A Travellerspoint blog

This blog is published chronologically. Go straight to the most recent post.

Dusty road to Rishikesh

By 7:00am we’d already had 30 minute walk across town back to the truck with our heavy bags. We spent the next 11 hours on the road.
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At 6:00pm we pulled into Rishakesh as a sand storm hot town followed shortly after by a full on thunderstorm. The town was crazy; narrow crowded streets made it near impossible for the truck to get through. The locals driving on the wrong side of the road, head on at the truck then waving us to reverse didn’t help. Noel was driving and taught the locals a few new words at the top of his voice out of the window.

Eventually we made it to the hotel. They’d obviously lost the reservation for our INR600 a night rooms, so they offered us INR1750 a night rooms instead. After a short but colourful argument from Noel the manager remembered a whole floor of rooms he’d forgot about and offered us rooms for 560. The hotel couldn’t have looked more like a prison; long straight balcony corridors set around a central exercise yard. Although I’d imagine the facilities are better in a prison; the shower didn’t work, the toilet didn’t flush, the TV didn’t work, the bed was full of pubes and the restaurant didn’t have anything left except dal and rice. Other than that it was worth the money. Not the best of days. We’d all had enough so went to bed at 9:00pm.

Posted by asprey 05:47 Archived in India Comments (0)

Hippy Rishikesh

The plan was to get out of this god forsaken town, but during another restaurant fiasco, where we tried to get breakfast in the hotel restaurant and after thirty minutes waiting for a menu gave up, we read that the cool hippy town was 2km up the road. The book said ‘the yoga and meditation capital of the world!’
“Jesus!” said Sarah, “what sort of freaks are we going to meet in that town?”
A sort ride up the road took us to yogaville and a cool little restaurant over looking the river Ganges.

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(Much cleaner this far up river before 1 billion people bathe, wash their clothes, dump their sewage and sweep the ashes of their dead into it).

“Oh no, I forgot to give my room key in at the hotel from hell,” I said placing it on the table. Noel picked up the key and through it as hard as he could into the Ganges, “problem solved! I think I’ll have the Spanish breakfast.” he said. He’d had a few arguments with the manager who seemed to be going out of his way to be awkward, now the score was settled.

After finally being fed we started the hunt for a room, four skanky hotels later we saw a new, clean looking one. “Do you have rooms?” I asked. The guy looked confused. “Err maybe, err yes.”
We realised his hesitation when we looked at the place; it was half built. We did a great deal on the rooms and he rushed out to buy a mattress and a set of towels for each room. He also bought a plug so he could finish wiring the water heaters up. He promised the electricity and water would be turned on by the time it got dark and he was good to his word. “At least we know the mattresses and towels are clean.” We signed in; guests number 001, 002, 003, 004 and 005.

Being on the banks of the Ganges Rishikesh is a holy place, which means one thing – no beer!

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We asked around to see if there was some ‘unofficial’ way of getting it, it felt like we were naughty kids planning some secret house party when in reality we’re grown ups who just wanted a few beers in our hotel room.

Every person we asked gave the same answer, “is there anyway you can get us beer?”
“Weed?”
“No, beer!”
“hash?”
“We just want beer!”
“No.”
So it turns out it’s fine to be a dope-head in a holy place as long as you don’t get thirsty.

Eventually we had a beer offer, 150 per bottle – the underground premium price. We usually pay 60 a bottle. We decided it was too expensive and went and got Dan’s secret bottle of rum off the truck.

Posted by asprey 05:48 Archived in India Comments (0)

We've gota get out of here!!!

Over breakfast we listened in on some of the yoga hippy freaks conversations. One girl was telling her breakfast companion that she’d come to India to adopt a baby, but she’d had a vision to only get a baby who looks like a fairy. Another guy’s conversation was more domestic, “lets go back and do laundry, we can wring it out together, it’ll be so sweet!” a third girl just meditated at the table whilst the flies helped themselves to the bowl of nutty something in front of her.

