Stop and Get Stamped

This is the border between India and Nepal at the town of Sunauli, and like all the other crossings it is not a very attractive place.  Nationals of the two countries don’t need to check in with customs or immigration, and wander back and forth at will across the dirty, noisy, chaotic frontier.  To make things worse, a political dispute had closed the border to commercial traffic, and although a temporary resolution had been found, there was still a huge backlog to clear.  The line of trucks waiting to cross into Nepal started 13 km before the border.  If you are heading into Nepal you most likely arrive here by bus, and get dropped in the turmoil of a market 200m from customs.  Immediately touts will tell you it is 2 km, and try to con you into taking their rickshaw.  The walk is short but unpleasant, dodging truck exhaust, garbage and hustlers.  Keep a close eye on your belongings.  It is so easy to miss the Indian immigration post that they employ a pleasant young man named Raju to look out for foreigners, and make sure they don’t walk straight into Nepal.

We arrived in Sunauli after dark, which made the scene even more surreal.  There are no street lights in this remote and poor part of the country, so everything is back-lit by the headlights of trucks and motorcycles.  I hesitated to have my camera out for security reasons, and because just walking up the road required a lot of concentration, but when we dropped our bags for a few minutes at the Indian immigration window I took a few shots.  For this one I stood in the middle of the road, with one truck behind me lighting the sign, and one in front back-lighting the figure who is right on the international border.

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