As much as I liked being on the road for a week, I disliked being stuck behind one of these things. For the majority of the time on the Nepalese highways you have just overtaken one or there’s one in front that you’re looking to overtake. Its competitive and different degrees of dangerous depending on the road and who you’re sharing it with! However, quite often it was surprisingly cooperative and there was a spirit of teamwork as drivers honked and signaled back and forth. I say “surprising” because of the contrasting attitude of sheer belligerence and adamant non-cooperation that is the status quo on Kathmandu roads.
Basically, the horn is everything on the highways. It signals “I am here”…”I plan to overtake” …or “I am overtaking”. I don’t think I can recall it being used in retribution or as “fuck you get out of my way” as it does in Kathmandu. It was interesting to learn that the trucks use their right-turn indicators to signal to the driver behind that he can overtake. As mad as this sounds, it actually works quite well, as long as everyone understands the rules. Nepalese highway drivers know that a truck signalling to turn right is not actually planning to turn right off the edge of the cliff, but is giving the ok to overtake. (I suppose it puts the turn indicators to work in a world where there really isn’t anywhere to turn right or left …just a straight road to your next destination.)
There were times when everyone seemed to be cooperating and paying attention, and then some arsehole (there is no other word) would show up with a blatant disregard for anything going on around him, speeding and overtaking without looking or signalling, creating numerous near misses with oncoming traffic, and causing waves of winded drivers in his wake. Those I fear more than steep drops or windy roads. And on the way back home, heading for the final uphill climb before the descent into Kathmandu valley, there were a fair few. Question is, do we do this next time, or the marathon wait at the notorious domestic airport. It will be one or the other because I loved what I saw and tolerating either of those evils is the only way to get back. See you!