So when we arrived at the bus station at 8:30 and were told that, in fact, the only bus to Janakpur had already left at 5am, we were a little frustrated.
Over breakfast we consulted with the restaurant owner we had just befriended and he advised us to take a local bus to Itahari, from where there would be a bus every half an hour to Janakpur. Or, that we might in fact, be able to make it all the way to Narayangadh (for Chitwan National Park). And so we boarded a local bus with a few chickens and a pig, and headed to Itahari, in 2 minds about where to go.
At Itahari bus station we casually enquired about the next bus to Janakpur only to be told it wasn't until 3 pm!! WHAAT? What happened to every half an hour? Where were all these other buses going? After telling them we were planning on going towards Chitwan if we couldn’t go direct to Janakpur, we were instead advised to take a bus going to Birgunj and get off at a random junction town that wasn’t on our map. And so we did.
Once aboard the bus a stranger struck up a conversation with us and told us he was going to Janakpur! So we were on the right bus afterall? Although we would still have to change buses again. So do we go to Janakpur then? Or continue on to the random junction town on the way to Narayandagh? Hmmm.. We let the stranger convince us. Apparently Janakpur was THE place to experience Diwali in Nepal. And so we decided for the 3rd time that day to change our destination and head to Janakpur with him! And then he changed his mind and said he wasn’t going to Janakpur afterall, but to a town near to it. lol
After 6 or so hours we were dropped off at a tiny junction town with no more than a handful of huts. We were soon surrounded by a curious crowd who told us where to wait for the bus and even hailed the bus for us!! With no English spoken by them, and no Nepali by us, we communicated with smiles and got on the bus when we were told to.
A further 30 minutes later and we were dropped off by the side of yet another road with only a handful of shops. Was this Janakpur? 2 guys from the bus started haggling with a rickshaw driver for us, and after the price was settled upon, got back on the bus and continued on their way. We couldn’t believe the bus had actually waited for them to haggle for us!!
As soon as we sat in the rickshaw another guy came running over and joined us. He was a doctor and gave us a guided tour of the town and surrounding villages, as well as an explanation about Diwali and what we should do.
Nepal, whilst not a difficult place to travel, is certainly a lot raw-er and, so far, off the beaten path than India or Sri Lanka were. And we are LOVING it!