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Thursday, April 22, 2010

Day 97

So the main reason we wanted to go to Srinagar was for the Tulip Festival. They were hosting the largest Asian tulip festival (where 900k of the tulips were actually imported from the Netherlands...) Unfortunately we didn't make it the first full day we were there due to other errands that had to be accomplished, but I had a chance to walk around and take some photos. Srinagar is mainly known for Dal Lake where you can take a Shikara (fancy canoe:) to a houseboat for a small fee. Here is a pic of some hard working Shikara drivers.

Day 96

We finally made it to Jammu! We arrived early in the morning and literally as soon as the bus door opened Jeep drivers were shouting prices/places that they wanted to take us to. Not in the mood to bargain we decided to head straight to the train station by rickshaw where supposedly there were cheaper jeeps. We arrived and talked to some people and organized our jeep for a decent price only to find out we had to return to the bus stand to pick up the jeep. Ugh. Anyways, it was a gorgeous drive up to Srinagar. Seeing mountains and deep valleys is a sure way to put me in a good mood.

This pic is where we ate lunch on our way up to Srinagar.
Day 95

What a day. We left Amritsar station at around 2 a.m. and intended to head to Jammu. Unfortunately there was mass confusion and to make a long story short, we ended up going the opposite direction we were supposed to. Thanks to the help of some natives on the train we jumped off at a random train station and caught a bus heading back to Amritsar. After arguing with the train conductors/supervisors and getting some money back when we were in Amritsar we decided to find a private bus company and work our way up that way... ugh. Here's how we felt....

Day 94

We spent the day in Amritsar. It was good to visit the Golden Temple, Sikhism's holiest shrine and walk around away from all the hustle and bustle that was happening outside. We also made a quick visit over to Jallianwala Bagh, which is a memorial park for the Indians who died or were wounded in 1919 when the British Authorities (led by General Dyer) open fired against the Indians who were having a peaceful demonstration.

In the evening we eventually found a shared jeep around around the Golden Temple area that took us to the India/Pakistan border which was about an hours drive away. There they have a daily evening ceremony which includes soldiers in ridiculous outfits, marching to the border and back having a competition as to who can hold a note for the longest. It's an interesting experience but I wouldn't go out of my way to visit the city just for that reason.

Eventually I'll do a little cropping on this pic, but I liked how the light hit the sleeping boy amongst all the other people. The stands were actually separated for the women/men/foreigners.

Day 93

We had an overlay in Delhi on our way to Amritsar. While we were walking over the railway crossing we saw a family holding on to the fence which reads " Caution 25000 volts"

Day 92

Morning of the Taj! We excitedly get up at 5.30 a.m. , grab a quick chai to wake us up, and we are off to the West Gate of the Taj to get catch the morning rays shining down on the Taj. Ahhh..

Yeah, not so much. We arrive. Wait in line only to realize we need to go to another line to get the tickets. Finally we get to the security checkpoint only to find out that we cannot take crackers or books with us into the Taj and that we have to walk about 10 min back to deposit our stuff in the lockers and then get back in line again. Oi. Oh, and foreigners have the luxury of paying 750 Rupees and the locals 20 Rupees. Yup. Amazing isn't it?

The things we do...

Day 91

We left Delhi and on the way out I took this pic. Kind of a last minute photo. We eventually arrived in Agra where the Taj Mahal is located. After walking and being bugged my cycle and auto rickshaws for about an hour we finally picked a hostel to stay at.

Day 90

We picked up our Chinese Visas today! Yay!

Random note. If you want to get a chinese visa in India, don't go to the Embassy. Of course not. That would make too much sense. Rather you have to go to the basement of Le Meridien Hotel (of course). And if you bring your camera (which you can't take into the visa application centre) you have to leave it outside. To the great disappointment of the foreigner in front of us we learned that they don't have a security box that you can leave it in. Yup. That's right. You have to stay outside of the glass door with it therefore not allowing you to be able to actually apply for the visa inside. Wow. Lucky for us we went together and Enda waited outside with my camera as I applied.

I'm finished with my soap box. It was just one of the most ridiculous rules I have ever heard and I thought I would share it with you.

