Last week we attended the United Mission to Nepal expatriate retreat to Chitwan National Park. It was a time to get to know everyone better, a spiritual retreat and fun activities in the park. The retreat was led by Malcolm and Cati, UMN pastoral councillors. Malcolm led us on a series about our biblical approach to time, which included a sermon on sleep – or more importantly about getting proper rest.
Chitwan National Park, located in the southern sub-tropical Terai region of Nepal is a protected wildlife area (over 360 sq mi) established in 1973 and granted the status of World Heritage Site in 1984. Chitwan National Park is one of the key visitor attractions in Nepal. We stayed at Chitwan Paradise Lodge and they organised a number of jungle activities for us.
There was the two hour elephant ride through the forest, which was the safest way to go looking for wild animals. Reportedly there were tigers, rhinos, snakes ….
…. however all we saw were different types of birds and deers ….
After the wild adventure of the jungle elephant ride was a visit to the elephant breeding centre. This centre was established because the Asian elephant population is endangered. Visiting the centre allowed us to get more information about elephants in Nepal. Above Conor is sitting beside an elephant skull.
The centre allowed us to see cow elephants with their calves. Above is a one month old calf. The cow elephants and calves are tied up under the elephant shelters. There is a fence between the visitors’ centre and the these shelters, but beyond that it is open to the jungle. This is to allow the wild bull elephants access to the females.
You could also see affection between siblings. Here you see a 5 year old brother with this new addition to the family.
One of the many uses of an elephant’s trunk is to blow dust and dirt over their bodies. You can see this young elephant above applying his sun block and insect repellent.
Our last jungle activity was a relaxing canoe ride. The canoes were cut out from felled tree trunks and we were advised to keep fairly still and definitely no standing up as they were not very stable.
It certainly wasn’t the Oxford – Cambridge boat race as we meandered slowly down the river, looking at a rich variety of birds, including many kingfishers and storks. As it was a hot day, there were lots of crocodiles sunning themselves on the river bank and enjoying a cool bath in the river.
At one stage Valerie and Erin’s boat must have run over a crocodile, who was far from pleased. The first they knew about it was when a large set of jaws lunged at the front end of the boat. Luckily it was beside the boatman, who reacted quickly by hitting the crocodile on its nose with his boat pole. He was definitely shaken by this uncommon event!
The river passed through a Nepali village and provided an area where both locals and we could go for a cooling swim. At one stage a snake had to be chased away by throwing stones at it.
The swimming then developed into a time of jumping off the bank into the river. Above you can see Conor in midair.
Everyone was having a cracking time and I was encouraged to have a go. Unfortunately on my first and last go, I hit the river bed resulting in a broken ankle.
If you are going to injure yourself, then UMN Conference is probably the best time to do it as there is no shortage of Doctors and medical advice. There was a quick trip to the hospital in the local bazaar, were an X-Ray confirmed there was a break and a quick plaster was applied.
Both the Nepalis at the Paradise lodge and the doctors were a great help and from breaking an ankle to getting the plaster on took just over an hour – great service indeed!
At the conference there was another UMNer, Les, who had broken his wrist the week before. This photo was sent to me with the caption, “UMN makes no discrimination between those of high caste and those of low caste”.