Chitwan Jeep Ride

DSC01991 Our big adventure for this part of the trip was to go out into the jungle on a jeep. I’d been warned that the safari part of this was limited. There are animals there, but its not like Africa with an abundance of wildlife. So we took the adventure as a jungle trip, rather than a safari, as the experience of just being out there in nature is a special one. So first thing in the misty morning, as the first part of our adventure, we headed down to the Rapti river, which forms the boundary of Chitwan National Park. Its shallow and fast, and the only way to get across and stay dry (sort of) is by hollowed-out canoes. These are less than stable…I really thought I was going in!

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Canoes made from hollowed out logs, ready to take us across
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Rapti river
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Heading out in the jeep

From the opposite bank,  we walked to our jeep, and then drove dirt trails into the jungle. In the early morning, the birds were really active and you could see kingfishers and all sorts of colorful and beautiful birds. It was hard to capture them on film without a fantastic camera lens, but wonderful to be there and listen to them sing anyway. When we saw the first peacock, we reached for our cameras and he flew into a tree. Here is my best shot:

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Peacock!

Later peacocks kept showing up everywhere. It was mating season, and the males were strutting around. By the end of the day, we were saying “oh that’s just a peacock” and recognizing their cries. Hard to believe that we got used to such a spectacular bird, so they seemed common like pigeons! As it got warmer, the mist lifted and the terrain changed.  I loved how different areas of the jungle had their own feel.  My favourite was the open grasslands and the cotton silk trees: the beautiful reed-like grasses and the angular, vaguely oriental feel of the trees were stunning.  Add to this the imagination of what may be hiding in the grasses, and our eyes were set ahead, frantically scanning the view.

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the beautiful silk cotton trees
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elephant grass

We stopped at one of several viewing platforms to take a breakfast break. The rickety platform did give us more elevation to see around, but unfortunately no animals interrupted our meal.

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Our rickety viewing platform. Note missing step!
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Termite nest. Apparently these make tasty treats for sloth bears. You could see claw mark-scratched holes around some of them…made by sloth bears looking for a snack.

So what did we see that day? No tigers, unfortunately. They are now considered the prime wildlife sighting because they are so rare. There’s only about 200 Bengal tigers left in the park. But, fortunately, there’s now a concerted effort to stop poaching and track the surviving tigers. Hopefully, their numbers will slowly start to increase. We saw lots of beautiful birds, countless peacocks, monkeys, deer, boars, alligators, cranes and wild ducks, a rhino and — most significantly of all — a black sloth bear. A large, male actually. They are considered the most dangerous and unpredictable of all wildlife in Chitwan. He was actually frightened by us and ran along the horizon, trying to find a way to cross our path. He finally darted across our trail, but too fast for me to catch a shot. Maybe next time.

baby elephant in chitwan national park

Love, Love, Love the Baby Elephants!

First stop on our roadtrip was Chitwan, where we had visited last year over Christmas. We stayed a second time at the charming Sapana Lodge and met again with the “pregnant elephant” who now was mum to a three month old calf. He was adorable!  We went over to pet him and he was hungry for attention. He sucked my silk shirt up his nose and wrapped his trunk around my legs. He was so wonderfully goofy and eager….just a really, really big baby.  It did bring the expression “charging around like a baby elephant” into new perspective.  It was so funny to watch something so powerful be so clumsy.

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It was so much fun to reach out and touch him. He wanted to interact as much as me
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Susie playing with the elephant and some local kids

The keeper fed his mum some sugarcane, and he tried but just couldn’t coordinate stuffing the sticks into his mouth. They were just too big and he was too uncoordinated, but his mum loved them! Talk about a sugar high!

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This is mum, after feasting on about 12 sticks of sugar cane. Look at that face! Bliss!

Around midday the keeper would take them both down to the river for a bath. And the little elephant swum around his mother, hiding under her belly and diving underwater to snorkel. Nearby the local Tharu kids were playing football and tossed the ball for the baby elephant to catch, but he was far more interested in the water and for us it was so much fun to watch elephant bath time!

