Nepal. On the way to Everest during the rainy season. Part 1. Illegals across the border. Kathmandu. Start

Passage from India to Nepal

My journey to Nepal began in India . The fact is that Nepal, as in a vice, is sandwiched between Chinese Tibet and India, which is closed to single travelers. Therefore, I did not think for a long time about where to start my journey. But I didn’t plan to stay in India, but that’s how I did it. I had to shift the departure time by three months, from April to the end of June. This greatly influenced what I had to see and overcome in the country of the highest mountains.

Having recovered in April, I would surely have been in the most tourist season. I cannot say that this is the most beautiful time of the year in Nepal, but it is the most accessible. The weather pleases travel lovers, many roads are open and accessible, and the routes themselves are much safer. On the other hand, the most touristy areas, such as the vicinity of Everest, resemble anthills. Thousands of tourists flock to these places in order not to miss the opportunity to enjoy the views of the highest mountains on our planet. The trails are packed and people are everywhere, and prices are skyrocketing to the tops of these mountains. If I went in April, it would be a completely different story.

I was destined to start this journey shortly before my birthday, and I made it my goal to celebrate it at the very foot of Mount Everest, in the lower base camp. I had time, but not only that. Immunity was decimated by another poisoning, after which I even ended up straight from the train to the hospital. And on that train, my phone was stolen, taking advantage of the fact that I was not feeling well. So I had to buy a new phone, which was half the budget for Nepal, otherwise I wouldn’t have a camera with me at all. It seemed like something almost unrealistic – from 15,000 rubles to go to the base camp of Everestif you consider that of this money 3600 are a visa and 5500 are a permit (permission to stay in a national park) with a tourist book (for any walking routes in Nepal), and I had to spend 3 weeks in Nepal. That is, about 6 thousand rubles for food, overnight stays and transport for 21 days in a foreign country, in one of the most expensive of its regions .

This adventure was not easy to really make up your mind. When you have so little, and the goal is so far and inaccessible, the mind firmly says – throw this venture to hell, while safe, healthy and has not surrounded yourself with a ton of difficult problems, but something like an awl in the ass pushes you, no matter what to go this way. So, contrary to common sense, I collected all the necessary things that I could get (* tur. Gas burner remained lying in a closed apartment in the city of Delhi in India), left everything unnecessary (at that time it was a bunch of summer things and various trinkets occupying space in the backpack and betraying it not a bad weight). On June 22nd I hitchhiked to the border with Nepal.

On the first day of the journey, everything was fine: food, fellow travelers, gorgeous weather, fresh air, and all this after the stuffiness and heat of summer Delhi. On the highway I chose, interesting and friendly drivers gave me a lift one after another. I even managed to ride with a breeze in the cab of one of the cars, in the company of a dozen Indians, and a couple of times to have a free snack in roadside Indian restaurants. The day passed quickly, and at the end of it I found myself on the other side of the river from one of the most famous cities in India – Varanasi. Here, I pitched my tent, far from busy roads, and spent the night in this beautiful place, opposite the city sparkling in the night, behind the Ganges river, sacred for the Hindus.

At 5 in the morning I was already on my feet, but before I had time to pack up the tent and put it in my backpack, it started to rain. It drizzled for about an hour, while I got out to the road, after which it burst into a real Indian downpour, turning the whole area into a swamp, and did not even think about ending. I had to find a place to wait it out. Small village roads became impassable and turned into mud or disappeared under water.

The rain did not stop until two o’clock in the afternoon. At this time, I seriously thought about whether this trip would work for me, because these rains are not only in India, and in Nepal too, because there is the rainy season. I confess that at some point I even decided to cancel this whole venture and celebrate my birthday elsewhere. I imagined rain of the same force, but already in the mountains, making the paths slippery and insanely dangerous. And it would not be this warm summer rain, but a cold rain with wind, chilling to the bone. Then I realized even more what I have to face. Once again, I made a decision that didn’t get any easier. If the rain stopped a little later, perhaps I would never have made it to Nepal, having decided to celebrate DR somewhere on GOA. Just think, for the whole day then I drove some 50 km to the border, with all these rains and heavy thoughts about how, where and whether to go at all. One more day’s journey and another rain awaited me to the border, but it could no longer influence my decision.

I can’t help but note that the real India, which I expected to see, was located right here, in the northern part of the country. What I once saw in pictures, photographs, what was remembered from stories, for example, the story of Mowgli, everything was there. Here they really believed in the reality of this story and in the fact that it could have happened somewhere in these parts. Small one-story houses and huts, endless jungles with fruit trees, rice fields, kids playing fancy games, adults working in the fields and elephants. I don’t know how it happened, but having traveled around most of India, I met elephants only here. It was exactly the atmosphere of India that I really wanted to plunge into, and there was not a single extra day for it.

I arrived at the border town of Raksaul. The town is small, especially by the standards of India, inconspicuous, such as thousands of other non-tourist towns and villages that are dotted with India. The border between countries is really invisible. If I had not been hailed by one of the border post workers, whose eyes are on foreigners, I would have gone to Nepal without ever finding the house with the border guard’s office. The fact is that Nepalese, like Indians, can cross the border without hindrance, even without showing their passport. There are no barriers, no posters, they say, welcome to another country.

