India & Nepal Narrative: Day 2

Where was I?
Ahh yes… 10 months later, and I’m finally writing Part II of my India and Nepal narrative. This will probably be a bit faster paced, since at this point I mainly just want to get this all down somewhere before my memory completely fails me.

[Edit: Haha. Never mind about the faster paced thing]

 Day 2 – Delhi

When we last left our protagonists, they had finally arrived at their Delhi hotel after more than 24 nightmarish hours of sitting in airplanes. It’s the middle of the day in Delhi, but they collapse in bed and don’t wake up until the next morning. Will the new day bring better fortunes for our exhausted heroes? Let’s find out…

It’s always kind of fun to wake up in a new city after a good night’s rest. You lie there in bed, trying to figure out where you are and why you’re in this strange bed, when suddenly you’re like: “Wait! I’m in Delhi! India! What am I doing in bed?! There’s so much to do! So much to see!” And it’s really exciting and stuff.

And then you roll over and go back to sleep for two more hours.


Several hours later, and we’re both ready to start the day. Now fully rested, we realize that we really are in India—one of the great countries of the world, and one with more than a billion people and a fascinating culture and thousands and thousands of years of history. It’s an enormous country, and you probably couldn’t explore all it has to offer in ten lifetimes. So the first thing we do is get on a plane and fly to Nepal.

Day 2 – Kathmandu

Nepal is less stressful than India. Kathmandu’s a big, crowded city, but it seems slightly less overwhelming than Delhi. Even though the taxi drivers are just as bad.

Upon getting out of the Kathmandu airport (which is much less nice than Delhi’s super new and sophisticated airport with its enormous (enormous) billboard outside customs suggesting that we all invest in mangoes), we find ourselves accosted by various Nepalese men trying to convince us to travel with them in their taxi so they can take us to their travel agency which is the best travel agency in this city of thousands of travel agencies. We choose one at random, and find ourselves on another of those crazy and frightening rides through a large city (“Lanes? What are those?” says our driver. Or at least I’m going to pretend that he said that, for art’s sake or something.) I’m more awake this time, and thus more cognizant of the fact that I’m in a moderately dangerous situation. So I close my eyes, clutch onto the door, and hope that I don’t die. And eventually we do reach the travel agency relatively unscathed.

Kathmandu traffic is a bit chaotic

The travel agent guy is nice, and speaks English pretty well. He tells us that he has a brother who also owns a Nepal travel agency in Florida, but we’re not entirely sure whether to believe him or not. Regardless, we tell him what he hope to do in Nepal and how much time we have. He’s slightly incredulous that we can get everything done in the four days we have, but we insist that we can and he agrees (he’s going to get money from us, after all.)

So within an hour or so of arriving in Kathmandu we’re in another taxi on our way south—and down (several thousand feet down)—towards Chitwan National Park.

The ride out of Kathmandu is fun. That is to say, it’s a little bit scary as we travel down poorly maintained winding mountain roads. It’s also a well-traveled road, so you’re not only driving on scary mountain roads, you have the double thrill of driving on scary mountain roads with lots of crazy Nepalese drivers. At one point, we go over a bridge with a hole in the side barrier, and the driver cheerfully informs us that a few years ago a taxi driver lost control of his car and went off the bridge and into the gorge and died and stuff.

The roads in the foothills of Nepal

Chitwan: Where the Tigers (Allegedly) Roam

Anyways, we eventually get out of the mountains. We’re now in the jungle of Nepal where the ground is flat. We breathe a sigh of relief.
The town outside Chitwan, plus some elephants

It should be noted that this taxi ride was 4+ hours long, and we only stopped for concessions/etc. once the whole time. The taxi was small, and by the end of the trip my legs were in excruciating pain. It turns out that trying to get from Kathmandu to Chitwan National Park and then back to Kathmandu in a single day isn’t the best idea in the world. In fact, in a ranking of the twenty-nine trillion best ideas in the world, trying to get from Kathmandu to Chitwan National Park to Kathmandu in a taxi in a single day wouldn’t even get an honorable mention. Riding through the jungle on the crowded back of an elephant where you can’t even stretch your legs after spending four hours riding in a cramped taxi would also fail to rank on such a list.  But still…

Chitwan National Park is a famous park known as one of the few places in the world where you have a decent chance of spotting rhinos or the endangered and elusive Nepalese mule deer.  Err…  Tiger. I mean tiger. It’s one of the few places in the world where you have a decent chance of spotting the elusive Bengal tiger. The hotel that marks our starting point looks decent, and it’s right next to a river that apparently houses the rather ugly (and critically endangered) Gharial crocodile.

