Mahendranagar was only a stopover and we set off for Chitwan right away. We get to see Nepal in daylight now and boy is there a difference! Nepal is so much cleaner, the buildings look like they would actually withstand a hard kick, the roads are (mostly) nice and the people aren’t as pushy! This, and working suspension almost makes us forget the fact that there is no legroom whatsoever in the bus.
Ulrika buys grape juice at one of the stops but gives it away when she discovers that there are large pieces of grape in it. I take it and it’s a little bit like drinking tadpoles, but the taste is good so no problem really =)
Chitwan national park is reached in just three hours, a welcome change of pace. We’re staying in a little village called ???? at the Jungle Lodge. The staff welcomes us by drawing red marks on our foreheads, serving juice and giving us hibiscus flowers. The entire place is serene and as we have some free time before lunch we head down to the river. We’ve been cautioned no to do any bathing since there are more than a few crocodiles swimming around in there. Maria tells us that last year the entire group went swimming right away and instead of just telling them to get up the staff went and told Maria instead…
We don’t see any crocs, but three elephants are bathing just as we walk down. Their riders are scrubbing them with stones and thoroughly cleaning them. One of them, a younger one probably, has other plans however and is out in the middle of the river, spurting water, rolling around and playing submarine. It’s hysterical to watch and he’s obviously enjoying himself!
The lunch is great and to think that I read that the Nepali kitchen wasn’t much to bother with! Following lunch we all go down to the village and look around. The place is very laid back and even the salesmen are nice, there are also more or less fixed prices, which might be part of the reason. I find a painter that has some beautiful greyscale mountain paintings and I end up buying one with Anapurna mountain on it (especially fun since it’s there we will be trekking later on and in all likelihood we’ll see Anapurna for real). The price is only 1200 Nepali rupees (120 sek) which I gladly pay.
The whole village is filled with booze as well, which is a welcome change from the dried up India. I get a bottle of gin (550 rupees) and a few cans of tonic (much more expensive than the Gin). The schedule for the afternoon is a jungle walk where we hopefully get to see some wildlife. The most wild thing we get to see though is a stork and some beetles. The walk ends beautifully with drinks in the setting sun by the river. We are a few people who aren’t quite satisfied there though and Sara, Elin and me decide to go to one of the rooftop restaurants in town where there’s happy hour with two drinks for the price of one.
When we get there we discover that Fredrik and Thorstein are already there. The net result is that we’re all a bit tipsy come dinner. The staff line up the Everest beers and dinner is equally delicious as lunch. Following dinner is a Nepali dance show, naturally we were hoping to see some women but no such luck, the men seem to do the dancing here. They perform three dances before it’s time for a final one where they want us to join in. People aren’t too keen to begin with but by the time they get to Ulrika and Elin almost all of us are participating.
The staff are really happy that we joined in and we spend the rest of the evening drinking and singing around the fireplace. Håkan turns out to be a real dark horse and keeps coming up with weird songs that we all sing along to. The staff sings a couple of Nepali songs as well and all in all it’s a really pleasant evening.