A Travellerspoint blog

Nepal

Stuck in Nepalganj

ATM ate my card!

sunny 36 °C

Okay I got it back but missed my flight! Mr. B drove me the 3 hours to Nepalganj to catch my flight to Kathmandu in plenty of time - or so we thought! We had to find an ATM that accepted my bank card so I could pay him the balance of the safari. On the way through last week we had done the same with great difficulty - only managing to get some of the balance. The machines here have limits even if your bank doesn't. And having the Visa, Cirrus and Plus symbols on the ATM door really doesn't mean anything! So today we tried 12 machines including the one that worked for me last time. No luck but still time. Then my card got eaten as the machine I was using shut down completely. When it went back online, still no card. Even though it is Saturday and the banks are closed, there are security guards available. Thank goodness for that. Mr. B got the guard to call a bank employee to come with a key for the machine. In an hour. So we got on the phone to call Yeti airlines who graciously switched my flight to tomorrow morning which will allow me to connect with my Delhi flight. Once I retrieved my card (and two others!) I tried 6 more machines. No luck. I did have enough Indian rupees to pay Mr. B the balance and have enough left for a hotel for the night and taxi in the morning. With Nepalganj being a border crossing they accept Indian rupees or I would be sleeping at the airport I guess. Another disaster avoided. I love these countries where everything can usually be solved with a few phone calls.

So barring any issues tomorrow, I should be back in Delhi tomorrow night. Where I will ask immigration if I can reenter for the third time on a double entry visa after visiting Sri Lanka from Monday to Sunday. We shall see. My flight to Tanzania leaves from Delhi on the 13th so technically I am transiting.... And VisaHQ in Canada has assured me I can - haha! I will let you know in the next episode of Travels with Shelley! Think positive!

Posted by kelshell 17:02 Archived in Nepal Comments (1)

Tiger tracking in Bardia national park

Trekking and waiting. And waiting....

sunny 37 °C

So last year a good friend told me I needed to find peace. I found peace yesterday while rafting down the Karnali River. On day one after a full day trekking through the jungle I arrived at the campsite for the night. The sun was setting the most beautiful shade of pink as I was sitting on a ledge above the riverbank. It reminded me so much of a similar view in Revelstoke with my great friend Nancy on a road trip two years ago. Only this was Nepal, in the jungle! Lots of tiger prints all day (rhino and elephant too) but despite my guide's best efforts, no animals. This is very different from our African safari where you are driving around in a jeep and you see animals everywhere. This is part jeep safari but mostly walking. And sitting quietly, for hours and waiting. There are 55 tigers in this national park. They are scattered throughout an area of almost 1000 square kilometers. The 55 rhinos and fewer wild elephants are also spread out. So you have to follow the river on foot and turn inland to find watering holes. I had two guides and a cook night one. It was so peaceful watching the river flow. On day two we got up early to trek for an hour before breaking up camp to get on the raft. Now we were four guides and me. I can't remember a day where I felt so at peace. Silent guides, a beautiful river and grassland and forest on either side. We would pull onto shore periodically to trek and wait for sightings. Those of you who know me know I don't sit still well. The past year has taught me patience and it has paid off in abundance. I have sat for between 45 minutes to 2 hours in a single spot many times over 3 days and just appreciated the sights and sounds around me. Nancy you would be so proud!

On day 3 we crossed the river to trek again. In the afternoon we were met by another guide Sushila who was with a guest from Mr. B's. We waited for tigers in a new area but seeing none we drove to a spot where a rhino was spotted eating algae in the river. This rhino was bigger than the one we saw in Africa and the Asian rhino has only a single horn. We returned to Mr. B's place for the night. A hot shower was a welcome relief! Although my itinerary for day 4 was to visit the village, elephant sanctuary and crocodile breeding centre, Mr. B sent me back into the park for a walking safari. This time I sat for 6 hours in a tiger blind! It was not as difficult as it sounds because of the surrounding sounds of birds and the sunlight shining down through the leaves. It was so peaceful that my 2 guides and I actually napped on the ground after lunch! There were other spotters who would wake us if a tiger was sighted. Just before lunch I found 2 leeches on my leg that I had missed during leech check. They were happily bloated. After removing them, when one spot wouldn't stop bleeding, one guide found a plant for me to crush and apply. The wound closed within moments. In Nepal as in India, botanical remedies are used daily.

