Published: October 23rd 2009October 23rd 2009
Woke after not enough sleep again and headed off to Narita at 830 am and only just had enough time to get to the airport and make my flight at 1230pm.
The flight was all the better for the fact that it was on a boeing and it was not nearly full with me having four seats to myself which allowed me to catch some decent sleep on the 8 hr flight to Delhi.
On arrival I was met with temperatures of 34 degrees C and quite a high humidity.
The pickup had my name spelt wrong so I missed them and only got the right guy after I had realised that my new name was Mr Russell Start I had no problem finding the taxi.
The drive to the hotel took over an hour and a half with most of the time spent in the pandemonium that is Delhi traffic where there are road markings for four lanes but actually five lanes of traffic.
The hotel is quite nice but it did take them three attempts to get the room right as I had booked a different room to the one supplied.
I hope to get some decent
sleep tonight as I am very tired and need to be fresh for the dealing I want to do for the possible tours I might do instead of going it alone.
After a day of relaxation after a hectic week in Japan that left me feeling a bit knackered I decided to go for a tour around Delhi to see what was on offer and to see the specific sights here seemed like a waste not to see the capital!
I had been the previous day to get some quotes for touring the north and Rajastan and the driver I had today was on trial to see if I liked him to see if he would be the one for the rest of my stay. Well he was very prompt in his time keeping but some of the places I wanted to go to he would try to take me elsewhere as if I could not read a map! Also it might be the culture but he wanted to know who I was phoning why I wanted to go to the tourist information etc it all seemed suspicious , including the numerous phone calls he received where
he informed the other person of our whereabouts. Be very careful when dealing in India , everyone will try to get your money either by slight of hand or cunning!
I still managed to see Red fort which is huge and expensive for foreign tourists to see a place that unfortunately will in years to come become so run down you wont wish to visit it! It was sad to think of the many people coming to see the place and the lack of maintenance to what must have been spectacular in its heyday!!
I also saw the largest Mosque in the southern hemisphere but again run down withno access which was good as I only had shorts on and this is not allowed.
The presidents house and parliament buildings were also spectacular and it was here that I realised that the government spends the money on the upkeep of its appearance and not with world heritage sites , what a shame!
At the end of a long day I headed back to my hotel to find that the two tour agencies I had spoken with were vying for my business to see Rajastan!
What had started out with one
offering 26000 rup came down to 12900 rup for 12 days for one person with me ending up going with the guy who was not the cheapest but had not changed his story so often!!
Went to my room then had a veg option of meal and fell asleep at 830.
Woke up to the same standard breakfast and was so disappointed I decided to give it a miss, starting to get fed up of the same type of dinner served at 7am.
My guide for the next week or so arrived and off we went to see some of the sights that my previous guide the day before had neglected to show me before we headed off to Agra to see the Taj Mahal. Went to Akshardham which is a relatively new temple on the outskirts of Delhi which made me feel really impressed as the scope of the carvings and amount of effort to build was amazing.
Whats more is that the total cost cannot be gauged as much of the work was done by volunteers who gave their time for free so no fixed amount of man hours can be given.
On opposite road
does not look dangerous at all
Afterwards me and Raoul headed off to Agra which I thought would be an interesting drive , however the use of the horn seems to be pandemic and after an hour I realised that I would have to get used to it as no overtaking nor turning can occur unless it is preceded by much hooting.
Finally arrived at Agra at around 6pm and started to look for a hotel and ended in the hotel Maya right on the main road with all the hooting not to mention the generator that is fired up every time the power goes out , it has done do twice in the last two hours!!
Another thing I noticed was that the pollution from Delhi is not restricted to Delhi it seems to be everywhere and the sky is a constant yellowish tint due to this lack of care of the people that live here , it appears that life is for now and not the future , reminds me so much of Africa except Africa is cleaner and there are some rules followed there here rules don’t exist despite the large numbers of police!
My guide seems to love tailgating and his English
As seen from Agra Fort
is almost non existing , feels like I’m in south America again!!
The power only went out twice last night and it did come back on which was good. The best thing was that the aircon worked so well that you could store meat in the room!! Up at 530am for the walk to Agra to see the Taj Mahal where I knew that on arrival I would be gouged for 750 rupees to see the place. Its not too bad as the fee also gets you a pair of shoe covers to negate you having to take your shoes off and a bottle of water that my guide seemed most interested in carrying!
