A Travellerspoint blog

June 2012

Dharamashala, India

A taste of cricket watching wickets

semi-overcast 85 °F

To our excitement, the Indian Premier League (IPL) was having a tournament while we were traveling through India. We found a few options for games and decided to attend our first ever cricket match at the highest cricket grounds in the world: Dharamashala! Little did we know that McLeod Ganj and Dharamashala would be overrun by masses of Indian cricket fans that came to enjoy what is probably the most admired sport in India. When we arrived at what we thought would be a quiet and peaceful Tibetan town in the mountains, we were greeted by streets full of Indian tourists loitering in front of restaurants trying to get pictures of their favorite IPL players.

The box office was literally a large temporary plywood box with a hole cut out of one side, but after battling the queue jumpers for about 20 minutes we ended up buying two extra tickets from a group of coworkers whose buddies didn’t show. It was still 2 hours until game time but the stadium was rapidly filling up. It was like a dance party inside with a live concert from two different artists, and the fans dancing their hearts out in the stands as the Hindi music blared through the stadium.

Our section was open seating and we couldn’t understand why our new friends chose seats with what we thought was an obstructed view… but we quickly learned that this cage like obstruction was where the cheerleaders danced. We are pretty sure that many of the spectators were only there to watch the cheerleaders, who wore almost no clothing and had to dance in cages to protect them from the spectators.

Posted by Robin-and-Kevin 06:17 Archived in India Comments (5)

Chandigarh, India

Refreshingly open and calm

sunny 100 °F

While traveling through India, we have noticed that roads just disappear, open drains (yes, sewage) run along the sides of roads, electric lines and water pipes form networks that look more like art, and the list goes on and on. When we arrived in Chandigarh (a city that was designed by Le Corbusier), we were greeted with divided two lane streets lined with trees, maps, road signs, parks, and best of all… sidewalks! It was a strange feeling of peacefulness in a chaotic country. The shops were in proper buildings so the sidewalks were free to walk on without being constantly accosted to buy something and the people were genuinely interested in conversing with us. At this point in our travels we considered this a luxury town and we arrived in style on a fully air-conditioned train from Delhi that served breakfast, bottled water, tea and coffee with the daily newspaper. It was a HUGE upgrade from our previous jail cells on the sleeper class trains (Robin loved every minute and was sad to arrive in Chandigarh, just 4 hours later).

Trying to keep sorted, our first task after entering Chandigarh was to book our bus out! This required heading to the Sector 22 Local Bus Terminal and talking to the information center, which was as always, absolutely NO HELP (although the man working there asked us if we wanted to take his picture haha). We pretended not to have a camera and escaped on a bus out to the Sector 43 Inter State Bus Terminal to find more info on busses to Dharamashala. Everyone we talked to had a different idea of when the Dharamashala buses left town so we decided to just arrive at 6am in the morning and hope that we didn’t have to wait too long for a bus. Along the way home we met the first of many extremely nice ambassadors of this city… this guy gave us a map and some sort of flower:

Walking around the town square we were struck with how we felt as though we were back in civilization; the stores were constructed in an organized fashion, and there were authentic brand outlet stores, a theater and a large grocery store with peanut butter! Best of all there was no traffic, no honking, and no dust in our face. We stalked up on groceries and then noticed the “Indian Coffee House.” With only a small sign outside the door and clouded windows, we didn’t know what to expect. After the initial shock of how full it was inside, we navigated through the busy waiters and quickly sat at the only available seats left in the whole place. We ordered from guys in funny hats by pointing to a huge menu written on one of the walls.

We were pleasantly surprised to find a food stand right next to our hotel with an all vegetarian menu. We were super excited for our first take out meal in India, which we ate on our bed in the comfort of our plush aircon unit! We had some food that we’ve never seen before including $2 Thali (a dish made up of several small dishes) and vegetarian “meat on a stick” that wasn’t actually meat….

