Wrong Seat in Pokhara-Kathmandu Tourist Bus

Mr. Tirtha still accompanied me to speak, we leaned back in his tiny taxi while observing the bustle around Tourist Bus Park. Several hawkers took turn getting on and off in all small sized-buses offering their wares.

A while later, Mr. Tirtha widely spread his arms and we lightly hugged as a substitute for saying “thank you and see you later”. I entered a bus on half an hour before departure. It would be better because Mr. Tirtha could immediately continue work with his taxi.

The conductor showed me a seat where I should sit. At second row behind driver which was limited by a glass screen. Now situation became tense, when an Indian spouse argued with the conductor. They felt were aggrieved because a ticket agent in Kathmandu had promised them to giving them a front seat. The conductor casually snapped back, “This is Pokhara, Not Kathmandu”. Instantly situation was silence. I just realized, that spouse wanted my seat…. Hahaha, even though I was asked to exchange, I didn’t refuse either. Seriously.

Three European tourists in the front seat near driver had fun playing cards the whole way.

Three and a half hours after departure on 7 am, bus stopped for breakfast break for 20 minutes after an hour earlier, bus had once done 15 minutes of toilet break. Hotel’s breakfast which Mr. Raj prepared on the last morning seemed quite effective for me to didn’t spend any consumption budget this time. Come on!, let me showed you how the restaurant which I stopped at:

Buffet eating!
That was the cost.
The hat which used by the cashier was called as Dhaka Topi.
Yups, I still full….Just drank a coffee.

I felt hungry at lunch break on 1:30 p.m., enjoying a thali (Indian wide plate) of food which I picked up from buffet table for 400 Rupee and drink a free-orange juice which was given to all passengers since our  departure in Pokhara.

For free….
I got on the white one.

My watch pointed to 15:34 hours. The last toilet break was the most memorable part. Taking the time to explore area around the rest area. I moved towards a side of road and enjoyed panoramic view of valley and ravine below.

Most trucks in Nepal are Tata Motor.

Impressed with situation on a side of road, I entered a small alley and saw a glimpse of local residents activities who living on a side of road. Observing a banner which stucked in a concrete wall, I tried to slightly open an outer skin of Nepal’s politics.

Nepal is a parliamentary republic which has four main political parties. The Communist Party of Nepal (CPN) became the winning party in Nepal which placed two important figures, namely Khadga Prasad Sharma Oli as Prime Minister and Bidhya Devi Bhandari as President of the country.

That’s the symbol of CPN.

Back in bus seat, this time, my journey encountered a terrible traffic jam when it descended the last hill nearing Kathmandu border. Looked like a traffic jam in Cianjur on the weekend (Cianjur is tourist destination near my home).

The bus arrived in Kanti Path Road on 17:08 hours. Excessive fatigue persuaded me to immediately looked for Shangrila Boutique Hotel in Thamel area. I walked through many narrow alleys and asking to local people to find the location. Only walking for 20 minutes, I finally found the hotel.

I handed over 2.300 Rupee as the rate of staying per night. This time, I would spend 2 nights in Kathmandu to enjoy the city.

Tourist Bus from Kathmandu to Pokhara

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Bus queue at Kanti Path Road.

Enough with 300 Rupee for 10 minutes, riding a taxi from Thamel to Kanti Path Road. If you weren’t afraid of getting lost, you could also walk for 20-25 minutes.

My imagination told me that a bus which I was chasing would standby at a travel agent office. But the reality was far beyond presupposition. All buses from various travel agents lined up along Kanti Path Road.

48 minutes before departure, I took time to have a light breakfast because this was a long journey which I myself didn’t know how the travel time management was.

BG’s Coffee Shop which had opened on a side of Kanti Path Road.
You could also have breakfast on sidewalk, guys….Wouw, a child was pious to help his father in selling food.