“Get me out of this bloody town, I’m going to kill one of these nut jobs!” said Sarah. I think she really meant it.

We couldn’t hang out in hippyville all day without doing something so we decided to take a walk up to the waterfall. We crossed the suspension foot bridge that was gridlocked with motorbikes, stray cows and monkeys, then walked on the south bank for about an hour. We found the waterfall that was nice to see but not overly impressive.

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As usual the Indian had taken something beautiful and wrecked it. The waterfall had a huge mouldy drainage pipe strapped to the rocks next to the flow of water. The scene was further spoiled by a gang of young Indian men holding hands and frolicking in their wet ‘Y’ fronts. We headed back. Starting to feel the mid day heat we hitched a truck heading back into town.

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Exhaustion led to an afternoon nap. The lack of meat in the north of Indian was starting to affect us; it was now over a week since we’d had any meat in out diets. We all agreed over another evening veggie meal that we felt weak and lethargic all the time. Too exhausted to do anything and with no beer to drink we watched a film on the laptop and we in bed at 10:00pm.

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Posted by asprey 05:48 Archived in India Comments (0)

Meat meat meat........please!!!!!!!

Our desperation for meat had reached such a level that we called a group crisis meeting. As proceedings commenced we read in our guide book that there was a steak restaurant just 8 hours drive east of Riskakesh in a town called Naintal, so we set off at 8:00am hoping to be there by teatime.

By 4:30pm we’d had enough of the road. We’d reached a town called Ramnegah and found a little campsite cum motel set in a cool orchard. I agreed to go and check the place out while everyone else stayed on the truck.
“Do you have rooms?”
“Yes,” replied the owner.
“Do you have beer?”
“Yes”
“Do you have meat?”
“Ha ha,” laughed the owner, “you must have come from Rishikesh. Yes we have lots of meat! Chicken and mutton, all you can eat.”
“We’ll get the bags!”

We negotiated a room at tent rates as long as we booked a tiger safari, which was cool by us as seeing ‘tigers in the wild’ is on the list. We’d failed in Chitwan so this was round two. We would meet the jeep at 5:00am.

We sat in the orchard as the sun went down reading the carnivore page of the menu drinking ice-cold beer. We ordered three whole chickens between the five of us and had them curried up. We accompanied them with garlic nan, rice and chips. We ate in silence just letting the meat vitamins course through our veins like spinach through Pop-eye’s forearms. It was glorious!

Posted by asprey 05:49 Archived in India Comments (0)

Corbett National Park

‘Knock Knock!’
I looked at my watched; 3:45am.
I answered the door in just my undies; a young Indian guy stood there, “Safari!” he said.
“Now?” I asked, still half asleep.
“It is 4 o’clock!”
“What? The safari has been bought forward to 4 o’clock?” I asked, a little confused.
“It is now 4 o’clock.”
I looked at my watch again and it was still 3:45am. “So the safari is now 4 o’clock?”
“Yes.” He replied.
“I thought the safari was 5 o’clock!” I was still confused.
“Oh, ok!” he said looking at his watch.
I’d been awake less than a minute. I glanced at his wrist and noticed his watch was 15 minutes fast. “Are you saying the time now is 4 o’clock? Or are you saying the safari has been bought forward to 4 o’clock?”
“Yes!” he replied.
“Mate! I’m going back to bed, knock if a jeep turns up!”

Sarah asked, “Who was that?”
“Safari guy?”
“But its only 3:45 has it been bought forward?”
“I don’t know. In fact I don’t even think he knows!”

‘Knock knock’ it was 4:45am
“Jeep is here!” said the same Indian guy.”
“So the driver’s watch is fast too!” I quipped
“What?”
“Never mind. We’re ready. We’ve been up over an hour!”
“Very good sir.”

