17/12. A good night's sleep for once.
garden is covered in mist, and it is quite cold. Breakfast
containing toast, jam, hashbrown potatoes, banana and a easy-over egg. At
eight, we drive to the lodge next-door, to pick-up a small group
of noisy Japanese. I went for "shotgun", but the ride is short.
We enters the park, and the Japanese are unloaded at the elephant
At the shallow and brownish river, a group of long canoes are
found. Each is made by a single stem from a local tree, flat
button, but quite stabile. Our "engine" pulls of, and we head
down the mist-covered river. Before long, the sun appears, and
bring some welcome heat to me and the crocodilians. They emerges
from their layers in the banks and the murky waters, to bask in
the sun. Some are five meters long, and quite scary, seen from a
small, wooden canoe!
The trees are teaming with birds as well as the side of the
river. Different magnificent kingfishers, River Lapwings, Sand
Common Brown Heron, Common Greeshank, Common Martins, starlings and weavers
are among those I remember. In the tall trees to one side of the
river, some noisy Rhesus Macaws warns about us.
At some rapids, we cross trail with the elephant safaris. Here
are a lot elephants, carrying colourful tourists! Round a bend,
and we got it all to our self again. Well, except from a Barking
Dear and a group of Spotted Deer, which seems to ignore us. I
spot several species of orchids in the tall trees, along with
other epiphytes like ferns.
After what feels like a long ride, we leave it to the
boat-driver to get the canoe upstream, and head for the jungle.
It is fare from dense, but still lush green. The floor is only
partly covered sand, and several creeks and swamps crisscross
Damu seems to be familiar with the area, and we follow animal
tracks, not the normal path. Here are the trails of wild
elephants, diggings from the Sloth Bear, huge toilets from the
One-horned Rhinos and even fresh pore-prints from a tiger near a
creek. Perhaps that is why Damu carries a thick stick? The
biggest trees are Ceibas, some covered in Strangler Figs, other
in giant lianas. It is winter, and only a few flowers are found.
As we passes through different vegetations, we experience
different animals. Rhesus Macaws, Spotted Deer, Red Junglefowl and the close
but invisible noise of something big. I get close to some
orchids in fallen trees and a few insects.
We walk for several hours, and despite Damu don't acknowledges
it, I'm sure we are slightly lost several times. I do prefer the
off-track routes, but the creeks and swamps are a challenge. It
seems like Damu thrive with this little company. He tells me,
some groups of tourists, whom he had told to keep quiet, only
stop talking, when they burst into sinning. I overheard a
conservation earlier: A Japanese woman had a hard time figuring
the crocodiles like the sun, and she didn't get the fact, they
After several hours, we get out of the forest, next to the
elephant breading centre. A short walk to the starting point at
the river, and we get a ride back with another group.
I'm still a bit restless, and head out for a walk. Down to the
river, where the mahouts are washing their elephants. I turn
into the tourist village - and even spot four tourists - and
find a cup Masala:
The spiced tea with milk. I meet several horse carriages,
used for local transport. It is, without any doubt, the smallest
horses I ever have seen. The size of a small Shetland pony, but
way more skinny. A few elephants crosses town along with some
I pass through town, into the surrounding fields, and find a
path to the Tharu village. Here are so many motives and smiling
faces, but I still feel a bit ashamed to make all the photos I
would like to. Never the less, I get one of the water buffalos,
some ducks and their small herb gardens.
Back at the lodge, I get a late lunch. It is so delicious, and
supper might come rather late. While I eat, two parties with
arrivals - bummer; I liked to have it all to my self. At least, they
are young Aussies, and as so quite pleasant to be around.