Our delicious (?) meal at the hotel outside Chitwan

I kind of wish we were spending a night or two in the hotel, since Chitwan is the kind of place you go to spend several days, with expeditions into different parts of the park each day. We only have one day (only a few hours, in fact) so we make the best of it by taking an elephant-back safari.  My legs still hurt, but:

The view from the back of an elephant
The fourth most exotic creature we encounter on our adventure

I’m riding on an elephant through the jungle of Nepal! We’re hunting tigers! There are trees! My legs hurt! Strange, jungle noises! More trees!

We were hoping to see a tiger or rhino, but they were pretty rare and I was just happy to see:


A peacock!

Its plumage wasn’t spread out, so it mostly (my legs hurt) just looked like a colorful bird with a really long tail. I kind of love birds, so it was kind of (my legs hurt) awesome to see.

We also saw:

The exotic deer
A deer!

Ok, the deer wasn’t particularly exciting—after all, we see them all the time in our yard in Alpine (albeit, probably a slightly different species of deer)—but still! A Nepalese deer!

And a monkey!

We saw a monkey flitting through the tops of the my legs hurt tall trees.

A tiger track?
And the footprint of a tiger, probably planted by the park owners to make us think that there are actually tigers in the area.

And trees!

The exotic deer, part deux
And a jackalope! (Wait, what?)

Lots of trees. It was very jungle-y. Tall trees, swamps, tall reeds and bushes.

And, uh…

We’re riding on the back of an elephant in Nepal. 

That’s cool, right?

And then off the elephant and back in the taxi for the 4+ hour trip back to Kathmandu.

On the way back, I see a small group of monkeys on the side of the road (or was that India? I don’t remember.)

It turns out that Kathmandu has traffic jams at one in the morning. As we’re driving up the mountain to get back into Kathmandu we find ourselves riding behind a huge line of trucks bringing supplies into the valley. So the last few miles take us a long time. And I just want to sleep. And we’re leaving for the airport to Lukla in five or six hours. And I’m tired.

And my legs hurt.

PS. These India/Nepal posts are turning out to be really long. I meant for this to cover several days of the trip, but that didn’t quite happen. At this rate, I could get six or seven more equally long posts out of the topic (the final post to be made sometime in October of 2018.) While all the detail is good for journal purposes, I hope I’m not boring everyone to death with all the mundane details…
A bad picture of me (and some Danish guy,) just to prove that it happened

Four Side Notes Before My Next Post Goes Up in 2014

A Danish side note

Our elephant-back partners were a young couple from Denmark. We talked to them a bit before starting the elephant ride, and learned that they were currently taking a break from their university studies as they took a world tour. And by “world tour,” I’m being quite literal. They were spending 8 months or so traveling to Africa, the Middle East, Southeast Asia, and so on.


Me, and a little bit of Nate and the back of the Danish guy

An elephantine side note

Elephants are smart. And I hated the way our driver treated his elephant. Whenever it stopped to eat some of the delicious foliage or to, uh, relieve himself, the man would start beating on its ears with a stick. By the end, part of the elephant’s ginormous ear was clearly bleeding from the abuse. Still, it showed a certain amount of loyalty. The man got off to do something or another, and shortly thereafter the blanket he had been sitting on fell to the ground. After doing whatever he got off to do, the man did his little trick of standing on the elephant’s trunk and then having the elephant lift him up to his seat. However, he didn’t notice that he had lost his blanket. Nevertheless, and without any prompting, the elephant used its trunk to pick up the blanket and “hand” it to the man. Which was pretty cool.

A note about Nepalese trucks

Nepalese trucks are cooler than American semis. They’re quite colorful, and often contain amusing, poorly worded English phrases that probably don’t mean what the drivers (or whoever painted them) think they mean. Nevertheless, I was inspired by phrases like “Take Love Easy” and “No Time for Love" There were lots and lots of trucks as we slowly made our way up the mountains and back to Kathmandu, so I got to see lots of fun phrases (many were repeated, and I’ve now forgotten many of them because I didn’t write this earlier.) The traffic was especially horrendous in the last hour (around 1 am) when we were stuck in a veritable traffic jam of these trucks coming into Kathmandu and carrying everything from fruit to yaks.
One of the many profoundly captioned trucks we encountered

A note about yaks

Yaks are fantastic. I mean, just say their name a few times. Say it ten times. Say it a hundred times—it never gets old. If I ever get reincarnated, and I can’t be reincarnated as an aardvark or as a quadrilionaire in the future when there are flying cars and moonbases, then I want to be reincarnated as a yak. An attack yak named Zach (or Mac) that carries a knapsack and eats flapjacks and TicTacs and likes to read paperback(s).

(Wait, what?)