The National park registration office was 30 seconds up the road, we were there by 4:46am – it opened at 5:30am. “Jesus, this guy likes to be early!”

We arrived at the park gates at 5:50am.

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“What time do they open? 6:30 by any chance?”
“Yes sir, how did you know?”
“Lucky guess!”

Not surprisingly we were the first through the gates at 6:30am. Our park guide joined us and we drove into the depths of the park.
“Look!” Said the guide! “Tiger droppings”, he pointed to a huge turd in the middle of the track, cynical as ever I replied, “That’s got rice in it, I think that’s from a park ranger!”

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The park it’s self was stunning; a mixture of jungle, open plane and huge dry riverbeds. It was great to see.
Another hour of driving round the park with binoculars came up with no tiger sightings.

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We saw spotted deer, giant deer, monkeys and even a jungle fowl (chicken) but no tigers.

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This was our second tiger hunt that had come up zero.

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After the safari we arrived back at the campsite to find Noel with the camp kitchen set up. After tea and cornflakes we set off to Nainital.
Few things scare me as much as mountain roads and it was another seven hours of hairpins and shear drops before we arrived at Nainital.
As we drove into the town I saw something “o-oh” there was a huge mosque in the middle of town, that means no beers or us tonight.
We ate dinner and checked into a hotel.

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On the rooftop bar a huge sign said “soft drinks only” – it was another sacred and dry town. Our hotel owner Ali had a quiet word with us and offered to supply some black-market beer accompanied with the usual conditions. We can only drink the beer on the roof and we must not tell anyone. For some reason he could only supply about four bottles at a time. We had a few beers and watched the sun go down over the beautiful lake surrounded by pine clad mountains. 120 indian rupees was the most we’d paid for beers in India but it was worth it. Cool beers and a beautiful view,

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We had a tip from an underground source that the beer ban expired just outside the town, (a certain distance from the mosque) and this was in fact a hotel just up the mountain that sold beer. Thinking it might be cheaper than Ali Capone was charging, we set off. On the way we managed to pick up an American couple Randy and April, the only other westerners we’d seen in Nainital. Randy offered to buy the first round if we showed them where they sold beer. The seven of us jumped into a four-seater taxi (Noel and I were in the boot) and asked for the Manu Marahaj Hotel. Five minutes later we were pealing ourselves out of the tiny car in front of the huge marble steps. White pillars and impressively decorated fountains. The three impressively dressed doormen welcomed us to the immaculate grand hotel. “Beers for under 100 rupees, do you really think?”
There were five sharp intakes of breath when the barman told us the price of the beer was 230 rupees. Randy and April didn’t seem too phased, “ that’s only about 5 bucks,” he said in his thick Canadian accent. “We might as well have one, after all I’m paying, we agreed”. The five sharp breaths suddenly turned to “well if that’s the case ……. Might as well have one”.

Posted by asprey 05:49 Archived in India Comments (0)

A Beer Hunt in Nainital

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We’d also read that the illusive steak restaurant that we’d now travelled two days to find had wifi internet so we set off. The plan was to have breakfast there, do some interneting and pick our steak for that evening. After just a few minutes walk we found it and couldn’t believe our luck.
“Hi, do you have breakfast?”
“No”
“Do you internet”
“No sorry sir”
“Please tell me you do steaks”
He gave me the Indian head wobble.
“Was that a yes or a no?”
“No sir no steak”
Our 48 hour quest was over – mission failed. We picked up some cheese toasties on the way back to the hotel. So still no meat, no wifi, and no reliable source of beer.
At the hotel Noel told us excitingly that there was a bar at the top of the mountain and it was far enough away from the mosque to be able to sell beer. Even better, there was a cable car that would take us straight to it. “Fancy a lunch-timer?”. Noel has names for drinking sessions at any time of the day. 9am-11am = refresher,
11am – 12 noon = liquid brunch,
12 noon – 3pm = lunch timer,
3pm-7pm = sun downer,
7pm onwards = a few beers, which is rarely a few beers.
We headed to the cable car. Noel was excited “at last an easy supply of beer”. Cable cars strike terror into my soul but I had to take one for the team.

