A Travellerspoint blog

India

Mumbai, Calcutta and Bangkok!

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hello again!

sorry its been a while since we last wrote, we get caught up in mumbai life everytime we go there! We had an amazing time in mumbai, we went shopping and generally just chilled out with varun and his family, it was really well timed and we enjoyed it a lot! P1050246.jpgP1050380.jpgP1050402.jpgP1050409.jpgP1050414.jpgP1050423.jpg On the last day, Ben and Dave (friends from uni for those of you that dont know) arrived on our last day for their own 2 week holiday! P1050462.jpg It was great to see them, we wish we could have spent longer in mumbai with them but our flights have been booked for a long time! P1050461.jpg

We spent one sad night in Calcutta, and then got our flight this morning to Bangkok! The flight was actaully 30 mins early (Thai effeciency), so we got to the hotel earlier then planned! So far first impressions are that Bangkok is very modern and full of white people. We have had a quick look around, but as we are coming back to Bangkok we dont want to get too stuck in! We are off to Laos tomorrow for about a week and then we are coming back down into Thailand for a proper exploration! P1050467.jpg

Other than that there is not much to report, apart from that we are both well and missing you all lots!

Lots of Love

Chris and Alex xxx

Posted by chrisalex 07:40 Archived in India Tagged backpacking Comments (2)

Varanasi!

sunny 38 °C

We got an overnight train from Darjeeling, which was overcrowded and we were glad to be off it the next morning! Varanasi is not what either of us were expecting. For starters its full of small little streets which are full with people, market stalls and cows. We took a stroll down to the river last night where the banks have been converted into ghats (steps leading down to the river). P1040904.jpgP1040912.jpgP1040915.jpg
We wandered slightly too far and stumbled upon the famous 'burning ghat' where Hindus cremate their dead, after they have been submerged in the Ganges. It wasn't as graphic as we both thought, but we didnt go any further once we had seen a few dead bodies being carried up the steps. P1040910.jpg Tour guides were offering boat rides down the river, which basically stop right at the foot of the 'burning' steps so you can watch the funeral ceremony. Slightly too far I think. Further along the river is where normal prayers take place , so we lingered a while to watch the sunset puja (prayer ceremony). P1040916.jpg
Today we have been walking around Varanasi. It is much like any other pilgrim town, lots of people and bustling markets. Very hot here as well, about 38 degrees today, which is far to hot to be walking around in! Tomorrow we head off to Nepal, which we are both excited about. It will be a long journey, but we are hoping that seeing Mt. Everest will make it all worth it. After just over a week in Nepal we are coming back down to Varanasi where we are getting a flight back to Mumbai, which is where we will be for our last few days in India.

Missing you all lots,

Chris and Alex xxx

Posted by chrisalex 04:20 Archived in India Tagged backpacking Comments (2)

Darjeeling!!

sunny 24 °C

We got an overnight train from Calcutta to Darjeeling, the land of tea! Our hotel is just out of the main hustle bustle of the town, so we get an amazing view over the whole valley. P1040881.jpg Unfortunately the weather hasn’t been great since we have been here; there is a lot of low lying cloud which has gathered in the valley. It has cheered up a bit today though! Darjeeling is very hilly indeed, more so than Shimla, luckily it’s not that hot here as well or we would be suffering!P1040885.jpg

We wanted to go on the little toy train which takes you on a 2 hour trip through the valley, but when we arrived this morning we were told that it was fully booked, and as we are leaving tomorrow we don’t have enough time left! A shame really, as we would both liked to have done it! Instead we took a trip to the Happy Valley Tea Plantation, which is the plantation who supplies the finest tea in the world to their main customer, Harrods of Knightsbridge. P1040899.jpgP1040887.jpgP1040888.jpg We got a tour around the factory and learnt all about the fascinating world of tea, a lot goes into that one little cup. P1040889.jpgP1040892.jpg Chris and I were shocked to learn that the tea pickers (all women), work 8 hours a day for 60 rupees (about 90p). Clearly they are not seeing any of the profits of their labour! After our tour we got dragged to the cafe, where we drank a cup of harrods tea for about 35p each! The finest tea is brewed in 5 seconds and you only add milk to lower quality tea apprently. There are 3 grades of tea, the highest being the most expensive (the property of Harrods). Tea bags are a mix of leaves and the shoots which are ground down into 'dust', therefore making them cheaper! Here ends the tea lesson. P1040886.jpg

We have spent the rest of the day walking around Darjeeling, watching the various inhabitants carry large loads on their backs all the way up the hills! Rather them than me!

