The bus from Kathmandu to Pokhara takes eight hours.
It travels a distance of 126 miles (203 kilometers).
Why does it take eight hours to travel 120 miles?
That’s a simple answer: the roads in Nepal terrible, the drivers are worse, and the whole dance takes place smack in the middle of the most mountainous terrain that exists on planet Earth.
Watching out the window for all eight hours of the trip, I had a front-row ticket to his terror.
I woke up at 5:45 to catch the bus to Pokhara.
My ticket listed a 6:30 report time for a 7:00 departure, and I had no intention of staying in Kathmandu a single day more.
First thing the next day, I bought a bus ticket to Pokhara.
I was totally done with Kathmandu.
The noise, the pollution, the dust and the touts — it was becoming too much. The city was bleak, inhuman, and lonely. I had not met a single other traveler in this city, and my mood was getting blacker by the minute. It was time for a change.
[The featured image will make sense if you read the whole entry. Photo was taken in Feb 2014, two years before I was in Nepal. If you are new to this story, I suggest starting at chapter 1].
When I returned to my room, the gratitude turned to sadness.
The high had faded, and I was alone again.
I sat down at the smoking table, slumping in the chair. I laid the joint down, and looked across the tiny table. A second chair sat empty. No one to smoke with.
I checked my email.
An Austrian company, Runtastic, was trying to recruit me.
We had been going back and forth ever since I lost my job in Bali, sending work samples and writing pieces, discussing the logistics of potentially moving to Austria, obtaining a red-white-red card, learning German. It was an exciting opportunity which had colored the tail end of my trip; an optimistic pallor hanging over a cold and dreary month in Taipei.
Sujan walked me around Kathmandu for a few hours.
As we spent more time together, our chemistry grew and my walls started to drop, a little bit. We went to the monastery, where we spun prayer wheels and spoke of the mixture of Hinduism and Buddhism. Although in the U.S. we are taught the two religions are separate, here, as in many places in Asia, they have intermingled.
“Do not be afraid,” Sujan says when I hesitate to enter a temple. “Is touristic place.”
He shows me an array of butter lamps inside the temple. “Do you have someone to light one for? Good health, good thoughts? Prayers? Love?”
I light a lamp for Holly, and we return to the streets of Kathmandu.