Trip Start Sep 05, 2006
90Trip End Ongoing
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I grew accustomed to the friendliness of the Ghorka people in and around Darjeling, and returning to Siliguri, I was promptly ripped off by an ice cream man, accosted by a drive by priest, and overcharged for my onward jeep ride to the border.
Snapping back into travel/tourist mode I crossed on foot confidently across a bridge that to put me in Karkarbhitta, officially back in Nepal. Midway across, I was approached by an Indian woman coming the opposite direction
In fact, Easten Nepal was two days into a transit strike after a Korean national was killed falling off the roof of a local bus. The family sued the bus company for a ridiculous amount of money which spawned disagreements that managed to cripple the entire transport industry in Eastern Nepal.
The next four days I was stuck in Karkarbhitta with a group of 6 or 7 other travelers determined to wait out the strike rather than purchase flights at 4 times the price of the ticket an Indian or Nepali citizen would pay. We came at it from every possible angle. We tried bribing the police, paying a driver to take us under the cover of night, confronting the military, having meetings with the local transport union chief. None of this worked. We thought that Nepals dependence on tourist dollars to fuel its economy, we would have some leverage with local government
The next four days were spent drinking copious amounts of chai and watching the occasional mob beating of a Nepali who had not respected the strike and had attempted to travel by road.
Finally making it to Kathmandu after waiting out the 6 day strike, all shops were closed. It was National Buddha Day. The following day...a strike in Kathmandu erupted due to still rising fuel prices. Nepalis are known for their ability to organize large strikes in record time. I spent my first week back in Nepal with my hands tied behind my back, unable to do much more than make a single phone call. The day of the Kathmandu strike, due to pick up my sister at the airport, I managed to hitch a ride on an airport shuttle bus at one of the posh Kathnamdu hotels. The bus promptly broke down in the parking lot...
Things worked out as the always do. My sister and I had a wonderful trek into the Annapurna. We both felt like we could have spent a lot more time there, so much about that place is perfect.