May 24:  Chitwan National Park


Up at 7:30am.  The power went out repeatedly during the night, which meant the fan kept stopping, but the heat never became uncomfortable.  The critters did not stop, though.  Locusts kept crashing into things outside, and it sounded like something was tapping on my door, but I found out afterward that it was a gecko's mating call.  Once again, I was oblivious to a girl's desire to shag.  I had my razor plugged in all night and despite the outages it still should have been fully charged, but the light still indicated "charging".  Don't know if the battery is the problem, or if it has to do with the frequency of the current.  The first time I went to Europe I took my alarm clock and found that it ran 5/6 as fast as it should because the frequency over there is 50 Hz instead of 60 Hz.  I should check with Dan Rather before my next trip as to that country's electrical standards, or Michael Stipe if he finds out from Dan.

At 8am we left for our elephant safari.  Riding one of these elephants is cool and all, but back in the '70s I had way more fun riding this (which is apparently still in operation!).

As we were arriving, this goat for some reason sprinted from the others, then was confused by this fence.

Some of our group embarking.

Izaak, Megan, Elana, and Janie (obscured).

Random tourists.

Not the most comfortable ride.  I was getting jerked from side to side by the elephant's gait.

Nothing much to take photos of yet, besides other elephants.

Another embarkation.

The tail hit me a few times.  You know, just because you're an animal with a tail doesn't mean you have to be wagging it all the time.  Don't be such a stereotype.

I don't know if the color at the top of the trunk is normal, sunburn or something akin to those weird freckles I see on Morgan Freeman now.

Getting flicked with the tail is less fun when the tail is dipped in a river containing lots of floating elephant poop.

I have enough repetitive elephant pics as it is, but they asked me to take this.  What posers!

Janie still thinks we're on the previous photo.  Wait, is that her or a mannequin?  Oh, I see, her arm moved.

We're going uphill out of the lake here, which is why Izaak and Megan appear to be looking at the ground.

Back on dry land, Jamie (on my elephant) dropped his water bottle.  One of the other elephants retrieved it and trunked it to one of the drivers.  Jamie got it back, but never used it again, and not because of elephant dirt.

Yes!  Yes!  Yes!  The Yeti was by far the #1 animal I wanted to see in Nepal (I saw a footprint from Bigfoot near the Hollywood sign last month and that got me psyched), and #2 was the Royal Bengal tiger, which everybody hopes to see in Chitwan but sightings are rare.  I'm very satisfied with #3 above.

This things looks like it was assembled in a factory in Detroit.

To clarify, this is not in a zoo.  No barrier between the elephants we're riding and these destructive wild beasts.

As David Letterman might say, what a handsome animal!

The safety instructions (which no one ever told us here; I read them in Lonely Planet) say that if a rhino charges you, you should climb a tree or hide behind one until it's finished charging.  But if it's like my razor, how would you know?  Callback!

Hey kids!  What do you get when you cross and elephant with a rhino?

Elephino!  As funny today as it was in grade school, which for some members of our group would have been 4 years ago, but I mean to imply that the joke has stood the test of a much longer period of time.

She's not the Hiphopopotamus, but her bladder is bottomless.  I'll also link to this version, because Andy Dick gets slapped by Ashley "Hair Down To Her Vagina" Saint'Onge.

When the peeing was done, one of the drivers climbed down from his elephant, asked Jamie for his dirty water bottle, emptied it, then proceeded to scoop from the puddle into the bottle BY HAND until it was completely filled with rhino urine and mud.  One theory was he was collecting it for testing (like to see if she was pregnant), but it was more likely for some medical or aphrodisiacal use.  Seems like the guy would have no trouble with the ladies on his own.  I don't know why he'd need a love potion.

The second-most emotional thing happened right after this.  Something spooked the elephants, and they started trumpeting.  We heard what sounded like a very low, very loud distant growl.  I think a driver said one of the elephants was making the noise and was in a weird mood and it started a chain reaction with the other elephants, but I've heard tigers at zoos and animal parks before, and that sounded like a tiger.  And if elephants are getting scared, there must be something dangerous nearby.  We all thought it was a tiger.  One member of our group and a little girl were crying after this, but some of us thought it was awesome.