It is still a bit cold in the shadows, but the sun have gotten
the desired strength. Now, the trick is to place my self in the
sun, while the computer stay in the shadow. My private
porch reach 26C in the shadow, although the wind is cold. I got
two hours to spend, before the late afternoon elephant ride. I
update data, diary and photos - 120 of them from this morning
At three, it is time for the elephant ride. I get a lift to the
park, and share an elephant with three Nepalese tourists. We are
part of a small group, mainly with other Nepalese and one
elephant with Japanese, recognisable by the four selfie-sticks,
sticking out all the time. Must be sad, always to have your back
to the motive?
Within long, we reach a big clearing with rhinos. Two mothers
with calf and a teenager. The totally ignores us, as we
approaches them. I try desperately to get some good pictures,
but a moving elephant is defiantly not the best base for that!
We head on after some time, but it is limited what else the
jungle will reveal. A big, dark deer, a male peacock, some Rhesus monkeys,
several groups of Spotted Deer and some white herons. We reach
the river, and the other elephants enters it. Our seem to have a
deep fear of water, and refuses despite the mahout's efforts.
After a good hour, we are back, and I walk back to the lodge. It
is through Tharu settlement and some lodges.
I catch some youngsters playing caram/carrom bord, exactly the
same as I know
"Bob", just without the sticks. In the fare distances, I see the
snow covered Himalayas, and with a goofy smile and the local
greeting: Namaste, I enters a farmers yard to get a
picture. Walk along with an elephant on its way back from work.
Back at the lodge, I watch the workers play some caram,
mainly because my computer is out of battery, and we having a
"brown-out". Supper is a buffet, due to the 16 guests we are by
now. Damu claims, it is to get me to eat more - and it does work!
Straight after supper, we all walk to the Tharu Culture
Programme. Bit like a theatre with a recorded voice announcing
each dance. A Nepalese have made a rather brilliant impression
of Monty Python's upper-class voice: Hilarious!
We see the traditional Stick Dance, the Festival Dance, the
Dance of the Dead, a Peacock Dance, some others, and in the end,
every one is invited to the stage. On the way home, one of the
girls ask, if she can flash the elephant. It turns out she means
taking a picture with flash...
When we returns,
the others disappears, and I sit in the restaurant and work,
till I'm out of power, once again. A few Common Asian House
Geckoes watch me from the sealing.
The usual problem reveals itself: I have so many photos I want
to add to the diary, but too little text to mix them into.
have half the day off to relax!? I ask for an elephant ride, but it turns
out I, have to pay an additionally park fee, and Damu think I
will have a better chance spotting animals by my self, following
the river. He will also show me his secret spot for the rare Gharial
crocodile, of which the park only have 72, after he has taken the
other guests for the canoe tour.
In the afternoon, he arranges a Jeep-safari - offering a bike
18/12. After the breakfast buffet, I head up the river.
At first, it is quite difficult to get through the lodges on the
banks, but then I reach the wild nature. A mist is covering the
surface of the slightly warmer river, but the sun appears, and I
start to feel alive.
I spot what looks like a Gharial on the other side of the river,
but it is only partly emerged. I lay down on some rocks, and
wait, dozing off a bit. Then the sun has efficient strength, and
it is actually a Gharial which reveals it self from the muddy
water. And behold; another one right next to it! They are too
fare away for my camera, but for me, it is a great experience to
see these odd and rare animals in the wild. Gharial are an
ancient form of crocodilians with a real narrow and long snout.
I continues up the river, both sides looking like the park. Here
are a lot of ducks and other birds, including a big group of
peacocks. A few Mugger Crocodiles bask in the sun, and fish
jumps in the river. I see some elephants in the distance, and it
turns out, the river make a big bend, and I reach them. It is
huge bulls with long tusks, and they are working
in the forest for the park administration. I head back, and
pass the Gharials again. Then I reach the town, grab a cup of tea, and then back
at the camp. Damu isn't here, and I go for plan B: A bit of non-critical laundry, celebrating the sun and additionally night
- it might actually dry!
