On our last day in Tibet, we leave the village of Zhangmu at 9 am to drive to the border of Nepal. Approaching to the border, a line of colorful trucks parked on the side of the road goes on and on for some kilometers. They are waiting for some days to cross the border with Chinese goods for Nepal. There are so many that after some minutes we finally decide to start recording a sample video.
Once at the frontier there aren’t too many people (most of them Chinese) and the process is very easy, so we are saying goodbye to our Tibetan guide in no time. As we step out, a group of drivers are offering rides to Kathmandu. In Nepal English is widely spoken—mostly by young people—remnants of the English influence in the country. Nepal is ranked among the poorest countries in the world, yet they speak English so much better than we do in Spain, France, Portugal or Greece! This makes communication so much easier with locals, which we actually enjoy very much because Nepali people are so friendly!
The ride options are a private ride with a touristic tour included for 100 USD or be packed in a jeep with another 8 people to drastically reduce the cost to 10 USD per person. The second option is the winner! Fun, fun.
Our new acquired driver walks us all to the other side of the bridge, we traverse a rusty gate and walk through a dirt road full of people and small shops. We are then directed to a small office to have our visas expedited on the spot. If we had not been guided, we could have easily missed that tiny office among the chaos and could have entered Nepal illegally (and unintentionally!).
Once we’re ready, our bags are placed on top of the jeep and we crowd together inside. The journey starts driving through the left on the sole road among simple, small and tight houses and stores, terrace plantations and waterfalls; we avoid hens, goats, cows and people carrying huge loads on their backs, children gathering water from small brooks, women washing clothes and men chatting casually. Everything is colorful and chaotic, but it has its enchantment.
We are happy to ride a 4WD; the “road” is very bumpy. At some point, our driver asks us to close all windows and as soon as we wonder why, we find out the answer: we are entering a sand, dusty and mega-bumpy section of the road that goes quickly up. In the last rain season, a huge landslide occurred and several hundreds of meters were covered in rocks, destroying everything in their path including the road. It is shocking to witness the aftermath and we can not help but feel sorry for all the lives that might have been lost. Also, a question arises: how the hell do those trucks in the border drive through here??
A small sample can be seen here:
As we approach the first cities, the air becomes polluted and trees are replaced by buildings and vehicles, honks and dust. When we arrive to Kathmandu, we go in search of a hotel in Thamel, the touristic hub of the capital.