A Travellerspoint blog

India

Goodbye India


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The top ten things we've learnt whilst in India:

1. Holy cow! Cow tipping is not an acceptable past time in India.
2. Party tuk-tuks are the BEST mode of transport ever!
3. Driving isn't the same if you don't have to avoid a menagerie of circus animals on the road.
4. Cottage cheese in a curry - are you mad?! Apparently not! Bring on the paneer palak!!
5. When a shop advertises STD it does not mean that it is a riddled whore house! It is in fact just advertising phone minutes.
6. Diwali is a health and safety nightmare! NEVER sit on a rooftop when fireworks are going off around you - just a little tip that might be obvious to the majority of you!
7. We rock at poker, either that or our guide was being too kind to us and letting us beat him!
8. Indians profess to drive on the left hand side of the road, but who actually knows! The rule seems to be - drive where there is space.
9. If people aren't riding on the roof, the train is NOT full!
10. Shopping should always be conducted with a complimentary cup of chai masala in hand.

Posted by Tam-Jo 20:24 Archived in India Comments (1)

Back again!

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And so back we go again to Delhi. What can I report from our journey? Not a lot! Lunch with Ida, Ingrid and Raghu was very nice - we had salad, which may seem a trivial piece of information to you, but it made for a very exciting mealtime for us! We have not seen a real salad in almost 2 months. That literally may have been the highlight of the day!

Then onwards to Delhi airport, where we are now. I believe I may have actually unleashed a monster in Tam, as she is off shopping AGAIN! Although, in fairness, part of her mission is to bring us back something bought we our remaining 90 rupees (not an easy task, I suspect!)!

Whilst we have loved India, it is time to move on and we are excited at the prospect of a bit of R&R in Indonesia!! Bring on the beaches!!

Jo xxx

Posted by Tam-Jo 20:02 Archived in India Tagged and delhi jaipur ranthambhore Comments (0)

TIGER!!!

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Another early safari for us! We made it into the national park before it officially opened at 7am! After following some tiger tracks for a short while with no luck, our guide decided it would be best for us to see the forest area. It was a bumpy ride! Not so much a road / track as a collection of boulders. Ouch! But amazing scenery and we saw so many antelope and spotted deer.

And then the golden ticket phone call!! A female tiger had been spotted not far from where we were. Time for speedy driving!! I dread to think how fast we were driving over the boulder tracks...i'm pretty sure we'll all feel pretty sore tomorrow. Absolutely worth it though...we saw the tiger up close!! She was beautiful! Perfect! And she just lay there for about five minutes while we all stared and took pictures of her. Amazing! Understandably she got fed up after a while...we know how tiring all the attention of being a celebrity can be!! And off into the jungle she went. Of course all the jeeps tried to follow in a mad panic (ours included). We were all nearly impaled by branches at various points in the pursuit. And we did manage to see her again but she was nicely hidden behind the bushes. We count ourselves very lucky to have seen a tiger here; many people who visit the park don't. I think Ida and Ingrid were our good luck tiger charms today!

Our last dinner in India, which we had at the hotel, was delicious. Tandoori chicken, raita, chapatis, naan and our new favourite veggie dish, palak paneer...we need to find a curry house at home that serves this! Its amazing! After a drink with the reception man (who turned out to be a little odd hence we excused ourselves after sharing just one beer), we set about the task of packing properly for our flight tomorrow!! Needless to say it took a while and I had to half sit on my bag to get it to close. But we did it!

Hopefully we'll get a good night's sleep tonight before our two day journey to Gili Meno begins tomorrow!

Tam xx

Posted by Tam-Jo 19:55 Archived in India Tagged ranthambhore Comments (0)

Sneaky tigers....

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After a very, very cold and very, very early morning drive we finally arrived at the gates to the Ranthanbhore National Park! During our three and a half hour sarfari we saw a lot of animals, including antelope, deer, jackals and a host of beautiful birds! We also learnt a bit about how the guides find the tigers for us tourists. But, alas, the tigers were in hiding today! A large male was certainly in close proximity to us, as suggested by the frequent alarm calls of a nearby deer which could clearly see more than we could. But we were eluded. A little disappointed, we returned to the hotel.

