So you’re bored in Kathmandu after your 15-day Annapurna Circuit excursion and looking for a little something to do while you await your Indian visa.
How about Chitwan National Park? You know, the beautiful 900 + square kilometers park that is offered to you at nearly every travel agency that occupies nearly every other square meter in Tourist Hell that is Known as Thamel, Kathmandu.
“You want trek?” “Where you going, sir?” “Namaste, good morning, how are you?” “Hash, sir?Marijuana?” “Taxi?” “Chitwan National Park, sir?”
Well, before you’ve done the Unthinkable and committed yourself to a travel agency – seemingly the only possible way to travel to and through Chitwan – make sure you’re not about to book through the Saibaba Travels & Tours agency and/or that you’re not going to the Unique Wild Resort.
unless that is, you’re looking for something rather Unique.
or looking to not be picked up at your hotel and given transportation to your bus stop (and dropped off in the middle of nowhere that is a few miles from Thamel upon your return). or to be watched every waking moment, from the second that you arrive until the very moment that you’ve been “escorted” by jeep to your bus stop by wait staff, tour guides, maintenance people and every other living soul that is “kindly at your service and waiting to give you a most memorable holiday”.
note to the kindly-at-your-service-and-waiting-to-give-you-a-most-memorable-holiday staff of Unique Wild Resort:
westerners are not accustomed (nor very comfortable, for that matter) to being watched while they read a book outside on their terrace. or while they play a game of backgammon. or while they empty their bowels in your latrine-style toilets. nor are they big fans of being constantly observed while they eat your customary lentils and rice (sorry, ‘dal baht’). and they become slightly annoyed when asked for the hundredth time “where they are going?” when they’re just trying to take a little stroll into town.
Nothing like someone snapping a quick photo when you’re just tryin’ to have a little lunch.
and when you hire your tour guides, make sure they’re actually remotely interested in giving tours. or that they’re actually interested in doing what their paying tourists have shelled out their tourist dollars to do. you know, like talk about the chitwan national park. or perhaps mention the various flora, fauna and wildlife that can be seen from the touristy vantage points of the canoe trip, elephant safari or bird watching expedition.
how about a little cursory cultural discussion at all, eh?
now, before anyone dismisses this here little diatribe as another disgruntled “american tourist”, please be aware of one thing. while i’ve traveled and worked off and on throughout se asia for over two years now, other than in the communist country of vietnam, never have i felt like Big Brother was watching like i did at chitwan national park.
oh no, this was not your typical little “staring at the whitey” scenario that is so common in these here parts.
this was a scene straight out of some Orwell-ian novel.
these people were goddamn Robots.
what first appeared to be friendly “namastes” and faces, upon closer inspection looked like a Herd of Sheep that had been Brainwashed and Instructed to keep all eyes on The Tourist. and to make sure they didn’t so much as whisper to their Tourist Companion or take a dal baht-induced bowel movement without the action being duly noted by all Staff of the Unique Wild Resort.
and lastly, beware the man at Saibaba Travels & Tours who will try and sell you this excursion to Chitwan. he is a Scheister of the Highest Order who will personally gift-wrap and sell you his used napkin. you will know the very gentleman that i speak of when you note the 16 x 20 framed photograph of himself, looking quite swami-like, directly behind his oblong-shaped head.
alas, starting tomorrow, things can only get better for us as we head back into what is now the lovely, military-occupied fascism that is exciting thailand! i plan on personally walking up to one of the tanks and placing a yellow rose atop the first turret that is pointed in my direction. i will make sure and get at least one solid photograph before they take me down in a Blaze of Glory.
kidding aside, while we’ve had a mostly very good time
here in nepal we’re looking forward to finishing up
our travels back in thailand. we’ve actually not seen
much of the country (other than bangkok and the dreadfully tourist-infested island of koh samet), so this’ll be a good chance to really travel throughout it – under the watchful eye of a Great Military Junta.
Hey everybody, it’s Nepal’s very own Chao Ming, getting ready for his Big Shot with the 76ers! (That is, once he’s finished his three years at The Local Monastary.)