I already ordered the ticket via email from Jakarta for 750 Rupee, it was just the payment was do at departure location. It was a strange transaction which I encountered for the first time abroad. Now the problem was only one, I had to be transferred to another bus because according to ticket seller, a bus which I ordered was fullseat (it seemed that this was their strategy, catching passengers via email first and regarding which bus would be placed on, that was the next business….Hahaha, smart).

Amazingly, I was only given a ticket and then asked to independently find a bus along Kanti Path Road based on a number plate on the ticket. I confidently executed his order. It was just that, just walking for 5 minutes to looking for it, I started to get overwhelmed….Yes, it was puzzling!….Nepali numeric was different from Latin numeric!.

Worse …. Now half an hour to departure began to be count down. Armed with no communication access, I returned to starting point of searching to ask ticket seller who seemed to be concurrently as bus coordinator. Dizziness was made by him because I couldn’t find him. I showed my ticket to several people around, they just shouted “wait!…. wait!”. Trying to disguise my panic with 15 minutes remaining to departure time, my eyes closely watched crowd one by one to find the person who I was looking for. Yes, I recognized green color of his winter beanie and a polyphonic phone necklace around his neck. I approached and asked him to help me in finding the bus which was referred to in the ticket….Yes, he only briefly said “Looking for light green bus….Row number three from the front”. Seeing her busy and impossible to accompany me in looking fo the bus, I immediately ran towards front row.

Finally, a light green bus departed at 7 o’clock. Armed with a liter of free mineral water, I sat in the back seat with Korean students who would then have a friendly conversation throughout 8.5 hours journey to Phokara.

Bus interior.

Along the way, the bus would stop four times.

Twice for toilet breaks for 15 minutes, i.e 1st break stop on 9:30 hours and 4th break stop on 14:30 hours.

Apart from toilet breaks, bus would also stop twice for meals, each with a duration of 20 minutes. 2nd break stop for breakfast on 10:30 hours and 3rd break stop for lunch on 13:30 hours. I paid a little attention to restaurant cashier table. It was seen that if how many of food was taken, passenger would pay for 450 Rupee.

So sweet….
You have to be fast if you didn’t want to be left by bus.
I didn’t even have time to chew it….I swallowed it in my mouth.

During the trip, I was really fascinated when I was presented with views from right side. Leaves were turning white because of thick dust from streets, giant billboards which were displayed in the middle of rice fields, suspension bridges which connecting hills, rafting along river and bustling Chandragiri Cable Car tour. Even I could be made to smile by residents behavior in sunbathing in 9° C air while playing carom or some of them surround fire which was lit in house yard.

.

Dust….Look!
Rice fields also became commercial land.
Do they have neighbors?….

Slowly bus climbed, descended and circled mountains with ravines on the right. I wasn’t too worried because bus was slowly running. A thing that then made me realized that most of cars, trucks and buses in Nepal came from Tata Motor manufacturer, India.

Look at trucks in mining area along Kathmandu-Pokhara.

I thought bus which labeled with “Tourist Bus” word wouldn’t pick up passengers on streets, it turned out that its little conductor had picked up passengers twice, but the better ting was no one stood up in bus.

The trip was stopped due to a wheel leak on 15 minutes before reaching Pokhara. The conductor was a teenager who struggling to change bus wheel, luckyly three taxi drivers came to help. In this condition, I still managed to do transactions at a street market to get a bag of oranges for 100 Rupee. But repairing took too long time and didn’t fast finish, so I was finally transferred to another bus.

Old taxis but exclusive.

In Pokhara, bus would stop at Tourist Bus Park with a view of the Himalayas behind it…..pretty amazing.

Ignoring many offering from taxi drivers, I rushed to a travel agent office, not far from where I got off. Yup….I took initiative to immediately order a return ticket to Kathmandu because later I would fly to New Delhi via Tribhuvan International Airport. This travel agent offered three types of ticket prices, ranging from 650 to 850 Rupee depending on bus quality. Not taking it long, I chose the cheapest price.

