Friday, August 19, 2005

Colonel Hathi's Dawn Patrol

The next morning, a few hours and a few passenger assisted push starts later, our bus got us into Narayanghat. Then a short minibus ride took us to Tadi Bazaar. Then a short four wheel drive trip took us to Sauraha. Then a persistent “no thank you" to the hotel tout in the car resulted in us finally getting to the hotel we wanted to go to, the
Royal Park Hotel. We were staying in decidedly mid-range accommodation, very friendly, very nice rooms. After the first night we were the only guests. Each restaurant and each hotel appeared to have at most one set of guests. There are a lot of hotels and a good number of (identical) restaurants in what is otherwise a tiny village.

The big attraction is Royal Chitwan National Park, the jungle! In it we would see elephants, rhino, crocodiles, different types of deer, peacocks, monkeys, a mongoose and a snake. We also saw birds like storks, kingfishers, mynah birds, lapwings and parakeets.
We visited an elephant breeding centre and an endangered Gharial (fish eating) crocodile breeding centre.

We asked in Sauraha about any problems with the Maoists and were told there was none. The next day this became, "apart from blowing up the checkpoint at the edge of town a few weeks ago". Then we were told that crocodiles had eaten 3 fishermen and one old tiger, unable to hunt any more in the jungle, had eaten 3 villagers - all within the past few months. The villagers keep watchtowers in many fields where they sleep out all night on guard. Rhinos occasionally come into the fields and eat the crops. So the Maoists aren't the ones to worry about it seems.
Our camera was a casualty of our final trip to the Kasara crocodile breeding centre by jeep safari, so our next stop would be the metropolis of Kathmandu with its vast array of camera shops.



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