Friday, August 29, 2008

Subcontinental Busses

Just another near miss on Nepal's main highway

Busses in India and Nepal have a distinct homemade aura; the line of rusted spot welds gradually popping to reveal the slick tyres below may be awfully crooked, but they’ve got that same charm that comes with poorly produced handmade souvenirs. Not that this charm is a good thing, but it’s a slight comfort to know that if the end should come around the next blind, crumbling cliff edge, the carriage of my death will have been crafted by the hand of man, rather than a soulless robot in a bus factory.

Nepali safety advisory

Not that I expect the end any time soon. The fact that these vehicles are in such a state of ill-tuned disrepair, along with the woeful state of the roads, along fact that these roads are thick with other, similarly feeble vehicles, means that the ‘Bus Pilots’, as they are known here, rarely get the chance to push their ‘ships’ – I guess they call them that – into the realm of third gear.

Our only bus crash - fortunately we were stationary

So, for the most part, we trundle along through the countryside at a pleasant pace, with the horn taped down in urgent warning should another bus/motorbike/monkey attempt to navigate the same blind bend we’re currently edging around. Compared to the death defiance and we performed daily a year ago in Ecuador, it’s all rather serene, albeit with the odd breathtaking precipitous manoeuvre, just to remind us that, perhaps, we should have taken the train.

The train has more leg room

and beds

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