The lantana that grows here is called jungle killer by the local people as it chokes out other plants. We had seen lantana in Africa and India as well. At home we grow it as an annual for use mostly in hanging baskets. Here it is a weed. I saw 8 species of colorful butterflies, 2 types of moths and a variety of insects all feeding on this plant. I also heard a familiar sound on the evening of day 3 and found myself surrounded in the trees above me by rose ring parrots (Indian ring necked parakeets). I thought they were only in Northern India but they are here as well. Since I have had one as a pet for seven years, I know the cry very well. A little bit of home in the jungle! The staff at Mr. B's are all like family to them. Mr. and Mrs. B and their two sons are so lovely. I have been lucky to trek with Mr. B, Bibek and Bibash as well as the other guides, spotters and their cook. On the first night of camping my dinner was quite western after smelling the delicious smells coming from the cooking tent. So on night 2 I talked with the cook about eating their meal and was rewarded with a delicious Nepali meal eaten Nepali style (right hand, good and messy!). The staff here are proud to show off their park and are very knowledgeable about all aspects of nature. They are equally curious about the rest of the world and are as eager to learn as they are to share. Mrs. B is an avid gardener and grandmother so we have enjoyed our time together discussing our shared common interests as well as learning about each other's cultures. Mrs. B has had a difficult life and is content now as their hard work has paid off. The caste system is alive and well here so people are still categorized by class and cultural group. Arranged marriages are becoming less the norm but women still go to live with their husband's family following marriage. As we have had many excellent hosts during our travels this place is definitely included as one of them.

When I returned on the evening of day 4 I was met by Mr. B who is determined that I see a tiger. So although I have assured him over and over that I am thoroughly enjoying my stay, he has insisted on an extra jeep safari on day 6. No charge! Finally a financial break! And on this evening a young man from Vancouver arrived so it was nice to visit someone from home. On day 5 I did laundry and visited with Sushila who went through the birds and butterflies of the area with me. Mrs. B and I walked around her garden so I could write down the English names of her plants (Bryan stop laughing) my memory is not what it used to be. I walked into the village where the very friendly locals were working and gathering. Later I planned to bicycle to the elephant stable 3 km away but Mr. B was worried about my return near dusk so we went by jeep. The elephant stable is run by the government to provide work for local people. The domesticated elephants here are used for patrolling in the park and during monsoon season for monitoring water levels. All elephants are out in the park each day and return with their riders to be fed each night. They are chained which is hard to see.

Last day jeep safari and the elusive tiger was spotted by Bibek but it retreated into the grass before the rest of us could see it. Lucas from Vancouver thought he saw the hind end disappearing. It was a beautiful day nonetheless with a sighting of a majestic stag in the creek. There are 5 types of deer in Bardia and we saw three types with this stag belonging to the largest genus. Again on the last day Sushila and I concentrated on the bird and butterfly varieties and we identified four birds I hadn't yet seen. I have seen turqoise and brown kingfishers, orioles, peacocks, hornbills, indian ringnecked parakeets, bulbels and countless other native and migratory birds. This has been a beautiful adventure with amazing people. A more caring and dedicated crew could likely not be found. I will miss my "family" here. Kellie, Mrs. B wants me to come back and bring you for sure next time. I am leaving this afternoon for Kathmandu then back to Delhi tomorrow. Monday I fly to Sri Lanka. Stay tuned.

PS Bryan as I was packing this morning I discovered that my resident mouse ate into Chris' Tanzanian coffee beans so I have left them here! Sorry Chris.