Tourist Bus Park.

Let’s Explore Pokhara!

Check out a video which was related to this article here: https://youtu.be/sSDNtAYx0tQ

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Salah Bangku di Tourist Bus Pokhara-Kathmandu.

Mr. Tirtha masih saja menemaniku berbincang, kami berdua berdiri bersandar di taksi mungilnya sembari mengamati kesibukan di sekitar Tourist Bus Park. Beberapa pedagang asongan silih berganti naik turun di seluruh bus berukuran tiga perempat menawarkan dagangannya.

Sewaktu kemudian, Mr. Tirtha  merentangkan tangannya lebar dan kami berpeluk ringan sebagai pengganti ucapan “terimakasih dan sampai jumpa”. Aku sengaja memasuki bus setengah jam sebelum keberangkatan. Akan lebih baik karena Mr. Tirtha bisa dengan segera melanjutkan mencari nafkah dengan taksinya.

Si kondektur menunjukkanku tempat dimana aku harus duduk. Baris kedua dibelakang sopir yang dibatasi sekat kaca. Kini pemandangan menjadi tegang, ketika sepasang suami istri India beradu mulut dengan si kondektur. Sejoli itu merasa dirugikan karena agen tiket di Kathmandu menjanjikan bangku paling depan buat mereka. Si kondektur dengan santainya balik menggertak, “This is Pokhara, Not Kathmandu”. Seketika suasana hening. Aku baru sadar, sejoli itu mengincar bangkuku….Hahaha, padahal jika disuruh tuker aku juga tak menolak. Ada-ada saja.

Europeans di depan itu seru bermain kartu sepanjang perjalanan.

Tiga setengah jam setelah keberangkatan pukul 7 pagi, bus berhenti untuk breakfast break selama 20 menit setelah sejam sebelumnya bus sudah sekali melakukan 15 menit toilet break. Sarapan yang diberikan Mr. Raj di pagi hari nampaknya cukup efektif bagiku untuk tak mengeluarkan budget konsumsi apapun kali ini. Yuk, kuperlihatkan bagaimana restoran tempatku berhenti:

Makan prasmanan aja ya!
Itu tarifnya.
Kopyah yang dipakai kasir itu bernama Dhaka Topi.
Ah masih kenyang….Ngopi aja lah.

Aku baru merasa kelaparan pada lunch break pukul 13:30,  menikmati se-thali (piring lebar khas India) makanan yang kuambil dari meja prasmanan seharga  Rp. 52.000 dan sebuah free-orange juice yang diberikan pada semua penumpang sejak pemberangkatan di Pokhara.

Lumayan free….  
Aku naik yang warna putih.

Jarum jam menunjuk pukul 15:34. Toilet break terakhir kali ini menjadi bagian paling berkesan.  Kumanfaatkan waktu dengan menelusuri area di sekitar tempat peristirahatan. Aku bergerak menuju tepian jalan dan menikmati panorama lembah dan jurang dibawahnya.

Kebanyakan truk di Nepal adalah Tata Motor.

Tergeletik dengan kehidupan di pinggiran jalan, aku memasuki sebuah gang kecil dan melihat sekelumit aktivitas warga lokal yang hidup di pinggiran jalan. Mengamati sebuah spanduk yang tertempel di sebuah sisi tembok beton, aku mencoba sedikit membuka kulit luar perpolitikan di Nepal.

Nepal adalah negara berbentuk republik parlementer yang memiliki empat partai politik utama. Communist Party of Nepal (CPN) menjadi partai pemenang di Nepal yang menempatkan dua tokoh pentingnya yaitu Khadga Prasad Sharma Oli sebagai Perdana Menteri dan Bidhya Devi Bhandari sebagai  Presiden negara tersebut.

Itu dia lambang CPN.

