Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Chitwan National Forest and Drive to Lumbini - Tuesday, May 21, 2013

At approx 4:30 am there was a disruption in the electricity so that our AC was off for 1 hour.  We were beginning to wonder how warm our room would be before the AC resumed. Neither one of us went back to sleep as we had to be ready before 6:00. Tea would be served in the garden at 6:15 and we needed to be in the jeep by 6:30 to ride to the elephant staging area.  At the staging area there were approx 30 + elephants, ready to give tourist rides.  The elephant backs up to a platform that is approx 8 ft off the ground. The guests walk to the top of the platform, step onto the back of the elephant and then into the platform which is on the elephants back. Each guest sits in the position of straddling a corner post of the platform. As soon as everyone is seated, “Off you go!”  Wow!  What a rocking and rolling effect!!

Cal & I have been on a camel in India. A camel ride has the same tempo as the song, “We Three Kings of Orient". But this was completely different. 

Getting on the Elephant

Away We Go

Deer Fighting

Single Horned Rhinoceros


Tipping the Driver - via the Elephant

Driver and Elephant

In the National Park, we saw 3 one-horned Rhino, at least 6 spotted deer (the males kept fighting – the crash of their horns was interesting), a spring bok, a python snake, plus birds.   

The snake slithered under cover, however two elephants tore all the grass and foliage away from the area.  Finally the Python had to move on, as the elephants had him trapped.  He quickly slithered to a tree where there was loose leaf cover he could get under and completely hide.  The snake was approx 6 ft long!  The elephants did not seem to be afraid of the snake – Interesting.

The elephant ride lasted approximately 1 ½ hrs in the forest.  We were ready to dismount at the end of that time period.  It is a constant rock and rolling! We arrived back at the hotel where we were met with bad news – the road which we are going to use to get to Lumbini has a diversion.  Approx a year ago a truck hit the bridge, but the bridge has still not been repaired, instead a diversion has been made fording the river.  However over the past several days this area has been receiving lots of rain, and the diversion has been washed out.  They are currently working on repair or making an additional diversion.  We do not know if or when we are leaving Chitwan National Park!  We order another cup of tea!  We need to relax and ‘go with the flow’!!!

We had seen that the elephants are bathed each day. Well now we have time to walk to the river and watch this process.  What an experience!  The elephants are bathed twice a day and on real hot days they are taken to the river a third time so they can cool off.  Tourist can pay to ride bare back on the elephant into the river.  The elephant will draw a trunk full of water and then spray it on his back, passengers and all.  Some of the elephants completely submerge in the water except for the tip of their trunk.  Some elephant handlers (mahouts) actually scrub the elephant back with a brush.  It was fun watching the bathing process.  I am sure glad we had time to watch it. 

Preparing for a Bath

Nice Elephant

Elephant Bath

Nepal Construction - Woman Carrying Bricks

Nepal Construction - Woman Carrying Concrete

Nepal Construction - Laying Bricks

At about 11:00 the Rotarians showed up and we left for Lumbini.  About half way we came to the river.  What an experience!  Trucks, buses loaded with people, cars and motorcycles, were lined up waiting for their turn to cross the river.  We were on this makeshift road that was muddy due to the recent rains.  We finally made it to the river – they are trying to develop a bed of rocks to drive on, but vehicles were going ever which way to ‘ford’ the river.  We saw a car and van that were stuck in the river.  It was definitely an experience!  We do not know what will happen during monsoon season. 

Fording the River

Waiting to cross the River

Elevated Hay Stacks

Farm House

We finally arrive at Lumbini, drop our luggage at a hotel as we want to see the birth place of Lord Buddha before dark.  There is a large 3 km sq park area where Buddha’s birthplace is located and where many Buddha temples have been built by different countries.  To a Buddhist, this area is like a Christian going to Bethlehem, and the temples are like Christians going to Cathedrals.   It was interesting, but we were not captivated with it.  Plus it was STEAMY HOT all day. 

Original Walls

Prayer Flags

Even at night it was HOT.  A shower and an AC room were delightful.  I was not expecting to shampoo my hair every night, but it is a must as my hair gets wet with sweat.  It was over 100 degrees and the vehicle AC’s are barely keeping up!                                             

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