From India I
return to Nepal, this time in the fare east.
border from India is made up by the bridge over the rather dry
Mechi River. On the
walk across the bridge, I see a lot of people. Even the riverbed
underneath is quite busy. It seems like the no-man's-land is rather
relaxed between these two Hindi countries.
On the other side, I have to find my own way to the immigration office. Here are
a few, rather laughing officers, who very helpfully hand me a single
form, and real relaxed let me enter, after having seen the old 90 day
visa in my pass. Due to the relaxed atmosphere, I ask for directions
to the market and the bus. Outside, another officer ask if he can
help me with my continuous travel. Sure a country that appreciate
tourists and make their life easier!
Here are several exchange offices, and I might as well change the
8650 Rupees from India, to something useful here. Then I find the
marked easily, but I guess I have seen enough of these for some time
by now. As with the Bangladeshi border crossing, there are not
really that much in difference on either side this near to the
I walk straight to the bus, and without any waiting, we leave.
The tea plantations continues from India, so does the large but
rather dry rivers. As in India, they are used for rocks and gravel
for constructions. The passenger in front of me speak quite some
English, and advises me to continue to Biratnagar. The city I had
noted as closest to the Koshi Tappu Wildlife Reserve does not offer
hotels. That might be right; I could not find any online. He
recommend a specific hotel he prefers in Biratnagar, and even make a
reservation for me, to Nepali price.
The bus end up pretty crammed, and we reach Biratnagar after dark (I
later learn, it is the second largest city in Nepal with a
population of 170.000).
My new friend guides me to the hotel, which might be a bit
overpriced, at 700 Taka, but clean and rather close to the bus
terminal. I make a few notes, and then try their fried rice with
is high time locating some internet. That turn out to be
rather difficult in the dark town. I finally succeed, and get up to
date with emails, but not uploads.
It is strange that Nepali cities tend to close around seven, where
Bangladeshi kind of start waking up at seven - or eight in the
It is a mild climate, and I can walk after dark in a single fleece
jacket - and skiing underwear, which was way too warm during the
day. Here are several ox-driven carriages in the streets and plenty
Back to work in the sound from the hotel's generator. I have
forgotten these black-outs and brown-outs, but not really missed
them. I proceed photos and write diary. In the
bathroom, a huge gecko control the mosquitoes. It is way too late
once more, when I kind of finish.
The madras is merely a sheet, but the spare cotton-blanket make is
is nice for once to be right at the buss terminal, not
having to walk several kilometres, several times. BUT: When the
busses start at four, they use their horn eagerly
for at least fifteen minutes each, before taking off.
The target for the day is Koshi Tappu Wildlife Reserve, around half
hour back the road - I was told. The 175 square kilometres of wet- and grassland
is teaming with close to 500 species of birds, and a rare water
buffalo: Arna, The Pointyhorned; Bubalus arnee. There is no mist this morning, and
I hope for a nice, warm day.
I find a bus right away, but it is immense slow! What can be done in
half a hour, take two. We load and unloads goats, stop for ten
minutes or more, several places and so on. When we finally reach Itahari
after 42 kilometres, I find a significantly faster bus for the last
Itahari is way fancier than I have though, and it does have several
nice looking hotels - despite what I was told. I guess I been loured
into another hotel, than I wanted. I could have saved two hours -
Where the first bus mainly drown through outskirts of larger
villages, this one cruses through farmland. Here are rice, maize,
sugarcane and grassland. Here are also some grass fields, covered in
the thin plys for plywood, laid out to dry.
I get kicked off at a gravel-road with the right sign - except the
2,5 kilometres note. At first, it is boring, then I reach a village,
consisting of only grass-huts. I think I get some great shoots, but
I can't see the screen on the camera, due to the bright sun. I'm not sure
how they make a living, but cow's dung for fire, seems to be the main
I reach the entrance for Koshi Tappu Wildlife
Reserve, and after quite some time, they find the tourist tickets. I
try to get information on the elephants rides, the Jeep safaris and
the boat trips, but despite every thinkable effort, none of the ten
persons present in the rangers office, get it. It might just be out
of season? Or they have not seen their own sign down at the road?
