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After 50 years, Kathmandu’s ‘hippie’ buses reach end of the road

In the 1960s and 1970s, Western travelers seeking enlightenment in South Asia brought with them German-made Mercedes Benz buses to get around on their own.

But, many travelers ran out of cash and were forced to sell their buses to the locals of Kathmandu. Nepalis quickly and completely embraced the Mercedes 508 and 608D models and adapted them for public transportation.

Now after over 40 years of service, these buses are being decommissioned by the Nepali government, because they are too old, leaving locals saddened and in some cases, angered.

 

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Their drivers embrace the hippie life with decorations and stickers that reflect an earlier era in which Western travelers roamed Kathmandu and South Asia in search of enlightenment.

 

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This man has been driving his bus for well over 20 years. He says he bought this 1976 model from a Westerner who was out of money when he was traveling in Kathmandu.

 

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Rajendra Pokhrel has been driving his Mercedes 608D for 27 years. He has not missed a beat of his Mercedes since he started driving. His seat is highly personalised, after years of use.

 

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Despite their age, the 608 Ds remain in fine working order. This has been possible thanks to the constant effort of hands like these that are adept in repairing a bus’ drum brakes.

 

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Thimi in south-eastern Kathmandu is known for its mechanics and for its concentration of Mercedes 508 and 608D buses. Every roadside repair shop is piled up with spare parts.

 

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A mechanic for 25 years, Rajeet Nakarmi has seen countless buses come through his yard. His work, he says gives him deep satisfaction. As the Mercedes buses go off the road, mechanics like Nakarmi will move on to fixing newer Indian buses. But the good memories the bus has given him will always make him smile!


Published on August 17th, Wednesday, 2016 10:07 AM


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1 Comment
  • Neha says: | September 02 2016 2:58pm

    Though the article was short , I got to know many things through your article (it was short but was effective).Infact it was really informative and impressive. Hope that you might visit Nepal again.

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