We leave tomorrow afternoon to go to Varanasi, which is famous for where they cremate human bodies by the side of the Ganges. Could be interesting…

Hope everyone is well, missing you all lots

Chris and Alex xxx

Posted by chrisalex 02:18 Archived in India Tagged backpacking Comments (1)

Colombo, Chennai and Calcutta!

sunny 37 °C

Wow did we have a tiring journey to get back to India. We spent the last 2 days of Sri Lanka in Colombo, which was nice enough but there is not much on offer really. Its just a city like any other, but it was good to catch up on ourselves a bit. Times are hard in Sri Lanka, so the guesthouse we stayed at we ended up having it to ourselves! We got caught in a rather heavy thunder storm on the last afternoon (alas, we forgot umbrellas). We ended up getting completely soaked and trying in vain to dry out our clothes all afternoon, as we were flying that evening! We dried them enough to pack in the end, and head off to the airport at 11pm (we got up at 8am, and the flight is at 3.20am). The airport was a complete farce, we had to wait for 2 hours just for a check-in gate, and when we finally did manage to check-in, it was about 3am! We rushed through the various checks, all of which seem to achieve little, but still! When we finally got to the departure lounge, there was a final call for our plane to board, which was silly as there were at least another 50 people behind us in the queue! We were so flustered and tired at this point we just ran straight to the gate, on to the plane, to find out that it was about 30% full. Sigh! We couldn’t get off either as customs is conveniently placed right at the edge of the gateway! So we ended up sitting on the plane for another hour, watching all the various Indians climb on board with bags full of duty free! Either way, we were very tired by the time we set off, and hour later, at about 4.30am.

The flight in itself was fine and we arrived in Chennai just over an hour later. We tried not to sleep on the plane, as it only make you more tired, and we needed to keep our wits about us for arrival in Chennai. We got a taxi from airport to hotel and pretty much passed out straight away for the rest of the day, after being awake for about 25 hours! We had a lazy day in Chennai and got an early train the following morning to Calcutta. The train took 30 hours, and was very tiring. We ended up being about an hour late, which for a train that takes that long, is quite impressive!

We have only had yesterday afternoon and the whole of today in Calcutta, as we leave tonight on an overnight train. Calcutta is really nice, but very hot indeed. The old colonial buildings are really well preserved and seem not to look out of place here. The city is also cleaner than we thought it would be (its still obviously dirty, but by Indian standards its immaculate!). Yesterday afternoon we walked to the Victoria Memorial, which is a large building, similar in style to the Taj Mahal and Capitol Hill in America. We went to see it just before sunset, but were not allowed entry as it had closed early for easter, and would also be closed for the following day. Apparently it houses various statues of our royal family, but your not allowed to take photos so we couldn’t have shared it anyway! P1040835.jpgP1040836.jpgP1040846.jpg

After dinner we went back to the Victoria Memorial to see the sound and light show. P1040856.jpg This seems to be an Indian thing, which they basically tell you the history of the place or building, with various coloured lights and sounds! It was the funniest thing I have ever been to. It basically detailed the history of Calcutta in the cheesiest way we have ever seen, needless to say we felt like we got our money’s worth! After standing up for the national anthem at the end, we had to run out in laughter!

Today we have been walking around the city, madness in this heat, but you get a better feel for it! We saw various churches, the old post office, and all the other colonial buildings scattered in between the yellow-taxi lined streets. P1040859.jpgP1040860.jpgP1040870.jpgP1040874.jpgP1040872.jpg Amongst these was the relocated memorial to the black hole of Calcutta, which was basically shoved in a corner of St Johns Church, charming! P1040862.jpg We also went down to the river to get some photos and stare for a while at the Howrah Bridge, supposedly the busiest bridge in the world! P1040876.jpgP1040878.jpg Its hard to describe Calcutta, everyone imagines it to the stereotypically Indian (big, loud, poor and dirty), which it is, but the remaining architecture gives the city a really strange sense that your in London a long time ago. Along with yellow taxis everywhere (no rickshaws allowed), there are rickshaws which are still pulled along by men. Looks like tiring work, and seems to look very out of place now amongst all the cars and buses! Calcutta, thankfully, is the only city left in India with these types of Rickshaws!

