Looking for a tiger

The next morning started with a 6am wake-up call and shortly afterwards breakfast. A bit after 7am we left for our canoe ride with a group of Czech people. Their tour guide was busy on the phone because she had two persons at the airport in Kathmandu poised to go home but of course this never happened on the day after the earthquake. The airport was closed for a while but she managed to organize them a hotel nearby.

See how happy we look at this time of the day? I am sure I never look this much relaxed in Vienna at 7:30 am.IMG_1059

The canoe ride turned out to be super short after all. We were first told that we would go for the jungle tour in the morning and then after a lunch break at the hotel for the canoe ride. This all changed with the addition of the Czech group and all of a sudden we already started to walk shortly after 8am. In the beginning it was really interesting, searching for animals. Our guide Madan stopped every couple of minutes, listened for a while and then moved on; I had the impression he was doing this solely for the purpose of keeping us tourists happy and on the move. Still, we saw some animals, foots prints of different animals and so on.IMG_1067
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The grey blob on the last picture was a rhinoceros, just so you know that we “saw “one. There were actually two, mother and baby rhino.

Then it was finally lunch time because around 11am I started to have enough. Three hours of walking around in the jungle was my personal limit. We came upon a little clearing that looked as if every jungle tour stopped there for lunch. But first we saw some kind of fruit (not edible for humans), had to cross a bridge and saw some leftover antlers. The former attached parts to these had probably been eaten by a tiger said the guide (or maybe the antlers had been conveniently placed there for us tourists). IMG_1390IMG_1075

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And then finally we saw the clearing and sat down for lunch which had been packed by the hotel. Hardboiled eggs, a sandwich, an apple, a banana, some cookies and a juice. By then I would have eaten anything (also a tiger), walking around in concentric circles (or so it seemed to me) really made me hungry. Finally I could relax a bit while reading my book; Sylvia used the time to lie down.IMG_1389IMG_1081

Just 30 minutes later we were on the go again, still looking for the imaginary tiger. Ok, maybe not so imaginary because there are still over a hundred tigers living in the Chitwan National Park. Still no tiger in sight which was probably better because we “saw” some foot prints and the longer we walked the more Sylvia freaked out that we were walking around here in this park just waiting to be served up as tiger snack. That was the least of my problems, tiger or no tiger, I just had enough of all this walking. We were promised a tour of three hours and ended up back at the river at 3:30pm. So after seven hours of walking including a short-cut in the wrong direction, I was bone tired and needed a little rest at the hotel.

Refreshed we met again at 5pm to see the elephant breeding station. We drove through the village and stopped at a small river which in monsoon times is way bigger. The bridge over it is removed at the beginning of the monsoon season and installed again after it.IMG_1088IMG_1089

The elephants were less interesting than the bridge, but maybe I am just saturated with all the elephant programs. They were always behind fences and I was not convinced that they looked happy. Sylvia even less, you should have heard her berating the guide.IMG_1092IMG_1093

After a quiet dinner with our German neighbors we went to bed early and got some sleep. Walking in circles made us bone-weary.
Yours, Pollybert

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Going to Chitwan 

The next morning we got ready and carried our bags the five floor down ourselves. I definitely had packed too much, the thing weighted 18kg at check-in in Vienna. We got it all down and deserved a good breakfast for it. In the cosy courtyard we ordered porridge with fruits and tea. IMG_0984

Not long after our driver came and brought us to the airport in Kathmandu. We were a bit early and had to wait in the hall until our flight was up on the board.IMG_0989
This time I had my passport copy ready (our passports are with the agency to secure the China visa) and we got our boarding passes without a problem. One more coffee and we were up in the air.IMG_0990

Even on a short flight like this (flying time was 30 minutes) we got water and a sweet. In no time at all we arrived at Bharatpur airport.IMG_0991
Madan, our guide from the Hermitage Hotel, was already waiting for us at the small arrival area and after a little discussion if we were staying at his hotel (but since no other two female tourists were on board, it was clear that it was us) we made the 30 minutes drive into the Chitwan National Park. Here we would stay for a three day – two nights jungle tour.

We arrived at the hotel and were told to get settled in our cabin and then come for lunch. I had just taken a picture for Facebook and was getting ready to go outside when all of a sudden everything started to shake violently. Sylvia called to get outside and join her which I did after I locked the door. We stood on the lawn in front of the bungalows, joined by two German guys who lived next door and waited through the earthquake. It was a weird feeling but none of us were frightened since nothing happened except that the earth shook. So when it was finally over (took ages for the first quake) we talked about how strong it could have been while I took some pictures of the garden. Sylvia just hoped that it would not get in the media.IMG_1002

Eventually we made it for lunch where we joined a Chilean couple on the terrace. During the main course the second quake hit and I was more frightened by the screaming waiter who urged us to follow him down into the garden. Which we girls did while the guy from Chile kept on eating. I think Sylvia was more afraid that she couldn’t finish her meal. I know all this sounds weird to you especially after the quake made headlines all over the world and so many lives were lost. The  ramifications of it were not clear to us at the moment, but in hindsight we were super lucky. 90 minutes can make a huge difference.

We spend the afternoon in the garden looking down at the river and hoping for a crocodile to magically appear. Sylvia checked the internet and by then the quake had already made it into the news while was trying to update my blog (I am way behind, sorry).IMG_1004IMG_1006

Around 4pm we got ready for our village walk with Madan. We saw some traditional houses from an ethnic group that came into this region from the mountains. They built their houses from mud fortified with reeds which they also use as a roof. But since the reeds need to be changed after the monsoon more and more were covered with a corrugated sheet.

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On the walk through the village I finally got some stamps and Sylvia another Ghorka knife. And we saw some interesting transportations.IMG_1018
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The walked lead us to the river where we spotted our first rhino footprint, easily recognizable but its three toe nails which leave a distinct imprint. The elephant by the way  has five toes in front and four in the back. We walked along the river to spot some more birds (mostly too late for me to take a picture) and to get a feeling for the national park.IMG_1024IMG_1025
The destination for the village walk was the elephant station where the park rangers where training the animals. These elephants would come to warn us whenever another quake hit.IMG_1030IMG_1036
On the walk back the light had already a beautiful quality and the sunset looked very romantic. We made it back in time to have the last of sun at the hotel while enjoying a cup of coffee as sundowner (ok, maybe I had a beer).IMG_1048

Dinner was a tasty affair with the typical Nepali Dal Bhat and a picture for the worried relatives at home.IMG_1051
And to top this day we attended a cultural show at the village center. The tourists from all over the park got brought here to watch this typical dancing spectacle.IMG_1054
There were more quakes during the night and Sylvia felt each and every one while I missed most of them. I appear to be very insensitive in regards to tremors (and maybe other stuff too). We got woken by an elephant for a larger one during the night which I felt as well this time. But both of us made no move to leave our bed, we already knew that nothing would happen to us at Chitwan National Park.
Yours, Pollybert