26.11.2018 - 26.11.2018
The big green bus taking me to the Indian/Nepal Visa was indeed an "express" bus and gladly not a local bus stopping every 10 mins to pick up more chickens.
It also had A/C, but was turned off after an hour leaving me to sweat for the remaining 15 hours. It only took 2 hours to escape the Kathmandu gridlock and onto the very twisty mountain passes for the next few hours... This was when the lady behind me and several other passengers on the bus asked for "plastic" - dog poo type bags to vomit in. The lady behind me vomited the entire journey; luckily for me the bin was right by my seat, which she filled completely with vomit bags by the time we reached our destination... Luckily I had one face mask left unused.
The driver (for the entire journey!) had far greater overtaking maneuvers than Lewis Hamilton and more faith than the dalai lama. Constantly overtaking on blind corners and beeping loudly for the vehicle on the inside to brake hard and let us in. I enjoyed listening to my music in headphones (to try and ignore the mayhem outside) until the massively loud Indian music blasted out of the buses speakers. After our 1st toilet stop the masively loud videos started - firstly bolleywood music videos, followed by Indian James bond.. With bolleywood dance scenes randomly thrown in. We had our dinner stop at 10pm. It was very nice curry and rice (surprisingly), but the horn of the bus started and was leaving the car park before I'd finished my last mouthful. Obviously this gave more 'ammunition" for "madam vomit" sat behind me.
It was then that the road surface seemed to just disappear, resulting in high speed bouncing around and swerving in the dirt to overtake anything in the way. Getting some sleep wasn't particularly easy.. But I snoozed a little ... between the 2 hourly toilet breaks.
We arrived at the border town of kakarvitta by 7.45 (16 hours of fun). It was actually a better journey than I had expected.
On the bus I'd met a nice German guy who caught a taxi to my destination (New Jalpaiguri) and offered me a free lift. A bit of form filling to get across the border, but all easy.
After queueing in several different queues at the train station, I think I managed to buy a train ticket on the narrow guage railway to darjeeling... But... for 2 days time. (The 1st available ticket). I therefore have to stay in this not very pleasant railway junction town tomorrow as well. My hotel isn't great, but it's somewhere to sleep and wash (cold water only!)
My nipping to the nearest ATM to get some cash was a nightmare. Every machine I tried over several miles of walking was either not working or wouldn't accept either of my 2 credit cards. The last machine then told me my cards had been blocked! I finally got some cash by using my Santander debit card (expensive to use-but I was desperate for cash).
I then had to phone up both Santander and Halifax to unblock my cards. I used Skype, so not expensive. Santander were quick to answer my questions and tell me the card was infact ok. Halifax were shit! Asking me security questions like "did I open my current account in March or August 1993". When I didn't know I was asked for an account number on a card that's in England. When I couldn't answer that either I was told to call back later...aarrgghh! After 25 mins of a 2nd call the card is now also successfully unblocked.
So...a shit afternoon...
Very worrying if my 2 main cards don't work. I'll try again in Darjeeling. I'm not brave enough to try tomorrow.
(Sorry for the boring ramble.. It's down to sleep deprivation)