We leave Calcutta tonight at 10pm on an overnight train heading for Darjeeling, which is where we will be for the next 2 days! The land of tea…here we come!

Missing you all lots,
Hope everyone is well,
Lots of Love
Chris and Alex xxx

Posted by chrisalex 04:48 Archived in India Tagged backpacking Comments (1)

Kanyakumari, Madurai and Chennai

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We left the lovely beachy land of Kovalam, and got a short train down the coast to the very most southern tip of India, Kanyakumari (Cape Comorin). P1040459.jpg There is little to do in this small town apart from boast about the fact that you have reached the most southern point of india! Our hotel was amazing, we got a southern facing room on the top floor, the views of endless sea were spectacular! P1040446.jpg We got a boat the following day out to a small island just off the shore, on which there is a shrine. This island is technically considered the most southern point of india, so a visit was necessary! We tip toed around the hot hot shrine, and then got a ferry to an adjacent rock on which stands a huge statue of a famous tamil poet (an indian attempt at the statue of liberty!). P1040479.jpgP1040466.jpgP1040474.jpgP1040475.jpgP1040478.jpg

We left kanyakumari the next day to go to Madurai, which also has only one attraction on the tourist menu. The famous multicoloured gateways (or Goporums), which are carved with many different Hindu deities and mark the entry points to the Sri Meenakshi Temple. P1040480.jpg You may have seen them on tv? Either way, this is pretty much all there is on offer so we went to visit at sunset, when the colours look the best! I thought they were amazing, very colourful and bright and a lot larger than I first imagined! They look quite out of juxtapose in the hustle and bustle of the Madurai streets, but overall I was impressed with them! P1040482.jpg

We left Madurai this morning to come here, Chennai, where we are only staying an afternoon and evening really as we are getting our flight to Sri Lanka at 1am, or something silly like that! We have changed a small bit of money in preparation for the rickshaw when we get there, our next entry will be from the lovely island of Sri Lanka!

Hope you are all well,

Lots of Love
Chris and Alex xxx

Posted by chrisalex 03:46 Archived in India Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

Cochin to Kovalam!

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We left Cochin in the next morning yesterday to get a train to Alleppey, from where we got a boat through the back waters of Kerala to Kottayam! The boat was fantastic, most tourists take the really expensive rice boats (the famous ones you see on tv), but we got the local ferry for 15p each and it went twice as fast! I know its silly to say, but it looks just like it does on tv, after seeing it so many times it was great to finally witness them! P1040278.jpgP1040327.jpgP1040329.jpgP1040347.jpg Once we arrived in Kottayam, we had 5 hours before our train that evening, so we got a Rickshaw into town and sat and watched the world go by! Our train took us to Thiruvananthapuram (wow long place name...thanks chris!) where we arrived too late to get a bus, so we got another rickshaw to the local seaside town of Kovalam, which is where we are staying for the next 3 days!

Its really pretty here, there is nothing to do apart from sit on the beaches and watch the world go by! We spent most of this afternoon sitting on the beach, in a tiny piece of shade we managed to find, and tried to chill out a bit after a hectic week. P1040366.jpgP1040367.jpgP1040409.jpg Tomorrow we intend to do pretty much the same again, it's far to hot to do anything more strenuous anyway! We leave on Tuesday for Kanyakumari at the very bottom tip of india, then we will head back up to Chennai.

Hope everybody is well!
love Chris and Alex xx

Posted by chrisalex 07:37 Archived in India Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

Bangalore and Cochin!

