Hello - kistá, (in tharu) Namasté
How are you doing? - Kastousa
Thanks - Anibar
Please - kirpaiá
Rhino - (in tharu) - ghaira
The beginning of the trip already gives to understand that it was going to be a long adventure.
In Hong Kong, two old Nepalese sat down beside us. Despite the heat, the women had worn at least four sweaters of thick wool. Only the air stifled from the plane led them to take off some clothing.
After these preparations they arranged an ornament, a cord that passed through the ear and was caught in the nose. In addition to all this, the crew forbade the placement of hand luggage on the shelves. As the Nepalese carried numerous bags and cartons, they had to place them between the benches. The women next to us had all the space occupied and had to make the trip with their legs folded over the volumes. For me it was a surprise.
More fatalistic were two other tourists who, although the plane already had the doors closed, after several cries, the crew suspended the departure. The tourists claimed lack of security. They left the machine. They might have been right. After a few hours of flight and suffering, we arrived in Kathmandu.
The airport looked like a provincial bus station. A wooden counter had to pay $ 10 USD to get the entry visa.
Arrival was at night and the airport was full of western tourists.
The hotel reservation was already made. We went to Mount Makalu and the transportation was in a taxi that should have been over 50 years old.
The hotel Makalu was also not new. At the time the service left much to be desired. It had a pool but with the time it was was most useful a fireplace. The Makalu was not cheap and it was far from the center of town.
The following day was a long walk in the historic area of Kathmandu.
We came back a century ago. It was worth a stupidity (it was worth not being counted), to make it unfeasible to register this surprise - I loaded the camera button more than 30 times. Weird. The roll was 22 frames. Yeah. I forgot to put the movie.
They were narrow streets full of people, garbage and almost everything with degraded air.
The houses were one to two stories tall. The ground floor was very small. Some places were small shops of agricultural products or artisans.
The houses were made of wood or small red bricks.
The squares were full of people. In the streets were vendors selling fruit and souvenirs. In the corners was sold hashish and opium.
Besides the Nepalese they were very western. Most hippy-looking. They were everywhere. In the squares, narrow streets and in the cheaper hotels. At some points of major tourist interest there were also many stalls selling handicrafts from Nepal and Tibet.
Outdoor Market in Durbar Square
Outside China, this was the only waypoint for Tibetan products. One of these products were painstakingly painted pictures. With very small religious figures and in predominantly golden tones. In larger, more expensive hotels, it is also common to sell handicrafts. From other countries in this region. We bought a Kashmir rug for $ 50 USD. They had asked for double, to leave, because I only wanted to have an idea of the price, I haggled with this value. The seller accepted and had to buy it. Most of these hotels were in the more modern part of the city, which is practically divided by the Bishnumati River.
Across the river is the Ghantaghar Clock Tower and the Kathmandu Durbar Square, considered a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The Ghantaghar Clock Tower, home of the hours, is a historic building in Kathmandu. It was the first tower with a clock. The current tower was rebuilt after the 1990 earthquake.
The Kathmandu Durbar Square was an extensive area, full of small buildings, squares, narrow streets, markets and temples. The religious places are in almost all in broad and are Buddhist or Hindu.
Figures alluding to each of these religions were found in various places of the temples, as well as altars where offerings and pivetes are placed.
In Kathmandu there were a significant number of these temples. However, from what we have seen, perhaps the greatest concentration of temples was in the district of Lalitpur, particularly in the city of Patan.
It is five kilometers from Kathmandu and the historic area of Darbar Square (or Darbar Hanuman Dhoka) is also part of the world heritage list. There were countless temples in this square.
Yoganarendra Malla's Column
In the area where the museum was and three Vishnu temples stood out the Yoganarendra Malla's Column.
A very high pillar and on top was a bronze statue of King Yoganarendra Malla (1684-1705) with a snake behind and several birds.
This whole area is very old.
Along one street came another.
Narrower it led to a wide space with a few ruins, small temples, children playing and then watched closely the cameras of the tourists.
A few meters ahead, a tank where women were washing clothes.
In Darbar Square the atmosphere was different.
There were more tourists and the kids took advantage of it to grab attention and tip.
One of them, convinced that we were Spanish, quoted half a dozen Spanish cities. Fantastic.
Another peculiarity of this area most sought after by tourists is that it was full of handicraft shops, mainly in copper.
In Patan as well as in Kathmandu, there were many cows roaming freely on the roads.
Sometimes the cops were forced to stop the traffic at the crossroads and pat the cows for them to pass quickly.
Kathmandu had, in 1988, many cars but not in order to cause long lines of traffic.
Another means of transportation, widely used, was the bicycle.
Where it was noted less the effect of traffic and the strong population density of Kathmandu was in the new areas.
They were open spaces, with trees and wider roads.
This is where the Narayanhity Palace stands. At the end of Darbar Marg, one of the main roads.
It was the residence of the king whose photograph was spread by the official walls and also in private houses.