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Taking a bath with mom

In the afternoon, the elephants were taken out to a fenced enclosure by the river where they grazed and hung out. The local kids took their soccer game out of the water when it got a little cooler and ran over to us asking for their picture to be taken. We went over to see the baby again, and he came running over to a gap in the fence, straight to my outstretched hand. He wanted to play and out he came! I guess baby elephants play with one another head-to-head and tousle with their trunks. He tried that with me and very nearly knocked me over! He sneezed on Susie’s clean white shorts, which were now covered in sooty elephant snot. (We think he’d been nosing around in one of the fire pits.) Then he got really frisky and tried to play-charge me. I turned around to try and use my back weight to stop me from falling over. I was laughing but also a little afraid that he trample me as he charged at my butt and pushed me around like a steam engine.   Susie was laughing but also a little cautious, so getting this on camera was not an option.  But we did manage to get some pictures of the kids playing with him:

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This little guy used a different technique to me. When the baby elephant wanted to play and started pushing….he pushed back!

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It was a wonderful opportunity. If I’m lucky enough to come back again in a few months he will be bigger and probably too dangerous to play with- if indeed he still wants to play at all.

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At the end of the day- after bathing, grazing and games – its time to walk back home with mum

Girls Roadtrip! Or Thelma and Louise (with a driver)….

… (hint) It has a much better ending!

It was so exciting that my really good friend, Susie, would be coming all the way to Kathmandu. I was a little apprehensive too as this is a difficult city to visit in a lot of ways — its dirty, dusty and congested — but I thought she would do ok and she did. ;o)

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Susie arriving at KTM.  This is one of the few pictures we managed to get together.  Guess neither of us had heard of selfies…oh well!

I had planned a full week on the road to escape the grey dust of Kathmandu.  (We did exchange some of it for the beige dust of the Terai…but that story comes later.)   We were excited.!!  A whole week of no kids or husbands, and time to catch up on each others lives.

Nepal isn’t the easiest country to get around. The road system is limited and a lot of the roads are windy and potentially dangerous. So if you wanted to keep to tarmacked roads that have western quality hotels, Chitwan and Pokhara are the best bet.,,and that’s where we were headed.   We had our own driver, a serviced jeep, good brakes and plenty of trunk space.  So, we were sure to pack essentials like gin, tonic, Pimms and PG tips.  We were going to do this in style…!

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Notice the black top roads (in red) are all in the south of the country. Thats because the north of the country is covered by rather large mountains called the Himalayas. No highways there!

 

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Ready to go…bags at the door…
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.. and into the jeep.  Let’s get out of here….!

We traveled for 4-6hrs from location to location, glimpsing rural Nepalese life from the windows.  It wasn’t always easy driving…too many trucks…but our driver did a good job of keeping us safe and we were never in the jeep so long that we went crazy.   It was fun to watch the scenery change…and the weather too.  The south is so much hotter!

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Grabbing the view from the front….
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….and from behind!  That truck was stuck in a 2 foot gutter.  One of several “accidents” we saw.  Fortunately nothing fatal.

So the next few posts are going to be about our adventures in Chitwan, Pokhara and Lumbini. He’s a little preview:

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Other people even hauled our stuff up and down the stairs, so bags magically appeared in the rooms.
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Enjoying an elephant ride together
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Making new friends in Chitwan
People brought us plates of food. Yes those are french fries. What the hell!
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Finally being chilled out enough to lounge around and read

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A Word a Week Photo Challenge: Round

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Elaborate door from Vietnamese monastery, Lumbini
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Football on the Rapti river, Chitwan
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Clay pots drying in the sun, Bhaktapur, Nepal
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Swayambuneth Stupa, Kathmandu
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Discarded coconuts, Palawan, Philippines

 

This post participated in the A Word a Week Photo Challenge: Round

Weekly Photo Challenge: On Top

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A woman takes a nap on top of her sacks of straw. I have never seen so many women do hard physical labour as I have in Nepal. They don’t just work in the fields with babies strapped to their backs. They move heavy bricks, dig up roads, and carry huge weights in the traditional triangular baskets that are strapped to their foreheads. And don’t forget they do this in pink saris or floating pants suits.  Exhausting!