Anyways, we went and got some nice cool drinks to celebrate.

Day 89

The area that we stayed at was called Paharganj which is mainly made up of tourists and shopkeepers. The place is a wreck and although there are some decent restaurants around the area, I don't recommend staying there anytime soon. They are tearing down all the store fronts and getting ready for the Commonwealth games that are in about 6 months. They have a looong way to go as you can tell.

Day 88

On our first full day in Delhi we decide to go and wander around and make our way to the Red Fortress. (Which it's interesting to note upon arriving an hour and a half later we decide it's too expensive to actually go in :) It's about the journey right? :)

It's a common scene throughout India (at least for us) to have children ask for chocolate, rupees, or want their picture taken (and then ask for money). This is Enda's feeling about the matter.

Day 87 Not much to take note of here. We got on our overnight train and headed to Delhi. Of course out of the 4 train stations, we arrived at the one that was furthest away from where we wanted to be. Regardless we decided to walk and ignore the Rickshaw drivers as much as possible, which is hard to do when you are walking around with a bright 40Liter backpack. I was rather exhausted when we finally found a hostel so I got lazy with my picture. It's a ring I bought in pushkar along with our deck of cards that are regularly used in Speed...ah card games.

Day 86

I have to admit, one of the highlights of Pushkar was our Hotels swimming pool. It was a..m..a..z...i..n..g... It has been quite a while since I have been swimming in chlorinated water...ah...memories of my childhood. Anyways, after going for a swim I saw this man painting on the side of the street. He then wanted me to come back later and take photos of his children...but yeah... that really isn't my thing.

Day 85
So on a whim (and due to the advice of other travelers) we decided to head to Pushkar where the worlds largest camel market takes place, but we weren't there during that time which was probably a blessing in disguise. The prices of rooms/restaurants/goods usually increases dramatically.

They also have a large lake that makes up most of the town, but....(yes, another but) to our great surprise there was not water in the lake! Anyways, it was a nice town with a lot of shops and some interesting people....

I decided to wander around at night and saw a man who was selling pieces of cake. I liked how literal the name of the cake was.

Day 84

After wrapping up the camel trek we rested another day in Jaisalmer. Unfortunately (but of no surprise really...) my 150 Rupees ($3.50) bag broke and I needed a quick fix, and what do you know, right around the corner was a sewer who fixed it for 40 Rupees (about $1). Nice. My tevas also needed a little repair. I believe the hot desert sand melted them a little bit. Anyways, here's a pic of the man who fixed my bag (as well as Enda's man bag :)

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Day 83

Day 3, last day of the camel adventure. This is where we slept on the 2nd and last night of the trip. In the middle of the night there was mini sand storm so we awoke absolutely covered in sand. Nice...

We rode camels in the morning for about 3 hours, stopped at a couple more villages, and then arrived for jeep pickup. Glad to be back in the city and grab a hot shower.

Day 82

Day 2 of the trip. Butt's are sore and stomach's are full. We rode on the camels for about 2-3 hours in the morning, had lunch, then relaxed during siesta time. The guides took a nap from about 1-3 ( the hottest part of the day) and we chilled under the trees. Very relaxing. Then off to search for the camels. Once we stop for lunch the guides bind the front 2 legs of the camels with rope giving them a little room to move . They then let the camels wander for about 3 hours and then search for them when it's time to get moving again. Surprisingly they travel rather far even with their legs tied up...

Day 81
The commencing of our camel trip in Jaisalmer starts on day 81. Yay! We booked our 3 day 2 night camel trek through our hostel (Sagar) and began our trip with a jeep ride . Our first stop was at a local house, about 30 minutes from Jaisalmer city. There was a family of about 6 busy at work in the yard when we arrived. This picture is pretty self explanatory. We then arrived and met our cook, camel guide, and mode of transportation (one camel per person. nice).

We spent the night sleeping in the dunes and under the stars.

Day 80
A very common scene all over India is children (and teens) participating in a game of cricket (a sport I'm not all that familiar with). This was taken outside of Jaisalmer 's Fort while we were eating at a delicious Italian restaurant. (A much needed break from the curry :)