It was an ominous exclamation from on of the locals as our bus from Kathmandu to Pokhara pulled off the curb to begin the slow slog some 200 kilometers west from the Nepalese capital.
That we pulled over less than a minute later did not bode well for our chances.
Fortunately that first stop was just to top off the gas tank and not a true indicator of the forthcoming experience. That said, the ride was every bit the 8ish hour adventure we were promised at the outset.
We're off to Pokhara, Nepal this morning. And we're taking the bus. Only 200km but the ride is 6-8 hours depending on traffic and road conditions. 🇳🇵🚌
— Seth Miller (@WandrMe) November 17, 2019
The scenery is spectacular (pro tip: sit on the right side for better views), weaving through the hilly countryside. Farmers work their rice paddies and, at least on this particular day, uniformed children stood along the roadside awaiting buses to collect them for the ride to school.
But that beauty comes with a certain cost. The ride is not a smooth one. The two lane road is paved, but in a way that barely stands up to the traffic it endures. The bumps might please a bobble head figurine or one of those dancing hula girls that sit on a dashboard. For travelers, however, the ride is more an opportunity to measure tolerance and patience.
The bus stopped three times during the journey. The first, about 90 minutes into the trip was a quick bathroom break. Another 90 minutes brought us to the breakfast stop with lunch a couple hours after that. Drop $2-4 at the roadside restaurant for a plate of rice and dal or noodles or mo: mo:, the local version of dumplings.
Or bring your own snacks for the ride. But food is definitely important. A seven hour journey seems to be the absolute best case scenario, and it is rarely that quick.
The alternate is a $100ish flight between the two cities that takes only a half hour or so in the air. Worth the cost differential? Maybe. Depending on plans in Pokhara it might just mean more time in town rather than saving a day on a trekking adventure. It also might mean a cancelled or delayed flight owing to the weather at either end, so you might end up on the road anyways.
Besides, the bus ride is an adventure all its own.
Tales from our South Asia Adventures
- Six new (to me) airlines booked; more to come!
- An Amazing South Asia Adventure: Introduction
- A love/hate relationship with Singapore
- A Kuala Lumpur visit that was not to be
- DLD 272: Customer service is hard
- Getting sick sucks
- Pulling the rip cord: We’re bailing early on India
- DLD 273: Outsourcing your holiday mess making
- Slowing down: The tourist bus from Kathmandu to Pokhara
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