After a long time, I manages to get a folder with a map. If I
interprets it right, I have a 20 kilometre long dam with a sealed
road, along the river to walk on - that's it.
I meet it in the middle, and head north-east for an hour. Here are
actually many different birds, and I even see a skink (lizard-like
animal). With the exception of the Greater Coucal; Centropus
sinensis, and a Openbill Stork; Anastomus oscitans, I
don't even try to capture them with the camera. I find animal trails
parallel with the dam, and walk here, except in the
more dense bushes. Here are some huge animals that like to sleep in
the shadow, and they don't appreciate to be disturbed. If they are
grassing, I can hear them, but not if they are relaxing.
On one side of the dam, a smaller river forms a swamp from time to
time. On the other side, a dry, almost yellow grassland dominates.
In some places covered in bushes or small trees. Besides from five
invasive plants, all in flower, here are really disappointing few
interesting plants. A single big snail encasing, the flowers on the
cotton tree and the spines on a young tree, is the only interesting
A single viewing tower lack the lower steps, and the upper
part is about to give up as well. Never mind, here is nothing to
look at anyway. But the area is frequently visited by elephants,
based on the amount of fresh dung.
After an hour, I turn around, and head down south-west. It is a
gamble: Does the road actually lead all the way out to the highway
after fifteen kilometres, or do I have to walk back ten, plus the
two and a half?
In the small river, some locals are fishing with small nets. On the
wild side, I manages to sneak in on a huge buffalo bull. It could be
the Pointyhorned or just an normal one, but it is for sure a wild
A stretch of the road is lined with elephant dung, and I look
closely into the bushes along the road. Then I spot a huge, gray
thing. It is slightly mowing, and it has huge ears and rather big
tuskers. It is sleeping fifteen meters from the road, and I let it!
I cross over the little river, to meet the highway. The water is
crystal clear, and the bottom covered in plants. By
running the last
bit, I reach a bus, heading for Itahari. We drive through what look
like a sandy desert; the old riverbed, I guess. In Itahari, I go
right into the next bus - I would have like to wait a tea's time
though. It has been a warm day with 30C, and the locals tell me, the
summer started yesterday.
At least, we reach Biratnagar significantly
faster than we left it, and I head out to get my tea. While I'm at
it, I try to find the market. I finally get close to one of the
ox-wagons, and just like two other photos I have from other places
in the world, the driver talk in his cell-phone. A group of men
stand rather close. It is yet another game of Ludo that draws them.
Here are many low-tech work-shops. Fixing old potato-bags, cleaning used
bricks, packing boxes for recycling and so on. Biratnagar is not a
pretty city in any way, but it does have a market with smiling
I return to my room at five to work, before I can upload at a
internet cafe at six - they promised yesterday. Photos must wait
till later. It actually works, and I get everything up to date (it
is a great way to back-up my work).
Back for supper; fried rice with mutton. The plan for tomorrow is to
catch the bus for Janakpur at 9;30. Rather that, than 6;00 or 7;00. It
should be a five hour tour, and I have the entire day.
I sit in the small restaurant and work, while a customer comes in.
He immediately draws up his cell-phone, but can't find a internet.
Many have thought I had it, but I recon they are not used to see
someone making pages, just looking at them. Then he have to settle
with a few photos of me.
I make a slideshow: Koshi Tappu
Wildlife Reserve & Biratnagar city .
4/2 I catch the 9;30
bus for Janakpur from
the terminal. By getting here early, I manages to get the good seat
behind the driver: Room for my legs and in shadow, giving better
photos. It is 215 kilometre long tour through the lowlands in the
southern part of Nepal. The road crosses one river after another,
but here are surprisingly few larger cities.
It is mainly cattle country. Here are big herds of both the little
Jersey-type, the big white Indian oxen and black water buffalos.
