02 October 2009

Back to Pokhara

The best thing about Tatopani is the view you get of Machapuchare down the valley.

Tatopani in Nepali means hot water and the town gets its name from the hot springs that flow out at the valley floor. We thought it might be a nice place to sooth the aches and pains, but like the rest of Tatopani, the springs weren't very nice.

I had intended to leave Liz in Tatopani for for a couple of days whilst I completed an additional trek to make the 2km vertical climb up Poon Hill. However; Tatopani was too horrible a place to leave her stranded on her own so we instead decided to head back to Pokhara.

There are three ways out, a two/three day walk, 8 hours on a local bus or 5 hours in a jeep. We took the jeep option and made our way out in a mighty Mahindra 4x4.

We've had the misfortune to experience some incredibly bad driving since we started our trip; me on a moped in Laos, Vietnamese death wish bus drivers, the Thai taxi driver who thought he was in a video game, the senile Egyptian who nearly killed us in a head on collision and the lunatic Bedouin who drove us around Wadi Rum are just a handful of the many that spring to mind. However; they all pail into insignificance compared to the muppet who drove us back from our trek.

The road that leads from Tatopani, out of the Himalaya to the town of Beni would have my vote in the most dangerous roads in the world competition. It mainly consisted of a mud, rock and gravel pot holed track cut into the sides of the mountains that was barely wide enough for a vehicle. Along most of the route the side road was crumbling away into valley, covered with land slides or obstructed with boulders that had fallen from above.

As if the road wasn't bad enough we had to contend with a driver who appeared to have no concept of danger. We knew we where in trouble when within 2 minutes of setting off we skidded in some gravel and nearly went off the road into the river about 20 meters below. God knows how but we were only involved in 1 accident when we skidded into a motorbike coming the other way. Thankfully both the rider and passenger where ok. We nearly had several other incidents including hitting a herd of cows, hitting some women carrying children and a hitting a donkey.

Once we got back onto proper tarmac roads we thought things would improve but it just enabled our demented driver to go even faster. The only time he slowed down was when he stopped the car to have some sort mentalist seizure at the side of the road!!!

I have never been so terrified in all my life.

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