After a quick but delicious lunch, I head back thought town to
see the Gharials once again. They are still there, but the sun is in my
face, and I can only see their silhouettes Slowly back through
town, checking the side-roads and a single café. I find a
souvenir for my mom, get a hair-cut and head back to the lodge.
We all join up in
open Jeeps, and head to the Tinkauli Buffer Zone and the
Thousands Lakes, through a huge plain with rice fields. It turns
out to be a cold ride and even colder
return, in the dusk. The area we enters is dominated by broad leafed trees
with several green clearings and of cause; small lakes.
Here are several groups of Spotted Deer, a few Barking Deer and
some Crested Serpent Eagles, quite close. Just as we returns,
several Lesser Adjutant Storks start fishing in the river, and when we
stop at a lake, some Wild Boars crosses the road.
The lake is, despite the lacking light, real impressive. Quite
big and a complete mirror for the tall trees and the distant,
snow-covered mountains. The other car get a "push-push safari",
but we don't get to laugh for long: We run out of petrol.
Back at the lodge for supper and work. I guess this
will be the last I see of Chitwan National Park, and I make a
slideshow: Chitwan NP
and Tharu people. Planning tomorrow reveals some
scary facts: It is 1.000-2.000 meter higher than here, which should lead
to a 10-20C drop in temperature. I have keep to the plan so far,
but I might make a few short cuts up there! The cold I got
yesterday is treated a bit too good, and it thrive!
19/12. I get a lift to the village and then
the bus, taking me
towards the Manakamana cable car. I passes through the large city
of Bharatpur, Narayangadh them Mulgin
and finally we reach Manakamana. It is a "Tourist Only" bus,
here are one other pale, in a else stuffed bus.
It is an Aussie girl, who is on her way to Kathmandu. We passes
through some rural landscape, crosses huge rivers and see the
giant snow-covered peaks in the approaching distance. I try to
make some photos out through the bus' surprisingly clear
windows, but reflections and the bumping-around, make it a
challenge. Huge slopes have been formed into rice patches in a
few areas. Most of the time, we follow the huge river or one of
its just as huge side-arms.
I leave the bus at the huge gate of Manakamana cable car, from which the cable and cars
are visible. The line is pleasantly short, and after been
waiting almost to the car, I'm picked out, and guided to the
front. Feel a bit embarrassed, but on the other hand; I did pay
four times as much for the foreigner ticket. I had expected other pale people here, but
none. Some of the Austrian cable-cars are especially
made for goats, heading up to the temple at the top, to be
scarified. The ride bring them - and me - 2.800 meters into the
mountains and more than 1.000 up.
The tour up is real interesting, not only because of the family
I'm stuffed with. The altitude change 1.000 meters, and the
impact on the vegetation is significant. At first, we ride over
broad-leaved trees, then, within a short stretch, it changes
into pine trees (one of the plants I'm here to investigate).
Here are a few clearings on the way, making room
At the top is a rather large village. Mainly restaurants and
shops dealing with offerings and plastic toy for the kids, is
lined up along the path. It seems like everyone has some live
goats or hens stocked away. I start with a cup of milk-tea,
before I walk through the busy area. It is a rather large, red and black
temple in the honour of Hindi goddess Bhagwati. It is as old as
Nepal, and judging from the many hundred meters patient line;
I try to capture the magic of the temple, but soon, I'm
distracted by the breathtaking mountain range behind. Well, I
can't capture it anyway, and I return to the butchers hut. Here,
hens and goats are butchered, and their blood lead to the
Around the temple, numerous bells in all sizes are hung up. Butter
is burned in small clay things along with "Holy Smoke". Close to
the temple, a line of holy men are offering blessings, forehead
markings and cotton strings along with flowers. Many pilgrims give each
of them a
handful of rice.
The yard is filled with pigeons, which the children catches and
releases. The animals don't seem to be bothered.
