23 January 2018: Most of the Nepali buses are old Indian Tata buses. Our trip from Chitwan National Park to Kathmandu should have taken 6 hours to complete the 170km journey and we even laid bets with each other about arrival times. Although the first hour of the journey went well, the next section to Mugling was dire – the road was full of roadworks and we took about 3 hours to go 40km. And this is the main road into the Kathmandu Valley.
Having finally successfully negotiated this stretch, we then took about 7 hours to travel 100 km because of the build up of traffic into Kathmandu. Even our hotel was surprised by this lack of progress: they had offered us a free pick up from the bus station and called us at about 15.00 to ask us where we were. We told them we were about 30km outside of Kathmandu and would ring again when we were nearer the bus station. However, concerned that they hadn’t heard from us, they rang again 3 hours later to check they hadn’t missed our call: not at all, we were still just stuck in traffic having only moved about 20km in the interim. Painful!
The traffic reached its peak when we were in Kathmandu and only about 3km from our hotel’s location (Thamel). Here we were completely grid locked: even the ubiquitous motor bikes couldn’t move. And a helpless traffic cop in the middle seemed to have no clue how to take control and resolve the situation! At this point, the 2 or 3 other Western tourists on the bus wanted to get off so they could walk. However, because the road was so full of traffic, opening the bus door might have hit a motorcyclist so the driver wouldn’t do it. In short, we were all prisoners of Tata until finally released after 11 hours!