Our desire to get out of the city prompted me to ask the owner of our small guest house for suggestions.
“Would you like to go on raft?” he said.
“That would be lovely,” I responded.
He made a call while I sat there.
“Is forty dollars per person including transportation. Be down here at 6:30 in morning. I not be here. You pay boy in morning and he take you to bus. You go on raft and when finished you take local bus back. Pack your stuff before and I move it to other room. This room booked. Is good?” he said.
“Yes that’s good but how will we know where to go,” I said trying to get specifics and details of the plan.
“Is ok, boy take you,” he responded tamping both his hands down in a gesture of don’t worry, everything will be ok. “Other man will meet you, will take you to raft, is ok,”
“Where will the other man be? How will the rafting person and the bus know that we have paid?” I tried to confirm.
“Yes, yes, I tell,” he said. And that was that.
And so at 6:30 yesterday morning we paid the $80.00 cash to a boy we had never seen and followed him through the maze of awakening streets. He put us on a bus; spoke to the fare collecting young man, and left. Half an hour in we asked how far it was to where we were going. “2 ½ hour,” the boy told us. Shortly after that he also got off the bus.
With no paperwork, receipt or knowledge of where we were going or what the day would bring we let go of any expectation and enjoyed the ride. Our mouths hung open in amazement at the complete utter chaos of the traffic, changed to astonishment at the beauty of the mountainous cliff road we descended and changed again to terror as we slowly, carefully navigated around multiple hairpin turns with other buses going the opposite direction with not a pencils width between them. It was a sheer drop on one side and straight up the other. To try to explain the actuality of the situation would sound overly dramatic. For four hours we slowly descended. We had long since given up any thought that whoever was going to meet us would still be there when suddenly the bus stopped and a boy told us that this was our stop. We got off the bus.
A smiling man immediately approached us and introduced himself as our guide. It was then that we realized we had a legit white water rafting adventure waiting for us. We paddled down 25 kilometers of fun, fast-water fare similar to Cobden on the Ottawa River (except that we were heading towards India and the Ganges River) down some class 4 rapids, some of them 200 meters long. We could see the highway high above us (it was a sobering sight to see an old bus nose first in the water). At the end of it all we were given a delicious lunch and our guide led us back to the road and flagged down a bus. I couldn’t understand the conversation but it was clear that he was insisting we not be put on the roof with the other overflow of people. The crush inside was so tight that it made the airplane space feel like my living room. One of the three men hanging out the open door decided that it would be more comfortable on the roof and swung himself up en route. We arrived back in Kathmandu safe and happily embraced our deluxe room with its double bed and ½ ply toilet paper.