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We got an overnight train from Hampi last night and arrived in Bangalore at 6am this morning. We walked to the hotel had a shower and went to bed. After a few hours kip (you never really sleep well on trains), we set out to explore the delights of Bangalore. We got a rickshaw to the Government building, which is a large impressive building built in semi-colonial style. P1040250.jpg Across the road is the High Court and adjacent to that is the library, basically everything we need to set up shop properly. Bangalore is a very green city and as such has a large park in the centre, which is a great way to avoid the heat. Although its hot here, it was hotter in Hampi so we are appreciating the few degrees we have lost by travelling further south! We leave Bangalore early tomorrow morning to go to Cochin, so it really was a whistle stop tour of the city of boiled beans (literal translation apprently)....

We arrived fine in Cochin, its without a doubt the hottest place we have been to so far. Not only was it about 35 degrees but also the humidity was up around 60%, resulting in a very hot and sticky pair of travellers! We stayed across the water, so got a cheap ferry across to Fort Cochi for both the days (the more touristy area). We found the famous chinese fishing nets and sat and watched them being used for a while, whilst trying in vain to find some cool! P1040254.jpgP1040256.jpg We then had a walk around and found the oldest european church in India! P1040262.jpgP1040269.jpg Its a very pretty little church!We walked down the front and then got a rickshaw to Jew Town, to go and see the famous old synagogue, but we failed to realise it was friday afternoon, the sabbath, so it was closed unfortunatly! Nevertheless we had a plod around Jew Town (there are very few Jews left here now), before getting a Rickshaw back to Fort Cochi.

The first night in Cochin we nearly died of heat, we hardly slept! For the second night we had to succumb to the delights of air con (we have resisted so far, as the ceiling fans are quite effective), but i can safely say it was the best few quid we have spent so far!). The room was like a fridge by the morning!

Hope you are all well,
Lots of Love
Chris and Alex xxx

Posted by chrisalex 04:43 Archived in India Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

Mumbai and Hampi!!

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Hello everyone!

Its been a while since we last wrote so i expect ill have a lot to say! The train to mumbai was fine, pretty uneventful as trains go and was completly on time. Varun however was not and managed to sleep in, he was supposed to pick us up at 8am, but when we called him he was still in bed! typical! Either way he manged to get there in the end and we went straight back to his so we could wash, as we were very greasy at that point!

Our week in Mumbai was ace, it was so good to see varun again and we find mumbai very relaxing, perhaps because Varun and his family make us feel so at home we never want to leave! Baby Ruhaan is so cute, we spent a lot of time playing with him, at nearly 3 months old hes getting quite big now! And scarily enough he is attempting to walk, it makes him quite when you prop him up, Ruhaan at maximum height! P1040042.jpgP1040047.jpgP1040050.jpg

We went to the cinema and shopping and tried out various restaurants in mumbai. Varun is very busy at work so some days he left us to our own devices, which was fine by us as we were really tired for the first few days ( a months travelling caught up on us). Then we had to spend one day trying to sort out hotels for the next leg of the journey, which we managed fine. So all in all it worked out quite well. We spent every evening with varun going to various night spots, mainly funky bars where we felt very out of place in our shorts and t shirts!

On Friday we took a day trip to Elephanta island, which is an island in just off the penisula of mumbai, and the number one tourist spot in mumbai. On the island is a series of caves, which were built around 1500 years ago, which contains images of hindu gods, its basically a temple carved into the rock. We left early with varun on the way to work and carried on going all the way into town, where we got a ferry, which took and hour, over to what we discovered to be the hottest island in the world. The plan was to try and avoid the heat, but by the time the we got there is was midday, aka temperature equals core of the earth. When we got there you get a tiny little train across a bridge to the bottom of the island. island.jpg This is where we didnt realise that the caves are located at the top of the hill, sigh! Lets just say by the time we got to the top not only were we out of breath, but we both looked like we had just had a shower (attractive!). I dont think we have ever been hotter than this day, the major problem with mumbai is the humidity, which was high on that day, as well as it being around 36 degrees! When it gets to this point, not even the shade is cold anymore! We plodded around the caves (after paying Rs250...indians pay Rs10), and i must say that the carvings were well worth the visit. There was one inparticular of the 3 headed Shiva (over 20ft high), which looked eearie in the dark but very impressive at the same time!cave1.jpgshiva1.jpg

After visiting the caves, we plodded back down to the boat, which we were glad of the breeze at this point! I dont think we have collectively sweated as much as we did on that day! When we docked in mumbai we went for a drink and did some shopping on colaba causeway, which is basically like a market where you can buy pretty much anything at rock bottom prices. When we got back to Varun's, i think I can safely say we had the best shower ever!

