A Travellerspoint blog

October 2006

2006 India trip route

Here's a summary of the route of th India trip

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Posted by Camerowska 21:01 Archived in India Comments (1)

Mumbai - our last stop on the way

Palm trees, sky scrapers and slums

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So... that was the last stop on the way. Flew in from Delhi (1200km away) and got picked up by Anuj's mother's driver (HOW HANDY!)

After lunch went to Ekta & Anuj's apartment. On the 19h floor of a brand new building with a view on the lake. Palm trees around, all looking like Miami ;)

Bombay is very different form other cities. Is very obvious that more affluent people live here than in Delhi for instance, hence the beautiful residences and sky scrapers. It's also the most cosmopolitan of the Indian cities. But at the same time, next all these nice buildings there are large parts of slums &shanty towns - with people living basically in the streets, in constructions which wouldn't b called a house in Europe.

Ekta and Anuj were taking great care of us - we went to a club for dinner (Hursh and Akshe joined in) and it was great fun. Later on we were going around by car with 7 ppl in it (yes, everything is possible in India), in the middle of the night went to c some temples and had amazing chicken biryani by the beach. YUM

Next day we went sightseeing with Ekta - that was an over 1.5h drive from where they live in Bombay to the famous Gate of India.

There are plenty of gorgeous Victorian buildings in the city, giving it a very British character

After a very nice dinner at a Chinese restaurant with Anuj, Ekta + Anuj's mom we flew back home

that's the end of the trip im afraid...

- Bombay
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Posted by Camerowska 05:12 Archived in India Comments (0)

Delhi - having a private driver rocks!

back in the capital

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So we flew back 2 Delhi from Jodhpur. It was a very quick flight - not even an hour

Stayed at a really nice hotel Yatri House. Really nice and taken care of. Not to be confused with a Yatri palace - located in the middle of the Paharganj - the HORRIBLE main bazaar - same location as we ended up the 1st night in India with Dorotka. That Yatri Palace was a copy of our one, which was listed in the Lonely Planet. We know this, as were taken there first - by an official (government) cab driver who had no clue where he was supposed to go. It got quite scary have to say when, we were in that cab in the middle of the extremely busy market, where everybody (cab driver, ppl who directed him there etc) were shouting for us to get out of the cab and go 2 that hotel. But I knew our one was supposed to b west of the Paharganj (thank God I had been there before so I recognized it!) - and we insisted on going to look further for Yatri HOUSE - which the cab driver agreed to do after he went & checked himself it was Yatri PALACE where he brought us to.

Eventually it took us over 1.5h (150% of the flight duration!) to get to the hotel - half of the time going in circles, while the driver kept on asking ppl where to go... nicccceee (that's a

Lesson learned:
where available, to go to the hotel from the airport/station, ALWAYS take hotel pickups instead of a regular taxi in India

We had actually booked one, 3 times more expensive than the taxi - but since we flew in an hour earlier than planned, we naively thought it would b faster by taxi...).

ANYWAY! We finally got there and were VERY happy to see a very clean and nice place!

and next day (THANKS to ABHI - he keeps saving me!, we are extremely grateful!) we had a driver arranged. He came pick us up by an air-conditioned car (thank god for AC!) at 10am. Btw, if anyone is interested, that total LUXURY of a private driver and a nice car, at our disposal for the whole day was only 1000 rs inclusive a nice tip 4 the driver - which is about 17eur... for the 3 of us together ;). I love India [THANK YOU ABHI!]

We drove around the city for the whole day - 9h to be specific. We did all the sights (the Fort, Humayun's tomb, Ghandi's memorial/grave - Raj Ghat, the lotus temple etc). At the end of the day we went 2 the Dilli Haat again (I had been there with Dorotka and Abhi before) - where I went totally NUTS and bought over a kilogram (!YES, 1kg) of jewellery... all nice & handmade - from camel bone, from coconut shells, from wood etc. Such nice things u rarely find back home - and if so, they're expensive - and India is a paradise for shopping :). Poor Menno and Chris... they totally lost hope while i was plundering more and more of the jewellery stalls - they were sitting on the ground, looking like 2 beaten puppies and nicely asking me to hurry up shopping ;) [SORRY BOYS I REALLY TRIED to do that ASAP]

Then we went 4 a great dinner with Abhi - at Connaught place. it was really nice, great food and drinks (haha, first time alcohol 4 Marta since a VEEEERY long time - in Rajasthan they only had beer which i don't like - and even that they were not allowed to openly sell - only ''undercover'' - writing on our bills ''big Cola'' instead of beer ;))

Anyway... it was a VERY NICE day!

