Nepal on Foot, and Finally a Beer

BELAHIYA, Nepal — Also known as Sunauli, like the Indian town directly south of the border, Belahiya was where I set foot in Nepal for the first time.

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Soft drinks were a comforting sight.

The crossing was uneventful, no ticker-tape parade or marching bands to greet me. Just a few pedestrians and bicycle rickshaws. And lots of dust, even on the leaves of the few trees that dotted the scenery.

The Nepali customs office was a small shack that could’ve been mistaken for a bike-repair shop if not for the official-looking signs out front. I paid my entry visa fee and had my passport stamped.

“Will I be able to return to India?” I asked the Nepali official behind the wooden counter. I had read that re-entry could pose some difficulty, so I figured it would be better to know now than later.

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Sunset in Siddharthanagar.

“Yes, no problem,” came the reply.

I wasn’t completely assured by the response, but found myself happy to be on my way to Kathmandu.

A nearby restaurant looked like a good place to get a soda — a small bit of comfort, seeing familiar soft-drink brands from home — and figure out where to stop for the night.

Almost a full day of traveling didn’t make me feel like boarding another bus, but just a few kilometers up the road in Siddharthanagar, or Bhairawa, were more hotel options.

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Tuborg Gold hits the spot.

The choice of lodgings mostly came in the form of utilitarian, cinder-block buildings with steel-and-concrete balcony railings that doubled as clotheslines for my hastily hand-washed laundry — the equivalent of a Motel 6 or Super 8 Motel back in the States.

Without any discernible nightlife in the area surrounding my hotel on Siddhartha Highway, Siddharthanagar did have a few restaurants. I was surprised to see Tuborg, the Danish beer brand that seems to be locally brewed.

Not that it made a difference: It was good to have my feet on solid ground and a cold one in front of me.

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In Siddharthanagar, there were fewer English-language signs. (Photos by Bruno J. Navarro)
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Cows forage freely in Siddharthanagar, Nepal.
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