Its been a while since i last updated you so have lots to write about... Also with my readers numbers rising by the day i feel the pressure is on to deliver a witty, clever and interesting insight into our lives...
We went to a small music festival just outside of Kathmandu 2 weekends ago now. Perched on the side of a gorge it was a small field with tents and a tiny stage. To get there we had to cross the swaying steel bridge that we would soon be jumping head first off for our bungee. The entire festival was filled (as all of Kathmandu is) with hippies. All 'at one with nature' listening to the bands first play soporific nepalese songs with flutes and drums, and then move on to covers of Bob Marley and the Rolling Stones. We had a great time watching the hippies take of their shoes, dig their feet into the mud and sway like trees for hours on end.
The next morning was the bungee jump, me and Millie woke up, went over to sign up and were told that we were jumping in 15 minutes. In a way we both think this was the best way for it to happen, no time for breakfast (not that either of us could have stomached it) and no time to dwell on the the fact that we were about to jump headfirst off a 160m swinging bridge into a gorge. However we both did it and both have survived so neither of you mothers can hold it against us to much. After that we did a Canyon swing, which is jumping off the same bridge, 7 seconds freefall and then swinging out into the canyon. Jenny and Jess did this one too. After we all did it we went white water rafting in the afternoon which was great, the river had rapids all the way down and none of the girls had ever done it before so loved it!
Once back in Kathmandu we packed up and left for Pokhara in the West of Nepal. This is a trekkers paradise, the town is set on a lake which is great to take row boats out onto and just sunbathe. From the town you have incredible views of the Annapurna mountain range all around you. We got up at 4:30 the next morning and took a taxi to a viewing point to watch the sun rise over the mountain range (yes another sunrise Mrs. R!) We spent a day on the lake relaxing... well the girls relaxed and sunbathed whilst i rowed them around all afternoon!
The next day we started our 3 day hike up to Poon Hill. It was pretty tough and on the first day we hiked for a good 7 hours all up hill. Stopping by the river every now and then and swimming in creeks made it a bit more bareable though. On the 3rd morning we woke up early to watch the sunrise before starting the descent, however it was cloudy! We were pretty gutted but had seen the mountains really clearly the night before so it wasn't a complete disaster!
After returning back we were off to the Chitwan National Park in the South of Nepal. We were only here for 2 days but we managed to pack everything we wanted to do in. We arrived at lunch time to out lodge which was amazing. It was about 35 degrees and the place was covered in big leafy mango trees and hammocks stretched between them. We went on a canoo ride down a crocodile infested river in the park that afternoon. Once on the river our guide, who had a worryingly 'devil may care' attitude towards dangerous animals laughed whilst telling us to keep our hands inside the cannoe due to the aggressice crocodiles in the river who were even more aggressive than usual as it was mating season. We laughed thinking he was joking but after we passed a crocodile less than 2 meters away we stopped laughing! We were in a very unstable cannoe that the locals had made out of the trunk of a teak tree. We saw 4 more all in the river right next to us, one even started to follow us which put Jenny on the verge of tears (being at the back of the cannoe). These crocs grow to 7 metres long when fully grown!
Getting out of the river we arrived at the elephant breeding centre which was really nice, we saw a pair of elephant twins that had been born the year before. The first pair in the world!
The next morning i got up at 5:30 for a morning walk through the park to see some animals. All the girls were too tired/lazy to bother! Me and the guide and one more guide set off into the park. We started off in very thick rainforest and then came out into tiger grass that was about 7 ft tall in places. After only 500 metres the guide stopped and pointed animatedly to a pile of poo on the path infront. THe other guide went crazy and started smelling it. I had absolutely no idea what was so impressive about this poo but i really have never seen anyone get so excited over the stuff. It was only when the guide explained that i too got very excited. He said it was Tiger poo, and what is more, it had been laid only 1-2 minutes ago, due to the fact that it was still steaming (sorry if too graphic). There are only about 100 tigers in the park which covers most of the south of Nepal so this was really rare as i could tell by the guides reactions. He broke into a run up the path and i followed really excited, we had been running for about a minute when i suddenly realised that we were running, in tiger grass that was so tall we were completely blind, after a Bengal tiger... i didn't feel so excited anymore. We slowed down as the guide didn't want to run right into it, and i started to feel completely terrified, convinced at any moment he was going to hack away some tiger grass and we would be staring at it face to face! THere were 3 of us, both the guides were under 5 ft 7 and all the carried were wooden sticks! Then all of a sudden there was a rustling in the tiger grass to our right, the guide jumped away, i honestly thought i was going to die, and a huge peacock flew off out of the grass. I don't think i have ever feared for my life more!
We carried on and about half an hour later a sloth bear cub ran across a path infront of us into a huge patch of tiger grass. Breaking into another run the guide chased after it, round the outside of the patch of grass to try and cut it off. Then i suddenly saw the most enormous elephant i have ever seen! about 30 meters away eating grass. A huge male bull elephant with metre long tusks! I stopped the guide who had been looking for the sloth bear. WHen he saw it his face, which was always filled with such a happy expression, even when chasing a tiger, suddenly changed. He pulled me to the ground and told me that this was a wild bull elephant, a notorious one that had gone mad. We had found out the previous day that male elephants go mad sometimes when they have too much protein, their brain secretes a chemical and the Nepalese call it when an elephant is on 'Musth'. It is totally wild and often harms itself in its rage. This elephant, he informed me had killed 3 villagers recently. He said if it saw us, it would charge... SO, here was the situation, a man-killing crazy bull elephant on my left, a family of sloth bears on my right with a mother who would do anything to protect her cubs. And a potential bengal tiger somewhere in the mix. I was absolutely terrified! We climbed up a tree and waited, flattened against the thick branches so we couldnt be seen by the elephant. Eventually it moved on and we crept back the way we had come! Unfortunately we didn't get to go to the lake where the rhinos go to drink as the elephant was in that direction however i was quite glad to get out of there! Looking back on it, it was an incredible experience and i am so glad i chose the walk over the lie in. However at the time i was absolutely terrified! As was the guide!
After the walk i got back to the village and met the girls by the river where we rode elephants (not wild ones!) into the river and had a bath with them! It was so fun, the trainers would shout commands and they would fill up great trunks of water and stray them all over us, then they would go deeper and try and shake us off and we would all hang on for dear life!
That afternoon we took an elephant safari into a different part of the tiger grass. We saw 2 white rhino which was amazing! And no where near as scary as we were all the way up on the back of the elephant and could see for quite a distance if anything was coming our way!
Today we came back to Kathmandu and leave on the 12th for Bangkok. We have all absolutely loved Nepal so much and all want to come back at some point!