Karnali river sunset

Karnali river sunset

Camping on the Karnali

Camping on the Karnali

Karnali sunset

Karnali sunset

Karnali sunset

Karnali sunset

Rafting crew

Rafting crew

A splendid tent

A splendid tent

Dedicated crew

Dedicated crew

Our raft

Our raft

Pink sunrise

Pink sunrise

Rhino in the river

Rhino in the river

Lunch in the tiger blind - for my brother who wants food pictures

Lunch in the tiger blind - for my brother who wants food pictures


Deadly scorpion with babies on back - snuck up in the tiger blind

Deadly scorpion with babies on back - snuck up in the tiger blind


Elephant stable

Elephant stable

4 year old male

4 year old male


Kingfisher at the end of the log

Kingfisher at the end of the log

Red dragonfly

Red dragonfly


Mrs. B and Sushila

Mrs. B and Sushila

https://youtu.be/O-aw4nRYx9A

Posted by kelshell 06:36 Archived in Nepal Comments (1)

On my own in Nepal

Missing my travel partner

sunny 35 °C

As I sit here on the porch at Mr. B's place in Bardia National park in Nepal, I am surrounded by bird song, crickets and a beautiful garden of tropical flowers. The journey to this comfortable place was interesting. Kellie and I had read various accounts online about accessing Nepal from India. But we had no clear and current information about bus schedules, shared taxi rides, etc. Now on my own I had to trust in the process and work it out! So after leaving Kellie in the Delhi airport, I traveled on to Lucknow. Arriving at night in yet another seedy hood I found myself booked into a family room in the Central hotel. Now there were times that Kellie and I had trouble getting two beds. I now had four! I had to tell them I was only paying for what I booked and after some discussion, the manager relented. Since it was pretty bad, I raced out at 7:00 a.m. to grab a tuk tuk to the taxi stand. But got a rickshaw instead. It was surreal driving through downtown Lucknow at this hour with people just awakening on the streets to start their day. After haggling with the rickshaw driver who wanted more than he should have I found a taxi driver who had two others headed for the Rupidiaha border - we just had to grab them at the hospital! So I bought some breakfast quickly and we left. The two Nepalese men I shared the ride with were lovely even though one refused to get in the back with me. I hope they weren't in hospital for anything contagious because we shared the taxi for 3 and a half hours with horn blaring at 80 kmh all the way. Before the border you get out and walk. If nobody told you, you would walk right past the Indian immigration office. It's barely a building. It's half outside. Met with, "this visa is not valid" I had memories of Russia! The immigration official went on to explain that although I have a double entry visa I cannot return to India via this border. I can only enter again by plane. "Do you want me to stamp you out?", he asked. With Mr.B our safari host waiting for me somewhere in this mêlée, I said yes. And felt sick to my stomach for a few seconds while I thought about purchasing more flights - because of visas! Onward to the border. If I hadn't been so laden down with backpacks (bought too much in India) I would have taken a picture of the Indo-Nepali border crossing. And since I can't go back that way it's a lost opportunity. Walking further I asked a Nepalese soldier where to buy my visa. He led me to a tiny shack where I was to sign in. A young colleague of his came too, full of smiles and "welcome to Nepal." It was like filling in a guest register at a hotel (which by the way in Lucknow I had to list a husband or a father - even if you aren't married or they are deceased!). As I was writing, the young officer said,"ma'am you make mistake. This column your age." I said, "yes I put my age." He said, "no you make mistake. Is how old you are." I said, "yes I'm 55." He laughed and apologized explaining he thought I was 40 or 42. Gotta love him! But this wasn't the immigration office. That was another 1.5 km down the road. In the sun at 35 degrees. But I decided to walk so I could ponder my new travel arrangements. Buying a Nepalese visa is quick and painless. They even called Mr.B for me and he arrived just as they were pasting the visa into my passport. Three hours later we arrived at Mr. B's place in Bardia national park. After a wonderful sleep I started writing the beginning of this entry but had to stop to spend all day booking flights! And worrying about transiting back through India before leaving the country altogether as I can't enter three times (after Sri Lanka). Oh well.... Tomorrow I start a safari camping in the jungle for two nights. Since I will be away from technology for a few days I thought I would post this latest little adventure with a couple of pictures. Wish you were here Kel!

Entrance to Bardia national park

Entrance to Bardia national park

Fields behind my cabin

Fields behind my cabin

Mrs. B's garden

Mrs. B's garden

Outside my front door

Outside my front door

Posted by kelshell 15:31 Archived in Nepal Comments (2)

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