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Jen and I have been having a grand old time frittering
away the last several weeks in Nepal and are chagrined
that the last of our days on the Indian subcontinent
are coming to their bitter end. No more swarming
crowds, street heat stinking of dung, touts whispering
“Hashesh?” or trying to sell us tiger balm or bizarre
ukuleles. We’ll miss the hubbub during sleeping hours,
mangy dogs and kids clamoring for school pens, sweets,
rupees or whatever you’ll give ’em. The one standout
thing that we’re most sorry to have to say goodbye to
is gastro-intestinial woes…but we’re sure that we
haven’t left all of our favorite microbial friends
behind.

Here’s the skinny on this issue of the wild and crazy
adventures of Rog and Jen:

1) Royal Chitwan National Park
2) Kathmandu — hanging with friends
3) Massage, ahhh!
4) Y-O-G-A
5) The real reason we went travelling
6) Back to where it all began…Vienna

As always this email is a coproduction of Rog and Jen
and if you want her to get any of those fabulous
replies that we love so much, please be sure to cc: her
at her new email address: cjenniferjackson@yahoo.com.

1) Royal Chitwan National Park

After dawdling around Pokhara after our big trek, we
finally hit the road toward Chitwan in southern Nepal.
This was toward the end of a week of strikes called by
the maoist insurgents, but in Pokhara there had been
little sign of strikes at all, so we set off like any
innocent tourist would. Well, so much for the strike
having been called off by the government! When we got
out on the main road to Chitwan our tourist bus driver
started to get a little anxious because we were
literally the only vehicle on the main road. He said
that although the strike had been called off, lots of
people *(including maoists)* hadn’t gotten the
message. Apparantly, a bus was bombed the day before.
So there we were riding along like sitting ducks.
Well, thanks a heckuva lot for selling us the
tix in the first place, buddy!

After Jen pissed the guy off a bit with a little
indignance, the rest of the group managed to convince
the guy to convoy with another tourist bus and see how
the junction of the highway was up ahead. Once we made
it to the junction, it was clear sailing as there were
many cars and buses on that road. Whew! We imagined
maoists hiding in the bushes along the way waiting to
stop us, evacuate the minivan and burn up our vehicle
and possessions. Sadly/thankfully, we have no such
adventurous stories to relate.

Royal Chitwan National Park was hot. Tropical, sticky
and hot. We went on a “dangerous” walking tour of the
park (hey, we had to make up for our bus not having
been bombed!) and were once again foiled in our efforts
to court death, destruction, maiming and mayhem. No
rhinos charged us and forced us to madly scramble up a
tree or to blindly run away in the 3 meter tall bush
grass in vain hope of salvation. We met several people
who had such fun stories that they’ll be able to drop
into cocktail party banter, but not us. We saw plenty
of rhinos (from a safe, non-charging distance you), a
barking deer (sounds just like a dog!), lots of other
deer, and a rarity: the sloth bear from a fairly close
distance. We also were escorted by two elephants and
their park ranger riders after we managed to come upon
a sleeping rhino on the trail. The rangers agreed to
help scare off the rhino, as we ambled between them.
But alas, no trophy yarn to spin – we didn’t get
charged.

By the end of the day, we were exhausted! Although
we’d just spent over two weeks hiking, walking in this
90-degree plus (35 degrees celcius for you
metric snobs) heat in Chitwan rivalled the hardest
day we had in the Annapurna region.

2) Kathmandu — hanging with friends

After our very slow pace in Chitwan, we both were
recharged enough to hook up with some other world
travelling friends Tina and Jason (from Illinois days)
up in Kathmandu. We spent four lovely days with them
and another new friend, Demion, tooling around the
Kathmandu valley. We visited temples and towns, and
were lucky enough to see Bisket, the new year
celebration in Bhaktapur.

At this festival, testesterone pumped post-adolescent
males try to pull huge 20 meter tall, wooden chariots
carrying various deities up a none-too-steep hill.
Juvinile Rog felt right at home and waded into the less
than organized fray to help.

At one point the chariot got stuck, and all the
jeering, hooting, panting youth slacked off. The
gargantuan chariot ended up rumbled off back down the
hill as people scattered out of the way, ducking into
the doorways of the narrow street this 20 ton monster
was supposed to climb. We westerners had been
wondering who was the leader of this thing, who was
running crowd control, where was the first aid tent,
why aren’t they using pulleys and placing brakes behind
the wheels…etc.?

Of course, we were failing to appreciate the cultural
significance of a spirited community event that such
madness and chaos creates. Apparently, it doesn’t
always make it up the hill and death-by-chariot happens
almost every year and that’s how they determine whether
it’s going to be a good harvest year or not. Geez, and
we use the much more mundane means of satellite weather
tracking and soy futures trading. We sure could learn
how to spice up agricultural forecasting and life in
general from Nepalis…

3) Massage, ahhh!

After our adventures with the Americanos, we signed up
for something a little more relaxing: an ancient Thai
massage course (not the kinky kind – geez, get yer
minds outa the gutter!). We stayed in a house in
Kathmandu for a week and learned the basic massage of
1.5 hours. It was fabulous! We learned a lot, but of
course will need willing victims for practice. Get
ready! Probably the best part of the week we spent
there was having a kitchen and a nearby grocery store.
We finally put ourselves in control of our meals, and
loved being able to eat crispy veggies and fresh fruit.

4) Y-O-G-A

After learning to massage others for a week, we decided
to do something for our own bodies: a week of yoga at a
retreat center outside of Kathmandu. It was also a
good way to while away a strike week (yes, again!).
While the yoga practice made us stronger and more
flexi, the food made us a little leaner and greener.
Yep, this is the now standar section of the email where
we talk about being sick again. Yech! Unfortunately
the cooks weren’t aware of some basic hygenic concepts
that would have protected our fickle western stomachs.
Over half of the participants got sick during the week.
Thankfully the group was really nice, and we passed the
days quickly.

5) The real reason we went travelling

So, y’all, here’s the REAL reason that we went
travelling: we wanted to be like the Aussies! Huh?
Read the article below to find out more. It’s a GREAT
read (thanks, David!).
<http://sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgif=/g/a/2002/04/19/notes041902.DTL&nl=fix>

6) Back to where it all began…Vienna

Now we fly to Austria! We are so thrilled with the
prospect of brushing our teeth with tapwater and
walking on sidewalks, that we can hardly wait! Of
course, Vienna is also the city where we met and fell
madly in love. Especially since this is our honeymoon,
we’re super glad to be going back. We also get to hang
out with Martin & Julia, and Tina & Jason, which is
icing on the sacher torte. Then it’s on to Turkey to
hang out with Christine for two weeks, and Rog’s dad
and his wife, Laura while cruising around on the Aegean
Sea. Yay!

Hope all is well at home. We miss you all.

Hugs,

Jen & Rog

Rog and Jen’s travels – some old stuff, some new stuff

This blog has a collection of the travel update emails that Jen and Rog compiled during our 2001-2002 round the world trip. We're off to do a bit more trekking around, and thought it would be nice import those old emails. Enjoy!

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