Tea plantations and Golden Temples

Trip Start Dec 01, 2011
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of India  , Punjab,
Friday, March 9, 2012

Since the last update we've;

-         Cruised by boat on the Kerelan backwaters and observed local people living their lives on           the river, extremely beautiful and humbling.

         Received more reality checks, the way people live life here is making us feel that when               we return home we’ll really question how much we spend and whether all the stuff we buy           and save for is necessary.

         Struck gold with two lots of accommodation we found, the rooms were cheap, clean,               comfortable, spacious, in fantastic locations and had great service from the owners. We           aim to get good rooms everywhere we go but because we are on a budget we sometimes           get something that doesn’t quite hit the mark. When that happens we generally use the           room just for showering and sleeping and get out and about to see the sights for the rest           of the time, it’s not a problem though, all part of the experience.

         Went up into the hill stations in Munnar, the highest tea growing area in India, the                   scenery was stunning, just like someone had draped a rich green velvet blanket over the           hills.

         Watched black monkeys jumping around in the trees right outside one of our lovely hotel           rooms.

         Went on a wildlife safari to look for leopards, tigers and elephants, we managed to spot a           wild chicken and a common grey monkey! We also did a fantastic 3 hour trek in the                   sanctuary as well which easily made up for the lack of animals.

         Visited a coastal resort, PondaCheri with a French quarter and enjoyed croissants,                   steak, French coffee and wandering around clean, quiet and wide tree lined avenues.

         Took two 34 hour train journeys (one without getting off the train) which frazzled our                   brains and left us feeling really disorientated when we reached our destinations. We                   didn’t manage to reserve a ticket for one of the journeys, we thought we’d get on the train           anyway and wait for a seat. This basically involved sitting (and sleeping) on the floor in a           corridor right by the toilet, not pleasant! At least we got to where we needed to in the end           though.

          Visited two unbelievably manically busy, smelly, dirty and dusty cities and have decided            that these bigger places really don’t hold much appeal for us.

         Went to see the Ellora and Ajanta caves where Hindus, Bhuddists and Jainists had                   carved caves into sheer rock faces, when we say caves we basically mean the most               astounding temples you could possibly imagine, it was jaw dropping.

         Sneaked into a really posh hotel 3 times and used their fantastic swimming pool, us               being the only people there most of the time. This was in one of the really busy cities               and it just seemed like the most amazing oasis of luxury and calm in amongst the                   chaos.

         Travelled from central India to the north and visited 'The Golden Temple’ in Amritsar which           is a real sight to behold, it is the home of the Seik religion.

         Went to see the India / Pakistan border closing ceremony when soldiers do their best to           kick themselves in the face by marching up and down doing John Cleese style silly                   walks. This is accompanied by grandstands full of Indians and Pakistanis (on their                   respective sides of the border) singing, shouting, waving flags and heckling their                       neighbours. We found it most entertaining.

         Andy got hit smack in the middle of the forehead by a water balloon thrown from a four               story building. This was the day before a festival called Holi where Hindu Indians throw               water balloons and brightly coloured powders at each other to celebrate the start of                   spring.

         Travelled to McLeod Ganj (home of the Dalai Lama) where we caught of first view of the           Indian Himalayas, a wonderous sight, we are so pleased with ourselves that we’ve  made           it this far! It’s really cold and quite a shock after coming from 3 and a half months of 30+           degrees every day – more on that next time.
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