23.02.2012 - 23.02.2012
Ging has been a little kid in a candy store since the moment we got here about riding an elephant. She is grinning ear to ear as we enjoy a breakfast overlooking the pastures- the usual, boiled eggs, banana (and cinnamon) porridge and banana pancake (oh and copious amounts of coffee too) spread across the table.
When we "board" our elephant we are instructed to hop into what can only be described as a giant shipping box, only without a lid, and without solid sides- and is strapped in the back of a giant mammal. There are 4 of us per elephant and G6 has drawn the lucky card today. The 4 of us are to put our legs straddling the corner of the box (so we don't fall off of course!), we all have our backs to one another and are getting cozy, bouncing around on the back of the largest elephant in this herd.
Seeing the jungle in the morning was spectacular- it was cool and hazy when we headed out in the morning, but the clouds began to burn off as we moved further into the jungle. B is the designated spotter- even without her glasses the kid seems to locate animals like a pro. I am fully equipped with an unnecessarily large camera (which I cannot operate well), so I am the photographer. Ging is the question asker, and G6, well he was just lucky to be with 3 beautiful Canadians I think. We were lucky enough to see (in no particular order): spotted deer, monkeys, peacocks, and the highlight- a rhino and it's calf. They look so archaic that describing them as descendants of dinosaurs is the best I can do.
After we finished on the elephants, Ging and the Aussie triad had signed up to wash elephants... Which turned to more of them being tossed off elephants into a river.... Very entertaining for B and I!!!
All that before lunch!! After scarfing back (more) dal bhat and paneer masala we headed out on our jungle safari which departed from Chitwansari (cost is Rs 11500 for the jeep, split between how many people are in the jeep, so for us it was split between us and the Brits). At first, I will admit it was a little slow. It was midday, so many animals are likely having an afternoon siesta or are far enough into the jungle that we were not going to spot them. By the time we reached the Gharni (alligator) breeding centre, we had seen a (read: one) bird, and two monitor lizards. In two hours. Ging had a nap in the jeep, while B convinced me that standing up and having the wind blow through your hair makes you feel like you're in Jurassic park. Trying not to fall out of the jeep helped pass the time.
Post gator stop- things got more intense. Coles notes: we drove off the road to track down a rhino, a black bear jumped out of a ditch, a leopard ran across the road in front of us, we spotted Rhesus monkeys doing their thing, and rounded it out by chasing more black bears through 8 foot tall bamboo while our guide hollered mating calls while wielding a large stick. Needless to say we were back to Chitwan much later than the other group- with a much broader list of animals spotted. Full props to B for spotting the leopard (by yelling "what the hell is that?!!")
When we got back to Sapana we were starving- and predictably ordered the same three Nepali dishes we had for lunch (dal bhat and paneer), an order of momo (veg dumplings- so amazing) and a big pot of black tea with milk (chai). Apparently we were getting a bit of a reputation as the waiter first guessed our order and then second asked why we weren't having any drinks with dinner...
We have been playing the question game a lot since being away- some "would you rather" questions, but mostly open ended questions geared to spark conversations. We continued the tradition by sitting cross legged on small benches under the stars with Skinny, Curly, G6 and Chewy and a few large pots of tea. Who knew tea parties in the jungle could be so much fun?
That's all for this jungle book-
L, Ging & the Animal Spotter
Sent from my iPad