I've bragged, I've blagged, but never before had I blogged - until I discovered TravelBlog!
If you dream of travelling the globe on less than five Dollars a day, be warned: I'm an experienced, mature traveller - not a backpacker. So, you won't find stories here about me thumbing my way across the Sahara, slumming it in cockroach-infested hostels, or sharing a room with giant mosquitoes. More my style are self-drive cars (or, better still, chauffeur-driven ones), first-class sleeper trains, and comfortable hotels, bed-and-breakfasts, holiday cottages, villas or apartments. Having said that, I'm not made of money, so good value in everything is important, and I'll try to include things in my blogs which even a traveller on the meanest budget may find useful.
Oh, and I'm British - so you can expect a stiff upper lip in times of adversity and a sense of humour that's often not understood by others.
September 21st 2013
Having just endured a short stay in hospital, I thought I’d share my notes on things that occurred to me. Okay, I know this is TravelBlog and that the UK's National Health Service has nothing to do with journeys around foreign lands - but I did have to travel to the hospital and, as you’ll discover, it could almost have been China, India, Pakistan, the Philippines, Poland or Romania in England’s green and pleasant land! So, for what it’s worth, here are few of my observations during this enforced time away from home: Buildings are there for a purpose, be it hotel or hospital. Hospitals aren’t hotels, but my recent experience says the service in hospitals is actually sometimes better. It’s the people who make the difference. The many grades of nurses have different, confusing uniforms. ... read more
September 12th 2013
Sometimes you just need a break, don’t you? The younger generation takes long weekends. Us oldies, well, we take long mid-weeks. This mid-week, our excuse - as if we needed one, was that I’d finally persuaded my good lady to reduce the ever-growing collection of jigsaw puzzles she’d squirrelled away on shelves in our garage and in almost every cupboard and wardrobe in the house. She had more than 200 boxes of the things, collectables apparently – clever 1500-piece cartoons by a Dutchman called Jan van Haasteren and innumerable tricky ones by an outfit called Wasgij? (the picture on the box isn’t the puzzle you make, hence the back-to-front name!). Through one of those community websites, my wife found another good lady willing to take 10 percent of these desirable things off her hands for a ... read more
March 15th 2013
What did Ali call it in one of his overdue tales? Oh yes, "blog lag". It must be infectious because here I am, more than two months after our return home, still trying to complete blogs of our travels around India. A lot of water has gone under that proverbial bridge, but my memories of the amazing things we did, the great people we met and the wondrous places we saw remain as clear as the day. Well, most of them do. Any that are a bit murky are quickly brought to mind by my camera, which has a photographic memory! Copious photos and videos, you see, are my crutches as I don't write down things as I go along - perhaps I should as it's said that 190,000 brain cells die each day and, at ... read more
March 13th 2013
It's a long drive from Mcleod Ganj to Amritsar, so we'd decided to stop for a night at Pong on the way. No, it's not 'Pong' the other half of 'Ping'. Nor 'Pong' the arcade video game. Not even 'pong' the disagreeable or offensive smell (although that's fairly close to the truth). I'm talking Pong the reservoir! There's only one hotel. It turned out to be a carbuncle on the landscape with basic rooms, terrible food, dire management and a website that miserably failed to tell it how it was. The view from the roof was lovely. The boat ride on the reservoir was awful. I thought about ending this blog right here, but you want to know more about why we didn't think much of Pong, don't you? So... First, a confession. It was me ... read more
March 12th 2013
I had hoped that some day I might see Tibet, the roof of the world. However, until China returns the country to its rightful owners and stops brutalising its people and destroying its traditions, I'll make do with Tibet in exile. Mike Fossey, March 2013 In March of 1959, after an epic journey on foot over the Himalayas, Tibet's spiritual leader, Tenzin Gyatso - His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, crossed through the Khenzimana Pass into India. Days earlier, in Tibet's capital Lhasa, the people had risen up against Communist China's occupation of their country for the past eight years. The uprising was brutally put down. The tiny Tibetan army was outnumbered and out-gunned. More than 85,000 were said to have been killed. Those members of the Dalai Lama's bodyguards who'd remained behin... read more
March 9th 2013
We'd spent yesterday amid the clamour and cacophony of Delhi's characterful monuments and charismatic markets (see ). At five o'clock this morning, a more different view could hardly be imagined. There was only the merest hint of daylight. There was a chill in the air. There were no buzzing tuk-tuks, no honking horns, not even a background hum of traffic. Apart from a dog barking somewhere in the distance, silence reigned. We were on our way out of chaotic Delhi. Despite the ungodly hour, one of the young men from our homestay kindly supervised arrival of our taxi and quickly installed our bags, some in its boot and the rest balanced precariously on its roof-rack. We sped through an almost deserted city, racing through red lights, crossing junctions without slowing down, not giving the handful of ... read more
March 6th 2013
As the protest march (see: )was now north of Mathura on the AH1, we made a detour onto the Yamuna Expressway, a massive six-lane motorway opened just six months earlier. It was almost deserted and we scurried at previously unheard of speed towards Delhi. Possibly, as this was a new road, drivers weren't yet fully aware of it. Perhaps the tolls were too expensive for most. Or, maybe, as it starts in Uttar Pradesh and passes through the state of Haryana, albeit briefly, before reaching the National Capital Territory, its emptiness may have had something to do with separate vehicle taxes payable in each of the three states. Our driver, for example, had a Rajasthan-registered car with tax already paid in Uttar Pradesh. He didn't usually go as far north as Delhi and had been a ... read more
March 5th 2013
To the south-east of Agra, in the city of Allahabad, a mass protest had begun about pollution of the Yamuna River. For years, industrial waste and sewage has been discharged into this river, the largest tributary of the sacred Ganges, from drains on the outskirts of Delhi far away to the north. It has become officially 'dead' by the time it runs beside the Taj Mahal in Agra. Now the masses were heading up to Delhi on foot to voice their concerns to parliament and doubtless to Delhi's Chief Minister herself, the appropriately-named Mrs Sheila Dikshit. By 'masses' I do mean masses! What had started off as 10,000 farmers, sadhus, union activists and members of religious and social groups had already swelled to many times that number. Yesterday morning, they blocked the Agra-Delhi highway with parked ... read more
March 4th 2013
Agra - grubby, overcrowded, totally tourist-oriented, 'want postcards?', 'need taxi sir?', hassle, hassle... It’s best to get in, see the sights and get out – as quickly as you can. Arrive around midday. In the afternoon, visit Agra Fort for a distant view of the Taj Mahal down by the Yamuna River, then the glorious ‘Baby Taj ’ (the tomb of Itimad-ud-Daulah), before taking in the sunset view of the Taj Mahal from across the river at Mehtab Bagh. If you still have any energy, complete your day with the Sound & Light performance back at the Red Fort. Before dawn next day, enjoy the highlight of your visit by joining the queue at the Taj Mahal to see the s... read more
March 3rd 2013
A week into our wildlife adventure and we still had another three days to go. What I'd hoped would be a leisurely ten days had so far turned out to be anything but! It had been a hive of activity, involving chilly early mornings and hot, sunny days in the open-air, with much hurtling around in jeeps or bumping along on cycle rickshaws. It had been exhausting, educational and exhilarating in almost equal quantities. Okay, I did get one lazy morning - but, boy, did I need it! Although a veteran of many places on our itinerary, the last two animal sanctuaries, Ranthambore () and Keoladeo (), were entirely new to me. While I won't hurry back to one of these, the other was fantastic! Now, we were off to a third, the Chambal National Sanctuary, ... read more