A Travellerspoint blog

India continued...

semi-overcast 28 °C
View Cass & Lee's RTW trip! on Cass - Lee's travel map.

Our first experience of a sleeper train… lets just say it was interesting to say the least. In a compartment of 6, I was on the top bunk, Lee on the middle – he could just about reach that one bless him. How to describe the train… well according to our fellow travellers it was the worst they had seen, luckily for us it sounds as though we had the worst first and so couldn’t be disappointed with nothing to compare it to! I felt a bit like a caged chicken as from my bunk all I could see were bars (not the type I’d like to be in that serve alcohol I might add). It was very noisy, with people talking, laughing, children playing and screaming, our bunch playing UNO very loudly, and people on either side of my bunk snoring, loudly. On went the eye mask and ear plugs, and off to the land of nod I went too, though I don’t snore, well I’ve never witnessed the fact that I do so that’s enough proof for me. The toilets were also a treat, only Indian style and you didn’t need to flush as everything just trickled (or landed) straight on the tracks via the waste pipe, Mmm. Trains also seem to run on their own timetable, you know it will turn up, at some point that day, though you need to wait on the platform for hours until it does! Dad, I think I’ve found the ideal place for you!

On arrival in Agra, our first port of call was the Taj Mahal. What can I say – breathtaking. Everything we had hoped it would be and more. Amid all of the hustle and bustle there and frantic photo taking, we had to take just a few moments out to admire the sheer beauty of this building. It was a little foggy due to it being winter, but this just added to the majestic picture in front of us.

I’ve already got an understanding of the luxury that is clean clothes. My knuckles are skinned from hand washing, and for once I don’t think I actually brought enough clothes – that’s a first!

After living on curry and rice for lunch and dinner for 6 consecutive days, I feel the need to admit that we as a group found ourselves in Pizza Hut. We never even go there in the UK that’s the crazy thing! After stuffing our faces with the first load of non-spicy food in almost a week, we then went next door to Costa (Jen you will be proud!) and I got a gorgeous hot chocolate and a big chunky chocolate muffin – back to curry today though as I feel guilty.

Next port of call was Orcha – a beautiful village on a river – such a contrast to the crazy cities we have seen so far. We were staying in a beautiful hotel, though had ‘luxury’ tents out the back – with the most beautiful building in the back drop. We went for a wander around the local market and talked with the locals. After me being the wimp that I am, I was pretty cautious walking near the cows wandering the streets, Lee learnt his lesson about getting too close when one decided to head butt him! After a few too many beers, rum and vodka, the group all woke up with hangovers. This was soon helped when we took part in a cookery demonstration at a local woman’s house. She taught us how to make chai, various different curries, pilau rice, chapatti, raita and guava chutney – great experience and we ate the food she had prepared for lunch – gorgeous! Very much looking forward to making it when we get home, though I’m sure it won’t be quite the same without her touch. After the cookery, I had my first experience of henna, most of the girls did, and got a different design on their hand.

Off to Varanasi we went, on another sleep train – this time we had the luxury of air con, a blanket and a pillow – I actually got more sleep than I have in some of the hotel rooms! Lee found the opposite and instead watched a very stimulating film – Kung Fu Panda! Seeing the Ganges in Varanasi was quite interesting, with locals bathing in the water, shaving their heads, cremations taking place and ashes being swept into the river. We took a boat ride to see the evening ceremony, and then a sunrise boat ride the next morning to see the sunrise which was beautiful. People were praying to the Sun, and many locals doing their laundry, mainly beating the living daylights out of their clothes with a whopping great stick! They were certainly doing a better job than me with our hand washing, that’s for sure.

That brings our tour of India to a close. There is such a contrast between the manic cities and the quiet villages here, seeing the poverty, culture & local life has been truly eye opening. Further travel into central and southern India beckons in the future, though Nepal is next on the list for this trip :)

Posted by Cass - Lee 18:30 Archived in India Comments (0)

On the move to Jaipur - the pink city

sunny 31 °C
View Cass & Lee's RTW trip! on Cass - Lee's travel map.