The first sight is very nice and knowing that there is none other in the world makes it better but with all the people and the rundown look it does lack the ability to be spectacular. It is also hard to see where my money went with the upkeep of the interior not being that great either as well as the dirt from the thousands of people passing.
On entry to the main part where the Maharaj and his wife are buried
it was funny to hear that there is money placed in an area to coerce people to donate and the profit at the end of the day is split by the guards as if they have not gouged us enough already and worse so that it is usually the locals who have less money that do the donations , I was even lucky enough to see a guard helping himself!!
Next I went to the Agra fort where the Maharaj who built the Taj Mahal was imprisoned by his son for the last 8 years of his life , even though imprisonment meant in some apartment that he had build for himself years before.
This place for its sheer size and that it was reputed to have two moats , one filled with water with crocodiles and alligators and the other filled with wild animals , was for me more impressive than the Taj , however the view back to the Taj is quite good.
After this it was on the road again for some more treats from the Indian driver who knows no limit to the absurdity of trying to kill anyone else on the road!! And so after
another 5 hr drive I arrives in Jaipur where my driver took me to a quiet sewage smelling cesspit to stay for 1000 rupees which I declined and went elsewhere for more but they had wifi as well so might get some blogs up loaded.
Cant believe I am turning vegetarian as all that I have had so far has been veg and very tasty too but after not really finding much nice to eat I feel blotted as I have eaten too much.
I am very unfortunate with my choice of accommodation as mine was at the but terminal where every departing bus had to signal its departure with their fancy horn.
A later start today at 830am to go and see the Amber palace where I had a ride on an Elephant which I found to be very comical and a good work out on my stomach muscles.
After another 150 rupees it was off once again seeing another palace with very similar designs to all the others I had seen. Don’t bother with a guide as he will prevent you from exploring this warren of tunnels and passageways which made this most interesting
for me, also the info that the guide gives is written on stone plaques all over hence negating the use of a guide.
Another good picture opportunity is just inside the palace with the fort above on the hill that supposedly has a secret treasure buried inside.
By the time I had finished being haranged by my guide and seen not enough of the passageways I was sweating from every pore in my body and was glad of the pot of tea I had in the morning as well as the salt that I have been taking extra to what I get in my food.
Next was the water palace which is a palace which is on an artificial lake which is going to be made into a hotel.
The Kings residence in the centre of Jaipur is interesting if only to see the miniature
Paintings that are done with squirrel hair that at the tip is only one hair thick, but there is a hefty 300 rupee charge for access and there is a constant fee for everything that you do as well as many places where photos are not allowed so if there are two of you just
let one go.
These two places brought an end to the things my guide was willing to show me and frankly I was glad as he was not very great and after being in the country for 5 days I feel that I have a big sign over me written in Hindi saying “ here is a cash cow , please
Today I started out late with pickup by my driver being at 10am and heading for Pushkar which is in the west of Rajastan. The 3 hour drive was rather boring and uneventful except for the ever present mad driving some of which was the worst I have ever seen I have no idea what the adjustment must be like for a western driver to learn the ways of the Indian Madness.
Checked into a lovely hotel on the outskirts of town and got a rickshaw ride to the market. The drier of the rickshaw must have been at least half my weight and I felt awful with him sweating in the san so I paid him 3 times what was agreed and, it was still only about 30 pence!
Had a walk through the market and had a rather bland pasta dish that tasted so good because it was not a curry and therefore easy on the stomach.
Pushkar is a holy city and for that reason there is no meat eaten here no eggs and no alcohol so the only way to get it is under the table so to speak , however I have paid for one and am still waiting past the twenty minutes that I was told to wait , hopefully that is not a bad thing and that I have lost out on 120 rupees.
The biggest thing that happened was on my back to my hotel I was offered 2.5 grams of opium that I was told would allow me to have plenty boom boom all night , I don’t want to think what they meant , however I refused.