In any case, I needed to get a visa to get permission to go to the Everest region. In the end, it turned out to be difficult to do. On the Nepalese side, you need to pay for a visa, moreover, pay in dollars and only by them. I didn’t have them, first of all, because I had already lived in India for 4 months and I didn’t need them, and secondly, as I didn’t expect, you cannot pay in the local currency of both countries. The whole thing was complicated by the fact that I had a double visa, that is, the opportunity to leave India once and return back. In fact, I was already in neutral territory without the right to go one way or another and dollars to pay for a visa. The first attempt to resolve the situation was to agree with the Nepalese side that they would let them in for local money, and they would exchange them for dollars themselves. They refused even from 150% of the cost of the visa. The second attempt was to return to the Indian town, with the permission of the border guards on parole, so that he could exchange 40 bucks from the local money changers. And the most surprising thing, not that they let me in without question, but that there were no dollars in the whole town, neither dozens of money changers, neither in banks, nor in the Western Union department (they usually change, but this time the guy with the bucks left in Kathmandu). In general, an ambush. Moreover, if you wait, and it was Friday, then at least a couple of days and not the fact that the money will be. There was another option to wait for other tourists with bucks and negotiate with them, but again, this is a place on the outskirts, where there are almost no tourists, and even more so with extra cash dollars. not that they let me in without question, but that there were no dollars in the whole town, neither dozens of money changers, neither in banks, nor in the western union department (they usually change, but this time the guy with the bucks left for Kathmandu). In general, an ambush. Moreover, if you wait, and it was Friday, then at least a couple of days and not the fact that the money will be. There was another option to wait for other tourists with bucks and agree with them, but again, this is a place on the outskirts, where there are almost no tourists, and even more so with extra cash dollars. not that they let me in without question, but that there were no dollars in the whole town, neither dozens of money changers, neither in banks, nor in the western union department (they usually change, but this time the guy with the bucks left for Kathmandu). In general, an ambush. Moreover, if you wait, and it was Friday, then at least a couple of days and not the fact that the money will be. There was another option to wait for other tourists with bucks and negotiate with them, but again, this is a place on the outskirts, where there are almost no tourists, and even more so with extra cash dollars.

In the end, after all these runs in search of dollars, I just took a backpack, crossed the border, stopped the truck to Kathmandu and left. It was not according to the rules, it was very risky, but this was the only way I could have time for my birthday at the base camp. No one stopped me or asked about anything. Even when I turned to the police station in Kathmandu itself, saying that I am like this here without a visa and I need it, they calmly sent me to the address in the consular department, where they made me a visa, though one and a half times more expensive than at the border, for 60 $. Now I could quite formally issue a permit and a tracking book.

Border with Nepal Passed!

Hitchhiking in Nepal is no different from hitchhiking in India – they pick up quickly, very sociable and kind drivers. Another difference from Russian ones is that many truck drivers are very young guys, from 18 to 30 years old. Well, besides trucks, it is easy to stop motorcyclists in Nepal, at your own peril and risk. They are not far away, but they are very helpful in getting out of the cities onto the highway. On the way I met many police posts, but none of them asked for documents, so I got to Kathmandu without hindrance, but it was scary.

After I figured out the visa, I flopped to have a bite to eat in a small cafe, which was advised by the locals, to wrap up a huge portion of noodles with chicken for 50 rubles. With a permit, I did not have time that day and fell to sleep in a tent, somewhere in the center of Kathmandu. That was how broke it was to look for a listing or a hostel. And I found a quiet, dry place under the roof and the night rain did not bother me too much.

Dalbat
Breakfast

In the morning, at 7 o’clock, I was already standing at the Tourist Center, which distributes information, permits and tour books for trekking in Nepal. Basically, simply, collecting money for the benefit of a country that lives off tourism. It took a couple of hours to fill out the documents. I could have done it in 15 minutes, but I had bad English, I came at the wrong time and was very carried away with the description of the routes. I got out of the city late, after 12 noon, because in Kathmandu there is an eternal traffic jam and walking as quickly as in transport. Had a snack before going out and unsubscribe home about the start of the hike in the mountains, while there was a good internet connection. Then I thought for a long time whether it was worth printing an article with a route and a map, and I happily scored on this matter. I did the right thing, the terrain is trampled down and it is difficult to get lost there, however, a couple of times I did it.

Despite the relatively short distance to Jiri, I never made it that day. Roads in Nepal are mountainous, in some places almost deserted, littered and flooded with streams. For the most part, I was driven by guys on motorcycles. The trucks also passed, but most of them were in a different direction: some to China and some to India. There was also one bus, it seemed like the ticket was not at all expensive, but the money was really close and I was in no hurry to part with them.

In the evening, I came across a group of young guys, they helped me with an overnight stay and arranged for a small farm. The tent could have been thrown, but it was drizzling with rain, and that would have meant getting it wet once again, and it would have taken too much time to dry. But mosquitoes ate me well, and there were a lot of them here. All this is 20 km from the village of Jiri.