We also picked up a bottle of Old Monk (Indian Rum) and a can of Thumbs Up (Indian Cola) so we finished off the meal with some cocktails.

Chandigarh is home to a ridiculous Rock Garden that started off as a small personal project of Padam Shree Nek Chand that ended up getting turned into a city backed project. The garden path weaves through objects and statues that are made of industrial and urban waste including recycled terra cotta pots, broken ceramic pieces, old wrist bangles and all kind of other junk. The Rock Garden lacks any theme other than ‘stuff’ but was totally cool and fun to hang out in. There are even big kid swings! One of the highlights in the Rock Garden was when a group of university students swarmed Robin for pictures.

P.S. Luck was on our side when we showed up for that bus at 6am… it left about 30min later!

Posted by Robin-and-Kevin 06:04 Archived in India Comments (3)

Hello my Friend!

Being famous for a day, or two…

sunny 100 °F

We are not entirely sure why (it’s probably because Kevin looks like Brad Pitt), but we have probably been photographed more times in India than we have taken our own photographs. As we walked down the streets of India, we are consistently photographed by either people asking “one snap?” or those trying to be sly but obviously using their cell phone cameras to capture what can’t be a very good, and is probably a blurry image, of the illusive white folks that have been tramping throughout India. We now know what it’s like for celebrities to alter their walking path in an attempt to hide from the paparazzi, but never the less, someone is bound to get that ‘one snap!’ We are normally not very comfortable with taking pictures of people, but we decided it was time to turn the tables and start getting our own snaps… here are a few of our favorites:

After several walk by attempts at incognito pics, we finally said hello to a group giggling kids that opened up the door for “one snap,” which turned into multiple pics while the photographers rotated in and out of the picture.

As we were walking to the Golden Temple, a small kid (who’s only English was apparently ‘one snap’) requested a photo and then as we stood next to him, three others joined in.

While walking through the Taj Mahal grounds, without a word of English, a lady handed Robin her baby, and the entire family stood next to Robin for the proud father to snap a pic. After a bit of a delay Kevin realized he should get a snap in as well…

After being followed for 20 min Kevin turned to befriend a group of guys who eventually asked for every combo of snaps with them and us.

While Robin seemed to attract the most photographs (mainly by men), Kevin scored the most handshakes… probably more than Obama has had in his current election campaign! The usually older men would approach him with a friendly handshake and ask “what country?” Then there would be a long uncomfortable silence while holding hands for a minute that would usually be followed by handshakes from all of his friends. Most of the women seemed to be on the shy side until there was a group of them at which point the smiles and giggles turn into hugs.

While India seemed like an exhausting photo shoot at times, we were happy that for a little of our time, we could create so many smiles.

Posted by Robin-and-Kevin 04:09 Archived in India Comments (2)

Delhi, India

Into a metropolis… sort of

The best part about HUGE cities is the public transportation, and as you can see, Delhi’s is particularly well used.

We stayed with Saurabh in a suburb of Delhi called Dwarka (section 10). We enjoyed being out of the busy downtown for a few days and were excited to watch some locals play cricket from the balcony and sample some homemade chapatti while having dinner with his parents. One night Saurabh took us to experience our first Sikh place of worship called Gurdwara Bangla Sahib and had us excited for our upcoming trip to the Golden Temple.

Another night we drove to Jawaharlal Nehru University for some grub and a nice walk through the campus. Luckily Saurabh had some contacts to get us past the guard gates; something we would not have been prepared for had we bused it in alone. We also visited Hauz Khas Village and met up with one of Saurabh’s friends who runs a traveler’s café that is built on an unorthodox ‘donation only’ model. Around the corner we walked through a park above Deer Park which had some pretty cool old temple ruins that we explored just in time to watch the sunset. Sunsets are different in India because the thick layer of smog blocks most of the refraction so you can look directly at a perfectly shaped circular sun sink into the horizon.

