Friday, February 27, 2009

Heading South

It seems like its been a long time since I've posted, maybe because a lot has happened over the last week or so. We left Nepal last Friday on a crazy bus ride through the mountains. When we were about 25 miles to the border to India the driver suddenly stopped in a tiny town and told us that he couldn't drive us anymore due to a strike in the border town. We were a bit worried but a nice Nepali women who was also going to the same place as us helped us hire a horse cart and we made it to the border through the back streets to avoid the strike. It was also on this bus ride that I unfortunately left my bag unlocked and had some stuff stolen including my phone and some clothes which was too bad. We then stayed in quite possibly the worst hotel I've ever stayed in on the Indian side of the border which resulted in me getting hundreds of mosquito bites on my face and arms in the night even with mosquito coils. Over all it was a bit of a stressful day. Luckily the bites have now mostly faded away so I no longer look like i have some crazy skin problem.

We took a night train to Calcutta for a few days any then another night train to Madras. Calcutta is pretty cool for such a big city. It was the British capital and it still have somewhat of a western feel or at least more then some of the other big cities. People actually follow the traffic lights, its crazyness. We went to the Indian Museum while we were there which has a very strange assortment of collections, all which are covered with dust and look like then haven't changed since the '60s or so. We also when to the botanical gardens which has the worlds largest banyan tree, its quite large. Also the food was excellent there, they have Bengali food which is a bit different. Then train to Madras was 27 hours long, which is really long, but it wasn't actually to bad. We paid more for the air conditioned sleeper car which was nice, they give you pillow and sheets and everything. After arriving at 4am we decided that we didn't really want to do another big city so we caught a bus right a way to Mahabalipuram which is about 2 hours south. Its a nice little touristy town know for its stone carvings and temples. We had a great swim in the ocean before we left. Now we are in Pondicherry in a cute little internet cafe which has the best coffee i've had in a very long time. Pondicherry was a french colony and is very different from the other parts of india we have been so far, there are still many westerners living here. We even went out to a bar last night and got Mojitos, haha, which i defiantly didn't expect to do in india! The only problem is its sooo hot and humid, but thats not going to change anytime soon so i guess i will just have to get used to it. We head to Madurai on the night bus tonight and are planning on staying at least long enough to wash our clothes haha.

Thursday, February 19, 2009


Eric and I made it to Nepal after a few quite long and bumpy bus rides. I am finally feeling totally better, I was never really sick just not feeling great for a while. The rest of our time in Varanasi was good, tho I spent a lot of it laying around in the hotel, but it was good to rest for a while. We took two nice boat rides down the river along the ghats which were pretty cool. The ghats are pretty crazy, full of people bathing in the river as well as funerals and cremations, and boats and tourists. Pieter left for Australia so now its just Eric and I for the rest of Nepal and India.

Our first stop in Nepal was Chitwan Park and it was great to get out of the city for a while. Its of course pretty touristy, but nice all the same. We did an elephant ride, a jeep ride, a canoe ride and a long walk with a guide. We didn't see any tigers, but we did see rhinos, two kinds of dear, wild pigs, lots of birds including kingfishers and marabou storks which are huge. After hanging out in Chitwan for three days we headed to Kathmandu which is where we are now. Since we are not going to get a chance to do any trekking we decided to splash out and do a mountain flight around the Himalayas which was pretty awesome. So far I have really enjoyed Nepal, its more different from India then I expected. Its a lot less hectic and crazy even in Kathmandu, I'm glad that we decided to come even if its only for a week, hopefully I can make it back some day.
Tomorrow we take a bus to the border and then two trains heading south to Madras!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Udipur, Agra, Varanasi

Well I've been sick for the past few days, but nothing too terrible, probably just ate something that didn't agree with me. I'm actually almost surprised I wasn't sick before this. It was sort of bad timing because we already had a night train booked from Agra to Varanasi (well to Alabad and then a bus) but it all worked out in the end, tho not the most fun journey I've done.
The rest of our time in Udipur was fun and relaxing. We went to a cultural show, which included a bunch of different traditional dances and music and a puppet show which was pretty fun. Udipur is known for its puppets, which i remember from when I was there as a kid. From Udipur we took a night train to Agra, which is a pretty good way to travel. We just did sleeper class, which isn't fancy, but its decent and i slept surprisingly well. Our hotel in Agra had the smallest room ever, but it had view of the Taj Mahal from the roof which was pretty cool. And of course we spent the whole afternoon at the Taj, with about a million other people, but it is a very impressive place. We didn't go the first time i was in India so i'm glad everyone wanted to go this time. The next day we went to Fatehpur Sikri, which is an old abandoned capital city about an hours bus ride away. It was cool, lots of old stone buildings to wander around in, tho i guess the capital didn't last there very long. I spent the last day in Agra sick in bed and missed out seeing the Agra Fort and Baby Taj, but maybe Eric will mention something about them.
So now we are in Varanasi, mostly healthy, in a nice little hotel with a view of the Ganges from our room, which we were very excited about. I slept most of the afternoon, but we are here for three days so there is plenty of time to sight see before Eric and I head off to Nepal.

