50 things we’ve learnt during our 49 days in Nepal.

1. No one has any patience at the baggage carousel in the airport.

2. Jayne clearly has the face of a drug user… She has been offered pot, smoke, weed and hash more times than I’ve eaten momo’s.

3. It is perfectly acceptable to have a curved football pitch if it is built on a rice paddy field. 

4. Constant electricity is a luxury. 

5. The water in streams and puddles is clearer and cleaner than the sanitised water coming out of the taps in Kathmandu. 

6. Nepalese stinging nettles are evil bastards.

7. The path of least resistance is often better than the path of least distance.

8. Donkey shit is more slippery than mud. 

9. “Do you speak yak?” has replaced the Maldivian “do you speak whale?”

10. It is possible to be stuck in a traffic jam on a trekking trail behind a massive line of donkeys.

11. Yaks are rebels… They don’t walk clockwise around the shrines. 

12. Dying your hair before trekking means that by the time you finish, you have massive roots… Don’t bother (btw – it wasn’t us!!).

13 Christmas songs and jingles from 90’s TV adverts get stuck in your head for days when trekking.

14. It is perfectly acceptable to walk kilometres out of your way for a piece of chocolate cake and apple pie.

15. A freezing cold shower is better than no shower when you haven’t washed in a week. 

16. Meeting an actual ice fall doctor is pretty awesome…

17. … As is staying in the home of someone who has been on he summit of Everest 12 times!!

18. Yak poo is extremely efficient as a fuel source in a stove for keeping you warm.

19. Horizontal paths are few and far between – they require a song and a dance to recognise their presence.

20. It is the same in every language… You’re an asshole!

21. Nepalese people think the Irish are crazy for making snow angels (N.B. This may not be limited to just Nepalese people!!)

22. Sunburn on your lips is incredibly painful – especially if they get rubbed with dirt, wind and/or chilli paste!

23. Porters are the ants of the human world! 30kg at this altitude is insane!!!

24. You know when the steps on a trail are steep when you can smell your feet…

25. Hiccups at altitude aren’t helpful and they really hurt!

26. Katherine is allergic to donkeys but not to yaks.

27. We thought that trekkers would all be appropriately dressed but there are common whores everywhere!! Not sure if hot pants and mini skirts are the most suitable attire for trekking up to EBC – especially when you combine them with a thong…

28. You need to sleep with your mobile in your fleece pocket otherwise the cold drains the battery.

29. You need to pay the trolls that live under bridges with stones or pine cones.

30. You can’t have a proper tantrum with trekking poles because the wrist straps prevent you from throwing them on the ground in anger (believe me – we’ve tried!)

31. Jayne is a true princess!! She gets blisters under Comped blister plasters.

32. Sherpa children eat packets of dried noodles like British children eat crisps.

33. Live goats gets tied to the top of buses.

34. Some Nepalese people are ticklish, some aren’t – you can use the ones who are to your advantage!!

35. Nepalese wine is super strong… Shitfaced, SHITFACED!!

36. It is okay to eat momo’s at every meal (we’ve even dreamed up some breakfast concoctions to experiment with when we return home).

37. Allow an entire day for a bus journey… Even is you are only going down the road.

38. Washing an elephant for your birthday is awesome!!

39. Never assume that just because you have a hotel booking that you will actually be staying at that hotel.

40. Elephants safaris bruise your chest-icles. 

41. Playing cricket in a rarely used temple is a great use of space!!

42. Musical instrument sellers only know one song… 

43. Walking on cobbled streets with a bad back is not fun.

44. Selfie sticks can (and are) used for taking photos up ladies skirts…

45. Don’t piss off a Nepalese bus driver – their tongue lashings would make an German/Irish teaching nun with a whip look like a puppy.

46. Fights in cinemas actually happen (and I’ve been to Surrey Quays cinema plenty of times and never witnessed one!).

47. Bakeries destroy your budget as well as your waistline.

48. Post trekking feet are disgusting and getting a blister under a toenail is a guaranteed way of it falling off.

49. Kathmandu back streets are awesome. Not only are they filled with architectural gems, carved windows and loads of little markets selling everything you could ever possibly need; they never feel unsafe. 

