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A trip to the jungle at Chitwan National Park in Nepal
Pros: Interesting and adventurous place
Cons: none

11-25-1999 On to Chitwan

Chitwan National Park – I think this place I’m staying is called Jungle Island Resort Lodge. Kind of a hokey name but actually quite an interesting place. Lodging available in either tents or lodges. I have a lodge that has four separate rooms, each with its own toilet and shower.

While here, the resort has three separate nature activities planned each day. I started the day with the elephant ride into the jungle. Four of us plus driver on the back of an elephant. We rode until we finally saw a rhino. Several of the other elephants drivers saw it as well and we herded it across the river back toward where a group from our camp were waiting to take a boat ride on the river. Apparently, rhinos are afraid of elephants, so they run from them. So the back of an elephant is a safe way to see rhinos.

Before lunch we went on a long jungle walk. There was a guide and the three of us. Very early in the walk, we saw a troupe of monkeys. Then a couple of deer, but that was about it. But the guide was very determined to see wildlife, taking through thick brush, etc. I had the feeling the other guides laughed at him behind his back because he insists he has spotted tigers during his jungle walks – something that is very rare.

In the afternoon, they gave us an elephant briefing. Asian elephants have 5 toenails in front and only 4 in the back. African elephants have 4 toenails in front and only 3 in the back. Also, Asian elephants have one “finger” at the end of their trunk and African elephants have two. Also, there is a difference in the shape of the heads and of course, Asian elephants have smaller ears.

For our late afternoon activity, we crossed the river and went bird watching. Our guide told us we’d have a good chance of seeing jackals. Although we saw no jackals, we did see a mother rhino with a baby. We approached to within about 80 yards before the guide wouldn’t let us get closer after the baby rhino snorted, fearing the mother rhino would charge. We also saw the male and female version of the peacock, saw a vulture and a beautiful kingfisher.

There is a lot of wildlife in this area. And the resort is well run, clean and organized.

I have met an American couple here. Ted is an artist from Los Angeles – a witty guy that likes to keep people cracked up. And his cousin, Ricki, from New York City. Neither of them the type I would expect to make a trip like this. At dinner, there was an emergency – Ricki had a chicken bone get caught in her throat and was definitely choking – her face turning blue. She was seated across from me – one other person next to me at the end of the table. By the time I realized it and got up, the woman next to me was around the table and doing the Heimlich maneuver – several times before dislodging it from Ricki’s throat. It was very scary for awhile, not being sure if she would actually suffocate. It was the closest I’ve ever come to having to perform the Heimlich maneuver.

In the evening, some local boys and young men performed a Tharu dance for us. It started with drum music with 10 “dancers” doing a choreographed mock battle with large sticks that they would swing at each other and hit together as though in mock sword fights, but in beat with the music. As the music changed, the complexity of the dance increased. The sticks were swung with considerable force and the dance required considerable skill. It was very enjoyable.

Tomorrow, I take a nature walk, then catch a bus to Pokhara. This is another change in plans, as originally I was going to stay for three days. But the activities were going to repeat and I thought it would be better if I saw another part of Nepal.

11-27-1999 On to Pokhara

Sitting here in the Pokhara airport waiting for a Buddha Air flight back to Katmandu, a can of Tuborg gold label beer at my side. Been in Pokhara since yesterday. Was met at the bus station by a throng of taxi drivers trying to get my business. Finally got one to give me the rate I thought would be fair to take me to my hotel – the Pokhara Prince – arranged at the last moment by First Environmental Trekking, the company that has accommodated me completely on this trip. But the taxi driver (and another guy that occupied the front seat) took me somewhere else instead. The driver had insisted the hotel had changed names and that I was, indeed, at the Pokhara Prince. When I refused to stay at this hotel, the driver insisted I pay him for bringing me there. I refused and demanded my suitcase, which was in the trunk. Finally, after much arguing, they did take me to the Pokhara Prince.
After settling in, I went for a walk and saw a small travel office, went in and bought a ticket for a Buddha Airlines flight back to Katmandu for the next day. But this office couldn’t take a credit card, so the office person suggested I ride with him on a motorbike to downtown Pokhara, where another office could handle the transaction. This worked out well for me because the Pokhara Prince was quite a long way to downtown, so in this way, I got there quickly and easily.

I walked around the market area for a while and encountered Ted and Ricki – the Americans I had met at Jungle Island. We’d had plans to meet at the Boomerang for dinner at 7 anyway, so we wandered around for a while, then went to eat.

When I had awoke this morning, I had felt better than I had for about six days, when first I’d gotten sick in Katmandu. But my feet have about a dozen extreme insect bites with huge itchy welts. Souvenirs from the jungle!

Although it is hard to pick up on at first, there is a lot of variety of facial types in Nepal. Some look distinctively Indian, some Tibetan, but there is more. Some have a bit of an oriental look as well, something like Thai.

From Pokhara, the most notable mountain peak is known as Fishtail. It is the most distinctively shaped mountain I have seen yet.

As I now sit here at the Pokhara airport, I feel the trip is essentially over. And I’m glad of it and eager now to get back home.