After major political upheavals the government was deposed, the Communist Party (Maoist) became the major party force, the monarchy was abolished and presidential elections were held in 2008.
The palace was a large building, designed as an oriental pagoda with gardens and, in addition to being surrounded, was heavily policed.
Narayanhity Palace is also in the history of Nepal when, in 2001, the heir to the throne, Prince Dipendra, killed his parents and six others and then committed suicide.
It is in this block that was a large number of travel agencies. They had a very varied offer.
Visits to places near Kathmandu, preparation and organization of trips to the Himalayas where many tourists trek in the company of Sherpas.
It takes a few days to prepare these trips. There must be time and preparation beforehand.
For those who do not want to go to the Himalayas, you can see the sunset with the Himalayas in the background.
That's what we did. We went to Nagarkot to see the sunset in Everest.
The 32 km of distance were tiring. Many holes in the road and the way was winding the mountains.
While on the one hand the journey was tiring, on the other hand, it revealed a more concrete view of the day-to-day life of the Nepalese.
The settlements here were poorer, dirty, and the people were in the countryside or on the road watching tourists go by.
In Nagarkot we had to take a hike. To the highest point that is at 2,175 meters of altitude.
The effect of pressure and cold felt. What did not give was to see the summit of Everest due to the fog.
The mountain was a tower of babel. We watched the Himalayas for a few minutes with the sunset .. Despite the fog the effect was spectacular .. The eyes had difficulty accompanying the depth of field.
Restaurant in Nagarkot
The vastness of the horizon while feeling an emptiness, a forgetfulness, with silence sometimes interrupted by the whistling of the wind
After a while it was unpleasant. Frosty.
We went down the hill and went to a restaurant / hostel with two rooms. Drink tea. Due to the black of the glasses we did not drink.
It may sound ridiculous but we never went to a street restaurant. Lack of confidence has led us to always hotel restaurants.
The Makulu was not very good but after the two days of the voucher, we changed the hotel.
After much searching, we headed north of the city, near the Palace, to the Ambassador hotel.
In addition to being better situated, it was hospitable and excellent value for money. It had (and still has) a garden and was much cleaner. The first day we were greeted by a cockroach in the room. It was just to welcome.
In the hotel restaurant we sampled several dishes, several hours a day. The only difficulty was that they were very spicy. I took note of the Masu Ra Bhat: chicken with curry, vegetables with spicier curry, potatoes with tomatoes and curried cauliflower, white rice with starry egg, dhal (lentil sauce with parsley and curry) and, finally, radish salad, Carrots, tomatoes and onions.
In this meal the dessert was yogurt with cinnamon and lemon zest. Tasty.
Chitwan is 150 km from Ktahmandu. We leave at 7am from the Ambassador hotel in Kathmandu.
Although the travel agent had assured us that the transport was on an express bus from a private company, it was nothing like that. A normal pickup truck that was jam-packed with Nepalese. In the central corridor wooden benches were placed, which served as a seat.
At my side, even glued, was a boy who several months ago did not know what it was to take a shower.
To aggravate the situation decided to fall asleep and, despite several stray, made my backpack his pillow.
Road near Kathmandu
The exit from Kathmandu was through huge mountains, curves and cliffs.
The road has already been tarred. Now (1988) it was of clay mixed with stones. The width was slightly higher than the truck's turn.
Despite all these risks, the driver not only accelerated to the bottom but did not even whistle in the corners. It was asking too much. He even had the nerve to talk, look back, and for some moments read the newspaper.
He gave confidence to those who were behind ...
Bumps, curves, agitation ... conditions for nausea were created. It had to be and then the boy who was next to me. Backpack and legs up. I avoided vomiting but not stink
Some time later, a pause.
Stop in a valley, a place flooded with mud. The boy decided to buy tangerines and, shortly after, with the truck in progress, as I expected, a new session of vomiting. Fed up with this situation another passenger who was also in the central aisle protested and the boy went to catch air in the front, near a window.
He did the rest of the trip there.
The unforeseen events did not stop here. The driver, at a turnoff, sent a jeep to the ditch.
New forced stop. Prolonged.
We tried a ride but the Western tourists refused and the local transportation vans were more than exhausted. Up to the roof.
After an hour of waiting, we continued our journey.
We often had to wipe the mouth and nose to protect the dust.
In the final part of the trip, with less passengers, to escape the smell of vomiting, we moved from place to place. It was a failure. An old man who was in the front seat made himself free of gas
Transportation to Chitwan reservation
Finally, when it was nearly 5pm, we reached Chitwan.
We were waiting for two kids who took us to a ox cart. Tired and ground from the trip we had another hour of transportation. It was even pleasant.
Chitwan is at the foot of the Himalayas and has huge valleys. Very green and with rivers. In fact, the name derives from this combination of natural factors. Chit means dense and Ban corresponds to forest.
It was our route. We crossed valleys and a river in a ox cart.
At the lodge, at the Chitwan Safari Lodge, desperate for hunger, there was waiting for us a garlic and onion soup and vegetable batter.
