Currently: Missing the original Drago crew
Nepal, you are so bittersweet. I’ve officially finished my first of three legs (Kolkata – Kathmandu) in my epic adventure across India. I’m sad to see the original group leave. Right when you’ve gotten used to everyone’s quirks, the trip ends. We had a brilliant time together and I’m going to miss the people, the stories, and the personalities. It’s just a blip of time that you’re together but you get to experience so much in that time that it always seems to be over too soon! I will say we got lucky and looking back, I know we’ll all be nostalgic for Wolfie’s grumblings and stories about 1967 in no time at all. Before they left we had some final days in Nepal to top off an already incredible trip!
First stop: Chitwan National Park. Or really, the town of Sauraha.
We’re staying at the infamous Rhino Lodge, which has a informal resident named Roger that comes by to visit every once in a while. This place has some prime grass real estate going on. Roger doesn’t seem to fussed about all the attention he gets. He just meanders down the street and chews his grass like the good rhino he is.
This place is pretty dang awesome. We get to see a bit of the rural life down here. The kids are crazy friendly and know approximately one English word: chocolate. Smart kids. We took a nice slooooooooow ox and cart ride around town and stopped at a local home. The mother was less than amused by our presence and it was kind of awkward standing around and taking pictures of someone else’s home. There’s always that fine line between learning about a different way of life and gawking at someone’s home like it’s on display at a museum. The kids were quite engaging though.
We polished off the day with a nice cultural show put on by the local Taru community complete with a dancing peacock. Definite highlight of the night for us. If you make it to Sauraha, I also highly recommend participation in the last dance of the show. Getting down with the locals is a surefire way to have some fun!
Cue a massive thunderstorm. Perfect to build that jungle-esque atmosphere… except that we planned a lovely canoe ride and nature walk through the jungle. With that rain, all the leeches came out to play. Now affectionately referred to as the leech walk, we saw few animals because of the overcast weather. We did have a fun experience of running into a rhino that almost charged us (three seconds I was almost positive I was going to die), inspected tiger poop (not what you’d think… I’ll leave it at that), and crouched down to track down some deer (sneaky little buggers).
The afternoon was spent watching elephants wash themselves in the river and jeeping it on a short safari to see some more wildlife and the infamous 20,000 lakes. Which is really just one big lake. No tiger sightings but we did see eagles, storks, boars, Roger chewing away, tons of deer, and some monkeys.
As an extra bonus, we also got to spend a night at the Royal Beach Camp set in the mountainside. This place was a slice of paradise and I took our day in the sunshine and proceeded to take an afternoon off to recoup and beach/pool it up. It was a much needed spa day for all of us!
Finally back to Kathmandu for the end of the first leg. We took a lesson from our first afternoon in Kathmandu and set off to explore the city, no plan or guide in hand. We ended up seeing a random sign for the Swayambunath (or the Monkey Temple for those unedumacated foreigners) so we took that as a sign (puns!) and headed off in that direction. At every junction, we would trade off asking a local for directions to make sure we were headed in the right direction. We couldn’t get over just how friendly and helpful the Nepalese were. It was refreshing to say the least! After climbing what felt like dozens of stairs (and taking plenty of breaks to take pictures of the dozens of monkeys hanging around), we were rewarded with stunning views of Kathmandu valley and this amazing architecturally stunning temple.
It was quite the scene up there – music, people streaming everywhere, wafts of incense picked up by the breeze, rhythmic chanting in a back corner. We meandered back down careful not to miss the promising momo stand we found earlier. The momos lived up to their previous hype and we ended our tour with a farewell dinner at a classic Kathmandu steakhouse. I think some of the men had been missing that option, ever since arriving in India.
With that, it was farewells as the group trickled off to either home or further adventures. I just wanted to say thanks for an incredible time to all the wonderful people I’ve met along this first bit! This one’s dedicated to you crazy fools.
I hope to run into these wonderful souls again someday. As we always said, the world is smaller than we think 🙂
Lots of love,