You're in the jungle, baby! Chitwan National Park to be more precise. The concept of a "jungle walk" sounds okay in theory, but then you're actually out on even footing with the tigers and bears and leopards and elephants and rhinos and you realize the guide's stick isn't going to offer much protection when one of these mother sentient beings comes charging for you. Nor are you calmed by the guide's advice on how to "defend" against an attack:
Rhino: Climb a tree (analyzing every single tree I passed along the way for its potential as an escape route, I can tell you this is not a realistic plan of action).
Tiger: Maintain eye contact and don't run (ooookkk!).
Sloth Bear: Stay in a group and make as much noise as possible, and if necessary, fight. (My guides seemed legitimately concerned that I would abandon them in the event of an attack, asking twice that I help out if we encounter an angry sloth bear. I got you Prakash and Sunina, no worries.)
So the entire walk is fairly unnerving. When I asked one of the guides whether she had ever been attacked by an animal her response was "sometimes". Actually, I learned that it is not so unusual, so I was somewhat glad to have encountered only deer, monkeys and a peaceful rhino during my walk.
Oh yea, upon arriving in Chitwan I caught the final day of the 2010 International Elephant Festival, which included elephant soccer and elephant races. That was weird.
That's about a wrap on Nepal. Hard to believe that I just about took my ninety day visa to its limit. Although in the last couple days I have noticed myself unconsciously doing the Indian/Nepali head waggle which can be used to express just about anything - acquiescence, gratitude, directives, apologies - depending on the situation. (At least that's when I've noticed myself doing it - perhaps the Nepalis think it's weird I keep signaling "yes" to them in all kinds of inappropriate situations).
From here I take my waggling head to Myanmar/Burma for twenty-eight days. I'm pretty sure I won't be blogging from Burma, so it could be as late as February before there's another post, but you never know.
As Simon put it, happy extremely merely labeled new year!