After the worst bus ride of my life I finally arrived to Bardiya. Well... close enough. The bus stopped and some people told me it was time for me to get off. So I did. I grabbed my bags and the bus drove off. I was just on the side of the road and there really wasn't much around, just a few small shops at the junction and when I say small shops I mean a string of chip bags and some water bottles under a straw roof held up by some bamboo. There were some people around that were very friendly and helped me figure out where I needed to go. Even though I didn't even know where I wanted to go. We were working with very little communication as there was quite a language barrier and I also had very little information to give them. It is very typical of me to travel without a plan so I didn't even have a name of an accommodation to tell them. I just said "national park" there was an awkward pause with no reaction then I said "tiger" followed by a little rawr. They understood that and I hopped into this mans tuk tuk and off we went. I didn't realize how far I was to the village outside of the National Park. It took about 30/40 minutes and I loved every minute of it. I love riding in tuk tuks and the views were amazing. There were these quaint clay houses built along the roads with a beautiful backdrop of rice fields. Cows and goats feeding out front and ox carts passing by. We arrive to a busy street and the driver stops, a man comes out from his shop and asks me if I need some help finding my accommodation. I explain to him that it is my first time here and I haven't booked anything yet. He scratches his head and calls someone on the phone. They go back and forth in Nepali and then he hangs up the phone. He gets in the tuk tuk with me and says "I will take you to my friends place". Upon arriving to his friends place, Jungle Base Camp I was greeted with a wide smile and good energy. I immediately felt comfortable here and decided to stay. The owner of the place introduced himself as Hukum. He invited me to the dining area for tea and to talk about my stay in Bardiya. I explained to him that I will be around for a week or so but I have no plans. He laughed then proceeded to help me make an itinerary. First we talked accommodation, he invited me to stay with him and his family at their homestay. So that was a great start. Here I was with all my things and in the hands of good people. I was happy to be here. Then we talked about going into the jungle. He informed me that he is a guide and he would take me into the jungle. He explained that he was the first person in Bardiya become a guide when he got his guiding certification 30 years ago. We check the weather and plan to go into the jungle for the next two days as it is sunny and the conditions would be best to see wildlife. He explained that there is an annual festival coming up called Maghi Festival. At this time there will be no tours being held as everyone is attending this festival. How good is my luck to show up here with no plans and end up with the first ever guide in the village and get to experience a traditional festival in rural Nepal. Life is good.
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