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Published: April 1st 2010
It’s been over 5 weeks since I arrived in Nepal. By staying in one place for a bit I seem to have come a long way. My mind has had some rest and my body some challenges, just the antidote for the last few years… And now has come time to leave. I am getting on the Friendship Highway from Saturday, an eight day tour into Tibet, which (without any unexpected delays!) will get me to Lhasa just in time for the train to Shanghai, just in time for two days exploration before the ferry to Osaka and a week in Japan (just in time for my flight to Bangkok). Needless to say, it’s dawned on me suddenly that the next chance I have to ‘chill out’ like I have done here in Nepal could be some time off, but also that I have stayed somewhere long enough finally to meet some people properly - and they’ve really given me some things to think about: a Dutch couple who are making an expedition up Everest (yes the summit, not base camp) to clear some of the waste - including at least one (possibly famous) dead body; a gang of British ‘Golden
Girls’ (so dubbed at the hotel) who support children of women in prison here in KTM (where the prison is medieval and women can be imprisoned for 18 years for a still birth); and some of Nepal’s wealthy who’ve shown me the other side of the cheap and dirty coin with their ideas on the way things should and could be done and, with the mess the government here is making, without shame.
Anyway, after fights with crocodiles (see below), blissful treks in the mountains, challenging political questions and some of the endless theoretics I’d missed from my student days (and James W!), I’m moving on. Since my last entry, I went to the Langtang Region and trekked the Gosainkunda and Helambu treks (up to 4600m) which was brilliant and fulfilling. Gosainkunda is the site of pilgrimage to six frozen lakes in the summer by Buddhists and Sadhus. I made the trek a little ahead of time (mostly due to the heavy footsteps of my ‘porter’ behind me) and stayed in one village for two nights along with a speedy set of Germans whose entourage was six strong. This was the day a goat was found, killed and eaten
in front of my eyes. Ohm Mani Padme Hum.
Love to all, and a very Happy Easter Holiday x x x
P.S. Sorry no pics - will try to add some from internet cafe - PC had horrid virus and I've lost some stuff!
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Crocodilio (The Drama)
Far far away, in fact around 160km from any open water, just south of a foray of Himalayan mountains is a cup of jungle called the Chitwan National Park. This is the National Park of note in the region - the only one, and hence a well visited destination in Nepal. I wanted my friend Carolyn to get the ‘Classic’ experience and so booked a couple of days in here after our Annapurna trek. Beforehand however, we had been told many stories of disappointment. No exciting sightings, over commercialised, nothing compared to safari in Africa. So, we were expecting very little from the place. The main inhabitants of interest but rarely sighted, being the Tiger, Rhino and Gharial (croc family). On our first day, we visited some elephants who kindly and happily took us on their backs and through the jungle. This
in itself is a fond memory of the beast’s hips rocking getting up and down slopes and the thundering internal drumroll of their communication with the others. They took us straight to the open space of a relaxing one-horned rhino. Whoa! It was right there next to us, in the open. What a trip.
That afternoon we could only assume that we had seen as much action as we were surely likely to see. The place is flat as a pancake and after the mountains and the rhino sighting, we were pretty happy to loll about. But there was a schedule to keep and we were fitting in a canoe safari that afternoon. The river looked low and subdued, but I conceded that being ‘poled’ down a quiet stream for an hour or so might be pleasant. And it was - a dugout canoe sitting low in the river gently and subtly taking us further into the jungle. Again we were quite surprised to be up close to a crocodile on the north bank after just 10 minutes. Then, straight across on the island, another, a gharial. It was still but then slowly slinked down into the water. I
had missed my photoopporunit - fucf! Oh my god - suddenly, seconds later the shape of the beast was hammered up against our port side. The sound was as if we had crashed with another dugout and the boat rocked from the response of it’s passengers. I also yelped (at the time not really understanding why) and the driver at the back of the boat fell off into the water. “Get back in the boat man!!”, I cried, remembering my several year long fear of Jaws. Then I felt pain. As I looked back in front of me I saw the diluted streams of blood soaking my arm. Jaws again, stopped me from washing it off in the river.
The gharial was gone as quickly as it had launched out of the water. The driver got back on the boat safely (although screeching in disbelief) and the four of us (2 plus 2 guides) sat paused and shocked for a few minutes, but all safe. I realised Jaws would not be a threat and washed my wound in the water - it was just a scratch and a bruise, but what a momento!
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