Tuesday 25th August, afternoon: Mazafarur to Raxaul
From the railway bridge we could see into the town. It was flooded in murky water to about 6-8 inches.
Mazafarpur flooded street
We enquired about trains. The next train was at 2:30, a two hour wait, and would take 5 hours!! After this morning's train: dismay. But there was a bus which took only three hours. A better bet. We'd get the bus.
I tried to take a photograph of Jane and Ben looking dejected, sitting at the station, but an officious clerk from the booking office pounced on me and went wild. Seems like you could end up in jail for years for taking photographs of Indian railway stations. Whoops. I'd already done it several times. I doubted it could be true - but I wanted a quiet life. I put my camera away, it was too dark for my super slow film anyway. The toilets were awful, but then I suppose the flooding knackered the plumbing.
We went out into the town. We got a rickshaw to the bus stop - about ¾ mile. I wouldn't walk through the flood. Urgh .... who know what was in the water. I'd seen the gutters and drains in Agra when it was dry. Suppose I had a cut on my foot. The risk or (or at least the thought of) infection was too much for me. The first part of the ride was through the flood. Indian town life went on apparently as usual all around as though the flood wasn't there. The second half of the ride was merely through deep mud. The shops on either side were lively and colourful despite the mud. There were some good fruit stalls. The concrete reinforcing rods were evident everywhere, just like Agra. I was beginning to think that there had been a mass strike by Indian builders leaving all the construction work suspended. Apparently, it is common practice to leave a building in a way which makes it easier to extend upwards to accommodated younger generations need for independence and space from the parents home and or business.
Flooded Street, Mazafarpur
We arrived at the Rauxaul bus and got on. It was empty. we chose our seats. Rs 12/- said the driver. It leaves at 1:45pm. I waded through the mud to buy fruit. Six bananas and six oranges, all for Rs 5/-. The bananas were the best I've ever tasted. Maybe it was just because we were so hungry. Later Jane got off the bus and we waded back through the mud again to buy bread and biscuits.
The bus set off on time. Out of the town through flat, flooded country side. The bus stopped often and the passengers changed frequently. Most were not traveling the entire way to the border. The ride was smooth and uneventful. Stops were often lengthy and the 3 hours journey stretched to 4½. We arrived in Raxaul about 18:00 and it was already going dark. We hired two rickshaw drivers to take us to the border. It was difficult not to - we were besieged and it would have been virtually impossible to escape and walk the short distance.
1st stop, Indian immigration, although we were leaving and not entering the country. Jane and Ben went in first while I waited outside. I took out my camera. Uproar. I was obviously a spy - but an ill equipped one. It was already too dark for my slow film. I went in. No other trouble at Indian immigration - next stop the Indian "baggage" check. They just checked our passports again and waved us through. Next to the Nepalese immigration.
We didn't have visas, but we had been told they were available at the border. But Jane and I didn't have suitable photos and it was going dark. Never mind,said the official, send me some from Kathmandu - he issued the visa and we were into Nepal. Now for the baggage station - customs. We filled in forms to list our valuables: cameras, films, watches ... we didn't have cigarettes or booze, which seemed to bring some disappointment.
The hotel Suraj (which Ben insisted on pronouncing "sewerage") had been recommended and the rickshaw boys took us on a bumpy ride through the pitch black streets. My driver had trouble with his bicycle chain and I was separated from Jane and Ben. When I arrived there was trouble about the payment for the rickshaw, I wasn't sure what the problem was, but one of the hotel staff came and sorted it out. It was quite a "smart" hotel. Rs 45/- for the three of us for one night. Our room had three beds with a separate toilet and shower. Appearances were good, but the shower was only cold, not even tepid, and the toilet wouldn't flush - but the hotel had thoughtfully provided a bucket of water. Nevertheless after the mud of Mazafarpur and the two days of traveling, even a cold shower was welcome.
We booked three seats on the bus to Kathmandu - a 7:00 start - tomorrow, then we went to the hotel restaurant. It was suddenly very dark, a power cut, something we would become accustomed to over the next week. Out came the candles and we ordered our food - a bit too much but it was edible and a relief after all the fruit and biscuit. We retired to bed, still in the dark and provided with candles, for our early start next day.