By any means necessary.
Jon and I dropped Dee off at the Guwahati airport after a four hour drive from Shillong. We had a whole afternoon and evening to kill in the city, and were chaperoned by the lovely Ms. Yari and Ms. M.D., bopping around the city and eating at such quality institutions as Pizza Hut. Yari made sure we got on the proper trani with some provisions, and we were on our way.
On the train, about 10 people took up the six sleeper beds next to our two, and there was a great disrespecting of our personal space. Very little sleep ensued, and my face was sat on when the mother tried to climb into her berth. When we arrived in Siliguri (the “jumping off point” for by-land travel to Nepal), our cycle rickshaw driver told us that he couldn’t take us downtown — he turned around at the sight of some men with signs — and offered to take us to a hotel. Assuming he just wanted to get some sort of commission, we went back to the train station and learned from the station master that Siliguri transportation was in fact on strike, meaning no taxi, rickshaw, bus, etc., would go into or out of downtown. It appeared that Jon and I would be trapped for upwards of two days without even the possibility of getting to Darjeeling, just 80 kms north.
Instead, we found a taxi driver who was willing to take the “back route” — i.e., drive us to the Bangladesh border in the east and then back to Nepal — for an enormous sum of money. Without much other choice, we dished out the cash and went through a pretty scenic drive of upper West Bengal, eventually arriving at the Indian-Nepali border with little trouble except to our bank accounts. We were feeling pretty good and ate peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwiches by the side of a tea plantation before walking over the two kilometer bridge to Nepal.
Unfortunately, we learned when we got to the other side that the flooding in Nepal and northeastern India in August made the road between Kakarbhitta and Kathmandu impassible. We had three options:
- Take a 24 hour plus bus back through India and reenter at another border crossing
- Take a bus from Kakarbhitta to the downed bridge, take a boat across the river, walk three hours to the next town, take another bus, and then take another bus to Kathmandu
Understand that Jon and I are pretty wonky at this point from lack of sleep and control over our lives. We could either drop $300 on a plane ticket, or miss seeing Nepal and Jenn. After little deliberation, we chose the former.
We got to see Everest from the plane. So, it was worth it 🙂