Saturday, January 2nd – Sunday, January 3rd, 2016
We got up early to prepare for the 12 hour-long journey that was ahead of us. We would later regret claiming the seats in the back of the truck once we started moving. Jim was about to get a little cozy with us until he looked up and saw the two pairs of damp, recently washed-in-the-sink socks that were dangling over his head. We had hung them up to air dry, and he abruptly shifted seats.
It was another foggy morning and was about to be an incredibly bumpy ride. The hind side of the truck always felt like it was flailing around violently as if you were strapped on top of a bull that was just branded in the ass. We were relieved to take a short break from the whiplash at a truck stop where we ate a spicy lentil and potato dish. Then it was back to the fun and exciting ride.
The truck drove us higher in elevation and I tried to squeeze in a quick nap. Key word: tried. I was pretty damn tired, but aimed to make the best of the scenery as we passed it by. It shifted from agricultural fields to dry desert brush with large rock slabs in the distance. Monkeys were scurrying around the villages as the bumpy dirt road transitioned to glorious, heavenly paved ones. At least for a little while. Once we were back on the dirt, Trevor started nagging at me for flopping around like a weeble wobble. As if it were intentional. I suppose my head smacked into his shoulder on a couple of occasions, but hey, my head wasn’t exactly enjoying the intimate shoulder contact either.
We finally reached Ken River Lodge, our final destination for the evening. There were many monkeys running around (as monkeys do), as we approached the property. The lodge was great! We shared a building that had four private rooms with Bennie and Verena from Germany, Carmel and Amelia from Australia, and downstairs were Nick and Jules from the UK. We were the unofficial United Nations of the lodge.
After ditching our bags, we met up with everyone in the main lodge to enjoy a buffet-style dinner before the sun went down. On our walk back, we passed a wild boar rummaging through the bushes, as well as several stray dogs and cats. Before eating, there were several optional tours discussed that we could partake in throughout the following day. One of them was a 3.5-hour long nighttime Jeep safari which I would have considered going on if I wasn’t scheduled to cook dinner that night. This was a little disappointing since I really wanted the chance to see a tiger in the wild. The other options were a 1-hour long waterfall hike albeit the waterfall was currently dry, a free nature hike early in the morning, and a boat ride along the river. For obvious reasons, we opted out of the waterfall hike and went with the last two remaining choices. After dinner and a short film on tigers, we returned to our room. We’d be baffled by the strange sounds that we’d hear throughout the night, especially that of a man yelling.
Fortunately we didn’t hear any horrible news regarding a man getting mauled overnight by a tiger as we drug ourselves out of bed to join the others on the nature hike. We ended up seeing a lot of birds, such as the Indian Robin, Indian Roller, and the Black Redstart. The guide also pointed out the footprints belonging to a jackal, leopard, Palm Civet, and the Blue Bull Antelope. We kept giggling like schoolchildren since it sounded like he was calling it the “Blueball” Antelope. This would just add insult to injury. This poor creature is absolutely hysterical looking to begin with. The guide also pointed out the Elephant Apple tree used for making chutney, termites that only eat the dead parts of trees, a hole dug up by a Sloth Bear (another funny looking creature that you should Google search), and we also saw many monkeys and cows. This is India, cows are EVERYWHERE!
We returned to the lodge, ate breakfast, then we were humored by a cow that was determined to drink Bennie’s coffee. After eating, we helped the others air dry the silverware, pots, and dishes in an interpretive fan dance. On our way to dump the trash off at the main building, we passed a group of monkeys sitting around in a circle looking like they were in the middle of a business meeting. The rest of our morning consisted of laying out in the sun on our balcony with our recently sink-washed clothes. Once noon approached, we met up with our roomies at the main lodge to have a beer before heading down to the river for our boat ride.
The boat ride was pretty uneventful. Our guide didn’t speak much, and we only saw a couple of birds and a water snake.
We grabbed a few beers and carried them up to the balcony with the others. After socializing for a bit, Bennie, Carmel and I headed back to the truck to meet with Ray to get started on our vegetable stir fry and our “American-sized” rice. This would be quite clear when we finished cooking it all. It was enough to feed a village. There were no village people to feed after everyone ate, however the stray dogs and cows seemed pretty grateful to be showered with rice. I had enough to drink so I headed to bed as Trevor met with the others for more beer. I listened to a cow grazing outside my window as I fell asleep.
Jump Back to Part 9: The Ganges, Monkeys with Guns, Cobras & Silk
Jump Ahead to Part 11: The Erotic Temple, Wasps & Asparagus Farts
Start from the Beginning at Part 1: Don’t Forget to Pack Your Anxiety