It was Varun's mum's birthday on the day that we left so we went for a large meal in one of the best hotels in Mumbai. They treat us very much like a part of the family, which is really nice of them. We had an ace lunch and then we had to get back in order to pack our bags (which we left until the last minute!). We literally shoved everything in our bags and sat on them in order to make them close! Our train left Mumbai on time at 8.30pm. We were very sad to leave mumbai, as it will be a long time until we see varun again. Varun being the true indian he is has invited us back and says we have to go back before we leave india! I fear cost and time may be too short in order to acheive this, although i would gladly go back!

Our train was fine, a long overnight one, and arrived on time in Hubli the next afternoon! We then got a 5 hour bus to Hospet, from where we had to get a rickshaw to Hampi. On the bus journey we got covered in pink paint, as they were still celebrating Holi. Unfortunately, the window was open and we were sitting next to it. And we were both wearing white. Ill leave you to fill in the gaps...

By the time we arrived in Hampi it was 8pm, which meant we had been travelling for around 25 hours since mumbai. Needless to say we showered, ate and fell asleep! Surrounding Hampi is an old ruined city, which is spread out all across the area. We hired another scooter yesterday, as there is no other way to see all of the major sites in a day! We christened the scooter Scampi (from Hampi....get it?....we need help...). P1040111.jpg Hampi is a strange place, there are really old rock formations surrounding the area, which makes the place look like a cross between Jurassic Park and the Flintstones. P1040095.jpg Seriously, some of the rocks are so big that you cant even imagine water being able to move them. They're really weird! We saw various temples and ruins along the way, including the Queen's baths and the elephant stables. P1040134.jpgP1040127.jpgP1040143.jpg

Unfortunatly our scooter died at around 4pm, so I sat on a wall with our broken scooter (a local indian informed me that the chain had snapped....great!) whilst Chris walked the short distance to town to get the guy. He rode back up on his bike to get me and the now dead Scampi. He wheeled it back down and swapped it for a white one, which we quickly christened Scampi 2 (it was late in the day, imagination running low...). We were quickly on our way again to go and see the most impressive and well preserved temple of them all, which did not disappoint! P1040156.jpg P1040162.jpgWe got to watch the sunset on the way back as well, and went to the top of a hill so we could look out over the valley, which is littered with strange rock formations! You would not believe the size of some of the rocks, literally as big as houses! P1040223.jpg

Today we checked out this morning and walked to the local temple, where there is an elephant! P1040087.jpg I got rather excited! Elephants are not out of the ordinary here, but i still cant believe it when i see one, chris is more grown up about the whole thing, but i seem to turn into a 6 year old kid - either in slient awe or just smiling like a goon at it! Poor elephant, must be fed up of people just starring at it all the time! Either way, people were feeding it bananas, which she accepted without question! She also blesses or kisses people (basically she whacks you on you head with the end of her trunk) for Rs1, which i was too excited not to do! I got even more excited when i saw the process! You give the coin to the elephant, she takes it with the end of her trunk and smells it, realising its money she gives it to her keeper, and then whacks you on the head with her trunk! We got so excited that we both did it! Poor thing, we wonder what they must have done to her to train her to do that?...Either way it was rather exciting! P1040245.jpgP1040246.jpg

We leave Hampi later on tonight to get an overnight train to Bangalore, translates as 'the city of boiled beans'! We leave at about 8pm from Hospet, and get to Bangalore at 6am, so another tiring day ahead! I shall write next when we are in Bangalore! Sorry for the length of this entry, i wasnt expecting it to be this long! Hope you are all well,
Lots of Love
Chris and Alex xxx

Posted by chrisalex 23:17 Archived in India Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

Khajuraho (Khuj-u-ra-ho)

The land of the Karma Sutra temples (parental advisory - explicit material!!)

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From Delhi we got an early morning train to Jhansi, which took about 5 hours (that includes 40 mins of just waiting on the track for no reason - sigh). From Jhansi we managed to get a bus to Khajuraho, which took about 5 hours 30, and was not that enjoyable. Apart from being rather numbing on the old behind, it got so busy at points, people hanging from the bus and on the roof - a stereotypical indian bus i suppose! We got here late last night, and the room is really nice, complete with balcony!

