I am an ardent traveler. Just the thought of traveling excites me and I am always ready for it given that my schedules permit me to do so. Seeing new peoples and their ways of living teaches you a lot of thing and inspires you in various ways. I have traveled to places in Nepal, India, United States and have come back with memories that makes me want to go back again. Often, there are extreme conditions while traveling but that is the fun part and I don’t mind them but somehow my travel to the western part of Nepal always ends up becoming a disaster and a bitter experience. Maybe because I find it intolerably difficult to endure the extreme humidity and blistering hot temperature of the West. The last time I was in Birgunj, the western part of Nepal was in 2005, I think. Me and my friends decided to go see the famous Bomjan (Junky Buddha, as we called him later) who was in the some forest (I don’t exactly remember the name now) along the way to Birgunj. That was one nightmare we had to go through.
However, this time around it was more of work than pleasure traveling to Nepalgunj. I was warned about the weather there and it went up to 42 to 46 degrees. I didn’t have much of a choice and besides it was only for 2 days. “How bad could it possibly be?”, I said to myself since the I was booked in one of best hotel there with a.c. and everything. I flew to Nepalgunj on 4th May with Yeti Airlines since I was suppose to receive my clients on the 5th of May, who would be flying to Simikot early morning on the 6th after which I would be returning back to Kathmandu on the evening flight same day.
6th May, I woke up at 5 in the morning and with my group was ready to leave the hotel by 5:30 am. It was about 20 minutes drive to the airport and on our way, I was constantly being bitten by the mosquitoes. How can there be mosquito bites in a vehicle that is running at 60 kmph? Must be the survival instinct I thought. Upon reaching the airport, there were no Yeti Airlines staff so we had to wait for another hour at the parking lot. Apparently, the weather at Simikot was not so good for the flights to take off. Another 3 hrs of waiting and still no sign of flying. At about 11 am, the airlines decided to wrap it up and announce the flight cancellation. I was keeping my fingers crossed for the weather to clear but with no luck. So, we had to return back to the hotel. And trust me 12 o’ clock at Nepalgunj is no place go around. It felt like this side of the world stretched to whatever was the nearest possible point to the Sun. The heat was unbearable and I was only waiting to reach my hotel room where I could just doze the rest of my day. But it was like our luck (or possibly our patience) was being tested. There was a 2 hrs long protest by the “Rickshaw drivers” and they were in no mood to let any vehicle pass them. Another 2 hrs in the excruciatingly hot weather. After the protest, we made our way to hotel where I just dashed into my room and stayed there until dinner. I was planning to go back to sleep since we had the first flight next day. Around 9pm, I got a call from Bhim Rai (station manager of Yeti Airlines, Nepalgunj). I could tell from the tone of his voice that he didn’t have good news for me. He informed me that the aircraft had some major problem and would not be able to do any flights the next day. I was in shock and in horror which was followed by confusion and stress. I spoke with the people there and got to know that there are 3 airlines doing regular flights to Simikot from Surkhet which was about 3 to 4 hrs drive from here. I promptly called my travel agent in Kathmandu asked them to charter a flight from Surkhet. Air Kastamandap was booked for us but again we had to leave early morning the next day.
I called for a van that would take us to airport to receive our luggage that we had left in the aircraft the other day. It was around 5 when we reached the airport and the weather was getting from bad to worse. It was about to rain and since the luggage were on the roof of the Van and no space inside, I asked for another van which was bigger. Along the way, there was a mild tornado followed by heavy rain. It was a new thing for me seeing tornado early morning. It took 3 hrs driving to reach Surkhet. Surkhet is a nice place, I thought. It was much cooler here compared to Nepalgunj. And the landscapes along the way could only compensate for driving such long hrs because after reaching the airport, we were informed that the flight to Simikot had be cancelled due to bad weather. 4 hrs of driving for nothing. Another day to spend at Surkhet and I desperately wanted to go back home. I was getting restless but I had no choice. The Kastamandap air had put me in a second flight to Simikot. While there was no guarantee for the first flight to take off, I was in no mood to wait for the second flight and possibly another flight cancellation so I had a meeting with Makalu Air for a first next day.
8th May: Another early morning to airport and another day of Bad weather in Simikot. I along with my group waited for 5 hrs and when the airlines was about to announce cancellation, something happened and the weather just cleared up and the flight to Simikot along with my group took off. I was relieved that I could go back home. Took the next bus to Nepalgunj and another 4 hrs of drive and that 4 hrs of drive felt like ages. I was totally exhausted and tired but one more stroke of bad luck awaited me at Nepalgunj – the strike of “Rikshaw drivers” were still on and there was no vehicle around. I called up the hotel and they sent a bike to receive after around 45 minutes. Arriving to the hotel was the best thing I can remember in the whole trip(of course after that flight took off to Simikot). Took shower, cleared all the bill at the hotel and left for airport.
I was exhausted physically, tired mentally and sun burnt literally. It was raining when I landed in Kathmandu but at least the weather was cool and I was happy to be back home. 🙂