Stayed for 2 nights at the Yatri house - and off 2 Mumbai from here

- Delhi

Posted by Camerowska 05:07 Archived in India Comments (0)

Jodhpur - the blue city

blue blue blue

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so... Jodhpur was busy.. like Jaipur

2 b totally honest I didn't quite like it (sorry Anamika!) - it looked gorgeous from the fort on the hill. Truly blue (in the past only the Brahmin-caste members were painting their house blue, but over the years it became a common practice and now almost everybody has a blue house from the outside)

When we were IN the city itself: it was very crowded and busy. Rickshaws everywhere. And as a result of many people living there and all the busyness: it was also quite dirty - even as for an Indian city

The best part was a market by the clock tower and a nearby shop with tea/spices where we got a full explanation on tea, on how 2 distinguish fake from real saffron, on spices, etc. We were also treated to (officially!) the BEST tea EVER - which in fact is a tea with no tea - only cardamon, cinamon and saffron - high quality, dried, and boiled in water for 5 min together. Amazing. We all bought some of course ;)

The fort was very nice. The biggest of the forts we had seen. In private hands of the maharaja (who seems 2 own half of the town anyway ;)) and very well managed - in a very European way in fact (with the museum shop etc).
It was really in a good state - all the rooms with furniture and nice fabrics. Nice!

Oh yes, and the hotel was great 2 - with a direct view on the fort and a rooftop restaurants (and these banana/chocolate pancakes 4 breakfast we will remember 4 a long time!)

- Jodhpur
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Posted by Camerowska 14:47 Archived in India Comments (0)

CAMEL SAFARI in the Thar desert

among the camels

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It was GREAT! Although our butts are hurting like crazy after so many hours of sitting on these funny creatures - which are miving back and forth all the time (its VERY different from riding a horse)

It was great. We could lead our own camels (apart from Chris - who got an EVIL CAMEL - he was told he COULD lead it himself, but he happens to have that ugly custom of running into the bushes every now and than… no thank you!)

We met some really nice people - haha, especially the funny Italian-photographer boys John & Giuseppe. :)

The camel guys were singing funny songs all the time. We were going through the desert for hours. NOTE. It's not a sandy desert u might be picturing based on some movies. It's a desert covered with funny plants (cactuses mostly) and some funny (salty) watermelons.
The sand dunes are only in 2 places. We went there twice. During the day, and at the end - to see the sunset. It was GORGEOUS!

On the way we visited some primitive villages - with no electricity and people living in clay houses.

I really enjoyed the safari. And the funny lunch we had at the oasis. Cooked on fire by the camel boys. It tasted really good - I enjoyed it more than some restaurant food!
We went back to Jaisalmer after it got completely dark

- camel safari on the Thar desert by the Pakistani border
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Posted by Camerowska 14:39 Archived in India Comments (0)

Jaisalmer from a 1001 nights

sand stone everywhere

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Our hotel is VERY nice. Rajasthani style, alls and everything made of sandstone (even the bathroom) - and our room has a direct view on the fort - amazing!!!

And we just love the rooftop restaurant - we go there often - to just have a drink, to lie down on the cushions (on those little balcony-beds to lie down on). We can c all the stars from here as you don't see as many lights as in a city

Jaisalmer is SO DIFFERENT - it's quiet, people are even nicer than anywhere (despite of what I had heard) - they aren't nagging us 2 buy their things in shops - usually they just invite to come in and that's it. What a difference

And they seem helpful and all - NOT pushy!

City is GORGEOUS, everywhere these houses of carved sandstone - looks like LACE! It really does look like a city from 1001 nights (thx Tjasa 4 the tip 2 come here!)

