Published: February 23rd 2008February 3rd 2008
the half elefant half human god, once is broken (it's trunk and belly) can't be venerated
Reading the book "11 minutes" from Paulo Coelho, there is a passage where the protagonist and her husband-to-be (shit, I shouldn't tell the end)
come up with a discussion about sacred sex. They mention about times, in ancient Greece or Rome, where sex was treated as sacred. Religious rituals included sex, even girls, to be able to get married, had to make sex with a stranger before the marriage (I would like to be the stranger, not the husband... hehehe)
. Paulo Coelho stimulated our imagination. How would be to be in a country were this was still reality? India was high in our expectations. After all India was the birth place of Kama Sutra and tantric sex (there is a Buddha that make love to get enlighten)
, India hosted temples with sculptures making sex, histories of Maharajahs with 1000 wifes and beautiful princesses.
So.. how is real India? Maharajahs they still exists! The sex sculptures in Khajuraho are as we imagined, unimaginable sex position one after another! Tantric sex can still be learned (Buddha teachings)
! But... Indian society, opposite that we imagined is not a liberal society. Sex is treated as a taboo. Girls have to hide their body (even
when swimming in the beach)
Women following a wedding parade
, marriages are arranged (Boys and girls are promised early in life)
, women and men are separated in lines and in some cases even have separate train compartments and foreigner women are sometimes sexually harassed on the street (Lili knows it well)
Short before crossing the Nepal-India border we met some travelers telling us to be prepared for India. It would be similar but much more intense than Nepal. It's true. The first 10 meters after crossing the border was so full of people on the streets that the simple task of walk on the streets was challenging!
While Claudio and Lili went to Kolkata, Fernando decided to go direct to Varanasi, and everybody would meet in Bodgaya (the city where Buddha reach enlightenment) after a few days. Lili and Claudio took the train and Fernando, just to be cool decided to rent a motorbike, the famous Royal Enfield, to arrive there in stile!
Fernando thought it would be easy (it's only 250km on the national highway)
, but things turned to be different! After escaping from free wondering camels, avoiding cars driving in the wrong way, a few detours and 9 hours on the
life threatening road, that image of the easy-rider was gone. Instead, there was a cold, exhausted, dusty and hungry bike driver! Not cool at all! The return trip? Fernando gave up and put the bike on the train and enjoyed the safe ride to Varanasi.
A few days in Varanasi gave us the will to head on to Khajuraho the famous Kama Sutra temples. If Taj Mahal is the monument of love, khajuraho is definably the monument of sex. The carving are... let say "Inspiring"... They have many explanations for the source of the sex statues, some of them quite silly "the images were carved because the god of lighting was shy and would struck a temple with such heresy" (Yes yes, all that imagination just because of some thunder storms)
. Khajuraho was by far one of our favorite spots in India, not just because of the nudity, but all the other carvings were as well impressive (they are carved deep in stone, not making only the facade of the sculpture, but the full contour)
and the set of temples are disposed in clean pleasant well kept garden (cleanness in not an Indian thing, believe me)
On the beach
12 days to recover from the stress of travelling in the north.
and currys later, we arrive in Goa. After the first month in India, Lili left and Marina came. One year delayed but we finally met our cousin (We were supposed to meet her in Dubai, remember?)
Who never wanted to be famous? On the way north, leaving Goa, Mumbai was our chance. Out of the streets we where invited to be stars for a day in a bollywood movie (We even got paid for it!! Not much, after all this is India). The scene was a nightclub, supposed to be in Australia. We were give clothes from the sixties (I don't know where in Australia you would find people dressed like that, but anyway...) and had to dance like crazy every time the director scream "action"!! We were positioned always as back as possible. There were the main actors, the professional dancers, the bar, the light poles, cables, fans, and after all this, us (I don't really know why they called us, hehehe). But it worthed, in the breaks we could wonder around the studio checking up on everything that was going on. Next to us was a music video being taped, with gorgeous girls in very short dresses.
Our cusin freezing in the cold of Rajastan's winter
Girls you always see on TV and wonder if they really exists.
Together with Marina, we went our second time to Rajastan. This time for a longer period and loaded with activities, camel-riding safaris, rat temple, tiger safari, lassis and fort visits. If Marina learned something from Rajastan in India was not to care about dirt. The forth day traveling without a shower (Rajastan was cold, hot water in backpackers place in India is a fairytale) we are at breakfast and comes the discussion of donating clothes:
- "I want to donate this shirt that I'm using!" - Say's Marina.
- "Why don't you donate it?" - Asks Fernando.
- "Because I wearing it!"
- "Put on another one!"
