Probably The Worst Bus Journey In The World

on Tuesday, 6 April 2010

So we are up again at 6am to start the second day of travelling. At about 9am we stop by the side of the road and Aaroon announces that we have a “small problem”. Smoke is pouring out of the floor of the bus and we all have to get off. After about 30 minutes under the bus they announce that they need to go into the next town and get a  mechanic to come and look at the bus. A couple of the crew catch a lift with a jeep passing by and we end up waiting about 3 hours by the side of the road chatting about the countries everyone has visited and sharing advice. All the other guys have been travelling quite a bit longer and have also visited countries we had not even thought about going to, including a lot of Africa and the Middle East. Eventually the two crew return with the mechanic and a couple of bottles of oil. The mechanic quickly diagnoses that a pipe has broken and we will have to limp into the next major town to have the bus repaired. We arrive in Surkheet where we stop for some lunch while the bus is repaired, unsurprisingly it is dal bat again. The other guys tell us they had been asked to bring a bottle of rum for a last night party, which we had not been told about so we stop of and get a bottle of rum and some beers as we have been told this is the last time we will be able to buy anything until the end of the rafting.  We get back on the bus and after a short drive the road just turns into a dirt track and if we thought India was bad for bumpy roads this was just a complete joke. Not to mention the whole bus was constantly covered in a huge dust cloud and we could barely breathe at some points. Trying to sleep or even sit comfortably was just impossible, the road was littered with landslides which just made the road even worse, apparently the road was being built so they could bring in machinery to build a big dam on the river Karnali which according to Aaroon would mean the end of rafting on the river in the next 10 years. To add insult to injury we end up breaking down again, this time it looked as though a nut that held the steering rack together had just fallen off. After about 10 minutes of trying to repair it using the wheel nuts, by some miracle Paul and Anne Sophie find the nut a short way back in the middle of the road and they are able to repair it.

At about 7pm we finally arrive on the beach at the point where we start the rafting, so what we had hoped was about a 4 hour journey turned into another 13 hours of travelling. We arrive on the beach and kids start gathering straight away, starting with just a few and then 5 minutes later there must have been 50 kids on the beach mobbing us, wanting their photo taken and generally just amazed with us. We have a dinner of steak, vegetables and garlic bread, and the food is absolutely brilliant for something they have just cooked up on the side of the beach, especially as we were expecting dal bat for breakfast, lunch and dinner for the next 8 days. We then are asked whether we want a tent or just want to sleep out in the open. Aaroon suggests we sleep outside, but we learn that there are only 3 two man tents anyway, so I am not sure what choice we really had. It is fairly warm and there is hundreds of stars in the sky so it seems like a good idea anyway. We settle down on our sleeping mats in some old sleeping bags we have been given and sleep under the stars.