50. Nepal – Once is not enough…

Kathmandu & Travelling – day 217

Got up, and, for the first time in 6 weeks, we packed our backpacks properly for travelling again. Has been amazing being able to leave most of our stuff at the hotel as we visited different places in Nepal and it was weird playing jenga with all our stuff to fit it back into a relatively small space! Checked out at midday, charging our electronics to the last minute as the electricity had been off for ages and they were running low! Sat in reception chatting to the assistant manager who wanted some ideas on how to make the hotel more appealing without spending any money… 
Headed over to the garden of dreams. Built in the 1920’s after a visit to several Edwardian estates in England, the gardens originally covered 1.6 hectares and had six pavilions. Only half a hectare and three pavilions remain along with fountains, ponds and statues. Found a marble slab engraved with a poem. The slab is the only damage from the 1934 earthquake, causing a crack in the marble which they have painted to make it look like a vine. Managed to find a bench away for the loved up Nepalese couples and we sat for a couple of hours reading books and enjoying the peace and quiet with the occasional car horn making its way through the trees.       Headed towards Momo Star restaurant for our last set of momo’s… Had an absolute feast as, since we’re flying super budget to Yangon, we aren’t sure if we are getting food on the plane. Vegetable momo’s, buffalo momo’s, dal bhat and nasi goreng were all inhaled before we stopped off at the bakery on the way to the hotel to pick up some banana bread for the plane. Quickly used the internet at the hotel before jumping in a taxi to take us to the airport.   A slightly confused security woman when we asked her where we should leave the trolley after we checked in – she told us to just abandon it in the middle of the concourse and then she kept shouting at us to leave it as we pushed it to the side of the room. A non eventful flight (with no food – good job we stuffed ourselves!) to Kuala Lumpur, watching a few episodes of ‘Friends’ before getting about an hour of sleep before we landed. Wednesday 11th May 2016

Kathmandu – day 216

Woke up this morning with an insatiable need to plan a vague route for our upcoming trip to Myanmar. We’ve heard that it can be a bit tough to get around and that bus journeys are notoriously long so we wanted to figure out a route that would best utilise our time and ensure that we get to see everything we want to see. I popped out to the bakery to pick us up some baked goods and fruit juice for breakfast which we nibbled on whilst we ploughed through guide books, trip advisor posts and generally googled information left, right and centre!! Managed, after some juggling, to work out a route that would work (in principle!). Now we just have to hope it works in practise…  Headed out to tour the back streets of Kathmandu and the Durbar Square just as it started to rain. Actually slightly nicer as, despite the slippery streets, the temples were deserted and we got to see more of the street markets as we were only one of a few people out and about. Similarly to Patan and Bhaktupur, the little backstreets of Kathmandu are littered with little temples at every turn.      When we got to Durbar Square, we could see that it too had earthquake damage so we decided to head to a roof top restaurant to get a birds eye view of the entire area. Was really nice to get a different perspective on the temples and we both had a traditional Nepalese tasting menu as we stared out over the semi ruined buildings. Jayne’s meal came with crushed millet instead of rice, which reminded me a bit of soggy weetabix mushed into the shape of a heart…   Continued walking through the back streets, getting wonderfully lost in the windy alleys, dodging scooters and, at one point, helping a rickshaw driver push his bike up the road. Jayne managed to find a shop that would download films directly on to our USB stick so we purchased a couple of films to keep us going during our long lay over in Bangkok and for the bus journeys in Myanmar. Decided to treat ourselves to a steak and chip dinner (it was amazing), followed by apple momos and Jameson Irish whiskey creme brûlée for pudding. We also ordered a glass of Nepalese wine with dinner which was so nice that, on the way back to the hotel, we popped into a shop and bought an entire bottle! Watched ‘Wild’ on the netbook while drinking the wine – quite glad we only discovered it on our last night… I would have been drinking it daily had I discovered it sooner!!!  Tuesday 10th May 2016