I grab another cup of tea, before I head back to the cablecar. The
queue seems endless, and on top of that, the cable has
stopped. Apparently, they make a good, long lunch break. The guy
next to me tells me to skip the line, and head right in front. I
find it a bit embarrassing again, but others insist. Well, I'm
the first one down after the brake. I try to capture the
special, changing climate-belt from above, on the way down, but
I'm told to take my arm inside.
A steep walk brings me back to the main road, and soon after, a bus
is heading my way. First to Abu Khaireni, then another bus to
Mulgin for a short break and a new bus to (elev. 1135m). It is a long
drive through a narrow gorge, way up towards the peaks.
is no more than a long line of houses along the road. I find the
hotel I had decided on, but it is full. Another have room, but
it seems like hot water is not common around here.
It is only an hour till dusk, and I head out for a walk. The
village is famous for its place in history: It is here the
founder of Nepal was borne. In 1769, Prithvi Narayan Shah
unified some rivalling nations into a single nation.
Here are many idyllic looking old houses and a fantastic view.
The old royal palace is now a Gorkha museum, but I'll do
without. I see the Ratna Temple which at present is without any
The women is mainly dressed in woollen and red dressings. Some
work with millet on the road, which in many stretches are sealed
with natural rocks. I pass a deep concrete pit, within
women washing cloth and them self. I do, after all, not take a
I find a path leading up-hill, and a couple of kids tells me: If
you survives, you will reach A-something, within some hours. I will save
that for another day.
The village is made up by steep streets and even steeper stairs.
It seems like the true buildings are only along the road. Up and
down, I only find huts. The sun sets, the temperature drops, and
I head back to the hotel, which offered food. I order a Dhido
Set, which should be a local dish with dahl and mutton. Then
they say; In two hours sir!!! Perhaps, I should have eaten lunch
after all. I start working - and freezing. I just don't get it:
The locals are freezing just like me, but they lack windows and
doors - in the restaurant, the entire wall to the street is
missing. I would
have a huge fireplace! It is not like they don't have forests
around here (but maybe they want to keep them?).
Instinctual, I did look for warm jackets earlier, but they only
seem to have some small, shitty Chinese ones here.
I get my rather spicy supper, as the shops closes. It is a huge
serving of chocolate-brown millet-flower, sticky stuff, dhal with
pumpkin and potatoes, green liens-soup, some different red
spices and a few vegetables. I'm supposed to eat with my
fingers, forming a ball with the millet and dip it. Despite I'm
freezing, I start sweating because of the spices. I leave room
for a non-spiced pancake with local honey: I sure need fuel for
the long and very cold night! To my big surprise, it taste
exactly like one at home!
I am so much going to buy a huge jacket tomorrow. My fingers
turn num while working, and I can't figure how to talk my self
into a bath in cold water. And in a bathroom which at best can
be described like a hole in the ground - and without light! I
sure hope tomorrow will offer a better hotel. At 20.30, I'm out
of power, and no sockets in sight. What to do then? My last act
was to find out: Here are no WI-FI at all. The restaurant,
connected with my hotel, closes at the same time, and a short
look out into the street reveals: It is the last one to close. I
think someone could make a great business, if he started with a
good, old stove. My hotel room is 12C when I returns. I guess
this is out of the beaten tourist track, at least in wintertime?
Don't blame them. But, here are clean bed-lined and a clean
towel. Just the shower - and hot water is missing. I strip the
other bed for duvet and blanket, and keep my
long skiing underwire on. I'm so much not cut out for this!
20/12. After a surprisingly good night's sleep, only
disturbed by the removing of the skiing underwear. I should have
used the bucket of water in the bathroom last night, when it was
liquid. I wake up to
a crispy, clear morning. Well, from our altitude and up. The
valley below looks like a glass of cold milk. I treat my self
pancakes, which turns out to be way thicker than I
thought. Then I head up the trail towards the temple on the top.
