Thursday, April 10, 2014

Nepal: Phase II- And Then we Rode an Elephant

 After spending a beautiful day with Trust Home and Pastor Luke we were going to be heading back to Kathmandu the next afternoon. The bus back left mid morning (if I remember correctly it left around 11:00). Pastor Luke had mentioned that if we were staying longer in Chitwan we could have gone on an Elephant ride through the jungle. All three of us (Amanda, Ali and I) were bummed. How cool would that have been? Even though that was definitely not why we were in Nepal we all were a little excited about the idea of riding an elephant. For me personally that would have been something to check off my bucket-list!
As we were entering the gates of the hotel that evening Amanda noticed a sign that said "6:30am elephant ride"!!!!
So after a few phone calls and a few "we're only in Nepal once"'s we were lined up to go for a ride the next morning!
We were told to be up at zero-dark-thirty to get some breakfast and make sure we got to the place on time.
I slept in my clothes that night for two reasons...
1. My pajama's were not going to be warm enough.
2. I figured not having to change clothes in the morning would allow me to sleep a few more minutes.

Yep I slept in my clothes... Don't judge, it was COLD! Besides I definitely wasn't sweating!
So early in the morning the three of us got up, brushed our teeth. Using our flashlights we came down the three flights of stairs in the dark... And it was DARK. We tried to remember where the "restaurant" was. We fumbled around in the dark and then realized if there weren't lights on, it probably wasn't open... So we stumbled back to the steps in front of the hotel and waited.
Things we learned while we waited:
-Nepal is definitely not on "U.S. time". We waited for about an hour in the dark before any other lights started to come on.
-Elephants are very quiet. Several passed by on the street while we waited... It was alarming how close they were before we knew they were there.
-Dawn is one of the coldest times of day!
We can now say we saw the sun rise in Nepal! For a while we thought maybe we would get to see the sunrise while riding an elephant... however before we ever left the hotel the sun had been up for quite a while! ;)
Anyway... Finally we were off and headed deeper into the park.
Again we took a bumpy ride. This time it was in the back of a truck. Yep it was definitely COLD. Are you detecting a theme?
After being tossed like a salad and having bumped my head a few times we arrived!
We greeted our elephant and 'driver'.
We were told the morning was the best time to sight rhino's, tigers and crocodiles! OH MY! ;) I was excited as a child on Christmas morning. We asked Pastor Luke if he was excited too.. He politely laughed and shrugged his shoulders.
We loaded onto this majestic beast super excited. "OK", I was thinking, "This isn't the most comfortable seat in the world, but it will do."
About 2 minutes into our ride I realized, while still every excited, this wasn't going to be a smooth 2 hour ride! Riding an elephant is nothing like riding a horse. The only similarity is that you have to find the rhythm of both animals or you risk being thrown around your entire ride. An elephants 'gait' is NOTHING like a horses. I eventually found myself not being thrown around quite so much. (I was understanding why Pastor Luke wasn't as excited as we were).
Our elephant was hungry. It was actually amazing to watch him rip limbs out of trees and chew while he walked... Breakfast-on-the-run!
While we didn't see any rhino's or tigers we did see a variety of deer.
It was a foggy morning which made it all seem magical. It was cool to see a heard of animals slowly appearing through the fog.
These guys had impressive antlers.

We paused here in hopes of seeing rhino... not this morning.
Lots of birds though. It was so quiet and peaceful out there.
We saw several peacocks.
While we didn't see any tigers, I am pretty sure those were tiger scratch marks. (seriously google what their scratch marks look like). I am going with there was a tiger in the vicinity! ;)
On the way back we passed these ladies washing their laundry in the river.
Thanks Mr. Elephant for the ride!
He did such a great job we tipped him. Seriously Ali put the money in his trunk and he handed it to the driver! So cool!
It was bumpy and a bit chilly but so cool! Definitely worth getting up in the dark for!
On the way back we saw a wild elephant wading in the river near our hotel!. This picture was actually taken from our balcony! Another bucket list of mine was to see a wild elephant! Two in one day! Pretty awesome!
Before long Pastor Luke made a few phone calls and we loaded into the taxi to go to the bus 'station'.  I was a little worried that we were late but have learned when Nepalis aren't worried we shouldn't be either. We were driving down a narrow dirt road between two rice fields when we stopped.
Then the bus coming our way stopped too. Pastor Luke said, "Here is your bus!" Really? In the middle of the rice fields? So we got out of the car and loaded onto the bus. Off we were and headed back to Kathmandu! ;)
Again the views were breathtaking!
This is a foot bridge crossing the river to a village.
Potty break along the road! ;)
In this picture you can see a small black dot above the river. That is a cart on a pully. I would guess one or two people could fit in the cart. They then pull themselves across the river attached to the cable it is suspended from. There were a dozen or so of these along the 7 hour road. Most of them didn't even have a cart. You just latched onto the cable somehow and pulled yourself across, no bucket, not cart... Just you the cable and the raging river below... No thank you! :/
I can't imagine this being how you get in and out of your village!

We made it back to Kathmandu safely and headed back to the apartment to bathe with our cold bucket of water. (We did eventually realize we could boil some water and have warm water to dump on our heads... That helped us not be quite so miserably cold!).
By the time we got back Ali's phone was out of minutes. We went to the local store and bought some more minutes as we didn't want to be without cell phone use.
We became very familiar with this guy! I am pretty sure he was amused by us. haha

(more Nepal to come soon.)

1 comment:

Kristi said...

Elephants,elephants, elephants. So cool.