We moved here to Nepal when my youngest son was only 18 months old. This is his home, his normal. In typical little boy fashion, I suppose, he loves vehicles. Anything with wheels holds his attention and affection. While my older son struggled with the transition to not having the predictability of just walking out to our parking space and getting in our own car, my younger one took great delight in the experience of getting to ride many different forms of transportation. Just a few weeks ago, when he and I went to a farmer's market in another part of the city, he requested that we not take the one direct option of getting in a taxi and going straight to our destination. He wanted, as he often does, to ride in a bus to one spot, take a tuk tuk to another, and then finally get in a taxi. Certainly not a time-saving route, but he tends to get that things are not in a hurry here better than I often do! :)
So, to continue to share a bit about our home here, I wanted to share some glimpses of Zeke's favorite things here--the vehicles.
Vehicles here are not, in many ways, that unique from other countries in the region but are quite different from those we are used to in the West.
There are many large vans like this one that are part of the public transportation here. They call one a "microbus" or just "micro" for short. They travel along specific routes, and you get on one and find a space (or just cram in where a Westerner would never imagine there to be an actual space) and then exit and pay when you have reached the point on the route where you wanted to go.
This is a tuk tuk. It is a three-wheeled little vehicle with a seat in the front for the driver and a passenger (or a few) and then two benches line the walls of the back compartment. You enter through a small door in the back. Again, they travel regular routes, and you pay when you get off at your stop. Usually, and this is Zeke's favorite part, you tap the roof twice to let the driver know you want to stop and get out.
While this it itself just a regular car, it is decorated for a wedding procession. It is commonly part of a marriage celebration to have a car decorated elaborately with flowers. It is usually accompanied by a procession of family and friends and the wedding band. It is a delightful procession!
This is an ambulance. Not a lot to say about that, but ambulance service to private homes is not as common. Often people take it to transfer from hospital to hospital. Traffic does not yield to them as it does in the States, but they do have a light on top (or sometimes in front) and a siren.
Bicycles are certainly not unique to Nepal, but the number of people that ride them as a primary means of transportation is quite high.
Similarly, motorcycles are perhaps the most common mode of motor vehicles here. They are much more common for individuals or families to own than a car. I wish I had a photo of someone carrying a load they need to transport on a bicycle or motorcycle. It is truly impressive to see what they can manage to transport (grills, beds, major appliances, goats...seriously, it's amazing)!
One of Ezekiel's favorites is the bus. He really likes to ride the bus. He used to climb up the bars of our window and then hang off to pretend he was what he affectionately calls the "bus banger." Every bus has a guy (usually pretty young) standing in the doorway--often hanging out of it--who is calling out the destinations and trying to attract passengers to get on. He bangs on the side of the bus one time to tell the driver to stop and two times to go--thus, the name "bus banger." :)
This is also the person who collects the money (between 10 and 20 rupees, depending on the distance, which is roughly 10-20 cents in the US). Ezekiel was very disappointed, when preparing for our visit to the States this past summer, to find out that there are no "bus bangers" in America--only a machine to collect your money! What fun is that?! ;)
There are times, including now with the fuel shortage, that the buses get quite crowded. People (men only really) pile on top to ride or hang from the back ladder or the side door while the bus goes.
We often take taxis, especially if we have things to carry from errands or need to go to a specific location that isn't along a main bus route. We live in an area up a hill, and the tuk tuks and microbuses don't come up to our part. Taxis are much more expensive than taking a bus, but they are still quite inexpensive in comparison to what a taxi ride in the States costs! Usually, the price is negotiated before the ride.
This is perhaps our record number of passengers we have achieved in one taxi! There are three of us adults and eight kids! Seatbelts and car seats are not required! Technically, I believe the drivers are required to wear seatbelts, but they usually just drape it over themselves if they are approaching a checkpoint.
Not a mode of transportation for people, but water trucks are vehicles that are a common part of life here. Water is not just available at all times from municipal plumbing. At our home, we have a tank in the ground. For one hour per day, a line from the city supplies water to that tank. We then have a pump that pumps it to a tank on our roof. That tank is connected to the plumbing in our home. The supply from the city is often not sufficient, so we call a water tanker like this one, and they come and fill the tank with a big thick hose that looks like a fire hose. Ezekiel still likes to watch when they come and enjoys being the one to pay them, but it used to be an even bigger highlight for him. He would get SO excited to hear one coming into the neighborhood and would sit and watch the entire 20 minutes or so that it took to fill the tank.
He was a little overwhelmed here because the guys actually let him sit up in the water truck. It doesn't appear he's enjoying it, but it was a BIG deal for him!
When we still had a double stroller in our driveway, the boys would take a snack and sit in it and just watch the water truck. Big event for the day! :)
These tractors are also a common sight here, as they are often used to haul things.
Often several guys will ride along with the load, perhaps to help load and unload but sometimes just along for the ride.
These days with the fuel shortage, we see a lot less vehicles around than normal! We're hoping that things will soon return to normal functioning. In the meantime, good old-fashioned walking has been getting loads of us where we need to go.