From further exploration this morning we have discovered that Khajuraho is a small town and in all respects quite pleasant. We walked around all the temples today, which you may know as the Karma Sutra temples. They are very old and depict various scenes of a sexual nature, not fit for parental eyes! P1030996.jpgP1040001.jpg The greatest mystery with these temples is that they are built in the middle of nowhere (there is now a town, but when they were built they were in the middle of nowhere!). They were abandoned for nearly 300 years until a British man got lost (failing to ask for directions most likely) and stumbled upon the temples, the rest, as they say, is history. P1040007.jpgP1040008.jpgP1040009.jpgP1040015.jpgP1040021.jpg

After having a look round the main temples we hired bicycles and rode south of the town where there are more temples, but they are less impressive than the main ones. Indian bicycles are interesting, they have no gears, are very very high and possibly the most uncomfortable things ever! But at 15p an hour to rent, whose complaining? We rode out into the Indian countryside, where the stereotypical villages were and children ran alongside us and everything! The temples were indeed less impressive, but im glad we saw them nontheless. Its good to get off the beaten track every once in a while!

We are getting a taxi back to Jhansi tomorrow (as i dont think we can face another bus journey), where we get a 19 hour train to Mumbai, which is where we will be for the next week! Due to this we will probably not write the blog for a week, as we usually achieve very little in mumbai, and have done the touristy things anyway! Just letting you know thats all, dont worry!

We shall write in a week or so,
Hope you are all well,
Chris and Alex xxx

Posted by chrisalex 08:11 Archived in India Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

Haridwar and Delhi!!

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Got short bus from Rishikesh to Haridwar and checked into nice hotel! The only thing really happening in Haridwar is the main source of the ganges, where at sunset pilgrims gather and push baskets (made out of banana leaves) full of flowers and a candle, down the ganges. Before we went to see this, we got one of the cable cars up the hillside. When I say cable car, it was more like a plastic lunchbox on wire, but an experience nevertheless! Upon the aforementioned hill sits a modern temple, where pilgrims visit before going down to the ganges to pray. P1030961.jpgP1030963.jpgP1030964.jpgP1030966.jpg After soaking up the views from up here, we heading back down for sunset and to watch the little ceremony by the river. There were so many people, and it was very colourful, everything India should be I suppose! We watched for some time as the baskets of flowers got demolished by the river before we plodding back home for the night!P1030969.jpgP1030971.jpgP1030972.jpg

We got the train early this morning (6am) to come back to Delhi, where we are only spending one night before we get another early train tomorrow to Jhansi, where we change to get the bus to Khajuraho, where the famous Kama Sutra temples are located! After that we go back up to Jhansi to get a very very long train back to Mumbai! And that will be the first month over!

Hope everyone is well, missing you all muchly

Chris and Alex xxx

Posted by chrisalex 05:31 Archived in India Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

Rishikesh!!

The land of yoga....

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We got a bus from Dharamsala yesterday afternoon, which took us all the way to Pathankot, where we got an overnight train to Rishikesh, the land of yoga! We arrived this morning and have been trying to catch up with the sleep we lost on the trains, as Indians can be rather noisy, when they are awake, the whole train must be too!

Rishikesh is a really pretty town, situated around the banks of the River Ganges, as this is where the Ganges technically starts the water is still pretty clear (a nice green colour), also making Rishikesh a very holy place. P1030918.jpgP1030920.jpgP1030924.jpg There are plenty (too many) white tourists around here who seem to be on a mission to 'find themselves' and in the process end up look like Jesus, not really a good look in the 21st century! There are also plenty of 'holy men', who seem to just beg and pray, a nice life for some!

We went around the temple yesterday afternoon, which had 13 storeys! P1030939.jpg There are various reincarnations of all the main hindu gods, its goes on and on! We climbed all the way to the top, ringing the bells on the way, where we got a stunning vista of the whole of rishikesh, well worth it! P1030935.jpgP1030936.jpg

Today we hired a moped (with helmet) so we could go and explore the further reaches of Rishikesh! P1030940.jpgP1030943.jpgP1030944.jpgP1030951.jpg It was well worth it, we went far and wide on the poor little thing, but at 4 pound for the day we thought it was well worth the investment! We basically rode along the main road south of the town, towards Haridwar (where we are going next) and then back on ourselves to watch the sunset. P1030956.jpg We had a really ace day and will definatly hire a moped again in the future! Needless to say i now look like a beetroot and chris is the colour of a coffee bean (damn that Aston gene!)

