Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Overland border crossing from India to Nepal.....

After Darjeeling, we decided to go west and cross border to Nepal. We checked out from lovely Tibetan family home stay place in Darjeeling and took a shared jeep to Siliguri. The shared jeep is supposed to be for 8 people but they tend to cram people in (until they can't load more and then some) so we paid to get the entire second row - paid 520 rupees (for the entire row) instead of 120~130 rupees for a seat. The jeep made many stops to pick up and drop off the locals along the way.
The driver stopped twice to do his vegetable shopping
- see the greens on dashboard

Three hours later we arrived at Siliguri, we found another shared jeep, this time heading to Kakarbhitta - the east border town of Nepal. We put our backpacks on the roof and got into the jeep - already full, 11 people plus one baby already on board. We sat at the back of the jeep with two other Nepalese women (we paid 100 rupees each for this ride).

Thankfully, this was a short trip. When we got to the border, we had to get off (everyone stayed on as they were all either Nepalese or Indian) and walked to the Indian immigration office. We did our departure documents and walked about 1 km to the Nepali side immigration office over the bridge.

We got our Nepal visas on arrival for $25 each (for 15 days). Lucky we had some USD as they only accept US dollar.. (actually, maybe they accept Euro too or maybe the immigration guy was joking, I couldn't tell). The Irish couple behind us was applying for 90 days visa but one of their $20 notes was a little damaged (a small cut) so the immigration guy would not accept... so good to have fresh crispy notes!

We then walked to a small travel agency recommended by a Nepalese lady we met in Darjeeling.  She told us to tell them we know her (it made no difference as the prices were all listed in English on the wall) but either way it was nice of her to tell us a good travel agency. We paid 1125 rupees each for the 'AC bus' - which we were told the best and the most comfortable (and it was the most expensive on the list).

The seats were a lot smaller and narrower than the 'VIP' buses in Myanmar or Thailand. And NO toilet. The bus stopped many times for toilet breaks but they were all 'Nature Toilet' - but provided quality bonding time with the local Nepalese girls ..

We didn't think we could sleep especially because the movie was playing so loud - I tried to listen to my mp3 but even with my ipod volume all the way up, I could not hear my music. That's how loud it was... crazy. They finally stopped the movie around 1am... and we managed to get a few hours of sleep.

So after loooOOooooooOOOOOooong bus ride (16 hours+), we finally arrived at Kathmandu's very dusty bus stop (or what it looked like just a stop in the middle of highway) - a very helpful monk on our bus who spoke a little bit of English helped us hail a cab. We thanked him and off we went to look for our hotel. Took awhile to find the hotel but eventually we arrived - Mi Casa hotel - soon to be our favourite hotel!

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