As we were preparing to move onto our next hotel… all packed and ready to go, sitting having brekkie, I noticed something brown and flippin fast run under the door and under our bed – was it a mouse, was it a rat… or was it my worst fear of all a big fat spider!? No idea as I didn’t have my glasses on…

Our first day as a group - met some cracking people, a mixture of American, Swedish, Australian and English (including people from Harpenden… what are the chances of that – small world eh!). Off we went to look around our first temple, on entry our taxi got checked for bombs… as you do. Once we’d been de-shoed, de-cameraed, and de-mobiled we were good to go! Then there was nearly a kidnapping – Ellie was almost snatched by a little girl who took a shine to her… Ellie I would just like to clarify is in fact a little elephant, and Coco, a little giraffe. They have come along on our trip, courtesy of our little niece and nephew Alf and Mia.

After being told to be careful with what we eat and told to stick to veggie stuff – we decided to push the boat out and have some chicken curries for dinner – and I am pleased to say we have lived to tell the tale! We then proceeded to get the Metro home… where me and Lee had to go our separate ways, off I went into a nice all female airy carriage, while Lee spent his journey as a sardine with armpits and bums in his close vicinity, or should I just say in his face.
I then got into my first fight in India… with the ATM machines. After trying 2 different ones with all of our cards, they finally gave in and handed over some cash, about 4 hours later I might add. I did have to swear at them and threaten to kick them though.

We are now in Jaipur, after a 6 hour train journey… we learned that the trains also join in with the cars chorus and toot constantly! We checked into a really beautiful hotel which is in fact a Palace, not quite what we expected being on a backpackers tour! Off we went to visit a fort, where it seemed we were famous and were battling with the paparazzi, with many locals wanting to take a picture of themselves with us, very surreal! I have been mistaken for a man 3 times so far today… which I would usually take offence to, but having short hair really does have its benefits at times, and reduces unwanted attention! I was in my element as there were monkeys happily running around the fort, and snake charmers when we left. Shopping is great fun, with a lot of haggling to be done, I have tried telling the locals I am an accountant and do not part very easily with my money, though they don’t give up without a fight! After seeing numerous chickens meet their fate at the butchers on the side of the road, accompanied by goat’s heads it’s enough to make anyone want to turn veggie!

We have learnt a new word from fellow travellers on our trip… Hangry – this is where you are starving hungry and are getting a bit miffed as you want some grub – I think it sums me up pretty well. Though saying that, if we continue to eat our body weight in curry, we will need to be rolled onto our next flight !

All in all a great trip so far!

Posted by Cass - Lee 19:46 Archived in India Comments (0)

In Delhi... no sign of Delhi belly yet!

sunny 30 °C
View Cass & Lee's RTW trip! on Cass - Lee's travel map.

Well after a day of me bawling my eyes out, off to the airport we went…

Being possibly the worst flyer in the world, complimentary champagne on the flight certainly cheered me up! It actually turned out that we didn’t have to spend a penny on the flight, though luckily for them we were tired and so didn’t empty out the free bar.

Getting off the plane at Mumbai… well firstly the heat hit us (as we were dressed for winter in 31 degrees)… followed very closely by a boeing 737 whilst being taxi’d to the terminal!

On arrival in Delhi, we were met by our transfer lift to the hotel who then kept pulling over to take calls which was a little un-nerving! He was a great guy though and delivered us in one piece to our hotel… quite a task as the roads were a free for all. Car’s, buses, Tuk-tuk’s, horse and cart, scooters, push bikes, people, chickens and of course cows, all wanting to head in the same direction, at the same time. You don’t really need a radio in your car here as everyone seems to join in with a cars chorus… basically every car beeping… continuously… from dusk till dawn!

After sleeping for 13 hrs (with the cars chorus helping us to drift off) we’d missed breakfast. Having managed to have 5 curries so far Lee was and still is in his element, he’s already picking his next one! Went for a wander to find a bank, and managed not to get run over, quite an achievement! Made it to our next hotel, and were entertained by a dancing monkey on the way...

Now off to start our tour - Excited!

Posted by Cass - Lee 13:39 Archived in India Comments (0)

24hrs to go...

Well, nearly there - after months of preparation, or should I say years... the day is almost upon us!

The backpack is full, and the clothes are still on the bed... not a good start!

I'm sure tomorrow will bring excitement, stress, and not to mention tears, and that's just from Lee...

One more sleep (or should I say lack of)!

Posted by Cass - Lee 14:04 Archived in United Kingdom Comments (1)

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