Wednesday, April 1, 2009

13-19 March – Kathmandu to Chennai

We left Kathmandu and headed south across the mountains. The road had been blocked by a landslide, so we managed to drive through the ravine and across the river in order to circumference the blocked section of the road. It was very challenging driving. Nina walked ahead to scout the river bottom and the position of holes and large boulders. After an hour we were through and could continue towards India.
Our luck did not last very long however. A 30 km section of the main road between Kathmandu and India was completely blocked, with one massive road block every kilometer. Thousands of young, idle, frustrated, angry men were manning the barricades and refused to let trucks, buses or cars pass. This anarchy started nine days ago and the authorities did nothing to stop the madness. The whole situation felt very threatening. We smiled, waved, and showed that we had children in the car. Miraculously, we were allowed to pass through the road blocks, one after the other. Now we know how Moses must have felt when the Red Sea suddenly parted to offer him and his followers a passage through an impossible terrain.
We arrived safely to India, but the Indian Immigration had gone home nine days ago. Nobody was passing the border anyway. We were the first tourists passing this main border since anarchy started in Nepal nine days ago. So, we entered India without entry stamps and decided to worry about that later.

We had a long way to go through India. We stopped in Bodhgaya to see where Prince Siddhartha Gautama meditated his way to Nirvana some 26 centuries ago. Pilgrims, beggars and hawkers were swarming around the temple area.
Driving through India on a so called highway is a truly interesting experience. We actually managed to drive all the 2626 km to Chennai without a single accident. Considering all the goats, cows, pedestrians, bicycles, rickshaws and beggars on the highway, this is quite a miracle. And considering all the parked trucks, crazy speeding buses, and the many vehicles driving in the wrong direction on the highway, it is more than a miracle. We suppose that this is what a highway experience is like when you are in a country where most people cannot wait until they get a chance to be reincarnated...

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