Friday, January 30, 2009

A few photos

Well we've a few minutes spare here at an internet cafe so I'll try to upload a couple of photos if we've enough time.
These are of the Taj Mahal in Agra. It really was spectacular to see. Crazy busy with tourists though. Foss saw Julia Roberts too for a few minutes. I missed her though because I was taking a photo of him. It's unbelievable to see all these massive monuments, forts and temples that they built here so long ago. Almost every town has some ancient ruin, though sadly in a lot of cases they are ruins. In Bundi the other day we got a guided tour of the fort there and the guide was showing us a door that had been inlaid with ivory but because its not guarded by night people come and steal it. You could also see these holes in the walls of one of the rooms where there had been carved elephants and they had been stolen recently. Such a pity, but when you see the poverty in some places you can kind of understand why someone might do that.

Hope to update again soon, Jan and Foss

Friday, January 23, 2009

A week down...

The Taj Mahal was absolutely magnificent the other day, really amazing. The sheer scale of it was unbelievable and it’s hard to imagine how they managed to do it. It’s perfectly symmetrical in every way. The crowds there were manic and needless to say we took loads of photo’s there.
Since Agra and the Taj we spent 3nights in Ranthambore and did 2 full day safaris in the National Park here. We saw lots of interesting wildlife (monkeys, crocodiles, peacocks, eagles, deer and lots of different types of bird.) The main prize is tiger though and unfortunately none of those were spotted in the 2 days we were in the park.
The hotel here is lovely with a nice little garden, but because it’s the Indian equivalent of a Bank Holiday weekend, the place is packed. We got here one night before the crowds though and the first night was lovely and peaceful, probably the first time since we’ve been here we’ve had any sort of tranquility.
We're now in Bundi and we're coming to the end of our 3 days here. It's a big enough town with a population of about 150,000 but its really laid back and not at all touristy. People here are happy enough just to say hello without trying to sell you anything and its a nice change. We did some of the sights here yesterday, the palace, the stepwell, the market and we went out to a little village where they make clay pots. It reminded me of Bunratty Folk Village - It was like stepping back in time - a really basic, rural village.
We're off to the fort now since its late in the evening. It's too hot in the afternoon.
Here's a few photo's from our visit to the Ganges. Its takes a while to upload them so the rest will have to wait.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

More Delhi

Well we did a bit of sightseeing around Delhi. We saw the Red Fort, Jama Masjid Mosque, Humayun's Tomb and a few other attractions.
Here are a quick few photo's of some of what we saw. The architecture and just the grand scale of some of the monuments is amazing.

We got to experience some sense of Indian life too by passing through some markets and bazaars. I don't think Indian people actually visit shops. Everything you could possibly want is available on the side of the street - hair cutting, face shaving, shoemaking and repairs, key cutting (with a hammer and chisel), furniture making (from scratch by hand). It seems that this is how things are done here. There are restaurants similar to what we'd have at home but the authentic Indian ones are just like shacks on the side of the street with someone cooking in a giant wok type thing over a gas fire/stove and inside there might be a few chairs and benches around a table or two. It's all just so vastly different but amazing to see how they can get by without all the modern conveniences we have.
I'll try to upload some photos of the 'street life' here if I can get some time. Internet cafes are few and far between.

We're were in Haridwar to see the Ganges too. It's up North so a lot closer to the source of the river in the Himalayas. It seems quite clean and lots of people are bathing in it but we just dipped our toes.
Saw the Taj Mahal today. Pictures to follow shortly hopefully.
That's about all really,
Jan & Paul

Saturday, January 17, 2009

New Delhi

Well we arrived in New Delhi this morning. Our flights were fine. We were delayed about an hour in Heathrow but we made up time in the air so we were only about 25 minutes late arriving.
Some observations on traffic and transport:
1. When driving you can do anything you like so long as you beep your horn first, ANYTHING!
2. There’s no use for indicators - just beep.
3. Backseat belts are not equipped with buckles; you just kind of slip it over your shoulder. Sure with all the beeping you'll be fine
4. No matter how many lanes are marked on the road, you'll always fit another one in, just beep.
5. A single moped IS sufficient to transport a family of 4 from the airport, with their luggage.
6. A single regular pedal bike is sufficient to transport 5 cylinders of gas, not sure whether they were full or empty but we saw this a few times so I'm presuming at least some were full.
Basically it seems like getting into a car/auto rickshaw is like playing Russian Roulette but in saying all that we've yet to see a crash or accident.
The city itself very different from anywhere else either of us has ever been. As we were driving from the airport to the hotel we were waiting for the surroundings to get better, they didn't. It's so dry here that everything's dusty and drab. There are people EVERYWHERE, loads of people, it's really bustling and busy.
We went down to Connaught Place this evening. It's supposed to be the upmarket area and in fairness there were some posh and expensive looking shops but from the decor of the area you'd never guess it. All was fine above ground, no touts, no hassling, plain sailing. That all changed when we went to the underground Palika Bazaar. It was hectic down there and we stood out like sore thumbs. Despite how busy it was, everyone was vying for our attention, plenty of 'Excuse Me Sir!', 'Excuse Me Madam!' We got out of there as fast as we could.
If you don't know you can probably see it on Google Maps (just type in Connaught Place) but its made up of circles and inner circles. Well we had been wandering around the innermost one and the only restaurants we saw were McDonald's, TGI Friday's and KFC's so we ventured to the outer circle and came across a nice looking place where there were quite few Indian's eating, which we took as a good sign. It was only when we sat down that we noticed on the front of the menu that it was a Vegetarian Restaurant. That was probably the only thing on the menu that we understood but we stuck with it and with a little help from the waiter were both ordered 'dosa' which are like very, very thin crispy pancake type things made from rice. I got an onion dosa which just had chopped red onion in it and Foss got a plain one, which had nothing at all in it. They came with 2 side servings/sauces, one spicier than the other but we gave it a bash and dipped little bits into the less explosive sauce and we managed fine. Finished up with ice-cream to cool down the mouths. Not as scary as we thought it might be.
Well we managed to successfully negotiate one day in India, let's hope we can do 20 more.
Jan & Paul
Oh and BTW no pictures taken yet but sightseeing tomorrow so might have a few then.