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This post participated in the Daily Post’s Weekly Photo Challenge: On Top

A Word A Week Photograph Challenge – Sign

This is a great challenge for me as I already have a Sign Language feature on my blog  about public signage and the comments it make about the culture, economy, or character of a place.   Occasionally they’re funny, usually not…. but they do jump out at me with stories.  ;o)  Here are a few favourites:

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Sign at Manila International Airport. Guess they don’t have a sense of humour: http://wrightouttanowhere.com/2013/03/27/sign-language-this-is-not-funny/

 

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Nepali trucks are colourful and covered in slogans.  Here’s my stuck-behind-a-truck story:  http://wrightouttanowhere.com/2014/01/17/sign-language-back-of-the-bus/

 

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Kathmandu traffic woes!  Turn it down!: http://wrightouttanowhere.com/2013/10/23/sign-language-dont-toot-your-own-horn-pleeeeease/

This post participated in A Word a Week Photo Challenge: Sign

 

 

 

Pet Peeves

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Cartoon Credit: http://grooverpr.wordpress.com/2014/02/03/prca-2330-topic-of-the-week-pet-peeves/

Pet peeves are a ridiculous thing. We know that,  but we continue to nurture and feed them anyway. I don’t have universal pet peeves for everywhere like bad grammar or rude language (well, maybe chewing with your mouth closed)… but mostly mine are country specific!

 

 

Nepal: I start with my absolute major peeve at this point in time: spitting.  Do I ever hate it that people spit here!  OMG! Sometimes I’ll be walking down the street, quietly minding my own business and before I can turn my head fast enough, there comes the sound of someone hacking deeply–all the way down from their toes– as they deliver a disgusting, ugly splat of phlegm just inches from my feet.  And as I turn my head to the other side in disgust, yet another person –with horrendously perfect timing–hangs another, equally loud and disgusting.  There is no escape!

Philippines: Manila is full of zebra crossings, or pedestrian crossings if you prefer.  Unfortunately in Manila, I couldn’t help feeling they serve only to spruce up the city a little, make it look more modern.  Decoration, if you will.  They certainly serve no function.   (Kathmandu at least has the good sense not to even bother wasting the paint.)   In Manila, they are like death traps for expats who have the deluded notion that when you step out onto one cars will stop.  I found myself drawn to them out of habit and then felt utterly frustrated when drivers would seem to speed up as I used them to cross the street.

UK: “Sorry!  I’m so sorry to bother you, but this microwave you sold me doesn’t work.  I’m really, really sorry to make a fuss, but would you possibly consider replacing it with a new one?!”  Why do the British feel the need to apologize profusely for everything, even when something is clearly not their fault,  even when they have been more than put out by someone else.  When I go back to the UK and complain about something – people look at me aghast that I haven’t gone through this ritual.  I’m not rude.  But I am direct.  “This microwave doesn’t work.  I’d like it replaced please.”  What’s wrong with that?

US: Last week, on a Nepalese airport transit bus from the terminal to the plane, I sat with a group of about 20 young trekkers from all over the world.  The bus was crowded and uncomfortable,  and as we all sat there tolerating the jolts and jostling, a young American guy told his friends in very loud detail about his adventures the previous day.  Finally someone said, “Speak up a bit, John, the people at the front are complaining they can’t hear you!”  It did actually shut him up for a while, and it made me realize how much he had added to the discomfort of the situation.  Dear loud Americans, cliched or not, please stop.  We don’t want to hear it.

