the fuel will leak as it did on our ride, the fumes were horrible the aisle was literally soaked with fuel, luckily i had a window seat so every minute or so i put my nose out the get some fresh air, i used my headscarf my colleagues gave my to cover my nose but it didn’t help, bad fumes everywhere, the ride was supposed to last 11 hours, after one i already had enough, but as it always goes in the travel life i thought to myself:

THIS TOO WILL PASS

There were two stops along the way, i spoke with a couple nepalis some of them excused and felt sorry i had such a bad start, it always gets worse before it get’s better…of course we needed to stop on the way as a couple of cans on the roof were leaking and fuel was spread on the street, i wasn’t afraid of fire or explosions, it was the fumes that bugged me! i even managed to sleep for 30 min in the end of the trip with triple folded blanket above my head headscarf and open window. the locals must have thought “Ah look at the foreigner so weak can’t take much”, or they were jealous for me having the cover, i don’t know but none smiled much during the trip.

We arrived 4 am and the cab driver showed me the kilometer long cue of cars all waiting for petrol! crazy times we’re livin’ in!

I had a brilliant sleep in a clean and comfy bed, but everything was smelling like petrol so big wash!
Pokhara is great but getting here was an unforgettable trip!

The image doesn’t do justice to the situation i described but here we go that’s the fully cramped petrol busnepali petrol run

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