Attawa Chowk (Nepal) to Banbusa India 58km
Banbusa to Shimla 660km (18 hours in a bus)
We weren't in any rush, knowing we only had 50ish km to the border, but were up in the really pleasant coolness of the morning, and away. It was more than a little sad knowing this was our last day in Nepal, and the locals seemed to know we were leaving, as even more than usual, cheery Namastie calls came from all directions. And because we were getting close to the border, more frantic tooting, or maybe it was the narrower roads, more crammed with bullock carts, goats, Buffalo, sheep, dogs, chickens, and walking vegetation heaps, in this mostly rural, Far West Nepal.
A last quiet drink from a roadside stall before we pulled into the Nepali Customs shed. A quick form, a stamp and signature, and we are signed out of our favorite adventure destination. And then the road disappears. It turns into a bouldery farm track between two irrigation races, and crosses over a pot holed farm bridge, as we pass a "Welcome to Nepal" sign. We are in no man's land, but that doesn't stop the cyclists, scooters, pedestrians and pony traps. There are no other motorized vehicles crossing here. We cross a causeway to an Indian Military Checkpoint. Passports, they fill in a huge logbook with all our details. Three different soldiers check details, ask questions. Did I say it was hot, and they were in shelter, while we were standing out in the sun, melting. But they were very civil, and sent us on to Immigration, around the corner, past more potholes and over some drains. Wow four other foreigners. A photo is taken, passports scanned, another logbook filled in, another form filled by us, we are stamped into India. Now it's really hot, and Tessa is for the first time in India.
There are no signs, so we just follow the locals, across a walkway on top of a dam, along a canal path, across a canal bridge, through some shady trees, and into the back streets of Banbassa. Yep, there are definite differences from Nepal, and now it's blimmen hot.
We find a travel agent who outlines a plan......Rest. ...bus to Shimla....Another bus to Manali.......sounds good says Tessa. Wow, it's blistering hot.
We find a hotel, with a cold shower and AC, and food, and just across from the bus terminal. I burn my palm on the buckle on my security strap on my trailer.
I consider releasing the pressure in the tyres, but find some shade to hide the bikes in.
Tessa is showered, and standing 10cm from the AC. I've blistered my feet running across the concrete terrace to our room, and am dripping in sweat. I am under the shower fully clothed. I know they'll be dry before 5pm departure time.
Looking for our bus at 4.30pm, feeling refreshed. "It's 100m back last....." "What? Where?" We followed the pointed fingers, and kept asking, for a couple of hundred metres. Finally we find our bus, and try to enquire about loading the bikes and trailer. We are stared at blankly. "Do we load? Will you load? Where do we put them for loading? What's the procedure?" Nothing but blank stares. An older fella motions to a younger scrawny kid that he should do it....kid vanishes. Jeepers. I start to climb the ladder with trailer in tow. Everyone just watches. I'm totally soaked through again. Tessa starts to pass up bags to me.........100 gallant Indian gentlemen step in to help her......but no one climbs out of the shadow of the bus to help me....just Grummy roasting on the hot tin roof. Eventually I get it all stashed, but there are no tie downs....it's all gravity feed....here's hoping Fiona will hold on tight.
And then......18.5 hours of sore buttcheeks, sweat, dust, exhaust fumes, trying to sleep sitting upright, blazing headlights, potholes, speed bumps at speed, heavy braking, irrational swerving, excessive speed, horns blasting, screeching brakes, really scarey downhill swaying, neighbour's elbows in rips, being covered by vomit that exits the bus four seats in front of me, but reenters through my window, snoring, farting, shifty food stops.....We were on the back row seat. I dont recommend it for comfort. Every bounce is magnified 100 times. Every sway amplified 200 times. And our driver had no regard for passenger comfort. At one stage, during an extremely dangerous reckless downhill descent, I slipped my shoes on, and put my Swiss Army Knife in my pocket. When we crashed and burned at the foot of a 1000m cliff I wanted to be able to get to the driver first, and cut his bollocks off....and finally we arrived in Shimla.
It was her fault. She made me do it. Little Miss.....I'm cool, fresh and dry here in front of my own personal AC. I blame her......