Today we arrived in India. It was much less hectic than arriving into Kathmandu, but then crossing over land generally is.
We decided to walk to the border – 4km in the sweltering heat, carrying approximately 25kg between us, just to avoid haggling. It was one of those days (you know the kind, where you don’t want to talk or think or deal with the swarms of touts all saying exactly the same price, but telling you their price is the best).
By the time we arrived at the border, you could ring my top out. By this point, I wasn’t sure whether I was getting stared at because I was a western female or because I was disgusting.
Getting our stamps was easy and the immigration officials seemed to understand our need for a cool calm seat. Once we got our bearings we headed out to the streets to shouts of ‘change money here, good rates’.
They were not good rates. They were very bad rates. The equivalent of 58p’s worth of Indian rupees for $10.
Unfortunately, this did remind us that we didn’t actually have any Indian money. The nearest cash point was 7-8 km away, and we’d already used our sweat reserves getting to the border.
During our ‘stay’ in India (or 20 minute amble) we’d been hassled repeatedly by the same bus driver. Well, actually lots of bus drivers had been hassling, but only one had caught our attention (mainly because he had said the name of the place we were going and hadn’t just said ‘get on’). We decided to take him up on his offer. Plus it was cheaper than the Lonely Planet suggested… and they’d take dollars.
The only catch: it was a local bus. No problems there you might think. And for me, there wasn’t. But Tim didn’t fit in his seat, not even a little bit. His legs were just too big and he couldn’t get his knees in the seat.
As I write, Tim is squashed sideways into the seat with his knees, and everything that comes below them, jutting out awkwardly into the aisle. The busy aisle.
That aside, the journey is enjoyable. We’ve passed through fields and fields of sweet smelling herbs. I’d like to say Jasmine, but in truth I haven’t a clue. Soon we’ll be in Gorkaphur where we intend to get a train. Although we’ve just read our travellers bible (Lonely Planet) and it seems to imply we need to book ahead. Let’s hope overland travel continues to be our friend….
Over and out.