02.11.2009 - 02.11.2009 20 °C
En route to Corbett Park, stopped off at a Hindi tree temple. As soon as we stepped out the car we were approached by some dude who painted red/orange paint onto our foreheads, placed what looked like rice onto this and placed a flower on our heads by way of blessing us. He also painted a swastika onto the car windscreen so that our car was blessed too! In Hinduism the swastika is a sacred symbol of prosperity and good fortune, we did have to ask!
I was really excited by this part of the trip, Corbett National park for our wildlife safari and a chance to see a tiger in the wild, wooooahh! Stayed in a lodge on the banks of River Kosi. So a bit of time to recharge after the drive, siesta, swim, food, still no red wine, this is killing me. 5am start for the first of two tiger safaris woohooo! Linds was parading round in thermals and long johns and i was like 'nah you won't need those it is not that cold'. I soon ended up eating my words, it was blimmin ridiculously freezing on that open jeep in the morning chill. Linds just laughed at me as i wrapped myself up in a blanket shivering. But oh this was all so worth it to see a few spotted dear and an eagle, bloody dispointing. Also very funny though, we really did not seem to have the luck here spotting any wildlife.
The next surprise adventure more than made up for this. Sarah, a lass we were travelling with, mentioned that she had done a guided walk the day before and stumbled upon a festival going on at a local village on the riverbank about 30 mins walk away. We decided to check it out. Just two minutes along the road some guys on a motorcycle stopped and approached us, asking Rob if they could take some photos of me and Linds! So he gave 'his permission' they took a few with them in it too, shook our hands and left, how sweet. Then things got slightly crazier and crazier. This festival looked like a pretty big deal with truckloads, literally thousands of people heading along this road towards this village, all waving at us. As we got closer to the village we could see people sneakily taking our photo. One person approached and asked for his photo with us, then all hell broke loose, we were mobbed literally, couldn't move, stuck on this bridge across the river with these guys taking our pic with their mobile phones. We were loving it, but Rob was getting quite stressed. Over this trip he had kinda taken on the role of protecting us, shielding us from the beggers, hawkers and stares...haha. He was politely trying to tell these guys 'just one more photo please, no more.' Very sweet of him, but he did not win! Three other guys on motorbikes that stopped for photos, we went to return the favour, they wheelied to make a good composition for us and promptly fell backwards off the bike!! Met so many amazing people that day even if we were quite freaked out by the whole experience.
I asked Nidhi about the festival later on and it turns out it was a very special and significant day. The festival, in the village of Garg, was part of the month long Ganga Snan celebrations, the last day of Diwali celebrations, as well as Kartik Purnima (Full moon) celebration. Apparently many of the pilgrims come from surrounding villages where it is unlikely that most have ever seen a Westerner apart from in the movies, hence all the attention! Felt very lucky to have stumbled upon this on this particular day and serious contender for my most memorable travel experience. This really is what it is all about, for everything else there is Mastercard
To top off such an exciting day, the second safari well....... finally got to see a tiger in the wild, only a glimpse but immensely exciting. All hell broke loose when someone first spotted it. We were standing up in the jeep watching some elephants, someone shouted really loud, lots of running around, chaos. The driver accelerated off to find the tiger and i nearly broke my ribs being knocked back, coughed up a lung breathing in all the dust! So exciting! WHAT A DAY, doesn't get much better!!!!