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Road Traffic Accidents
Th first four pages of my book about Nepal describe in detail, the trip from the airport to my guest house in Patan. Road Traffic in Nepal is a major shock to visitors from other places. There are two Nepals. The first is the picture-postcard version for the tourists and the second is the workingman’s Nepal. It’s always fascinating to me to see the second Nepal get any kind of attention, because that’s the Nepal where I spent most of my time.
And so I was delighted to learn that BBC did a one-hour adventure travel segment on Travel within Nepal.
You can get the whole one-hour show, on YouTube. It is Brilliant!
Evidently, this is part of a BBC-Two series about roads throughout the world, and in the TV show trailer they also feature a drive through arctic tundra somewhere. It’s the same two guys in a Land Rover, one drives and the other looks at the map while they engage in British banter. to the those who are not British, the humor is very sarcastic, but tra la la! I have always loved any movie or TV show that includes an animated clip depicting a series of dots that connect locations on a map, and this is another such.
This one has a lot of street scenes, as you might expect in a video about driving. I felt like I was there, again.
These two blokes chose some great terrain. The journey starts in the Terai, at the border crossing in Sunauli. The very first scenes are taped in Bhairawa, where I spent an epic three days lecturing in 104 degree heat of summer monsoon in 2011. The two drivers head first to Tansen, my old stomping grounds, and then to Pokhara, from which they detour on a journey up the newly-built controversial road to Annapurna. Then along the Prithvi Road to Kathmandu, showing the gorge. They even drive at night, at one point.
They show the same arch that says “Welcome to Palpa” which is featured in my own oevre, a two-minute video taken out of the Buck, The UMN transport vehicle.
They took a more-dangerous-than-necessary side route, a couple of times. Also, they never showed a main fact of life on the road – the “bandhs” or political disturbances that can stop traffic for days. They discussed the petrol situation but did not show what happens when there is an embargo on petrol, which India occasionally declares. ( The Nepali government subsidizes petrol and sometimes gets in arrears).
Let’s face it – the show was about driving – so – why am I not surprised that they mainly stayed in the vehicle? I guess it’s becasue there is so much more to life in Nepal when you get out and walk around….. I would have at least stopped for panipuri!
To my delight, they spent time in Tansen. First, they drove *up* Steep street; something nobody ever does. They did it for effect I think. Then, near Nanglo’s, they interview a local Nepali guy – who turns out to be none other than Madav Pandey, “the snake man of Tansen” in all his glory. Madav has a wonderful cultured accent and is telegenic.
Leaving Tansen, they drove along the Upper Road – for no apparent reason other than to get some nice footage before they turned around. This is one of the two main walking routes between Mission Hospital and the town. But rarely driven upon.
The guys announced the distance from Tansen to Pokhara to be 80 KM. Usually this takes six hours to drive. Works out to mebbe 15 kph, but the buses usually go faster than that, and take a few breaks.
The Prithvi Road, is shown in all it’s folly and glory, a heartstopping cliffhanger along a river gorge, the main land route to Kathmandu. They make a decision to drive on this at night instead of staying in what I presume to be Meghauli. I think I also had lunch at the place where they ponder their decision…. and I would not have driven at night. Like most people who spent any time travelling in Nepal, I do know somebody personally who died in an accident involving “the night bus.”
After a short segment in Kathmandu they take the road to Tibet, where they get excellent footage of the landslides of monsoon season. Getting out and walking across the landslide to pick up the traffic on the other side, was a decision that took some courage, and they guys are such typical Brits about it……
An Ozzie friend of mine posted the link to her FB page saying “the reason I fly when in Nepal.” I have news for her: flying is no picnic either)
At the end, the guys give their reaction to the trip as they stand in front of the gate to Tibet. They don’t say how they needed to retrace their steps.
All in all, a must see for anybody interested in Nepal