A Travellerspoint blog

India

Goodbye India, hello Sri Lanka!

rain 30 °C
View Kickin' it solo in Asia on Patrick_K's travel map.

So much has happened the past few weeks here, that I don’t recall happening during the past few years in Sweden. It’s obviously too much to write about. I’ll just capture the highlights so you don’t get bored.

After leaving for Gokarna the bus stopped 3:30am, 20 km from our destination. I went out from the bus for a leak and said to myself: “Screw this; no way am I getting of here!” So we continued to Goa which was the final destination of the bus. In Goa we saw some amazing places. We rented a bike for a couple of days and did some sightseeing around Goa basically. I bumped into some friends I met in Arambol, just a month earlier. We actually went on a bike trip from Palolem to Arambol, which is across whole of Goa. It was cool seeing the transformation of the little village due to the massive increase of tourist. A lot more shops and restaurants had opened, along with higher prices I suppose. I liked monsoon Goa more, with almost empty beaches. During the season, you still can find deserted beaches. You need a bike though.

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In India everything takes ages to accomplish, hence the expression “shanti shanti” which means “slowly slowly”. To upload pictures for example and to write a blog entry takes three hours, due to frequent power cuts and extremely slow internet connection. If you’re not used to this kind of effectiveness it can be very frustrating. Fortunately, after two months in India I have learned to accept it. I wrote a two page blog entry and the power went off just 2 days ago.

I supposed to be in Sri Lanka now already, a flight I had to postpone since Mila lost all her important documents such as: Passport, ID, flight ticket, credit cards and cash. This happened (how? don’t ask me!) in Hampi the day before her flight.

Over the past few days I have become a social worker here in India. After traveling five weeks together I couldn’t just leave her 2200 km from her embassy with no ID or money. Being Lithuanian citizen though, things became more difficult. The first thing that shocked me was that the embassy didn’t even have a web page. Eventually we found a telephone number and called them. So it began, the journey to Delhi. Since you’re not allowed to fly domestically within India without ID, we had to go by train.

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All in all a 40 hour ride which was quite cool actually, we traveled with this polish guy Maciek and had a lot of time to get to know each other. It’s always interesting to hear someone else’s story when you’re sick of telling your own. After reaching Delhi, we had a fare well party with Maciek since he was leaving for Poland 12 hours later. We stay in Majnu Ka Tilla, which is a Tibetan neighborhood in the outskirts of Delhi. Tibetan people are really nice, nobody rips you off here. The food is good and there is plenty of Tibetan monks drinking Chai (tea) in the narrow streets.

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Dealing with the Lithuanian embassy went really fast when we actually found the place. She got a temporary passport. However, in order to fly back to the UK for her studies she needs to fly to Lithuania so she can get an ordinary passport. If she hadn’t lost her ID, she probably could get one here in India. Dealing with the Indian authorities to get her Indian visa (you need one to exit the country) turned out to be a real bitch. The past three days she’s been sent from one office to another. People working in government institutions here are somehow from a different planet! Are you rude? Is your patience minimal or none existing? Do you hate helping people out? Do you enjoy minimal of work? If you’re Indian and you can answer yes to these questions, the Indian immigration office will be happy to employ you.

Two days ago, when in the Internet café, I got a Trojan horse in my pen drive. This evil virus of course spread itself to my laptop, external hard drive and my memory card. I basically saw all my files and pictures being replaced by executable files you don’t want to open. Fortunately I found a computer guy that could help me destroy the virus and recover my pictures. Thank you!

Yesterday, I start to feel sick. Really sick. After spending a day in downtown Delhi, we went back to the hotel. I almost passed out before seeing a doctor in Majnu Ka Tilla. He fixed me up and gave me some medicine along with tips what to eat. I had become a victim of food poisoning after two months in India. No wonder there actually is an expression called Delhi belly. With these two encounters, I can say without any remorse what’s so ever, Delhi is a filthy place. Don’t argue with me on this one! There are parks that are actually clean though. The strange thing is that almost nobody seems to walk there.

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I wish everything turns out well for Mila so she can fly home as soon as possible, she missed out a lot in university and her parents are worried of course. She needs to fill in some final papers today. Hopefully she meets a cooperative person that can speed up the bullshit.

Tomorrow I fly to Sri Lanka with an overnight stopover in Chennai, I’m really looking forward to it. Palm trees, white sand beaches, elephants and surfing!

Posted by Patrick_K 17:55 Archived in India Tagged landscapes beaches people trains air_travel Comments (4)

From Puducherry to Hampi

sunny 31 °C

After spending five days in Puducherry, it kind of felt like a vacation from India. The town's french quarters which we stayed at is incredibly European in it's appearance. Clean streets, french architecture and loads of french cafe's serving croissants with real coffee. Even the hotels are a lot better than other places in India I have been to. Similar to Nice for example, Puducherry has got it's own "french style" beach road with a wide sidewalk (sidewalks are incredibly rare in India) and palm trees every few meters.

After renting a bike, we drove south (15km) and found a stunning wild beach. With just a few fishermen and children playing in the sand, there was a beach long enough to be very touristy. However, there was absolutely nobody to ruin the peace. I was surprised over the water temperature, it was a lot warmer than on the east coast (Goa, Kerala) and more blue in the color as well. This truly was a slice of paradise, I recommend!

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Now we're in Hampi, spent three nights already. This moon landscape that surrounds the village of Hampi is so breath taking that one could easily spend a couple of weeks here. I was really keen on doing some rock climbing here, since it's one the world's most spectacular bouldering areas. Unfortunatly, the boat that takes you across the river is not operating due to the high water level. On the other side one can rent climbing gear and meet fellow climbers of course. It seems that we will explore the temples here and walk up the hills waiting for the boat to start operating.

