Public Transport in Kathmandu
During my stay in Kathmandu I usually travelled around on foot. I probably averaged at least 5 hours walking each day I was there, somedays I did even more. At that point I was very fir, after all the hours of training at home before leaving, then on the trek in the Himalayas. So walking wasn’t a problem.
Several times I was transported by the hotel car. This was usually travelling to and from the airport. It was all part of the service and they had several very good cars. (As an aside, many vehicles doing hard service in Nepal would be proclaimed unroadworthy here in Australia. I didn’t see too many service and repair establishments – except for bikes – so I got the impression that they just drive them until they stop).
Many Nepalese did as I did – they walk. The pedestrian traffic in the shopping and tourist areas is heavy. A good habit to acquire is watching one’s valuables; in my case my wallet and my camera. (I kept my passport in the hotel safe except when needing it to go to other parts of the country.)
The next most common form of transport is by bicycle. These are present in their tens of thousands, along with just as many motor bikes. One has to be very careful walking along narrow streets because the motor bike riders consider these lanes as their own personal race track. They have an enormous range of novelty horns and warning devices – when they consider it necessary to use them. This seems to be every four to five seconds.
Tuk tuks, both pedal powered and motorised, are also very common form of transport. The latter can be overwhelmingly crowded for such a small vehicle. I wasn’t game enough to try this form of transport. Public buses seemed to be everywhere, slow, noisy, dirty, overcrowded and invariably in the vintage class. Most seemed refugees from the 1940s or 50s – perhaps even earlier. In the south, near the Indian border, they are elaborately decorated by the owners, copying those frequently seen in India.
My preferred mode of transport while in Kathmandu, when I didn’t feel like walking, was a taxi. Even a twenty minute ride across the city costs as little as $3. The standard of vehicles varied greatly, from cars almost in the luxury range (predominantly hotel cars) through to run down, barely working rattle traps. After returning from Chitwan, Jade, Kane and I took one of these latter styles. Halfway through the journey, Jade turned to me and asked if I was getting a wet bottom. Something – I dare not think what – was steadily soaking its way from the seat cover through our jeans and registering on our skin. I had to get some clothes washing done that day anyway, so it didn’t matter.
Ah – the joys of travel in a strange country.