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  • Writer's pictureHannah Bywater

The worst bus ride of my life.

I learned of Bardiya about a month ago and I decided that I will make my way there before leaving Nepal. It is quite out of the way, almost 550km outside of Kathmandu. Where I am from in Canada this distance would take approximately 6 hours to drive but here in Nepal is a different story. The roads are... rough, to say the least.

I have been in Nepal now for just over two months. My three month visa is coming to an end quickly, so I am trying to manage my time in order to make the most of it. For this reason I decided to take the night bus to Bardiya so I wouldn't waste day light on a travel day. From Kathmandu the bus takes 14 hours to reach Bardiya. Flying is also an option, a great option actually. In only 50 minutes you can get from Kathmandu to Nepalgunj, then take a bus for 2-3 hours to reach Bardiya. This costs around $150 CAD, which may not seem like a lot, but it's out of my budget. The 14 hour bus ride costs only $20 CAD, now that is more suitable for me. I often get asked how I can afford to travel so much and this is a good example of how I make it work. Travel to me doesn't mean rolling my suitcase around the airport to hop on a plane wearing my favourite tracksuit set and neck pillow. It's more like, throw my backpack to get strapped on top of the bus because the trunk is full of crates of chickens. Now get inside and hold your breath because it stinks in here but you can't even be mad about it cause you haven't showered or washed your clothes in... too long.

Now, onto my bus story. My friend Maan drove me to the bus park in Kathmandu and helped me find my bus to Bardiya. I am grateful for him for many reason but this really helped me out. I have never been to a more chaotic bus station in my life. There were like a hundred buses parked in every possible spot, lined up side by side, some in front of each other and some might as well have been on top of each other. People were standing everywhere in the parking lot, blocking the road and others running to the bathroom quickly before whatever long journey they were about to take off on. The buses aren't labeled with their destination or direction. Upon arrival to the bus station you show your ticket to the dude and he writes your bus number on your ticket. On my ticket he wrote 159. I thought that was easy enough. I walked into the sea of buses to look for 159 to realize that all of the buses were numbered in Nepali... Makes sense cause you know, I am in Nepal but unlucky for me I don't know my numbers in Nepali. Again, thankfully Maan was there to help me out. I think he knew that I would have a hard time without him so I am grateful for his time. Eventually we found १५९, my bus to Bardiya. I get onto the bus and some guy shows me my seat. It's right at the front with lots of leg room, I thought "this isn't so bad". Ten minutes later another guy pokes me and gestures me to get up and points to another seat. I showed him my ticket and he just made the same gestures. My new seat was next to the window, which was a change I was happy to make. The bus was meant to leave at 16:00 which didn't happen. The bus was still loading people at 16:30. At 17:00 they finally closed the doors. We reached capacity, plus a few. All of the seats were full and there were also people sitting in the aisle. The bus was packed. It took a while to get out of the parking lot but that was to be expected. The smell in the bus was pungent, a potpourri of stink. It smelt as if someone bathed in their cologne which was not a good compliment to the sour odour of BO wafting around. This time around I was not responsible for any stink, as I had done my laundry recently and showered that morning. Although I was beside the window it was best not to open it due to the amount of dust and air pollution in the city. So I just sat quietly and tried to forget about the long journey ahead. You could tell when we were out of the city because all of a sudden you were bouncing around from all of the potholes in the dirt road. This is why it takes so long to travel on wheels around here. Only the cities have paved roads and everywhere else is under construction or just bad. All of a sudden my seat started to wabble, it was almost as if a screw came loose and the left half of my chair lost its support so it slanted back. It took only 5 minutes for me to feel the kink in my back from sitting awkwardly in my broken seat. After a couple hours on the bumpy road the person sitting next to me asks to switch for my window seat. He told me that he gets car sick and can already feel that he is going to vomit. I also get motion sickness sometimes but I felt fine at the time and agreed to switch with him. When I got up to switch with him I took a look around to find that I was the only westerner/tourist on the entire bus. I knew Bardiya was not a very popular place to visit but it still caught me by surprise, it was just me and the locals. Just when I thought the roads couldn't get any more bumpy, they did. The guy beside me started to throw up out the window. This, along with the odour circulating the bus and the bumpy road was not a good combination for me. After some time I had to tell the guy beside me we needed to switch seats again. I needed my window seat back to get fresh air as I also started to feel nauseous. At this time we were only a few hours into this bus ride and I was not into it. Night time comes around and I no longer have the distraction of looking outside. Even if I wanted to sleep it would have been a challenge as the bright led lights were still on, even at 22:30. But that's not it! Someone was blasting music on their speaker and would not let up. At some point I was so exhausted from thinking about this catastrophe of a bus ride that I finally fell asleep. It wasn't a relaxing sleep as I could feel to bump from every pothole, my brain was able to be calm for a while. My sweet sweet sleep was interrupted by the sound of puking. I opened my eyes to my seat mate leaning over me to vomit out the window. It didn't go over so well as he got some on my knee... I had this man puke on my knee. All I could think of was how badly I wanted to get off of this bus. We finally stopped for a short break and I was able to wipe off my pants, this was as good as it was going to get. The 14 hours go by, I had drifted in and out of a restless sleep to find out that we still hadn't arrived to Bardiya. I asked a few people how much longer, someone said 2 hours, another person said 5 hours and someone else said we were almost there. I was ready to jump out the window. I felt irritated, filthy and tired. A goose egg had formed on the side of my head from hitting the seat on all the bumps. After 16.5 hours we finally reached Bardiya. I grabbed my things and ran off of that bus. I hated that bus ride and I mean it. My dad always used to tell me "Hannah, hate is a really strong word, don't use it lightly". Dad, I hated that bus ride. Although it was terrible, all of my negative feelings faded away as soon as I reached Bardiya. It is such a special place and I look forward to sharing my experience with you.


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