It is a pilgrims routs for Nepali people, and here are quite a
few. The trail is actually one long line of stairs, made up by
local slate, and rather rough. It winds a bit through houses, of
which many are offering plastic souvenirs along with their
farming and animal stock. The sun in combination with the effort
warms me up to a point, where I actually end up in T-shirt.
I reach the temple, and find a path leading around it. The other side
reveals a magnificent view to the snow covered and quite near
mountains. Despite the height, some dade-palms seems to do fine
The temple is made by red bricks and has some nice wooden
carvings. I enters by a back-door, and walk around outside,
between the buildings. I let it to the religious people to enter
the dark doorways and smoky interior. Outside are many modern
Nepalese offering flowers and other stuff. A few monkeys keep to
the backside of the temple, but the kids finds them, and feed
On the way down, the strap on my new day-bag breaks, but within
five minutes, I get it fixed by a tailor. I get my big bag from
the hotel, and find the bus. I even get to buy a ticket at an
office! The bus seems rather empty, and I figure it will take
some time before departure. But I don't even get my tea, before
I'm ask to enter.
First stop is in Abu Kurintar, but fare from time enough
to find a jacket. We drive around in the mist in the valley, and
it is strangely enough; cold as milk too. I have to change bus
in Dunme, but the ticket boy forget to give me the promised
hint, and it is only because I see a sign outside the city, I
Bandipur (elev. 1.030) is straight up the steep mountains, but I
start to walk anyway. Here is only one road, and the bus must
eventually pass me. I start botanizing, and look at the tiny
farms along the road. I'm able to squeeze in, as the bus passes,
almost a hour later. Here are even some familiar faces from last
Bandipur is a real cosy town. It is gently being restored with
help from a private company, and its mainstreet is tourists
dream: A perfect combination of ancient houses, cafés and small
hotels with plenty of local people adding to the atmosphere. I
try the first hotel I find; Bandipur Village Resort, and despite the rather high price
(1000R), I go for it. It then turns out is has a nice bathroom
with hot water, and a astonishing view to the mountains.
I drop the backpack and walk most of the streets of the central
part of town. Here are so many motives, and when the sun changes, even
more. The locals are drying beans, lenses, rice, chilli
much more on small patches on the street. Some are enjoying the
sun, some are playing a Ludo-like game with stick-dices and some
just walking. I even see a few tourists here. Right in front of
the hotel, a shoemaker have drawn an audience. I get a cup of
tea and joins in.
It is still sunny for some hours, and I head out for the walk to
the Thani Mai Temple. It is a steep climb, up a limestone
mountain. The views are breathtaking - just as the climb. The
temple it self is just a few huts and bells. Here are a few
flowering plants and even more butterflies. A single paraglide
passes bye, but else, I have it to my self. I returns to Bandipur at four, bit too early, but I have walked my part for
As the sun descents, but while it is still shining at the walls
on my room, the temperature drops significantly. I realises I
don't have a duvet in this room: Panic! I calm down, when I find
in the empty rooms next to mine.
I get a cup of tea at the hotels restaurant, while I watch the
suns last play on the white mountains. I can't imagine how much
I would have enjoyed this, if I wasn't freezing? I did look for
jackets, but I did not see any. The owner tells me: This is
a good time to take a bath, and I go for it. Well, not warm, but not that cold either.
I spend the evening the usual way: Freezing and working. I make
a slide-show of the two villages;
Gorkha and Bandipur. At seven, I try the local Chicken
Biyani, which I will describe as a dark yellow/orange fried rice
with chicken and a few cloves, which reminds me of Christmas -
not that much of actually.
To my big surprise, this "tourist village" turn dead just after
seven. I could understand it, if people had a nice stove at
home, but here are not just a hint of fire smoke. I'm the only
customer in the hotel's restaurant, and hardly any passes bye,
despite of its central placement. The fellow at work hide it
well, but I can't help getting the feeling; he could be
somewhere else. I let him get away at eight, not knowing what I can
entertain my self with - but freezing?