If you are sensing deja vu from the title of this post, you are not imagining things. My Dragoman tour ended in Nepal, so in the last days of the tour we crossed the border back over to my starting point.
If I ever need a fake alibi for some reason, the porous border between Nepal and India would be the way to achieve it. I swear that the border operates entirely on the honour system. There is no one at the border crossing directing you to check-in with immigration on either side, and most people just sail on through without stopping. In fact, you’re in Nepal a good 500 metres before you even run into the immigration office, and ditto on the Indian side of the border.
The border at this juncture is separated by a large bridge. When the trip was initially booked, the plan was to drive from the border directly to Chitwan. However, by the time of the crossing the political unrest in the region surrounding the border had gotten worse so we needed to fly from the border to Kathmandu and then drive down to Chitwan. In the amended plan, the Drago truck was going to drop us off at the airport a one hour drive from the border, but when we got to the border there was a huge back-up so we had to improvise and hire a minivan instead. Add slow Indian customs and a flat tire to the equation and we got to the airport with minutes to spare (we literally cleared security 5 minutes prior to boarding)–fortunately we only had hand luggage so we made it onto the flight. The Drago truck ended up meeting us in Chitwan two days later.
Now, don’t let the political unrest at the border prevent you from visiting Nepal. The unstable areas are in very isolated parts near the Indian border. The cause of the unrest is that the government of Nepal has recently amended the constitution to end the preferential treatment of the ethnically Indian population in the country (including preferential language rights). So the only people who are up in arms in Nepal are the ethnically Indian people who live in discrete pockets of Nepal near the border. The rest of Nepal is totally unaffected.
Some shots from the border crossing:
This is essentially the Kathmandu equivalent of a luggage carrousel for domestic flights. That’s a big wagon carrying the luggage, attached to a tractor:
After spending the night in Kathmandu, we took a van to Chitwan first thing in the morning, arriving in Chitwan in time for lunch. After eating we went on a wagon ride of the village near the hotel:
Note the decorations on the mud home made with palm prints and hand prints:
Before dinner, John and I had a drink at a nearby bar on the river front. I liked the place so much that I had breakfast there the next morning, and drinks again the following evening:
As you will remember from my previous post on Chitwan, the national park is all about the wildlife sanctuary where you can see rhinos, elephants, leopards and antelope. But frankly, if you go in a large group you end up making too much noise and see very little. And, given that I had already gone on those walks back in September, I decided to rent a bike and spend the day exploring the surrounding villages and farmland instead. Aside from getting lost in the middle of crops on a couple of occasions, it was a very relaxing way to spend the day.
Some photos from my day out:
That odd looking structure is actually a swing set. When I mentioned in my Karmi Farm post that villagers had fashioned a swing set over the main road leading up to the farm, that’s the type of swing set I was talking about:
While we were in Chitwan, one of the annual fairs was taking place. Most of the people from the surrounding villages were there, wearing their snaziest clothing. The game below is a raffle of sorts. As you can tell the prizes are kind of sad, comprising of detergent, soda, and beer. I think the beer was the most expensive prize on offer:
I just found the two signs with a tiger and rhino making the namaste greeting gesture to be cute:
I’ll leave you with my final shots of the countryside in Chitwan: