Slow journey to Kathmandu

Yesterday I wrote about my exhilarating journey from Chitwan National Park to Kathmandu. As we neared Kathmandu the traffic intensified and naturally slowed down. On this part of the journey the road was quite steep and twisty in parts which further slowed the traffic.

Army Checkpoint

The journey of 140km normally takes about 4 hours. I thought we were making very good time as we approached Kathmandu. At 16km from the city centre the traffic crawled to a stop. We had reached the queue for the army checkpoint. For over an hour we only moved about a kilometre. There were many slow moving buses and trucks as well as many private cars. Several times we saw male passengers get off the bus and go to the edge of the road and relieve themselves. On reaching the checkpoint at last we saw why there was such a long wait. The soldiers were asking all bus passengers to disembark, collect their luggage from the pack rack and line up for a bag check.

“Where are you from?”

As we pulled up near one of the buses a soldier opened the sliding door of our mini van. He ignored the driver and the hotel manager in the front seat. He looked at me and asked, in good English, where we were from and where we’d been. I told him we were all from Australia, we’d been to Chitwan National Park to see the animals, that we’d seen lots of birds and rhinos but no tigers. He laughed, closed the door and waved us on. He didn’t even ask to inspect our bags. Obviously he did not consider us a risk.

Nepal – the political reality

Less than a kilometre further on we witnessed the reason the army and the police were being more cautious than last week. We passed the police station that had been attacked and bombed on Saturday night. The Maoists responsible for the attack had come into Kathmandu by bus, hence the thorough checks of all bus passengers and their luggage. Reports of the incident were sketchy but it seems that at least a dozen police were killed.

 

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