Tuesday, 5 May 2015

Elephant ride in Chitwan National Park in Nepal! March 2015.

I write this piece on Nepal when the country is suffering from a recent earth quake. It was heart wrenching to see Nepal crumble and fall. After my little trip around the country and the really royal welcome the locals gave me, I feel really attached to it. Just a month back I was there and and it was standing high in all its glory and to see it go down is difficult.

The earthquake hit parts of Chitwan as well, sadly. I had spent about half a day there, purely to get onto an elephant and ride it through the preserved jungles of the Chitwan Park. As much as I wished to stay longer, my tight schedule allowed me no more.

After a 5-6 hour bus journey I had arrived in Chitwan in the middle of the day and the scene at the bus station was hilarious. I still remember it fondly. A number of hotel agents standing across the road from the bus, screaming their respective hotel / resort offerings. For some reason none of them crossed an invisible line. When I signaled to one of them asking for more, all of them moved in one go, surrounded me and again enthusiastically started sharing various details of Chitwan and their hotels. One of the hotel owners answered one of my questions straight to the point and I agreed to go with him. Without wasting a single moment he grabbed my bag,  threw it into the back of his truck and climbed in himself - all done in split second and with a very grim expression. With this all the other guys reluctantly, quietly moved back - looking for another tourist. It all happened in less than a minute. Usually such incidents can tick me off. But just something about the way they all approached - enthusiastic yet not crossing their line, left me impressed and amused.

A short drive later I reached his resort. I told them I was there just for a few hours and not really looking at an overnight stay. They remained as hospitable, served me yummy Indian lunch and shared all the details of the elephant ride I was there for.

Packed in a jeep with Chinese tourists I was off to the Chitwan Park for the elephant ride. I got busy just clicking snaps of the lovely animals and was the last one to board, thus not having the best seat. ( TIP - try and get a front seat on the elephant and preferably  not the last elephant in the line - for best views ).

It was a long, scary, fun ride. At moments when the elephant had to walk up a little uphill part with me hanging and facing the ground, I could not help imagining 'what if the harness gave way and I fell on the ground.' The elephant ride was fun however I knew I would not do it again, simply cause to me the elephants did not seem to enjoy it and looked so bored.

Our super enthusiastic rider made sure we all got a good view of the rhino he spotted. The rider was definitely a character. At one point he stood on the edge of the elephant neck, his hands in the air, clicking our snaps.

That very night I left for Bhutan. I was told I ought to stay in Chitwan for atleast two nights to really enjoy it and I could not agree more. I am glad I could visit even if it was for half a day.

My prayers all with everyone in Nepal. I hope the beautiful country and its people can go back to normal life soon. God bless! 

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