Saturday, February 28, 2009
It's with a bit of relieve that we arrive in Nepal. We don't know exactly if the things we didn't like in India will still exist here but we really hope not!
We crossed the border in Sunauli, a dusty road with a constant movement of trucks where all the locals are wearing face masks to protect themselves from the polluted air. We buy the visa at the border for 25 US$. We planned on taking public transports to Lumbini but since we arrived after 5 pm that wasn't possible anymore. We were then approached by the shared taxis guys and ended up sharing a taxi with another portuguese couple, Bernardo and Mariana, from Porto, for 150 rupees each. After waiting for almost an hour under a cloud of dust we finally started our journey.
After some detours we finally arrived at our destination. It was already night and the street was dark and quiet. We stay in the 2nd hotel we visit (the first was really bad...) - Lumbini village lodge, 700 rupees for a double room. Only after checking in and resting for a while we realize what we are going to face for the next couple of weeks:
- electricity, there are only 8 h of power per day and the light periods aren't always at the same time
- communications, there is no roaming service with our providers in Nepal. And since there's hardly electricity the internet is down most of the time
- no electricity means no TV or other forms of entertainment. Everything closes at 10 pm or earlier, even the hotel reception and the restaurants
- hot water in a bucket delivered in your room on demand and loads of mosquitoes are minor worries
- and probably the worse part, Nepal is going through a lot of political changes, which results in a lot of social instability and, as result, strikes, demonstrations and, the worst for us, road blocks!
Stuck in Lumbini
The original plan was to visit Lumbini during the day and then take a night bus to Pokhara. Unfortunately there are road blocks due to politics and the buses are not going from Bhaurawa.
Lumbini is the birth place of the man that later became Buddha. The ruins of the temple, where the stone marking the birth place was found, are now UNESCOs world heritage. Surrounding the ruins there's a huge complex still under development where Buddhist communities from all over the world have built their temples. On the opposite side of the complex lies a huge piece pagoda.
We spent the day walking from temple to temple. We've visited most of them and when we're back in the starting point we are tired of Buddhist temples...
The rest of the day is spent reading, talking and trying to organize the next day. We agree with the hotel owner that he will call us at 5.30 am and we'll share a cab to Bhaurawa with two japanese.
After dinner in the great Three foxes 20 m away from our hotel (we ended up having all our meals there) we went back in the room and realized that none of us was sleepy... We decide to get a beer frrom the reception and play some cards. It's 9.30 pm and the hotel is already closed. There's no one in the reception and Tiago has to wake one of the small kids that works there to get a beer... As soon as we start playing cards we hear noise ib the upper floor. It's the portuguese couple. We join them in the upper terrace and spend the rest of the evening playing cards, drinking beer, talking about our trips (they were in Thailand last year so we asked for some advice) and laughing, under the light of candles, flash lights and of course the many stars of the clear nepalese sky. This lasts until 1:30, a more suitable time for a portuguese to go to bed :) .