So sorry dear Nepalese, Filipino, British and American friends and readers of my blog.  I do usually try and focus on the positive…really I do.  But just occasionally, I think I deserve a rant as much as the next person.  And I’m sure its not you that spits/drives badly/over apologizes/or arrogantly takes over every conversation.  Its the other guy! ;o)

 

This post participated in the Daily Prompt:She Drives Me Crazy!

Here are some other pet peeves:

  1. I hate Inspirational Facebook Update Pictures | AS I PLEASE
  2. VIP Saudi Wedding at Ritz Carlton – JBR | Rima Hassan
  3. Daily Prompt: She Drives Me Crazy- Pyshology Behind “Being Late” and it’s Consequences | Journeyman
  4. Daily Prompt: She drives me crazy! | Purplesus’ Blog
  5. Daily Prompt: She Drives Me Crazy | seikaiha’s blah-blah-blah
  6. The Production of “Hair” At Billy Bronco’s | The Jittery Goat
  7. Daily Prompt: They Drive Me Crazy | Under the Monkey Tree
  8. Daily Prompt: She Drives Me Crazy | The WordPress C(h)ronicle
  9. I drive me crazy… | new2writing
  10. DP Daily Prompt: She Drives Me Crazy | Sabethville
  11. 狂気!(Crazy!) | Eyes Through The Glass – A Blog About Asperger’s
  12. Daily Prompt: what drives me crazy | Love your dog
  13. Control??? / Daily Prompt | I’m a Writer, Yes I Am
  14. A Courteous Nod to A Fresh Me | Views Splash!
  15. Daily Prompt: She Drives Me Crazy | littlegirlstory
  16. Wait you mean you came to class unprepared again??? | One Educator’s Life
  17. etiquette | yi-ching lin photography
  18. the second law of | y
  19. The First Date – Part 3 | In Harmony
  20. Stories That Drive Me Crazy | My Little Avalon
  21. Daily Prompt: She Drives Me Crazy | Pastathree’s Blog
  22. Stop lingering, STOP lingering, please stop lingering!! | The Flavored Word
  23. A dialogue | Perspectives on life, universe and everything
  24. Actus reus | Perspectives on life, universe and everything
  25. Daily Prompt: She Drives Me Crazy | Bob’s Blog-O-Rama
  26. Narcissism or Self-Exploration? | Lisa’s Kansa Muse
  27. March is driving me crazy: Laguardia, Wrestlemania and Selena on my mind as winter draws to its final end « psychologistmimi
  28. She Drives Me Crazy | The Story of a Guy
  29. “Will the last one in my World please turn everything off” | Prompt Me Please
  30. daily prompt: one of these days, alice! | r | one studio architecture
  31. Déjà Vu All over Again! | My Author-itis
  32. Groove « Averil Dean
  33. Daily Prompt: She Drives Me Crazy | tnkerr-Writing Prompts and Practice
  34. Leonard Woolf ‘speaks’ | ALIEN AURA’S BLOG: IT’LL BLOW YOUR MIND!
  35. Crazy Monday | Jody Lynne
  36. “She Drives Me Crazy” | Relax
  37. Watch Out for that Tree! | meanderedwanderings
  38. Daily Prompt: She Drives Me Crazy | imagination
  39. Like nails on a chalkboard. | Hope* the happy hugger
  40. Respect for the music | Life is great
  41. Pet Peeves Continued… | Live, Love, Laugh, Dance, Pray
  42. A few thoughts for improvement | An old fart back in school
  43. Daily Prompt: She Drives Me Crazy | My Atheist Blog
  44. ah shaddap you face | eastelmhurst.a.go.go
  45. Daily Prompt: She Drives Me Crazy |Five Annoying Things | Shawn
  46. Don’t be Manipulated | wisskko’s blog
  47. DP: DON’T TOUCH THAT! | Scorched Ice
  48. Some things just drive you a little crazy… | chattinatti

 

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