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The scenery from the top was amazing, a volcanic lake cupped in a crater of mountains.

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Huge circles of bubbles rose like crop circles in the water. Air was pumped in to airate the water, keeping it clean and promoting fish numbers. “How very un-indian of them” said Noel, “where do they pump all their shit and rubbish, it’s a perfectly good lake for that”.
We exited the cable car and walked into the snow view bar. “Five beers please” said Noel with a triumphant grin on his face.
“Beer finish” replied the barman
“What? No Beer? This is a bar isn’t it?” argued Noel
“We have rum”
Our lunch timer dreams shattered we went across the road for fried rice and aloo. As we ate the stall owner came out and talked to us. He leaned in low looking left and right like a spy behind enemy lines, “You want beer?” He whispered.
“Yes!”
“Cheap beer?”
“Yes yes”
“I know a place”
He gave us directions to his secret source and said we should pay no more than 80 rupees. We were delighted, but this time cautious.
Heading down the mountain we followed our treasure map directions to the letter, which led us to a small window in the side of a building with rough iron bars. “This can’t be it” I said, “it’s next door to the bloody mosque!”
A guy appeared at the window.
“Do you sell beer?” we asked.
“Yes how many?” he said sheepishly
It was ice cold and cost 70 rupees per can. We walked back victorious with our secret stash wrapped in newspaper and hidden from the public view.
The beer came just in time. This would be our last night with Noel and Dan. We’d spent 8 weeks with them. We’d seen some amazing things and shared great times with them.
We drank beers, listened to music and talked crap all night. A fitting way to end our over landing adventure with them.

Posted by asprey 05:50 Archived in India Comments (0)

We say our farewells

With heavy hearts we said goodbye to Noel and Dan. Noel hugged me without his shirt on which I thought was a bit gay. We all agreed the previous night that Noels recent bout of campness was only temporary. As soon as he got a good steak and watched a Leeds match he’d stop drinking snowballs and quoting Joey from Friends and get back to his beer swilling self.
At 9am we got on the local bus which had definitely seen better decades. Everything was either broken rattling or loose including the windscreen which slid two inches side-to-side every time we went round a corner.

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Surprisingly the bus managed to stay in one piece for the next 9 hours. At 6pm, just after the sun was setting on the polluted Delhi horizon, we pulled into Olympia. A short metro ride took us to Ashram Marg at the main bazaar.
We managed to find a hotel fairly quickly and by 8pm we were showered and eating chicken curry with a cold beer. Although I must admit the beer didn’t have the same appeal when it was cheap and plentiful.

Posted by asprey 05:51 Archived in India Comments (0)

Steak please!!!!

I’d already begun to develop Delhi phlegm. The pollution particles rise out of your lungs and form a thick mucus at the back of your throat. It’s a fairly famous statistic that 70% of visitors to Delhi leave with some kind of repertory infection. The Indians have a practical way of dealing with it. The streets are covered with a layer of phlegm and spit. Reluctantly I had to join in the morning chorus of snorting, hocking and spitting.

We’d heard yet another rumour of yet another steakhouse so we repeated our plan to find it, have breakfast and chose our steak for later in the day. We walked out of our hotel and it was right in front of us. “No way!” We walked in and there was a whole page titled steaks. “wo-hoo!!” we’d finally hit the jackpot.

After some interneting and watching a Jackie Chan film Sarah, Nat and myself were back at Sam’s café ordering some steak. It took an hour for our order to arrive but we’d already waited much longer than that for the sweet taste of beef.

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At 4.30pm we were still savouring the beef “our train leaves in 1 hour, we better go”
It wasn’t far from New Delhi station and our overnight train to Jaisalmer so we decided it would be a nice walk. At 5.10pm we arrived ready for our 5.30pm train.

