Of riding mountain bikes and elephants

Hey there.  Long time no chat.  I have just returned to India from Nepal (more on why I’ve come back to India later).  My last week in Nepal was a great, but the internet connections were not, so I have delayed blogging.  Now I’m back on it.  It would be criminal to try to cram my last week into one blog post (although I probably should), so it will be two.

After poking around the town of Pokhara I returned to Kathmandu, with its excellent hotels, restaurants and bars.  There are lots of people to socialize and party with.  It’s a very comfortable place to be.  And hard to leave.  It is easy to just hang out there for a while.  Which I did.  But, I did manage one adventure in Kathmandu: a day of mountain biking.  A 3 hour climb from Kathmandu yields a 710m descent through a National Park.  Awesome.  It turned into a mission.  I got lost and ended up at an army base just before dark.  I had about 10 guys around me with guns.  They didn’t want to let me pass.  Eventually I figured out it was because they thought it was unsafe for me to bike through the forest in the dark, alone.  Thanks to my time in Whistler, I actually have done many night rides (sober and otherwise).  I explained that it wouldn’t be a problem for me.  I cruised out of the forest in the darkness without any problems except coming across two pairs of eyes in the darkness (belonging to large, unidentified animals) that scared the shit out of me before running into the bush.

My ride. A mere 3 inches of travel on the front. No rear suspension. No disc brakes. No clips. It weighed 800 pounds. (what’s this?? After one summer of biking in Whistler, and now I’m a bike snob?? haha). But, renting it was some of the best money I spent on my trip so far :)

After Kathmandu, I went to the Chitwan National Park in Nepal.  It is the most famous National Park in Nepal.  It is home to many creatures, including the one-horned rhino and the elusive Bengal Tiger.  Sauraha, the town just outside the park, is pretty crazy.  Here, elephants walk down the main street.  Trust me, its weird to be having lunch at a small restaurant and have a huge elephant lumber by you.

I went on an elephant safari through the forest in search of wildlife.  What great fun (although not too comfortable).  We spotted some deer and a couple rhinos.

An elephant carries her crew across a river

After the safari tourists are offered a chance to swim/bath with the elephants.  This is quite the experience!  Trust me, playing with an elephant makes you feel like you are 12 again.  Good times.  I gave all my money, cards and camera to a Dutch girl I met only 20 minutes before (and whose name I did not know).  She took an awesome sequence of pictures of the elephant tossing me in the water.  Here are just a couple:

Me getting a trunk-full of water

One second I’m on the elephant, the next I’m not

At Chitwan there is also an Elephant Breeding Centre.  Here is a video of an elephant hanging out there.

 

Btw, congratulations to Ben & Tom, two climbers from California who I met on the Annapurna Trek.  They just came down from successfully summitting Island Peak in Nepal (not far from Everest), a peak of over 6000m / 20,000 ft.  Nice job, boys, I never doubted it :)

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