One morning Robin decided to call our travel insurance in fear that she may be hosting a parasite (likely giardia from swimming in Nepal). Within about 2 hours of the call, a local practitioner showed up at Saurabh’s door and prescribed some antibiotics, dehydration tablets, anti-nausea pills, multi vitamin pills, and one more that we can’t recall what it was for. The diagnosis was perhaps a little over the top and we were shocked that we could buy a $2 antibiotic cycle without a proper prescription! The end result of the visit was a casual hand written report that filled an entire page:

Our last afternoon with Saurabh we had a little party with some friends of his. Lucky for us, one of his friends worked for a company that sold cocktail mixes so we had a fun time experimenting with different flavors. We jotted down some insider tips on where to eat and shop and then headed to our hotel in the city. The next few days we spent sightseeing with our first destination being the Lotus Temple (the seventh in a series of Bahith temples that were built around the world). Iniside the temple, you can spend 10 minutes of silence, a rarity in Delhi. The architecture reminded us a lot of the Sydney Opera House, and although it was quite spectacular we also enjoyed getting lost in a nearby park watching kids play cricket and stumbling on our first ever queue of people in India (!!!) on their way to Kalkaji Devi Temple.

Of all the areas we visited we found that our favorite was a rather nice area near Karol Bagh which had somewhat fancier streets and was an interesting contrast to the famous Parantha Wali Gali Street near the Red Fort. Although we were excited about visiting one of the Ghandi memorials and had fun banging the huge peace gong, we hope they can find a way to improve the memorial layout for future visitors so that they can understand more about Ghandi’s life.

Posted by Robin-and-Kevin 06:14 Archived in India Comments (1)

Jaipur, India

Delhi Belli… sicko in Indio

sunny 95 °F

The morning we were supposed to get a 7am bus to Jaipur, Robin woke up feeling nauseous, and proceeded to throw up in our hotel bathroom, then again on the street while bargaining with a rickshaw, again while we were riding in the rickshaw, and again out of the bus window while on our way to Jaipur. We expected to get sick in India but “Delhi Belli” hit us before we even made it there! Luckily we made it to Jaipur without any further incident and jumped into an auto rickshaw. After circling around the neighborhood looking for E block we finally found our way to Amit and Neelam’s house for Robin to rest. They live in New Jaipur and we expected more of a tech feel but we found it quite rural, with most houses in a state that makes it hard to tell if the house is either falling down, or being built. Luckily, the guard cows in front of their house were friendly.

Surprisingly, after resting on the couch for several hours, Robin felt much better and even managed to eat some dinner at a fancy rooftop restaurant. Amit and Neelam were also hosting a girl from the Ukraine, whose birthday happened to fall on the day that we arrived so Kevin helped Amit decorate for the surprise party as Neelam showed off her amazing artistic skills while giving Robin a proper Hindu henna tattoo on her arm and hand.

The next day we ventured into the city and had a hell of a time finding any shops, cafés or restaurants with some real aircon. Kevin started feeling ill that afternoon, so we headed back to our house to lie down. While Kevin tried to sleep under a fan that seemed like a convection oven in the dusty 100 degree heat, Amit showed Robin how to cook curry with a pressure cooker and taught her about the basic Indian spices that every household keeps in these nice silver tins:

Unfortunately, by the time the curry was ready to eat, Robin felt extremely nauseous and ran upstairs to puke only to find Kevin just beat her into the bathroom. This was probably our lowest moment on the entire trip thus far, yet one of the funniest since we were in separate rooms when we simultaneously felt ill and collided in the bathroom. The next day, we headed into the city to a luxury hotel with AC, and spent the next two days recovering.

We eventually managed to walk around what is known as “the pink city” because it is surrounded by a pink wall that is rumored to have been painted pink for the arrival of Queen Victoria. We checked out a few of the tourist sites including Hawa Mahal (wind palace), which is has a beautiful façade, and a great aerial view of the city and one of the crazy busy intersections below.

