Weekend in Chitwan!

Trip Start May 28, 2010
Trip End Aug 02, 2010

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Jungle Adventure World

Flag of Nepal  , Nārāyanī,
Monday, June 7, 2010

We left Saturday morning for Chitwan National Park...it's a 5-6 hour bus ride south of Kathmandu. We got on the bus early...7 AM, and left soon after. The drive out of Kathmandu was interesting...first the houses and shops got nicer, then they got smaller, more spread out, and dirtier. The bus started up the long slope to exit the Kathmandu valley, and the buildings gave way to grass and trees. At the top of the pass, the bus slowed to negotiate with the transit police, and children carrying loads of chips, bottled water, soda, and candy climbed onto the bus or held their goods up to the window in an attempt to make a sale. Soon enough, we continued on our way. The bus was an old tour bus...the seat cushions were faded and worn through in places. No air conditioning...so we attempted to keep cool by keeping the windows open. Unfortunately, this time of year is very dry (the rainy season will start any day) and the dust was a little heavy. The road out of Kathmandu is very busy...hundreds of the brightly colored, slow moving Nepali version of the semi, motorcycles, taxis, and then the local people on bikes and on foot. The bus was not shy about passing on the twisty mountain road...luckily all the drivers on the road are constantly watching for people in the opposite lane and will slow down or stop completely to let a passing vehicle through. This is still amazing to me...in the US people would be swearing and flipping the other driver off, if not plowing straight into the oncoming vehicle. The people here are much more patient and understanding of strangers. I have still not heard or seen anyone get upset at someone else or swear to offend. I have seen some people get frustrated...but I feel like they accept the annoyances of life a little more than people back home.

Observations. Moving on.

We arrived in Chitwan in the afternoon. The first thing we noticed when we exited the mountains was the heat. It was a humid, sticky, sweltering, sunny type of heat. A "welcome to the jungle" type of heat. I cannot imagine what India must be like. We stepped off the bus in a little field away from the city and were beset by a hoard of taxi drivers and hotel men. We found the man for the hotel we wanted, hopped onto the back of an open Jeep, and headed off. The man was funny...short, with a little straw hat, long baggy pants, and a long sleeved Indian style cotton shirt. If he had had dreads, he would have looked like the stereotypical Jamaican. Later we figured out that he smoked a lot of interesting things. We also found out that the locals did some drugs. But that comes later.

Time to start summing things up or this is going to be the longest blog post in the history of blog posts. Well maybe not. But its possible.

We experienced a hailstorm underneath a tin roof...that was pretty loud. It cooled off, and then we went on a walk with our guide, Harka. He was very nice and quite funny. His English was good, but his accent was hilarious at times. We wandered through the woods, saw some domesticated elephants, some cool bugs, and some plants. At the end of the walk, we were dropped off at one of the rivershore bars...handy for the bar owners. We ordered some Nepali beers and sat back to watch the sunset on the river. Then we went to dinner at a place called Caseys, which was good! I got some fried fish...I am getting sick of rice. It's bad news. I need to like rice.

We retired to our little jungle cabin...complete with mosquito nets and malfunctioning electricity supply. No fan and no light in the room (thankfully the bathroom light worked). It was hot. And muggy. But we slept well, despite it all.

Sunday we woke up early, at 5:30, got dressed, and ate some breakfast. To be chronologically accurate, it is now time for a shower story. I decided it would be good to start the day somewhat clean after sweating all night...so I walked into the bathroom to take a shower. The showers here are different...there is no partition or curtain, it is just a shower head poking out of the wall of the bathroom. The drain is in the bathroom floor. If you close the lid of the toilet the seat stays dry! But anywho, I was a few minutes into my shower when I saw movement near the shower drain. I looked over, and a huge rat crawled out of the drain and onto the bathroom floor. I was shocked into silence, then grabbed the bucket of water you are supposed to use to rinse the floor and doused the rat. He (or she?) scrambled back into the drain. I then proceeded to laugh, out loud...and think about how I would write this into my blog. Blogging is starting to become like facebook statuses...I spend some time every day thinking what I'm going to post. It's beginning to get silly. The other volunteers on the Chitwan trip said they are doing the same thing...so I feel a little bit better. =)