Patan – day 215

Woke up and had breakfast early again so that we could make the most out of our day in Kathmandu valley. We walked to the four roads to catch a bus – this time, we managed to get a little minibus instead of a big bus. Told by the conductor that there was space for us, we squeezed into the back right corner (furthest away from the door). Predictably, we were the first ones to get out of the mini bus so had to climb over seats and about 20 pairs of feet that were now standing and wedged into the aisle… Once an independent city-state, Patan is now only separated from Kathmandu by the Bagmati River. It’s original Sanskrit name of Lalitpur means City of Beauty and its Durbar Square is argued to have the best collection of temples and palaces in the whole of Nepal. We bought our tickets at the kiosk and were given the ‘we are blatantly tourists – charge us double for everything’ lanyards which we were told needed to be on ‘display at all times’.   
Started walking around the Durbar Square, looking at the concentrated mass of temples which were built in the Malla period (from the 14th to 18th century). Significantly less earthquake damage than in Bhaktapur, some of the temples were still being supported by (what looked like) flimsy pieces of wood nailed to the floor. The temples were beautiful and so intricate in their designs. Since we enjoyed the walking tour so much yesterday, we decided to do the one recommended in Patan too, which promised to give insight into the layout of Newari villages. It was really nice to wander in and out of the backstreets, finding all the little Hindu temples and Buddhist stupas that are dotted around the place.   We visited the Golden temple, where the main priest of the temple is a young boy under the age of 12, who serves for 30 days before handing the job over to another young boy. Didn’t get to see much of the temple as it was incredibly busy as they were holding a ceremony, turning young boys into Buddhist monks. We managed to find a quiet corner and watched the ‘hairdressers’ shave the boys heads as their mothers held them and the fathers took photos. Continued walking around Patan for about three hours before stopping for lunch in a little back street cafe that only sold momo’s and bakery goods (it was a dream come true for me!!!). Wandered around for a little bit longer before catching the regular bus back to Kathmandu (not wanting a repeat of this mornings sardine in a tin can experience!). Chilled out at the hotel for a bit before deciding to go to the cinema. Found an English showing of ‘Captain America – Civil War’ at the nearby mall and headed over for dinner before the showing.   Got a massive bucket of popcorn for the bargain price of 180NPR (about £1.20) which we both could have easily devoured a second one!! Not sure what happened, but just before the interval of the film, there was a (loud) disagreement between two of the cinema goers. Clearly, it was very exciting as the entire cinema watched them leave the room, the majority of them then followed them out into the foyer and we started hearing whispers of ‘fight’. I needed the toilet and left during the interval to find a foyer full of people and police officers. The rest of the film passed with no incidents, although there was a great number of staff flashing their torches around every so often. Walked back to the hotel at 10pm, the streets very strange at that time of night as there were no shops open and very few people milling around – in fact, the place was more lively when we left for trekking at 5am!! 

