Tuesday, December 29th 2015
I brushed my teeth to the sound of trumpeting elephants before heading downstairs for breakfast. I finished my Chai and relaxed in the room before we joined the group on a Jeep safari. We shared a Jeep with Bennie and Verena, as well as Graham and Rick from the U.K. It was a bumpy ride through several villages before our arrival at Chitwan National Park. Our guide took his time to finish reading his morning newspaper before he left his post to join us on the tour. Another funny reminder that we’re on “Nepali time.”
We saw many types of birds: the black ibis, common coot, common miner, osprey, white and black storks, the black drago, the crested serpent eagle, and our favorite, the kingfisher. We also saw a lot of deer, wild boar, and a couple of crocodiles. The guide informed us that 20,000 lakes used to be called 1,000 lakes, and that the number of lakes keeps increasing over the years.
After returning to the hotel, it was time to go to the Elephant Festival. We didn’t get to see anything wild and crazy with the elephants; but I can say that I have witnessed an elephant beauty pageant in my lifetime! The elephant that Trevor rode on top of earlier was in it, and we thought it was by far the best painted one.
Although it was really warm out, all the locals were bundled up like we were in the tundra. We wandered around the vendors, cotton candy and balloon carriers, carnival games, past the haunted house and the shady generator wiring which we cautiously stepped over.
Later, we joined the crew again for a canoe excursion where we saw many more birds (several kingfishers included), a whole lot of crocodiles of various sizes, but not much else. The fauna was limited, but it was still a very relaxing voyage.
A nature hike followed, and we were on the prowl for tigers and rhinos. We had no such luck, but we were still happy to get out for a hike. We also got to see some pretty large termite mounds, one of them taller than me which we were told took about 5 years to make.
There was a crazy looking vine that grew from the ground up that was about 600 years old according to our guide. He also told us about the water hyacinth, an invasive species, that had blanketed overtop many of the lakes and is unfortunately too bitter for consumption by most species. This has created some negative effects to the local ecosystem and they were still trying to find ways to remove it.
We had a wonderful time, the guides were commendable, and it was beer-thirty! We wandered down the street to the “Acoustica Restaurant & Bar” and got a Gorkha, which was much tastier than the Everest beer we had in Kathmandu.
We talked a while with the bartender and a co-worker of his, and after the power shut off at random, they shared with us their frustrations with the country’s electrical issues caused by the fuel shortage. Nepal is a land-locked country and at the time, had limited fuel supplies. India didn’t want to help since Nepal had rocky ties with them, and China claimed they would help, but nothing had been finalized. The best analogy I’ve heard to describe this is, that China is like a man hold a piece of candy to a child just out of it’s reach, taunting it. Bennie joined us for a beer and we talked with him about life back at home before we returned to our room for the night.
Jump Back to Part 5: A Rock Slide, Chitwan & Cultural Dance
Start from the Beginning at Part 1: Don’t Forget to Pack Your Anxiety