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Wednesday, June 3, 2015

A Walk in the Jungle

At this point in time we have been on 14 flights in the past two months and are complete experts on getting through airport security, minus the time I tested positive for "explosives" and well, you can guess what happened next. I'm not one to complain about airport security though, and I still don't understand why people make a big deal about going through the scanner or even getting a pat down. I guess some people just need something to complain about. I appreciate every precaution the airport is willing take in order to keep us safe during this who-knows-how-long journey. 14 flights down, many more to go!

Nepal is one of the most beautiful countries I could imagine; from its roaring rivers to the massive peaks in the Himalayas. As I have already told you about our trek, I wanted to give you small glimpse into what else Nepal has to offer... maybe even inspire some of you to go.

Chitwan National Park- The Jungle

Upon arriving from Pokhara via bus (see post "bus rides from hell"), Brandon and I were ready for a rest. We find our guest house and hunker down for the rest of the day as Brandon was down for the count. We do a bit of research, decide what excursions we want to do, and plan out the next few days.

Day 1: Bike ride to the Elephant Breeding Center
            Elephant Bath
             Bike ride to 10,000 lake

Bike ride to 10,000 lakes

Typically, this time of the year Chitwan is bustling with tourists and touts in every which direction, and it's nearly impossible to find a descent guest house to stay in. However, because of the recent earthquake the tourist dependent village was lifeless. Lucky for us, this meant full attention from the resort staff resulting in us getting a private tour guide for the week. Mohan, who was eager to have clients showed us around our entire first day, including a trip to the elephant breeding center, the token "elephant bath," and a 12 mile bike ride to a beautifully secluded lake.

Locals "drivers" giving their elephants a bath
Time to scrub

Arriving early for the elephant bath we watch in awe while the locals, one by one tromp their elephants into the river. We relax and soak up the scene, and Mohan soon tells us to strap on a life vest and step onto a tall platform. We do as told and wait until we see an elephant stammering towards us. We hop on. Down to the river we go and I squeeze my legs around the elephant's neck with all my might so I don't fall off as we teeter totter into the water.

Instantly, the elephant begins spraying us from every direction. The perfect way to cool off from a sweltering day. We laugh and laugh until our cheeks hurt. I was having the time of my life. I was living in the moment.

Elephant ride/bath
Breeding Center

All of a sudden the elephant that seemed so gentle begins shaking from side to side. I hold on for dear life. Back and forth the elephant slashes violently, as if to throw us off her back. I stay strong, but look over my shoulder and see Brandon mid air. Within an instant I too am tossed into the river. I swim ferociously away from the giant as she stomps--loosing my favorite ring, and Ray Bans in the process. I don't care. I just need to swim as fast possible. By the time I'm nearly half way across the river, I look up and see Brandon. He's standing right next to the elephant as if nothing happened and all the locals are on shore laughing. It turns out "the shaking" is all part of the bath. I laugh it off, a little embarrassed, but so distracted by the adventure. We climb back on and enjoy another bath, cheeks still hurting from laughter.

Day 2: All day Jungle Walk

I've never been in the jungle, but when I think about exploring one, I think of an extremely experienced guide with a gun, and a jeep.

After a delicious breakfast at the resort, Brandon and lather up with sunscreen and head out to meet our guide. Low and behold it's Mohan! Who knew this tiny little man would be the one who would supposedly shield us from any peril that comes our way. We start our walk and Mohan begins to tell us about the flora and fauna of the area. We stroll through through the forest and enjoy the little bit of shade we have for the day while Mohan gives us the "safety" talk.

Now, before we started the walk I knew there was a chance we would see some animals, in fact I wanted to see some, however remember how I told you I thought my guide would have a gun? Well, Mohan had a weapon alright, a thin bamboo stick that he carried over his shoulder. I ask him what we do if we see a rhino. "If we see a rhino, you climb tree. Rhino very dangerous" I'm slightly panicked at this point, but keep my cool as I survey each tree the remaining 7 hours determining in my head whether I could or couldn't climb it.

To sum up our walk, we hiked to a few different look out points, saw a lot of dear, antelopes, peacocks, many different types of birds and a few crocodiles. We even saw the elusive one horned rhino; two of them relaxing in a pond. I was a bit scared at first but then became surprisingly calm as I watched them. Their massive bodies sectioned off as if they are wearing a full suite of armor, and they stand there in the water only 30 yards from us. It was an exhilarating experience and the best way to end a walk in the jungle.

One Horned Rhino

Day 3: Elephant Bath (again)
        Elephant safari Ride
        Culture show

Day 4: Bus to Kathmandu

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