Published: November 18th 2010November 17th 2010
Well we are now in sunny Goa and have been chilling out amd relaxing on a beach for about the past month or so. Its brilliant not having to live out of a rucksack for a while, and to forget about having to book trains and buses, and getting from A to B. The original plan was a fortnight in a nice air con apartment but unfortunately the electrics were all over the place (resulting in a fire-ball over the pool), and we had to move a tad up the road. 2 weeks there, and 2 more weeks in a different apartment (not air con tho god damn) and we feel like were ready to move on
Anyway, thinking back we entered Nepal after our debacle with the Chinese border, for a nice leisurely 6 hour bus to Kathmandu. But no. The road had been washed away for miles and a straightforward journey was now split into stages. 10 minute drive to rockfall, clamber over rockfall, wade through river (all with bags), hitch a ride in a milk-truck, then repeat that 6 times. By the time we got to Kathmandu we breathed a sigh of relief - what a friggin
Kathmandu is brilliant, but for us the main highlight was the food and the fact everyone spoke English! After 4 months in China it was so nice to have a fry up or be able to talk about footy with somebody (apart from Sarah). So so so so good. We didnt do much in Kathmandu, just saw some temples, a festival or two and got terrorised by monkeys, as well as sorting out our Indian visas.
Nepals lovely, and we did a couple of treks around the Kathmandu Vally (when I say trek, we got the bus up and walked down!) but we decided against doing a major Himalayan trek. It was still tipping down with rain, all the roads were washed away, and most of the trekking lodges weren't yet open for the season. So instead we decided to actually travel around Nepal and see some more places. We went to Chitwan National Park and did a jungle trek (saw nowt) and an elephant safari (saw a mama rhino plus baby), went to Pokhara where Sarah went paragliding and just happened to be there for World Tourism Day which involved a number of local bands singing
western covers. Bit strange being drunk and hearing the Nepali version of Summer of 69!
Also went to a place called Lumbini (the Buddha's birthplace) and then made our way to the madness of the Indian border. Theres no other way of describing North India, its a crazy place! As soon as we got across the border, there were touts, money changers, hawkers and beggars getting on your face. After eventually organising a lift which was "leaving now sir, straight away", we then proceeded to sit there in the hot sun and wait...and wait...and wait...until eventually we got angry with the driver and made him get off his backside and rustle up some more passengers so we could go....never thought you could fit so many people in one jeep (about 14 of us including the driver)!
So our first experience of India wasnt too good and it went steadily downhill... That first night we stayed in a place called Gorukhupur where a bell-boy wanted us to tip him for EVERYTHING he did - even stuff like turning on the television. He obviously doesnt know how tight we are... Then we wanted to book a train for the next
day. Now surely the booking office would be at the train station - no its a mile down the road in the arse end of nowhere. And of course when it came to the food..my god, we've never eaten anything so spicy! It blew our heads off!
Ok then we went to Varanasi where they cremate bodies in the Ganges. It was really somthing special to watch them washing the bodies and then cremating them at the burning Ghats. We soon learnt that cows have the right of way when it comes to walking down the little alleyways and you need to either turn around or try to duck in a doorway which can get tiring with there being thousands of cows eveywhere because of course cows are sacred in India so traffic / people have to work around them. We did the dawn boat ride along the ganges, saw a few other sights, had a few arguements with people trying to rip us off and Paul had a bit of a shock after opening a toastie (which he'd had for 4 days previously), and finding the local insect population inside. Lovely. Almost put him off the baked beans
After Varanasi we took the train to Lucknow, a little random city where we saw our first bollywood film...the locals thought we were crazy as it was in hindi but the film was actually really good! Next was Agra and the Taj Mahal. In Agra we got very sick (the famous Deli Belly!) and sweated our socks off at Agra Fort and the Taj (which was amazing to see up close!) We had a few more rows with rickshaw drivers, saw some Australian athletes from the Commonwealth games in Dellhi and spent a great day around the pool (with slides!) at a nearby fancy hotel.
Then we got a quick bus journey to Jaipur and a flight to Goa. Here, we have done precisely nowt for the past month except eat on the beach, watch the ending of the monsoon, drink lots of beer, and live with a dozen powercuts every day. The plan now is to stick around Southern India until the New Year before giving the North another go, spend a week ski-ing and maybe make our way to Bangladesh.
There are more photos below