Day 4 (Saturday) Chitwan National Park, Nepal
We woke up early for breakfast as we needed to leave the hotel by 6:15 in the morning. This was not bad as I was still waking up fairly early with the sun coming in the window. We were not planning on coming back to this hotel, so we needed to have everything packed up. We were headed down to Chitwan National Park. We walked over to the bus stop to begin our 120 miles down south. It took about an hour just to drive out of the city. That meant we still had a 5 hour bus ride. That is right. It took us 6 hours to drive 120 miles. We had one stop in the middle of the drive at a lunch spot. It was a little area with a huge cafeteria type restaurant and a few hotels.
The drive was beautiful and somewhat scary. We followed a river most of the way and were always inches away from the edge of the road and the on coming traffic. We saw fields full of rice and corn. The haze got a little better, but never went away. After a while, I started to get use to it. I decided that the drivers knew what they were doing and did not really care any more. The bus was getting extremely hot as I could see “cankles” forming. All of us ladies’ hands and feet were so swollen by the time we got off the bus. It was hot. Good thing they supplied us with lots of bottled water! The bathroom stops were a hole in the ground, which I managed to avoid.
We made it to the bus stop in Chitwan and were quickly unloaded into these safari jeeps that took us to our hotel. We were in this little village on the outskirts of the park. We could see the jungle in the distance and it was beautiful. On the drive, we came across several elephants and their owners just walking through the streets. No big deal right! What elephants in the streets!! It was unreal. At the hotel, we quickly put our things in our rooms and made our way to lunch before we started our busy adventure. We had a little bit of time before our first activity, so some of us went and cooled off in our rooms for a little while. That is if we could figure out how to turn on the electricity and if our air conditioners worked. I ended up in the shade reading my bible.
Our first adventure took us on a walk around the village. Since most of us ladies were feeling like we were now on a vacation, we took this as an opportunity to hand out tracts to the local villagers. It was nice to be out of the city and to learn about another part of Nepal. These villagers were very receptive as well. Our guide, that would be with us for our entire stay, was even getting interested and took a few of our tracts without us even offering! God was beginning to work on his heart. We spent a lot of time talking with him and getting to know him. We were all being ourselves. We walked by more elephants on the road, saw a few in people’s backyards, wandered over to the elephant stalls and took a walk through the jungle along the river. It was hot, but a great walk. Some villagers even let us try a green mango. These are very tart, but tasty. We finished the walk by sitting down in front of the river to watch the sunset. Here, we saw elephants in the water and watched the people around us. We started to cool a little bit as the sun went down, but it was still very hot.
We all met to head off to go to the culture show. Before we went, someone heard that their was a rhino not too far away. We took off running with our guide over the area. We were like the tourists in Yellowstone at this point. We were way too close to the rhino trying to get a picture. Our guide was even trying to get some of the ladies closer. We hung out for a while, but could not get a good picture. It was a fun random event. We made our way to the culture show were we watched the locals dance and represent their culture. I was so exhausted that I had a hard time staying awake until the end when they pulled a couple of the ladies up on the stage and others to dance with them. It was funny to watch them. It woke me up for the moment.
We got back to the hotel room and had dinner. I was still exhausted but I was hungry. I probably should have just gone off to bed. When I got back to my hotel room, I crashed. It had been a long hot day. My feet were sore from being swollen. The walk around town did not help them at all. It had been a great “vacation” day that I was still trying to wrap my head around. Why were we out having fun when we were suppose to be serving God and helping the people of Nepal? Our Nepali friend wanted us to experience what Nepal is really like instead of life in the city. The guys were experiencing it on their treks and it was our turn. Little did I know, God had a reason for us to be down in Chitwan. More on that later.