We couldn’t see our train on the departure board so we asked the guard; he replied, “You need Delhi station”
“What?! This is Delhi station” I exclaimed.
“No sir this is New Delhi station”
“Oh my god! Our train leaves in 20 minutes! Do you think we can make it in that time?”
He gave me the Indian head wobble! We didn’t have time to work out the meaning. I turned to Nat and Sarah, “RUN!!”

We ran up two flights of stairs onto the bridge crossing fifteen train lines. Carrying heavy bags I used my free arm to scoop people to the side like a snowplough. Nat and Sarah ran in the path I’d cleared, then down two flights of stairs, across the car park and into the metro station. It was 5:15pm. “We’ll never make it!” said Sarah.
“Don’t talk! Just run!”
Down the stairs into the metro and the usual airport style security checks, Sarah bought tickets while I sorted the route; just two stops on the same line.

At 5:20pm the metro carriage doors opened to a wall of people. Not a spare inch of space in the Delhi rush hour train. We all looked at each other, shrugged and just dived into the wall. It was like a sideways pile-on. People fell and pushed and tutted as the doors closed behind us. Most importantly we were on the metro. 5:25pm the door opened and there was a surge towards the opening but the crowd was so dense no one could fit through. We were wedged. “After 3..!” we dived towards the doors taking five or six people with us. People fell out onto the platform, no time for manners we pushed them further and raced up the escalator.

We crossed another car park and into the entrance of the station, more security checks. There was a kid in the way so I picked him up and pushed him into his dad’s arms. I hope I got the right dad.
Running down the platform stairs we were confronted with a 30+ carriage train. “The carriages aren’t linked with doors, so we have to get the right one!!”
“We’re S1, S1!”
“There’s no numbers on the coaches!”
“There’s name lists on the doors! Get checking!!”
I was a 1 in 30 chance that our names were on the first carriage we checked. We dived on; it was 5:28pm.

As we all wiped the sweat out of our eyes we began to survey our transport and tonight’s accommodation. It was basic, industrial looking; like a prison carriage. Each carriage had twelve compartments each compartment had eight beds. It was constructed from angle iron and wire mesh and painted with that grey/blue paint only used by government institutions.

Within an hour of the journey beginning the carriage began to fill up.

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At one point our compartment, designed for 8, had 18 people in it. As the evening went on the carriage began to empty and it was time to try and sleep. ‘Try’ being the operative word!

Posted by asprey 05:51 Archived in India Comments (0)

An Indian Train Concert

We woke about 8:00am, in fact we’d wake every 15 minutes from midnight onwards, but we finally gave up and got up at 8:00am. Sarah got chatting to a young Indian guy from the next compartment who was really into his Indian music. He told her he was in a band and in the middle of a world tour.

Within fifteen minutes we’d been whisked into the next compartment, the instruments came out and an impromptu train concert began.

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The guys sang and played their hearts out on the drums, violiny looking things and Indian maracas. Everyone did the Indian head wobble, which we now know had a fifth meaning when accompanied with the Indian wrist twist. We all got involved wobbling heads and clapping hands. The party went on until the train pulled into Jaisalmer.

The heat hit us as we walked onto the platform. It was obvious that this was a desert town. We’d read in the literature that: Jaisalmer is so dry that it is common for a baby to be born and not experience rainfall until after it’s seventh birthday.

Our hotel had sent a driver for us, which makes things a hell of a lot easier. We checked into our room and settled in for an afternoon nap. By 4:00pm we were in the rooftop restaurant watching a huge storm approach. Suddenly the heavens opened, “if a baby was born today it would be piss-wet-through before tea time!”

