India and its assault on all my senses

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April 12th 2006
Published: September 17th 2006
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Delhi to Delhi

All in the mini van

After landing in India i take myself out to the taxi stand. Its a little hectic but i keep my cool. I find a driver and show them the address of where i want to go, so i can meet up with Steph. He tells me that he knows where it is and we agree to a price (after some persistent bargaining by me). I have to then walk over to the cab, which doesnt really look like one so I ask all sorts of questions making sure he knew where the place was. All the answers were what i wanted to hear so i got in and again asked several questions to which i got the right answers. We are driving for a while passing guards with big bloody scary guns and cows and all sorts on the streets. This is until we stop at some kind of travel agent and the driver gets out and tells me that he just needs to find out where i need to go. WHAT? Turns out he didn't really know the way to go and had no idea where the place was that i was looking for, even though my address was the main bazaar, which sounds pretty central and somewhere that a cabbie should know!!! I ended up spending abour 2 hours here, looking on the net, trying to find where Steph was staying, and the guy working there didnt even know where it was. He told me to wait there and his friend that was coming would know where it was. After more waiting and the cab driver insisting that i pay him, (i then began to yell at him as there was no way i was going to pay him until he got me to where i had to be.) After my patience had run out (and yes i did have some), and it was getting dark, i began to get upset and for the first time on my trip a little nervous. I ended up making the driver take me to the train station which would somehow help me find where i was going. Once he dropped me off i grabbed my bags then yelled at him once more, telling him how unsafe i was now because of him and if something happened to me that it was all his fault and i walked away a blubbering mess.

I dodge cars, vans, cows, people and all sorts on the roads to find what looked like a police stand but no-one was in there. Then a guy runs over and asks if i need help. Turns out the cabbie actually dropped me off on the main bazaar and this man pointed me towards the place i wanted. But after walking in the heat, all covered up, with my pack and having way too many men approaching me i had to ask several times again for the place i was staying. After passing mens urinals on the alleyway another man helps me and he takes me to the place. Once inside Steph comes down to greet me and i am so so glad to see someone familiar. We dont get much time to talk as we have to get to the agent to book our stuff for the next few days. We go out to dinner afterwards but i dont eat anything but bread as i am still feeling sick and really tired. Back at our room, which has tv and shower i fall asleep while Steph is talking to me. Sorry Steph but i was buggered.

13th April. Nothing is open early for breakfast so i just get 2 roti's and Steph gets frustrated as she is starving but didn't get anything. Our driver Bishon is waiting for us and we head off in our mini mini van out of Delhi, using this time to catch up more without me falling asleep. We ask the driver to stop at Macca's as Steph needs food and a toilet and we get a little confused as he continues past and ends up pulling over at another spot. We start to question whether he speaks or understand English very well. My throat is so dry and croaky and i was beginning to loose my voice. On the way to Jaipur we ask if we can head to Amber on the way. After some confusion we eventually figure out that we are going there the following morning and will be doing the elephants ride then.

So we arrive in Jaipur and its not as busy as Delhi but there are pigs all over the street, and camels too. We get to our accommodation called Sumer Niwas Guesthouse and it's a good room. We try to communicate with our driver what we wanted to do with the rest of the day but that proved difficult. We had to get another driver there to interpret for us, so after wasting time we head to the cinema and get a ticket to a movie for tonight (Bishon will pick up up after the movie) and then we head off for some lunch, getting a little lost along the way. We walk the streets for a while dodging the traffic and the kids asking for money and end up making it to the restaurant and eat our yummy pizza's (in India i know!!!) My voice is getting worse still but we head to get some Indian treats eating them in the foyer of the Rajmandir Cinema. We were the only ferangs around and a little girl ran over to us so she could shake our hands, how cute. We find our seats, which even slide making them more comfortable and the only thing we knew was that the movie was called Malamaai Weekly. Even though it wasn't subtitled and we had no idea what they were saying we could still kinda figure out what it was about and it was actually really hilarious. We couldn't stop laughing at the end and my belly hurt walking out. A definite highlight of the trip so far. We just went back to our room and laughed about the movie.

