Page 3 of markhowartharcher Travel Blog Posts

Asia » India » Tamil Nadu » Pondicherry March 1st 2012

India must have more adverts per square mile than any other country in the world, certainly more than any country I have visited anyway. Indian towns are filled to the brim (and often well over the brim) with a sensory overloading array of billboards, posters and signs, you will often even find advertising painted on the side of peoples homes. Every centimetre of space seems to have been claimed by advertising, nothing but nothing is sacred. One of the things that has most surprised me is the amount of advertising that is dedicated to cement. Cement is perhaps the most heavily marketed product in India, I would even hazard a guess that there are more adverts for cement than there are for mobile phones, Bollywood films and soft drinks combined. There are countless cement brands and ... read more
Seafront at Pondicherry
The protein shop!
Mamallapuram beach

Asia » India » Tamil Nadu » Madurai February 21st 2012

I would like to start today’s entry with a little gloating, never a good way to start I know. I’m sorry to start off in such a rude manner but I’m afraid it really must be done. I would like to let all of you in cold, wet and windy Britain know that to this date it has only rained once since I arrived in India and I don’t believe we have had a single cloudy day. Yes your right, I am a smug ****. The one time it did actually it did so at night so we didn’t even get wet, no surprises for guessing where it rained, my favourite Indian town ever (not), Cochin. Would be wouldn’t it. Anyway it’s pretty damn amazing that in over a month I haven’t seen a drop of ... read more
The west gate at Meenakshi Sundareswarar Temple
Meenakshi Sundareswarar Temple
me and a holy man Meenakshi Sundareswarar Temple

Asia » India » Tamil Nadu » Kanyakumari February 21st 2012

Today marked two important symbolic events. One, we visited the Southernmost point in India, yey! Two, it was the halfway point for our trip, boo! (well it was yesterday in truth but that ruins the symbolism of today). I should also note that this will be published well after the day in question, so the date of publishing is not the same as the day referred to above. The Southern tip of India is a fairly unremarkable place, much like Lands End is a fairly unremarkable place, in fact I imagine many countries extremities despite being major tourist attractions are actually fairly unremarkable, if not just plain boring. The Southern tip does have a few things going for it however. Firstly it is the Southern tip of India which is in itself an achievement. Secondly being ... read more
More cases of animal abuse in India
Walkting towards the water at the Southern tip
Cooling off at the Southern tip

Asia » India » Kerala » Varkala February 21st 2012

Driving around Kerala one of the things you immediately notice is the amount of communist iconography that is hung, pasted and tied throughout the towns of Kerala. In most towns the majority of houses and shops will have at least one communist flag hanging proudly on display, bill boards with posters of local communist politicians, Lenin and Che Guevara are also commonplace. Posters of Stalin, Mao, Kim Jong Sung (North Korea) are noticeable in their absence, guess though tyrants don’t make such good poster boys. Kerala is India’s one and only communist state, though what this means in practice though I’m not sure. It struck me as very odd that an extreme left wing ideology that is anti capitalist and anti democratic would find any major support in a very materialistic, very capitalist and very democratic ... read more
Varkala beach
Varkala sunset
Varkala sunset (behind a tree)

Asia » India » Kerala » Alleppey February 21st 2012

The relatively late morning departure (08.45am) for our drive to Allepey from Cochin was short by our usual standards at just over 3 hours, so short that I almost felt like we had in some way cheated and taken a short cut that we weren’t supposed to. We regularly do 12 hour drives and as such anything under 6 hours now feels like a drive to the supermarket and anything under 3 hours seems like a walk to the shop, it wasn’t so long ago though that the thought of a 6 hour journey would have sent me into a spiral of despair. Over the years from talking to people from other parts of the world about travelling, (especially those in the US and Canada) I have come to realise just how pathetic the British are ... read more

Asia » India » Kerala » Kochi February 15th 2012

I would like to start today’s entry with some information completely unrelated to Cochin but nonetheless of great importance. I would like to let all of you (yes all 2 of you that read my blog) know that today is my one month in India anniversary and I’m happy to say that the relationship is still going strong. So strong infact that I still haven’t had even the faintest sign of Delhi Belly and I’m still eating and LOVING Indian food on a daily basis (maybe there is a correlation between the two?). I’ve never lasted this long on local food only in any other country, I can happily now announce that Indian food is officially my favourite cuisine in the world. Sorry Thailand. We left for Cochin very early knowing it would be a long ... read more
A hindu celebration we passed on the way to Cochin
Goats chilling by the beach in Cochin
India is one of the few countries that promotes animal abuse publicly

Asia » India » Kerala » Wayanad February 15th 2012

One thing that constantly fascinates me when driving through India is how quickly the landscape changes and specifically how quickly it changes as soon as you enter a new state. The change of scenery going into Kerala was probably the most dramatic of the trip so far, going from dry rocky plains to lush green tropical jungle in what seemed like the blink of an eye. I find the tropics endlessly alluring, the heat, bright colours, pace of life and fantastic range of flora and fauna make for an exotic cocktail of which I never tire. The drive to our home stay (more like a posh B&B as opposed to a mud hut) through Kerala state and specifically the Wayanad hill district was a very pleasant one. Our home stay was on a working coffee plantation ... read more
Our balcony and the view of the jungle/plantation behind
Second set of falls and pool
Second set of falls

Asia » India » Karnataka » Hampi February 10th 2012

Leaving Palolem and Goa behind we began our journey to the remote and ancient ruined city of Hampi, an upsettingly long 400km drive away. Whilst driving up a hill and approaching a blind bend, a bus which had previously tried to pass us gave it another try. As the bus drivers cab just about passed ours the bus driver swung violently left and directly into us. Fortunately we managed to stop very quickly but the bus had by this point scrapped past the right hand side of our truck with some force. In the panic and shock of the situation, my first thought was that I must immediately eat the piece of chicken in my hand, I felt sure the situation could not be resolved until I had done so. As you can tell I (along ... read more
View from Hanuman temple
Mark and a big rock
Hanuman temple

Asia » India » Goa » Palolem February 5th 2012

I took a taxi from Goa airport to Vagator beach. I managed (as I often do) to choose a taxi driver hell bent on trying to kill me, himself and everything else on the road. Drivers in India are in general very, very bad and by far the worst I have seen anywhere in the world. I sometimes wonder if anybody here is actually bothered about staying alive, perhaps though when you believe in reincarnation though one life isn’t really that significant. From what i have observed and heard the attitude on Indian roads seems to be: why slow down when you could speed up? Don’t avoid head on traffic, aim right for it! Why bother driving on the correct side of the road at all? Lights are for decorating you vehicle and not for practical ... read more
Palolem beach
Western edge of Palolem beach
Sunseeting over the Western edge of Palolem beach

Asia » India » Maharashtra » Mumbai » Aksa Beach February 5th 2012

After a long, hot and arduous 11 hour drive we arrived in Mumbai. We stopped enroute at the only fully fledged western style motorway service station we would stop at in all India. Normally none of us or anyone in their right mind would be excited about stopping at a motorway service station, however ub this instance the Indian services gave the group their first opportunity (and last for a long time after Mumbai) to eat McDonalds. Predictably (myself included) we all ate at the golden arches, some going back for seconds. I ate a fiery chicken burger, fries and coke. I was disappointed, although not surprised, to see that beef wasn’t served here, strictly chicken and paneer only. My meal was like all McDonalds meals, shit. However, I did enjoy the build up throughout the ... read more

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