Posted by asprey 05:52 Archived in India Comments (0)

Milling around

Being in a desert town we wanted to ride camels. Our hotel owner had offered to arrange it for us for just 1,300 Rupees each. After a quick shop around we found a guy offering it for 700 Rupees and ironically him name was Kamel. He offered, “trekking, see nice temple, trekking, lunch in tree shadow, more trekking, beautiful villages, trekking and evening under the stars on biggest sand dune in the area. Nice meal, dal and veg, breakfast next day and jeep in and out. Very, very none touristic” The deal was done.

We realised our hotel was over priced at 550 Rupees so we moved down the road to a nicer 200 Rupee a night place. It was another brand new place and we were the first people to stay. The owner was a really nice guy, also called Kamel. I found it strange that in a town famous for its camels everyone seems to be called Kamel.

The rest of the day was spent milling round the pretty little town and teasing the shop owners who would tell us anything to get us in their shop.

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One guy shouted across the street to us, “come into my shop, I want to rip you off and take all your money!” with a huge grin on his face. I admired his honesty.

Posted by asprey 05:53 Archived in India Comments (0)

On the Camels

At 8:00am we headed out to the camel safari. The jeep met us outside the hotel to drive to the desert, stopping off at an 11th Century Jain temple. As usual we denied having a camera to avoid the 10 Rupee camera fee. I can neither confirm nor deny if we took any photos.

Then it was back in the jeep with our unwashed driver for another half an hour of breathing through our ears. Two Canadian girls joined us, Jen and Martine. We’d ridden camels before in Egypt and I can remember hating the take-off. With a groan and a hiss my camel lurched forward, I dived back, then the camel lurched back and I dived forward. We I eventually opened my eyes I was 6 feet off the floor and fairly stable. (For now)

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Then I heard a slightly disnurved, “Oh God!” as Sarah’s camel rose awkwardly from the ground. After 10 minutes walking we were both feeling the pain, I looked at my watch: 10:00am – only another 7 hours to go!

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As the morning went on we walked past small villages and an oasis. Eventually our limbs got used to being contorted into such a strange position and everyone began to enjoy the ride.

Jen, one of the Canadians, had her rucksack on the back of her camel. A two-litre bottle of Pepsi fell from her bag six foot from the ground, the young kid guiding my camel ran forward in an attempt to catch the bottle but was too slow. The bottle hit the floor exploding in a blast of sugary fizz, directed straight at the camel’s undercarriage – the camel freaked – it buckeroo’d kicking the kid in the chest, sending him flying backwards and landing in a cloud of desert dust. The camel sprinted off with Jen screaming so much she ran out of breath.

One thought was in my mind, ‘don’t laugh, don’t laugh, don’t laugh!’ I really wish I was stronger willed. Eventually Jen came back after changing her shorts and the kid started to breath again.

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Thali lunch was served in the shade of a huge tree, where the young guides watched our pots with sand and their bear hands before we ate; something that worried me seeing as two of them had disappeared behind bushes undoing their trousers only about half an hour before and I’d not seen any sign of toilet paper or soap.

The camel plod carried on until the sun began to drop. We reached a huge sand dune and settled in for the night around our desert campfire.

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Posted by asprey 13:04 Archived in India Comments (0)

Post Camels

It felt like a real adventure sleeping under the stars, the glow of the fire had helped relax us and the two bottles of rum had helped us nod off.

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Breakfast was chai tea and toast on hand-washed plates. Another hour’s cameling bought us back to the road and our waiting jeep. We said goodbye to our shops of the desert and jumped into the jeep. Our driver was four months into a non-wash-athon. I’d met exhumed bodies that smelt better. I was lucky enough to sit next to him on the from bench seat. I’m sure at one point my eyes stared to bleed.

The afternoon was taken up with washing clothes and napping.

Posted by asprey 13:11 Archived in India Comments (0)

Shopping and the Indian postal system

Shopping, shopping, shopping. Oh my god!