14th April. I have Vegemite on toast for the first time in ages and it was sooo good. We head out and drive through the Red Fort where people are selling shoes everywhere. Jaipur is pretty dirty but not as bad as Delhi. It also looks like there are these stalls that are selling condoms but they are actually a type of beetle nut that the Indians chew and spit out everywhere on the roads. We then head to Amber to see the Fort and it was amazing. We wait in line for the elephant ride to the top but the line doesn't move and we get annoyed at everyone trying to sell us stuff. I wasn't too sure about riding the elephants as it looked way too touristy and i started to question my beliefs and my feelings in this type of activity. We ended up walking to the top which was quicker anyway. There were tours with guides everywhere and Steph and i made it
The Desert QueenThe Desert QueenThe Desert Queen

Pretty appropriate name for our van
our mission to keep as far away from them as possible and we did a pretty good job. We found some cool little rooms and had fun getting lost. Won't mention what Steph did inside the castle but it was hilarious...remember Steph!!! hihihi...

We then headed to an astronomical place Jantar Mantar that had sundials and all sorts of structures used to read different things. It was pretty cool and the weather was hot so we didn't stay there too long. We grabbed an ice cream (Steph gets an Indian one, and i get an icy one), passing a snake charmer and we then decide to skip the palace as it was way too expensive. We then ask Bishon to take us to a cheap place for lunch, but we don't think he understood cheap but the food was still good.

We then head to Barhatpur (which was Bishon's suggestion) and on the way we see an unusual temple that is inverted into the ground with lots of steps making it look really uniquely patterned. It was called Chand Baori and there were no other tourists around so it was great. We figured this place hardly got big bus tours due to the poor quality of the road, and the kids there were completely fascinated by us. We even saw some Eucalyptus trees making me think about home. Bishon then tells us that his parents live about 3kms away so we end up agreeing to go and see them. This little town was in the middle of a festival and the streets were packed. We made it after squeezing our way through some streets and got to meet his family where his dad was 95 and only looked 70! We had some tea and Steph handed out some stickers to the kids, and practised some of her Indian. We left not long after and brought Bishons son with us. Bishon then starts to talk about having dinner with his family so we agree. We stop to get some meat on the way and have to lock all the doors as a man with a monkey was trying to get money from us. Everytime we stopped for whatever reason the doors always had to be locked as people would always approach the car and even put there hands in which got a bit scary at one point.

So we go to the hotel and he comes back to pick us up. His house is very small and we sit in the bedroom talking with his eldest son (who speaks excellent English - unlike Bishon). It was quite uncomfortable as we both ate on our own and Bishon kept forcing me to drink this terrible and extra strong vodka with a dash of water. I had no choice but to drink it, trying not to screw up my face everytime. The dinner itself was excellent and so tasty. It got even more uncomfortable when Bishon tells us that we musn't tell his boss about him bringing us to his home otherwise he will get in trouble and be accused of being lazy. We promise him but start to feel weird about the whole situation (he even mentioned something about getting tips at the end!!!). They kept feeding us and we were wondering why they wouldn't sit and eat with us. We were full but had to keep eating more. Bishon's son was our interpreter and we started to wonder if we could trade them on our tour and eliminate the language barrier with Bishon. We thank them for the
Together againTogether againTogether again

good times
lovely dinner and Bishon drops us off, what a weird evening. We start to think that he only told us about Barhatpur so he could see his family (as there is nothing to do here), and that just maybe he actually is lazy.

15th April. We both wake up before the alarms and we cant sleep. We decided to skip the nature reserve bird park thing as its too expensive and just chill in our room diary writing. After lunch Bishon picks us up and we head to Agra. We arrive and its just as dirty and loud as Delhi. There are mens urinals everywhere along the street just like Delhi, but no female ones; I wonder where the women go? We ask to stay at a particular place but he tells us no as it's not one of the chosen ones we are supposed to stay in. The first place is full and Steph and i get highly frustrated at Bishon and we waste some time driving around to find a place. We ask him to drop us off at a nature garden near the Taj but he had no idea what we were talking about. He couldn't even tell us which gate was the north or the south? We try to explain to him to just drop us off at the Taj and he can find a place and he can just pick us up later but he doesn't understand what we are saying. We end up in a heated discussion and eventually he drops us off and we tell him to get us at 8pm, so i grab my bag and we head off to the Taj Mahal.