Then, seeing as Indians are very interested in astrology (and use it heavily when arranging marriages), we went to visit Jantar Mantar to check out some of Jai Singh’s instruments including the Vrihat Samrat Yantra (great supreme instrument) which is a 90ft tall 147ft base sundial that can give the time to an accuracy of 2 seconds!

To escape the heat we took a trip to the fully air-conditioned movie theater for a Bollywood movie in a relic theater called Rajmandir. We splurged on the most expensive “Diamond” class seats on the aircon balcony with reclining, comfy seats… all for just $2.5. When we walked into the theater, we felt like we were celebrities attending the opening of our own movie at the Fox Theater in L.A. We talked to a nice couple for only a few minutes and by that time we had amassed at least 20 other Indians in a circle around us and were then asked for “one snap” over and over, until the lights started flashing to signal the start of the movie. The movie was called Tezz, and is basically the same as the Hollywood movie “Speed” but using a train instead of a bus. Although the movie was in Hindi it was a predictable action movie and there were enough funny one liners in English that kept us clued in. During an old fashion intermission we walked to the concession stand and had a good chuckle watching the upper class Diamond seat holders battle for the last of the samosas.

Posted by Robin-and-Kevin 05:55 Archived in India Comments (0)

Cycling gone Wild

Agra, India

all seasons in one day 90 °F

As you probably know, Robin and I are huge fans of cycling and have plenty of experience with bike commuting, riding in Critical Mass and navigating the crazy streets of China and Vietnam… however in all of our past experience riding we have never seen anything like cycling in India! We haggled our way into some bikes and thought we’d have a pleasant ride around the Agra Fort, across the river to the baby Taj, and then over to the park on the opposite river bank of the Taj Mahal. Boy, were we in for a surprise!

Imagine freeway traffic squashed into the size of two lanes and then change the road surface into half dusty dirt with loose rocks and the other half bumpy ash fault with potholes the size of your wheels. Now add in some traffic with equal parts pedestrians, bicycles, motorcycles, cars, big trucks and then throw in a few large animals (think cows and water buffalo) and a few piles of their manure for good measure. Now remove the yellow center line, and start the traffic moving in all directions (including perpendicular to the road). Place yourself on the side of this road mounting a kid’s sized road bike with skinny wheels, no gears and barely any breaks.

Listen as you hear every single vehicle honking their horn at random intervals (short and long), and smell a river of ripe sewage flowing along the side of this road. Imagine trying to merge into this chaos and when you eventually build the courage to do so, you see the faces of all these drivers turn to look at you in amazement… some of them begin yelling at you, others start waving, and some of them with jaws dropped unknowingly start to steering directly towards you… your instinctive reaction is to wave back, but then you quickly realize that all of them are now ignoring the obstacles in front of them and you start to panic and frantically pedal into a semi safe position.

You survive riding this main throughway for a few miles and make it to a country side road. You notice now that the entire road has been reduced to the size of one lane, but still have two ways of traffic, old men crossing the road and a herd of unpredictable goats coming towards you. As you look to your right, you see a large smile on the face of a kid riding a bike next very close to you and over your shoulder you see that you are being followed by two more. When you turn your head forward you slam on the little breaks you have to avoid hitting any of the 10 children that are pouring onto the street. Cheering and giggling they run alongside of your bike (think Le Tour de France maniacs). You grin widely, feeling like a star until you feel your bike sink and become harder to control. You look back to see that while you were riding, one of the squealing children successfully jumped onto your back rack and is now wobbling back and forth. You are so busy comprehending the sensory overload that you don’t even notice that your rear wheel has already lost half of its air, and then to top it off a huge gust of dust blasts you in the eyes and a crack of lightning and thunder darken the sky. WTF are you going to do now?

