Up at 6.20am for breakfast and we were all packed and on the coach bound for Chitwan by 8am. As the crow flys Chitwan is about 100km from Kathmandu but the road is very narrow and cuts through the treacherous mountains. The drive was amazing. I passed more burnt-out wrecked cars that had fallen over the edge than I'd care to mention. The majority of the road was B-road standard (one carriage way in each direction, narrow in places).
At 11.30am we stop for lunch. This was our first meal outside the tourist-safe areas of Kathmandu. We were in the frontier now so Steve gave us a list of foods to avoid which turned into a short list of things we could eat. Basically anything pre-bottled like Coke and anything deep fried like chips, so chips and Coke it was!
After lunch we drove for about 10 minutes and stopped at a rope bridge style crossing. It was made of metal and was about 2 people wide spanning the 150 meter turquoise river. Took a few photos and got back on the bus for the quiz.
Steve is a legendary quiz master. Questions were clearly taken from a crumby "make your own quiz" book with the questions he thought were too hard replaced by James Bond questions. Quite a few of the questions were ambiguous like "Which is the biggest tea producing country? A) Sir Lanka B) India C) China". Well they are all tea producing countries so the question became which is the biggest country to which the answer is obviously China. Nik pointed this out and argued the toss, but Steve knocked a few points off him for cheekiness and said "Do you think you can do better?". Nik said "Yes" without even hesitating (see later).
I was writing this journal on my phone but due to an unfortunate USB disaster I had to switch to a pen and paper. The USB charger plug socket on the phone broke. So when the battery ran out of juice I couldn't charge it up. Looking back, while this was a bit of a pain, being phoneless in another country, it did force me to not do any work. I had to enjoy my holiday instead of picking up emails and checking things, not easy when you run your own company. Pens and paper didn't go very well with the extremely bumpy road but after a while I kind of got used to it.
We had left the Professor behind and along the way we picked up Losan who was to be our guide for the rest of the trip. He was a bonafide Buddhist monk with the maroon outfit and everything. Although he did wear Nike trainers and shorts underneath!
We arrived in Chitwan and checked in. The accommodation was a bit like a colonial hunting lodge. We had a quick de-camp then it was a jeep ride to the Chitwan National Park and the Elephant Breeding Centre. This is the only reserve that boasts twin junior elephants and a calve less than a few months old; he was still having trouble balancing.
It had been a really long day so after the reserve we went and sat by the river with a Gin & Tonic,.. and then a couple of beers. There was traditional dancing back at the hotel but I ended up talking quite late with Julian who had done a computer science and image processing degree. So we indulged our techie'ness and chatted away most of the evening. Got back for the final dance which was one of those "get the tourists involve" type-things. Lot's of fun especially as my balance was a bit off!
Jonathan (my room mate for the trip) and I were paranoid about mosquitoes. Luckily we were both practical people and so instigated measures to protect ourselves. Before going to bed we'd make sure all the windows had mosquito nets that weren't damaged. If they were we closed the window. We then did a thorough search of the bedroom and bathrooms and executed anything that had more legs than us. No one was going to sleep until we were happy we weren't going to get eaten during the night. We had done this each night but I'm mentioning it here because we were now in the malarial zone and it some how seemed like we were doing it "for real".