Our competition winners Katie and Evan take us through the final days of their Highway to the Himalayas tour, just before they head to Russia. Click the links below to see some great video footage of their elephant experience in Chitwan!
Day eleven of our Highway to the Himalayas tour took us by bus from Varanasi to Lumbini, Nepal which is the birthplace of Buddha. Crossing the border to Nepal was interesting and really easy. We filled our paper work out at a little shop by the border had our passports stamped then off we walked over to Nepal. When we arrived in Nepal we filled out more papers, paid the man in the small house and voila: we had Nepalese tourist visas! Being so near the Indian border that night, we didn’t notice much of a change from country to country other than at dinner we went from having Kingfisher beer to Everest beer, they tasted remarkably similar so it wasn’t that big of an adjustment.
The next day we travelled to the Royal Chitwan National Park which is home to many different birds and animals and one of five National Parks in Nepal. Upon arrival we checked our bags into our rooms and went off right away for an elephant trek through the jungle! My Mum, Evan and I rode an elephant that was the Mum of a four year old baby girl elephant. We didn’t see any lions, tigers or bears but we were able to watch the baby follow her mum around the jungle and that was so cute!
The next morning I was pretty exhausted but it was our day of elephant bathing and boat rides. We had an elephant briefing where we learnt the differences between Asian and African elephants. Evan and I are hoping there will be a quiz when were in Africa because we now know all the answers about the differences between the two. We all had a chance to mount the elephant Rupakali by holding onto her ears and putting our feet on her trunk while she lifted us up. Evan and I are pro’s compared to the disaster of an attempt by my mother! She was stuck on the elephants head laughing for a good length of time. What a patient elephant.
After the briefing we made our way down to the river where we all had a turn sitting up top of her and getting hosed with water from the elephant’s trunk! Very refreshing but not very clean! As soon as the elephant got into the water she had a nice big poo and then sucked up the water and started spraying it around! But I couldn’t care less, I loved being up close and personal with the elephant. It was an amazing experience and a huge highlight of the trip for me. As we were leaving the park our elephant guide said to my Mum “We will never forget you!” and started laughing while waving goodbye.
After saying goodbye to the elephants at the resort we made our way to Pokhara, a city perfect for anyone with an adventurous outdoorsy side. Here we enjoyed a boat ride on Lake Phewa and a tour of the city. We were given lots of free time to explore which was great because this gave us time to shop. For the last month or so Evan has been pretty lazy with giving his face a shave and our guide told him that getting a straight shave in Pokhara was the thing to do because the city has a lot of trekkers who stop in to clean up before heading home. Evan found a place and transformed from a Yeti to a man for only two dollars. (Look out for a great video on this coming soon!)
We spent two nights in Pokhara and then ventured to Kathmandu, the biggest city in all of Nepal. We visited the Pashupatinath Temple, Swayambhunath Pagoda, and Bodhnath. In Kathmandu they have a real life Living Goddess. She is eight years old and lives in a private building where she can only be seen at certain times of the day and on special request. People visit her courtyard to worship her and hopefully catch a glimpse of her. On special occasions and festivals she is escorted and transported around in a chariot. While we were visiting the Bodhnath it was very crowded and there was obviously something special going on and our guide thought there were special visitors at the site. I noticed a little girl in traditional clothing lighting candles at the base of the monument and decided to take her picture because she looked so beautiful. I showed our guide the photo and found out it was the Living Goddess and we were very lucky to see her in person! Our day included a visit to Durbar Square where we saw beautiful temples and shrines.
Soon we’ll be off to Russia where my Dad will be waiting for us to start the Russian Revolution Tour. We are enjoying our last couple of days together with my Mum until we meet again in July in London. It was great to have her with us and it was fun having her motivate me to shop more. Of course we will be laughing at her elephant video forever!
– Katie Powell