Final notes on India

This was my first real trip to India,  and I certainly learnt a few things;

1. India is nothing like Nepal.  I had expected there would be a lot in common, but there is basically nothing in common.  The Indians do not understand Nepalese,  so all the words learnt on my trips to Nepal where of no use in India. 

The Nepalese are always smiling and friendly. The Indians are busy and do not smile and say hi. We met a lot of great people, but the overall atmosphere is very different.

2. It is very hard to get around india without a local guide. It might be fun if you are young and only have a backpack to carry around, but otherwise pay the money for a local guide, whether it is a guide for a trek, a taxi driver around tour, a tour guide for an attraction, or simply a rickshaw driver. It is well worth the money.

3. Every town, street and city is busy. There are cars, trucks, bikes, cows, dogs, and people everywhere. There is garbage everywhere. It is dusty and dirty everywhere, and there is an overall pervasive smell of urine everywhere. India is amazing, and it has a great history and culture, but there are a lot of people, and you need to be ready for the mass of humanity.

4. The overnight busses are painful.

5. The train is good, but getting a ticket can be interesting.

6. Book your hotels ahead of time, and research online carefully.

7. If you are going to climb there be aware that peaks over 5600m are full blown expedition peaks requiring a permit, liaison officer, guide, cook, etc. Below that you don’t need anything, although I would hire a guide and a few horses.

8. The trekking in northern india is beautiful. There are large forests and Meadows to camp in. You can trek over passes for weeks. Take a guide.

9. The beer in India tends to be weak, and most of it is not good.

10. The Cappacino is good. The coffee is instant Netcafe and it is bad. The tea tends to be good, but is often sweetened.

11. The food is good. Lots of flavors, and not too hot (spicy), but they do give you spices on the side if you want more heat.

12. The only way to get a quiet nights sleep is to hike well up into the hills away from any towns.

13. Unless you are in the hills, you will not see the sky through the pollution. 

14. We felt safe everywhere we went. People often approached us offering directions and advice when they thought we were lost. There were happy to talk to us and we’re interested in Canada, although most of them were familiar with Vancouver and Calgary. 

15. Driving is a nightmare. Just hang on for the ride, or close your eyes (unless you are doing the driving).

The end of the trip

Our  last day in Delhi started with breakfast at a local hole in the wall. Often this is simply a phrase, however in India the phrase “hole in the wall” can often be taken literally. However, as with all the food we have had in India, breakfast was good.

This time we managed to connect with our taxi driver, Harry. We checked out of our lovely hotel and lugged all our bags through the back alleys to the taxi. First stop the spice market.

We took a rickshaw to the market, and while we no doubt paid too much, it was definitely worth having a guide to take us around.

From the spice market we went to the Red Fort.

The fort was impressive from the outside, but it is so big that inside it was just like any other part of the town.

After the fort was lunch, and by then we were tired and wanted to go home. Another hour of driving in the typical Indian traffic got us to the airport, followed by waiting, lining up, waiting, lining up, waiting, lining up, 14 hour flight, waiting …

Taj Mahal

Joe and I had an amazing day in Agra visiting the Taj Mahal. The day started off sketchy when our taxi driver did not show up, but it turned out he could not find our amazing hotel.

We shared the tropical with a German,  Frédéric,  and he made for a great traveling companion. The Taj is a good 3 hour drive from Vdelhi, and our driver was very aggressive to say the least.

In Agra we had a tour guide who showed us around, and allowed us to bypass the huge line ups. I would definitely recommend a guided tour. We had a good lunch and then another interesting drive back.

We finished off the evening with Good food and beer in the bizarre area.  Pictures to follow.

Golden Temple
Bizarre

Back in Delhi

A lot has happened since the last post, and I will update when I have time. A brief idea is that we took a taxi from Dharamsala to Amritsar. This is a major religious city for the Sikh community. We spent 2 nights in Hotel Fairway, even though we had booked Hotel Oyo rooms. It turned out that hotel Oyo rooms does not exist even though I was able to book it on hotels.com .

We visited the golden temple and it was quite a site. 100,000 people a day visiting it. As white people at the temple we were also a tourist attraction.

We left Amritsar this morning on the 5am train to Delhi. Once in Delhi we go a room at the Hotel Sterlington Inn, another high class spot, after which we walked to Connaught Place and checked things out.

Tomorrow we are going to visit the Taj Mahal in Agra.

Joe is back

Pat and I hike up to the Bagsu waterfall yesterday. It was touted as a place to go and relax, either st had waterfall or the temple. What they forgot to mention was that it is a very popular spot for Indian tourists.  There were hundreds of people at both locations. Definitely not a spot to relax. I went back to Nick’s cafe to relax. However, watching the people was fun.

Later we went out for lasagna. As with everything,  it was not quite what we were used to. The noodle was definitely lasagna noodle like, however there were 2 noodles, each plate size with filling in between. The apple pie and ice cream was good. The ice cream is like British ice cream, very rich and creamy. The pie filling was good,  although the crust was a bit tough. They have definitely got the Cappacino down Pat though.

We arrived back at the hotel half expecting to see Joe waiting outside the door. However he was not there.  He did show up about 9pm. He had climbed within 100m on the top of the peak, but was turned back due to ice conditions. He was a tired and hungry puppy.

This morning, Joe and I went to yoga while Pat stayed in bed. He has been in bed all day, not feeling too well. Joe and I hiked around the Dalai Lamas temple and then purchased a couple of beers.

We have now booked a hotel for Amristar in the Punjab region for tomorrow, and will be traveling there by taxi. It is a 4 hour drive for 4300 rupees  ($86). Joe is presently off on a hike to St John in the wilderness church before supper. Pat is still in bed. I am enjoying a Thunderbird beer, brewed by Molson.