Raxaul to Raj Path

Train at Muzafrapur

Narrow Gauge Train

The tramp in the picture is ME

We head off back towards to Motahari then turn east, which we are told is our best chance of getting though. This road is running west to east, parallel with the India Nepal border so everytime we meet a road heading north, we turn left. Every road seems to be flooded with deep water flowing over it and as it still looks like more rain to come, so I am very reluctant to push on. At about the 5th attempt, we get further than before, we are now 60 - 80 miles east of the Raxaul border crossing and not more than 20 miles from the border. We still encouter water over the road but its not so deep, the fear is it will rise behind us cutting off our escape should it be flooded ahead. Another hour on and we must be near the border, but by now the road is very narrow, there is no other traffic and I suspect we are driving into a dead end. Suddenly a small village appears, When asked for "Nepal" the locals point ahead. The village street is so narrow that road side traders are having to move their baskets of produce so we can squeeze through. Round the next corner and a small string across the road marks the Indian Nepalese border. The border police could not have been more surprised if George Bush himself had turned up! This border post was remote and by the look of it rarely used. We passed through the Indian side and while we were parked at the Nepalese side, two more overland buses appeared, both had found the same route. This road would take us to the east west road, through Janakpur and back to the Nepalese side of the original border crossing near Birganj.

Overland buses at Nepal border

By the time we got clear of the customs post it was starting to get dark. The other buses were going to drive in the dark to Birganj, but I thought that was risky as the rain could have damaged the road making it dangerous at night. We camped just off the road and cooked tea as storm clouds brewed over head. It was going to be a hot sticky night. Not long after turning in, the heavens opened. I woke about 1am to find myself and Jos lying in about 6 inches of water, It was hot and although unpleasent I couldn't be bothered to move so we just went back to sleep. In the morning we found all the passengers huddled in the bus having spent an uncomfortable night trying to sleep sitting upright. The sun was up and a hot cup of tea soon cheered everyone up. We could with luck be in Kathmandu tonight and the realisation that their journey was nearing its end was the subject of conversation. Not long after getting going, we came across the two other buses. They had decided not to risk it after all, as the road was narrow and in poor condition. Soon the new east west highway appeared and we turned left heading for Birganj. This road was new and for the the first time in days, we were able to travel at a resonable speed. There it was the sign we had been looking for. At the junction of the Raj Path a sign said left to Birganj 40kms right to Kathmandu 93kms. You would be thinking only 93 k's to go, they will be there in 1 1/2 hours. Not so, this road goes up and down hills, there is bearly more than 100 meters of straight road in that 93 k's. We are likely to average about 12kms per hour, either behind slow vehicles or trying not to cook the brakes on the down hill runs.

Raj Path twisting its way to Kathmandu

Our first glimpse of the Himalayas

Looking back towards India

It is hard to describe this trip up the Raj Path. It was the first road built into Nepal in 1953. Before that time you could not drive into Nepal, it was cut off from the outside world. The road was constructed by the Indian Government using Steam Traction Engine, which could still be seen in Kathmandu in the mid 70's. In 1973 the road had been in place for 20 years but much of Nepal was still very primitive and the natives often wander into the road not realising the danger. Within 1 hour my hands are sore and sweaty with pulling the wheel first one way, then the next. Jos was standing there with talcum powder and on every little straight section she would powder my hands to reduce the friction and allow the wheel to slide without it burning my hands. You lose count of how many times you go up, up, up, only to down, down, down, into the next valley. Round every corner you're expecting an Indian lorry or truck to come whizzing round on my side of the road with horn blaring. Buses with large fish hanging from the wing mirrors are delivering not just passengers but tonights fish dinner fresh from the Ganges. Every now and again we see the "Ropeway" that was built in 1964 between Hetuda and Kathmandu by the American's, its little cradles slowly making the journey up and down. We stop for tea regularly to give the brakes time to cool and my hands a rest. At luch time I have a very nice chicken curry, now I am a vegetarian but no problem, about a dozen of us ate the curry but no one found any chicken. Not sure whether the curry was cooked by a chicken or one watched it being cooked, but there wasn't any chicken in it. At the top of each pass you could feel a chill in the air, while in the valley floor the air was thick and humid.

Traction Engines used to Build the Raj Path

The Himalyan peaks are now visable as we crest each hill. Everyone is looking for Everest but from this approach it does not appear to be the highest mountain. The string of peaks stretch for over 1500kms from Pakistan in the west to Sikkim in the east and you know you looking at the rooftop of the world. Without really noticing it we are on the slow decent into the Kathmandu valley and the reality that the trip of a lifetime is fast coming to an end.
The trip continued
An overland journey to India following the India overland trail through Belgium, Germany, Austria Yugoslavia, Greece, Turkey, Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan, India, & Nepal. Visting sites of Dubrovnic, Split, Kotor, Athens, Kerimoti, Istanbul, Galipolli, Troy, Delphi, Efes, Goreme, Nemrut, Tehran, Esphan, Persepolis, Shiraz, Kerman, Bam, Quetta, Kandahar, Kabul, Bamian Valley, Kyhber Pass, Indus river, Lahore, Punjab, Amritsar, Kashmir, Delhi, Agra, Taj Mahal, Vanaris, Patna, Raj Path, Kathmandu, Himalyas. All this undertaken in a 20 year old Asian Greyhound, Swagman Tours, LS Bristol bus. This Indiaoverland company was held together by Norm Harris an expatriate Aussie living in Windsor. With drivers like Bob Ashford, Geoff Lawrence, Clive Parker, Dave Watt, Ronnie Martin, John Witchard, Ken Mcdonald, Derek Amey & couriers Fred Fisher, Jos Livingstone, Peter Swift, Kieren Smith & mechanics Gordon Hammond, Graham Libby, Pomme John & Rastas just to name a few.