We had a slightly chilly, very chilled New Years Eve, camped outside in front of a roaring fire in Chitwan. It’s funny because December 31 was just a date while I was figuring out our roadtrip schedule and what exactly we would do wasn’t really discussed. As it transpired, the resort laid out a decent New Years Eve meal for everyone, and organized some local Tharu cultural entertainment and a Nepali three piece band who sang a mixture of Nepali folk songs and The Doors. Unlikely I know but, hey, it worked! It was simply done, easy to listen to and fun.
As the sun started to go down, we settled onto the wide outside sofas next to a newly roaring fire, sipping tea (or beer) and chatting with our Dutch neighbors. It gets pretty nippy in Chitwan, in December, after dusk….so we bundled up and fed the fire. We had all had a day full of adventures and our fill of elephant experiences, so there were lots of stories to share.
Sitting around listening to the music, and feeding the smoky fire, it felt more like someone’s backyard party than a hotel and I liked it that way. If I wanted another drink, I could ask for it, but no one pushed drinks or bothered us. The waiters got up and danced with the Dutch medics who had shown up for their annual childrens health care clinic, and the party took off…. I’m sure the kids would probably have liked a more of a young persons New Years party, with more people their own age, but they didn’t complain and seemed to be full of so many new images from the day that it didn’t matter.
I couldn’t help but reflect on the last New Years we spent in Siquijor in the Philippines. There we had strolled barefoot on the beach, here we were bundled in front of a firepit. In Siquijor there had been a flashy floor show, big buffet and champagne. Here we sipped tea and shared a bottle of wine. And yet, some how they were similar: both years we looked ahead to the New Year in a beautiful, remote place, some how still with family, but in a culture that wasn’t our own. Isn’t that the best way to travel? Happy 2014!