I arrived at Chitwan National Park with no problems except the persistent rain. I thought this would cause problems for the roads and the bus but luckily not. Although I did spot one lorry we passed on the wrong side of the road without it's rear right wheels. It is a game of chicken on the roads though, if the driver wants to overtake and there is oncoming traffic, sod it just get on the horn and carry on (it would seem). Anyway I went in search of a hotel in the pouring rain and even the waterproofs and trainers couldn't stand it so I took the first room I saw even if it's 'expensive' at £4.50 a night. I later found out the storm was a result of a typhoon hitting and causing a lot of problems across Nepal. That afternoon I went to explore, a pointless exercise as there wasn't a soul about and I wanted to dry off, so got a bit of food and headed back just in time for the real storm to start. After watching a couple of men riding elephants past my window (pretty cool) I went to join the staff who I could see were watching TV, well in between the power cuts. They were telling me about the national park and how dangerous it is but despite this they only carry a bamboo stick as protection...I promptly decided against the jungle walk as didn't fancy facing a rhino/tiger or croc with a stick. Maybe the jeep safari will be safer?! But in the 8 years Rajan has been guiding he's only seen the tiger 3 times. But they were showing me photos of them petting a wild rhino that had come to graze in the village. So, maybe I'll save my cash and sit drinking and eating all day by the river since I'm off to Borneo's jungle soon and hope a rhino comes to the village.
After about 30+ hours the sun was back but was a bit of a restless night (no water in room and then listening to the rats do a marathon and gnawathon in the roof). The town of Sauraha (for tourists its Chitwan) is small, pretty and easy to walk round in a couple of hours but still everyone is friendly and at least you can still see the snowy mountains. Unless you want to blow cash on going into the jungle there's very little here. That night I chilled out with the hotel staff again with a beer and I sampled the Nepalese whiskey and vodka. The staff continued to tell me tales about the jungle and that a couple of years ago two of their friends had died when guiding in the jungle.
Due to the storm I couldn't do the jeep safari so the next day I was being lazy until Rajan (one of the hotel staff) came and got me to show me a rhino that was nearby. We set off and sure enough there was a rhino under some trees snoozing away, completely unaffected by how close he was to the road. It was amazing to see. Rajan then sent me off on a mission to find and photograph a crocodile down at the river. Fortunately, when I got to the river I saw two different types of crocodiles that the staff had been teaching me about the night before. (One that will eat you and one that won't). After that I went to watch the elephant bath time, but I couldn't help but feel a bit sorry for them having to perform for the tourists. If they didn't straight away they got a bit of a slap from the guy.
Later on I decided to go to the elephant breeding centre, but on my way there I passed the army camp, who protect the jungle and the rhinos from poachers. There grazing away was a baby rhino, sadly I couldn't take a photo but it was cute. I think they said it's mother had been killed so the army were raising it to release it. A great little spot. I made my way to the breeding centre and again felt sorry for the elephants as they were chained up and being fed. I was told they only chain them up for a few hours a day but I suspect just to use them as a money spinner. However, I met three lovely ladies from Boston at the centre; Summer, Mandy and Michelle who adopted me for the evening. They had hired bikes to get to the centre as it was an hours walk. So Mandy kindly let me sit on the back of her bike to head back to town. It was not the most comfortable of rides sitting on the metal especially when hitting all the pot holes. So we headed for a sunset cocktail before the best and cheapest Nepalese food and beer I've found so far (Typical Nepali Kitchen). Lovely. That night I again joined the staff for a couple of hours and being told that the jungle guides have to apply for their licence every year.
The next morning I was leaving for Kathmandu and the only way to describe the journey was hairy and covered in a film of road dust. The hotel staff kindly arranged my bus journey and walked me around to the bus station, probably to make sure that they didn't have to entertain me for a fourth night as they had a day of playing cards planned. It was a nice farewell to them. I mentioned before about the drivers playing a game of chicken, well this driver (and all the others on the road today) seemed to be taking it to a different level. The road was full of slow moving and heavily weighted lorries, but the road was a narrow cliff edge road which we had to climb for hours. But the driver was all for overtaking on this road and especially on the tight hairpin corners. It would still seem that as long as you got on your horn it was fine, it was not a journey for the faint hearted. I was unfortunately on the wrong side of the bus and could see the small gap between us and the mountain face, on the plus the scenery was stunning with paddy fields all the way up the mountain side and the people working hard to tend to them. Although, on the road up the mountain we passed one lorry that had overturned and shed it's load but what really helped with the nerves was the lorry that had gone over the side of the mountain face. It did not look in a good way.
Finally I made it to Kathmandu and in one piece and covered in grim. So I went to check in at the hostel where the Nepal chapter started (Happily Ever After) for a well earned shower.