Indigenous / Journey / Memoir / Jungle / Nature / Nepal / Photography / Tourism / Travel

Jungle explorations with a spark of luxury (our first sponsored trip!)

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

Green Park Chitwan

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!

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off we go from Kathmandu to Bharatpur on a very small plane

 

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locals watching the planes land at Bharatpur airport

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.

z amazing green rice fields in tharu village.JPG

rice fields are an amazing shade of green

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a typical house made of earth, wood and cow-dung (with a heart-shaped window!)

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.

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colourful women walked on the roads of Bharatpur, protecting themselves from the strong sun

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.

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Green Park Chitwan welcomed us with cold towels and juice, to freshen up after the dusty drive

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arriving at Green Park Chitwan

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pretty water hyacinths

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beautiful honeymoon suite

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z arrival at gpc2

our cosy balcony

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.

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Nepali Thali

‘Namaste!’

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.

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ox cart from inside

from inside the ox-cart

tharu ox cart stroll

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a woman harvesting rice at Tharu village

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Grandma and grandson pose in front of their typical house in Tharu. She had interesting patterns of black tattoos all over her arms and legs. Bimita explained to us that they believe a person can only reincarnate if he/she has tattoos. Note how her shirt says ‘Simplicity is beauty’. Very fitting for this corner of the world.

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An adorably shy Tharu baby girl

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Big stocks of wood could be seen throughout the village, in preparation for the monsoon (rainy season).

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A scene of life in Tharu village. They were constantly brush off the dust with these typical brooms made of amriso (or ‘broom grass’)

z bull share food

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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.

z first encounter w elephant riders

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z elephant eye zoomed

elephants have such kind eyes

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‘Namaste!’

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Everest Beer and some popcorn during the sunset relaxation

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playful Tharu children

Have you ever had such an adventurous outcome from an unpretentious procrastination session?

3 thoughts on “Jungle explorations with a spark of luxury (our first sponsored trip!)

  1. Pingback: A Day In Chitwan in 6 Words |

  2. I absolutely love the way you express yourself, the pictures are breathtakingly gorgeous as well! So much life.. what a beautiful hotel, beautiful experience, felt like so much kindness received from the start.
    I also notice how, even in the rice fields, women work wearing such beautiful clothes.. stunning!!

    Like

    • Flor Linda! I’m so so so happy you like it! You are, after all, one of my greatest sources of inspiration when it comes to finding and sharing my true voice =)
      That is so true about the people here: it is in their daily activities, in their unpretentious work and casual postures and clothing, that I find them most beautiful and colourful!

      Like

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