A Travellerspoint blog

Chitwan - strikes,strandings and rhino!

Today Youngita had hired a car to take Leigh, Kylie-Maree & I to the conference at Chitwan. It is only 140km away but takes 4 hours by car. We started to climb out of the valley Kathmandu is in around windy mountain roads. We had taken travel sick pills just in case!! The mountains & drops were huge but again we were told these were just hills!!

Once we were down the other side we passed through a valley and followed a beautiful river. there were suspension bridges across for pedestrians & lots of small villages. What the women carry in baskets on their heads is amazing! All carried by a band around their forehead!!

Once we got to the Chitwan turn off there was a roadblock due to the strikes in the district. Strikes are commonplace in Nepal & so crippling. No public transportation is allowed on the roads except for rickshaws & horse & carts. Schools & many businesses are closed. We managed to get past the roadblock because Youngita being a local talked them into letting us by as were foreigners. Closer to town there were tree branches blocking the roads & lots of vehicles & people standing around. We went a back way into town & at each point were expect ring to be stopped & walk from that point.

We got to the conference for the last session & then had a Nepalese lunch cooked up over fires in massive pots for the few hundred people that had attended. We checked into our hotel then Kylie Maree & i went for a walk down the main street. There were no other westerners around & the street was full of women cooking corn & the yummy Bread - think it was roti, selling vegetables etc. That night we had dinner with some of the pastors at the restaurant where we stayed. In our rooms were candles to light for when the power went out & it did!!

The next morning we were early in the dark to go out to Chitwan National Park. Mark, Leigh, Pastor Raju , Kylie-Maree & i squeezed into a very small cart pulled by a pony. It was hazy from the dust & the sun which was slowly rising was bright red due to the dust.

We passed a fire and burnt out bike tyres on the road and found out the next day that 4 people had been killed in a demonstration about the strike!

It took over an hour going through forest & then past paddy fields & villages that had bamboo sticks to hold the electricity wires up. It was really cold & I was glad to have my recently purchase yak shawl wrapped around me to stay warm.

The National Park has tigers , rhino & crocodiles. We were going on an elephant ride to spot the rhino. Four of us squeezed ( that word again!) into a platform with 4 poles on top of the elephant with our legs wrapped around a pole on the 4 corners. There was lots of squeals as the elephant swayed from side to side & even more squeals when our mahout steered the elephant off the well worn track to make his own track through the jungle. Tree branches full of pollen and spiderwebs slapped us in the faces I had 2 hairy caterpillars on my pants. I was sooo glad I didn't get a spider on me as it would be a pretty site to see me hysterical on the top of a massive elephant trying to jump off it!! After much bush bashing we found a mother and baby rhino so well camouflaged as they lay on the jungle floor. It was pretty cool but i would have liked to have had a better look out in a clearing. we saw lots of deer & a magnificent male peacock with all his feathers extended out in a big arc.

To get back to the airport quicker I jumped on a motorbike with Raju & lightened the load for the pony & cart. We got so far ahead that we stopped off & had a tea to warm up. It is served in a glass & is very sweet. I wandered around the back of the shop & met a family & was invited in to see their new baby. Children wear kohl stick eyeliner around their eyes & it makes them look so grown up. Even saw it on a baby.

We were supposed to go to Hetadu to meet with a former trafficker who had become a Christian & wanted to help by starting a facility to to help trafficked girls. Due to the strike we couldn't get there so decided we would head back to Kathmandu.Mark, Leigh & I decided to fly back so that we didn't have another long car trip. In hindsight, not a great idea!

After our Jungle Safari We were dropped to the airport at 10am to get the 11am flight. There was so many people already there, in this 1 roomed airport that had concrete floors , a few seats a disgustingly smelly squat toilet! People were lying on the floors inside & outside of the building . We were told the flights were delayed due to the dust/smoke/haze in the air which limited visibility. There are no planes in Chitwan & we had to wait until a flight came in from Kathmandu just 15 mins away.The first plane arrived in at 3pm, much to people's excitement! Then 2 more planes came the airport was empty now apart from the 16 of us due out on the last plane. At 5pm ( after 7 hours lying on this airport floor!!) we were told our flight was cancelled & to come back the next day.

Pastor Raju & the rest of the team were already back in Kathmandu & concerned about us & wanted to send the hire car back for us but that would have meant us travel ling at night which was not very safe. We decided to catch a rickshaw back to the hotel , stay another night & try our luck the next day!

Back we went the next day for more of the same! Luckily there was a roadside tea house over the road from the airport where we bought some packets of chips for lunch!

We had a backup plan , that if our plane hadn't arrived by midday that Pastor Raju would send the hire car back for us with Youngita & Kylie-Maree & hopefully they would get past the strike roadblock. If they couldn't we would have to try & get a rickshaw or cart out to meet the car & that was a really long way. The car headed out & fortunately our plane arrived as they hit a roadblock way before the Chitwan turn off & wouldn't have been able to get us that way. We met some interesting people at the airport which helped fill in the time!Six hours after arriving at the airport our plane arrived in! Here I was breaking one of my rules about not flying on a small plane. We flew Yeti Airlines which is supposed to be a good small airline. It was so small, I couldn't stand up straight & could see the pilot from my seat! I prayed all the way back to Kathmandu was so glad to be back on the ground.

On arrival we were told there would be a strike in Kathmandu the next day & that we would need to get to the airport before 6am or we would not be allowed on the roads. We were flying back to Bangkok that afternoon, so it looked like another 8 hour day at the airport! Fortunately it was cancelled that morning so we got a break from another long airport day before heading out.

Found the security checks very different - they went through my bag & I was allowed to keep my litre bottle of water but all the passengers were frisked twice. We were put in gender lines & had a very intimate pat down in an alcove area. The second pat down check was on the tarmac just before walking up the stairs!!!

Local Shop

Local Shop


Suspension Bridge over river on way to Chitwan

Suspension Bridge over river on way to Chitwan


En route to Chitwan

En route to Chitwan


Corn cooking - main St Chitwan

Corn cooking - main St Chitwan


Food vendors

Food vendors


Girl on her food cart

Girl on her food cart


Cooking chipatas

Cooking chipatas


Food vendors

Food vendors


Selling veggies

Selling veggies


Mark & Leigh on pony & cart to Nat Park

Mark & Leigh on pony & cart to Nat Park


Village

Village


Leigh patting the elephant

Leigh patting the elephant


On top of the elephant

On top of the elephant


The track before we started bush bashing

The track before we started bush bashing


Spot the rhino!!!

Spot the rhino!!!


The box thing we sat on

The box thing we sat on


Back of tea house

Back of tea house


Tea House

Tea House


Girl I met

Girl I met


Women washing at the well

Women washing at the well


Kohl stick eye makep

Kohl stick eye makep


Chitwan airport

Chitwan airport


People lying out in the sun waiting for thye plane

People lying out in the sun waiting for thye plane


Airport staff baby with makeup

Airport staff baby with makeup


Airport staff

Airport staff


Out on the tarmac watching everyone else's planes

Out on the tarmac watching everyone else's planes


Waiting!

Waiting!


Sleeping!!!

Sleeping!!!


Finally.... after 2 days of waiting!!

Finally.... after 2 days of waiting!!


Little scary plane

Little scary plane


Bright coloured dyes

Bright coloured dyes


Leigh trying out the basket around your head

Leigh trying out the basket around your head


Tea shop opposite the airport

Tea shop opposite the airport


Me on the back of the pony cart in my yak shawl

Me on the back of the pony cart in my yak shawl

Posted by hillbillyramsey 17:00 Archived in Nepal

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