Trip Start Sep 02, 2012
Trip End Oct 10, 2012

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Where I stayed
The Birder's Inn Bharatpur
Read my review - 3/5 stars
What I did
World Famous Bird Sanctuary

Flag of India  , Rajasthan,
Sunday, September 16, 2012

 We caught the 6.30am bus for our 4-hour journey to Bharatpur.  DJ made the executive decision to leave Jaipur as early as possible so that we could have more time to chill at our hotel in Bharatpur.  He says it's the nicest hotel that we stay in on this tour, but unfortunately for one night only.

  Our bus trip was totally uneventful apart from the goings on happening on the side of the road.  I suppose it was quite early when we passed through the villages, as they appeared to be just waking up.  A common sight were men standing in their undies chucking buckets of water over themselves.  Another common sight in the more rural areas were men and women hitching up their clothes and carrying out their morning ablutions by the side of the road.  I guess when you gotta go ya gotta go.  It would appear that this part of Rajastan is mainly farming as there were  crops pretty much as far as the eye can see.

  Five minutes before we arrived at our hotel the heavens opened - just what you need when you are trying to get all your luggage off a bus, but as luck would have it our hotel was straight across the road. 
  Wow!  DJ was not wrong.  The hotel reception was quite new and still being finished off.  Even the older sections at the back of the hotel look lovely, in a colonial kind of way, and we even have a swimming pool!!!   Our room is big and airy, although a little sparse in furnishings, however the shared balcony over looking the lush gardens is just what the doctor ordered after our stay in Jaipur. 

 The rain finally cleared about midday.  After lunch we hit the pool and enjoyed just floating about and chilling out - doesn't get much better than this.  About 4.30pm this afternoon, Maddie, Ewan, Doris and I have opted to take a cyclo-rickshaw to the world famous bird sanctuary just down the road.  There is very little else in Bharatpur, no village, just a few other hotels either side of the highway to provide accommodation to the thousands of tourists who come especially to visit the bird sanctuary.  DJ has arranged for 2 drivers to pick us up and take us the 5oo meters down the road to the bird park.  He has negotiated the fee and tells us that there will be no need to employ the services of one of the park guides as our cyclo chappies are more than capable of bird spotting.  Our cyclo drivers for this excursion are Mr Singh & Mr Singh.  

  Doris and I boarded our rickshaw and the first thing I noticed was an overwhelming smell similar to that of the fat in an old chip pan!  However that is soon forgotten as Mr Singh introduces himself and lays out his credentials.  He has been doing this job 20yrs and it took him 3 months to learn and spot all 357 species of birds in the park.  He can also translate this information into Dutch or German should the need arise.  I'm impressed - however I'm not too impressed at the moment with his cycling, as we are travelling at the speed of an overweight tortoise and at this rate it will take us till midnight to do the park and get back home again.

  We arrived at the entrance to the bird park and Mr Singh asks for our assurance that he will not be discarded in favour of a park guide.  We assure him that he is under contract to show us the park.  We purchased our tickets and entered through the gates, but not before there is a little bit of pressure applied to use a park guide.  We had barely gone 10ft when I asked innocently. " Isn't that a Drongo?"  to which Mr Singh replied.  "Madam, please, I will be telling you all these things - that is my job."   Fair enough Mr Singh I don't want to steal your thunder - we'll pretend we know nowt.  I was warming to this little man rapidly.  He was a mine of information.  He told us about the days when the park was privately owned and used as a bird shoot for the wealthy.  On one particular day of these private shoots, 4,273 birds were shot, not for food - just for the sport. Fortunately in 1964 someone had the good sense to turn it into a national park and stop the senseless killing of birds.  In 1985 the park was given World Heritage listing, it covers 29 sq kilometers, 18 of which is drylands and 11 wetlands.  As we tootled along Mr Singh never missed a trick, he was very knowledgeable about every aspect of the birds he'd spotted, he knew the best spots for taking pictures he also knew where to find the antelope that also lives in the park.  It was a thoroughly enjoyable afternoon, sitting in the rickshaw enjoying the view and listening to Mr Singh.  He asked us about our families, and then we asked him about his.  Mr Singh is 41yrs old, he has 3 children a boy aged 15, a girl aged 12 and a younger son aged 10.  He says he and Mrs Singh will not be adding to their family, 3 is enough, as he wants to make sure his children have a good education.  He has told them to 'work hard at school, or you'll end up as a cyclo driver like me'.  He says his children all love school and are quite clever.  He has aspirations of his elder son becoming a Dr.  Mr Singh is no different from any other parent, rich or poor, he wants something better for his children.  I have a deep admiration for this man and what he has been able to achieve.

   We watched the sunset as we made our way back through the park.  I have taken a lot of photos, but I'm afraid my camera isn't good enough to really capture the birds or their habitat. 

 Time to return  to our hotel, or more to the point Doris & I hope to return to our hotel.   We are yet again risking life and limb as Mr Singh peddles away with out a care in the world into on coming traffic without lights.  No surprises there, could only happen in India.  Good job you don't have to state in your insurance cover that you will most probably spend a great deal of time traveling on the wrong side of the road.   We say goodbye to the talented Mr Singh and thank him for a very pleasant afternoon.
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