I learned to use twitter around two weeks ago (I know, I am not very computer savvy for being a blogger). So, consequentially, I have recently started discovering a world of travel bloggers and magazines full of great travel tips and inspiration. In other words: my procrastination sessions got much more interesting.
‘But why does your story about going to the jungle begin with discovering twitter?’, you might ask.
Well, one morning, while sipping tea and procrastinating on the computer before getting ready for work, my twitter feed led me to an article written by Julie Smith (from Drive On The Left) called ‘How To Score Your Very First Travel Blog Sponsorship‘. Intrigued by the article’s idea (and already a fan of her blog), I decided to give it a try and get us a sponsored trip as travel bloggers. Michele shared my enthusiasm and so we followed Julie’s advice -especially the part that encouraged us to just work hard and believe in ourselves, even if our blog only had just a few faithful followers and no friends on our newly created Facebook page. Motivated and having nothing to loose, we came up with an email outline based on Julie’s tips, decided we wanted to go to Chitwan two weekends later, and Michele sent a few emails to hotels still on that same morning.
Voilà: to our surprise, our inboxes were popping with responses by the afternoon.
We couldn’t believe that there were actual people behind those hotel names who took their time to not only write us back but also make some great partnership proposals.
I suppose that after many months of applying for jobs all over the world and not getting many responses back, we have become sceptical. But this time we were off to a wonderful surprise and that is how, in a nutshell, we managed to arrange our first ever sponsored trip as travel bloggers.
Fast-forward two weeks from that revealing morning of tea sipping and twitter-scrolling and here we are, back in Kathmandu having just returned Monday night from Chitwan, in the Terai, Nepal’s southern jungle region at the border with India. And that is why now we want to take a moment and say:
A big Dhanyabad (thank you) to
for pampering us this weekend!
Green Park Chitwan is a resort in the surroundings of Bharatpur, Terai. It sits between the community forest of Chitwan and the Royal Chitwan National Park, the first National Park to be established in Nepal (in the 1970s). Thanks to the welcoming response of Green Park Chitwan to our emails, and to the friendliness of their staff, we were able to stay at a deliciously cosy (and rather luxurious!) honeymoon suite for two heavenly-well-slept nights. These two travellers -used to going around on a student budget- were in complete awe.
We arrived in Chitwan on Saturday morning after a 20 minutes-long flight on a small double-engine plane. Flying there, as opposed to the more common (and much cheaper) tourist bus, offered us more time to enjoy the Terai, since we had a tight weekend schedule. It also allowed us an interesting view of the contrasting plain land of the Terai in comparison to the steep mountains of Kathmandu Valley –correction: these are actually considered ‘hills’ here, which is understandable once you remember that Nepal hosts 8 out of the 10 highest peaks in the world!
Instead of the grey, busy and noisy roads of Kathmandu, we were now taking the narrow streets of Bharatpur surrounded by community forests, rice fields and typical light-brown coloured houses made of wood, mud and cow-dung.
Women wearing colourful saris protected themselves from the strong sun with equally colourful umbrellas. Buffaloes bathed in mud puddles to alleviate the heat and goats of all sizes and colours stood and chewed at every angle, attached to trees and walls. Windows and smile open, I happily embraced the smells of cow dung, wet earth, forest and warm air.
Arriving at Green Park Chitwan,
We were welcomed with cold towels and juice, to refresh from the warm and dusty journey. After a detailed explanation of the offered tours and services, we were walked to our room, which turned out to be a spacious honeymoon suite. Flower petals on the big comfy bed, a cosy balcony surrounded by flowers, complimentary fruits, tea and coffee, and my favourite part: an awesome and really big open shower in the suite. Used as we are to camp and spend nights at cheap hostels, we were in complete awe and simply couldn’t believe we were actually there as their guests.
Lunchtime was next up on the display of Nepalese hospitality, and Michele and I dug in our favourite at the hotel’s restaurant: vegetarian Nepali Thali. ‘Thali’ just means ‘plate’, but ordering one of those here means you’ll get a very filling and rich meal composed of a combination of different types of curries, dal (lentils), vegetables, rice, some sauce (often very spicy) and the deliciously crispy papadum. Common also in Indian cuisine, the idea behind the Thali is to serve the 6 different flavours at once: sweet, salty, bitter, sour, astringent and spicy. It works. I absolutely love it and always order Nepali Thali for lunch when given a chance.
a woman carrying a relaxed friendly smile and beautiful thick hair, named Bimita, invited us for a stroll. She would be our guide for the whole length of our stay. That afternoon she took us through Tharu, the local indigenous village where she is from. Transportation mode: Ox-cart. It turned out to be very relaxing, allowing us to slow down our thoughts and disconnect from the rhythms of the big city life while getting to know the super friendly Tharu people.
And so it is that because of a twitter exploration, we ended up admiring the sunset in the jungle that Saturday,
sitting by the reflection of mirrored trees on the Rapti River while sipping a cold Everest Beer and sharing some popcorn with local children. All around us, elephants and elephant riders arrived back from a stroll through the community forests. In two days, that would be us on the back of an elephant called Lucky Lady.