BACK TO KATMANDU FROM CHITWAN
4:03 AM Thursday, October 7, 2004
I returned yesterday from the Royal Chitwan National Forest or Jungle, I am not sure of the exact name. The trip was great because I was sitting on the correct side of the bus to see the river and take photos. From Katmandu to Chitwan, it is better to sit on the right and on returning on the left, this is as you are looking at the front of the bus. The cost is somewhere between 130 and 300 Rupees per person, but of course could be different. The road is half-ok, and half terrible, and very slow moving.
I SAW FOUR RHINOS
I took photos and had so much to see on this trip that it is hard to explain all of the information. I am thinking that maybe I should just write the whole Rhino story for the going this way section of the next newsletters.
I will say this; we took a 3-4 hour elephant ride through the very thick jungle. The elephant is an amazing animal and is similar to a bulldozer in its ability to move or alter the landscape. I believe with an elephant you can move through a woods that has 6-inch trees and clear the path. The elephant with its trunk and body can move amazing amounts of brush quickly and efficiently.
To sit on top of an Elephant is the best way to see the jungle, and safest when there are Rhinos.
The Rhino is afraid of the Elephant.
The Elephant is afraid of the tiger.
A Rhino in this environment will run away from humans, but could charge and then you are supposed to climb a tree.
The local boys in the Parador area that I encountered were not experience in Rhinos and most of the locals really were not safe to use as guides. The low class or outcaste class of people that work the rice fields are probably the best guides, but will not speak English, and the Brahman type class will not listen to them, so the situation is dodgy. The class situation causes some problems. In the end, the only for sure safe way to see a Rhino is from the top of an Elephant. This is dangerous, and as best I can tell, the locals will lead you into danger. I was outside the park and I believe in the park the would keep you safer.
CLASS SYSTEM IN NEPAL
In Katmandu, the presence of class-system is hard to notice, but it appears that if you are a rice farmer you are a rice farmer, if you are an elephant care person you are an elephant person.
My name means the of the Grey House.
A person in English with the name Carpenter would be or was a Carpenter and in many ways took on the name of their profession. The name is maybe not true in this culture, but the profession does define the person.
This whole process is disgusting to me, and very difficult to see or feel as it happens, and notice that the very friendly and in many ways very respectful to me because I am the same or higher class than them, treat a person as if they do not exist or just ignore in many ways. The do not treat them badly, but it is as if they are not there, or just to ask questions.
I would treat the hillbillies of trailer trash in the same way; I would talk with them, but not invite them to dinner. I could become a very good friend with a hillbilly though and these person would never become friends. Moreover, a hillbilly can always leave their self-imposed position of being simple. I suppose the problem with hillbillies or lower class people in the USA is that they have bad manners and can be dangerous if they are of the belief they deserve something for nothing.
SOMETHING FOR NOTHING
I have notice a widespread and more than most poor countries or in some ways maybe even an epidemic predisposition to behave dysfunctionly.
The think the responsibility for their money is the rich or anyone richer than them. I suppose this fits in to the Monarchy system. The King and this country does have a King would have fiefs or people that used the land in the way the King deemed fit, and they would pay tribute to the King. There is this dominant-submissive nature to the class system and the lower class seem to live at the permission of the upper class. It could be very good for them if the upper class thought they should have a nice life, but even the upper class eats with their hands and has very little manners. I spent my time in a Brahmin house in Chitwan and although they are very nice, they are still very primitive in their ability to treat people in a caring and empathetic way.
An example is they would turn on the radio when everyone is sleeping or talk loudly when the others need rest. They just fail to take into consideration that the other person exists. I am not sure what happens here, and sort of a nature / nurture question. Are they genetically less capable of seeing the needs of their fellow man or are they not ever trained to care.
I rode on the back of a Motorcycle with Richi and he literally bumped five people in the couple of day we needed to use the bike. This made me very angry, and no matter what I would say or explain, I could not convince him that this was unacceptable and that the safety of the person walking was a higher priority than any of our needs.
The have intersections here in Katmandu, there is no stop signs or any way to say who has the right of way. What happens is about 50 percent of the people do not slow down for the intersection in any way. The only thing that saves them from very large and violent crashes is that there are so many people in the street that the riders must slow down. If there, are no people than they will drive as fast as possible and keep accelerating. The concept of safety or the person in front of them is not of concern. It appears like children taking every piece of cake and not caring.
I am always amiss to understand this aspect of culture, but I am being to realize that only by governmental intervention that forces a person to obey a law or suffer greatly the normal person will not act civil. I would guess in any country and including the USA and England all people are more or less just animal reacting to their environments.
