crowds chaos but all in a good India kind of way
12/30/08 - 2/18/09 32 °F
Too much time away from the blog so summing our 7 weeks in India without a lot of details (India requires a lot of details). Started the new year in Mumbai from the first cab ride to the train ride out Mumbai was a whirl wind of people,cars, traffic, and lots of good spicy food. People are all about themselves they will push, elbow and spit their way through you. At first you get irritated then you push and fight back and finally you surrender and go with the flow. When an 80 year old grandma climbs on your backpack when your trying to board a train you know your in trouble. After adjusting to the new pace we took in some of the sites and sampled the food. We met a nice Chillean gentlemen named Felipe and spent the new years with him having a good time even though security was super tight due to the terrorist bombings.Highlights of Mumbai included the Taj hotel , Elephanta caves ,India gate,Ghandi house and all the people.
Next stop relaxation time in Goa. Some say that Goa is over rated and played out I disagree. There are plenty of different beaches you can go to and get what ever type of vacation you want plus a buck a beer sitting on the beach is always a plus in my book. The capital of Goa Panaji is a great little town with good food and a old world charm. The highlights of Goa included wonderful beaches food in Panaji and walking the streets of Panaji.
A short train trip away is the old Hindu town of Hampi. The highlight is the unbelievable amount of temples scattered around a wonderland of boulders and small mountains. If you want your fill of temples this is the place to go.
From Goa we did a little trekking in the wonderful hill town of Madikeri. We hired a guide along with food and lodging at a local families farm home all for 20 U.S. a day. Nice guide and a fellow traveler from Vietnam named Lee. The mountain hike was a killer but the views were worth it along with experencing a tranquil side of India.
Next we went south to Kerala to experience a backwater cruise. We were able to get our own personal houseboat along with a captain and personal chef for 40 U.S. a night. Talk about feeling like royalty. Also while in Kerala we saw an amazing performance of Theyyam. Elaborate costumes along with music, fire and 5 hours of non stop showmanship definitely the highlight of Kerala. In most of southern India people were coming up to both me and Thea like we were rockstars I guess in certain parts were we walked they dont see too many tourists.
From Kerala we flew to Delhi and spent the next 5 days with my wonderful aunt and uncle. After being force fed everyday the traditonal Indian way, especially after uncle noticed that I had reduced, we took in all the major sites of Delhi. A non guide book highlight everyone should experience is a taxi ride. If you survive you will never complain about traffic in your home country again. As my cousin says if you can drive in Delhi you can drive anywhere.
Next stop the family in the good old pind of Dosanjh. Talk about slow pace of life this was a breath of fresh air after the hectic pace of Delhi. But poor Thea was lost in translation no one could speak english so I tried my best to translate. I still think she felt a little overwelmed with the whole village visiting and having no idea what was being said about her. Its was nice to hang out and spend a few days with the family and were my dad grew up. My dad and uncle look soo much more alike as they get older along with the same mannerisms. We also had a chance to visit my moms village and spend some time with my aunt and cousin. Finally we ended our trip to Punjab with a visit to the Golden Temple.
The amazing Taj Mahal was next and it always lives up to the hype it has to be seen in person to fully be appericiated. From ther we did a little stop over in Jaipur and Jodphur by now we are running out of gas and need a break from all the crowds and noise so we book our flight to Darjeeling to get a peek of the Himalayas. We decided to splurge on our accomidations and get the master suite at the Viceroy hotel. Our own fireplace with warm water bottles, evening service a luxurious bed, and amazing views of the Himalayas(2 out of 4 days) all for 60 U.S. a day. After a few days of winding down we went to Sikkim to get a closer view of the mountains and once again splurged on our accomidations 4 star guesthouse for only 40 a day. Besides the mountains we also saw some real cool Gompas with monks chanting out there prayers. A completly different side of India with the people looking more "Asian" and a whole different landscape it was like another country with different customs and even a different language.
Last stop Kolkata Even tough its the second biggest city in India it seemed to be a lot more organized and not as hectic as Mumbai and Delhi. We saw a few of the sites and after that it was off to Thailand.
Synopsis of India:
A wild ride of people, cars animals, some amazing sites, great food and a truly unique experience that you cant get anywhere else.