Monday 9th May 2016

Bhaktapur – day 214

Neither of us slept particularly well, what with the drunken tourists on the street outside shouting at 1am and the bed sheets trying to strangle both of us during the night, we were both a bit bleary eyed when we woke this morning. However, we had already decided to continue visiting our UNESCO sites by going to one of three medieval city-states in the Kathmandu Valley and had pre-ordered our breakfast for 8am so we forced ourselves out of bed. Feeling significantly more awake after a coffee and omelette with toast, we head out to the Bagh Bazaar to catch the bus out to Bhaktapur. A slightly weird situation of no bus stop, but four different roads that you need to stand in depending on where you want to go. I asked a policeman who didn’t know where we needed to go (clearly, I had said the town name wrong) and, after a lot of asking, we found the right place and got on a bus immediately. A rather nice hour and a half journey dropped us just outside the town entrance and we walked the rest of the way in and got our tickets (an eye watering $15 each – reminds us of Sri Lankan tourist prices!!). Many Nepalese still use the own town name (Bhadgaon) or the Newari name (Khwona) which translates as ‘City of Devotees’. The town had three major squares of towering temples that were considered some of the best religious architecture in the country.   However, this is the first place where we have really seen extensive earthquake damage. The main Durbar Square, which had already been devastated by the earthquake in 1934, was a few damaged buildings, a huge pile of rubble and several massive photo posters of what the temples used to be like.     The other squares showed less signs of destruction but there were buildings being held up by pieces of wood and had huge cracks in the brickwork. As such, after visiting what was left of the three main squares, we decided just to wander around (following the Lonely Planet walking tour) to investigate the narrow cobblestone streets which wind between red-brick houses, some of which are barely standing. The streets join together in a series of squares and courtyards that are peppered with temples, statues, cisterns and wells – some faring better than others.   Amongst the backstreets (and away from the ‘tourist’ areas) were corrugated metal structures that were being used as homes for people whose houses had been destroyed in the earthquake. For me, the hardest thing was watching people work on their jobs as craftsmen, in a building that was clearly unsafe. Obviously, they need to work to provide for their families – working to make money is their priority – not making their home safe to live in. Really hit home about how lucky Jayne and I are. Walked back to the bus stand and caught the bus back to Kathmandu. Jayne got chatting to a young boy on the bus who clearly wanted to practise his English whilst I, who had given my seat up for an old man (much to everyone’s surprise!) was swaying back and forth between someone’s crotch and someone else’s armpit!! Were held up for a while as they blocked the road off to let the Nepalese president through – in her armoured car and with army cars, an ambulance and a 20-horse escort. Back at the hotel to rest for an hour before heading out for dinner. 

Sunday 8th May 2016

Kathmandu – day 213

Took our time getting ready this morning, choosing photos for the last remaining blogs that need to be uploaded and generally lounging around in the posh hotel room. Enjoyed a scorching hot shower (so hot that even I had to turn on the cold tap!!) before getting dressed and checking out. Dumped our bags in our regular hotel and headed off to the Internet cafe to use and abuse the decent speed of their internet to upload the rest of our remaining blogs – feels so nice to have them all online now and was really nice reliving those moments, even though they happened so recently – kind of makes me want to read older post too!! Whilst Jayne did a sterling job of sorting out the blogs, I printed out our ‘letter of acceptance’ so that we could get out visas for Myanmar when we arrive in Yangon and did some research for our month there (as well as some Facebook procrastination!!). Treated ourselves to a bakery lunch of pizza bread each and a cheese plait to share as we started walking towards the Swayambhunath Buddhist temple (a UNESCO World Heritage Site). According to legend, the Kathmandu valley was once a lake (supported by geological evidence) and the hill now topped by Swayambhunath rose spontaneously from the water, hence the name swayambhu, meaning ‘self-arisen’.   The compound is centred on a gleaming white stupa, topped with a gilded spire painted with the eyes of Buddha. We approached the temple from the stone pilgrim staircase that climbs the eastern side of the hill – and it climbs steep!! Even after a month trekking, I needed to stop midway for a little breather! Constructed in the 17th century by King Pratap Malla, the stone staircase is covered with rhesus macaque monkeys (which is why the temple is also known as the ‘Monkey Temple’. We walked past statues of brightly painted Buddha, lions, elephants, horses and peacocks on our climb to the top. The stupa itself was beautiful, despite being covered in pigeons and the compound being incredibly busy. We headed first for the viewpoint to look out at Kathmandu valley – you can see how it used to be a lake and the view reminded us both of Rio de Janeiro.   We then walked clockwise around the stupa (as you are supposed to!) looking at the ornate plinths representing the Dhyani Buddhas that are located around the base of the stupa which represent the qualities of Buddhist wisdom. The entire structure of the stupa is symbolic – the white dome represents the earth, while the 13-tiered, beehive structure at the top symbolises the 13 stages that humans must pass through to achieve nirvana.  The stupa is surrounded on all sides by religious sculptures, so we spent some time looking at these. We did a second loop around the stupa, this time spinning each of the prayer wheels as we went. Double checked that we hadn’t missed anything by looking at our guide book only to be descended upon by two monkeys who were far too interested every time we opened our bag…   Headed back down the staircase and made our way back to Thamel via a little temple that we spotted as we wandered through the back streets. Interestingly, it had karma sutra type engravings on the top layer and in the back left hand corner, but nowhere else. It also was decorated with skulls around the entire temple and appeared to have a sacrificial goat in a pen just outside it.     As we walked back to the hotel, we stopped in a couple of art shops to look for a painting – Jayne had seen a big version of something she liked and we were trying to find something more reasonably sized (and priced!!). Found what she was looking for in the third art gallery and treated ourselves to a black and white painting of Everest with the prayer flags in colour. I then treated myself to a couple of stone beads that I’d been eyeing up for a while. Back out for dinner where we tried to organise ourselves for tomorrow and made tentative plans for where we are going to go after Australia…

