8 January 2010


Okay, so Im on the ball this time round - here's the first set of pics. Meant to put them in yesterday's Blog post but ran out of time and had to get back to 'work' ;-) ** Please click on photo to enlarge **

Screen on the plane showing the time difference between Kathmandu and Delhi - just 15 minutes

Above the clouds following the Himalayas in the background. The photo doesn't do this scene justice at all but I only had my little camera onboard with me

The beautiful green-brown maintain ranges of Nepal - I soooo want to go trekking!

The stacked slate-like formations in the soil as we came closer to Kathmandu

The stairwell leading to the main road with the gate outside my bedroom door at Rupa's house in Kathmandu

My room

The totally crazy electricity cables!

The scary roads on the way from Kathmandu to Chitwan - aaaggghhh!

Errmmm?! Each to their own ...

A slightly crowded 'bus' on the way to Chitwan. Quite glad I actually got a seat!

With Madhav at the 'rest stop'

My room at Sujan's home in Chitwan

Entering Sauraha village - yay!

Snipers in the grass by the river. Yikes!

The Nepalese PM in a canoe!

The police telling us to 'get back'

Sujan drawing an elephant for me in my diary

In my room in Sauraha (will post more pics of this tomorrow!)

Day 4
What a great sleep! I am so well rested that despite my alarm going off at 4:15am, I don't really mind. And besides, the reason I'm awake this early is because I have to go and prepare breakfast for an elephant. How cool? Not really your average Friday morning!

It's pitch black outside with an eery white glow a few feet off the ground. Crazy fog - I can even hear it dripping from the trees like raindrops. I bolt my room shut and make my way to the road outside the guesthouse. This takes quite a while as, even with my headtorch, I can't see anything in front of me until it is almost too late and I keep walking off the path into a bush or a fence post. When I get to the road, I decide this is actually quite stupid. I can't see a thing and I'm about to walk 15 minutes or so up a secluded dirt road in an area I am unfamiliar with. Hmmmm. I turn on my heel and head back to my room. I decide to set my alarm for one hours time and see if it is light or the fog has cleared. I read a bit of my book but then have a 15 minute 'nap'. At 6:15am, it is still completely dark so I sit on my veranda and have a cup of tea. Santos brought me a flask of hot water and some tea bags last night as he knew I had an early start. As it approaches 6:30am, the light begins to appear so I set off as quickly as I can.

I arrive at the elephant stables but unfortunately Sundar Kali and her family have already left for their morning walk so I don't get to see her again. All the Drivers have gone and there is a young boy there to welcome me (I later learn that he is only 13 years old and works here full-time!). His name is Ali and and he explains with very few words of English that we need to make breakfast. I nod and he leads me to Saki's sleeping area where the rice is kept. He puts a sack on the floor and pours rice onto it. He then gathers the corners of the sack and walks over to Sundar Kali's stable. He shakes the rice to one side of the sack and gestures for me to sit on the other. He then goes and gathers up 3 or 4 bundles of hay and dumps them next to me. He then shows me what I should be doing.

Step 1: Grab a handful of long straw from the bundle and fold it three times over. Push in the centre with your thumbs and it kind of forms a bowl.

Step 2: Fill the 'bowl' with rice and then fold over the remaining hay to close the top.

Step 3: Take out 3 strands of hay from the bundles and wrap around the closed 'bowl'. Secure tightly by tucking in the ends.
Ta-da! And that my friends is called 'koochie' and is breakfast for elephants (and lunch & dinner, ha) - photos tomorrow.

I set about this task with a childlike eagerness. Before too long though, my hands are sore and the tips of my fingers are frozen. Although it is light, the sun it not out yet and it is still freezing. And the hay is wet because of the fog. I persevere and smile as much as possible. I would be enjoying it far more if the elephants were here and I didn't just have a ropey ol' chicken to look at!

At 8:30am I finish and head back to the guesthouse for a breakfast of my own - two fried eggs and two pieces of 'toast'. I sit on my veranda until 9:30am and then head back up to the stables. On the way, a man at the side of the road with a group of men and women says 'Namaste' and then asks me where I'm from. He introduces himself as Dahl. Turns out, he now lives in the UK (Cardiff) after marrying a Brit 12 years ago but he owns the guesthouse behind him and is spending three months here checking that his business is running without any problems etc. We chat for a while and he invites me to come and see the guesthouse for myself later if I would like. He also offers me a free beer so I accept his offer and skip off. At the stables, it is silent. I see that the koochie hasn't been touched so I guess the Drivers and elephants are not back yet. I take a seat on the hay and wait for over an hour before heading back, disappointed.
I have lunch at 12:00pm and afterwards decide to go to the local internet cafe to start my Blog (finally!). On the way down the road, I bump in Saki and Sundar Kali. They are coming back from the jungle and Saki explains that many tourists held them up today, wanting photographs etc. He apologises for not being there at 10:00am. I tell him "no bother" and say that I will see him at 5:00pm as per my schedule.
The internet cafe is great - free tea & coffee and constant electricity and internet. Wow. We're certainly not in Africa anymore folks! Also, it is only 40 Rupees per hour which is about 40p. That makes my budget very happy. I finish my Blog at 4:30pm and realise frustratingly that I don't even time to check my emails before rushing back to the guesthouse to collect my coat (it will be cold when I finish at 7:00pm).

Arrive at the stables just before 5:00pm and set about making more kooshie for Sundar Kali. She has polished off the ones I made her for lunch and she is going to be hungry when she gets back from the jungle again in half an hour. Sure enough, as soon as she rounds the corner, her trunk goes up and she starts trumpeting. Bless her. Saki says it's because she remembers me but I think it is because she is hungry, ha. Saki secures her feet with chains (sounds awful but it is simply to stop her running off while she's eating - they are not tight) and instructs me to feed her. I place a koochie bundle in her trunk and she rolls it up to her mouth. The crunch is such a funny sound and she chews it slowly, swallows and then looks at me, expectantly. I throw her another and while she is eating, try to make more. She is eating faster than I can make them however and pretty soon she gets impatient and sticks her trunk in my rice pile. I shoo her away and give her another koochie. She has sussed that I'm soft for her though and she trumpets every time she finishes a koochie, signalling for another. I of course obey her every command. Sucker!
At 7:00pm I say goodnight and head back to the guesthouse for dinner. There is still not hot water in the shower so I am still stinking. Not happy. After dinner, I head up to Dahl's guesthouse for a few rum and cokes. Very enjoyable sociable evening in his bar. I would write more but I have to go to work!! Back tomorrow :-)

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