Stop, dump the kid off your bike, turn around, and start pedaling home as fast as you can. Just as you get back on the main road, the wind picks up and starts blowing trash horizontally across the road including the old school cassette tape that gets wrapped around your neck and follows you like a kite tail. You hear a ripping and look ahead to see a gigantic billboard sign rip in half and crash to the ground in front of you. At this point you aren’t sure if the pelting on your face is raindrops or pebbles in the wind so you increase your pedaling cadence… but as you do, your chain pops off the gears and gets caught between the frame and the single back cog.

Now is when you reap the benefits of being a celebrity in India. A second after you stop your bike to try and fix, a man on a scooter pulls over, parks on the side of this freeway like road and begins to help you. Remember that it is raining and there is trash being hurled horizontally across the road at you, but this doesn’t stop this man from smiling uncontrollably as he his fingers become greasy from working on the chain. Thank him and navigate your way back into traffic, then off the main road, past a twelve foot harnessed camel and back to the safety of your hotel.

Posted by Robin-and-Kevin 04:30 Archived in India Comments (4)

Agra, India

The Taj Mahal and Fatehpur Sikri

sunny 95 °F

We didn’t know what to expect from Agra since most people we had met say that Agra is a one day stop to see the Taj. We would now disagree after spending a few days exploring and having really enjoyed it. We stayed inside the car-free zone just a 3-4min walk from the Taj on the East Gate, and enjoyed the quiet streets far from the more frequented and crowded West Gate area. We found a small café being run by three young brothers helping their parents while on summer break. We visited them daily for a rematch in a game called Carrom (similar to billiards, but instead of a cue stick and balls, you flick checker-like pieces with your finger).

The Taj Mahal dominates the skyline and since there are no other high buildings in the area you can view it from many different angles. One of our favorite two spots was the classic South angle at sunset while having a roof top dinner and a ‘off the books’ Kingfisher beer (in this Muslim town, cafes don’t openly serve beer and it’s not on the menu):

Our other favorite view of the Taj was from the East at sunrise from the not so well known Nature Walk (which just so happened to be directly across the street from our hotel)! What we thought would just be our normal morning exercise routine turned out to have some astonishing views of the Taj Mahal without a single other person around. We couldn’t help but see the opportunity for a new Richard Simmons workout video from one of the perfectly placed cabanas :-)

After having an eyeful of the Taj we had thoughts of not entering into the grounds but were glad we did. We had way more fun that we thought we would thanks to the way the Indian tourists reacted to seeing us… We visited first thing in the morning to avoid the heat and walked around mostly with other foreigners. By 9:30am the hordes of Indian tourists showed up and we had our first taste of being celebrities; we must have been asked to have our picture taken with every Indian family that came that day! To escape being asked for ‘just one snap’ we posted up by behind the main photo spot and began the most amusing people watching. Crowds in India are not like our crowds… they filled with at least four generations of full families all pushing and shoving each other around (including grandma)!

To round out our Agra adventure, we took a day trip out to Fatehpur Sikri, a 90 year old city that was abandoned due to lack of water just 15 years after it was built. The walled city contained many buildings and structures of which the meaning is largely unknown. We could have hired a guide for their made up stories, but we had fun creating our own fabrications of what the unorthodox architecture was used for. There was an impressive acting stage in the middle of the city that was surrounded by water with impressive viewing platforms, and there was a crazy looking throne suspended in the middle of a square building.

Posted by Robin-and-Kevin 04:22 Archived in India Comments (1)

Crossing overland from Nepal to India

An Epic Travel Day

sunny 90 °F

This was not only our longest day of travel (~26 hours), but also contained a record number of transportation modes continuously strung together covering 609 kilometers of crazy drivers and buses playing chicken with each other. Starting with a motorcycle ride in Bardia, Nepal, then a local bus, another local bus, jumbo rickshaw, walking, local bus, another local bus, moto rickshaw, railway, and finally a real car taxi ride in Agra, India. To say this was a long day would be an understatement. All this travel was done at temperatures in the high 90s with no air-conditioning. Luckily, we met some really nice people who helped us along the way, and thankfully we had packed a ton of snacks and samosas!

