Day 2: Chitwan.
After a good night’s sleep at the beautiful Backpackers Inn Hotel, we have finally adjusted to the slightly odd time difference of GMT +5:45.
Just a bit about the time zone:
Geographically, the location of Nepal would make it the same as India’s, GMT +5:30. However, due to political tensions Nepal changed its time zone to show its independence from other countries, especially India. Nepal, being a landlocked country, suffers under the influence of its neighboring countries.
At 7 am we got a tourist bus to Sauraha, Chitwan National Park. Tourist buses in Nepal have the words ‘TOURISTS ONLY’ in big lettering at the front, leaving the locals the option of local buses which are extremely crammed with people sitting on the roofs. Our 8 hour bus journey was therefore enjoyed in the comfort of AC and plug sockets, luxuries which we very much appreciated.
The journey was definitely an unforgettable one, with potholes making the experience feel more like a terrifying roller coaster. The view through the mountains and waterfalls were spectacular, but ended up adding to our fear of landslides which can sometimes occur during the monsoon season.
Upon arrival at the National Park Hotel, we were briefed by our hotel manager about all the activities that we could plan. We decided to go for a drive around the village and visit the Elephant breeding centres.
Elephants have a huge role in Nepal in transportation, military use, construction and many more. One particular use we remember hearing about was for the army situated in the jungles to patrol against illegal poaching.
The male elephants were separated from the females following an incident when a wild elephant came into the centre and killed a male during a fight. The males are now located further in the village where they cannot be seen from the jungle. As soon as the baby elephants are old and strong enough to carry four people, they are sent to the military; most elephants are military owned. We had mixed feelings about the training of the elephants, but that is another issue and maybe a cause for a new scope for volunteering in Nepal (Project Nepal Elephants?)
In the evening, whilst enjoying a beer on the roof terrace, we heard a commotion down in the village below. A few moments later one of the Nepalese hotel staff came up to tell us about the rhino fight in the village! Two males rhinos had started a fight in the jungle which came into the village. It was a fantastic show of loud and magnificently fearful rhinos, louder village men chasing off the rhinos, and tourists doing the only thing they knew how to; taking selfies.
Other than that, the weather is so very humid and we are finding it quite overwhelming. Also we are suffering from huge painful mosquito bites, with around a 5 cm radius of swelling (ok, that’s just me, I have 7 bites and no one else has any so I have come to terms with the fact that I am the sacrificial blood). For an idea of the climate, pop down to the London Zoo and sit in the Tropical area for an hour or so (or a steam room would so).
We are grateful that the team is well and in high spirits, and that we managed to survive the ‘bus journey from hell’.
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