Travel Blog-Day 5
This is a blog about my 36-day trip through Nepal, India, and a little bit of China. I’ll make one post daily until it’s all finished.
Day 5: Birganj-Raxual-Patna
My day from HELL!!! Today was honestly one of the worst days of my life. On the bus to Birganj this guy says he’ll help me get though the border. I say, thanks. When we get to Birganj it’s 4:30am, the guy wants to walk to his house, which is about 2km to get his motorcycle to take me through the border. He doesn’t want to get a cycle rickshaw. I tell him I can’t carry my pack that far as tired as I am and that I’ll pay for the rickshaw. He’s unhappy, but says OK. We get to an intersection, he tells the rickshaw driver to stop. Tells me to wait for about 15 minutes and he’ll come back with his bike. Well, he does come back in exactly 15 minutes. I get on the back of his motorcycle with my backpack on and my smaller backpack between him and myself. We get to the border and he just keeps going. He tells me I don’t have to go through customs or get my visa stamped, no one ever does. We get to the Indian side, which is about 2 km further. It’s closed and doesn’t open until 6am. It’s about 5am now. I tell him I HAVE to go back to the Nepali border station to get my visa stamped. He argues with me that I don’t have to. I ask him to PLEASE take me back. Finally he agrees. We get there and the Nepali border guard is yelling at him, telling him (in English) that I have to get my visa stamped and that he potentially put me into serious trouble. He said he was yelling for us to stop, but the guy just ignored him. The motorcycle kid is now embarrassed and just leaves. I go through Nepali custom, no problem. I get a cycle rickshaw back to the Indian side. It is about 5:30am. A sign on the door says the custom station is supposed to open at 6am. 6 rolls around, no ones there. 6:30, no one. 7:00, again no one. In the mean time across the square, the top of the electrical pole lights on fire. After about a minute it really looked like it was going to blow up. People are running as fast as they can for the Nepali side. I figured I was far enough away that even if it blew up, I was in no danger, so I stood there. I wanted to see what would happen. It finally just sputtered out. A cycle rickshaw wallah comes up and tells me he’ll go get the customs agent if I use him to get to the bus station. I say OK. He goes and gets the agent. I had seen this guy walk by before. He says he didn’t open because there’s no electricity. Well, there isn’t any now also, but he stamps my passport.
The rickshaw wallah takes me to the bus station, where two guys from Angola are trying to decide how to get to Delhi. I change money with a very bad rate, and get on a bus. It is now about 9:00.
No one can tell me how long it will take to get to Patna. One person says 6 hours another says 10. The bus turns out to have no shock absorbers and no suspension. Roads in Bihar state are some of the worst in the world. It took 10 hours to go 220 kilometers. I actually flew out of my seat at least three times during the trip. It was hot as hell. About 20 kilometers outside of Patna, the gearshift breaks on the bus. We can’t go more than 5km per hour. I figure I have now entered the Twilight Zone and am in my own personal hell.
On the bus, I look through my Lonely Planet guidebook. I want to pamper myself in Patna, since it’s been such a horrible day. I find a mid-range hotel that sounds decent. A guy I met on the bus calls the hotel for me to reserve a room. I get to Patna, get an auto rickshaw. At the main crossroad, there is a group of Shaivites doing a puja to Shiva in the middle of the road. All traffic has stopped and there’s a huge traffic jam. The day is obviously disintegrating even further. I get to the hotel, the room isn’t ready. I’m told to fill out some forms and the room will be ready in an hour. After an hour, I finally get to the room. This mid-range room, which is about $25, the most I’ve ever paid in India for a room is also the worst room I’ve ever had anywhere I’ve ever been. The room stinks, the sheets are dirty, the carpet is wet, there’s garbage from the previous guest on the table. The hotel has a restaurant. I haven’t eaten all day, nothing at all. I go to the restaurant. Everyone just stares at me as if they’ve never seen a foreigner. I ask for a menu. The waiter just stares. I wait 15 minutes and go back to my room. I am so tired, I simply go to sleep.