Of all the explorations that I have been doing lately; from hiking to traveling to recording people, places, and moments. I thought I must dedicate a post on this blog as well as on my tumblr exclusively about hiking in style.
Some important things to keep in mind prior to traveling to Tatopani:
If you plan to take a public bus [Kathmandu – Tatopani]
Buy the ticket in advance.
If you plan to visit Khasa, China
Make sure you go all the way to Liping (about 5-km further away from Tatopani main bazaar. Liping is also the last stop of the public bus.
You must have Nepali citizenship card to enter China.
Before you enter the border, get the 1-day pass from Nepali border office. Will cost you a few bucks.
Border closes at 3 p.m. NST [There is no time limitation for your return provided you get back within 24 hours.]
Nepali Rupees is accepted in Khasa, China.
When my friend suggested that I should go to Tatopani which is only about 3 hours away from Kathmandu, he completely forgot to mention that he had gone on a motorcycle. Cause 3-hour seemed way too tempting to try it out on a single day. And so we went – my brother and I early in the morning straight to Puraano Bus park (Ratna Park) – just to find out that the bus that goes all the way to Tatopani was already full. Then we took the one that went up to Barhabise. From there it was supposed to be 1 and a half-hour to about 2 hours to get to Tatopani. But eventually the entire journey took almost 8 hours [Lesson learnt: buy the ticket in advance].
With public bus, I’m not going to sugarcoat- it is kind of a nightmare. As very few buses run to and from Tatopani; people don’t mind cramming into whatever little space they can find because that is the only choice they have. In terms of simply the bus ride, it was a great adventure. Barhabise onwards I stood all the way to our final destination cause there was no seat available. The upside however, I got to talk to the locals. Sometime traveling with locals add a whole new flavor to your travel experience that you cannot get when you are simply driving on your own on a private car.
Our mission that day was to get to Khasa, China. The bus had left from Puraano Bus park at around 7 a.m. towards Tinkune, Bhaktapur, Banepa. After crossing Dolal Ghat, Khadichaur, finally made it to Barhabise by 11 a.m. then had our lunch and the bus to Tatopani finally left at 12 noon. By the time we got to Liping the border town, it was already 2:30 p.m. Nepal – China border closes at 3 p.m. Reached the border just in time to fill up the paper and cross to the other side. You have to have Nepali citizenship card to enter the Chinese territory. Need to display the card multiple times, get your bags scanned. And don’t be surprised if Chinese officials speak to you in Nepali. To get to main Khasa bazaar- it costs us Rs 300 from the check post. On our way back to border Rs 800. [Good luck bargaining]
I really wished I knew a little bit of Mandarin or Tibetan language when I reached Khasa. Because – they don’t speak English or Nepali and I don’t speak their language. May be because we got there kind of late – Khasa looked very desolated. We were so hungry – after taking few clips we returned right away to Nepal for some food.
I have to admit, I didn’t find much to do in Khasa, whtaever fun I had was in Liping. I was so worried about not getting a seat on the bus the next day, we stayed overnight in Liping. Didn’t bother eploring the main Tatopani area as it was quite far away, additionally there was no way to easily commute and it was already too late. I wanted to make sure that I could sit for another 7-hour travel back to Kathmandu.
I don’t know how much Liping is talked about in the landscape of Nepali tourism, I loved the place. It was probably the best border town I had ever been to. It might have to do with roaring Bhotekoshi that added to our adventure. The room we got was just by the shore. From the inside of the room it felt or sounded like torrential downpour of rain, that’s how loud Bhotekoshi was. I have never seen a river run so fast, so dangerously, in such a hypnotic manner. Weirdly enough, I found serenity in that river rush. Just that site alone made my trip worthwhile. Also, some local kids who insisted on singing and made sure that I captured them on my camera. Like any other obedient and curious traveler, I thought it would be wise to listen to the [junior] locals. Below is the result of that recording along with a few glimpses of the trip:
Let me tell you what I like about traveling in Nepal. It is not always the overtly romanticized natural beauty of this country. Not because it is comparatively cheaper than traveling to other parts of the world. Not because majority of Nepal is still untouched by the world outside. Well, yes, all that plus – what I like the most is the warmth of the people.
It helps me connect with the place much faster and makes my travel a more meaningful experience. This is something I really miss when I go outside of Nepal especially in the western region. They have a great tourism industry, very well developed infrastructure. They have everything you need to make your travel a luxurious experience. But they lack the intimate connection I seek when I’m traveling, which has nothing to do with money. It is something I feel from inside that I cannot explain.