Here are also some pigs. Some mind their own, some are herded like
the sheep and cows. In Itahari, we do a short stop. Some boys try to
sell water on bottles for the first time this spring. Afterwards,
they play a game, throwing coins, but winning notes.
After Itahari, some sugar-cane fields are being harvested. It is
done by hand, and the harvest transported to centrals. Here, the
canes are loaded on to trucks - by hand. Just before Koshi Tappu
Wildlife Reserve, we pass the almost snow-like sandy deserts of the
old riverbed. Then the road do a big U around the reserve, and cross
the huge bridge from which Ganges Dolphins can be seen. It is a
combined bridge and dam, it seems. This is the lowlands; the Terai.
It is still early spring on the fields, and the oxen are pulling the
ploughs in many places.
Just after we leave the boundary of the reserve, a massive explosion
sounds, and the bus have blown a back-tire. Within five minutes, the
four employees of the bus have change it, and we are rolling again.
It was simply worn through. We drive through a open and flat
landscape with scatted grass huts. Then the first foothills of the
Himalayas occurs to the north. We keep following them for the rest
of the tour, almost touching them a few times. Then the grass-huts
start to have some mud on the walls, and a few larger villages are
found. We keep crossing mighty rivers - of sand.
On the entire tour, we might have meet 100 ox-wagons, transporting
every thing imaginable.
after five and a half hours of intensely driving, we meet Janakpur. I
have planned a hotel, and find a trishaw to take me there. The
entire tour is on a rough, unsealed road through real poor
neighbourhood. The hotel is next to a square, and look all right
from the outside. I get the room down to 300R, but kind of regrets
it, when I see it. No light from the outside, little electric light.
Dark brown, probably dirty and real dusty.
I drop my bag, and try to orientate me in the surroundings. I am
within 500 metres from the centre of what should be a "electrifying
religious atmosphere with a rich historical and cultural heritage".
It look more like the worse places in Bangladesh! I try the four
roads leading out from the square; Bhanu Chowk, and they all sucks!
Only one is sealed - or use to be it.
I had planed to save the sights along Station Road for the day
tomorrow, but desperate situations take desperate actions. At the
centre, I see a fancy hotel, and give it a shot. Hotel Manaki is
pretty nice, and I can get a room with light (even under
brown-outs), Wi-Fi, hot shower and toilet paper for 1000R. I can't
recall when I last had a hot shower? I get my backpack from
the other hotel, not even discussing a refund.
Drop the bag in my nice room, and in the low evening sum, I do some
of the miner roads in the centre of town. Here, I see the charm, and
the huge Sagar; a square pond with Ghats around for bathing.
I see the huge marble Janaki Mandir, but save the inner for
tomorrow. I try to get a picture of the western side, but a huge,
ogle brick wall, covered in cow's dung block the view. Here are cows
wandering around everywhere.
I stop several times to recharge with tea. In one place, two
students want to know everything, but at the same time pay my two
cups of tea.
The huge Gunga Sagar is not the only pond in the inner city, and
here are several temples scattered around as well. I find one of the
tailors street, and see how they fire up in the flatting iron on the
sidewalks. A few pigs are wandering around free along with the usual
goats and cows.
I find a humble restaurant which fries noodles outside, and even
have some cakes inside. One more tea on the way home, and then some
final laundry and the usual working.
Part of the huge Ganga Sagar - holy pond.
At nine, I decide I deserve a tea break. From what I can hear,
the town is still alive - included the generator, hammering away.
I was wrong, and have to settle for a drink of water.
5/2 It seems like this city start way
later then I. Only the pigs can find breakfast before eight - or
nine. It is a slightly cold (17,3C) and pretty misty morning, and I
retreat to the hotel, waiting for the sun. Glad I chosen the light
and clean room. Despite I'm in the city's most fancy hotel, I am
still the only pale around. The roomers about Nepal being drowned in
tourists seems a bit over exaggerated. Thinking about it, I actually
think I saw the most tourists in Bhutan!
