The circle of life is like a wheel of fortune some may say. Unfortunately the wheels we were using were three overcrowded buses that took us from the Indian border town of Sunauli to the southern Nepali town of Lumbini, the birthplace of Siddhartha Gautama. The frontier between two countries was a dusty affair and passport control was little more than a portacabin 600 metres away from the actual crossing point, where the officials jotted down our passport numbers into their ledger and sent us on our way, no temperamental fingerprint scanners at this immigration post.
We negotiated the Nepali checkpoint with little fuss and were soon discovering how much difference there was between Indian rickshaw drivers and our new hosts… about 50 Rupees more per kilometre, no chance! So we hopped onto our first Nepali bus, a short 4 km into the nearby town. Boy, the Indian buses felt spacious in comparison; we were absolutely crammed in. Ten minutes after setting off, we were pulled over by an official looking chap in military uniform who ordered half the passengers off the bus, haha we thought, a bit of health and safety to the rescue! Alas no, he merely walked along the isle, suspiciously eyeing up my bag en-route then ordered everyone back on and away we went, at a snails pace zig-zagging between potholes.
Arriving in Lumbini we were greeted by a young boy begging for money by means of performing a dance act that Miley Cirus might even consider crude!
Anyway that’s enough of dancing kids for now. The Buddhist site covers a large area, with a 3 km long canal running through the middle of it, linking the site of Buddha’s birth to a large world peace monument. With us both feeling a little unwell (we put it down to a suspicious lassi) we didn’t make it out until afternoon. The building housing the ruins of the palace where the young Buddha entered the world was an underwhelming tribute, just as he would have wished, but lavish temples dot the 10 sq km park, but with dusk setting in we didn’t manage to get to any of them!Still feeling the effects of the lassi and passing the twerking boy for the umpteenth time in the one street of Lumbini, we boarded our coach to Kathmandu. The road was terrible, the Tarmac gave way to stones within a few hours as we climbed higher into the mountains then a loud bang got us looking out the windows. Our coach pulled over and out came the jack to remove the blown tyre. It’s replacement wheel was as bald as that Italian football referee with the eyes and the patches of tread that existed were peeling off, but that didn’t deter the driver; perhaps he new that it would not matter, as our last 20 km through Kathmandu traffic took three hours. The generosity of an Aussie traveller paid for a taxi ride to our hotel for the night in the dust filled streets of Thamel and a chance to put our grumbling bowls to rest.