Nepal

Published on March 28th, 2014

11

That Time I Pushed a Rickshaw to the Kathmandu Airport

And YOU thought… just because I’d circled the Planet to land here in Ecuador – you foolishly thought you’d seen the last of my bountiful Nepal adventures. Hah, silly you!

RickshawDriverCircle350x350

Ah yes, I’ve saved the very best (of my visit to Nepal) til last.  And coincidentally, this particular tale was the very LAST few hours I enjoyed (umm… well sort of) in Nepal.

You see, on the morning of my departure, I awoke to discover that the Nepalese Maoists had decided (yet again) to stage an infamous “banda” – a strike in which none of the Kathmandu taxi and bus drivers are allowed to run.  I’m honestly not sure of the political details, but suffice that such taxi/bus strikes are quite common in Kathmandu, and when they ensue – no-way, no-how will the taxis/buses budge.

And don’t bother bribing some taxi to get to wherever you were planning to go – even paying an exorbitant fare, you may well be stopped at an intersection, and altercations with the strikers can turn violent and/or tear gas may be involved.

Luckily, my flight out of Kathmandu wasn’t scheduled to depart til 3 pm – thus buying me at least a modicum of time to figure out a Plan B.  As the airport was only about 7 km away, I actually considered walking, but…  Suffice with the sun blazing down, and my wheeled backpack to cart around, walking really wasn’t an option.  That left…

The only public transport that’s allowed during these “bandas” is the humble rickshaw.  And though I’ve never been a fan of sitting imperialistically behind a struggling local, pedaling me/my baggage around for a relative pittance – that’s what I was forced to do.  Actually the rate was 10 times the norm due to the strike, but I was more than happy to pay it, to get to the airport in time for my flight.

But here’s where the story takes a most disturbing, hilarious and memorable turn:

So I hop in the rickshaw with my bag and the driver (a dear chap btw, and nearly my age!) pedals off towards the airport.  All well and good – til we got to a hill…  I winced as the (impressive) muscles in his skinny legs strained to slowly move us forward.  As we inched along, I repeatedly told him that I’d be happy to get out and walk a bit – but he would have none of it.  His manly and/or professional pride simply could not allow his passenger (especially a dodderin’ lass) to walk.  He also had no water, so I insisted we stop to buy a bottle.  Thankfully he accepted my small gift of hydration aid.

Then we got to a truly gnarly stretch of rubble – we’re talkin’ deep potholes and jagged boulders strewn all over the (so called) “street”.  It was utterly a nightmare – the heat, the rubble, the dust.  I simply couldn’t sit in that rickshaw while he labored so.  I hopped out and walked alongside the rickshaw, and… he didn’t protest.

And then…  When we hit a particularly nasty patch of boulders and potholes – I couldn’t help myself.

I got behind that rickety rickshaw and… I PUSHED!

Yup, more than 6 decades on the Planet, and I’m…

PUSHING A RICKSHAW THROUGH A FILTHY, DUSTY, RUBBLE-STREWN NIGHTMARE OF A STREET IN KATHMANDU!

Intrepid?  Yup, guilty as charged.  CRAZY?  Oh you betcha!  Amazed that I didn’t have a stroke?  Oh my dear mother-of-god, YES!

My only regret is that… as I was too busy PUSHING, I of course have not a single photo to prove it.  So you’ll just have to take my word for it.

All I could capture of this most remarkably nutso event, was a handful of pics of the back of my dear driver’s head.  That and, he happily posed for me when we finally arrived at the airport:

NepalRickshawCollage687x1631

 

Seriously. YOU would have helped push too, no?

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About the Author

Off-the-beaten-path travel is my passion,and I’ve always lived life “like-a-kid-in-a-candy-store” – eager to sample as many flavors as I can. Indeed, my life motto has long been: This ain’t a dress rehearsal, folks!



11 Responses to That Time I Pushed a Rickshaw to the Kathmandu Airport

  1. Victoria says:

    Goodness. This is so funny Dyanne but yes, I would probably have done the same or walked due to the anxiety of not missing the plane. I’ve been known to walk 14 kms because I couldn’t wait for the we’re-not-sure-if-and-when-the-train-is-actually-going-to-arrive situation LOL!
    Victoria kindly contributed to world literature by posting…The Long Night of Museums or die Lange Nacht der Museen: How to enjoy a shopping spree of museum loving!My Profile

  2. Jaci says:

    Of course, I’d push… and pant and pant and pant :).

    I often wonder how the fruit vendors manage it in Cuenca!

    • Dyanne says:

      Indeed Jaci, and often these folks that are toiling so hard (likely 7 days a week, from morning til night) – are well into their 60’s.

      Kinda puts things in perspective when we’re tempted to whine about a slow internet connection, or some such, yes? 😉

  3. Sue Pearson says:

    Oh absolutely help! Can’t imagine anyone NOT!! He was definitely tuckered to have “allowed” you out 🙂 I was thinking how amazingly lucky you had spare time, how often does THAT luck happen? What a way to go out, great little story!

    • Dyanne says:

      Yes, as I said Sue – fortunately my flight didn’t depart til 3pm (if possible, I generally try to avoid booking an early morning international flight), and the strike news was everywhere when I awoke that morning. So yes, luckily I had a good 6+ hours to figure out how I was going to get to the airport – even if I had to WALK!

      And yes, in my experience, often it’s those crazy bits of (hopefully not too serious) travel calamity that make the best travel stories. Thus… whenever I’m faced with pushing a rickshaw or some such – I can always console myself that “well, this will surely make a good blog post!” 😉

  4. LyndaS says:

    I would have, too. You did the right thing.
    LyndaS kindly contributed to world literature by posting…Foreign FoodMy Profile

    • Dyanne says:

      Thanks for weighing in Lynda. Yes, given the heft of the rickshaw itself, plus my baggage, plus me… it’s a wonder the 60-something lad could pedal at all! Much less UP-hill and around potholes and rubble.

      I do believe most anyone with a half a heart, would have helped that poor man get that rickshaw to the airport.

  5. Yes. I absolutely would have helped push too. What were the airlines doing to get people to the airport?
    Suzanne Fluhr (Boomeresque) kindly contributed to world literature by posting…To Write or Not to Write, That is the QuestionMy Profile

    • Dyanne says:

      Seriously Suzanne. That dear lad was struggling so proudly – how could you not get out and help push!

      I don’t remember all the details now, but I believe that they had private buses for those ARRIVING to get into Kathmandu. But there didn’t seem to be any such options for those of us (scattered all over Kathmandu) trying to get TO the airport that day.

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