First day in Hampi was pretty stupid! We bargained for like half an hour to rent a scooter , got it for 100Rs and fueled it for 150rs. After realizing that there's no road up in the hills, we only went like 200m with the scooter to the roads end. When we came back from the walk, we realized that then key was gone! So this 200m scooter ride ended up costing something like 750rs :)

I'm pretty sick of Internet Cafe's to be honest, it's basically 32 degrees C indoor with low/none ventilation. I try to stay as little I can here. On the 1st we are going to Gokarna (Karnataka state), just south of Goa. I've heard so much good things about this place. After a week there, we will return to Hampi. Mila is then leaving for the UK and I will try to find some climbing to do.

Pistures of Hampi will come up from Gokarna, stayed tuned!

Posted by Patrick_K 09:52 Archived in India Tagged beaches art Comments (6)

Off to Établissements français de l'Inde

overcast 25 °C

Here comes some promised updates in color! First one is from Madurai, rest from Kodaikanal.

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Here's the temples I was on about back in Madurai!

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Tonight George is leaving for Bangalore, I wish him safe travels and smooth landing back home!
Tomorrow me and Mila are heading off to Puducherry, a former French colony on the east coast just south of Chennai.
It's in the same state ( Tamil Nadu) as Kodaikanal. The french had quite a piece of India apart from the British Empire and the Portuguese, back in the days (wikipedia).
New for me is that even the Danish had a piece of the subcontinent.

We're probably going to stay in the post French Puducherry for a couple of days. After that the plan is to head back to the west coast (this time to explore Karntaka state).

Posted by Patrick_K 11:51 Archived in India Comments (3)

Freezing in the Ghats

sunny 30 °C
View Kickin' it solo in Asia on Patrick_K's travel map.

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As usual a lot has happened in a week. After leaving Arambol, I met four guys on the train. George (the English bloke), with two Russian ladies (Carina & Mila) and this polish girl Marta. So after hangin' out on the train, we decided to rent a place in Varkala together. And man what a place we found! Two small flats connected to each other, totally about 70sqm. A fridge and a porch outside. In the garden they had this giant swing connected to two palm trees. For this we payed like rs200 each (3 euro). Unfortunately Carina and Marta left after two nights, heading for new adventures. Varkala had some really stunning views, basically all the restaurants lie on this huge cliff by the ocean. The beaches in front of the cliffs are really clean and beautiful with powerful waves.

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So me, George and Mila continued together to Kanyakumari. This small town is at the most southern tip of India, a place were the Arabian Sea, the Bay of Bengal and the Indian Ocean meet. It is considered as a great tourist attraction for Indians, especially due to the Gandhi memorial witch is located there. Apart from the touristic parts, there was an entirely different world in the neighborhood around the docks. People were doing everyday stuff and didn't have time to give you attention. This is rarely the case in India. Normally people come in groups of ten wanting to take picture of you with their mobile cameras. And they even call you things like "master" and "boss", when they don't use the frase "sir" of course. If you want to feel like a rock star, it can easily be done. Just catch the next flight to India.

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After doing the extreme south we headed up to the Western Ghats, which is the second highest mountain region in India (after the Himalayas). Apparently it contains world's top 34 hotspots of biological diversity. In order to go to Kodaikanal, the village up in the Ghats, we had to make a short over night stop in Madurai. When we got there, it felt like being back in Delhi. An awful stench of piss and petrol, beggars, dodgy rickshaw drivers trying to rip you off. After seeing like ten different hotels that were full of cock roaches, had broken toilets and smelled awful, we finally found the least dirty place for a reasonable price. Actually we didn't know anything of Madurai until we went up the roof and saw these huge temples that had resemblance to the Maya ones, but a lot more colorful. These pictures will come up shortly, stay tuned!

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After Madurai, we took the bus to Kodaikanal yesterday. The place we're staying at is truly brilliant. For being Indian standards, it's amazing. In our mountain cottage(!?) we have 24h hot water (very unusual in India), open fire place (yes, it's freezing cold at night), cable TV and a nice little garden. It's rs500 each per night including wood, which is a bargain. George has had a lot of issues with his stomach, which is the reason of him leaving India earlier than the 30th. He's flying back to London from Bangalore on the 22nd. After that it's just me and Mila.

//Patrick

Posted by Patrick_K 13:51 Archived in India Tagged me mountains trains train_travel Comments (1)

Leaving for God's own country

semi-overcast 28 °C
View Kickin' it solo in Asia on Patrick_K's travel map.

There's been some great times here in Arambol. Been hanging out with some amazingly warm people the last couple of days. We did some scooter trips around the area, all from all day trips to short two hour rides. Great fun!

The coolest place was a stunning "secret" fort in the jungle that somehow (it blows my mind why!?) has been forgotten by tourists as well as travellers. It's not in the guide books nor on Google. The place is big, about two square km, with amazingly intact ruins. The Jungle Book feeling was overwhelming! A gold mine for photography.

But as every good story it has to come to an end. I'm leaving for Varkala tonight, it's only a 20h train ride! :) The state of Kerala is one of the richest states in India, the roads are great and people come with a smile. Since there's a big community of Christians, it's often referred as God's own country. I thought I'll bomb you all with a summary of the trip in color so far.

Big up!
// Patrick

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Posted by Patrick_K 16:54 Archived in India Tagged lakes beaches buildings people animals Comments (5)

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