Trip Start Mar 19, 2007
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of India  ,
Saturday, March 31, 2007

I didn't really know what a Melee was until I got to Gorakphur. I knew I had to catch a bus to the border but I had no idea where the bus stop was or whether in fact there was an official bus stop. Firstly there was a forest of Rickshaw drivers to fight through then the touts (which I had been told to avoid) trying to sell me a trip to the border and then onwards to Kathmandu .  

I was told the going rate to the border was 50 rupees so I ignored most of the people offering upwards of 100+ rupees and looked for something that resembled a bus stop. Which there wasn't. All I could see was a "melee" of strange looking buses vying for space on the main "road".

I managed to get a seat for 55 Rupees on a rickety old bus. The paint work proudly announced the company had been serving India for the last 50 years. The paint work also betrayed the fact  it was probably the same bus all that time. 

2.5 hours later we arrived at the Border town of Sunauli. Sunauli was a very interesting place a real tough looking frontier town. The daily necessities that we take for granted probably aren’t available there. Unless its pollution or gravel you are after. Gravel foraging seemed to be the only industry in the area and the rows and rows of old battered dumper trucks that queued up at the border were full of the stuff. The pollution was provided by their exhaust fumes.

The Nepali passport office was quite chaotic. No time to discuss the niceties of immigration visas. Just hand over your $30 US and fill in a few forms. There wasn’t much order and my questions remained un-answered. I've forgotten what I asked anyway - probably about which visa should I get. Eventually I opted for the single entry visa as the other was $80. In the confusion they even gave me back the wrong passport. Some guy from Japan? 

I booked a coach to Kathmandu for 400 Nepali Rupees and waited. 

Knowing it was a 10 hour journey from Sunauli, I was horrified when a tiny overcrowded bus pulled up. I was instructed to get up on the roof and I refused. I hadn’t paid 400 to get shoved on a roof for 10 hours. but I was assured that it was only for 10 k's or 10 minutes or 10 something that’s all I got out from the bus guy as I scrambled after my back pack to the roof. 
I got quite used to it. It was quite a good way to travel and far better than being cramped inside the sweaty bus. It’s what it must have felt like to be a king riding an Elephant up to Katmandu....or maybe not.

A short time afterwards I was transferred to my new bus safe and sound and after only 10ks not hours. It was though, quite a gruelling 10 hour trip in total. A local guy next to me asked my why I didn’t fly and I had to wonder.
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