Beer blog- I think we are all being fooled in England as we are told that Cobra is India’s favourite beer ,however I have been here for a week now and have not been able to find any Cobra nor have I seen any adverts for the stuff, however I have seen adverts
we have been lied to Cobra is not Indias favourite beer
for and only been able to get my hands on Kingfisher Premium- neutral taste , neither sweet or bitter with a golden colour and a slight malt flavour. Kingfisher Strong is similar with a strong malt and hop flavour.
Woke up to a cooler morning than I have had in along time and today just didn’t have any tea or coffee and set off for Bikaner which was only 250km away but was going to take around 5 hrs along with a short stop at what Rauol my driver called the red temple. The senery was nice as we left Pushkar with the mountains spread out behind us as we headed north. On arrival at the red temple I was not too interested in seeing another temple but became more interested once I knew it was the Rat temple where Rats are worshipped as it is thought that some prophet or holy man was reincarnated as a rat. I had seen documentaries on this before and so decided to see for myself. The first thing that I was worried about was that temples require you to take your shoes off and the idea of walking barefoot
through countless years of rat fecal matter did not appeal to me and so when my guide requested some cotton covers for my feet I was much relieved!!
On entering the temple I headed to the inner temple where the smell of rat poo was the strongest and was brought face to face with sick looking rats with some of their hair falling out , but mostly they seemed to be fat and drunk on food and fruit.
It was interesting to see them all huddled together and sleeping in the shade.
Whilst walking around I met a Canadian who wanted to know where I had gotten my cotton covers from as he was walking around in his now shitty socks!
I was supposedly granted good luck when I spotted the white ( off white ) rat but as a whole I did not find it to much to my liking and left after about ten min.
Straight after I went to the Junagarh Fort in Bikaner where I decided not to take a guide as I had had my full of people professing to know what they are talking about only to find
out that this is not the case! After about ten minutes I thought that I had wasted my money again only to find that there was a lot I had not seen like all the guns and swords as well as a lovely aircraft that I managed to get a lovely picture of!
I was surprised at how good condition everything was and the lack of security around all these fabulous artefacts. Also the knowledge that the fort is on the worlds top 100 world heritage sites is again sad that the maintenance of the fort is not being upheld and it is expected to fall into ruins within the next twenty years or so.
After checking into a lovely hotel again with wifi my guide took me to the palace of the last Maharaj which was turned into a hotel in 1903 and is full of old stuffed animals as well as photos of the British era with some hunting that took place in Rhodesia (Zimbabwe). Quite a good day really.
Well after another night of not managing to get the aircon right and freezing in the early hours of the morning and waking
up a little on the tired side I decided that coffee was in order to tide me over for the rest of the day.
Today the idea is to drive to Jaiselmar in the desert , however it was rather annoying to arrive at the destination and then being told after a five hour drive that there was still a one hr drive to where the desert actually began and camel rides were available. With this in mind I decided to not bother and went to see the Jaiselmar fort instead which has lovely views over the desert and where I was able to see some nice gift ideas for some of my friends. At the end of the day I had a lovely local curry which was washed down with a couple of beers nearly 1.5 l to be precise and then off to bed.
Last night I decided to let the aircon be set at a higher temp and half way through the night I could not get the temp lower and so cooked all night. On awaking I had an urgent phone call with the great white telephone , apparently there was a
problem with last nights food delivery.
The previous night my guide had decided to polish off half a bottle of Vodka and it showed today as he was unable to keep his eyes open and when told that he could stop if he was tired he got angry saying he was ok and knew how to drive in India and that I was not to worry. I am not sure he understood that I was really concerned that my life was in his hands and he seemed unconcerned so I think I will reciprocate with the tip.
Our trip today was to Jodhpur and after another five hour drive to do only 250km I arrived at Jodpur to go to the Mehrangarh fort which overlooks the town with spectacular views over the city of Jodhpur. Met some French girls who are also having problems getting used to the type of risk taking that the drivers over here seem to lpve taking.
Found a hotel inside the old city surrounded by buildings coloured in turquoise which is the colour of Jodhpur. Had another curry for tea but I have to admit that after a week of curries I
am starting to crave a normal western meal that skips the chilli and lets the stomach settle down and the heartburn stop as well!
Hopefully I can get a decent sleep tonight as well as I have booker my train for two days time and am, not sure what the journey is going to be like.
