Thursday, Nov. 27 (Thanksgiving)
After an extremely bumpy 4 hour ride to the National Park we finally made it to our next destination. We were met at the bus drop off area by an old jeep that had the back cut out like a pick-up with benches. We loaded in and headed to our hotel. There were elephants walking through the streets everywhere! It was amazing how quite they walk for being such big animals. We kinda wished they had some sort of horn to honk cuz they would just sneak up on your if you werent paying attention!
Once we arrived at the hotel we had lunch and took a short nap before going on a walk through one of the local villages and the jungle. In our group was me and Kathleen, a girl from Japan and these 4 guys from India that were so loud and obnoxious. The guide expressed his dislike for them as well. He told us 3 girls that he didnt want them to come with us the next day on our trip if they were going to continue being so loud.
That night we ate chinese food for Thankgiving dinner. Kathleen and I were looking around at dinner and laughed later saying that we never thought we would being having Thanksgiving dinner with people from Japan, India, Poland, Belguim and Spain all at the same table. It definately made for an memorable Thankgiving!
Friday, Nov. 28
After getting up for an early breakfast (more eggs and toast!) we went on a canoe ride through the jungle. The canoe was very primative looking in that it had been carved out of one tree and you basically sat on the floor of it. The water was maybe about 5 or 6 inches below the side of the boat, which made it a little intimidating when huge crocodiles swam by!
From the canoe ride we walked through more of the jungle and were told what to do if a rhino happened to charge us (run zig zag style - since their vision is bad - and try to climb up the nearest tree). Fortunately we did not come across any rhinos on our walk. Eventually we can to the elephant breeding area where they had tons of elephants. The big elephants were chained up so there were no worries about getting charged by them, but the baby elephants roaming freely were another story. Those little guys may look small but they are strong!! The guide said we could go touch one of them that was only about 6 months old and when I went near it this thing charged and rammed me! After that I kept my distance from it and just played tug of war with the baby and a long stick. There were also 2 baby elephant twins that were only about 8-10 days old. I guess it is rare for twins to be born so it was a big deal for the breeding center. They were so cute!!!!
Unfortunately, the 4 Indian guys came along during the morning canoe and elephant part and despite many warnings from the guide to be quiet and respectful - they weren't! I think the guide felt bad for us 3 girls, so once we got back he pulled us off to the side and told us to go get our bathing suits on and come with him. What a great surprise he had for us!!!! Next thing we know, we are riding bareback down the street on an elephant and it was bath time! The elephant ran right into the water with us still on its back, and once given the command, rolled over and threw us off into the water. We played for awhile in the water with the elephant. Getting squirted with water by its trunk, being thrown off its back repeatedly and climbing up and down its trunk. It was so much fun! We did get out of the water once we saw some large floaters coming our way - yuck! After we helped give the elephant a bath and rub its skin with stones. I kept playing with its trunk and it was feeling and sniffing my hands and arms with it. After the bath we got back on the elephant and rode through the streets back to the hotel - getting many stares of confused tourists along the way!
Once we got back to the hotel we both showered to get off any poo that may have gotten on us and then went to have lunch. We had a little break after lunch before going on an elephant safari. The safari was so much fun. This time it was just me and Kathleen and an Indian couple - that were very nice. We sat in a basket on the back of an elephant. Unfortunately our elephant was not very happy to be going trekking at that moment. We were told that she normally goes with another elephant so she was unhappy to be without her friend. Because of this she would stop at times and refuse to move, flapping her ears, raising her trunk and making loud elephant noises. This made me a little nervous, but what made me more nervous was how the handler would just crack down hard with a stick on her head and kick her behind the ears. Im sure it didnt really hurt the elephant but still, I didnt like that at all!
Other than the occasional protest from our elephant, the safari was awesome. We saw some spotted deer, black deer, crocodiles and monkeys. The best part was the rhinos though! Since elephants and rhinos are friendly with each other, we were able to get extremely close to the rhinos without being in any kind of danger. First we came across one rhino that was hiding among thick trees/brush. Thinking we probably wouldnt get a good look at him since he was hiding so well I was kind of disappointed. Not for long though. The handler gave the elephant a command and next thing you know the elephant is ripping down the brush and snapping the trees likes twigs with her trunk! It was crazy. We came across another male rhino shortly later that was out in the open. Our guide chased him towards where other people were on elephants, while one of the other guides chased a mom and baby toward us. The rhinos were making noises at each other and didnt seem too happy at first about the others presence, but they eventually started sniffing one another. It got some great pictures and video of it all!
As if our day hadnt been busy enough, we decided that we should probably call our travel insurance people that night because of all that was going on in Thailand and India (since we were supposed to be flying to Thailand on Monday). Our insurance reccomended that we just go to our next destination after Thailand instead - Hawaii for me, Australia for Kathleen. The reservations person got on it that night and luckily was able to find us flights (that our insurance will reimburse us for later). Good thing we called that night, because it was already hard then to find flights. If we waited any longer we would have ended up stuck in Nepal for quite some time. (More on this later)