Saturday 7th May 2016

Travelling – day 212

Despite the giddiness and amount of alcohol we drank in such a short period of time, we managed quite well to get up and packed, with plenty of time for a nice hot shower and a leisurely breakfast. That clearly wasn’t the case for the other three girls getting the bus, who arrived late for brekkie and delayed us all leaving in the truck. Hmmm?

The bus journey was uneventful. Katherine was amazing at typing out the blogs from the notebook so that we could publish them, but I was hopeless. The roads are a disaster and my poor neck was getting whiplash trying to focus on typing and it was hot and… you get the picture.   It was a relief to stop at 11:30 for a fuel stop and some road-side hotel Dal Bhat. I raced through mine, not realising that the driver was sat behind me. An earlier bathroom break meant it was nearly the third (and closest) time that a bus or jeep has almost left me behind (in a week) and I wasn’t about to have it happen in the middle of nowhere. My luck with the buses lately extends to losing sunglasses and one of the Life Straws. Although the water filter bottle was probably near its life expectancy, it would have been very useful for Myanmar coming up. 

Getting closer to Kathmandu, the traffic jams were incredible. We moved 2.5km in 2hrs in a bus with no air con and the fans didn’t always work. The 37*C heat blasting through the windows was relentless and we played musical chairs to have a chance of a passing lorry in the other direction sending a breeze our way. 

Arriving at the bottom of the hill to Thamel (the tourist area of the city), another 10hr journey, we were content to stretch our legs and plod back to the hotel, the one that never got my email and was booked up. Back to the sister hotel we set about transferring photos from our cameras and phones onto the computer for the Internet cafe tomorrow and get up to date for our avid readers. I went out and got dinner and Katherine, again being a superstar, finished off the last of the blog entries online ready for photos. It was a quiet evening and we passed out after falafels and a can of Ginger Ale and Bitter Lemon.   Friday 6th May 2016