Very few are capable of separating themselves from animals. A person that writes a book, or creates a work of art that takes weeks is not an animal. They are working on a project that is not needed, is a luxury, and cannot be completed while they are excited about the project. A project that leads from day to day and must be self-initiated is not what an animal does.
A person works or performs the job of their employer. They do not initiate the work they are reacting to their employer’s request.
VOYEURISM IN ASIA
I have a bathroom that has a window that faces the common area, there is a MALE guard that is walking around outside. It is very early in the morning most likely he is sleeping, but if he is away, I have to worry about him looking in the window.
Strange as it may sound but the Indian culture and I would include Nepal in the India culture, and less of the China culture wants to look a men. Nevertheless, this happens all the time in Thailand also, I do not have to worry about girls, but I have to think or be careful with men. They will walk up to the window and look in, I suppose they are getting some form of low-level sexual pleasure out of this, I am not sure. They do not seem to know why they are doing this and do not jump when you catch them, instead like a child want to eat cake you must force them to move their focus. So if you close the curtain they will go onto some other subject of curiosity.
Therefore, I have gone to the window a place a towel over the curtain so the curtain does is job. An annoyance and is not dangerous, although a woman should take great care and never allow an India or Nepal boy into the room. I will not allow them into the room as they feel they have the right to stay, and I have to push them out of the room.
The better the class of hotel the less you will have with this problem.
WAY OFF THE TOURIST PATH
Monday October 4, 2004 7:54 PM
I am very tired after chasing around in the jungle or woods looking for Rhinos.
The day started early as me and my friend Rishi that is helping me to ship or make backpacks came to the room and we hopped a bus to the district of Chitwan, the do not seem to pronounce the W. Therefore, I am in small village and I have no idea of the name. There is the Chitwan Park or something close where I believe tourist go to ride elephants and hopefully look at Rhinos.
I am in the adjacent land that is not part of the park, but has Rhinos. Some really wide but shallow river presently separates the park from the rice fields and people. I believe at certain times of the year the water is very high and covers the area around here. I think the Rhinos for some reason roam around the flood plain. I guess maybe I know this is probably the only land that is not a big rice field. This area is very rich or prosperous in its ability to grow rice. Rishi and his family seem to have about 150 or more acres of rice fields. Rishi said that they have two different crops a year.
Rishis family house is a one light in the center of each room house. It has a corrugated steel roof, brick and concrete wall, sort or normal square cut raters and planking. It would be somewhat primitive in many ways, but the floors are concrete on the lower level. Really primitive house have dirt floors. The second floor though where I am presently typing and sleeping has a clay dirty floor, that is like a hard mud, or clay bake substance. The first time I have seen a floor like this.
Well today, I got a leach on my body, and saw no Rhinos. We was not planning to take off looking for Rhinoceros but one man said that one was shot and hurt and we could go see the Rhino. When we go there, we could not find the Rhinoceros. We commissioned of the local to help us find a Rhino in the Jungle.
I have a hard time calling this a jungle, as it is very similar to a wood in rural Indiana. There is not much difference between a woods and Jungle. There is a difference when you find a Rain Forest or maybe a Cloud Forest. Then the density is 10 times thicker. Sometime there are extremely high trees and would make up a jungle more than today.
We found some Rhino tracks that were fresh, and as we walked, Rishi said,
“Ok we walk through jungle? If see Rhino we climb tree.”
So if I see a Rhino I am suppose to climb one of these 3-6 inch diameter trees very quickly with no branches. My remembrance of Tarzan and charging Rhinos makes me a little nervous. I am not sure this group of young men can all climb a tree fast. I am sensing that it is possible that a Rhino could charge, but not common.
The old man that is our makeshift guide does not find any Rhinos and the biggest excitement is having a leach draw blood on my body. We make plans to leave at 4:30 AM tomorrow to go position ourselves in this corner area where Rhinos come every morning and then we go for an Elephant rides, I think we will enter the Park.
There is so much I could say, and short of walking around Dohuk, Iraq thinking that someone would come up and blow my brain out, this experience feels possibly dangerous. I think people ride the elephants to be safe from the Rhinos. In fact, we seen a Rhine trap or area where they corral a Rhino cut of the horn.
The home and family of Rishi is precious, they are all one big family and everyone is warm and friendly. I held some small boy on my lap until I though he was falling asleep. This place is great.
There is so much to say, and hard to describe the culture and all the difference, but this is a small village and everyone is stopping or walking over to see what I am doing or probably it goes like,
“Hey there is a foreigner over at Rishi’s house.”
So then, they think of some reason to come and visit or for the brazen, they just come over to look. It is great and everyone is proper and friendly.
I am very tired, so I will try to fill in the gaps tomorrow. I have taken many photos that would explain this trip to real Nepal and not Katmandu.