Chitwan cabin rental
The lodgings were small huts, of a single division, made from clay and elephant excrement.
For hundreds of years the Tharu people have been building houses.
According to what was reported in the park museum, it is a very consistent and hygienic material because cooking the clay eliminates any risk.
It was about a dozen huts that skirted the wooden house where the kitchen and restaurant worked.
Wooden benches and tables and at night a petromax were the furniture of the restaurant. Good news: I was protected from melga and mosquitoes with a net.
The kitchen had a fireplace, pots, and tin pots, dark and two to three cooks. Vegetarian food. The exception was a chicken dish. On the afternoon of our arrival we still had time to take a short walk.
The village had rustic houses that were mixed with small villages for tourists.
Streets of dirt, in some parts of mud. There were many children, chickens and cows.
The employees of our village were always very friendly.
We used to wash some clothes. They prepared to draw water and offered soap.
On the first night, during the dinner of vegetable steaks, the owner of the village was on purpose to greet us.
He apologized for not receiving us but was very busy with his sister's wedding. There were several rituals to be performed as the bride's brother. Plus the responsibility of being the leader of the community.
He promised to take our request into account - arrange a taxi for the return trip and introduced us to Rudy, our guide.
Another guide tharu would guide the two tourists who arrived later.
That night Rudy and a colleague went to sleep in a cabin near the cabbages. The reason was the rhinos that came to the reserve to taste the vegetables. It was to scare them off.
During the night I woke up with earth trembling. The two men screaming, the rhino making even more noise and passing right by our cabin. If it went ahead, the cabin would fall. The wall thickness is a few centimeters.
The next morning the rhino could be easily seen. There was a ditch in the middle of the vegetables, the path he'd gone through.
We went for a walk along the jungle.
First was a river trip inside a canoe. A calm, serene, contemplative movement. Nature, birds, farm labor, women washing clothes, and down there a man crossing the river on an elephant.
The return was on foot, through the jungle.
Staged or true, I do not know. All I know is that Rudy was armed with a dagger and sometimes he asked for silence. He said it was dangerous.
There was even a moment of tension, but it was no more than a false alarm. After all it was a tharu feeding the elephant where it was being transported.
During the crossing of the jungle we saw a chicken, four monkeys and traces of a rhinoceros.
Rudy had cause for concern. The one-horned (endangered) rhinoceros when it is irritated is dangerous. On the other hand, the bengal tiger is another species that crosses the Chitwan National Park as well as the leopards.
Maybe these are the most dangerous, but there are still hyenas. In the marshes there are crocodiles and pitons.
The park has an area of almost thousand square kilometers and a great diversity of fauna and flora.
It was the first in Nepal in 1973 and is considered a UNESCO World Heritage Site
Elephants and rhinos are the most populous species.
Near the museum was an elephant collection center. At the time, it was about 20. They delighted with vegetable balls and a sweetened mixture.
They play an important role in the Tharu community as a means of transportation.
It was in one of these elephants that we made another raid on the jungle.
Calm, very calm, the elephant began its march and shortly after it descended almost in a ravine that gave access to the river.
It was astonishing how such a large animal, loaded with three people, had such mobility.
In the middle of the jungle, the elephant's trunk was destroying the small branches that made it an obstacle.
The problem was when the branches brushed our legs.
The return to the village was at dusk. At a height where some of the carnivores go in search of food and, others, take shelter in their shelters.
We passed a rhino in the middle of a small lake. He just watched us. Further on, another rhino also bathed in the hot water but ran away when he saw the elephant. He stood a few feet from the pool looking at us.
When the tour was about to end, on a path, the guide stopped the march. He asked for silence, and now it was our turn to wait.
After a long remark, the guide concluded that the half-way animal in the gloom was a hyena. One of the predators feared by elephants.
They stood, the hyena and the elephant.
The silence was suddenly broken by another animal that made a raucous noise. Even the elephant shuddered. It was a warning sign for the other animals. It had some effect because moments later the hyena disappeared.
On one of the nights we were invited to go to another village to see a traditional dance show.
The other night a couple of French arrived in our village. They were late.
The next day they walked through the huts making a lot of noise.
They heard some protests in Portuguese, more like a sign of discomfort. He was French, a guide in the Himalayas. She ... was the daughter of Portuguese emigrants and fluent in Portuguese. In fact, I think, she later became famous as a fado singer.
The return to Kathmandu was by taxi.
After a brief haggle of the price the trip ended up costing 1,400 rupees plus the driver's lunch.
View near Chitwan
It was a quick trip, with two stops.
The most unusual moment was near Kathmandu when an ambulance ran over a man. And it did not stop. The bastard limped to the side of the road.
The next day was the departure for India.
At the airport, at the entrance to the "waiting room" passengers could not enter with a lighter. He had to put himself in his luggage. The result: when I arrived in New Delhi the padlock was broken, the lock was damaged, no cigarette lighter, alarm clock, cigarette packs and, worst of all, without several photographic films.