Resort inspection, Elephants & Warm Indian welcome
Trip Start Feb 05, 2009
29Trip End Dec 16, 2010
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Leaving Kathmandu after more then 2 months…but not before I buy a motorbike, which I repaired and then decide to leave in Nepal for now. Long story, but cheap, financially helped out Stichting Veldwerk with it and just miss motorbike riding! Decision was quickly made. Kick-start a bit rocky! Was going to bring it into India in my van, but left it with a Nepali friend, so I can come and ride it in October, when I come back here again. Next day more repair work, this time on my van; some small things to be done. I was introduced to the best garage-owner ever, who helped me out big time. Having done an overland trip himself in the 70-ties, we hid it off and had amazing talks, shared meals at his house and he gave me a very low bill for all the repairs. Dere Dhandewath! Good luck with your amazing old automobiles.
Time to drive to Chitwan NP, one of wildlife national parks… In Kathmandu I got in contact with
So it happened that I am sleeping in a lovely jungle cottage at Hotel Jungle Lodge the next 3 nights, situated in a real jungle setting, listening to the animals at night. During the day going on an Elephant safari, doing a canoe trip spotting crocodiles, visiting the Elephant Breeding center and enjoying a local culture show. In between eating good food and spending interesting talks with Manager Isori. Might spend time as his house next year, helping his family out with farm work. Hotel Jungle Lodge staff, thanks for the amazing service!
On my way to the next resort, Rhino Lodge in Bardia NP, located in West Nepal. This national
2 more days left on my visa, which I like to spend in Deep Nagar, to meet up again with Hiralal and his family. They welcomed me so warmly on my first day in their country and as I am l eaving Nepal at the same border, I promised to visit them again. Nina and I are welcomed with a flower-mala and Ama (the mother) claims I have to stay at least 5 days this time! Sharing meals with the family, but eating first as we are guests, this time without 40 other villagers watching. They know me by now (and we arrived here in the dark) ;-) The next day we go for a long hike,
I make the last we-see-us-in-2-months-phonecalls and it’s time to cross back into India again. Planned to stay the necessary two months which turned into a full visa-stay…does is surprise anyone?
Nepal (May-August): The country of rice fields as far as the eye can see, Monsoon rains, snake season, lots and lots of butterflies, mosquitoes and leeches (in the mountains). Poor hospitable curious people, wooden houses, bicycles, buffalo-and-carts, electricity load shedding, dal-baath meals, roxi and not always visible amazing mountain views! A country I love to go back to October!
Border crossing process easy and quick without a full vehicle check, good because I forgot about the bit of charras Mara gave me, still untouched in the van! 9th of August: I am back in India! Feels good and stressed…driving on the roads here is much more hectic then in Nepal. Glad we get to Nanak Sagar lake a few hours later, giving me an easy re-adapting day. Our first Indian evening: sleeping on the top of the van, listening to singing from the nearby Sikh gurudwara, good talks and lots of stars in the sky!
I met Rachel in Kathmandu and she invited me to their farm near Rudrapur. As this is on our way, we kindly accept. Could not have gotten a more warm Indian welcome! She and her Indian husband run a eco-friendly resort (and cultural orientated holidays) in the most amazing green flower-rich surroundings. She lets us sleep in one of the cottages and we spend meals with the family. She has been in India already over 10 years, lots of knowledge and inspiring stories. The
Lots of Indian and Nepali people have told me about Nainital, the holy Swiss village of India. As we are relative close-by, we decide to take a detour before heading for Rishikesh. Nainital in monsoon, such a difference with the views on a sunny day! But both ways it feels tacky, looks
The next 250km we enjoy divers landscape views, eat Indian local food (no more dal-baath), wash ourselves in one of the many waterfalls (one of monsoon gifts) and wait patiently for the road to clear because of one of the many landslides (another monsoon gift). Just before Rishikesh we share our food with a Baba and then we are there: Rishikesh, the yoga city based at the Ganga with its numerous souvenir shops and temples. Stories and photos about this Holy place I leave for next time!
Back in India, back into Hindi speaking, back on the phone with friends, again avoiding cows on the road, joining in an aarti at the river…hectic, colorful, divers, intense…I am happy to be back!