Eye of the Bengali Tiger

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January 13th 2012
Published: January 14th 2012
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Today is the longest drive ever - 12 hours on this god damn truck! I'm certainly learning to be more patient as the days go on. We get lost several times due to diversions, yet when we ask for directions everyone tells you a different thing!...It seems no-one in India is capable of saying "no", as they want to appear helpful so instead they'd rather lie or just make stuff up; "8km then turn left.." says one man...."2km then turn right..." says another, with their funny little head wobble.

Everytime we stop we have a swarm of people around us staring at this big dusty truck of white people arriving in their village - everyone is very friendly and we have some fun with them...They want to take photos of us (especially the blonde hair) so I joke it will cost them 10 rupees. One boy goes to his pocket and we all have a giggle.

We get stopped at toll roads frequently which mainly consist of a man in a hut with a rope across the road. Naturally they see white tourists and immediately try to rip us off. Of course Jenny & Overly-enthusiastic Phil know the score and therefore have a rule - we argue the price and if he still tries to con us we just floor it!...Then we all stick our fingers up as the man stands there waving his arms after us in protest...It's a fun game!

We arrive late at Bandhavgarh and it's 2 nights of camping!...In India!...at the edge of a tiger park!...I'm about as excited as Overly-Excited-Phil, ie not very! It's cold, we have tents to set up in the dark and I'm told to watch out for snakes, spiders, monkeys pinching my shoes and rats...Eek! I don't sleep well and we're up at 5 the next morning for a jeep safari in the national park in search of tiger. I'm freezing and I want my bed!! The sun comes up and it gets warmer, but despite the guide pointing out tiger footprints and a growl coming from the trees (which I'm convinced sounds just a cooing dove) we see no tiger. Even me and Cassie singing "Eye of the Tiger" didn't coax him from his den...

We arrive back to camp to a Full English brunch...Now I'm excited!! Especially when I discover Overly-Excited Phil has a secret stash of Yorkshire Tea to wash it down with! Get in!! The rest of the day I laze in the sun, then help Jenny prepare the dinner. We all eat our veggie spag bol round the campfire with a few beers, which definitely helps with the second night camping.

Another long truck day and we arrive at Ken River near Khajuraho. Everyone's decided to upgrade from tents to lodges for the bargain price of $7.00. The place is like a really run down Center Parcs but still has a nice charm. The main restaurant is built in the trees like a treehouse and overlooks a lovely river. Today we visit the erotic temples of the Kama Sutra. Our Indian guide is a funny man, though has the hairiest ears I've ever seen! The Hindu temples are beautifully carved and he describes in great detail (& humour) the various positions & meanings. A particular highlight was when he pointed out a scorpian carved into one of the statue's legs which apparently means the lady is "well up for it" at which point an Ozzie lady from our group, Judy, yells out "Ahh! I've got one of those!" and proceeds to flash her bum with a tatoo of a scorpian to us all.

The next day we're on the road again and arrive in Agra, home of the Taj Mahal. So after an early breakfast at a local family's house of Chai Masala tea, curried potatoes & spinach roti (Yes! I've always wanted to have curry for breakfast!) we head to see the infamous landmark itself. It meets all my expectations and is as stunning and impressive as I'd hoped. We spend some time enjoying it's splendour and a bit more time trying to get that elusive photograph without a Japanese tourist or ten getting in the way and finish the day with yet another yummy curry.


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