THE WORST TRIP THAT I'VE EVER BEEN ON
My wife, Michelle, and I were in Nepal in 1990. We spent a few days enjoying the sights, smells and sounds of Kathmandu. While we were there, we talked to a lot of people about trekking, which was one of the things that we wanted to do while in Nepal. The general concensus was that we should go to Pokhara and make arrangements from there. Michelle and I located the bus company that goes from Kathmandu to Pokhara and we purchased round trip tickets for the following morning. We were told that we would be traveling on a deluxe tourist bus and that the trip would take around six hours.
The next morning we arrived at the bus stop and discovered that the only remaining seats on the bus were in the very last row. Since we had already packed our bags and purchased our tickets, we eagerly made our way to the back and took our seats. It turns out that our seat was just a board that extended from one side of the bus to the other. It wasn't permanently attached to anything and was just resting on a bench. Being young and fairly rugged, we didn't make much of our situation, but in a very short time, we realized why the seats where we were sitting were the only ones remaining.
Shortly after leaving Kathmandu the road turned to hard dirt and gravel. Because of the age of the bus, the shocks and springs were no longer functional and we felt every bump in the road on our bottoms and backs. The bus hurtled down hills and Michelle and I braced ourselves for the inevitable jolt caused by a wheel going into a rut or over a bump in the road. Whenever we hit a big rut, we were catapulted into the air and on several occasions my head hit the roof of the bus. Being launched wasn't the worst part; landing was.
To make matters even worse, there were no seats directly in front of us because we were sitting right behind the rear side exit, so there was nothing directly in front of us to hold onto. Michelle sat on my left, next to the window. I braced my left arm across her chest and held onto the window ledge and my right arm extended to the seat in front of us in order to wedge us into our seats and reduce the impact whenever we hit a bump. Our "six hour deluxe tourist bus" ride lasted ten and a half hours and we were miserable every minute.
Michelle and I were so happy to finally arrive in Pokhara! Unfortunately, because we were so sore from our trip, it took three days for us to even think about trekking. Since our bus ride was so horrible, we decided that we would fly back to Kathmandu after our trek. We went to the airport and were told that reservations could be made only a few days in advance and since our trek was for eight days, we weren't able to make reservations. Foolishly, we found a "travel agent" in town and since passports were required to make reservations, we left our passports with him and left on our trek the next morning. I use the term "travel agent" in the very loosest sense of the word, since the agency was comprised of two teenage boys sitting at a desk in a hut. We hired a guide who carried Michelle's backpack and gave us good advice on where to stay along the trek. Our trek was fantastic and at least once every day, we asked each other if our passports would be at the "travel agent" when we returned and if we would be able to avoid the torturous ride back to Kathmandu.
Upon returning from our trek we were faced with some good and some bad news. The good news was that we got our passports back. The bad news was that the agent was not able to get us on a flight. However, he told us that there was a driver for a government offical who had driven that official to Pokhara and was returning with an empty car. The driver was looking to make a little extra money on the side and was looking for people to drive back to Kathmandu. We were able to find the driver and negotiate a price. The next morning, we were picked up in a shiny black Mercedes-Benz sedan. The ride from Pokhara was the opposite of our ride to Pokhara. We sat in the back of the car and had a very comfortable and enjoyable experience. At one point, the driver pulled over and we weren't sure if we were going to get robbed. He got out of the car, walked to the back, and opened the trunk. We got out of the car to stretch our legs and discovered that there were live chickens in the trunk.
I don't know about you, but if I drove a Mercedes-Benz, I wouldn't be driving live chickens around!