Very nice change after Jaipur

We love it (my 2nd favourite, after Varanasi)

Its a small town in the desert, close 2 the Pakistani border

2morrow we r having a full day camel safari - we will b taken by jeeps 50km in the direction of the sand dunes (and Pakistan) an there get on our camels and go on them for 8h with a lunch break, c the sunset on the sand dunes, and the stars, and then get back to the hotel by jeeps

VERY much looking forward!

We got some safari gear today (boys: pants & funny desert hats, i got a shirt with long sleeves). More 2 come 2morrow

I'm now writing this from the rooftop - will now go back 2 enjoy a drink with the boys

- Jaisalmer

Posted by Camerowska 03:32 Archived in India Comments (0)

Jaipur = one big market

no sun no fun

sunny 37 °C

After a night in our SUPER-GREAT hotel (SERIOUSLY!, we got upgraded, as they didn't have the rooms they promised at our GREAT hotel, they moved us for that night 2 a better one from the same group - 200m away) we went sightseeing in Jaipur. AMAZING interiors, Rajasthani style - WOULD upload pics, as (surprisingly) i have both the time AND working batteries in my hard drive, but there is no USB slot on this comp... how handy!

we have seen a HAVELI (this funny facade-building - made my maharaja for his harem - so the woman wouldn't get bored - and they could look into the street, but at the same time 2 ensure his ''exclusivity'' for them ;) - they couldn't go out 2 the street

We also visited an astronomic observatory - with big instruments made of sandstone. all calculated/designed by the maharaja/genius - with e.g. solar clock with 2 sec precision . VERY impressive all these things they could see!

no sun, no fun
= as everything only works only when the sun is shining.

oh well... it does shine (EVEN TOO MUCH) all the time now

We went shopping

Traffic here is SO CRAZY. So many rickshaws/cars/horses/camels/cows/bikes /busses everywhere. and horning all the time (this is apparently the way 2 move here - as nobody looks in the mirrors - so if u want them 2 get off ur way u need 2 horn)

we went 4 dinner to this nice rotating restaurant - a rotating tower with a view all over the city (which is 2.5mln ppl btw!)

We hired an airco-jeep with a driver from the hotel, NICE one, really big too. For all 5 of us, for 8h. Cost: 900rs = 15eur (for all 5 ;))
Was great., we went 2 the Amber fort (and had our elephant rides!! YAY - beautiful fort, lots of pics of course. We also went 2 the monkey temple - eventually we didn't get 2 c THAT many monkeys, as they were apparently smarter than us (!!!!) and NOT spending the noon in the burning sun (its still like 37 degrees in the shade...) - but we have seen enough of them anyway. Also saw some cobras dancing (2 the music)

Now at the hotel. Went back 2 swim in the pool and relax. We r still going 2night to that park - with food, drinks, Rajasthani dances, singing, traditional handicrafts etc etc etc

BY THE WAY: if anybody was wondering ;): our stomachs r NOT really enjoying the Indian food anymore. The only things that we feel like having is pizza and french fries (no, no masala for me anymore please :-S). It's not that we get sick because the food is prepared in a dirty way. No. Since we don't get sick fro continental food… It's all the spices our stomachs cannot bear. We r at the point when we sometimes look for something healthy to eat, and the healthiest thing that wouldn't make us sick are potato CHIPS... FUNNY... my own stomach has been behaving really nice for a few days now - but that's only because i had NOTHING Indian for like 48h. Other than that we r fine. Its not serious actually, its just that u have a constant stomach ache and every now and then some of us would have some additional ''entertainment'' caused by the bellies... hmhmhm

The girls were leaving (4pm train 2 Delhi) - 2 go back home

And we (Chris, Menno & I) stayed out, went shopping 4 souvenirs, walked around

it did get a bit dodgy in the end - not that anything happened, but i guess tit was TOO MUCH 4 all of u - people nagging to buy their stuff, rickshaw drivers nagging to go with them, CROWDS and rods of people, intrusion of our personal space all the time. We ran away from that 2 a nice restaurant again, with AC and quiet ambience. All we needed at the moment

At night we left by train 2 Jaisalmer (night train, it was late 1h in Jaipur, but arrived only 30min late in Jaisalmer)

was actually quite a nice journey

- Jaipur
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Posted by Camerowska 08:24 Archived in India Comments (0)

Agra - we have just seen the Taj!