Next we are off to Hardiwar for a day, which is further down the ganges! After that we are off back through Delhi, where will we probably write from next! I hope the UK is treating you all well, miss u lots

Chris and Alex xxx

Posted by chrisalex 00:50 Archived in India Tagged backpacking Comments (1)

Dharamsala and McLeod Ganj!

The land of the Dalai Lama!

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Well here we are, we got a bone rattling bus ride from Shimla to Dharamsala, it was about 8 hours long and very windy down hill, but we survived! We got to Dharamsala at about 10pm, and got a taxi from there 4km up the hill to Mcleod Ganj, which is a separate village, and where the Dalai Lama lives! We arrived late at night and pretty much went straight to bed, without really investigating the room (which is really nice by the way). In the morning we got up and had a look at the view from the balcony (slumming it all the way darling), and we have the most fantastic view of the village and the snow capped moutains beyond, truely magical! A stunning view to wakeup to I can tell you! 7P1030856.jpgP1030904.jpg

Yesterday we walked around the village, which is very hilly so we are burning those calories away! Its a really pretty village though, obviously being the residence of his holiness the Dalai Lama, there are a lot of monks and tibeten folk walking around mixed in with Indians, making it a very strange place - stuck between 2 very different cultures, but some how manages to pull it off. Last night we had tibeten food for dinner (which is like our chinese at home but with a spicy twist). We walked to the Dalai Lamas house but it seems he was busy and didnt come out and say hi, which is frankly rude considering how far we have travelled! P1030869.jpg It said on a sign that hes old and ill now so he sees less people than he used to! Either way we had a walk around the temple, which is very modern and not what we were expecting at all, still somehow spiritual as well despite this!P1030864.jpgP1030875.jpg

Today we have just relaxed, as there is very little to do here apart from watch the world go by, which is interesting enough around here! We have a fantastic view of the town and mountains from the rooftop restaurant, so we have been sat up here in the sun (about 26 degrees) this afternoon. Its nice to catch up on yourself every once in a while. We have a busy day tomorrow, we have to get a 4 hour bus to Pathankot, from where we catch an overnight trains to Rishikesh (the home of yoga, and homeland of the ganges), where we will be for a couple of days! Hope everyone is well,

Chris and Alex xxx P1030909.jpg

Posted by chrisalex 02:39 Archived in India Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

Delhi and Shimla!!

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We arrived in Delhi fine and checked into hotel, which was rather dire to start with (there was no running hot water and the room was just as bad. Either way we pay 2 pound more and go upgraded to a nicer room with hot water and a TV! We spent the day walking around New Delhi, which is the section the British built and probably the better known part of Delhi. P1030749.jpgP1030752.jpg Its really nice and well preserved, it constitutes the seat of the Indian government now, so at least it is being used unlike so many of our old buildings! We basically walked everywhere for the whole day, it was hot but not as hot as when we were last in Delhi. Instead of using rickshaws we used the underground system in Delhi, which was an interesting experience. It was quite 'quiet' on the way in, but the endless queuing and tokens and pay here, stand here, stand there, got to us in the end and we were glad to resurface in the end. On the way back however we unfortunately decided to go back in rush hour. I don’t think I have ever been so squashed in my entire life, it was just awful. However squashed you think the London underground gets, then times it by 10, I think I held my breath for the whole journey. Needless to say we were glad to get out of the metro system, but we saved lots of money (train ticket cost 8rs, whereas a rickshaw would have been about 60s).

