A Travellerspoint blog

Sun and fun in Rajasthan

India - Day #3-4 - Jodhpur

sunny 33 °C
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Here's a lesson. Don't believe anything written or foretold, cause it will change.
Our train out of Delhi to Jodhpur had its platform changed. The only way we managed to get on it was by finally finding some local Indian dude who spoke a bit of English. Also once getting on it our pre-booked seats had been changed. You had to check a scrap of A4 sticky taped to the cabin door for that. Which we didn't see and almost got beaten up by a over-protective mother of 3 and their ailing grandmother.

It was our first train journey in India, needless to say, and we had a nice comfy air conditioned sleeper. The other people that shared our inward facing chairs were pretty obnoxious, but hey that transcends creed. I spent most of my time sitting in the open doorway watching the country go by and catching bugs with my teeth. I think I set a new record ! Garbage is strewn all over the trainline, anywhere people frequent. If in doubt toss it about, seems to be the go.

Even one of the locals chained their gear to the seat, so Scotto and I decided to stow our backpacks on our fold out bunks. So we were contorted around our backpacks all night and got about 1 hours sleep through the night. We woke up at 5:30am for a 6am arrival, but 2 hours later and we still hadn't arrived. We finally got to Jodhpur and got ferried by rickshaw through a sea of rickshaws to the hotel which is a very nice place. Almost fully western facilities (flushing toilet and shower) and just below the Mehrangarh fort, which is quite breathtaking. The hotel has got the look, the nice patterned walls, little grassy courtyard with white fountain - all very mood enhancing stuff ;)

JodhpurHotel1.jpgJodhpurHotelDeano1.jpgMehrangarhFort1.jpg

We had some breaky and then an unavoidable nap, cause that train sleeper was more work than rest, then legged it up the fort. The Lonely Planet recommends the audio tours and we did it. I can testify its a top way of seeing the place. Highly recommend it. We went mega touristy and took a tonne of photos. I took some video with my camera - loved the eagles just swirling in a hypnotic dance above the fort. The royal rooms and collections are cool. From the purest swords to baby carriers. The city views are amazing. You meet such friendly locals on the hike up. Often they want to show you their foreign currency note collection (no, its not a euphemism).

JodhpurHotelFromFort1.jpgJodhpurFor..ingRoom.jpgJodhpurFortCitySun.jpg

On the way down, we stopped at the first place below the fort (a blue restaurant/bar/accom) and had a beer overlooking the city as it slipped into darkness. Very cool. Then we headed into town near the train station to a very nice restaurant called Kalinga. Food was great and service outstanding. Then we shuffled back to the hotel (well to this internet cafe across the road) through the markets and the usual crazy traffic.

Jodhpur is a beautiful and friendly city. Though the main market and train station area can get a bit crazy, its way more laid back than Delhi and cleaner too. I think its definitely someplace to languish around for a few days or longer. Because we locked ourselves in to a fixed itinerary (grumble) we are off to Udaipur on a 1:30 pm bus tomorrow. Mmmmm a comfy 6.5 hour bus ride, looking forward to that !!

Might try and hit this park 10km out of town that is luxious, green and full of monkeys - how are you supposed to resist that !! (well it depends how early I get up :)

Before I leave you, a few humorous/bizarre things I recall seeing the last few days:

In Delhi station there were lots of soldiers all dressed in fatigues going off to some military training I guess. But many of them had hard case suitcases with wheels. The ones most travellers have, except they were coloured in camouflage too. Riddle me this batman, why does their luggage need camouflaged ? Are they planning to drag their roller suitecases through combat :)

Also on the train, Scotto asked what we do with the plastic food containers that our dinner came in and the guy just grabbed them, strolled to the back of the train, opened the door and tossed them out. Silly us.

Well thats about all I can think of at the moment. Will try and get some photos up soon. Cya all - thanks for the emails and comments :)

Posted by dinofile 09:51 Archived in India Tagged tourist_sites Comments (0)

Namaste Delhi

India - Day #2 - Delhi

semi-overcast 32 °C
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Ok first lemmi just humbly take back that presumptuous comment about the markets being better in Thailand.
We went to the Old Delhi markets and let me just throw a few descriptives at ya: incredible, insane, ridiculous, amazing, eye-popping. I could go on, but you get the picture (esp if I upload one :)

I think we got pretty lucky with our travel agency. They are very professional and wait till every last detail is confirmed before handing us our itinerary. They also throw in a cab for the day. Our last driver, Rajesh, one didn't speak much English and we were freaking out because instead of taking us a few clicks north to the Red Fort, we drove for ages zigzagging over rivers and freeways and doing U-turns. We just had no idea where we were. Then just as we were about garrotte Rajesh, suddenly some other significant landmark appeared and he was all smiles. He had just taken us to Qutb Minar on the outskirts of Delhi which turned out to be pretty impressive.

After some more smiles and head wobbles he drove us to the Red Fort. Naturally we were greeted by a few toutes who managed to get us on a peddle rickshaw. He wisked us off to the red fort, where we were forceably charmed by this elderly tourist guide. It was actually well worth it as his historical knowledge of the fort was impeccable.

Then the rickshaw dude took us on the most amazing freaky ride I have ever been on - through the Old Delhi markets.
Its just goes on forever and its so packed and narrow it seemed impossible to navigate, but pushing the envelope these peddle rickshaws just push their way through the crowd. Sometimes other rickshaws coming the other way have to squeeze past. It all seems physically impossible, but they do it. Sometimes passers by get their shit ripped or toes run over, but there never seems to be any arguments or fights.