Surprisingly cool last night and also the first night I have not used the aircon and slept well. Went for breakfast and decided that the chef whose clothes were filthy and the way he was scratching himself was enough to guess that the food would probably not be safe so I had some tea which was sufficiently hot enough to kill all germs.
Left with my driver at 830pm with the great expectations of Raoul trying to his best to find the middle of the front of an oncoming bus, however I was to be disappointed as I think he realised that the tip was on how I felt at the end of the trip and not guaranteed and so he was almost good!
The drive was quite the same as normal until we turned off to Rangapur to see
a temple and as we headed into the mountains and the scenery got better and greener. I became more interested at the numerous wells powered by two oxen used to provide water with flood irrigation.
The temple was quite nice , however I was getting tired of the continual tap dripping of having to pay for everything it seems that if you are European then you are required to support the economy by getting ripped off at any stage even though the money is not that much for us we are all still on a budget!
The worst part is the fact I have already mentioned is that the extra cost to tourists does not seem to get to where it is needed and most of the buildings are in disrepair a far cry from Japan where there are still wooden buildings standing that are hundreds of years old and not looking old.
The drive to Udaiper was very pleasant and the scenery also great and on arrival you are met by apparently Asia’s largest man made lake however it does not appear to be that big. In 2006 it rained for three days and flooded the lake and the
garden that is in the centre.
Found a hotel where I was meant to meet some people I had met on the road and it had Wifi, however they had arrived and decided to not stay here so no go there.
Hope to get some internet stuff done to possibly leave early and head to Thailand.
Today other than seeing the palace I don’t really have much to do compared to the last week of travelling as my train leaves from Udypur for Mombai tonight so after a late start I headed of for the palace in the old white city , however this seemed to be what everyone was doing and the palace was very busy so instead of seeing the palace I thought I would just have a coffee in their restaurant until I sa the prices. 160 rupees for a coffee and 400 rupees for a slice of cake !!!
Instead I went to the café Edelweiss down the road and had a coffee and two cakes for the princely sum off 160 rupees.
On the way back to the palace I wondered through some markets and
made some choice purchases not to be mentioned here as some folk may learn things too early.
After the shopping I headed to the post office and a packing shop to wrap my stuff before shipping some more stuff home and elsewhere.
When I finally made it to the palace I was quite impressed at the art collection that was on show with some pieces missing as they were on loan to the royal art museum in London for a show from October to mid January. For me the most interesting feature was a garden that was on the second level all with a pool and fully grown trees all of which appeared to have another part of the palace below it.
The Maharajas that built these palaces also built a series of seven dams/lakes over 400 years ago that are still in use today and are reputed to be the first of their kind , the engineering feats before modern machinery and the weapons and tactics always makw me wonder if the Indians had been big sea faring people , would the world be more populated by Indians?
The day quickly ended and my driver suggested going
i was here for an hour and never saw them
to a dinning hall for our last meal which had Thali for 90 rupees which really appealed to my Scottish heritage as most meals I had were around the 200 mark. The meal was fabulous and worked in a buffet manner with you having as much as you want all washed down with lassi which is a bit like lactose but more watery. Soon it was all over and even though at times my guide had been a bit chancy with his driving he had been a good guide/driver and to say thanks I had not sent some of my clothes home and gave him a nice fleece and some teashirts as well as a tip.
On arrival at a Japanese train station everything is available to show you directions on which platform to go to , however when you arrive at the Indian counterpart you are greeted by a host of smells and sights with there being no hint of any semblance of organisation. There was a train at the platform and as I stood wondering if it was mine I remembered getting the wrong one in Japan and the joking teenagers cajoling me to get on this
one made me wary. Fortunately one vendor explained that the Mumbai train was due to arrive at 9 pm and so I waited. The smell of raw sewage was the overwhelming smell as the train toilets flush onto the track and the toilet still work when they are waiting at the platform!!
Finally my train arrived and I confirmed my place by looking at the list pasted to the side of the carriage and climbed aboard. Initially I had booked a place in a two berth and was unpleasantly surprised to see that I was in a four berth but this is India and I made my bed and was getting ready to lie in it!