In the morning a truck threw me to the place. One of the passengers looked like Morgan Freeman, like a twin brother. It was really amusing, I wonder if he knew this actor. Nepalese, like Indians, for the most part, love and appreciate domestic films, and the Hollywood films they watch can be counted on one hand. At the same time, Nepalese films are just very reminiscent of Soviet ones: hackneyed themes about love, war, dances and songs under nat. muses. Tools and banal morals.

And I had to prepare the most important part of the preparation – to stock up on the rest of the money with food, so much so that it would be enough for the way from Jiri to Lukla. The locals unanimously said that it was 5-6 days of travel, even for them. My diet turned out to be meager and not only because of the money, the choice was extremely limited, because the village is small, the prices are higher than in Kathmandu by 10-20%. I was also limited by the volume and weight of the backpack – 60 liters, and carrying a lot of weight in the mountains is hell. He stuffed 25 scourge noodles, cookies of various colors, candy, 12 pieces of dried coconuts, some vegetables for the first snack. It was also taken into account that locals would be helping somewhere. In general, the backpack was completely full and weighed somewhere over 20kg.

The beginning of the hiking route from Jiri

From the very beginning of the route, tin begins, this is a climb with a full backpack along a clay path, after the rain it slides murderously. At that moment, once again, my head was spinning – maybe well, it’s before it’s too late! This thought grew stronger all day long. But another thought prompted me, if I go through at least a walking day, we’ll see if I can or not. I was also lucky, and I met a tourist, a little guy. You can’t tell by him that he is a seasoned hiker. He said that it took him 4 days on the way from Jiri to Lukla, and in total it took him 20 days to go there and back. Nothing was more inspiring than knowing that it was possible in 20 days round trip for an unprepared pedestrian! I was very worried about the timing then. This gave me strength and I began to fall forward like an elk. True, in the evening I met a guy with a girl, they looked like fitness trainers – tall, pumped up, muscular, they looked 25-27 years old. And they gave up! They said that they also expected to pass in 20 days (because the visa is for 30 days, minus organizational moments), but too damp, dirty and difficult. So that’s it! It would seem that the handles should go down, because the athletes could not, but who are you, kicking poop, and sitting around for guests in India for 4 months. But no, because that simple guy passed, and then it became really interesting, what am I worth! This is such an opportunity, because in case of success, I will not only mark the DR near Everest, but I will also know that foreign athletes could not, and I dragged! This motivation could not be better! that we also expected to pass in 20 days (because the visa is for 30 days, minus organizational moments), but too damp, dirty and hard. So that’s it! It would seem that the handles should go down, because the athletes could not, and who are you, kicking poop, and sitting around for guests in India for 4 months. But no, because that simple guy passed, and then it became really interesting, what am I worth! This is such an opportunity, because in case of success, I will not only mark the DR near Everest, but I will also know that foreign athletes could not, and I dragged! This motivation could not be better! that they also expected to pass in 20 days (because the visa is for 30 days, minus organizational moments), but too damp, dirty and hard. So that’s it! It would seem that the handles should go down, because the athletes could not, and who are you, kicking poop, and sitting around for guests in India for 4 months. But no, because that simple guy passed, and then it became really interesting, what am I worth! This is such an opportunity, because in case of success, I will not only mark the DR near Everest, but I will also know that foreign athletes could not, and I dragged! This motivation could not be better! after all, that simple guy passed, and then it became really interesting, what am I worth! This is such an opportunity, because in case of success, I will not only mark the DR near Everest, but I will also know that foreign athletes could not, and I dragged! This motivation could not be better! after all, that simple guy passed, and then it became really interesting, what am I worth! This is such an opportunity, because in case of success, I will not only mark the DR near Everest, but I will also know that foreign athletes could not, and I dragged! This motivation could not be better!

I didn’t care about anything, even the rain that had been raining with varying success all day, but only getting stronger in the evening. Almost all the time there was nothing wine more than 15 meters from dense clouds, like fog enveloping mountains. On the one hand, there are fewer landscapes, on the other, it is much easier to walk when the sun does not fry you and the air is fresh and pleasant. But the question of an overnight stay was becoming more and more acute. Oh, how I didn’t want to get out the tent. It is waterproof, but in the morning you shouldn’t roll it up wet anyway.

One of the locals came to my rescue. It was already evening and it was necessary to find a place to stop as soon as possible. One house had a good playground, and the owner was nearby. At first he offered to stay with him in a guest house for a small amount, but I refused, asking only for permission to stand with a tent near his house. He allowed, and then even invited to his place. Many locals are used to the huge flow of tourists on this trail during the season and make good money on them. They have houses or rooms where travelers can stay. But in the off-season, many begin to get bored and are not at all against a good company, especially a strange guy who carries a huge backpack (usually most tourists carry only personal things, paying for everything else along the way), walks without a guide and generally alone. He also fed me,

During conversations in broken English, the time flew by unnoticed and it was necessary to go to bed in order to have a good rest before a new running day.