“Instead of the 8 hour bus journey back to Kathmandu, what if we break up the journey?”
Karen cocked up her eyebrows and asked..
“Wow. Good idea, but where could we stay?”
“I have heard great things about Bandipur. A little town full of culture and great to visit. The Lonely Planet assures me it’s very accessible”. Said John.
“Great. Sounds like a plan” beamed Karen.
Boy were we wrong!
We jumped off our tourist bus at Dumre, on the highway to Kathmandu and before we knew it we were seated in the back of a ‘Taxi’ but before we would reach Bandipur we would have to go and market vegetables for 20 mins. What??
Yep. Basically our taxi was someone else’s taxi and he was subletting it to us to pay for the journey.
We promptly got out and after a while of being pestered and haggled we managed to secure our own ‘taxi’. While we made it to Bandipur ,(8 Km up in the hills), this ‘taxi’ looked like an entry in a Tokyo Street Race and the incense burning from the potato placeholder in front was slowly knocking us out.
We walked into the town of Bandipur like a scene out of those old Spaghetti Westerns…. People stopped what they were doing and looked at us. Dogs stopped fighting in the street. Every so often we heard window shutters creak open as we passed. All that was missing was the tumbleweed.
Eventually we secured lodgings at an old converted house and began the Bandipur Heritage Trail to keep us occupied for the day.
An hour later we were finished but managed to get some good snaps.
Another couple in the village seemed to be forlorn at their situation and the feeling of ‘being stranded’ was etched on their faces, as they sulked and fell out with each other. Luckily Karen and I are champions when it comes to struggling with diversity, so we spent the next few hours pottering and laughing off our misfortune and at that other couple.
During out pottering we met a friendly girl who chatted to us in English and French and offered to show us the sights if the town. But this was merely a vehicle for her to entice us to buy her family food or give her money. We declined and later as Karen was feeling guilty we saw that we were not her only clients as she worked her charms on some French and Japanese tourists.
During our earlier attempts at finding accomodation we were brazenly told the room rate was $100 for the night. Impressed by this show of bravado we went back there for dinner. Karen ordered a Veg Green Curry and I ordered some chicken that was so fresh I even saw the Chef leave to come back with a chicken under his arm!! Hmm tasty.
The next morning we were woken to the sounds of dogs scrapping and people milling about. After some breakfast we were put on the local bus back to Dumre, from where we got a place on a Tourist Bus for one of the longest journeys ever back to Katmandu. This magnificent journey was punctuated by a lunch stop at a genuine third world road house. Karen and I munched our crisps outside on the wall for fear of picking up something from the building itself.
After that it was back on the bus to tackle the hills outside Kathmandu. Before long we were back in Mums Home Hotel for our last few days.