The afternoon was spent doing life admin, as we are far behind!! Mid afternoon brought two of the girls from our tour, Ida and Ingrid, back to us at our hotel in Sawai Madhopur. They will be spending the next two nights with us before continuing their trip around India. In store for tonight? An early dinner and bed - we are all exhausted and not particularly relishing the idea of another early start tomorrow! But hopefully it will be worth it!!

Jo xxx

Posted by Tam-Jo 19:19 Archived in India Tagged ranthambhore Comments (0)

A quiet day in the country!

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Sadly we could not get on a safari today as all the tickets were booked up. So instead, Mr Ali took us to a local craft place where two hundred families work to produce, among other things, rugs, wall hangings, jewellery and shawls.

My resistance to purchasing shiny pretty things has now been totally shattered. I blame Jo!! We both bought some beautiful wall hangings and a shawl. But we did manage to haggle more than a third off the price so we feel like we got a good bargain! Though we're a little stessed now about fitting said wall hangings in our relatively small rucksacks!

Our afternoon has mainly been spent catching up on planning, banking, blogging etc at the hotel. Although we did have a mad frantic dash to the car in the middle of it as Mr Ali had had a call from a friend telling him a tiger had been spotted a couple of kilometres down the road. We were unlucky though...it had gone by the time we got there. We did see some particularly cute monkeys though!

We're up at 5am tomorrow for a morning safari so we won't be having a late one. Early dinner followed by a fim in bed. Most probably Twighlight (we're both obsessed and can't wait to see the last instalment so are preparing ourselves by re-watching all the previous ones)!

Fingers crossed that we'll be able to show you some tiger photos tomorrow :-)

Tam xx

Posted by Tam-Jo 19:00 Archived in India Tagged ranthambhore Comments (0)

And the nearest hospital is where??

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This morning we said our final farewells to the group and left Delhi in our own private car, feeling very fancy indeed! Our driver, Akbar Ali, is nice and seems less of a lunatic than other Indian drivers! He says that people who drive tourists around for a living have to take a course on how to drive in a way that is more usual to Westerners, so perhaps that's why he seems a safer bet to get us to our destination in one piece than most other drivers we've known here!

After four hours on the road we stopped for a bottle of coke and the toilet. As we started wandering around the car park waiting for Mr Ali we were approached by a large local family. They were too timid to speak to us, despite us trying to initiate some conversation, and seemed pretty happy to just stand and stare, smiling all the while. What can we say - clearly we're funny looking!!

Back in the car for another 4 hours before we reached Sawai Madhopur, on the outskirts of the Ranthanbhore National Park. Our hotel seems very nice, and even has a swimming pool! However, the field which we have to cross to get from our room to reception and the restaurant appears to be home to a pack of wild, and potentially rabid, dogs! We're pretty used to wild dogs now and most seem to just ignore us. But this pack is clearly very territorial and do not like the occassional stream of tourists that flow through their field!! We'd like to point out that we were not the only ones scared of crossing said field when the dogs started growling, and a hotel man had to scare them away for a bunch of us before we could get back to reception and a hot dinner!! How we will fare on the way back to our room tonight is debatable! Suffice to say, Tammy is beginning to wish she'd got her rabies jab before coming away!! Wish us luck!!!

Jo xxx

Posted by Tam-Jo 18:51 Archived in India Tagged delhi ranthambhore Comments (0)

Ode to Raghu


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On our last train ride together as a group, Christina (very sneakily without Raghu noticing) got everyone to write down a word or phrase to describe our tour leader. We then set about writing a poem and recited it during our last meal together as a group! For the benefit of those in our tour who didn't get a written copy, here it is...

Poem - Thank You Raghu

Whats up!?! Yeah, we wrote this poem for you, ok!?
You are punctual every day
Except for when it is sunrise
Happy birthday mountain surprise
You were so generous with your birthday dinner
And you are also a dance floor winner
You're helpful, knowledgable and cool
We've learnt more from you than we did at school
Fireworks and wooden boats shouldn't mix
But even Mr Perfect has to get his kicks
So in control getting us on the train
Our protector you are, you never complain
Our trip has now come to an end
We will miss you so much our new friend
A huge massive thanks goes to you
Now let's go out and party Raghu!!
Sure,
Sure,
Why not?

Posted by Tam-Jo 18:48 Archived in India Tagged delhi Comments (0)

Back to where it all began...

