Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Getting to Bardiya National Park, Western Nepal

For the second time this trip, we bought tickets for what we thought was a tourist bus, only to learn upon arrival at the bus station (i.e. dirt parking lot full of buses and tea stalls) that it was, in fact, a local death-trap bus. (I'm not exaggerating, google "bus crash Nepal" if you deem to doubt.)

Sister2 and I looked at one another, skeptical. Should we do this? Or should we cut our losses and walk away? We want to get to Bardiya National Park, in FAR western Nepal, because we've been told that it's tiger season and we're almost guaranteed to see tigers and rhinoceros in the wild.

So we weighed the pros and cons as locals pushed past us onto the bus... Death trap bus? But tigers. No a/c, no reclining seats? But tigers. Sixteen hours? Rhinos too!? This is going to be incredibly miserable? RHINOS AND TIGERS!

Needless to say, here we sit, bracing ourselves around hairpin turns on rocky pot-holed roads through the mountains at break-neck speed, perched on a bus that may have been built in the '70s and has absolutely no suspension. The horn sounds constantly as we careen around curves, warning (?) anyone coming around the other way.

In the first three hours we got a major flat (I could hear the sharp hisssss of deflating dreams). But instead of stopping, the solution was for everyone to get back on the bus QUICK to speed to the next town (so we could fix it before it completely deflated? I have no idea...the logic on that one is beyond me). [Oh and that happened two more times throughout the night.]

On the bus with us is a young Nepali  visiting home from university in Canada, who gleefully pointed out, "When I saw you two I was so surprised! I thought, wow! Caucasians?! That is unexpected on this bus!"

Yup, two of these things are not like the others. Which is fine, except that these two things are praying particularly HARD that ourselves, the bus, and everyone on it, reaches Bardiya in one piece.


At 5am were shaken awake and practically throw off the bus, "Abachar Town! Go now please! Abachar NOW!" Dazed and half-asleep we jumped off of the slowed (but still moving) vehicle. Alright here we are.

The trekker who recommended this trip to us said that there would be people waiting at the bus station to take you to their guest houses, but since we arrived 5 am on a local bus, we had our doubts...

Turns out (God bless desperate guest house proprietors) that part was 100% true! Within 5 minutes of being so rudely awoken, we were on the back of a kid's motor bike (him, Sister2, me, backpack) puttsing our way along a dirt road to his family's guest house. A little questionable...but actually not. 

We arrived 30 minutes (!) later at a very nice "resort" of cottages that is, in fact, Lonely Planet-listed. He made us "welcome tea" and we sat outside amidst papaya trees learning about him (just graduated high school, works for his aunt and uncle), about the park, hotel, and all the animals we can see.

So we're here! And staying until we see tigers and rhinos because there is no way that 16-hour transportation experience is ok otherwise!