AMAZING, I'll say no more!

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THANK GOD we chose that nice hotel
(WE REBOOKED - from the very dirty one we had booked - but then we went there for Dinner with Dorotka and saw how bad it was, so we changed into this great one - Amar - expensive of course - as for Indian standards, but great)

European standard

NICE. we deserved it !

we didn't want 2 go 2 sleep (as we would have collapsed afterwards), but 4 diner 2 c the Taj Mahal from some rooftop

It was a VERY dirty restaurant. haha the waiter by (who couldn't read and wrote) was walking on top of our table with his bare feet (!) - in order to close the shades… It was BAD. Thats why we barely ate anything - maybe apart from Chris

but the Taj view was amazing!

Taj-Mahal day it is!

I wont even attempt 2 describe it

No point

will upload pics

it was more than amazing!!!!! And huge (first you see that thing you've known from pictures, but when you actually see it, you cant believe it.. it looks small from a distance. But when you keep approaching you notice the little ''ants'' = people walking around it and then you realize how enormous it is)

Then we saw the Agra fort. Again, great! Beautiful
NO point describing. You got to see that!

and will go 2 Jaipur later on tonight - by train

need to RUN NOW

others waiting 4 me @ a rooftop bar - still with the Taj view

will upload pics soon-ish

the internet/computer speed here makes it impossible!

- Agra
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Posted by Camerowska 07:10 Archived in India Comments (0)

Calcutta day 3 - WEDDING-WEDDING - the ACTUAL thing ;)

Durga Puja and marriage

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So.. in the morning went with Baja 2 c all the funny constructions made especially with lots of effort for the Durga Puja festival - its taking place in many places (also in Varanasi), but its biggest in Kolkata
They made these big temples for the godess Durga (the one with lots of arms). They were all ''fake'' - as in: some were made of paper (!), some of bottles from some drink, some from cardboard


Wedding party in the evening: AGAIN in Indian outfits of course. It was so funny. Started at Apoorvs - he and Ekta were riding in a silver shiny bling-bling carriage pulled by horses to the location where the bride's family was

Guests dancing all the way there

funny VERY loud Indian music (hired orchestra) - I guess the whole point was to make lots of noise, it was not necessarily about the quality of music itself ;)

It was such an experience 4 us

Everything absolutely different from what we know

the ceremony itself started at round 23.00

Apoorv had said they negotiated with their parents - who wanted the ceremony to last 7h (YES SEVEN) hours. But they got it down to 45mins. Turns out: they were ''cheated'' = the ceremony ended up being over 1.5h anyway ;) guess the parents won anyway :)

Apoorv and Anamika were sitting on thrones

She was wearing this VERY heavy dress with all the embroidery. The whole gear was supposedly 30kg! - together with the jewellery!

all done with reading of the Sanskrit by a holy man. He was putting some pears on the ground, sprinkling them over with some seeds (?). Not the kind of wedding you get to see in Europe. Apoorv and Anamika had to walk around the fire he set in the middle of the room (!). After they walked around it for the 7th time they were MARRIED.

Again, we had a blast, and got pampered with great food!!!! Amazing actually

Actually,,, we got pampered there all the time… private drivers of Apoorv, all the food we wanted. Everything served to you… I already said that before, but I could really get used to that ;)

We didn't sleep at all that night

straight from the party went 2 get our stuff from the apartment and were driven 2 the airport

flight 2 Delhi at 5.50 am

them train 2 Agra
no sleep 4 us :)!

2h flight

Actually a VERY nice plane, nicer than many I flew in in Europe

Not that I could see much as I was very sleepy.
But Menno instead, changed into a n energizer bunny and was talking all the time. We saw the Himalayas form the window

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Posted by Camerowska 02:59 Archived in India Comments (0)