Our first bus wins the prize for the dustiest ride we have ever had. The bus looked like it was a 100 years old, and as we drove over the dirt roads through the villages, the dust poured inside from every seat bolt, crack in the floor boards and all the open windows… it was amazing that this bus was actually running and that we still have functioning capillaries in our lungs.

We met Helper #1 a few clicks from the border in Nepalgunj when she recued us from a swarm of bicycle rickshaws. We squeezed into a jumbo rickshaw with her and 15-20 other people (two sitting out of the window and Robin on Kevin’s lap) and drove right past the immigration office (because the Nepalese and Indian residents in the jumbo rickshaw didn’t need to file any paperwork to cross the border)! After getting stopped by border patrol, we walked 1 km back through the waves of traffic to fill out our paperwork (which btw is all done by hand in a big scrap book that had to be multiple years old). Apparently this border crossing only sees about 2-3 foreigners per day, so they aren’t really optimizing for us. Never the less we eventually walked into India.

Our goal for the day was to get to Lucknow, India. We eventually met Helper #2, a nice English speaking man waiting on a bus to Jaipur in hopes that the driver would drop him off in Lucknow along the way to Jaipur. While waiting for the bus to fill up, our new friend helped us exchange our Nepali rupees into Indian rupees with some sketchy street money changers (you should have seen the crowd of red toothed people that all gathered around to watch our transaction intently). Here was Kevin’s attempt at sneaking a photo:

Unfortunately, the bus wouldn’t take us to Lucknow and dropped us off a few hours later in Bahraich where Helper #2 ushered us onto a different bus that was completely packed full with people already standing. He yelled at a few people for a while until he created seats for us all. After a 3 hour journey, we arrived at about 10pm in Lucknow where we drove around in a moto rickshaw looking for a hotel that would accept foreigners but wasn’t beyond our means. By now, it was almost 11pm, and we were not too excited about what we saw in Lucknow so we ditched the idea of a hotel, and opted to press on to Agra and sleep on an overnight train.

At about 11:10pm we arrived at our first train station in India, just 30 minutes prior to the next train departing for Agra. About 14 million people ride the train each day in India and luckily for us, we met Helper #3 who took us under his wing. He took us to buy a general ticket, guided us over the masses of people sleeping on the floor, and escorted us to the correct platform. We learned later that we had a standing only ticket in the ‘cattle car’ and unknowingly bribed the conductor into giving us a bed. The standard sleeper class on the Indian Rail looks like a jail cell at night; the beds are basic with chains suspending the middle of three bunks, there are no sheets, bars on the windows, and the whole thing smells like a bathroom because the train toilets drain directly to the tracks below.

We pulled into Agra at about 6am, jumped into one of those classic white Ambassador taxis, found a hotel, turned the aircon on high and with a big sigh of relief we concluded our 26 hours and 32 minutes journey with a nap in a real bed.

Posted by Robin-and-Kevin 13:53 Archived in Nepal Comments (2)

Powerless in Nepal

Can you go without electricity for a day?

sunny 90 °F

We both realized how much we take for granted having electricity when traveling through Nepal. Apparently the country’s main export is hydroelectric power but within the borders there isn’t a constant flow. There are “load reductions” every day in every city that we went to. In Kathmandu, we had a schedule of these load reductions so that we could plan our day around when we would have light and the ability to charge our electronics. In Pokhara, they claimed to not know the schedule and so we just had to hope that we would have power at some point. In Bardia, there was definitely no schedule; the power seemed to go on and off throughout the day. As an experiment, try to avoid using electricity for one day… or use it for only an hour at 11am and an hour at 5pm, just be careful if you try to use candles for light! There was a couple in the cottage next to us that left a candle burning in the bathroom and accidentally melted the whole toilet and nearly set all of our straw roof cottages on fire (toilets including the water tank in Nepal are made of plastic instead of ceramic). Here is a pic of us having dinner in Bardia without electricity:

