Three buses, 12 hours and almost set upon by bandits!
Jan 10, 2009
• Three buses and almost set upon a buch of bandits!
I am actually looking forward to getting back to India! I awake earlier, negotiate a price with the rickshaw driver and head five kms to the boarder.
He drops me off and the Nepalese are charming and the change 20USD to Indian Rupees at a good rate. Then a small hike to the Indian border, Raxaul and I feel the different. They too are charming and I buy the Immigration Officers a cup of tea and then take a rickshaw to the bus stand.
Are, Indian money which I am used to. It’s supposed to be a five hour ride (did the LP lie again as the book says 8 hours). We head off and there’s a whitey on board. She doesn’t acknowledge me and seems a tad aloof - her loss – my gain.
This is the very worse bus ride I have ever taken! The road is essentially gravel for 150kms and twice there are young men standing in the road with clubs and machetes. The driver doesn’t stop and speeds up. I check the LP and apparently this is the poorest state in India and prone to muggings from bandits.
But we say through with clubs waving and we stop in a god forsaken town, don’t ask me to pronounce or spell it, and we change buses. And then to Patna and the question arises, “Do I stay or do I continue to Gaya”.
One look at Patna is enough to turn Jesus off so I find the bus for Gaya. It’s now 4:00pm but the next bus is not to 5:00pm. Oh well, there sis nothing like walking around a dirty, grungy bus station (I use the term bus station loosely), by some oranges, water and a chai from a lovely looking little eight year old boy sitting atop the stand in a lotus position smiling his head off. The tea is three Rupees and I give him five on the condition that I want to take his picture (This of course is done in mime and my days of playing charade’s comes in handy). His face changes to be a very, very serious face. They all do this; one actually took his shirt off and flexed his muscles! Anyway, I hold the camera to the side and fake it and he smiles and I get a good shot.
As I stand there contemplating my navel, eating and orange, watching people watching me the female on the bus comes over. I had tried to tell her earlier that to get to Bodhgaya she had to go to Gaya first and then take a taxi but she wasn’t listening to me.
Anyway she starts talking and realize that she is pretty up-tight. Anna is Spanish and a social worker in Calcutta – ah youth! Anyway I watch her and see she is a tad tense and is a bit spacey. We chat a bit and she asks me this and that and will we get to Gaya in time to get to Bodhgaya and I ask myself, “How the hell did you get this far lady”. As we chat we draw a crowd of about thirty and they just stare and stare at us as if we are alien’s- guess we are.
We set off and I loan her my LP to find accommodation and we chat and as she is been traveling now for almost 24 hours she falls asleep for an hour or so. She wakes up and she looks terrible but thanks to Barb Martel I don’t comment but say, “Wow, you must be pretty tired”.
We are about one km out of Gaya and we come to a traffic jam. No one wants to give way so consequently the road is blocked. There is a driver who does have a brain and he reverses so after about thirty minutes we make it to Gaya at 9:00pm.
I apparently have taken Anna under my wing so we head to the hotel of choice. A auto-rickshaw and I realize that the bus arrived at the southern end of the city, not the north for there is the train station – oh well.
We make it to the hotel and no single rooms so Anna asks if we can share. Oh my, a $4 room with an attractive 25 year old! Anna goes and showers and I head out back for a beer but alas, no beer after 10:00pm for I am in Hindu territory!
It’s so funny, there are little shrines everywhere and Hindu’s doing their prayers and I am 10 miles from one of the holiest places in the world – Bodhgaya, equivalent to Jerusalem. But one wouldn’t think so as its push and shove and pray for salvation.