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The Journey from India to Nepal

December 8, 2008

| Image by photos by Uli Loskot

The overnight train ride from Kolkata to Patna does not feel as enjoyable and safe as all the other train ride adventures I have had so far. I am a bit concerned about my safety and the safety of my stuff. During the entire ride persistent beggars come through the train and people look at me with less compassion and openness, but more despair and envy. The North Indian state of Bihar, which is where I am travelling through, is one of the poorest regions in India.

I arrive dazed in Patna in the morning and take a collective motor rickshaw to the bus station, a dusty and forgotten place on the edge of town. It’s a long eight hour bus ride from here to the Indian border town of Raxaul. Somewhere on the way the bus breaks down in a small village. As soon as the kids of the village see me they come running at me, and a wild, crazy mob encircles me. I take the situation in my hands by pulling out my camera and take photos with them and me. They love it!

Raxaul is a dusty border town. There is no bus that crosses the border into Nepal. The means of transportation is a horse rickshaw. I have no idea how far the actual border is, so I am being overcharged for the ride. But hey, I have never crossed a border in a horse wagon!

The Indian border is a tiny, inconspicuous house on the side of the road with an eccentric border officer. He proudly shows me a couple of postcards, pictures and things he has been given by other foreigners, goes on to charge me a border fee without a wink of his eye and marks me down in his big book. I am told later that there is no border fee, so that guy must be making pretty good money with all the travelers that come through his border.

Then we are off on the horse wagon again on a bumpy street, further on to the Nepali border. I am obtaining a visa to enter Nepal, which consists of a hand filled out preprinted sticker in my passport. The border officers are friendly, proud and handsome guys in uniforms and I express how excited I am about visiting Nepal.

The horse rickshaw driver drops me off soon thereafter on the Napali side. I am in another dusty border town called Birganj. At this point I am totally in tune with the fact that I will be stuck in an uncomfortable seat on an old bus for another eight to ten hours, riding over the foothills of the Himalayas down into the Kathmandu valley. I don’t have much of a vista on this trip, its dark outside. I can feel how the temperatures have dropped drastically and there are pine trees along the side of the road, the air is brisk. When we stop for some chai in the middle of the night, which is called chia in Nepal, I slowly realize that I am in Nepal.

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