We leave the wonderful Chitwan National Park and head west across Nepal. The landscapes change from hills, valleys, fields and small urban areas. It’s a pleasant trip and the roads are better than elsewhere in Nepal.
We drive through Lumbini, the birth place of Buddha, but Buddha is little celebrated here now. We continue to Sunauli and the border with India. A few kilometres from the border we pass two fires in the road, one in each direction. They are small but deliberate, perhaps being burning tyres, and force all of the vehicles to swerve off the road to pass them. Their purpose remains a mystery.
The area around the border crossing into India is chaos. There is no order, and no clear indication as to what to do. We squeeze by lots of stationary traffic and edge closer to the border. It takes about three hours in total for us to complete the paperwork to leave Nepal and to enter India. All this considered, it’s pretty straightforward, considering that we are a group of 9 people, of various nationalities in a UK vehicle.
After we are clear we only continue a short way before we pull into a large hotel where we intend to camp. The town of Sunauli is a shit hole, with little on offer. We are all tired and everyone agrees on getting hotel rooms, rather than the intended camping. Hugo secures rooms for IRs400, which is not much more than the cost of camping, although the rooms are very basic.
The town is in blackout with the only light coming from those places with their own generators. The staff at the hotel fire up their generator so that we can at least see.
We head out into town for food. There are just a few local offerings. We settle on a place selling a fixed curry meal, served out of large pots on the classic metal dishes. It only costs IRs25 per person. The food is pretty good.
Several of us are keen for a beer, but after asking around it is clear that no one is selling, as it is ‘too risky’ being so close to the border.
Back at the hotel room we all get together in the dining room and the helpful staff distribute mosquito coils.
The night takes a great turn when one of the staff takes an order for beer and heads out. He returns with carrier bags packed with chilled beer, and at a price cheaper than we have been paying in Nepal. Many of us sit at a table in the massive, deserted hotel – reading, writing, talking, laughing and even knitting!
A boring day, of many miles, no real sights, a lazy border crossing and a dodgy hotel has ended well, due to a few beers and good spirits.