Thumper…

March 31, 2018

Nepal day 13 – to Kathmandu

Filed under: Trips — pearsey @ 9:24 pm
Tags: , , ,

6/4/17

Left Chitwan today after a quick look around the wetland areas of the Maruni Safari resort I was staying at, hoping that I would see some animals, birds, anything… nope the nearest I got was to hear the birds and I think a red wild dog as it ran off. The sun began to poke through the trees which was good. Oh well, I’m sure that chitwan really is an animal spotters paradise I just didn’t experience that. Or perhaps I’m spoilt from all the African safaris I’ve done.

Sunrise at Maruni Lodge, Chitwan

Sunrise at Maruni Lodge, Chitwan

As soon as I got to the bus at 7.30, we were on the way. Thankfully passed the roadworks reasonably early so we wouldn’t be spending 6hrs on the side of the road. Closer to kathmandu we stopped at the highway break point which offered some great views of the surrounding area. As we continued and entered the kathmandu valley, the traffic began to slow and build up and you could often look back down the hill to see the winding road snaking up the hill, choked with traffic, predominantly the colourful trucks. There were nice clear skies around Kathmandu, indicating that it probably rained fairly heavily overnight. It was great to see the city from above bathed in sunlight.

Looking over the Kathmandu Valley

Looking over the Kathmandu Valley

Strangely, many of the Nepalese hold on in the bus, gripping the handle in front of them as tightly as possible. Ok the road is bad, narrow, bumpy and dangerous in parts, but I didn’t think it was that bad… I noticed though that they seated all the foreigners on the side away from the road’s edge – I suspect that was intentional, as my ticket had a seat on the other side.
Around 3.30 the bus pulls up. The driver’s helper yells something in Nepalese and very slowly most people start getting off. Apart from the Nepalese, the rest of us have no idea where we are, because it’s certainly not back at the tourist bus stop where you’re meant to finish. Anyway, this was clearly the end of the road for this bus, and having no idea where I was, I took the easy way out and grabbed a taxi back to the hotel. At least the bus journey was much quicker this time, a respectable 8hrs for 158km instead of 14hrs. That’s an average of nearly 20kmh an hour instead of 11!!

Hand built retaining wall, roadworks, near Chitwan

Hand built retaining wall, roadworks, near Chitwan

Tonight was pizza at the restaurant next door to the Kathmandu Guest House, overlooking the hustle and bustle of a Thamel street, and pretty much my final Nepalese meal, as tomorrow I was departing.

A maze of wire, Thamel, Kathmandu

A maze of wire, Thamel, Kathmandu

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March 28, 2018

Nepal day 12 – Chitwan

5/4/17
Today was my only day in the Chitwan area because I got there so late yesterday.
Early in the morning, not sure if it was early enough though, I left on a canoe trip. The traditional wooden canoe seemed a little unstable, but they wouldn’t put you in it if it was going to capsize or tip, so I sat back and enjoyed the ride. The canoes are propelled by a punt – think of the images of Venice with a guy standing in the back, leaning heavily on his long pole, perfectly balanced, moving the boat swiftly, yet gently and silently through the shallow water that bubbled over the rocks. I didn’t need to do anything except sit back and take photos. There wasn’t much around – very few birds, no crocs, no animals. So I have a few photos of the bank, trees and birds in the distance. I did see a stork of some kind which was pretty cool.

A bird of some kind

A bird of some kind

From there we walked through the national park, although it may actually have been the buffer zone. Before we headed off I got instructions on what to do if we came across a sloth bear, tiger, elephant or rhino. I highly doubted we would see or get close enough to any of those, if there was any danger, we wouldn’t be there.

There was a couple of spotted deer, not a couple of herds, or a couple of dozen, just a couple of single deer in different places.
The vegetation was different though. It changed as we went along from taller trees and ferns and an almost tropical feel to open plains filed with elephant grass and some swampy marsh area. It was in this area, away in the distance, we saw something that looked like a pale looking rock. That was a rhino. Our guides decided we would go and have a closer look.

There was no danger here!

There was no danger here!

