Adventures in Driving, part 1

I could have died today. As I was driving down the infamous ring road of Kathmandu, the traffic was light so I cruised at a higher speed than normal. The only time it’s possible to drive that fast is in the mornings. In the afternoons the streets are choked with traffic jams, and in the evenings the darkness and lack of street lights makes speed a liability. When you’re on ring road, you’re likely to encounter a whole host of unpredictable stimuli, such as industrial trucks, buses, taxis, bicycles, dogs, cows, old men, joggers, motorbikes with a 15 foot pole tied to them for some reason, massive potholes, piles of rubble, dead horses etc.  Anything can jump out in front of you at any moment. Yet 6:30am, there just isn’t much on the roads yet.

Anyways, I was doing one my of my effortless passes around a large vehicle that  I commonly perform,  when right in front of me a huge bus jumped in front of me.  The bus saw me and screeched to a halt, which provoked screaming from several female passengers inside. I hit the brakes immediately and swerved around to my left, running parallel to the bus.  I quickly drove around the backside of the bus and passed it from the rear. I glanced backwards to see if anything substantial had happened. I saw a lone man on foot running around the side probably looking for my bloody corpse. However, the bus looked stable and there were no other collisions. I sped off immediately, thankful there were no consequences and not wanting to stick around for any traffic disputes.

What the hell just happened? Should I have stayed around? Did I do something wrong? Today was just another example of how dangerous the streets of Kathmandu are. If I had been day dreaming for just a second, it could have been a deadly crash. Neither of us saw each other at all; the bus was turning its way into traffic, and I was trying to cruise around the vehicle that was pausing for it. If something had happened, it would have been me suffering the consequences. I would have been a crumpled pile of flesh splattered on the side of that massive bus, while the passengers may have suffered whiplash at worst. A good lesson was learned today and I have some gratitude for not suffering a far worse fate. When venturing on Kathmandu’s notorious roads, it’s best not to chance fate even more by driving faster than you should. I’m thankful I didn’t have to learn this lesson the hard way.

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