Published: November 5th 2007November 5th 2007
(Just to warn you, this is a long blog, and you may need a break half way through reading)
Yet again sorry for the delay, its been a while since we last updated you. But we are both alive and doing fine and dandy.
We left you in Pushkar, where we were relaxing for a few days after our busy schedule in Rajasthan.
From Pushkar we headed to Jaipur, which is the Capital of Rajasthan, and therefore pretty busy and hectic again.
Our first night was spent in a kind of tin shed thingy, complete with spiders and cockroaches, but it was apparently part of a 'Guesthouse'.
We (Me, Jem and our driver) all decided to head out to the cinema to see a Bollywood film at Jaipur's famous Meringue shaped cinema.
The film was called 'Chake de India', meaning something along the lines of 'we love India'. The cinema itself was pretty impressive and rather grand.
The film was about a women's hockeyteam, and it starred an actor who everyone in India seems to be obsessed with. The film was 3 hours long and was completely in Hindi, but it was still pretty easy to follow and it was good to see.
After our cinema adventure we went to the fort in Jaipur. Which involved an elephant ride up to the main fort gates, unfortunately it was all a bit touristy, and we're not sure how well looked after the heffalumps were so we wouldn't recommend it.
However the Fort was nice, and we had a little tour around it before heading to the City Centre.
In the City Centre loads of roads were blocked off because of a Muslim Festival, so we struggled to actually get anywhere, and we were not able to make it to see the Palace. The road to the Palace was blocked off by around 20,000 Muslim's praying in the streets.
Despite this, it was pretty amazing to see, and we did enjoy Jaipur.
After escaping the madness and making it into some shops, we tried some local Indian Sweets, which are just pure sugar but quite a good kick!
After our intense sugar rush we had some energy to expend, so we jumped on a rickshaw, and I had a wee go at carting Jem around before the rickshaw man became concerned we might crash, and demanded his wheels back.
From Jaipur we headed to Agra, to see the Taj Mahal ( im guessing you have all seen our amazing pics from the last little update...)
The Taj Mahal is really impressive, its absolutely stunning up close. We arrived late evening just before sun set, and spent a few hours wandering around.
The following day we visited yet another Fort, and the views of the Taj Mahal from there were amazing.
At this stage in the trip we were really starting to feel like we had outdone our quota of Forts and Temples to be visited, so we were actually looking forward to heading off on our first train journey towards Varanasi (The Holy City).
We said our goodbyes to our Driver 'N' (we feel this may be a name he gave himself as we couldn't pronounce his real one), and arrived at the train station two hours before our train was due to depart. For some reason 'N' insisted on getting us there really early, and driving frantically through traffic so that we arrived with plenty of time to spare.
However, two hours wasn't really needed, as we found our platform after about ten minutes, then just had to sit being stared at by locals on the pitch black platform.
The whole being stared at thing is something we have grown used to since being in India as our pasty skin does make us stand out quite a bit.
Our overnight train was supposed to be a 12 hour journey.
After settling into our bunks and finally getting some sleep, we were woken at around 6 in the morning by some noisy Japanese neighbours on the opposite bunk, who were gathering their things to jump off at the next stop 'Varanasi'.
Me and Jem sat up with really good bed hair, and stared blankly at each from within our sleeping bags for about five minutes, then we realised that we were supposed to be getting off the train too, for the first time ever a train was running fast in India!
We arrived in Varanasi a little confused and sleepy but eventually found somewhere to stay.
After a few hours kip, we accidently ended up on a tour with a man who worked at our guest house, who was showing some other tourists around, he asked if we wanted to tag along, so we jumped at the chance of a free tour.
We visited the famous burning ghats, which is where they cremate the dead in public. It all sounds a bit odd, but being a Holy City, Varanasi is a place where most Indians would chose to go to, to die. Death is actually celebrated in a really positive way here.
There is apparently an old man who fell ill, so he travelled to Varanasi so he could die in the Holy City, 25 years later he is still waiting! (Typical men, with their man flu!)
We had the chance to look around the little bazaar's, trying not to spend too many of our ruppees, and watched the locals bathing in the ghats (purifying their souls).
After our impressive tour we headed back to our Guest house for dinner, then I decided to be ill in the night, and continue to be ill for the following four days.
Unfortunately I didnt see much else of Varanasi besides our bathroom, and Jem looked after me, and nursed me, and made me drink horrible rehydration dissolvable stuff (I guess she is taking after nurse Rosy - Jem's Mum for those of you who dont know).
After four days, cabin fever had set in, and it was time for us to jump on yet another train but this time for 25hours, to Mumbai!
For this journey I was drugged up to the eyeballs (for the illness obviously) and we actually had a more normal Indian train experience, where by the train took over 29 hours instead of the predicted 25, and we successfully hit something on the track in the middle of the night, and were delayed even longer.
In the night me and Jem squeeled like the girls we are, as there was some kind of giant flying bug thing buzzing around our cabin, but we were eventually able to nod off, after it crawled under somebodys suitcase.
As we stepped off the train at Mumbai, the heat hit us really hard! (It was still 28 degrees at 11.p.m) The train station was really impressive, as the 'Victoria Terminus' is a massive grand building built by us Brits back in the Raj days.
We really liked Mumbai, and it was full of European architecture, and had a kind of homely feel. (The whole architecture thing is due to Colonialism, but it really was impressive)
We only had one night in Mumbai, and it was really expensive to stay there. One night cost us more than an entire week in the Beach area of 'Colva' in Goa.
We had a good wander around the streets, visited an art gallery, went to see a Christian Church, which was quite unusual to see after all of the Hindu temples in Rajasthan, and enjoyed some fine dining with the Australian cricket team.
Just thought I would slip that in there ;-)
After an eventful taxi ride around Mumbai, upon realising our taxi driver could speak no English and was just randomly driving us round, hoping we wouldn't notice that he wasn't actually taking us to where we had requested, he dumped us outside some swanky restaurant.
After our taxi ride , me and Jem didn't care anymore, and just needed some food, so we thought we would take our chances and blag our way into the posh restaurant (even though we had out flip flops on, grubby clothes and ruc-sacks)
The door was opened for us, and we had a warm welcome from the waiters who sat us down next to some rather burly looking men.
Half way through our meal the waiter asked us if we were Australian, and if we were here to watch the cricket, and if we were excited about being sat next to the Australian cricket team.
Me and Jem had no idea who they were, but immediatley regretted ordering the seafood spaghetti which was just about everywhere on the table, we also wished we knew at least a little bit about cricket, but alas we had only ever pretended to actually know what our driver was talking about when he went on about cricket for the past 3 weeks (the Indians really do love their cricket here).
Anyways, India played Australia the next day in Mumbai, but we were not there to see it, as we boarded our train to Goa.
We have visited quite a few of the beaches along Goa's coast, and its where we are now, its been lovely and relaxing, but tomorrow we head to a place called Hampi.
At some stage in Hampi we will give you another update of what we've been up to since we arrived In Goa, but I'll give all your eyeballs a rest now.
Hope you're all having a grand time in Blighty, enjoy the fireworks!
We're now off to sit on the beach for a few hours and watch the sunset, someone has to do it.
Love Clare and Jem x x x x x x