Day 191: Welcome to the jungle, we got fun and games
Sauraha Travel Blog› entry 234 of 260 › view all entries
Thanks to the people I met here and/or travelled with: Marco & Martin (Germany), Anna & Amelie (France)
When I woke up the next morning I was still drunk. Don't think I slept for more than three hours. I figured I would sleep some more on the bus to Chitwan, after all, it was a six-hour bus trip. Wrong and wrong again.
Nepali buses aren't many things, but two things they definitely are: slow and uncomfortable. This weekend was the main weekend of the annual 15-day Dashain festival, the most important festival in Nepal. This means that almost everybody in Kathmandu is trying to leave the city. Scrap the almost - EVERYBODY is trying to leave the city.
Thanks to Hem I had managed to get a spot on a bus to the Chitwan National park - on the back row, with little leg room and no comfort at all. Impossible to sleep.
As the day progressed my drunkenness subsided and was replaced by a terrible hangover. I preferred being drunk.
I was travelling to Chitwan with two German guys I had met on the Everest trek, Martin and Marco. I had bumped into them yesterday and they told me they were planning on going to Chitwan as well, but they hadn't been able to find any transportation. So I had put them in touch with Hem, so now they were on the same tour as me.
There were two more people on our tour, two French girls called Anna and Amelie(if I ever get round to publishing a book of my travels, people won't believe it is a true story with all these alliterations!).
So here we were, the five of us, cramped on the back row of a rickety old bus. Now the discomfort wouldn't have been so bad if we actually had been moving. But to get to Chitwan we had to get out of Kathmandu via the same road as I had come in from Pokhara three weeks ago. A road which leads over a very narrow pass with a police checkpoint at the top. As I said, about 90% of Kathmandu was leaving the city today, seemingly all of them via the same road. It took us four hours to get out of the city - a distance of less than 10 kilometres!
Our program was due to start at 13:00, but we did not arrive at the small town of Sauraha, on the edge of the Chitwan National Park, until 17:00.
Our accommodation was great. Small huts set in a beautiful forest setting full of birds, squirrels and, err, spiders. The huts were basic, but very complete - just the way I like my jungle resorts!
He arranged an alternative program for us, starting with a 'traditional village walk'. The southern part of Nepal, the Terrai region, is the home of the Tharu, an indigenous race of people thought to have come from Southern India. The Tharu thought to be immune, or at least highly resistant, to malaria, which made them the only people able to live in the dense jungles of the Terrai until malaria was eradicated here in the 1950s.
To this day the Tharu live in very simple, almost stone-age conditions. Living in thatched huts and leading a very agricultural life.
These days tourism is providing some source of income for them, although, in all honesty, they don't have to offer much more than themselves in terms of tourism. Visiting their village was like visiting a zoo - let's go watch how the poor people live!
I hated it.
More interesting was the 'traditional dance' performance we went to after dinner. Normally I don't like these kind of performances, they're way too touristy for my taste, but this one was surprisingly good. The dance performance (only male performance, some of their acts included some cross-dressing) was a mixture of tribal dance and martial arts and the music was very powerful and rhythmic.
I had trouble staying awake during the performance. It was not that I didn't like it, on the contrary, I thought it was brilliant, but the hypnotic rhythms just made me fall asleep. I wasn't the only one though, Martin, sitting next to me, was dozing off as well.
Back at the lodge I went straight to bed. It had been a loooong day (preceded by a short night!)