Kembali berada di bangku bus, perjalanan kali ini mengalami kemacetan luar biasa ketika menuruni bukit terakhir menjelang perbatasan Kathmandu. Layaknya kemacetan di Cianjur saat weekend tiba.

Bus merapat di Kanti Path pada pukul 17:08. Kelelahan yang teramat sangat membujukku untuk segera menemukan Shangrila Boutique Hotel di area Thamel. Aku menelusuri banyak gang-gang sempit dan menanyakan kepada penduduk lokal untuk menemukan lokasinya. Hanya berjalan selama 20 menit, akhirnya penginapan itu kutemukan.

Kuserahkan Rp. 280.000 sebagai tarif menginap per malam. Kali ini aku akan bermalam 2 petang di Kathmandu untuk menikmati wisata kota.

Tourist Bus dari Kathmandu ke Pokhara

Antrian bus di Kanti Path Road.

Cukup dengan Rp. 40.000 untuk menunggang taksi selama 10 menit dari Thamel ke Kanti Path Road. Jika tak takut tersasar, kamu juga boleh menempuhnya selama 20-25 menit dengan berjalan kaki.

Imajinasiku mengatakan bahwa bus yang sedang kukejar ini akan standby di sebuah kantor travel agent. Tetapi kenyataannya jauh diluar perandaian. Semua bus dari berbagai travel agent berbaris menyemut di sepanjang Kanti Path Road.

48 menit menjelang keberangkatan, kusempatkan bersarapan ringan karena ini adalah perjalanan panjang yang aku sendiri tak tahu bagaimana manajemen waktu perjalanannya.

BG’s Coffee Shop yang sudah buka di sisi Kanti Path Road.
Bisa juga sarapan di trotoar, gaes….Duh, anak sholeh bantu bapaknya jualan.

Tiket sendiri sudah kupesan via email dari Jakarta seharga Rp. 92.000, hanya saja pembayaran dilakukan di lokasi keberangkatan. Transaksi aneh yang kujumpai pertama kali di luar negeri. Kini masalahnya hanya satu, aku harus dioper ke bus lain karena menurut si penjual tiket, bus yang kupesan sudah fullseat (sepertinya ini memang strategi mereka, menjaring penumpang via email terlebih dahulu dan perihal akan ditempatkan di bus yang mana, itu urusan belakangan….Hahaha, cerdas).

Hebatnya lagi, Aku hanya diberikan selembar tiket lalu diminta untuk mencari bus secara mandiri di sepanjang Kanti Path Road berdasar plat nomor yang tertera di tiket. Penuh percaya diri kuiyakan perintah itu. Hanya saja, baru saja berjalan 5 menit mencarinya, aku mulai kewalahan….Ya puyeng lah!….Numerik Nepal kan berbeda dengan numerik latin!.

Parah….Kini setengah jam menuju keberangkatan mulai dihitung mundur. Tak berbekal akses komunikasi apapun, aku kembali lagi ke titik awal pencarian untuk bertanya kepada si penjual tiket yang nampaknya merangkap jabatan sebagai koordinator bus. Kelimpungan dibuatnya karena aku tak menemukan batang hidungnya. Kutunjukkan tiketku kepada beberapa orang di sekitar, mereka hanya manyahut “wait!….wait!”. Berusaha menyamarkan kepanikan dengan 15 menit tersisa menuju waktu keberangkatan, mataku lekat mengawasi satu persatu kerumunan orang untuk menemukan orang yang kucari. Yes, aku mengenali warna hijau penutup kepalanya dan kalungan handphone poliponik di lehernya. Kuhampiri dan memintanya menolongku menemukan armada yang termaksud dalam tiket….Beuh, dia hanya berucap singkat “Looking for the light green bus….Row number three from the front”. Melihatnya sibuk dan tak mungkin menemaniku mencari, aku segera berlari menuju barisan terdepan.