The cook was really nice...served us the food himself...and they tried to give us a Western style breakfast. Unfortunately, he seemed to have put sugar on the scrambled eggs. It was a bit odd. But after breakfast, we went down to the river for our canoe trip. The canoes were long, skinny things made of tree trunks. One guy stood on the back and poled us along the river. Harka had described them previously as "Wobbly Boats"...he was so right. They were wobbly. I was really concerned for my camera. We did see an alligator! The trip ended abruptly when some men crossing the river on elephants gave Harka the danger sign...we went to the bank quickly, scaled it, and peered across the river to see a wild elephant approaching. We watched him for a while...but then he turned and went the other way. We then took a hike to the elephant breeding center. We saw some birds, monkeys, deer, and the highlight: a tiger footprint. Harka was concerned about rhinoceros...at one point he climbed a tree to scan the surroundings for danger. It was intense. He cracked us all up. The elephant breeding center was cool...we saw some baby elephants and got to feed them crackers!

The other highlight of the day was the elephant bathing. We climbed on the back of our hotel elephant, Pinky, and were then doused with a few trunkfuls of water. Then, Pinky's trainer instructed Pinky to sit....and we fell off into the river. This was repeated several times. Great fun. The river felt amazing...it was very hot again. When I was gathering my wallet and belongings after the elephant bath, a local guy walked up to me and appeared to be offering me drugs. He said something like, "Let me know if you are interested and I can show you a good time." I was a little unnerved and said that I was already having a good time, thank you, and walked away, fast-ish. Haha! I do think a lot of the local kids were doing something...no idea what though. I am not well versed in drugs. Linda and Haylee were caught in the hailstorm on the first day by the river and took shelter underneath a tarp with some men from the town. They were offered something...lassi tea with "helicopters" that would "make you fly!"...so if anyone reading this can inform me what helicopters are...that would be awesome. =)

We then wandered around downtown until our clothes dried...I took a nap...and then Hayley and I decided that the river was the place to be and got back in. While we were sitting in the water, a group of teenage Nepali boys came over to the shore and talked to us. It was entertaining. We discussed the proper method to skip stones...with them showing off their wonderful stone skipping skills (which were actually pretty good!). Then, we debated who the best singer in the United States is. We agreed on Michael Jackson. =D Finally, they asked us if we were married. We said no. This was apparently mind-boggling. They asked us when the proper age to get married in the States was...and our response of "Whenever we want to" received some very strange looks. After inviting us to smoke and play cards with them, and being politely refused, they wandered off.

We also went on an elephant safari...rode on the back of an elephant on a little platform and watched some animals. We saw some peacocks and a lot of deer. Then we went back, ate a traditional Nepali dinner of dhal baat, and then went to a Tharu cultural dancing show. I still cannot believe how beautiful all of these people are. Then we went home and went to bed! The fan worked, which was great.

After a breakfast and some bird watching with Harka, we hopped on another hot, dusty tour bus and headed home. It was a weekend of adventure...we were all glad to step into the familiar chaos of Kathmandu, and the cooler temperatures. We took a taxi home and took the rest of the day easy.

The End!

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Mom on

i would stay away from all helicopters in Nepal.....no matter whether they are metaphorical or real helicopters.......

dad on

sounds like a great adventure. I agree with the idea of staying away from helicopters. probably some form of psychedelic drug. stay safe.

Anne Whitis on

i keep thinking about you sitting in the river....how many alligators were in that river? do they worry about the gators?

Letitia Harmon Jeffrey on

Amen to the beautiful people. It's a good thing I'm married. Takes care of the "but which gorgeous Nepali man do I find MOST attractive" question.

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