Tuesday, March 24, 2009

kathmandu pt.1 and chitwan national park

There are about 8 million temples in Kathmandu, which is wonderful and beautiful- and confusing. The other day i went for a walk and thought i'd be able to find my way back, no problem because of all the temple landmarks, but i just got horribly lost in the rain (of course it started to rain) for an hour or so. Eventually I hopped into a cafe for tomato soup and momos (did i tell you about momos yet?) to wait out the rain.
The photo above is the house of the living goddess. According to the guidebook, Nepal has a living goddess who is chosen as a child and has to meet many requirements, including certain measurements of her face. When she hits puberty or if she loses a certain amount of blood, she ceases to be a goddess and just becomes a mere mortal and another girl is chosen to be the living goddess.

These two photos are taken in Durbar Square- it's a pretty big square with many temples. It's great for sitting and people watching because some of the temples are tall and you can climb up to the top of them, which i did in order to escape the rain and take these photos.

Ha- I thought this was funny. It looks like this is the place where Mischa Barton gets her hair styled when she is in Kathmandu.

OMG!!! Can we all just take a moment out of our day to appreciate how fucking CUTE this baby elephant is? Some people were feeding it cookies and I think it ate 4 or 5 packages of cookies in the 10 min. i was standing there.

I spent the last couple of days in Chitwan National Park. I had a pretty fantastic time. I was one of two people staying at the lodge and I got a lot of individual attention from the staff. They were all really great people. My guide was hilarious and he loved to speak American English. I taught him some slang and he taught me some basic Nepali.

Here's me with the baby elephant. Notice how uninterested he is in taking a photo with me. I didn't have any cookies.

The first thing we did was visit the elephant breeding centre. It was great to see pregnant elephants and their babies (obviously), but the life of the captive elephant is pretty depressing. There are some working elephants who carry tourists around the park- it's pretty much the only way you can get really close to wild animals like tigers and rhinos without risking your life. The sad thing is that they work so hard, and they have to be trained in a way that isn't exactly humane. There's a certain amount of cruelty that has to happen in order to "tame"(break the spirit of) an animal that is way more powerful than you. The mamas at the breeding center were chained up by their feet to a post. That alone is enough to break this vegetarian's heart.

Afterwards, we walked home through the village. The indigenous people who live in the area are the Tharu people. They live in huts made of elephant grass, mud and dung. They do a lot of farming- rice and wheat mostly, and...

marijuana! The stuff is growing everywhere, mixed in with the wheat or on it's own. My guide said it's not for everyday use, just special occasions.

There's an underground spring in the area and the water is pretty clean. Apparently the use of pesticides in the farms is gaining, and my guide said that in about 50 years time, the groundwater will be too polluted to be safe to drink. Here's a shot of water being pumped up to irrigate the rice fields.

A photo from my jeep ride into the park. Probably the dustiest 5 hours I've ever experienced, by the way. The jeep was open in the back where everyone sits and they haven't had rain in awhile. When I got out of the jeep I was covered in a layer of dust and my lungs hurt today from all the dust I inhaled. Gross.

The one-horned rhino! These guys are huge! way bigger than I expected. They can run 40km per hour, and if they get spooked they will charge you. We saw two on our jungle walk and got close, than sort of trotted away when it looked at us, then snuck back, then ran away when it started moving. I was questioning my purpose in the jungle as my heart was beating out of my chest.
When we got back home, my guide showed me a gnarly scar above his ribs where he was mauled by a rhino years ago.
These rhinos can only be found in Nepal and in one area of India that used to be Nepal. There back is really weird. You can't tell in the picture, but it looks like a suit of armor.

Today I took a bus to Pokhara. It was so beautiful! We drove alongside a big river most of the way, and of course it reminded me of California. Looks like the Trinity River up by Hoopa. Pokhara is a really pretty town. There's a nice lake and lots of mountains. A lot of folks start their treks from here.
I will email again in the next few days. I'm planning to stay in Pokhara 3 or 4 days, then maybe make my way back to the air polluted Kathmandu from which I will do a bunch of day trips.

1 comment:

Annette said...

baby elephant. WAY too cute! heartbreaking how they beat them though. *sigh* thanks for posting the mischa barton pic. i feel relieved that if my flatiron breaks i can at least get my hair done in kathmandu!

Cities I've Visited