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Brad’s Travel Diary

Friday, 10 Feb 2006

Location: Bangkok, Thailand

MapBefore I start - Loads of new photos up, so check them out!

I'm writing this to you from sunny Bangkok, in what looks to be one of my final sojorn before heading back to the world of beaches and vegemite. I arrived here yesterday afternoon after flying in from Kolkatta - goodbye India! Being in Thailand is such a relief after the hassel of India. Clean streets, organised traffic, even the touts go away if you say 'no thank you'! This morning I visited several temples and the old royal palace. Thai temples are amazing, they are covered with gold paint and shine brightly when the sun is out. Thai people too are very friendly, and the food is fantastic (although I think four months of curries may have burnt out my taste buds...)!

But, before I get ahead of myself, this diary certainly has a few blank spots...I begin where I left off last time. After the trek we all decided we'd have just enough to go on a short safari in Chitwan national park, the biggest in Nepal. So it was up early again the next day to bus the six hours to the park, where we had just enough time for lunch before our first activity - an elephant safari through the jungle. We didn't really see much - a few deer and monkeys, but the thrill of crashing through the jungle on the back of a elephant more than made up for that.

We all crashed that night, still feeling sore spots from the trek, and then got up before sunrise the next day for another elephant safari - again wonderful, especially in the pre-dawn mists. We had another surprise when we got back too - we were taken down to the elephant pen to meet a mother elephant and her three year old baby. Today also, was Alex's birthday, so it was a great surprise for him being the obsessive animal lover that he is. We all fed and played with the baby (which was totally cute and fantastic), then hasd lunch and went on a canoe ride down the river. It would have been pretty tame, except with seven of u in the boat the water was only a few centimetres below the edge of the boat, which made it quite fun trying not to tip over going down the small rapids!

That night we had a surprise party for Alex (it was his 21st) with a few beers and jungle cocktails, before again getting up sure early to get the bus to Kathmandu. The situation was quite tense when we arrived, as there were elections being held that were being boycotted by all the major parties and that were unsupported by the Maoist rebels. This ment that along with strikes and candidates pulling out (an interesting anecdote - for one seat due to the election boycott, a beggar won the seat uncontested - when she won, she was quoted as saying "at least I don't have to beg anymore"!!), there were also curfews, bombings and assasinations going on all over the place - I'm not being flippant here. The tourist areas had been declared safe though, so impressivly, no one was really worried! We spent two days in Kathmandu going to temples, some beautiful old stupas (buddhist monuments) and to the place where the Hindu Nepalis burn their dead - a rather up close experience.

After the two days in Kathmandu we all flew back to Delhi, the last stop before everyone went home. I didn't do a great deal the next day, mostly just rested. The next day, however, I went to hear the Dalai Lama give a talk. It was incredible to hear him speak, surely he is one of the most wise and happy people alive. I also had time to do a bit of shopping myself, and to go and see the lotus flower shaped Bahai temple. The Bahai believe all theistic religions are basically the same thing, so it was rather curious and encouraging to see Hindus, headscarved Muslims and Christian nuns all worshipping in the same place.

Theres not much else to tell except that I flew from Delhi to Kolkatta, spent the night there, then flew from Kolkatta to Bangkok, and here I am. And indeed, this will probably be the last port of call before I return, although I have nearly been persuaded to have a last adventurous dash to Ankor Wat in Cambodia. I'll just have to see...