Published: July 12th 2011July 9th 2011
This is gonna be a long post. I have just had the most incredible weekend!
It all began on Friday night, at 11pm, we got picked up by our lovely driver Kundan, and made our way to Corbett National Park. We decided that we should probably take turns in sleeping, so at least one of us knew what was going on, Karissa and I stayed up till around 2, when we gave up and let the others take a turn, only to be woken up a bit later as we had come to a complete standstill! The main road was chocka-block with so many trucks, all stopped, and didn't look like they were going to move any time soon. In the end we turned around, and our driver followed a different road, but then we came to another standstill while the buses and cars up ahead passed each other, then carefully drove past and eventually back onto the highway. At this point it was about 3am, pitch black, raining and there was lightning flashing. We had been listening to what seemed to be an endless soundtrack of love songs from the past 50 years! (turned out there were 100 songs on
the disc!!) The next thing I remember, was waking up at about 4 to brilliant sunshine and amazing scenery! We had finally reached safari land, and only had another hour or two till our hotel. We stopped on the way at a random hotel to use the bathroom (gotta love Indian hospitality, even at 5am!) and finally arrived at about 6.45am. Kristina and Cayla passed out in their room, and Karissa, Emily and I went to bed soon after arriving. Our rooms were individual bungalows, with 2 rooms and a huge bathroom in each, containing a jacuzzi bathtub! We then woke up at 8, for a luxurious breakfast. I managed to eat some omelette and toast, while trying not to fall asleep on the table, then went back to bed till 10!
At 11am we got up and jumped in the car, and Kundan drove us to a hindu temple. On the way we passed some settlements and everything was beautiful and green and it was sunny and the air was so fresh. It was such a relief to be out of the city, and it smelt a bit more like home. We walked from the car over a huge
bridge surrounded by the most incredible scenery, and left our shoes in a tent, then made our way up the steps to the temple. Luckily we reached the uncovered bit as it began to rain, and when we finally reached the top, some priests were there and put a blob on our foreheads and gave us some sort of Indian sweet. Luckily when we reached the bottom of the steps it had stopped raining again, so we got our shoes and walked halfway down the river, rolled our trousers up and waded in! We got some great photos, and the water was so refreshing! We sat on the rocks drying off and spoke to Kundan about India and where he lives, and about some cultural things, including the caste system. It was really interesting to hear it from someone who grew up not in the city, especially as he is a Singh, from the Raj and Maharajah families in his village, so is one from the higher castes.
We went back to the hotel for lunch, and had delicious buffet lunch, including butter chicken and vegetable korma, it was so good!
Kristina, Emily, Karissa and I then planned to go
to the Jim Corbett museum, but it was raining really hard, and he said that we could go and see the villages instead. Unfortunately, Cayla had to catch up on sleep as she wasn't feeling well before we arrived, so she didn't get to see the village.
The settlement we went to was spread over a few fields, which we got showed around, and it was amazingly beautiful and peaceful. The people we met were really shy, but couldn't seem to help watching us, and even spoke to us a bit. Some of the older guys living there spoke a bit of English, and we spoke to them, and Kundan found us some kind of fruit which had a kind of milk coming out of it, we had no idea what is was, until they cut it open and we realised it was some kind of fig!
The next house we went to had a 'nimbu' (lemon) tree outside, and they picked a lemon and cut it for us, it was sour of course, but tasted quite good.
We also noticed that there was a lot of cannibis plants growing around, only used for medicinal purposes of course!
was falling in biblical amounts while we were walking around, and by the time we got back to the car, my feet had turned green, because all the dye had run out of my trousers! Despite wearing waterproof coats, we were all pretty drenched, and the rain had almost stopped by the time we got back to the hotel! (typical) After changing out of our wet clothes, we drove to the elephant place and met our new friend Ladly. We all piled on the one elephant, Cayla and Karissa one side, and Kristina, Emily and I the other. It was a really fun ride, and we saw some really cool trees and plants and even a few deer, unfortunately it was early evening so there were hundreds of insects, including a lot of mosquitos. Needless to say, I am now covered in bites!
It's funny, because I've always thought of elephant rides as a once in a lifetime thing, but have now ridden an elephant on 3 occasions!
Twice on the ride, Emily's hat got knocked off by a stray branch, and we panicked a bit, but the elephant picked it up and gave it back to us! She was
so clever, and really well trained. We got some excellent photos of us on her, and with us next to her as well.
There are more photos below