Surprisingly it didn’t move and we were able to get reasonably close – maybe 60m, nothing like how close we were to the lion in Uganda though. One of the guides headed away a bit further round and climbed a tree. The one remaining with me motioned to the tree and said if he comes closer, get in the tree. The rhino took a couple of steps, then began a little run (3 or 4 steps), so the guide tells me to get in the tree. So I find myself in a tree avoiding a rhino. It sounds good. That’s the truth. But really, there was no danger from the rhino, it still wasn’t that close and was probably an over reaction by the guide. On the other hand though, it did give me a much better view of him so I do have some better shots. I saw a peacock and asked if it was wild. He said they only had wild animals around here. (In Australia peacocks aren’t native, but they are in Nepal.) Otherwise, that was about the extent of the animals on the morning walk.

A stream crossing

A stream crossing

The afternoon was a jeep safari, 10 of us in a jeep, many jeeps, all following the same path. We stopped for a few spotted deer – in Uganda there’s so many deer (cob) you don’t even bother stopping for them. I think Africa has ruined me for any other animal safaris now.
We saw a few peacocks, large rocks aka rhinos away in the distance and a few monkeys. We stopped at the Gharial crocodile rehab and breeding farm, it was interesting seeing the different types of crocodiles.

Growing tall

Growing tall

On the way back we climbed a very rickety tower to get a closer look at a rhino away in the distance. It was getting closer to dusk, so was probably heading to the water. Slowly it started coming towards us. Too slowly and the guide told us we didn’t have time to wait for it. Maybe there’s a time when you have to be out of the park perhaps is the best option I can think of. The road through the national park was like our dirt roads in the bush, and the later we were the faster we got, which means the rougher the ride was.

The rickety lookout tower

The rickety lookout tower

By the time we got back to cross the river by canoe I think we were all glad it was over. The sunset again was a brilliant orange against the dusty backdrop of the national park.
I had another traditional Nepalese meal tonight before heading to a Tharu cultural dance. The Tharu are the local people of the area, the best dance was probably the one where someone was dressed as a peacock, imitating the peacock, or where the girl came out with a long full skirt and was able to get the skirt flowing like a wave as she made herself dizzy.

Sunset scenes, Chitwan National Park

Sunset scenes, Chitwan National Park

March 25, 2018

Nepal day 11 – To Chitwan

Filed under: Trips — pearsey @ 7:35 pm
Tags: , , ,

4/4/17

Early start today, down at the bus stop at 5.30am. Bus left about then, off to a good start with the first road we tried to get down closed with road works.
Otherwise, we seemed to be making reasonable time, we travelled the first part of the road a couple of times in our tour, and it took ages.

Our comfy tourist bus with very patchy wifi (still cool to have wifi on a bus though!)

Our comfy tourist bus with very patchy wifi (still cool to have wifi on a bus though!)

For some reason we stopped for more than half an hour for breakfast at Malekhu. I say for some reason, because the road closes for 6hrs, so it’s in everyone’s interest to go as quick as you can to get past there before that.
There were some little market stalls on the side of the road here which were quite colourful in their displays of fruit and vegetables. They normally know how to present things in attractive ways at these market stalls, but I’m not sure whether that translates into sales.

The Makekhu roadside market

The Makekhu roadside market

One crazy thing you can’t get used to is the banging on the bus when the driver is reversing, usually to park at a roadside stop. You know you’re close to the edge on these hilly roads and a sudden thump on the side of the bus from the driver’s helper does not fill you with confidence that the bus is not about to topple over the edge.
On the roads on Nepal there are plenty of trucks, which are all brightly painted, with horns that play a pretty tune matching the paint. In addition, they drive like cowboys, you really don’t want to be sitting in the front seat watching the traffic!
Went past the tented camp we stayed in during our rafting trip and directly opposite on the bend was a truck with it’s front wheel hanging over the edge of the cliff. We did ask our rafting guide whether it had happened and he said he had seen a vehicle go over a few times.

Opposite our rafting camp the other day

Opposite our rafting camp the other day

In many places the road is only really one and a half lanes, 2 lanes push it out to being right on the edge and there’s not a whole lot of safety barriers. There’s also a decent (50-70m) drop to the river or ground below along most parts of the road. But at least it’s asphalt in most places.
The trip up to that point had been reasonable, with reasonable distance covered at a half decent pace.
Then around 11.50 we pulled up at Mugling. The bus parked. Most got off. I had no idea why, there wasn’t much english spoken. I asked a local who spoke a bit of English how long we were here for. Til 4pm. Oh no! The road closure my tour leader warned me about. We missed it by an hour and 50mins. So we were going nowhere for 4hrs. I talked to the locals a bit, then found some Germans who were heading the same way and talked to them for a while. Watched some locals cooking some roti just there on the streets, they had quite a good process happening.