Chitwan – day 211

Happy birthday me!!! My first birthday not at home, which feels equally strange and awesome at the same time. We were up by 6am getting ready for our bird watching session. A filling breakfast of eggs, toast and porridge before we set off – dressed like ninjas again – to head into the jungle with Ram and a book of Nepalese birds. Jayne and Ram were spotting birds left, right and centre. Unless they were pointed out to me, the only birds I spotted myself were exotic black birds (crows!!) but I enjoyed the tranquility of the jungle. Got to see at least 3 different types of kingfisher, cranes, storks and (a first for me) a cinnamon bee-eater. Back to the hotel for a quick clothing change and we were back out heading to the river for my birthday treat – elephant bathing!! Fortunately, they had built a giant platform to climb on to the elephant so I didn’t have to climb up its trunk like the handlers do! Sat on the back of her neck and started rubbing her head before getting soaked with a trunk full of water!! IMG_1354This continued for a while before she began shaking her head and I fell off into the river. Scrambled back on (with help!!) and kept rubbing and getting soaked in the process as Jayne had a similar experience on another elephant. I fell off again with another head shake whilst Jaynes elephant simply lay down in the water, sending her into the river. IMG_1396Next, we scrubbed the elephants body. They use rocks to do this and Mohammed (the elephant handler) kept telling us to do it harder… A scrub on her lower back resulted in a contented groan and a huge poo!!! Had to pause a couple of times when tourists fed them bananas (there is conveniently a banana stall right by the bathing part of the river!). Got to wash the elephant for about an hour and a half before she was done and we all headed home.IMG_1518IMG_1562 Had a shower and some lunch before popping into town so Jayne could pick up some bits and pieces for later – I spent most of my time standing outside shops she was in or feigning interest in nearby souvenir shops!!! Jayne had told one shop keeper that it was my birthday and he gave me some Nepalese coins as a gift – they have images of Everest in the background. Told him that my father in law collects coins so he showed me his coin collection which was kept in a little fabric purse – some of the coins were over 200 years old and he had a Charles & Diana wedding memorabilia coin! Headed back to the hotel for our last organised activity – an elephant safari. When we got to the government run centre, we saw the elephant we had been feeding for the past 2 nights!! A quiet word from Ram to the organisers and we were sat on our elephant heading into the jungle!! IMG_1588We spotted a one horned rhino almost instantly but with all the other elephants, it almost felt like we’d trapped it into a circle of elephants so I was kinda glad when we left it and headed off into the jungle. IMG_1579IMG_1612Separated off from the others, it was only us trampling through the forest, with our elephant eating as much grass as she could pull up as she walked and uprooting small trees that got in her way!! Saw the crocodile in the hole that we had spotted during our jungle walk and loads of spotted deer. IMG_1595Saw two rhinos grazing in a pasture and, with the elephant, we managed to get within 5 metres of them – they weren’t fussed at all and gracefully posed for lots of photos!!

Headed back to the hotel after the elephant safari although we popped out to buy some bananas as a special treat for Baboskadi (our elephant) for when she got back home! Opened up my presents from Jayne – she got me a prayer flag t-shirt, a badge, 2 elephant buttons and a bracelet of turtles with Nepalese eternal knots engraved on them. Made up some more food for Baboskadi although she was more interested in the bananas – felt bad that we only got her 17!! A buffet dinner at the hotel and then, after a lot of eye winking and confusion between Jayne and the waiter, a birthday cake appeared! Never had a cake frosted with my full name before but it was brilliant – I even got to blow out magic relighting candles!! Ate far too much cake whilst drinking Nepalese wine, which was incredibly strong. Shared out the rest of the cake with staff, the elephant handler and other guests before having a beer with our guide. A thankfully short walk/stumble to bed!!! Thanks Jayne for organising such an amazing day.IMG_1759

Thursday 5th May 2016

Chitwan – day 210

Having decided to get an early start today, we were having breakfast at 6am so that we could start out canoe trip at 6.30. Walked down the road with Ram and Pradesh in silence as all four of us slowly started to wake up. Climbed into a very narrow wooden canoe with low down seats and set off down the river.IMG_1238 I didn’t feel particularly comfortable as we floated down the river – the canoe required you to constantly balance it by rocking from side to side and, coupled with the rock hard low seat which I couldn’t get comfortable in, my back began to really hurt. Ram pointed out lots of wildlife and, as we came to the end of our canoe ride, we saw a one horned rhino drinking from the river. Pulled up on the opposite bank to take some photos and leave the other tourist behind before heading back to the other side of the river to begin our jungle walk. IMG_7468Today’s protection against deadly attacks from tigers, leopards, bears and charging rhinos… Two bamboo sticks and a man who would crumble like a piece of paper if the wind blew too strong!!! Made me miss the Kumli guard who kept dropping his gun when we did a jungle trek in the Western Ghats! The walk was hot and humid but lovely as we found tiger prints in the dust as well as claw marks in the tree. IMG_1257Found a crocodile nest, where Pradesh tried to get the crocodile to stick it’s head out (thankfully, unsuccessful) before we headed to a viewpoint. Looked out into the grass for ages before continuing.IMG_1259