- "But I don't want to change clothes, or else I'll have to have a shower!!" - Answer Marina.
On Christmas eve we took a bus of about 8 hour to Udaipur, were we would arrive and try to find ourself a place to spend this special moment. But as everything else in India, nothing goes as planned. The bus ride took 21 hous instead of 8 and we ended having cookies and water for christmas eve dinner! (the
Look how many tourists taking the same picture!
Hide-and-Seek chocolate cookies are something I'll miss!) In the next morning we phoned our parents at home to know they were still feasting there!!
The last stop in Marina's trip was Agra. There is nothing else about the Taj Mahal that we could add to the million words already written. But I want to protest; the price difference for locals and foreigners are ridiculous. I do understand diferent prices for locals and tourists in order to stimulate local tourism in the country, but is it fair to charge 20 (twenty) times more for foreigners than for locals? Imagine if just outside the lift to climb the famous Eiffel Tower is a sign - Locals - €10.70 - Foreigners - €214.00 - Yes, 214 Euros to the top of the Eiffel Tower. You think it would be fair? And don't come with the excuse that westerns earn more then they earn in India, because there is other westerners traveling which are not Europeans nor North Americans and they earn less than Indians (Colombian, Bolivian, Peruvians, Chinese, South Africans, etc...)
After visiting Agra for the second time, Fernando was fed up with India. Not understanding how other travelers (Israelis mainly)
Visit the temples? Only when you are bored of doing nothing!
could stay so long in India, he wanted to leave as soon as possible. "There is no reason to stay here, wasting my money if I'm not enjoying it!" - he said. But the reports from other travelers coming from the south guarantee it would be less and less overwhelming, dirty and chaotic as further as we go south. If it wasn't for Claudio, we would have left India one month before! Claudio still wanted to try the south. "OK, let's try Hampi, and if it is not better we leave."
Our 2 days in Hampi stretched to 12! This backpackers hangout has lots of hostels with nice restaurants, all with cushions and low tables, perfect for doing nothing besides chat to other travelers or watch movies.
If you are feeling too useless you can visit the ruins (The common excuse of the backpacker not to leave is always that he still have something else to look at)
just across the river (quite amazing by the way)
or hire a bike and go to the water dam for a swim. At night, all the hostels play different movies, so we just had to choose which one we wanted to
Claudio driving Robert's Enfield "Ganesha". All dirty from dust!
see!! Now Fernando knows how 4% of the Israeli population spend their time in India!!
In Hampi we met other two other brothers traveling together. (We are not the only ones)
They were driving motorbikes (Fernando's dream Enfield)
, and after a few days and many beers we were invited to join them to drive to Goa!! Perfect, a reason to leave Hampi!
Goa is the paradise on India for many travelers when they are exhausted from the heat, hassle and horns on the north. The 3S's (sand, sun and sea)
and cheap beers, are the perfect combination for many days in any beach of the state. We have been there twice!! First with Lili, in the end of her trip in India, for 12 lazy days!! The second time with Robert and Joe for another not so lazy week!
Leaving Goa for the second time we headed south. This time for an attraction supposed to be part of the 1000 places you have to visit before you die (by Lonely Planet). The whole state of Kerala is filled with canals. You can travel north/south or east/west inside the state by water. Almost a big version of Venice. We
A nice way to enjoy the backwaters from Kerala
took a ferry crossing more than 80 kilometers of canals. Many times we spot the impressive luxurious houseboats floating lazy. It can be nice to spend a few days like this, but only if there is some friends with you, alone can be very boring....
After the backwaters tour, we ended in Varkala waiting for the train to leave to Chennai. This is one of the best places to learn Ayurvedic massage. We really consider staying there for another week and get even more skilled into the art of spoiling the girls... hehe, but the price was prohibitive...
Our last spot in India was Chennai. Where we unsuccessfully tried to get a boat to Southeast Asia. After a few days trying we gave up and started looking for a flight. As soon we found out that flying to Singapore cost the same as to Bangkok, we decided to add another two countries in our list! In the next day we jumped on the plane, to end our India experience! Summary
Length of Stay: 83 Days
Visited: Calcutta, Bodhgaya, Varanassi, Khajuraho, Agra, Delhi, Jaipur, Udaipur, Munbai, Goa, Jaisalmer, Bikaner, Sawai Madpur, Hampi, Kollan, Varkala, Chennai.
Lots to see and exotic
It's clearly portuguese architecture. Look like some ones back home.
Cons: Dirty, Lots of hassle and expensive beer.
Transport: Cheap, plenty and slow
Budget pp p/day: US$16,61
Budget breaker: Flight to Singapore and Taj Mahal
There are more photos below