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After a pretty decent nights sleep on the train we arrived back to the hotel in Delhi, Hotel Sunrise, where our tour began!

First item on our agenda...breakfast!! Once we'd fuelled up we had the energy to plan the rest of our time here in India (at this point in time we still had no idea where we were going to sleep the following night)! We'd decided on visiting a national park so we could go on safari to try and see some tigers. Unfortunately for us, the train tickets to the town we needed to go to were all sold out! Fortunately for us, we can actually afford to hire a car and a driver here! The travel agent managed to get us a ridiculously good deal on the hotel and so hiring a driver has cost us hardly anything! Crazy!!

The rest of our day was spent sightseeing. Most other people from our tour group went on a trip to the mall but Jo and I decided we could not cope with any more shopping!! Instead we hired a car and a driver for the afternoon to see some of the sights in Delhi we missed out on before the tour started; Lotus Temple, Qutab Minar, Parliament Buildings, Presidential House and India Gate. We had also wanted to go inside Humayun's Tomb, but our driver made us go into a shopping area (blatantly on commission) and we "accidentally" spent all the cash we had with us on jewellery for ourselves. Oops!!

This evening was the last with our tour group. We went out for a super tasty dinner followed by cocktails in the bar down the road which Nicole very kindly treated us all too (thanks Nicole)! Then our last rum on the rooftop excursion courtesy of Raghu...thanks Raghu!

An incredible last day to an incredible tour in the incredible India!!!

Next stop...safari!

Tam xx

Posted by Tam-Jo 18:29 Archived in India Tagged delhi Comments (0)

Goodbye Xi'an of India!

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Are you getting the impression that we do not love Varanasi? How perceptive you are! We knew you lot were clever!!

In store for today? To avoid going out in this city as much as possible! Lie in, followed by terrifying cycle rickshaw ride to the centre and then lunch, where they refused to make us a sandwich, were generally rude to us, and then made us stand about waiting for AGES for the bill! The highlight of our trip to town was a very well stocked toilettries shop with a very nice shopkeeper who clearly took pity on us and gave us some free sweets!

Back to the hotel, and Tammy had another argument with hotel staff about wifi! Then a few hours of doing boring life essential stuff on the internet and whileing the time away with everyone else who was waiting to get the hell out of Varanasi!

And now we are on an overnight train back to Delhi! Arrival time, 8am tomorrow! We then hope to be leaving Delhi again in less than 36 hours, to end our trip on a high at one of the national parks! Bring on the tigers!!!!

Jo xxx

Posted by Tam-Jo 18:01 Archived in India Tagged varanasi Comments (0)

A few disasters...

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After the rather traumatic end to our evening last night, we felt that a lie in was in order so skipped the sunrise boat ride on the Ganges this morning.

Today we visited the silk weavers. We were shown into some of the buildings where scarves, shawls, sarees etc were being made. Unfortunately half of the workshops were shut because of Diwali. Still interesting to see some of it though. Then into the shop! We were there a long long time! Boredom soon set in. We were shown bedsheets, table runners, sarees, pashminas, shawls and about a million other things!!! We did get to try on sarees though which was fun! We looked super elegant!

Once we'd had our MacDonalds fix we headed back to the hotel (the staring from all the men in the mall we went to was a bit much for us to cope with today)! Unfortunately, our cycle rickshaw driver didn't really know where our hotel was so we got lost! Of course we had no idea where we were or where we were going so were of no use whatsoever. Luckily some random man in the street came to our rescue and managed to direct our driver to the hotel!

The next fail of the day was in our running out of toiletries...and all the shops selling toiletries being closed for Diwali! Oops!!

The penultimate fail of the day was dinner. It took an hour and a half just to get drinks...never a good sign. Then when the food came it was cold or undercooked (luckily Jo was checking so we didn't accidentally eat undercooked chicken)!!

And the final fail of the day was the hotel "running out" of wi-fi tokens! Bad bad bad when its Jo's mum's birthday and she needed to call home. We had a minor argument with the hotel staff before giving up. But our friends Felix and Sarah came to the rescue...they had some wi-fi that Jo was able to use!! Hurrah!

A few drinks in the roof garden ended the day on a high!

Tam xx

Posted by Tam-Jo 05:56 Archived in India Tagged varanasi Comments (3)

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