Jayne and Ram used our ‘protection from tigers’ to reinact a scene from Star Wars as we crossed a rickety wooden bridge. IMG_1264The end of the walk brought us to the elephant breeding centre (EBC – see what they did there?!?). Was equally nice and sad to see young and old elephants although the babies were free to roam around (as I guess they can’t do TOO much damage at around 100kgs!!). One of them was so cheeky, heading into each mothers section and playing with the grass that the keepers had clearly laid out for their dinner later! IMG_1284There were also three pregnant elephants and it was really weird seeing the babies move around inside them! Back at the hotel for lunch before we were out again for our jeep safari. Walking down the road the wind started picking up and we had massive amounts of dust being blown around and it looked like it was snowing from all the cotton coming from the trees. Got to the river bank as the skies opened and it began chucking it down with thunder and lightning too!! Waited to see if it was going to die down (it didn’t!) before jumping in a canoe to cross the river before getting in an open topped jeep to begin our safari. A very wet safari!! IMG_1300Spotted a rhino hiding in a pond, lots of deer and wild boar. IMG_7528Stopped after about 2 hours for a leg stretch and to visit the crocodile breeding centre. Was nice to see how they’ve managed to raise the numbers by reintroducing all their babies (unless they are injured).

Back in the jeep and a further two more rhinos in the hour and a half as we slowly made our way back out of the national park. IMG_7608Headed back to the hotel and went to make more food parcels for the elephant. We totally lost track of time and someone had to come and find us to tell us it was dinner time… Oops!

Wednesday 4th May 2016

Travelling & Chitwan – day 209

Another ridiculously early start to our bus journey – I asked the hotel manager why that was and he said ‘we like to start early’… I think what he really means is ‘it takes forever to drive 100km so we HAVE to start early!!!’. Several buses drove in (and subsequently) out of the bus stand – some of which we were delighted about as they seemed to be falling apart and others we were devastated to not be on – an air conditioned mini van was what we really wanted!!! Our bus pulled up and was kind of in the middle – We got proper seats and the windows opened so it was almost like an air conditioned bus… Drove down the road for about 20minutes before there was a huge commotion up front, with the bus driver shouting (what can only be assumed as) explicit words!!! A sharp u-turn, at speed, and we were flying back down the road we had just come up. Not sure whether she had missed the bus or was just late but a lady climbed onto the bus, screamed at the bus driver (who screamed back!) and then sat in a seat which she refused to move from despite protests from the conductor. Clearly in a foul mood, the driver then drove like he was in a formula one race – so much that neither Jayne or I felt particularly comfortable! By the time he had calmed down, our nerves were through the roof and we were counting down the kilometres until we could get off!!! A few episodes of ‘Friends’, some chocolate cake and four hours later we were dropped off at the side of the road to catch the next bus to our destination. Managed to get one pretty quickly – I forgot how much we stand out as (potentially) lost tourists!! Clearly no tourist ever stops there either unless they’re heading to Chitwan, Pokara or Lumbini. The second bus journey was short, which was good since I got the giggles when a man got on with a live chicken in a blue plastic bag. Obviously, to be nice to the chicken he was just about to slaughter, he’d made it a little hole in the bag so it could poke its head out and enjoy the scenery. Another drop off at the side of a busy road before we jumped in a TukTuk to take us the rest of the way to our ‘jungle resort’. Checked in and had lunch before washing clothes and catching up with blogs. Went for a guided walk around the village, visiting the government elephants and spotting crocodiles in the river. Went to watch the sunset but it disappeared behind some clouds/hazy fog so we gave up and went back to the lodge for dinner. IMG_1188Got to make up food packets (hay bundles stuffed with rice) for the resident elephant and feed it to her. She needs 80-100 of these every evening so, I think, her handler appreciated the help! Went to watch a traditional local dance exhibition – lots of banging drums and sticks with chanting. Made me wonder how many broken fingers they get when practising. They smack each other’s sticks with force!!! The peacock dance was also brilliant and very funny! Back at the hotel for a briefing about tomorrow (AH!!!! Another early start) and bed!IMG_1203IMG_1219

Tuesday 3rd May 2016