On Tuesday morning we set out for Nepalgunj from Lucknow. On Monday we did some research and found out which Lucknow bus station had the bus for Baraich, a big town along the way. On Tuesday we were woken early by an unwanted 5am wake-up call from the hotel porter - maybe he had the wrong room but at least this got us going. Had the paneer-paratha and chai at the usaul Lucknow breakfast joint and got the auto-rickshaw to the bus station. Then it all started - a conductor said "Gorakphur", Phil said "Baraich" and we were promptly bundled into the 8am bus for Baraich which promptly left. No time to buy bananas etc. They didn't want to tie our packs on the roof rack, which would have been better. We ended up with them jammed in the aisle. The bus was only Rs71 ($A1.50) for a 120km ride, so we can't complain. Phil bought a roadside cucumber along the way (Rs3 = 10c) - they were being peeled in front of him - so he has got into roadside food.
4 hours later we arrived in Baraich. About 10 seconds after people were getting off, people started jammimg on for the return trip. We had to send our packs out the window. Phil had to save Jenny from returning to Lucknow - she couldn't make headway to get off the bus! A bit of interaction (but no English) with pedal-rickshaw drivers established that the bus station for Nepal was somewhere else (turned out to be on the North side of town). We hopped on and hoped for the best, as English was hard to come by! The next bus for Nanpara and Nepal was all ready to go, so we were bundled on and it took off - no chance to buy bananas here either!
Another 2 hours to the India-Nepal border (only Rs25 = $A0.75). The bus stops about 1km south of Indian Customs. We walked to the customs point. We were the only westerners that day, so the customs guy was very friendly. He sent off for chai and started chatting about cricket, where we were from, looking at photos of our kids etc. We were stuck there until the chai arrived and was consumed. Next stop Indian Immigration. The officer here was a bit more formal, but no trouble getting an exit stamp. Then the Nepali police checkpoint. The guy was talking on his mobile phone. Someone else showed us the log book, which we filled out, then a "namaste" to the policeman (who was still on the phone) and we were off. Next is Nepali Immigration. These guys were really nice and gave us some pamphlets about trekking in Nepal. We had already got our Nepali visas in Delhi, but they could have easily been issued here. I think the guys might have been disappointed that they didn't get to issue us visas, as they were probably bored silly with so few non-Indians coming through. The whole border thing was very casual - there are hundreds of Nepalis and Indians flowing back and forth without anyone even looking - we could have walked straight through ourselves!
A 5km pedal-rickshaw to Nepalgunj got us to the Hotel Pahuna Ghar which seems reasonable (the meaning of reasonable is gradually being watered down).
This way to Nepal is a lot more fun than catching a plane from Delhi to Kathmandu ;)