A Travellerspoint blog

By this Author: Po Gallon

7 weeks in India, 100,000 rupees...

not killing each other yet - priceless!

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India Stats
Modes of transport used in India: 16 (car, bus, train, taxi, motor rickshaw, cycle rickshaw, rowing boat, bicycle, motorbike, jeep, raft, plane, metro, kayak, ferry, foot)
No of different beds slept in: 20
No of overnight trains: 4
No of overnight buses: 3
Miles on the road in India: 3,488
No 0f McDonalds seen: 5
No of McDonalds eaten: 0
No of stray dogs: 134,672
No of times ripped off: 1 (for 40p!)
Maximum no. of layers worn: 8 (Pauline on overnight train)
Weight of Chapatis / Rotis / Naans consumed: 400kg (each!)
Current Rummy score: Pauline 17 Richard 9 ( Finally a game Pauline can seemingly dominate!)

This is a little late as we are now in China but we wanted to round up our last week in India. Since our last blog we spent one more day in Varanasi and decided we liked it but couldn't really decide why. I think maybe because it was more peaceful than the other cities with the river having such an influence on everything that happens there. It's a very spiritual place and apparently lots of people go there to 'find themselves'. We found a really nice bakery that runs a charity and a nice cosy guesthouse but we didn't really look for ourselves so can't really comment on that.

You can all officially stop being jealous of us being in sunnier climes. We have been freezing for the last few weeks and I hit a personal body temperate low on the very much delayed train from Varanasi to Agra. After shivering on the platform for 8 long hours we eventually boarded our train and tried to stow away in the posh (used loosely) carriage only to be literally thrown into the sleeper carriage by the very grumpy conductor. This wouldn't be so bad if we had been prepared like everyone else there and taken a blanket, it was baltic. Luckily for us there were some incredibly pissed Argentinians who happly shared their gigantic bottle of Whisky with us. That helped. In the morning some more new friends insisted on buying us chai everytime the sellers came round and refused to take our money. I think they were pleased that some wussy English folk were feeling the cold more than them. So our nightmare icy journey was actually a pleasure in some respects as we met some really freindly co-passengers. In fact, most of the people we have met in India go out of their way to welcome you, feed you, look out for you and ask you every possible question they can think of before letting you get away! It is a very friendly country once you settle in.

On to Agra, not the most vibrant or picturesque place we've seen but amazing for one, maybe two main reasons. Yes, the Taj Mahal is utterly breathtaking. We saw it from every possible angle, one of which is from Agra Fort which in its own right is worth a visit. I'd go back to Agra a million times to see it again but not for any other reason, sorry. We went at sunrise and were more than a little smug at beating the crowds.DSC_0391.jpgDSC_0414.jpg

On Richards' birthday we were in a small town called Bharatpur between Agra and Delhi. It's famous for the Keoladeo National park. We spent a morning on hired bikes spotting the wildlife which was more my ideal birthday than Richard's but he was happy enough taking photos. Apparently there is one tiger there but they aren't too concerned that you'll get eaten, they make you promise to stick to the paths and that's the health and safety briefing over. One problem, no signs anywhere. I was pretty nervous and peddled mighty fast passed the sunbathing jackals and wild boar. Weirdest sight had to be the domestic dog tucking into a huge cow carcass.

We finished our mini tour of India in the capital Delhi. We'd been told it was a bit dodgy and to steer clear so didn't plan to spend long there. Due to delays we'd lost a day or so as well so only had 2 nights to see what turned out to be a pretty cool place. There are some very modern parts of Delhi and it was a welcome change from the India we had grown used to. Contrary to what we had be warned, we felt very safe there and reflected over a cup of chai with our guesthouse owners that we were sorry not to have had more time to explore. We did manage to see India largest Mosque, the Jama Masjid and Delhi's red fort.

This is where I wanted to write my thoughts on India and my feelings on leaving etc, but Richard says it's too cheesy so no can do. On to a new adventure in China now and we'll try to make our updates regular and concise so we don't lose our audience yet!

