Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Day 131 – Royal Chitwan National Park Jungle Walk

We woke up early to start our jungle walk through the Chitwan National Park. We took an hour long canoe ride 10 km in to get deeper into the park. It was nice to ride in the morning through the mist while the weather was still cool. We saw various birds and some crocodiles along the ride.

The rest of the day was spent walking through the tall grasses in the jungle, looking for various animals. While not guaranteed, we could possibly see monkeys, deer, sloth bears, bengal tigers, rhinos, and elephants. We stopped numerous times to take rests atop towers overlooking the jungles and had a lunch break near a creek.

We ended up seeing some deer, birds, monkeys, elephants, and crocodiles. We also heard wild boar, but I didn't catch a glimpse of it. I'm not sure if jungle walks are that exciting for me. I don't think I have the patience to walk around all day, waiting to see if I'm lucky enough to come across different animals. I don't think I'm as interested in seeing animals compared to man-made monuments or natural formations in the earth.

Midway through our jungle walk, we also stopped by a crocodile and turtle breeding center, where we saw some gharial crocs being bred in hopes of saving the endangered species. They had crocs of various ages, and usually they release them by the age of 5 (although some of the older ones are kept for breeding purposes).

At night, we headed to our lodge where we met some younger Nepalese guys who we had some drinks and conversation with. They were drinking Johnny Walker Black Label, and getting drunk the whole time. It was funny because they were so adamant on getting us to stay for another night so that we would party with them the next night. They said that the Nepalese treat their guests “greater than God” and begged us to stay. We had to unfortunately decline since we had to head back to Sauraha the next day. One of the guys was said that I was “beautiful” because I had Mongoloid Nepalese features like him and his friends. It's interesting how some of his actions could be perceived as “homosexual” in our Western views of what is acceptable, but most of Southeast Asia shows more public displays of brotherly and sisterly affection than “couple-affection.” What might be perceived as “gay” in our hetero-normative society is just men showing their brotherly affection. It's so common to see men holding hands, or teens sitting in each other's laps, combing each others' hair, but all this would be less acceptable in the United States. Yet, people in Southeast Asia would also be shocked to see a man and woman hold hands or show any other PDA.

After dinner we headed back to the river to see if we could catch a glimpse of rhinos, but since it was a New Moon, the night was too dark to see anything. It was still special though because I saw fireflies for the first time and it created a magical atmosphere. The trees looked like they were Christmas trees, lit up by lights. Next morning wake up at 5:30am to begin the 2nd day of our trek!

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