Jomson to Kathmandu


NEXT: Kathmandu

Summary and Index

Jomson to Tatopani

Today we’re due to fly back to Pokhara and then on to Kathmandu but there have been no flights in for a few days and the weather looks unfavourable. The Swiss and French groups we’ve met en route are also wating to leave. At about 11 the announcement comes that there are no flights and we decide to take the bus to Pokhara. The flight would take 25 minutes, to drive will take two days. We fail to get on the bus that The French and Swiss have commandeered and are left with the service bus. Or rather a series of buses and taxis that will inch their way to Pokhara. We’ll have to stop somewhere for the night, exactly where depends on our progress.

We join the crush to get on an already overcrowded bus and I’m pretty uneasy about the prospect but some people get off at Marpa and then everyone settles down, including me. We change buses three times. The roads are just terrible, several times we get stuck and climb off the bus. Our driver looks about 12 and who keeps making the same mistake on one incline, digging deeper and deeper ruts in the mud. Eventually he waits while we spend spend an hour getting rocks onto the road for the wheels to get some traction. The wheels are on the very edge of a sheer drop to the river and there’s occaionall rockfalls from the cliffs above.

At one point a couple of Belgian women abandon bus and negotiate a 4x4 with a Nepali film maker. The next day the 4x4 is stuck and and we get held up while the axle is repaired. When it breaks down for the second time they get back on the bus. The bus is built for Nepalis, who are almost a foot shorter than us and need correspondingly less leg room. Our heads hit the baggage racks. Stuff is falling around everywhere and we get steadily dirtier and muddier. It’s best described as an uncomfortable and frustrating adventure.

At the end of the first day we stop just before Tatopani. The name means hot springs. Maybe this once was a pleasant place, now it seems like a dump. We have decent chalet type rooms but a bizarre evening in the dining room. The youth taking our order is pissed and brings Kancha a beer he hasn’t ordered. We have petty tense situation made worse when the boy agressively insists Kancha drinks his beer. The boy then drinks Kancha’s beer. It turns out the boy is the owner’s son.

Tatopani to Pokhara and Kathmandu

Another crazy day. We have to carry our kit to the taxi rank. Supposedly 20 minutes. Turns out over an hour. Luckily Kancha managed to get a message to the porters to stay at Tatopani and help carry the bags. At times the landscape is beautiful, it’s post monsoon but still raining, clouds hover in the hills, everywhere is dripping wet. We get glimpses of suspension bridges and temples in the trees. It’s quite beautiful but I think living here would be dreadful, simply getting around would take all your energy. In spite of the mud we see people dressed immaculately as they set off on their journeys. Just before Tatopani the path traverses under a wet, dripping overhang a few feet from a very full Kali Gandaki, last month the river overflowed it’s banks near here and lives and houses were swept away.

We then encounter the most belligerent and bloody minded taxi operators ever. It almost ends in a fight and we have to pull out the Colonial Sahib attitude to cool things down and get some action. A very unpleasant experience for all of us. We have a 2 hour drive to Beni on improved roads. We get tea and an early lunch at Beni, a fresh taxi and an uneventful drive to Pokhara. We leave our bags at the airport and drive to the lakeside for a very chilled couple of hours in a restaurant garden near some water buffalo.

Flying into Kathmandu we’re, again, amazed at the spread of the house over the valley.


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