Posted by Po Gallon 15:30 Archived in India Comments (4)

# Oh oobee do, I wanna be like you hoo hoo #

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No. of squatters on the banks of the Ganges = 77 and counting
No. of pizzas eaten = 3
No. of times Pauline would like to have eaten pizza or has talked about pizza = 20
No. of hours on longest journey door to door = 23

Hello fans! Yes this is my first official blog entry but I'm sure I don't need to reiterate that all witty bits of previous entries were my creations. Richard is the brains behind the stats though, he's obsessed.

Since our last entry we have continued North and East a bit from Khajuraho to Bandhavgarh National Park and we are now in Varanasi. Quite a few hours spent on trains, drinking chai in train stations and watching cows negotiate (moving) trains while wandering down the tracks. It is really cold here so you can all stop being jealous of the sunshine.

Our safari experiences were incredible. Bandhavgarh was rumoured to be the inspiration for Rudyard Kippling's Jungle Book (hence the blog title in case you thought I was going mad) and although I think this has been dispelled, it's a beautiful place for sure. After only 3 hours sleep, having arrived in the middle of the night to our guest house on the outskirts of the national park, we met up with Kaspar the friendly German and bundled in our open top jeep. At 5am Northern India is chilly to say the least and our million layers weren't quite enough to keep us warm. We set out hoping the tigers wouldn't be too shy and cold to show their pretty faces, they were! There were plenty of spotted deer, various cheeky monkeys, a jungle cat (apparently quite rare), wild boar, owls and eagles so we weren't too disappointed. Nevertheless, we had set out to see a tiger so we embarked on another safari with Kaspar in tow and two Americans we practically kidnapped to keep the cost of the jeep down. Sure we would spot one we set out in the afternoon with high spirits and a spot of sunshine. With only half an hour left before the park closed it wasn't looking hopeful, but some excitable exchanges between our guide and a neighbouring jeep suggested the king of the jungle was near. A commotion ensued ,we all nearly fell out of the jeep as we sped off into the distance, we were flagged down by another jeep and came to a screeching halt. At this point I thought we'd surely scare off whatever was there but no, there she was, the Queen of the jungle right in front of us, an adult female. It was very special. I don't think I breathed for a good 5 minutes as we watched her mark her territory and calmly pass us by. 3 words for you AH-MAY-ZING! Loads of good pictures thanks to Richard's steady hand, the video I took is hilarious as I'm clearly not as calm as the tigress. DSC_0044.jpg

So, Varanasi is quite something else. It's clearly a very sacred place but some people show their respects in a funny way. This is what Richard is referring to by 'squatters' in the stats. Lets just say we wont be taking a dip in the river Ganga anytime soon. In fact its difficult to avoid accidentally snapping the squatters when taking in the view, they are everywhere. It doesn't smell too bad though surprisingly and a dusk boat trip last night was really peaceful if a bit eerie due to the mist rolling in. DSC_0213.jpgYesterday was a strange day. It isn't difficult to find yourself immersed in this place. When we got a little lost down the side streets off the ghats, several funeral processions passed us very closely. That spooked me no end but I guess it's an experience. Nothing spooks Richard though and he calmly navigated his was between a few dead bodies and some of the biggest cows I've ever seen. Richard was yet again unfazed today when we crossed a really long, very unstable, very poor excuse for a bridge across the river. I need to toughen up for China as even this scared the ganga out of me!

We can't believe how quickly our adventure in India is unfolding and plan to make the most of our last week here. Looking forward to the Taj Mahal in a few days when we head to Agra, apparently the fort is good there too. We are still loving the food, I think Richard will have to write another entry just on food before we leave, he discovers a new favourite thing everyday. We have both eaten our body weight in peanut caramel brittle today. tasty good!

Posted by Po Gallon 19:57 Archived in India Comments (4)

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