So we get in the line for the foreigners (there is a line for each) and we pay the huge 750 R's (Indians only pay about 30 R's!!), they give us these sock things and a free bottle of water. There are guards everywhere with guns and we make our way to the female line where an Indian lady is shoving Steph in the back which is then shoving me in the back. We were both a little tense to put it mildly. Steph goes through but they then have to check my bag and i have to take out my food, ipod, scissors and my currency converter to be put into a locker. I have a
Our room in JaipurOur room in JaipurOur room in Jaipur

and moo gone crazy
whinge and moan but then have to leave the line, put my things into a locker which was actually tying them together with a rubber band and putting them in a room with everyone elses stuff. I tell off a guy for trying to push in, and then head back where i am forced to line up again by a man with a gun and am now even more pissed off. My frustration exploded on an Indian lady who was pushing me in the line. I tried not to say anything but she wouldn't stop. I told her a few times to stop pushing, using hand gestures and everyone ended up laughing at me saying "pushing, pushing hihihi" Now i am mad! I end up getting through and tell Steph my story, and we get angry at each other, she at me for bringing my bag and me at her for the sake of being angry at someone! We slowly get over it and walk towards the Taj which was a heavenly sight that took my breath away. She was bigger then i thought and there were hardly any ferangs around, everyone was Indian, which was cool. We take some funny photos and some Indians even want us in their photo's. We put on our stupid sock things before we realised that only the ferangs were doing it, and an Indian girl even approached us to ask why we were wearing them (was to save us taking off our shoes). Inside the Taj, where your allowed to go is pretty small. Afterwards i have a quick look in the museum before it closed and head back to Steph where she is complaining that where she is sitting is too hot and making her butt sweat. After the locals getting some more photo's with us we head over to the grass to just chill out and admire the Taj's beauty.

"We are at the Taj...We are at the Taj!!!"

We watched some kids playing in the grass and then head off to a rooftop garden to see the sunset and eat. We have a fabulous view, eating Indian (Palak Paneer for me), watching the monkeys and the kids fly their kites off their rooftops. It was then almost 8 so we start to walk back to meet Bishon, only it's a lot darker and Steph starts to worry and gets freaked. I get out my trusty 3 combo of a mini torch, whistle and panic alarm and hand Steph the whistle. We walk down this dark alleyway with people approaching us and Steph decides that we should catch a rickshaw. So we try and bargain but they were out of our price range, so we just keep walking. A bicycle rickshaw then comes along and agrees to our price and we head off into the darkness and Bishon is waiting for us. I look in the back and notice our packs are still in the van and we head off to look for somewhere to stay (even though he had hours to do it...what was he doing all that time???) We find a place, burn some mozzie coils and head downstairs to supposedly a restaurant for some dessert and a beer. We walk in and see that it's actually a bar with men everywhere. They shove us quickly into this little cubicle where we can't see out and no-one can see in. We instantly laugh at the craziness and how this has never happened before. I order a Kingfisher 650ml beer and Steph gets a lassie and we share some type of Indian sweet which was good. We then call it a night.

16th April. HAPPY EASTER. We get up early to catch a bicycle rickshaw back to the rooftop restaurant for breakfast and to watch the sunrise. Get this, i order a hot choc (happy easter to me!) then cornflakes with banana, a honey pancake and a choc lassie (but Steph had it as i didn't like it). So Steph and i have our last meal together, sharing it with the Taj. Pretty cool. It's a shame Agra itself is so dirty but i guess you could say the Taj is the diamond in the rough! We get a rickshaw back, meet Bishon and head back to Delhi. The streets were really bumpy and loud so sleeping wasn't happening, and it was hot so we were both sweating it up the van.

Eventually Bishon finds where he has to drop Steph off and we say goodbye. We had now been to 3 countries together and we agreed that we were more like sisters in ways as we argued all the time but we still loved each other. Weird. So Bishon takes me back and it's very weird and uncomfortable in the tourist office, unlike the friendly vibes i got there on the first night in Delhi. The owner and Bishon argued in Indian and i think it might have been about me saying how Steph and i were disappointed about not doing the elephant ride (we wanted to see if we could get some money back as it was included) We got some money back so that was good. I tried to organise my Delhi tour for the next day (which was included in my price) making sure it was going to all the places i wanted to see. Considering that i found out that once again Bishon would be taking me, (not happy Jan!) and his lack of English i wanted it all sorted so i would get everything in for my last day in Delhi. We agree to some places and i get myself a room at Vivek after trying Vishon and walking up so many flights of stairs with my pack to find a horrible room. Vivek was much better plus they had an internet and cafe downstairs so i wouldn't have to walk in the street at night. I then realised i was paying the same as Steph was for her room (my first night in Delhi) and she had a tv and a much better looking room. I contemplated changing but couldn't be bothered as it was only going to be 2 nights. So i go to use the toilet and you can guess what i found in there. It was so terrible and it wouldn't even flush. Whoever went before obviously had problems and couldn't flush it. The shower also didn't work. I should have just grabbed my stuff and went to where Steph was but i went downstairs and told them. A guy then comes upstairs, bangs on the shower head and it starts to work, and then flushes the toilet and it works.