Friday, February 6, 2009

New Delhi and Jaipur

Ok the pictures went in backward again, haha. From the top: Jaipur looking down from the monkey temple, a monkey on the temple, outside the amber fort, inside the amber fort, New Delhi flowers, Qutb Minar, crazy Delhi streets, and the

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Rajasthan Travels

Well its been a little while since I've had a chance to update, we have been traveling all around Rajasthan. We went from Delhi to Jaipur on a very fancy bus, but it took almost the entire morning to get to the bus station due to all the roads along the way were closed for Republic Day. Carrying our bags all around Delhi was not much fun, but we made it to Jaipur in the end. Jaipur is a bit like Delhi, crazy and loud and full of cars and people. We went to the Amber Palace which was really great and the temple of the Sun God, also know as Monkey Temple because of all the monkeys that hang out there at night. So that was pretty cool, tho the rickshaw ride on the way back was slightly terrifying, haha, but we made it in one piece.
After just one night in Jaipur we took the bus to Pushkar, which is a touristy little town, were you can actually walk down the streets without having to jump out of the way to avoid getting run over too often. There is a nice lake there but not all that much to do. We did take a small hike up to a temple on top of a large hill which had some good views of the country side. From Pushkar we took a night bus to Jaisalmer which was pretty exciting except we were not prepared for it to be so cold, so we didn't get that much sleep which was too bad. The bus was cool tho, with beds and everything, so if we do it again we will know to bring warm clothes.
Jaisalmer was a beautiful town with a living fort still at the center of the city. Its called the Golden City because all of the houses are a light brown color which goes well with the desert that surounds it. Though out hotel there we booked a two day camel safari which was really awesome, tho a bit painful by the end. We each had our own camel, mine was named Mr. Super Rocket, tho we all traded around a bit, and there was a guide and a boy who was a guide in training I think. Camels are quite bumpy, but fun to ride all the same. I even got to run with Mr Super Rocket, although the guide rode with me to make sure i didn't fall off, haha, which i might have done because we were going very fast. It was pretty crazy. We slept outside under the stars on a sand dune which was amazing. The package we got included food and whiskey haha, for some reason they seem to think we needed a entire bottle to ourselves. The second day we road the camels for what seems like forever, but mostly that was because I was quite sore from the first day of riding.
After the camels and one more night in Jaisalmer we headed to Jodpur for a day. Jodpur is a pretty big place, moslty we just checked out the Fort and wandered around the markets. The fort was a good and had great views of the city which is cool because most of the houses are painted blue. Early the next morning we headed to Udaipur, where Pieter and I met 13 years ago. The three of us shared a sleep compartment for two people which was a little crowded and since it was in the day this time if was very hot. We are still in Udaipur which is good, we have three nights here and its nice to have a small break from the fast pace traveling we have been doing. Udaipur is a fun little place with a nice lake and lots of little artsy stores. The lake is quite low tho so we decided no to do the boat ride because they can only take you around for ten minutes. We did the palace museum today, which i think was the biggest palace we have seen so far which was cool. We managed to find the hotel we stayed at 13 years ago and looked about, but decided it was a bit too fancy for us this time, haha, but it was fun to see all the same. Tomorrow we take the night train back to Agra which should be fun, i haven't done any trains yet so i'm excited.
In other news I'm starting to plan more for Thailand and Southeast Asia where i go after India and Pieter has decided to come travel with me there which is very exciting and its looking like Anjali might be able to meet up with us as well toward the end which would be awesome. Also plans for the rest of India include Agra, Varanasi, Nepal for a week or so, then down south to Chennai (Madras) and about 3 weeks traveling around the south which will be very exciting i think. Ok i think i have written enough.