Akhirnya armada hijau muda bertolak tepat pukul 7. Berbekal seliter free-mineral water, aku terduduk di kursi paling belakang bersama mahasiswa asal Korea yang kemudian akan bercakap akrab sepanjang 8,5 jam perjalanan menuju Phokara.

Interior bus.

Sepanjang perjalanan, bus akan berhenti empat kali.

Dua kali untuk toilet break selama 15 menit yaitu break stop ke-1 pada jam 9:30 dan break stop ke-4 pada jam 14:30.

Selain toilet break, bus juga akan 2 kali berhenti untuk makan masing-masing berdurasi 20 menit. Break stop ke-2 untuk sarapan pada jam 10:30 dan break stop ke-3 untuk makan siang pada jam 13:30. Aku sedikit memperhatikan meja kasir rumah makan, terlihat bahwa sedikit banyaknya makanan yang diambil, penumpang secara merata membayar Rp. 53.000.

Duh imoetnya….
Harus cepat kalau ga mau ditinggal bus.
Bahkan aku tak sempat menguyahnya…..Masuk mulut langsung telan.

Selama perjalanan pula, aku sungguh terpesona ketika tersuguh pemandangan dari sisi kanan. Dedaunan yang memutih karena tertutup tebalnya debu jalanan, papan-papan iklan raksasa yang terpanjang di tengah pesawahan, jembatan-jembatan gantung penghubung antar bukit, kegiatan rafting di sepanjang sungai dan ramainya wisata Chandragiri Cable Car. Bahkan aku bisa dibuat tersenyum dengan tingkah warga yang berjemur di tengah hawa dingin 9°C sembari bermain karambol atau beberapa dari mereka mengelilingi api yang dinyalakan di pelataran rumah.

Debu….Lihatlah !
Sawah pun menjadi lahan komersil.
Punya tetangga ga tuh?….

Perlahan bus menaiki, menuruni dan mengelilingi pegunungan dengan jurang di sebelah kanan. Aku tak terlalu khawatir karena bus berjalan pelan. Satu hal yang kemudian membuatku tersadar bahwa kebanyakan mobil, truk dan bus di Nepal berasal dari pabrikan Tata Motor, India.

Lihatlah truk di area pertambangan di sepanjang Kathmandu-Pokhara.

Kupikir moda bertuliskan Tourist Bus ini tak akan mengambil penumpang di jalanan, ternyata dua kali kondektur ciliknya menaikkan penumpang, hanya saja tak sampai ada yang berdiri.

Perjalanan sempat terhenti karena terjadi kebocoran roda pada 15 menit sebelum mencapai Pokhara. Kondektur belasan tahun itu pontang-panting untuk mengganti roda, beruntung 3 sopir taksi datang membantu. Dalam kondisi seperti ini, aku masih sempat saja bertransaksi di sebuah pasar tumpah untuk mendapatkan sekantong jeruk seharga Rp. 13.000. Tetapi perbaikan yang terlalu lama dan tak kunjung usai, akhirnya aku dioper ke bus lain.

Taksi jadoel tapi ekslusif.

Di Pokhara, bus akan berhenti di Tourist Bus Park dengan pemandangan pegunungan Himalaya di belakangnya…..cuannteeekkkkk luar biasa.

Tak mengindahkan serbuan para sopir taksi, aku bergegas menuju sebuah kantor travel agent tak jauh dari tempatku turun. Yup…Aku berinisiatif untuk langsung memesan tiket balik menuju Kathmandu karena nantinya aku akan terbang ke New Delhi melalui Tribhuvan International Airport. Travel agent ini menawarkan tiga jenis harga tiket yang berkisar dari dari Rp. 80.000 hingga Rp. 105.000 tergantung dari kualitas bus. Tak ambil pikir panjang, aku memilih harga termurah.

Tourist Bus Park.

Yuk Explore Pokhara!

Lihat video terkait artikel ini disini: https://youtu.be/sSDNtAYx0tQ