We left Delhi on the fast train to go 400km north to Kaka, which took 4 hours and then changed quickly to the toy train which took us to Shimla up in the mountains, the old British summer capital city. The toy train went very slowly, we covered 100km in around 4 and a half hours, we could have walked faster! P1030785.jpgP1030800.jpg It was so cute though, only 4 seats wide and about 6 carriages! The journey up through the mountains was stunning, the scenery is truly breathtaking! It got gradually colder as well as we retreated further into the mountains, but we arrived here on time into the smallest station ever. The whole of shimla is like nothing else, it looks like a mini English village crossed with Switzerland! P1030815.jpgP1030823.jpgP1030819.jpgP1030820.jpg The hotel looks like a little wooden cabin, unfortunately without heating as it is very cold here at night! The locals think we are strange, as we are wearing summer clothes with trainers - not the best or warmest of looks! But the hotel supplied us with duvets, so we got warmer last night! All the locals seem adapted to the temperatures, wearing normal Indian clothes perhaps with a bobble hat as well! We have another day here to explore, so we may take a day trip or just continue walking around the little streets! After Shimla, we are off to Dharamsala on a 10 hour bus journey, which is going to have stunning scenery, albeit uncomfortable! Hope you are all well

Lots of Love

Chris and Alex xxx

Posted by chrisalex 02:23 Archived in India Tagged backpacking Comments (1)

Agra!!

Taj Mahal time...

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Got the train fine from Ranthambore Tiger Land, it was actually one time all the way! Unfortunately someone was sat in our seats, so we had to cram onto some spare ones, typical Indians; they won’t budge even if they know they are in your seat! We arrived late to Agra and went straight to bed, and then the next day we took a day trip to Fatehpur Sikri, which is an old abandoned city about an hour’s bus journey from Agra. Was really pretty and in quite good condition, housing the largest gateway in India, apparently! (Over 100ft high). P1030603.jpgP1030596.jpg

After that we got the bus back to Agra to watch the sunset over the Taj Mahal on the other side of the river, which was ace as it the white marble changes colour with the sun! P1030617.jpg After that we had dinner on the rooftop restaurant of our hotel, which is right next to the Taj, so it was quite surreal eating dinner in front of the Taj Mahal. This morning we got up early to watch the sunrise over the taj, which was just as magical. P1030661.jpg We managed to get through the security just in time to watch it come up. P1030670.jpgP1030704.jpg We stayed for a couple of hours, which was a rather chilly time to be walking around outside, but English weather, have hardened us to this!

We now have the rest of the afternoon in Agra, where we are going to walk around before our train to Delhi at 7pm tonight. We will be in Delhi for the next 2 days, so we shall write there! Hope everyone is well, much love
Chris and Alex xxx

Posted by chrisalex 22:54 Archived in India Tagged backpacking Comments (1)

Jaipur and Tiger Safari!

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Hi everyone!

We arrived in jaipur fine on an overnight train with the friendly accompaniment of cockroaches! Chris was really unhelpful in getting rid of them, so we were equally rubbish and just sat there quaking in our boots for the whole journey! Either way, we survived and arrived in Jaipur very early the next morning. Jaipur is very pretty; it’s the pink city and is nestled in a valley with a lake as well! We had a rest when we got there and completed our touristy tasks from midday onwards. We walked around the old city, before scaling a large now disused minaret for the views over the whole city, which was stunning as it was a particularly clear day! P1030357.jpg After that we went to the palace and to see the maharajas larger than life astronomical set, with the worlds largest sun dial (some of your may have seen this on 1 of palins many travel documentaries!). P1030366.jpg P1030373.jpg It was really enjoyable and full of tourists; I appreciated the architecture despite the understanding of the mathematical side being non existent! P1030393.jpg P1030427.jpg

The following afternoon we got the train to Ranthambore National Park, to see tigers! We went on an all day safari yesterday and we managed to see a tiger, albeit through some trees, but a tiger nonetheless! P1030548.jpg The park itself looked like Jurassic Park, and was full of lots of dramatic scenery and various different types of wildlife! Despite the tour being a bit disorganised, we both had a really good day and we shared our jeep with 2 other Brits, so that kept the cynicism rolling! We both caught the sun; I now look like a beetroot, whilst Chris looks like a roasted coffee bean!

We are now off to Agra today to see the Taj Mahal, and then onwards to Delhi and the north!

We shall write again soon, hope everyone is well,

Love Chris and Alex xxx

Posted by chrisalex 00:41 Archived in India Tagged backpacking Comments (1)

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