The markets are just so colourful. Food, sari's, lots of shiny things. He also peddled us up to the largest mosque in India, the Jama Masjid. The views from the edges were pretty spectacular.
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Probably the toughest moment at the markets was this lady with her baby running full pelt along side our rickshaw begging for money. Though the baby seemed to be sleeping amazingly enough but it was just so desperate and went on for ages.

Finally we were exhausted and just wanted to go back to the travel agency to check how the bookings were going.
This is where "inevitability" kicks in. There is simply no way you will not end up at an imporeum. Rajesh was making some turns we knew were not the way to the agency. Our comments just got silence, a cheeky simle and some head wobbles. Then we suddenly stop and pick up his brother, who speaks English very well. Then we set off some side streets. We were tired and had no intention of buying anything so we all all joking around and I said - "You know that we know that you know we don't want to go to an emporeum, and we know that you are just going to take us there anyway, and nothing we say is going to stop that, so can we at least just all agree that we are not going in and just make this quick as possible." Naturally even after a good laugh, we still went to 2 emporeums where we had to still insist we aren't going in. LOL

After that we really needed some beers. I can tell you Delhi doesn't have a pub culture at all. Its more a restaurant culture where you eat and drink. But we eventually did track down about the only bar in central Delhi, its called DV8.
You meet a few other travellers there, but its still predominately a locals hangout. There was a DJ there playing a pretty bizarre mix of music, from Don McLain, to Led Zep to AC/DC.

Posted by dinofile 01:30 Archived in India Tagged tourist_sites Comments (1)

Touch down

India - day #1 - Delhi

semi-overcast 34 °C
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Alright. Finally after a bit of an obligatory ticket fiasco we finally landed in Delhi late Monday night.

They warn you of the traffic from the airport into the city, but nothing quite prepares you. Its just ridiculous, everyone is just beeping for everybody else to get out of the way. Its just one big beep. My throat was burning from the pollution by about the halfway mark. There are people literally sleeping on the side of the roads and highways. No one really moves out of the way, from strolling grannies to dogs and cows, you just go around them.

We wanted to be reasonably close to the backpackers scene, so we stayed in the dodgy area of Parharganj. Its a bit nasty and backpackers are few and far between. Most seem afraid to eat anything other than toast. The markets come alive a bit at night, but nowhere near as good as Thailand.

The place oozes touts. One started trying to "help" us and after a few minutes the tourist cops rolled up and bundled him into a paddy wagon. My protesting his innocence just got my name taken down. They take serve and protect to a whole new level.

We were looking for better accommodation, but you either slum it or pay relatively through the nose for some up market hotel around the business area, Connaught Place. Well our place, the glorious Star Paradise hardly lives up to its namesake, but the dudes that run it are great and helpful. They'll do a beer run and are all hurt when we say we're going to dine elsewhere instead eating their hotel meals.

The weather is overcast and not too hot at all really. Its pretty gimey and the exhaust fumes permeate everything.

We have only been here one full day, but it feels like about three days. I think its all the people hassling you that just slows down time and wears you out. People are very friendly generally, but they will say just about anything to drag you somewhere you had no intention of going.

We got diverted to a reputable "official" (well lets hope so) tourist agency and booked a fixed itinerary for the next 2 weeks. This is something that really went against the grain for me as I don't like the lock in timetables. We just got the vibe its all quite hard work, and this is one of those times you try and eliminate the "tout factor" and just pre-book and concentrate on the sites.

Basically we are heading west from Delhi into Rajasthan area, then loop back under Delhi to the east toward Varanassi. I'll fill in the exact itinerary next blog entry. As they are confirming the hotel bookings over night.
Off the top of my head its roughly this:
Delhi -> Jaipur -> Udaipur -> Jodhpur -> Pushkar (Camel trek) -> Agra (Taj Mahal) -> Varanassi -> Kahajuraho -> Delhi.

We decided to skip Jaisalmer and its quite a long trip way out west, and we can get some camel trek and real native Indian action at Pushkar instead.

I'd like to leave this entry with one bitterly disappointing and disturbing fact. The Chicken Jalfrezi here is nothing like the one back at my local India restaurant in Surry Hills - its all been a lie ... a lie !!!!

Posted by dinofile 09:23 Archived in India Tagged backpacking Comments (2)

Chafing at the bit

India Trip

overcast 25 °C

After quitting my 6 year IT job in Sydney CBD, I have been struggling with what to do and where to go.
I finally plucked up the grapes to do some travelling again, and bought some travel books for Southern Africa.
Made interesting reading, but something (probably the imminent civil breakdown in that region) made me put that idea on the back burner.

Then my good mate Scotto, subliminally and repeated yelled "How about India. India. There's always India".
He's been planning to go to India, I think as long as I've known him, about 15 years :)

I thought why not !! So now we have both got ourselves a one way ticket over there. The plan is to hit North India. All the usual places, The Taj, Gange, some lofty peaks, parks and generally try and dodge parasites. We've all seen Alien, so we know how bad that can get.

Anyhoo, I've had to wait another two weeks from that boozy decision to get shots, visas and all the rest. So now I am so gagging to get past all this prep and strapped onto a wing heading for cow country.

Posted by dinofile 00:06 Archived in Australia Tagged armchair_travel Comments (0)

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