Bus Journeys to Remember (And How To Survive Them)

Two months into my travels and I have already had my fair share of scary, slow, bumpy and memorable bus journeys.

Journey 1 to remember – Thank God it wasn’t us!

The 9-hour bus journey from Kathmandu, complete with several close calls ourselves, witnessing trucks fall off cliff edges and three crashes and spending hours feeling hot and sweaty in a cramped bus of locals.

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Grumpy! Don’t do long bus journeys well!

Journey 2 to remember – The Indian stare!

The 24-hour journey from Kathmandu, Nepal to Darjeeling, India that included our first ‘local bus’ experience for 17 hours along more bumpy roads with shock absorbers to rival those of a horse-drawn carriage. The midnight toilet stops in the middle of nowhere, the stares from the guys sat opposite… and boy do Indian boys know how to stare! Never have you been stared at until you have been stared at by an Indian man for several hours solid.

Journey 3 to remember – Living it like the locals

This journey was followed by an hour on an, even more, local, local bus, with about 90 people crammed into a bus for 30, but at only 10 rupees you can’t really complain. The 4-hour share jeep which came next, was in comparison, quite luxurious. with a little old woman sharing her Lyches and life story with us as we bumped along the windy roads moving further up into the clouds of Darjeeling above!

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very true

Journey 4 to remember – scared for my life!

Most recently there was the night I feared for my life for 9 hours straight as our bus driver drove at lunatic speeds around blind bends in the middle of the night. We tried to get him to slow down,  but he told us to F off and that he doesn’t want to arrive at 10 am (rather than 5 am when we did arrive, see how fast he was going!?!)

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The bus company that almost killed me (well the driver works for this company) do not use!

Journey 5 to remember – friends for life!

Then we get to my current journey! As I write this post I am sat on a small mini bus about a 5th of the way through our journey to Leh and I have been sat here for … 18 hours!! The entire journey is meant to take 18 hours and we are nowhere near!  At this rate, I will be spending another night on the bus, maybe even two nights. Apparently, this journey has been known to take 4 days, due to landslides from too much rain! And to think this is the best time of year to travel this road… It is closed for 9 months of the year. Madness!

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My bus family… at our best!?

So be warned guys bus journeys in Asia, are scary, long, bumpy, tiring and generally unpleasant, but hey it’s all part of the ‘experience’ and I have made some great new friends in the process.

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The road that had us stuck for 18 hours … just a few rocks!?

Top Tips for How To Survive ‘Experience’ Bus Trips

Bring snacks! The chances are the entrepreneurial Indians will trek up to find the traffic jam and sell you anything from crisps, noodles, corn, chana masala and even saffron (just what I needed?!) but do remember to bring anything you might crave … I could really do with some chocolate right now!

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Entrepreneurial Indians … make shift cafe on the mountains

Make sure all your stuff is charged… iPod to keep the snoring at bay, camera to take pictures of these memorable moments, laptop to watch a film or … write your blog.

Bring some games; especially the ones that just involve people. We have whiled away the hours at a standstill playing Mafia, Black Magic, Johnny Woops and various brain teasers.

Bring pain killers of varying varieties, you are sure to get a headache, feel sick etc at some point.

Bring toilet roll; goes without saying this is ESSENTIAL!

Bring large throws for covering yourself while trying to wee amongst hundreds of cars, trucks, people etc.

NB: I did eventually make it to Leh… 42 hours later! Looking back I wouldn’t change it for anything, I made some amazing new friends and have memories to last a life time.

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The second highest road in the world!

Can anyone top me on bus journeys never to be forgotten?

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  1. Brilliant round up of our journeys… you did miss out our 9 hour journeys to Pokhara which were hilarious. Definitely a bigger fan of the Indian trains, though not when 4 people try and cram on the free top bunk and play loud movies till 4am!

    1. The first journey was the one to Pokhara … but I didn’t share how much fun and laughter we had on the back seat of that bus!

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