We woke up for breakfast at 7am in the morning and left Royal Singi Hotel at 8am. The weather was cold and good and I am recovering from my flu. Everything still taste blend though – it was the first time I was religious about my antibiotics, keeping to the schedule and finishing the course.
So we had a stop over for Ram to have his lunch. Nepali people have only 2 meals a day – The first meal is lunch at 9am when they will have their food and milk tea. I wonder why they call it lunch when it is really actually breakfast. Then they leave for work and don’t eat till they reach home at about 6 or 7pm. This is because Nepali people normally work through the day and do not eat out, so the only time they get to eat is when they are at home to cook for themselves. That’s why many Nepali develop bad gastric problems. This is one of the times when culture or habits need to be changed.
At the stop over, we had our first taste of Masala Tea. It was thick and delicious! I was surprised to see oil in the tea and we thought butter was added to the tea to make it thicker. I later found out, much to my embarrassment, that the oil was from the fresh milk used to make the milk tea. How obvious and dumb of me…
From here, we met our first traffic jam. Jams are rampant in Nepal, especially since it is a developing country and there are many trucks around. Many of these truck drivers like parking their big vehicle at the road side, and if they do not wake up in time to move it, or their vehicle slides down the muddy slope into the main road, it stops the on going traffic causing a jam. So we alighted and do what tourists do best – taking photos.
Halfway through, I needed the toilet so we stopped over next to a hut. To my surprise, it’s a public toilet and a rather clean one. No flies except for a bee. I was so afraid the bee would sting me! Out from the hut, we had our first goat sighting. I am convinced that the goat had just given birth as there was blood on her backside and her kid looked wobbly. A woman was supporting the kid to get some milk from the mommy goat.
Soon, we were greeted by great fields of yellow flowers – the mustang flowers. The flower is used to produce oil good for cooking and body application. There were so many farmers planting the mustang flowers and it was near harvesting season, covering Chitwan with a sea of yellow.
Our driver, Ram, played host and started introducing parts of Chitwan to us. It was when we learnt that today was the last day of the annual Elephant Festival where we can catch the big creature race, kick football and then taking part in the pageant contest. By then, we only had 1.5hr to the end of the festival.
From then it was a mad rush: We convinced the sly hotel host at Jungle Safari Resort to agree to change the itinerary and bring us to the Elephant Festival. From there, we checked in, dumped our luggage in the room, finished lunch in 15min, only to have the host trying to default the tour after lunch. Fortunately, a guide, Dave, who was sweeping the entrance floor, overheard our conversation and offered his service, so we walked very quickly to the festival.
My there were hordes of people! We were just in time to catch the elephants kick the last few balls of the game. Dave was really good, asking the locals to siam, giving me a ‘first class’ view of the show. I was really surprised the locals made way for me without much fuss. I guess to them, the tourists are guests and important people who can help boost their economy, thus we are treated with a certain degree of tolerance and respect.
Although we did not manage to catch the full race, but we took photos with the beauty queen of this year’s pagent, a 14 months pregnant elephant. She even had a nicer looking nail color than mine!
So while the contestants of the Elephant Beauty contest were hoarded around for a last display, they kind of formed a semi-circle, and started relieving themselves! So there are are, witnessing gigantic shit the size of human head dropping from a gigantic hole underneath the Elephant’s tail and steaming hot pee hosing out as though extinguishing a fire. I am not over-exaggerating.
Then Dave started taking over the camera and got us to go nearer… and nearer…till we are right behind the elephants. So here’s the million dollar photo we risked the danger of having poop and pee on us anytime, just to share with you the experience!
Environmental point 1
At the bazaar, we caught sight of some interesting notebooks that looks alittle like lokta paper, but cooler with more moisture. Turns out, the paper were made from elephant dung!
Yes, elephant dung, and we bought it.
There was no foul smell at all. What the locals did was to collect the dung (which is only 50% digested by the elephant), boil it, then lay them into thin sheets. Once dry, they become paper. How creative and environmental friendly!
Environmental point 2
Their traditional bowls were also very environmental friendly- big pieces of leaves weaved together with bamboo fibers into the shape of a bowl. Littering was everywhere, but the bowls will then decompose very quickly and absorb back into the ground as fertislizer.
The chitwan tribe name is Tharu and they have their very own set of delicacies. We tried their curry duck – the meat was tough but chewy and the taste was good. It was too hot for me so Shawn finished it off. A pity we did not try the Rice wrapped in the leaf as we thought it was just any other normal rice. Will definitely try it again next time!
Environmental point 3
We took a horse cart ride back to where we were supposed to be – a light trek into the Jungle safari. As we’ve learnt from the guide, a ride range from 150 – 500r. There was a little misunderstanding as he previously thought we wanted to know the price of the whole cart – whch was actually 500k nepali rupee. Way too expensive for a ride, but affordable to start the business. Our guide bargained and we got it for 100r. Apparently, hitch hiking in Nepal is common too and we had a passenger who simply hopped onto our cart, and quickly alighted without our knowledge.
Elephant Breeding Ground
The rest of the day was walking, exploring the safari and discovering poop. Enjoy the photos!
Only day 1 at Chitwan and I am proclaiming they have the best soup I’ve tasted in my whole life. After dinner was a boring cultural dance, which I fell asleep 😛
Finally, lets take a look at the hotel room. Really really basic, with not much amenities, old, but surprisingly clean! I regretted not taking a picture of the door, which has the old classic heavy padlock with 4 locks from the inside. It really looks like a safe place to hide from a attacking tiger!
There, we experienced our first 2hour blackout. There was absolutely NO ELECTRICITY at all. No light, no heater, no nothing. Just 2 city beings lost in the wild. Blackouts are common in Nepal as the government sells the electricity to India. It’s especially so in Chitwan where it is further from the city and has no generator & backup power. It’s a great back to basics experience. For parents who want our children to experience the meaning of back to basics, consider Chitwan.