Background and Preparations
Trip Start Nov 02, 2009
14Trip End Nov 25, 2009
Map your own trip!
Show trip route
After a long, dark and painful couple of years (figuratively speaking, of course, except for the part about the pain), I have finally emerged from the stock-market-crash-induced depths of despair - to the point where I finally feel like traveling and blogging again. I feel like a born-again Christian - without the Christian part.
Actually I did take a couple of trips in the past six months (a one-month trip to Taiwan, for which I didn't do a blog because I had done a blog on my Taiwan trip from the previous year); and a trip around Thailand and over to India to see the Taj Mahal with my parents (father and step-mother) who were visiting from Louisiana from mid-June to mid-July (I didn't do a blog on that trip because my father did one - and a fine job he did!).
So here I am now, having somehow managed to completely recover from the great stock market crash of 2008/09, and I'm ready to hit the road and the blogosphere again. I think I have learned some things from this crash and my recovery therefrom - and I expect that from this point forward my life will be smooth and problem-free. I exaggerate (slightly), but I did develop a trading strategy that is, at least in my own humble opinion, nothing short of ingenious! Time will tell if I am right.
You might be as surprised as I am at my choice of destination: India. India is not my favorite destination as it is not an easy place to travel - even for someone as experienced as myself - and especially for someone with some of my character traits (impatience; dislike of ambiguity, deception, dishonesty, inefficiency, germs; etc.). The main reason for my re-visit to India is practical: A friend in Bangkok (Tony - from Malta) wanted to go there and my visa for India from my trip there with my parents a few months ago is still valid. Anyway, as an Indian gentleman said to one of my friends (Gregory - who will be joining us later in the trip) during one of Gregory's recent trips to India at a moment when things were not going well for him: "If life has no obstacles it wouldn't be challenging." I guess the point is that we sometimes go places for the challenge and excitement rather than for ease and comfort. That is certainly the case with India.
Tony and I will depart from Bangkok on 02 November, flying with Jet Airways through Calcutta (or as it is known now: Kolkata). This is not an obvious place for us to fly into India but we do so because of the timing of the flight. Most flights from Bangkok to India fly into Delhi and arrive late at night. As we want to make our way to Rajasthan without an overnight stopover, we chose this morning flight to Calcutta, which has a connecting flight to Jaipur in the afternoon. (Assuming our online flight bookings work. We have booked all of our flights online - a total of six flights each.)
We'll arrive in Jaipur on the afternoon of the 2nd and spend a night there before heading back to the airport for a flight to Udaipur early the next morning. After three nights in Udaipur, we'll fly to Jodhpur and spend a couple of nights there before getting ourselves (somehow - probably by bus or train) to the desert town of Jaisalmer in the far west of India. Even though Jaisalmer is a popular tourist destination, it's airport, being near the border with India's arch-enemy Pakistan, serves primarily as a military airport. Sometimes the airport handles commercial flights, but only when it is not needed for military purposes. And given the unpredictability of Indo-Pakistani relations, we can't count on being able to fly into or out of Jaisalmer.
From Jaisalmer we'll make our way to Pushkar via Johdpur and Ajmer. Actually there is a very famous camel fair in Pushkar every year around November, but by intention we will miss it as it turns an otherwise quiet, pleasant place into a hectic, overcrowded tourist trap. In Pushkar, we'll meet up with my friend Gregory, a very experienced India traveler (this will be his third trip to India this year - but the first one without his dear wife and traveling companion - who will stay home to look after herself and the baby that is growing inside of her belly.)
At this point Tony will make his way back to Bangkok via Jaipur and Delhi and I will continue traveling with Gregory, a bit off the beaten path, for another week or two. We plan to visit Bundi and other small towns in the vicinity before returning to Bangkok via Jaipur and Delhi.
A Bit of (Personal, India-related) History
A bit of history - about my first trip to India (this one will be the fourth): While I was working in Budapest back in the early 1990s, I made a trip across India with one of my colleagues and (still) dear friends, Martin (who is presently in London looking after HIS pregnant wife!). We visited Bombay, Udaipur, Jaipur, Agra, Varanasi and Calcutta. So there will be a bit of overlap on this trip (Udaipur and Jaipur). I don't remember much about those places, but I do have a couple of very vivid memories of the trip, a couple of which I will relate below. Also, strangely, I remember the name of the Air India agent from whom we bought our flight ticket in Budapest: Mr. Soos Gyula. I remember this because "so" in Hungarian (pronounced "sho") means salt. And "sos" means salty. So, to a couple of word game lovers like Martin and Randy, "Soos" (pronounced "Sho-osh") would obviously mean VERY salty. And Gyula sounds like "Julie". So we referred to our ticket agent as Mr. VERY Salty Julie". And hey, here we are some 17 years later - and I still remember the guy's name. I wonder what he is doing now. I would imagine he's probably suffering from high blood pressure by now . . .
Anyway, back to the plot: In Udaipur, Martin and I had gone for dinner at what seemed to be a decent restaurant. After dinner we took some kind of contraption to transport ourselves back to our hotel. By the time we reached the hotel Martin was already feeling a bit off. I remember feeling a bit pleased with myself that I wasn't feeling bad, hoping that that was due to my stronger constitution. Well, it took only about 15 minutes for me to catch up with Martin. We spent the next couple of days taking turns running to the bathroom, where the ghosts of meals past were flying out of us from both ends at the same time - if you know what I mean. Luckily the bathroom sink was within reach of the toilet as this enabled us to eject the poisonous food that we had eaten from a comfortable sitting position. Eventually we recovered and went on to lead happy, healthy and somewhat normal lives.
The other memory I have was from our arrival in Jaipur. Tired of having to deal with transport touts, we selected a hotel from our guidebook that was close enough to the train station that we would be able to walk to it - without the use of paid transportation. On our walk from the station to the hotel, we were accosted by numerous transport purveyors, including one auto-rickshaw driver who was so persistent that he caused Martin to lose his cool. Martin shouted, and I quote, "Fxxk off!" (without the "exxes") But even this didn't faze the guy. (That was probably the most polite thing he had heard all day.) Anyway, on the rest of our dusty walk to the hotel, we encountered camels, begging lepers, elephants, and countless other people trying to beg, borrow and steal from us. I distinctly remember thinking to myself, "This must be what the aftermath of Armageddon would look like." By the time we reached the hotel, we just locked ourselves in our room and didn't emerge again until we got hungry the next day.
Okay, so there you have it: The background for my upcoming trip to India. Please do join me on this adventure - and I look forward to your comments and e-mails along the way. And if you know of any place along our route that we should/MUST see, or any restaurant or hotel that is particularly recommendable, please let me know.
Thanks for joining me, and talk to you soon.
Oh, and just in case someone should make off with all my money while I'm traveling, just send me some money through your favorite hacker. I'll pay you back when I get home - NOT!