Chitwan National Park

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February 3rd 2009
Published: December 16th 2010
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Howdy people, gotta say I am really looking forward to finally having this thing up to date at some point in the near future!
Took a crippling, no suspension bus to Chitwan with a mega low roof so you repeatedly bash your head! This was of obviously on a Nepali road, which are amongst the scariest in the world too, around valley and clifftop rims, cornering at speeds not meant to be reached by buses with little in the way of functional brakes. On the bright side, it was a pretty interesting set of sights on the way, including a proper Nepali service stop where will filled up on veggie burgers and saw two bushes which (for one reason or another) had been covered with egg shells... Landscape-wise, on leaving the Himalaya's around Pokhara, we travelled South to the flat flat plains of the Terai - not even a mountain in sight, and promises of 30 degree heat!

On arrival we (Brian, Ciaran, Barry and me) were greeted by the usual pile of 20-odd 'courtesy touts' who all piled on before we could even get our bags, with cries of various guesthouse names and who would give us the cheapest jeep. We upset them all by announcing that we already knew where we were going and it wasn't any of theirs but where Brian had stayed during his month of volunteering with the elephants. After we got to the guesthouse we ditched the bags and went for a wander to the elephant houses to meet Brian's elephant which, as it turns had gone for a wander in the jungle (yup from mountains to jungle in a few hours!)

Took a second wander down to the riverside a few minutes away, after walking down the dusty village road passing many fantastic goats (including 3 rebels wearing red bows...), a few wonderfully grotesque butchers and the usual stream of people drying rice, lonely dogs and identical little shops.

Sitting to watch the sunset, we pretty much just chilled in the remaining heat and had a beer or two before wandering back the guesthouse. Here we consumed far too much Khukiri XXX rum, before eating a fantastic buffalo dal bhat and heading back into town to a fairly regular Western looking rooftop bar with a big fire in a barrel. After a vicious bartering battle Ciaran and me supplied the others with another bottle of rum and several cokes thrown in.

Things got a little odd then when a wasted Nepali guy tried to join us, but was barely understandable. He then proceeded to give us a large bag of weed and roll a joint for him. Something was definitely a bit odd, and all was revealed when later on he asked us to do our park activities with the company that he worked for. Eventually he left and then so did we for a hefty nights sleep.

Up the next morning nice and early to go wait riverside for the march of the elephants to come for a bath, we passed the time amusing ourselves with a rather dumb little puppy who wanted to bite everything in sight. Things livened up a bit when Brian left up to run after a snake that was swimming in our direction - but the snake, clearly having met Australians before, swam rapidly away... Eventually it was clear that the elephants weren't coming, so we headed off along with all of the other sullen tourists.

Passed the afternoon with a canoe ride down the river, spotting such delights as crocodiles, storks, kingfishers and a solitary monkey (really, only one. see more at stations in India!). The best wildlife was yet to come fortunately.... We exited the canoe and went into the jungle with our two guide and started walking deeper and deeper and DEEPER into the underbush...

A short while later we encounter the first set of beasts, some cotton bug!!!!!!!!! This drama was following by two elephants being rode past us (kinda cool!) and then some sloth-bear holes and more crocodiles.

SUDDENLY, our guides stopped us. Something was afoot, but what? "Wait, wait... rhino! Shhhh." We waited. One of the two climbed a tree so he could try to find the correct direction. Off a ridge to the left of our trail was a massive field full of long grass and at that moment, the grass was moving.

So we stayed, standing quietly still and watched the grass, closer and closer towards the open field at the edge. We stood on knife-edge as the whole concept of doing the safari became a reality. The grey top third of a rhino came into sight near the shorter grass. It was small enough to be a baby (fist in mouth whilst watching the momentous occasion of seeing a baby rhino in the wild).

Then an American stomped towards where we were talking as loudly as a drunk town cryer. The rhinos were gone. The top third of a baby rhino was no more. Sob.

The height of the day had now passed and we spent the eve in the same bar as the previous night being hassled a little by the drunk.

Next day I was up stupidly early, so sat outside the cottage on a wall reading in the shade until i got a little bored of awaiting Peter Matthiewson to find the snow leopard so heading towards the riverside. Found 3 lonely puppies on the way, who first wanted to be my friend and then betrayed me by savaging my legs with feeble nippy puppy power. Eventually, I pawned them off onto a dog bigger than them which didn't look best impressed.

Met the others riverside and finally the elephants marched down. Myself, Ciaran and Barry climbed aboard one and were walked down to the river, where the elephant sat in the water and threw water over its back and over us on every cry of "Chhop!" from the guide. Thanks to the guide, he then threw us off twice whilst lying down. Once back aboard the elephant train, the beast stood up and promptly threw us off a final time (which is the video on youtube). Back riverside we watched the others go in the water and witnessed the emerging pattern of all of the girls being able to do properly elephant showers, without the violent throws! I don't want to cause too much speculation, but the guides were all male!

After finding out that we were leaving Chitwan, the drunk ran around to find us so he could sell us bus tickets, and after speaking to all but Brian who was buying the tickets, looked a little disappointed.

After we walked to a nearby village for lunch, Brian caught some geckos, all hitched a ride in a tractor trailer and then went to a butcher and brought a giant pile of poorly cut meat (we witnessed the cuttings, it wasn't the most pleasant thing I've ever seen. The guy was clearly not an artist and was more than likely a vegetarian. Too round up the cost of the meat, Brian brought some chicken feet and heads. This turned into our leaving BBQ which as undercooked as it was, made it pretty incredible that no-one was ill. We once again drank a little rum....

On a side note, we ot on with all the guesthouse people very well. The driver, Rajendra took to coming into our room and drinking some rum with us, whilst another snuck in on occasion for a sneaky cigarette. On the evening of the BBQ, one walked in on the other and they agreed a gentlemens agreement not to reveal one anothers vices to everyone else!

Next morning we said goodbye to Chitwan and set off back to Kathmandu with a drunken agreement the we would head to a casino on our arrival whilst wearing 'Indian' clothes.....

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