2007 #11: The “Oh God Save Me” Mountain Bus Experience

We were very lucky to be on a bus with quite good seats. This meaning our knees did not touch the seats in front of us. The ride was very mountainous, which I was to find out as we went along meant full of curves and alarming drops over the sides of quite narrow roads.

The mountain dips down to taste a truck - will it eat it or will it let it pass?

The mountain dips down to taste a truck – will it eat it or will it let it pass?

The mountains have jaws, and now and again they clamp down on a passing bus or truck.

The mountains have jaws, and now and again they clamp down on a passing bus or truck.

The bus driver was full of confidence, so he had no problem driving on these roads at the pace of a speeding bullet. This is not to say there weren’t warning signs, such as driving past trucks with “Oh God Save Me” painted on the sides and and local people needing to lean over us and throw up out the window. Too late – we’d already paid the ticket, boarded, and had very little chance of getting of aside from doing a 007 number out the door. Due to the lack of a helicopter fortuitously hovering beside us, we decided to stay aboard and take our chances.

If you look at the left of the photo, you can see a road winding along there. It looks low from here, but it's still a few hundred feet up...

If you look at the left of the photo, you can see a road winding along there. It looks low from here, but it’s still a few hundred feet up…

It doesn't pay to look up. There are rocks everywhere held up by little tiny stones, just dying to come down and meet ya...

It doesn’t pay to look up. There are rocks everywhere held up by little tiny stones, just dying to come down and meet ya…

The old man passed the blessed food around and people put rupees in his tray. He wouldn't accept any money from us though. Not sure why.

The old man passed the blessed food around and people put rupees in his tray. He wouldn’t accept any money from us though. Not sure why.

Very shaky because I took it out the bus window. This old man is a hermit and that doorway is the entrance to his cave. The bus stopped and he got on and passed around 'prasad' - blessed food. What exactly was he saying...?

Very shaky because I took it out the bus window. This old man is a hermit and that doorway is the entrance to his cave. The bus stopped and he got on and passed around ‘prasad’ – blessed food. What exactly was he saying…?

I some villages the tribes will have their own king - he gets to have the tallest house in the village.

I some villages the tribes will have their own king – he gets to have the tallest house in the village.

Yup, that's a glacier. We went past several of these. Sangla District, Himalayas.

Yup, that’s a glacier. We went past several of these. Sangla District, Himalayas.

The only highlight of this trip really was stopping at an “Aryan Tibetan” cafe, which served the first Momo’s we’d had here since last year. Absolutely delicious, as usual. By the time the bus arrived at Sangla, 11 hours or so after we started, the novelty of the bus ride had pretty much worn off. We hiked about 1km up a slight gradient, which felt like Mt Everest because we were stuffed and now getting up a lot more in altitude, and found ourselves a Guesthouse to stay in. We were given a room with a nice mountainy view (of course – what else are you going to see in the mountains?…) and flopped onto the bed to enjoy stretching out and not moving any more. After a while we tried all the light switches, which by now was becoming a bit of a game. Sure enough, we had about 6 switches and 2 of them actually did something to do with illumination. Another rang a bell downstairs, which I didn’t realise, and this caused a bit of confusion when the “boy” knocked on the door and asked us what we wanted, while we asked what he wanted, and we all stood around trying to figure out what was going on. Another funny thing was, even though we were in a double room, they only provided us with one towel. Never mind, we had 2 corners each, and when you have no towels in your luggage at all (use a sarong), this is the height of luxury.

A little later, down in the dining room, we tried to explain to the staff, who had about as much English as we had Hindi, the concept of putting onions with the fried mutton that was on the menu. I think they thought we were crazy as they had not heard of doing this before. It was akin to suggesting we would eat the wool and not the sheep or something, in their minds. Anyway, we ended up with something with meat in it, as well as yummy veges. Aside from the fact they had the t.v. turned up to screaming pitch on the counter and the forks were so thin they actually bent when introduced to mashed potato, it was a good meal.

And then – to sleep.

Looking up the wild and beautiful Sangla Valley.

Looking up the wild and beautiful Sangla Valley.

The village of Sangla.

The village of Sangla.

Aha! Momo territory. When I see these sorts of buildings, I start looking around for momo signs. Tibetan dumplings - yum!

Aha! Momo territory. When I see these sorts of buildings, I start looking around for momo signs. Tibetan dumplings – yum!

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