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Dalama Adventures Tale of two corporate types ditching their jobs and traveling the world for 14 months... check out all photos, blogs & interesting tid bits at http://www.dalama.net


NEPAL | Friday, 13 April 2007 | Views [3043]

Up early, we're ready for our drive to Chitwan to check out the Royal Chitwan National Park. It took us over an hour just to navigate the town traffic at early morning rush hour- trucks, and people movers bumper to bumper. Out of town we got into a mass of hairpin turns through the mountains. The narrow roads were barely wide enough to fit two cars, let alone the big busses hauling ass around corners. Busses here are long, and carry even more cargo on their rooftops than they do inside. Several busses were loaded with a heard of goats on the top, all taking in the spectacular views. Others just had cargo and people staked on-top, as the busses clung like tall magnets to the side of the mountain, ready to break loose at any second. The radio screamed high pitched Nepali music. To better paint the image of what the sounds sound and "look like", I'll share with you the videos we see on TV. The high pitched "chipmunk" type voice, with local flutes, drums and other instruments, are accompanied by visions of nature and Nepali people. The Nepali music channel, feeds continuous Nepali MTV type videos to go with these songs, and one can sit up for hours at night watching them on TV... Picture this, a homely looking man and woman dressed as they would in their going out wear, in the mountains, singing and dancing as they saunter through the forest. The first part of the music videos always show the man peering out from behind a tree, standing in a sexy pose with his mountain clothing on. Then, out of no wear, a woman in sari appears, takes center stage in front of another cluster of trees, and eventually they embrace, but then the scene quickly incorporates children singing and playing. The videos reinforce the strong family unit here, and the wholesome nature of their beliefs and values in living a tight knit conservative family focused life. Ok, so I've drifted to share with you what the music locally is like... Onto the Chitwan excursion.. We get dropped off at a little roadside stand - we have decided to raft part of our way to Chitwan. Our driver will pick us up 20 kilometers down the road. This operation is definitely a shoestring operation all the way. The life vests and helmets barely hung together, and I certainly wouldn't give a child this helmut to wear on a road bike, let alone, expect it to hold up if I fell out of the raft and smacked my head on a rock. And good thing I can swim, because the life vests are ancient, and are decomposing. The hike down to the river to our put-in site reveals a sneak peek at the river-beast we are to travel in - a beat up raft, that had vinyl siding splitting at the seams. In fact, at our lunch break, our river guide ends up pumping it back up with a bike pump because it was losing so much air. A young German guy leans over to me, a bit nervous about the task at hand, and asks me if I was the guide. I thanked him for the compliment, but pointed to our little Nepali guide was about to start giving us our instructions. Thankfully this river, the Trisuli, was only a Class III rapid... and I'm doubtful that it was even at that level, so we wouldn't have to be so concerned with the quality of our equipment- we could easily save ourselves if need be. While the rafting wasn't that great, what really made the trip was being out there on the water on such a hot day, versus cooped up driving the same distance. The other 6 people in our raft were also very cool, and that made the trip. The river ran through towering cliffs in-between the range; it was great to be outside amongst nature and not in the hot dirty city. We stopped for lunch, where our fearless guide got out and pumped back up the raft that was losing air, and we made our way through a few more technical areas before finishing up the journey. Another couple hours drive and we were in Chitwan at the Jungle Lodge Hotel. This place was a complete dump, and we were the only ones staying there, besides a local Nepali family celebrating the new year holiday. There were rats in the roof, you could hear them scamper and squeak, and cockroaches and large spiders in the bathroom. Make that a gigantic spider with thick body that I made the hotel manager come in to inspect to see if it was poisonous, before he so graciously plucked it by it's legs and set it free outside our front door. "No poisonous spiders in Nepal," he said so confidently. Ever since our little incident killing a bug in front of a dedicated Jain worshipper, we no longer seek to kill any insets (except mosquitos- I'll probably come back in a future life as a mosquito now). Most people come to Chitwan on a package deal - that's how they do it around here. Our words of wisdom are "resist and desist" to any of you thinking of staying at a lower cost resort outside the Royal Chitwan Park itself. THere are so many cool little guest houses here along the river that once you arrive by bus to the town center, it's so easy to cruise around and pick the one that you fancy - and organize your activities once you're here. Packages may save you a little money with group discounts that hotels can get on the activities, but as we found out, once you're locked into bad activities, there's no getting out of them. After an hour of trying to communicate with our hotel manager that we had paid to go "into" the Royal Chitwan Park" and having him just say "yes" when we know yes didn't mean yes (we find this similarity in both India and Nepal- they don't like to say no, so they always say yes). What we got stuck with was a days activities in the community buffer zone outside the park, which had been set aside as new community land to protect. This all aside, the first night in town we attended the Tharu cultural performance which was conducted by a bunch of young Nepali men. We found it interesting that there were no women that were allowed to perform, and we were informed that the bike ride distance for the women to come to perform at the center was too long and dangerous for them. Strange- women can walk for miles on end, with heavy loads carried on their heads and backs, but can't survive a bike ride? Not sure I by that. That said, the dance performance was a nice rendition of their traditional dances they do to welcome in the seasons, monsoon rains, crops, and ask for luck and good fortune from the gods. At one stage the men dressed up in women's saris, with lots of make up, and there was this little guy in pajamas and a tall dunce cap, running amongst them, as they twirled their long sarongs. Not sure what that was all about, but it was definitely entertaining. All of this kicked off the Buddhist New Years Eve celebration. A row of beach front bars lined the river banks, and little huts and palapalas catered to their tourists. The town had a ton of potential, with lots of little restaurants and cafes.

Tags: Misadventures

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