Lumbini – Chitwan Scenes – 30 April 2017

Eva Sifis

On the road again.
I remarked on the presence of so many living beings on the road and the lack of any dead beings beside. Even though cars, trucks, motorbikes, pushbikes, tuk-tuks, animals (cows, bullocks, sheep, goats, dogs, donkeys) and people all share the road with ne’er care for lanes or speed limits, there is a respect and patience not seen in Oz. Vehicles go around animals resting in the middle of the road. People cross the road and are allowed to. It is quite mind boggling.

Today it was universally decided that we had had enough of ‘experiencing local life’ via the bus with questionable standards and as Chitwan is only about 3.5 hours away from Lumbini in a car, availed ourselves of a hotel chauffeur in a car with open windows for AC. In the heat I was reminded of childhood summers. I took notes again and will wax lyrical henceforth;

– In one of the many towns we passed through roadworks building a highway that has cut off half a house, lain the road and the rooms are gaping to the road, wall paper peeling, rooms painted different colours. I can’t remember but there may have even been light fittings?
– Saw another wedding hatchback (they live it minimised here) with all sorts of glitzy and colourful paraphernalia decorating the bonnet, windscreen and roof
– Going through the towns 90% of the people by the roadside are men. Men. As far as the eye can see. Where are the women? Inside of course. Their place is in the home. Of course, it may have been the time of day, i guess it was time to be preparing lunch for the household.
– Passed a huge truck coming the other way. It was absolutely massive and square with a bumper bar painted with the words – ‘soft love’ (argh!)
– Gender paradigm is absolutely huge in advertising with aging Bollywood actors photoshopped to a mere representation of themselves selling housepaints and pretty young things – Miss World contestants and the like in highly highly suggestive expressions with bottles of some drink or other
– People shielding themselves from the harsh sun whilst walking holding umbrellas faced with black on the outside and with colour on inside face
– Climbed Adelaide sized hills with gumtrees and recently control fired area. The only trees regenerating at this stage were the gums. Were told these couple of months dangerous for fire with the raised temperatures and high wind. The land is sandstone.
– At a Truckstop we paused at I saw a woman just chuck a plastic bottle out the window to join the rest of the plastic junk at the fringe of the wooded area below the elevated hut. She was obviously harried, sweaty and dirty and I watch her bring in a freshly killed and plucked chook to cook up for the lunch time offering
– Driving through a forest regenerated after an earlier fire was especially lovely because there was no trash
– Finally in Chitwan, the road we head down towards the resort we will stay in for the next 4 nights, the locals have placed plants in pots to serve as chicanes to stop traffic from travelling fast and kicking up even more dust
– Dude about 16-17 swaggering along putting headphones in his ears, looking down his very cool nose at us, lips pouted and not moving out of way

And so, here we are, in a resort style place in Chitwan. We have run the full gamut of accommodation and experiences whilst here in Nepal and now, nearing the end of the trip, Mum (and I) have had enough of ‘authentic experiences’ and have decided to be natty tourists (that’s my approximation). We’re staying in a fairly swish abode and doing the tourist program on offer.
It took me quite a while to start enjoying the bullock cart ride into the indig villager’s life this afternoon. I could not feel comfortable with what felt like rampant touristic prostitution of a people however the welcome we received as well as the assurances that we were actually supporting their very existence by our interest started to ease my mind. Then the cloud broke above us and we ran to the verandah of a neighbouring house for shelter where two very young mothers were nursing and minding children who were rejoicing in the mini tempest. An older lady sat in the doorway, her legs pulled up revealing very faded traditional tattoo work stretching from her knees and elbows downward. I openly admired it and knew I was witnessing a dying custom. She had been born in the jungle land over the other side of the newly placed electrified fence that keeps wild animals from raiding the village. Animals like rhinos, elephants and even tigers have been known to come in to the village to find food. There was a tale told of a lady shepherding her bullocks who, unbeknownst to her, had been infiltrated by rhino that proceeded to gore her.
We headed back by cart along dirt tracks beside fields of corn, wildly growing mary jane and grazing bullocks to the resort.
Tomorrow holds an experience I am yet to feel comfortable about with our first encounter with the elephants kept for the tourist’s pleasure. I have been told they may do 4 90min ambles carrying tourists a day at the height of the season but right now are doing only 2. They, apparently are very happy and spend their evenings out free, coming home to sleep with their keepers.
I will see.
Right now sleep is called for. We have an early morning canoe ride
I love my mum.