Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Strike in the Terai

The strike only affected travel between Kathmandu and the Terai.  No vehicles could travel the road without threat of violence.  If I hadn't planned my trip so tightly, I would have been just fine with another day in the jungle.  I had so many things left unfinished in Kathmandu.  I was also very worried about the hassle of rescheduling my flights and about my husband having to arrange more child care in my absence.

But, there was nothing I could do.  So, we just made the best of our extra day.

In the morning, Smiley offered us an extra walk in the jungle to see if we could find rhino.
He sent a young man ahead of us to make sure the path was safe.  There is no telling what could be watching us from behind that tall grass.
He climbed trees, trying to find rhino for us.
We saw some men fishing.

They hadn't seen any rhino.

We waded across the river.  I apparently committed a faux pas by wearing my shoes around my neck.  Causing the locals to laugh.  Criminals are made to wear shoes around their neck as a public chastisement in Nepal .

We ran into a buffalo herder.

He hadn't seen any rhinos since yesterday.

But it was another beautiful walk.

Past interesting fields.
 I had to give up on the rhino photo this trip.  Perhaps next time.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Night Life in the Jungle

After a long day of hunting rhino and not finding any...

we stopped to relax at Sunset Beach...

and borrowed money from our escort so that we could split a beer.  I didn't take money into the jungle again after my former fiasco, Honesty and Poverty.

Dinner was buffet style with loads of yummy vegetables similar to Indian style cooking.

They were still working on the Maruni Sanctuary Lodge.  I can imagine a roaring fire here in the winter.  It will be spectacular.

They have a cultural program after dinner.  These Tharu boys are dancing traditional dances.  Again, I have the ghostly orbs floating through my photos, but not every photo.

It is inappropriate for the village girls to be out after dark so they are unable to participate in these dances.  However, they do have a dance that is traditionally preformed by a boy wearing a dress.

The boys are really expert at twirling their sticks.  Remember that we were on our jungle walk with two men carrying sticks.  I believe that they would have been quite capable of frightening off many wild creatures with the sticks, but I am still glad that we didn't run into an old hungry tiger.  On one of my visits we walked past a place where a woman had been eaten only two weeks before.  She was walking on a well used path through the jungle, alone.

After our lovely day in the jungle we received some very distressing news.  It was the very thing that I fear the most when I travel to Nepal.  A strike was called in the Terrai for the following day.  Strikes can be violent, but not always.  My biggest concern was that I had only one more day to finish all of my business in Kathmandu.  I had made promises to finalize orders and pay several craftspeople.  They day after that, we were supposed to leave Nepal.  If the strike continued, we would miss our flights home.  This was the very reason that I skipped my trip to Nepal several years in a row.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

The Great Elephant Flip-Flop Rescue!

In January, when I normally go to Nepal, it is relatively cold and there are few tourists in Nepal.  This means that down in the jungle my guests and I are treated to private elephant rides, boat rides, and jungle walks.  In March it was a vastly different experience.  Tourists were all around us and a herd of elephants followed us into the jungle.

Loading up with tourists and preparing to depart.

I did spend some time worrying about how tightly the crate was cinched.

The mahout steers with his feet.

Some of the elephants were very nervous about crossing the river.  They were up to their shoulders in water, with five people on their backs.
We lurched forward and backward when the elephant slipped on the mud as it climbed out of the river and up the opposite bank into the jungle.

We looked all over for the rhino.

Do you think the rhino might have heard us and moved out of our way?

A man sharing the elephant with us lost his flip-flop shoe. 

The mahout behind us was able to direct his elephant to find the man's flip-flop in the muddy stream and return it to him.  You can see it in his hand.  Everyone was astounded.  The flip-flop was covered in mud and sloshing around in muddy water.

We did see a lot of deer.

It is amazing that on an elephant you can come right up on a deer even though you could never do that walking.

If you have a little extra time and money, you can arrange to camp over night in this building in the jungle.

Thank you for the excellent ride.  Here are some bananas.  Maybe we will catch up with the rhinos next time.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Hunting for Rhino

I have been to the jungle a few times now and have seen rhinos up close and wild elephants, crocodiles, several kinds of monkeys and at least 50 different types of  birds.  Until this trip I had no photos from the jungle at all.  The first time I traveled to Nepal my camera broke before I got to the jungle.  On my second trip to the jungle, both my father and I ate something that gave us diarrhea.  My dad cleared his system just before we got on the bus back to Kathmandu, but I didn't know I was going to have a problem until we were about an hour up hill.  I wasn't exactly sure how to stop the bus, but I knew I had to do something urgently.  So I walked up to the front of the bus and told the bus driver that he must stop because I was having 'female troubles.'  I thought that might keep the situation discreet.  The driver swiftly pulled over to the left and I exited into the tall grass on the side of a very steep cliff.  Unwisely, I had chosen to wear bib overalls that day, that meant that I would have to basically undress from my shoulders to my knees with a bus load of people above me to my rear.  In order to hide myself a completely as possible,  I scooted as far to the edge of the cliff as I could safely manage so that when I unbuckled my bib and let it drop forward all of the rolls of film that my father shot of the jungle went bouncing out of my pocket and careened over the edge of the cliff.  It was very sad... we had some great shots of mother and baby rhinos that were standing only 20 feet from us while we rode the back of an elephant.  Adding to my embarrassment, several other passengers exited the bus and relieved themselves in the grass as well.  Then when we all returned to the bus my father told me that the bus driver had stood up when I left the bus and announced to everyone that I was having female troubles.  So much for trying to be discreet. 

The time that I went to the jungle with my uncle, I didn't have a camera, so this time I was determined to get some good pictures of rhinos for my boys!

Heading up from the river past the tall grass and into the jungle.

Rhino poop, we are getting closer.

We spotted a rhino in the distance lying on its side.  It was too far away to get a good picture for you.

We were a bit on edge knowing that if a rhino smelled us our only recourse was to climb a tree.

We followed elephant tracks to the river hoping to see either wild elephants or bathing rhinos.

There were only birds.

On the way back to the jungle we found the shed skin of a cobra but luckily we didn't run into its former owner.

We walked for about two hours, but I didn't find a good rhino shot for the boys.

We took a nap when we returned to the lodge.

In a few hours we went out searching for rhino again, this time on the back of an elephant. To be continued...  

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Early Morning Boat Ride, Chitwan

Early in the morning, everything was still and dreamy.  Just imagine that you are with us.  We are taking a river ride to the jungle.
Smiley the manager has come too.  We had one man to pole the boat and another with a strong short stick to protect us from wild animals.

The sun was slow to burn off the morning mist.

I wish I knew the names of all of the birds that we saw.

I know these birds,  they are wild peacocks.


These are bird nests in the sand.

Wave and smile boys.

At last, the jungle where we will look for wild beasts.  Click to see the bird in the tree.

Good Morning Mr. Crocodile,  we will get out a little further down stream so we don't disturb you. Click to see how close we were.  When we left the jungle, we came down the path to exactly this spot where the crocodile had been resting just hours before.  This is where our boat was waiting for us.