Nepal is a country I’ve heard and thought about many times, and we were really excited for this one.
Nepal has a ‘visa on arrival’ system, but let’s say it’s…disorganized. 1st, there are machines that you have to use to fill out your info and no one to help people who don’t speak English (the only language available on the machine) or who aren’t good with computers. 2nd, there was a power flicker, and everyone had to restart. Also, few machines.
So, we finally got this done, went to where we pay for the visa, and a GIANT SIGN says you can pay by card. “Cash only.” Yeah, right. You’re sitting next to a sign that tells me otherwise, and I know this means you want the cash to get lost in your pocket. Immigration agents are the same everywhere. We paid, waited forever in line, and who knows how long after arrival were finally outside to grab a ride to our hotel.
Here, things also got interesting. I had more suite upgrade nights in my account, emailed the hotel to use them, and they confirmed them. On arrival, we went to a standard hotel room, so I asked the nearest employee. “All of our rooms are the same, and we don’t have suites.” Funny that the hotel had confirmed my use of upgrades and taken them from my account, but the room was fine, and we were in Nepal!
We stopped at a nearby travel agency to ask about going down to Chitwan National Park to see the animals, signed up for a trip the next day (an overnight, after originally thinking this could be done as a day trip) and then went off to explore.
We were adventurous, flagged down a shared van that we thought possibly maybe was going in the direction we wanted, jumped into to surprised looks from locals, and we were off. Kathmandu is awesome.
We headed over to the historic old city.
This area was awesome. There are lots of buildings being repaired still from the earthquake. We passed a sign about foreigners paying to enter the old city walking area, but then we also saw no one paying or collecting money, so we didn’t make an effort to give away our money.
We had more “how do you find the right cable” moments at the telephone poles in Kathmandu.
After staying out and exploring pretty late, we were up early the next morning. We were supposed to get picked up to go to the bus station for the bus down to Chitwan. “Picked up” entailed a guy on a scooter depositing us into a taxi and following us to the bus, which left an hour after we got there. Why we got up so early, skipped free breakfast at the hotel because it wasn’t open yet, to sit on a bus they knew wasn’t leaving at the time they told us to be there is beyond me.
There was also horrendous traffic getting out of the city. Awful.
We were told this was a 4hr bus ride, but it took 7.5. We were pretty mad about losing hours on a short trip to the park, but not much you can do about it. We got picked up from the bus, went to the Eden Jungle Resort, and then headed off to the park.
From our open-top jeep, we were hoping for rhinos on the safari.
It started to rain, and we’d reached the limit of where we could go as the sun was starting to set, since we had to be out of the park before sunset as guests not staying over night. We hadn’t seen anything very special. Time to turn around.
And there it was: in view of the “thanks for visiting” sign at the exit, we saw a lone rhino. Amazing.
It was amazing. We were so happy.
Back at the lodge, we had dinner, and I was starting to really feel the food poisoning coming on. I was lucky that it hadn’t set in during that long bus ride, since the bus had no bathrooms and just a toilet stop at 3 hours and again at 5.
The next morning, we were up early for a bird watching walk after breakfast. This should’ve been amazing, but there was a lot of rain coming down, so nothing was out moving around. Barely any signs of birds, so we scrapped it and went back to the hotel for a bit.
This was also the decision moment: if we were taking the bus back up to Kathmandu, we needed to go now. With me sinking into food poisoning and needing the toilet increasingly often, plus our limited time at the park, a bus ride of 6 or more hours seemed like a bad plan. For $100 each, we found a 20min flight on Yeti Airlines (you heard me) going up to Kathmandu at lunch time.
With our extra time, we were able to visit the Elephant Breeding Center. Sounds amazing, like they’re doing great work.
They’re being bred to be used by the army for riding into the jungle doing patrols. Look how much freedom they don’t have, how much they aren’t enjoying life, and how it’s not anything like “breeding for release to improve numbers in the wild.” This was a low point in our trip down to Chitwan.
The ride back to the lodge.
We had some free time before lunch and then going to the airport, so we decided to walk into the little village. We stopped along the river.
It hit me, and I really needed to run to the nearest toilet a few times during this excursion, and it made our “skip the bus” decision really the right idea.
Walking back to the lodge for lunch, we saw this monkey in someone’s front yard, raiding the tree.
We settled the bill at the lodge after lunch and then went to the airport.
From Bharatpur, we flew on Yeti Airlines, which was definitely an experience. In 20min, we just needed to go over a mountain and come down in Kathmandu. It was pretty shaky with the small plane plus gusts on the other side of the mountain, but we made it.
Feeling horrible on the inside, we went to Sprout for something natural and healthy. I ate a yogurt bowl and drank a smoothie to settle my insides. It’s paired with a sports center that has a climbing wall, and it was definitely the ‘place to be’ for kids with money in Kathmandu.
Back to the hotel and killed a bit of time before going to the airport for our midnight flight.
Nepal was awesome. We really, really loved it. Definitely a spot to return to and explore more.
Qatar Airways flight off to Doha for a connection to a dream destination: the Maldives!This entry was posted in asia, Chitwan National Park, Kathmandu, Nepal