After more shopping we went to the fort for some more shopping. Thankfully we went to the fort museum for a few hours to get away from the shops. I hate museums but as they say, a change is as good as a rest. The problem with shopping is that you buy things, and things are heavy! We managed to buy 10Kg of gifts and ‘nice things for the house’ not that we have a house.

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We decided to waste a few perfectly good hours of our lives tackling the Indian postal system again. The last time we did that it took us over three hours, but this time we had it sussed, it only took us two hours.

Back at the hotel I said, “I don’t want another race to the train station, lets get there in plenty of time. It leaves at 5:30pm I want to leave here at 4:45pm!”
Sarah took out the ticket, “Oh god, what time is it?”
“4:35pm, why?”
“The train was 4:30pm not 5:30pm – we’ve already missed it”
“Jesus!” I said, “Why can’t we get on a bloody train. It’s simple enough!”
Left with no choice we had to book another night train; sleeper class (cattle class)

We arrived at the station at 10:00pm. The train left at 11:15pm but we weren’t taking any chances. This sleeper class carriage was filthy and ten times worse than the last one we’d moaned about but we only had ourselves to blame.

Posted by asprey 13:12 Archived in India Comments (0)

Diwali Eve

As usual in sleeper class we’d all slept in twenty-minute bursts. That’s about how far it is between stations, where half the carriage gets up, turns on the lights and drops their bags on you whilst you’re trying to sleep.

The train got in at 5am, we took a tuk tuk to our hostel and thankfully there were two rooms. We slept til lunchtime. I woke up with a serious case of the trots so decided I wasn’t going to leave the hotel. I wanted a few chilling days on the hotel roof bar.

Sarah and Nat headed out to see the Fort and the rest of the Blue city.

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Later they returned saying the city looked great from a distance, it’s called the blue city and you can see why, but the streets were a mess. I had to agree the streets on the way in looked worse than Varanasi, the worst city we’d been to in India.

“When you leave?” asked Joshi, the guesthouse owner. Who bore a striking resemblance to the Mexican guy out of Quentin Tarentino films.
“Tomorrow morning.”
“What!?” he shouted with theatrical shock throwing his hands in the air, “and miss Joshi’s Dewali celebration? There is going to be a party here tomorrow night, the likes of which you have never seen before! You cannot leave! Tomorrow is Dewali!!”

We all looked at each other and shrugged, “Joshi, we’re in!”

Posted by asprey 13:14 Archived in India Comments (0)

Sober Diwali Celebrations!!

I started Dewali fighting Sarah for the crapper. She too now had the Jodphur gut. Not wanting to be bad at the celebration of the year, I ventured out and got some antibiotics. Then got back to chilling in the roof top bar.

By the evening we were both feeling a little better and the Dewali celebrations began with a bang; in fact thousands of huge bangs!! Joshi had set out a huge Indian buffet with different curries, breads, pickles and all the snacks I could think of. There was a pile of fireworks a foot high and twenty drunken people hungry for food and gunpowder fun.

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Joshi employed the eldest of his two sons to set off the fireworks. The four year old obviously wasn’t old enough so the responsibility fell to the six year old. The crazy little kid lit banger after banger, although all the fuses were the same length some exploded after 15 seconds, some exploded as soon as the lighter touched. The first four rockets failed to take off, instead exploding all over the kid, the buffet and us.
“Can you see a British Standard Kite mark on those anywhere?”
Joshi, who was already staggering from too much celebrating, giggled, “I think some Indian bastard sold you white boys some dodgy fireworks!”

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Eventually Joshi gathered us together and we went down to his living room for Puja; we placed a Dewali offering of rice and flower petals on the home made shrine and received a blessing from the family. It was really nice the way this guesthouse owner had invited us in and was treating us all like part of his family.

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Afterwards we ate and drank and watched the kid risking his fingers and eyes as more of the unpredictable gunpowder exploded. The celebration went on all night.

Posted by asprey 13:16 Archived in India Comments (0)

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