The only other animals we saw in the jungle were 2 deer.  I can see deer in my brother's backyard.  Not photo-worthy.

We got back to the hotel at 10am and chilled at the bar.  I had a beer at 11am.  Vacations are all about morning beer.  Now that we were off the elephants I changed back into shorts and sandals and found that I was all bit up about the ankles from last night.  I guess when you're hanging out next to a stream on a muggy day in Nepal, insect repellent is of limited use.

There were a dozen or so optional activities we could do on what was otherwise a free day, but in general I think people just wanted to relax.  India was overwhelming and I for one wanted to give my senses a rest.  Plus it was cooler and greener here.  The one thing I wanted to do was a jeep ride into the jungle, which is supposed to offer a greater chance of a tiger spotting, but only 3 of us were in and we needed 7.  Not much of a loss, because later in Lonely Planet I read an interview with a guy who's been working at Chitwan 20 years and he's seen a tiger only 10 times.  Some girls were going to a cooking class later, and 3 of them went down to the river for elephant washing.

I noted that this was a very educated group, at least among the ones past uni age.  Positive people too.  It's gonna be a big culture shock being around comedians again when I get back.

We enjoyed a pleasant pouring storm at the bar, then at 2:30pm I got bored with being lazy and went to my room for a nap until 6pm.  I had a dream that I was at my old house in Philly and my family had packed everything up for a move (my dad's moving in real life so that's what prompted this), and it annoyed me because I needed my clothes in LA.  But why were they in Philly then?  Maybe my dad moving remeinded of me of when I went home for his wedding and didn't bring fancy clothes for the rehearsal dinner so I wore some of the clothes I didn't take to LA.  In the closet in the dream everything was cleared out except the Quiz Whiz cartridges on the shelf in the corner.

Aw, snap.  I discovered a mosquito bite on my left ring finger.  I rarely get bit anywhere other than my ankles.  These malaria-carriers really think outside the box.  I'm getting bit in places most people don't have places.

We were originally supposed to go see a dance performance with dinner after, but for the same price we could just have a troupe come to the resort, so we opted for convenience.  There were 22 performers by my count doing stick dances (traditional machinations used in scaring off or fighting animals) and fire-twirling.

Best result of experimenting with my camera settings.

We each paid Rs 100 to watch this (1 US dollar = ~71 Nepali rupees), which works out to a total of less than a dollar per dancer.  So they've made more money in showbiz than me, not counting the free beers from Billy Dilly.

At the end of the show there was a mass dance with crowd participation.  I refused two invitations to join the circle.  Why does this happen every time I leave the country?  I'm a straight white American guy.  Don't fucking ask me to get up and dance.  I think I ranted about this in a previous travelogue but I'll underscore the important points here:  I'd rather suck a dick than dance.  I have an overwhelming genetic aversion to both activities, they're more for someone else's benefit, the thought of doing either one makes me uncomfortable, and I have no interest in learning do them well.  I'm a smart guy.  Music stimulates more parts of my brain than it does in most people.  The part that makes me want to move is not there.  And if you ever see me dancing, assume I'm doing it as a joke.  Also, if you ever find a list of my goals on a Post-it, that'll be a joke too.  You think so?

While we were watching the dancing, Izaak was sitting next to me eating a half-size banana.  I'd been seeing those throughout out trip.  I never knew the whole Asian penis thing affected bananas as well.

Had chicken enchiladas for dinner.  I love going from country A to country B but eating food from country C to see if it's different the version I get in country A.  I hung out till 9:45pm (most had gone to their rooms already) and went to bed at 10:10pm.  Whoa, there's a 25-minute unexplained gap.  What did I do then?  It wasn't the thing LG suggested I not include in the travelogue along with defecation.  I don't remember.


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