Things I love about Nepal: Blingin’ semis

Posted on November 16, 2010

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decorated Nepali trucks

The first time I saw one, my jaw dropped. It was the most fantastically bizarre thing I had seen in a long time. It bowled along down the street like a big, mechanical, Siva-praising disco, multicolored tinsel wagging to and fro in a jolly rhythm. Still agape, I turned in my seat to look back at it. The backside of the trailer told me in cheerful block letters, “See You!” I continued to stare as the truck disappeared down the street.

gas tanker

These blingin’ semi trucks are one of my favorite things to see in Nepal. And they’re not hard to come by, either. Most trucks carrying freight across the land seem to be decked out in tinsel and elaborately painted designs. If you get out of the city and hit the open road, you’re bound to see these trucks by the dozens. You can bet your bottom rupee on it.

Just one of many seen on the way to Pokhara.

With a little research, I discovered that these trucks are actually ubiquitous throughout Central and South Asia (mostly in Pakistan, Afghanistan, India, Nepal, and Bangladesh). Some folks call them “jingle trucks” because of all the dangling chains and doo-hickeys that decorate the truck. And, adding to my joy, I also found that some truckers have a side business of carrying passengers for long hauls, kind of like a long-distance taxi. Wheeee! Imagine hitching a ride from Kathmandu to Delhi in the cab of something that looks like this:

decorated Nepali truck

Whoo! Sweet ride!

Apparently there are workshops that do up the trucks for the truckers. And there’s a belief that a beautiful truck is good for business. I learned more than I think I ever needed to know about blingin’ semis on this journalist duo’s online exhibit.

There are more things I love about Nepal. But these semis are high on the list.

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Posted in: Street life, Travel