“A good traveller has no fixed plans, and is not intent on arriving.”
After leaving my Indian family behind, I decide to spend a day by the river reading (500 pages, a whole book in one sitting) and camping as I had been craving a bit of alone time with my tent.
Seventy kilometers into my next day an Indian style pick up truck stopped me and asked if I wanted a ride (100km), and as there was a lady sitting upfront, I excepted. We all ended up stopping for the night at a hotel at the side of the road, and I spent yet another night sleeping in a bed with a random Indian lady. The next morning, as I set out again, I was on a real highway, not some little dirt road carved into the cliff. This was the first time in India I have been on a real road, and boy was it ever different! Imagine three school children and a cow to my left, four motorcyclists all starring back at me right in front, a tractor passing a bull pulling a heavy cart to my right, and let’s not forget the noisy honking bus trying to pass us all. That is what a highway in India looks like.
There are literally people everywhere. There are people of all colors, with a multitude of different clothes and looks, walking, cycling, or scootering past in an unorganized fashion. There are roadside stands for food every inch of the way, and trash absolutely everywhere. It is kind of exciting to watch the chaotic world around as you pass on by, there is never a dull moment that’s for sure. I often feel as if I am in an IMAX theater, watching a documentary, since looking around I can’t believe I’m actually living it. Though it’s interesting to take it all in, it’s also a bit stressful trying to cycle through it all. In the busy parts, it’s scary being shoved to the side between buses and motorcyclists while trying to avoid hitting the pedestrians who seem to pay no attention to the steady stream of traffic to their side. There is no time to be cautious though. In order to successfully make it anywhere in a world without rules, you just have to trust that no one will hit you and go for it, even if it goes against everything you have been taught about driving in the west.
Halfway through my day I met a girl scootering, a rare sight here, so I smiled at her and she then invited me to her house for tea (which was actually her finances, she didn’t live there). I was quickly invited to stay the night, so I cut another day short, and stayed in their home. It was by far the nicest house I have been in, with multiple TVs and couches, and a whole family that spoke English. They had guava, mango, and banana trees, proof that I was indeed back at sea level. At night we visited a large outdoor market and cultural festival that happens for ten days every year. People from all parts of India come to display and sell what their area is known for (wood working, silk saris, sequin suits, clay tea cups…) or perform different traditional dances and songs on stage.
Here are a few photos from the market.
Though I was originally set on getting to Nepal by November 1st (in order to do a trek before the snow comes) I have decided that I will just keep slowly meandering my way over there, and get there when I get there. Hopefully though, I will be arriving at the boarder within the next week or two (that being said, you guys are behind so by the time you are reading this I will almost certainly have already crossed into Nepal).