I head out to the street and get Henna done on one of my hands. I also had two men follow me around, one who just wanted to practise his English, but then tried to get me to go to a shop, and another who helped me try to find an Indian patch and then wanted to have tea with me. I then call mum and dad to let them know i am alive
Anyone need a condomAnyone need a condomAnyone need a condom

just joshin, these are the beetle nut things
and Happy Easter. I spend some time on the net and see some photos of my nephews and they look all grown up. All of a sudden i am not feeling the best in the tummy, and have a hot sweat running all over me. I feel like i am going to throw up so i get off the computer, go to pay but there is a line so i tell him i will come back and i jump in the lift, get to my room, put on the fan, strip off and lay on the bed with a bucket and some water next to me. This was at about 9pm and i didn't move out of bed for the rest of the night, only to throw up twice. It was so horrible and i have no idea what happened. I went back to a tossing and turning sleep and just wanted to get out of Delhi right there and then. I want my own bed!!!

17th April. I really didn't want to get up today and almost cancelled my tour. I didn't eat hardly anything for breakfast but meet Bishon and our first stop was somewhere that i had to pay 250 R's to get in and i didn't want to get more money out while i was in India so i told him it was too expensive and to take me to cheaper places. Of course he tells me there are none so i go to the Lodhi Gardens and it was great as there was no noise (the occasional smell still!!) but it was like a garden anywhere. So i had a nap and re energised myself for the day. I had about 10 school boys come over and sit with me for about 5 minutes and it just felt so weird, so i said goodbye and moved. I got a little lost in there but just kept walking till i found my way out. Bishon wasn't at the van so i grab another orange ice block (3rd) and wait for him. He takes a while to come back and doesn't even apologise but just tells me he went to get something to eat. We pass the 5 senses garden, (somewhere Steph recommended) but he tells me that i can't go in there for a reason i can't remember. By now i am frustrated with Bishon and i really do start to believe that he is lazy, so i just stop talking to him and just do what he suggests. We go to India gate and then to Shri Lakshmi Narain Temple where i took my time looking around and saw some Indians out the back having a picnic and they all smiled at me which was nice. Bishon then took me back (tour only went for a few hours and he didn't really take me to many places, they ripped me off for sure!!!) and i end up having a long discussion with the owner of the Tourist office and his cousin about western women, Indian men, and comparing the western cultures with Indian cultures. It got pretty heated at times and i really didn't like some of the things they said. I wrote in their stupid guest book and didn't really write anything great, but i didn't lie. I then go to the Post Office which was the weirdest and dodgiest one i have ever been in. I went back to Vivek and had an ok pizza at the cafe before going on the net again to pass the time. Spent the night in my room packing and was glad that this was my last night in Delhi. Get me out of here please ASAP.

Additional photos below
Photos: 64, Displayed: 37


Before we got into Amber FortBefore we got into Amber Fort
Before we got into Amber Fort

Check out the birds in the background
You will all do as i sayYou will all do as i say
You will all do as i say

From this day forward everyone will be a greenie...
Some Indian ladiesSome Indian ladies
Some Indian ladies

inside Amber Fort
Jantar MantarJantar Mantar
Jantar Mantar

The sagittarius starsign
palace in waterpalace in water
palace in water

it actually really stunk here and there were flies all around...

People running in long strides!!!
Chand BaoriChand Baori
Chand Baori

in Rajasthan
Chand Baori 2Chand Baori 2
Chand Baori 2

is 19.8 meters deep
Some gum treesSome gum trees
Some gum trees

Bishons familyBishons family
Bishons family

Bishons all in Grey
Cow Dung PatsCow Dung Pats
Cow Dung Pats

Used on the roofs of houses....

The Taj

at the Taj
ha ha haha ha ha
ha ha ha

look where i am...
The Desert Queens At the TajThe Desert Queens At the Taj
The Desert Queens At the Taj

We forgot about how stressed we were when we saw the beautiful Taj
Ferang slippersFerang slippers
Ferang slippers

no locals were wearing these babies!!! the new fashion

18th September 2006

it's hectic just looking at the photos. India must've rubbed off onto you pretty quick...
18th September 2006

Me too!
I want to go to India now! Put it on the very very long list of places to go I guess...
31st March 2007

Hindi, Indian language...
Hey Amanda, your blog is a great read! I liked the way you described the Taj. Spellbinding isnt it? And the way, Hindi is the official language of India, not Indian. (25 other recognised languages, 1 too many!) Next time, try head south to Kerala/Konkan coast....theres a lot to see AND its a lot cleaner (but just as crowded!). The people are a bit more laid back too.

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