Kathmandu, March, 2018: The Prithivi highway for $7 or fly for $87, That’s the choice once faces when travelling to and from Pokhara. I chose the tourist bus for $7, a decision I came to regret. Here’s how the story unfolds….
7 am at the tourist bus park in Pokhara and the place is a frenzy of activity. It’s the height of the spring tourist season as trekkers and natives head back to Kathmandu. Despite this, our bus isn’t full, well not yet anyway. So, subject to pickups on route I could be in for a row to myself which is a great bonus on a long journey like this one I’m about to embark upon – 8 to 9 hours!
It’s a journey not for the faint of heart that’s for sure I’ve done this several times and just close my eyes, but first timers may arrive at their destination feeling somewhat thankful to have survived! The road is narrow compared to developed nations like Switzerland and Austria. The surface at best rather bumpy, at worst it’s simply nonexistent as blacktop is replaced by dirt top. Driving standards are dubious to say the least – risky manoeuvres are the norm around here such as overtaking on corners with just an inch or 2 between vehicles. On the positive side, theses drivers are skilled at getting their passengers at least to the first meal stop – breakfast.
Holdups, not uncommon on the Prithivi Highway, but so early in the journey doesn’t bode well. Just after the breakfast stop and it all grinds to a halt. An excellent opportunity for susu, a photo of the hills and another stretch of the legs. And then that sinking feeling when realises the bus has departed. Yes, without any warning the bus has left the scene minus 2 of its passengers. Oh dear, this isn’t a good situation to be in, with passport and money still on the bus doubtful I’ll ever see them again…..