On the Bus, in Nepal

Bus rides in Nepal are thrilling. First of all there are the roads they drive on. Throughout most of Nepal’s steep terrain roads are cut into the mountain. Highways between the main cities are generally the exact with of two cars, with the mirrors pulled in. To a Nepali bus driver that means you can overtake another vehicle (usually cars cause buses are faster). It seems that they think it even better when turning in to a blind corner over a cliff, most likely because the paved area is slightly wider.
‘Whaaaaaaaaaa, farewell cruel world!’ A bus is overtaking a truck and they are taking up the whole road heading right towards you. There is no slowing down, instead the two bus drivers step on it to complete their maneuvers and diagonally dodge each other three inches apart.

Get on a local bus and it is guaranteed to be crowded. There is a technique to fill a bus of which I only just understand the basics. First cover the entire floor area with bags of rice, lentils or other dried (strong) food. Load in the people and their belongings, like their new pot set, more food or a chicken in a bag. Once all seats are taken put a child on everyone’s lap, then fill the row in the middle. Do not, I repeat do not in any case ask where people get off, it is way more fun if the guy in the back is getting off the next stop already. He is then in the lucky situation to take the window escape. Stick larger animals (goats and sheep) in the trunk or on the roof. Sometimes the roof is taken by a large delivery of 100 liter water drums, 2km worth of rolled up metal fencing or a family of 20 taking all their furniture on holiday.

You are stuck, there is no other way of putting it, totally and utterly fixed in your seat. Somehow the locals can move and get on or off with reasonable ease (apart from those all the way in the back). But there is no way you are moving, on reaching your destination there will be a ten minute break for everybody else.
Sometimes you’re lucky, two requirements: One, you board a bus and all seats are taken. Two, you know the route will be relatvely ‘safe’ and scenic (all routes in Nepal are scenic).
Go! Find the driver or his helper and point to the roof. ‘Me, roof?’ You ask. You’re a tourist and he doesn’t want to let you down, so he lets you up. Great!
Now you and your friends may not have the most comfortable metal bars seats, but with the help of some clothes and blankets you have kingly thrones on top off a large rolling mount. Lounge your way through an ever changing Himalaya view, just be sure to mind (and dodge) low hanging electricity wires along the way. Enjoy the ride!


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