Making roti

Making roti

It was a long, long, long 4hrs, but then we still had to get there. The next section of the road was even worse. It was wider, but maybe under deconstruction is possibly an accurate way of describing it. It was white dirt, steep drops, landslides, oh well it was an adventure. On the plus side, through the dust, the bright red sun glowed as it slowly sunk signalling the end of the day was near.
I suspected we were getting close as nearly everybody had gotten off. When i was the the last one left I wondered if I had been forgotten. It’s a little disconcerting being the only person on a bus late at night, with the driver/helper basically not speaking your language. The last lady who got off around 7pm said there was still another 25 mins to go.
Not long after that, I hear an "Excuse me, come with me, change buses" – there’s nothing around, we’re seemingly in the middle of nowhere and the bus is stopping… They were getting me to change buses. I didn’t move till I saw the other bus, then I had to run and catch it, I think they wanted me to do the Nepalese running trick to board the bus. That’s where the bus doesn’t actually stop, it just slows down, and they run and jump on it. It was a bit hard in the dark with all my stuff, so it did actually have to stop. I must admit I was pretty relieved to see the Germans on the bus! We eventually arrived, around 7.30pm at the bus station. That’s a 14hr journey for 158km or an average of about 11km an hour.

The road hugs the side of these hills

The road hugs the side of these hills

When I got to the bus station, I was meant to be picked up by the resort – Maruni Sanctuary Lodge. They weren’t there. Some random guy, who knows, maybe an angel, offered to take me by motorbike to the resort, for no payment. So with no other options, I accepted. I don’t normally get on motorbikes with random strangers at night in unknown places, but sometimes you do those things and you can normally sense whether things are ok.
He was a good driver, I got there and he even took the time to find somebody around the resort so that I could check in to my room.

They’d gone to pick me up around 12, left when I wasn’t there and not bothered after that. Anybody with any local knowledge would have known 12 was wishful pie in the sky thinking – certainly every other accommodation place in town did. When they asked me who had brought me there, I didn’t know his name, but rather he’d given me a general direction of where he lived and then taken off down the road that way. The staff looked at me puzzled – they said nobody lives down that way, he couldn’t have gone that way, the road goes nowhere. It really could have been an angel.

I think most people staying at this resort actually fly into this area. Ironically, I had some friends who were meant to be flying this way today, but on catching up with them later on, no flights actually left today, so if I had’ve flown, I wouldn’t have got there today at all.

The fried apple and banana

The fried apple and banana

Had some fried apple and banana for tea, and despite the fact it looked like it was fried to within an inch of its life, it actually tasted ok. The chicken though was not so fortunate and was very over done.

The weather at Chitwan is very different to Kathmandu and other areas of Nepal. It is more tropical and humid being the lowlands area of the nation.

March 12, 2018

The Chrome Plated Yabbie

Filed under: Idle Ramblings — pearsey @ 8:12 pm
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The other day I was challenged to write a short story about a random topic. The topic given was ‘the chrome plated yabbie’, which just happens to be a song from the 60’s, by Wild Cherries. You can check it out here. At the time, neither of us knew it was a song.

Meanwhile, the random story I had to write is below, it could be any length, with any story line, there were no rules in this challenge! It’s not refined, not edited, not polished up. It is as is.

In an era when times were much simpler, a carefree young boy ran happily down the dirt road. He stumbled over something and just managed to hold on to all his stuff. As he did, he paused to look at what had almost tripped him up. Amongst the loose rubble on the road was a slightly bigger greyish coloured item that looked like a stone. It looked interesting, so he picked it up, shoved it in his pocket and kept running down the road.
He soon met up with his mates – they had a certain place next to the big lake that they would meet. Because they were still short, the tall reeds blowing in the breeze obscured them from the road and they had a relatively private area to call their own. Not that it mattered much anyway, nobody came through their little backwater town and especially not to this part of the lake.

