We left Varanasi at 5 in the morning. I am starting to get tired of these early mornings. We had about 350km to drive, it took over 9.5 hours. In India the speed limit is 40km/hr. And even then you can’t always go that fast. This is a good thing. If you saw the way the people here drive you wouldn’t want to drive much faster than 40. Sometimes our driver would get up to 80, but never faster. There are not really any highways in India, there are roads, mostly paved, not as nicely as we westerns are used to. About twice an hour we come up to a village. You would have to drive slow in these villages because there were chickens and ducks all over the place, cow would be in the middle of the road and people pushing carts, riding bikes and people walking all over the place. It is amazing that this culture is so understanding with bad traffic and congested roads. There is no road rage, lots of horns being honked, but no one getting mad at people for being in the middle of the road. I don’t like driving in this place, and I would never do it myself. We get to the India/Nepal boarder and it is just packed with trucks. And I mean packed with trucks. It takes us about 2 hours to get through the boarder. I already had my visa for Nepal, but some people in our group didn’t and we had to wait for that. After that was taken care of, we were off toLumbini, a one hour drive (26km).
Lumbini is a nice place, it looks a lot like India but a lot more relaxed. It is crazy the difference between Nepal and India. Nepal is so much more relaxed, it is great. There is no one trying to sell you anything you don’t want, the streets are cleaner, everything is just nicer. Lumbini this is the birth place of Buddha. At dinner we find out that there is a road strike. No one can drive on the roads. There was a protest and a couple of buses were burnt, as a result bus drivers had a general road strike because they didn’t want to be part of these political demonstrations. It was nothing really, to the Nepal people this happens all the time.
The next day we wake up early and go see the place where the Buddha was born. This was pretty cool, they had a tree that was the Honorary place of the Buddha birth and then inside a building they had found what they thought was the exact rock and place where Buddha’s mother (the emperor’s wife at the time) gave birth to Buddha. It was neat. After taking some photos and walking around the place we went into a Temple and sat in a prayer session with a Monk. It was very soothing, and interesting. After this we went back to our hotel. You can always tell the how much of a tourist trap a place is by the peole offering services. The bike rickshaw drivers here were crazy. They were asking Rs500/hour (you pay about Rs75/hour anywhere else). Our tour guide talked them down to Rs100/hour, and that wasn’t easy. We did this before entering the site. On the way back (just over an hour) was ran into some problems with our drivers. They were going very slow, trying to get the most our of us. Which wouldn’t work. I even offered to pedal the bike, which the driver accepted. I did most of the riding back to the hotel, and our driver still asked for a tip. Can you believe this. Like I said, you can tell how touristy a place is by how aggressive the locals are.
We were supposed to get onto a bus and drive to Chitwan National park, but there was a road strike and the roads were unsafe to drive on, so instead of moving we waited. Tanya and I had a little nap (because it was an early morning). Around 11:30 we were told that we had to get out of the room and we went to the balcony and waited. It was getting a little late to drive toChitwan so our tour leader was spending a lot of time on phone trying to get us a plane to fly to Chitwan . This took a while, so we, as a group the did the one thing we knew to do to kill time. We drank beer. At about 3pm we were told that there were two vans coming to pick us up and take us to the Airport. We got there and it was a mad rush to get onto the plane. It was great, this was a small rural airport about 1 hour from our hotel (once again 26km), but our driver got us there in good time. It was like the driver was driving like there was no westerns in the truck at all. We got onto the plane, it was small, probably about 20 seats. It was great, get into the air and we were headed forChitwan. Most people were feeling pretty good because all we had been doing for the past three hours was drinking beer.
We arrived at a nice little resort at Chitwan. It was nice, there were big tree all over the place and it was very cool. Very humid as well. It was a jungle. We settled down a little and ate our dinner and went to bed, tomorrow was going to be another early day.