At nine, I find a filthy joint with roti and dhal and even some odd
tasting milk-tea. At ten, it is just as misty and cold, but I got
the time. I do some work, among other; how to find to Daman. I had a
plan about driving on a special highway, but I guess the 220
on the direct road will be enough. And it will still
cover roughly 70% of that road, and of the more steep part.
The tailors street is just around the corner, and I get my bag fixed
- once again. It is suffering from the winter cloth I have been
caring around, only using it two mornings. Then I checkout the
backside of the city. It is kind of fitting for a greyish day like
this. Pigs going through the ubiquitous trash, open sewers and
buildings falling apart is the general characteristics.
At noon, the weather situation is unchanged, and I start to doubt
for a change. I guess I should have seen the sights yesterday, or at
least taken some good photos. Now, I just start working again,
catching up on the pages and data I'm have saved for a rainy day.
At two, I get impatience, and seek out the sights
in the mist. It might be the lack of sun, but besides from the large Janaki Mandir, I fail to find anything interesting. Janaki Mandir
is quite impressive. It is a Hindu temple, dedicated to the goddess
Sita. It forms a square with small temples in each corner and a
larger in the middle. The Rajput architecture is a modern
inspiration on older forms, and the temple was build in 1912, and is
still maintained. In front of it is a open yard with various
traders, mainly religious items.
Next to it is a huge, square pond; Ganga Sagar which have
Ghats around for religious bathing. None attempt today. A bit
further up the street, Ram Sita Bibaha Mandir is found with
its strange, kind of modern roof and glass walls. Behind Janaki
Mandir is Ram Mandir from 1882, but it seems to be forgotten,
although well maintained. It is a way more classic temple with the
usual buildings. In front of it is Danush Sagar, a huge tank
Due to the lack of sun - or even proper daylight, I have a hard time
spending much time looking at these sights. I do another loop in the
vicinity, and once again, I am stunned over the decay this city is
in! Strangely enough, the three slightly English talking persons, who
have addressed me, have all asked; what do you think of my city - I
lied every time.
I get some more tea, and try some of the local cake specialities.
Then home to check the weather forecast. Sun all day, they claim!
That make checking the forecast for tomorrow's goal; Daman, a bit
useless. At three, I am kind of through the most, but it is too late
Nothing else to do, but seek out to get some
awesome photos, some milk-tea and try some cookies. The centre of
town is quite small, and outside it, only decay and misery is found,
it seems. I check the route to the bus terminal for tomorrows tour.
Well, that was the plan, but I end up somewhere else. Here, the
decomposition is, if possible, more dominant. I recon I will make
the day for a trishaw driver in the morning.
On my way home, I pass a game store in the larger street. They have
a drawing of a
board in front, and I ask for the men. I get a box with the 20
required men and the "queen", but have to buy the "tiger" separate.
I figure it will be easier to build the board at home!
I find a dog, sleeping in a trashcan. It is without a doubt the
safest dog around here: Nothing will hit it there!
More and more small bonfires are popping up around in the streets.
more than 30-40 centimetres in diameter, but room for 6-10 freezing
people. These temperatures below 20C are not their cup of tea -
Supper in a restaurant at lakeside, 100 metres
from my hotel. Women with firewood on their head passes bye along
with cows, bicycles, trishaws and motorcycles. I get some fried
noodles with vegetables and moderate spices. I'm still a bit
peckish, but I don't expect to be full for half an Euro! I top-up
with two rotis from the shop next door, and a tea from the
The evening is spend working, among other on the
This evenings tea-brake is just before eight, based on experience
from yesterday. Strangely enough, it is almost only the tailors
which still are there. They were the only one this morning - I
wonder if they ever sleep?
The plan for tomorrow is simple: Find a bus for Dhalkebar, then
Pathaiya and Hetauda to end up in Daman. It is rather close to
Kathmandu and in rather high altitude - and cold. But from here, I
should get a great view to the huge mountains and the Mountain
Botanical Gardens is of cause a must!
It is time to start the last
page: Diary 7