The boys knew the routine now. They could do it with their eyes closed they’d done it so often. They grabbed some water in the bucket and quickly checked the nets while Andy, the youngest, kept watch. He was ready to act as a decoy if needed. What they were doing wasn’t wrong, but old Mrs Bucket just didn’t like them being near the lake – and she was a regular walker along this road and had a temper shorter than a chinamans whistle. One day she had caught them feeding the ducks, so she had run after them as mad as a cat where she was yelling and screaming and flapping her arms like a crow and scared them off. Another time she took to them with a broom, it was all they could do to escape. Once they’d been caught and marched home by their ear to their parents. And of course maybe once or twice the boys had not helped the situation by filling her letterbox with rocks and her freshly delivered milk with water, and “helped” by pruning her prized rose bushes. They boys still didn’t understand what was wrong with the cutting the roses off at the base, she’d asked for them to be pruned right back! But those were definitely isolated incidents!

A large shout from Tom caught everyone’s attention. “I’m going to need help over here” he yelled. Everyone dropped what they were doing and raced toward him. What greeted them was an amazing sight. The net was literally overflowing with yabbies. They were hanging off each other as they tried to get into the net. Together they pulled the net in and filled their buckets. But the yabbies didn’t stop there. They started crawling out of the lake, up the bank and heading toward Andy. It was like an attack of the yabbies!

By now the boys had abandoned their buckets and had taken off at a run back toward the town. But all the time, the yabbies kept following them. Andy spotted Mrs Bucket up ahead, but there was nothing they could do. She started yelling, but the boys brushed her aside, knocking her over. Even as she went down, she kept yelling at them, waving her broom in anger at them. But the yabbies showed no mercy, and started marching right over her! The boys briefly paused to enjoy the sight of Mrs Bucket being over run by yabbies. She had yabbies everywhere – hanging off her face and hair, they had crawled up her and were tugging at her clothes. They’d never heard her yell so much, or seen her so angry. The boys kept running – what were they to do to get rid of the yabbies? And now a very angry Mrs Bucket as well, who had done her best to regain her composure, but was running along rather worse for the experience and with yabbies still hanging off her!

Tom yelled at Andy – head to the factory over there. They knew that yabbies were best killed by being thrown into a pot of boiling water. And the factory over there was perfect. It had massive vats of sulfuric acid used in chrome plating.

As the boys headed in that direction, the towns people came out to hear what all the commotion was about. Everybody was astounded at the stream of yabbies and quickly realised what the boys were trying to do and cleared a path to the factory. They raced in, jumped over the vat and the yabbies, who couldn’t jump, piled into the vat of acid. Plumes of steam came up as the yabbies flowed in to the vat. Bubbles of acid flipped the odd yabbie in the air and the noise of the bubbling vat started to drown everything out.
Then a strange thing happened that even stopped Mrs Bucket in her tracks. The vat started to heave and buckle. Everyone ran.
The vat started smoking and began to explode like a volcano. After the smoke and sizzling sound disappeared, everyone’s eyes widened as right there before their eyes stood a giant chrome plated yabbie.
The townsfolk stood and looked in disbelief. How… why… what…who could explain it? Nobody had any answers.

So they took the chrome plate yabbie and stood him in a prominent position on the shores of the lake. People came from miles around to hear the story of the yabbies and to see the giant chrome plated yabbie. The town was a thriving metropolis again. Everyone cheered Andy and the boys. And as for Mrs Bucket – she never bothered the boys again.

Andy pulled the rock from his pocket and turned it over in his hand. There was something about this rock. It was enchanting, mysterious, different and since picking it up, his life hadn’t been the same. What was it about the rock?

March 2, 2018

Modifying SharePoint Forms without SharePoint Designer

Years ago I was searching for a way to put some text at the top of a default form on a SharePoint 2007 list without using SharePoint Designer. I eventually stumbled upon a post from Dhirendra Yadav and it has been a go-to post over the years, especially as we’re still running SharePoint 2007 for about 90% of our intranet.

The simple little trick appends a parameter to the end of the NewForm (or EditForm) url and then allows you to modify the form without using SharePoint designer.

Grab the url of the form you wish to modify, then simply append this to the url:

?PageView=Shared&ToolPaneView=2

So you have something like: http://yoursite/Lists/yourlist/NewForm.aspx?PageView=Shared&ToolPaneView=2

You can check out the full post here but I wanted to put that command line somewhere because each time I visit his site to grab the link, I’m afraid it may have disappeared!

The great thing is, it still works in SharePoint online in O365 and although you can easily modify the default forms using the toolbar menu item for the list, I’m not sure if there’s an easy, no designer way, to modify non default forms. Anyway, no need to worry with this little shortcut!

Thanks Dhirendra!

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