On the way to the airport this morning we passed line up after line up of first buses, then cars. They are waiting in line for petrol. The stations here have a limited supply and, as are sulk, run limited hours. As we passed each station there were motorcycles in double lines from the opposite direction. Cheaper to own and operate, the motorcycles are the favored form of transportation. Unlike India, almost everyone in line was either wearing a helmet or had one tucked under his arm. As the line advanced forward, the bikes were being rolled. After all, why would you waste precious drops when muscle power will sufice?
The reason I learned was the absence of either self-serve or “fill it up.” A motorcycle rider could purchase a maximum of 5 liters; costing about 1.30$US/liter before any surcharges. If you have a bus with an appropriate license, 20 liters is your limit. A normal car – 15 liters. Which means that most of the bus drivers do this every day. I inquired if the lines were as long in other cities and towns. Yes, most likely as other places didn’t have as many stations as Kathmandu. Similar to Africa, it is many of these brightly painted buses which provide the transporting backbone in Nepal connecting the more far flung towns, cities and villages.
There were no taxis in the queues that I saw. No, I was told, they have their own station which is why it is far better to be an official taxi.
Since today was a holiday, there was little traffic on the road at 0800 this morning. The driver to the airport was quick blessed with an absence of close calls and death defying driving skills by May driver. There were still plenty of horns, as essential to raid navigation here as in India. My flight has hit another delay, but I’m not worried as I have three days to connect with my group for the Bhutan portion of this journey.