Our time in India came to an end. Though the country captivated us in a way no other place has, we were feeling exhausted, beaten down and outright sacked like only India can do. It was time to leave behind our fickle friend.
Our ride to the border from Darjeeling offered some of the most spectacular scenery we’d seen in the the country. We bounced along the windy roads past lush, verdant tea plantations cascading down the mountainsides while Bollywood classics blared from our taxi. We enjoyed our last chai masala (India’s classic spicy, sweet, milky tea), took our final whiff of billowing smoke from auto-rickshaws and waved goodbye to the tense and awkward stares. Goodbye, India, we were bound for Nepal.There’s something romantic about crossing a border on foot. In one single step you leave behind a country and people, and welcome yourself into a whole new world. Entering Nepal was just that. After paying our $20 visa fee and signing a few documents, we closed the chapter on our India adventure. We were now entering the land of snow peaks, Sherpas, monasteries and yaks, on the brink of uncovering the magic and mystery of the tiny mountain nation.
Our first stop in Nepal was Kathmandu, the country’s capital and largest city. We had a treacherous 17 hour bus ride ahead of us that would wind us up, down and around the world’s highest mountain range. After hearing rumors that the foothills of these mountains were more like graveyards for the bus carcasses that didn’t succeed in making the trip, I told Ryan I had a higher price on my life. We decided to book a flight.Getting to Kathmandu by plane, however, proved to be nearly as much as an adventure. The airport was more dilapidated shack than transportation hub and consisted of no more than two desks and a set of wooden benches. Were we really putting our lives in the hands of the people who ran this silly excuse for an airport?
Things got sketchier. Our flight was booked with reputable Buddha Airlines, but we were directed to Yeti Airlines to pick up our boarding passes. No explanation was given and we couldn’t seem to get any answers. All we knew is we would be boarding a 16 passenger plane on an airline we hadn’t heard of.As our departure time got pushed back several hours, we started to unravel a few pieces of the puzzle. We still didn’t know why we were on another airline, but what we did find out is that they had bumped a couple of Nepalis off the flight to get us on. Because Nepalis pay one-third of the price for airline tickets, getting our ‘deep’ Western pockets on this flight meant someone was making out big. We were feeling more like cattle being herded around but suppose it could have been worse. Some poor Nepalis who had paid their full fare certainly weren’t getting to Kathmandu today.
Our flight did finally depart, and we sat back and enjoyed the bumpy ride over the majestic Himalayas to Kathmandu. India it was not, but the adventure was far from over.