The other people in the berth seemed to also want to get some sleep so after tidying away all of my stuff and tying my stuff to the rafters so to speak ( thanks dad for advising on bringing rope ) I settled down for an uncomfortable nights sleep with the light burning brightly above my bed , so you can imagine how happy I was when the train departed exactly on time , the other people in my cabin went quiet
, turned off the lights and went to sleep!
The car was well insulated from the sound off the wheels on the track and the gentle rocking put me straight to sleep!! No one made a noise or I didn’t here it and I had quite a comfortable sleep and seriously it was made possible with the rope dad sais to take as I knew that anyone trying to nick my stuff would have great difficulty releasing my bag and so slept unworried!
Woke up to men shouting chai chai chai , coming through the carriages selling tea and coffee and another multitude of food. It is at this stage that you really need to look out for your valuables. It is most pleasant to relax and enjoy the ride , and it is now that after two weeks that I can admit that I feel that I can say I like India and would like to return here , however I would prefer to have some control ie drive my own vehicle , at least that way I can prevent myself from driving like an idiot even though there is nothing I can do about
So for now I can just sit and enjoy the calm before the storm of when I arrive in Mumbai where pandemonium will break out and I will arrive in the melting pot of madness , I have heard that I have yet to see bad driving until I have been to Mumbai.
Arrival I Mumbai was a bit of an anticlimax and as I headed to the hotel I had booked at Juhu beach and was to get worse. I had thought that the train ride would be tiring and I would want to have a nice hotel , however the train was quite relaxing and I was about to find out that you don’t get much for $100 in Mumbai as the hotel was nothing special at all but at least it had an aircon as being right on the sea was making it rather humid. The hotel kindly booked me a private tour for the following day and after a shower and a bit of relaxing I headed out for walk on the beach. So far I was rather impressed with Mumbai , it definitely was cleaner than Delhi and you
could see that there was a lot more money around especially in Juhu beach.
After much debate I decided to go and eat at the Marriotte hotel which although it was way pricy I was able to have the first salad or regular meal since I had arrived in India and all I had was a salad oooh how nice it was!!
Back at the hotel I quickly arranged my flights so that I could go to Thailand earlier as I wanted to get some control back in my life as India has no rules or regulations.
The tour was booked for 930am and the driver was early and I headed down to meet him to see how much English he knew which was not very much so after some discussion with the hotel manager we headed off to see the washing area and where they dye all the cloth with me only finding out that the Ganges is no where near Mumbai! I should have paid more attention when I was in geography at school.
It soon become apparent that my driver was just going to do the tourist drive
that all drivers do and no amount of cajoling was going to get him to go where I wanted. Footnote- get a tuk tuk and agree a price for the day and they will look after you much better
My driver thought he would be a guide as well however nothing he said could I understand so I gave up. The final straw came when he took me to a museum saying he would come back in an hour which was nearly two in the end so after calling the hotel to sort out the problem I just told the driver to go to the hotel only to be told that it would take 2 to 3 hours as the traffic was so bad !!
He also carried on doing what he wanted with there being nothing to do but enjoy the ride. On arrival at the hotel a complaint fortunately got me a refund!
I relaxed till 7 till I needed to go the airport for a flight to Delhi to catch my connecting flight to Bangkok which only left at 330 am.
On arrival at Delhi domestic airport I followed the signs for the free
shuttle to the international airport only to find that if you follow the signs you will end out of the terminal and once out you cant get back in and there is no bus on the outside so you need to take a taxi at a cost of 150 rupees !!!
Only one problem none of the taxi drivers don’t want to take you as they want to do bigger fares and so after fretting a bit a youngish Indian guy spoke to the police for me and they effectively arrested a guy and forced him to take me as his fare , how mad is that!
Having changed my flight so soon I had not had chance to get an email confirming my flight , however to enter the international terminal you need to have a printout which I find strange as it was the first time this had happened to me and after more time my name was found on a flight manifest and I was allowed into the terminal only to be flying with Cathy Pacific who last time I flew with were efficient and easy to work with but this time after having such a good
time with so many other airlines I was disappointed in how mediocre they were and the flight was nothing special with an old plane and poor food.
Met a great guy at emigration from Delhi on the same flight called Varun who I called Aron for a while before I was corrected.
Slept most of the flight.