Posted by Robin-and-Kevin 08:36 Archived in Nepal Comments (0)

Bardia National Park, Nepal

Elephants, Rhinos, and Tigers, Oh My!

sunny 90 °F

Bardia National park is a 968 sq. km. (+327 sq.km. buffer zone) ‘jungle’ that consists of about 70% Sal trees. Getting to Bardia is quite an adventure in itself. It is on the opposite side of the country from the popular trekking destinations that are accessible from Kathmandu, and so there are no tourist routes or buses here. Thanks to a suggestion from our new friend Genevieve, we took the 16-hour local bus overnight, arriving at 5am in the morning. As usual, the local bus was full of drama and entertainment with people bargaining their fair, the conductor over filling the bus so people had to either sit or stand in the aisle, and since this overnight bus was without beds, people were sleeping in the most amazing positions in their chairs.

The scariest part about heading to Bardia this way is that we might have arrived anytime between 3am and 8am depending on which person we asked and what might happen to our bus along the way. We told the bus conductor and driver numerous times that we wanted to get off at Ambassa (a tiny little military checkpoint that is about 10k away from the park entrance) and were assured every time that they understood... Luckily, at one stop around 5am, a guy poked his head into the bus and asked for Kevin. This was the legendary Mr. B who saved us from missing our stop! We prearranged to have him pick us up at Ambassa, but didn’t expect him to be waiting the whole time for us! It was just about dusk as his boys gave us a thrilling ride to his cottage on motorbikes through a river and bumpy dirt roads and made it safe just as the sun hit the sky above our cottage.

We explored the village in search of samosas and ended up meeting a group of three travelers from the UK, all of whom were named John. They described how much they loved Bardia and how they have been coming to the park for the past 5 years. Life seemed to be pretty simple, you trek through the jungle one day, and the next day you go for a swim, hang out in the village, and just chill out. The village is so small, that we ran into the Johns every day of our stay in Bardia. That evening, we rode through the village, past some elephant stables, and past countless children running at us screaming ‘Namaste!’ to reach the river for a sunset swim and Gorka beer.

We may not have seen a Royal Bengal tiger in the Bardia National Park, but it certainly wasn’t for lack of effort. We spent two days tracking tigers in the park on foot and on an elephant. Tiger tracking is a lot like trying to get to that pot of gold at the end of a rainbow that keeps moving off into the distance. According to our guide we must have been very close to the tiger numerous times as we followed humongous tiger footprints in the sand. The most exciting part of our tiger tracking was hearing some monkey alarm yelps coming from a tree line to our right, and then turning to watch deer after deer leaping out of the trees and racing across the meadow. Then, against any natural instinct to run away with the deer, we followed our guide towards the tree line as fast and quietly as possible, dipping behind trees and crouching behind rocks to get closer to what sounded like a deep growling. What we thought was going to be a full day walking through the jungle, turned out to be about 3 hours of walking, with 7 hours of sitting still at vantage points waiting for animals to appear. For those who know Robin, waiting was the most challenging part of the day! While we didn’t see the tiger, we did have fun watching rhinos, monkeys, a python, and loads of different birds and deer.

Riding through the dense forest on an elephant was totally amazing! The elephant would just blaze a path, pushing over trees and crushing vines and anything else in the way. We saw tons more animals from the elephant than we did on foot since the other animals weren’t spooked by the elephant, so we could watch them from our higher vantage point as they milled around. The most amazing part of the elephant ride was how quiet the elephant can walk through the jungle. It is amazing that an elephant has softer steps than a human, even though he weighs 100 times more!

The number of surrounding villages seemed endless as we rode on smooth walking paths for miles. We eventually found an awesome natural water flume where we swam against the current, staying in the same spot. We thought we would show off our dives to the local children who were watching us intently, but it turned out that they were all professional front and back flippers, and totally showed us up!

Posted by Robin-and-Kevin 00:50 Archived in Nepal Comments (2)

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