Sunday, January 31, 2010

Nepal Day 12: Pokhara to Kathmandu

29 Dec 2009

We bid farewell to Pokhara this morning.  At 7.00am, we took a taxi to the 'famous' Tourist Bus Terminal.  In contrast with yesterday's emptiness & quietness, Tourist Bus Terminal was buzzing with life.  Some people were selling freshly baked bread, some selling postcards, posters, etc.  Yesterday's empty car park now was lined up with all different types of tourist buses.

We took the BABA Tourist Bus.  The bus was quite new, and the drivers have a cockpit like the pilots in their airplanes.  The seats are very comfortable.  Btw, the group of Korean students were taking the same bus as we did.  What a coincident!

Some tourist tips here:  There are many different tourist bus operators plying the Pokhara to Kathmandu route.  Based on my own experience and also observation at the Pokhara Tourist Bus Terminal, plus some feedback from other tourists, it seems like BABA offers a good deal.  The other very popular bus operator, which has been mentioned by Lonely Planet, is the Green Line.  However, their bus seems to be a bit old, and small.  Another operator is Skyline, I think.  The seats are just of normal size, and the two Taiwanese tourists we met didn't give good feedback on Skyline.  

The bus ride to Kathmandu was smooth.  One thing bad is that they have no such concept as a 'toilet stop'.  Don't they know people have such needs for a 7-hour long journey?  I couldn't take it, so I went up to ask the driver.  He then just stopped the bus in the middle of nowhere and let me go down to relieve myself at the road side.  I was thinking, so embarrassed, I was the only one and holding up the whole bus load of people.  But when I finished my own business and turned my back, my gosh, one whole group of passengers from  our bus doing the same thing.  I wondered, why didn't anyone else come up to ask the driver to stop for a toilet break but me?  Haiz....

About 3 hours into the journey, we stopped at a 'resort' for lunch, which was included in the bus fare (btw, the bus fare was US$18.00).  Lunch was buffet, the food was just so-so, just for the purpose of filling up the empty stomach.

At around 2pm, we already entered Kathmandu, but the traffic condition in the city is terrible.  Jams everywhere, and it was nothing but chaos. 

We were constantly greeted by such rubbish dumps.  It reminds me of some rural areas in China some 3 decades ago.  Today's Kathmandu, looks very much like a small Chinese town some 30 years ago.  Nepal will have to work harder to catch up with the rest of the world.  
3pm, we reached our final destination.  We thought we would stop at a bus terminal or something, but hell no.  We just stopped at the road side.  The drivers didn't tell us we had reached.  Luckily one Nepali passenger alerted me, so I asked the driver.  The rest of the foreign passengers were still sitting there, not knowing what is happening.  I had to be the self-declared tour guide to tell them that we had come to the end of our bus journey, and everybody please get down.  

One salient feature of Kathmandu is most of the streets have no names.  I didn't know where I was, other than somewhere near the backpacker's heaven - Thamel.  After many askings, we got our way to Hotel Center Point (北京饭店).  It is a hotel catering to Chinese visitors.  You see, I used the word 'visitors', instead of tourists.  There are some Chinese tourists, but later I noticed most people staying there were more business oriented.  

The cost for a standard double room with attached bath is US$30.00.  Almost double the cost than Hotel Blue Heaven.  The location is not bad, in the center of Thamel.  The room is spacious, stairs are  spacious, and there is a lift in the hotel, except very few people use it.  Nobody wants to get stranded in the lift during Kathmandu's frequent power outages.  

There is also a Chinese restaurant on the ground floor, managed I think by some Chinese-speaking Nepalis.  The food there was ok, but not of exceptional quality. 

You can find a complete list of blog entries about my Nepal trip here.

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