10/19/2009 to 10/23/2009 | Nepal


I arrived at the border town of Mahendranagar in the early afternoon.  Everything was closed even many of the hotels.  It was the last day of the Nepali celebration of Deepwali a slightly different timing than the Indian version.  I eventually managed to find an acceptable room if a bit more than I wanted to pay.  I changed some Indian rupees at the hotel and scrounged for some food, eventually settling on that dinner of champions, cocacola and samosas.

Early the next morning I boarded a bus bound for Butwal the town in west central Nepal where I would break my journey by heading up to the Newari town of Tansen.  A place I had been meaning to get to since my first trip to Nepal but had not gotten around to going.  I was prepared for the brutally long bus ride but it wasn’t as bad as I had anticipated.  Part of the reason for that was due to another’s misfortune.  I figured it has to happen sometime, I had just never seen it before.  The bus made a sharp stop to avoid hitting a water buffalo.  An object fell across the field of view of the front windshield.  I thought to myself I hope that was just a bag.  The reaction of those in the bus told me it wasn’t.  A young man riding on the top of the bus had fallen off.  His limp body was carried into the bus clearly in semi-conscious state.  At least I saw some movement.  But he had hit the back of his head and was bleeding from it.  I though if I had anything in my first aid kit that could help him but this was beyond ibuprofen and bandages.  I figured best case he had a concussion worst case a fractured skull.  We stopped after an hour at a medical store where shirt tied around his head was replaced with proper bandages.  Butwal and the nearest hospital was still several hours away, though the bus driver was no longer stopping to squeeze every last paying customer on board so the journey certainly went faster than it might have under normal circumstances.  By the time we reached Butwal the injured man was at least more responsive and showing more signs of movement as he was carried off in the direction of the hospital and that was the last I saw of him.

The next day I took the bus to the town of Tansen.  This small town founded as a Newari trading outpost has a smattering of the picturesque brick and wood Newari architecture found throughout the Kathmandu Valley.  Its hilltop location affords expansive views towards the distant Himalayas from the ridge above town, weather permitting, and the weather did permit.  It’s rare to get good distant views of the Himalayas but the weather was spectacular and the skies nearly crystal clear.  I spent a day hiking through nearby villages down to the ruined royal palace of Ranighat, unfairly sometimes referred to as the “Taj Mahal” of Nepal, because it had been built, allegedly out of love, for the king’s deceased wife.  A pleasant enough place, but calling it the Taj Mahal of anything is a stretch.  On this walk I did see what I think was my first cobra sighting in the wild, though I didn’t see the tell tale hood, the color, body shape, and size was right as I saw the snake slip into a pile of wood beside the trail.

After a day and a half in Tansen I was ready to be on my way, Kathmandu, with its burgers, steaks, and somewhat respectable breakfast burritos was calling my name (or at least my stomach) after a long stint in India.

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