We had a stop on the way to Chitwan for lunch....out in the middle of the mountains
So it's time to leave Pokhara, and we catch a 7am bus to Chitwan
. With it being off season, all of the tourist buses were shut down, so we hopped on a standard bus and began the slow 5 hour journey south. Everything went as planned until we reached our stop. The problem was, the bus didn't actually stop. It was now clear to us that our bus driver didn't exactly know where all the stops on this route were. As Larry and I sat there 'debating' what to do next (we weren't positive it was our stop either), we moved farther and farther away from where we needed to be. Eventually, after consulting with 5 different passengers(and getting 4 different answers), we got off the bus and boarded a bicycle rickshaw.
The grounds at Machan
After a 5 minute ride, we entered what I can safely describe as the most cramped driving experience of my life. It started out fine. Me in the front cabin with the driver, and Larry in the back with 10 others (12 person limit, in the States at least). Stop after stop, we picked up more and more passengers. Soon, I was teaching an impromptu class using the Lonely Planet Guidebook to the 10 year old girl who was sitting on my lap, and Larry was in the back, packed in like a sardine with 20 passengers. As 3 more people hung from the side of the minibus, we motored down a busy road, Larry's head sticking out the window as far as possible in an attempt to get fresh air. After 2 hours, we were back at our original stop. We waved goodbye to our fellow passengers, and started the hour long drive to Chitwan (in a big comfy jeep).
When we arrived at Machan Paradise View they had lunch waiting for us as well as our own personal fans!!
Once we reached Chitwan, we knew the ordeal we had just experienced was well worth it. Our hotel, Machan Paradise View, was situated in a small enclove of cottonsilk trees inside Royal Chitwan National Park. We were greeted by 3 staff members, who promptly grabbed our gear and lead us to a much needed lunch. Many helpings later, and with no time for rest, we began our jeep safari. Larry and I decided that the best viewpoint would be from the roof top of the jeep, so up we went. We were followed by Oscar and Eva, a couple from Spain who, even though they couldn't speak English, became cherished partners through the following days. Also on the roof top was our host, Bishal (aka Vishal, aka Bashil, all depending on how badly we said his name) Our excited chatter lessened as we passed through the security gate and into the main portion of the southern area of Chitwan.
Ready for our first time on top of the jeep
I proved to be the best spotter of the day, pointing out herds of wild boar, spotted deer(with huge branch like antlers) and hog deer. Larry however, only found lots of mosquitos. We soon stopped at the crocodile breeding pit, where dozens of crocs laid out in the sun. It turns out the crocs weren't the main attraction though. The main attraction seemed to be us. The other group that was there repeatedly asked for pictures with our group. It is an odd feeling that is hard to get used to (Especially for me, who gets asked for pictures daily). After the crocs, we made our way to an intimidating wood-planked cage. As we peeked through the 2 inch gaps, we saw a 3 year old, fully grown, tiger in front of us. As the guide told us stories of the tiger trying to reach through the planks to reach unsuspecting children, I backed away wisely.
The canoe was waiting for us....
Larry? He climbed a ladder and stuck half his body over the open air top in order to get a better look. Maybe this is why the say women are the smarter sex?
Instead of riding the jeep home, all of us boarded a dug-out canoe and floated down the river towards our hotel. After getting over the fear of leeches, we enjoyed the slow ride home, taking in everything Chitwan had to offer. Deer came out to drink, fishermen threw their nets, and peacocks strutted their stuff. Once again, it was a full day. We passed out almost immediately after dinner, as we needed energy for tomorrow's adventures.