The Golden Triangle

Trip Start Aug 22, 2005
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18
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Trip End Jul 17, 2006


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Monday, October 17, 2005

Time for some proper sightseeing. I only gave myself two days in Orissa, in which time I attempted to see the sights in three different cities! My train from Hampi pulled in to Bhubaneswar station at 7am, and by 9am I had checked into a hotel and was heading out of the city in a rented 4x4 shared with a friendly Indian family. This state is similar to Kerala in terms of natural beauty (coconut palms, paddy fields, etc) but is more famous for its temples. First stop was the Sun Temple at Konark, which was built here as it is the first point in India on which the sunlight falls each morning. It is a massive ruin, built in the shape of a sixteen-wheeled chariot being pulled by eight horses. The main tower is no longer standing - according to one source it used to house powerful magnets which interrupted the navigation of ships at sea, so the British pulled it down. The remainder of the temple is covered in exquisite carvings, many of them erotic (see the photos for some interesting sexual positions). The visit was slightly marred by the comments of an Indian tourist, who felt the need to respond to my complaints that foreign tourists had to pay twenty times the entry fee by saying "you should pay more, you're rich" and later adding "it should be even more than that, considering the damage you people have done"!!! I managed to restrain myself and simply glare, but in my mind I threw something very unpleasant at him.

Then it was onto Puri to see the Jagannath temple, dedicated to the "Lord of the Universe" and his brother and sister. The temple was not open to non-Hindus, so whilst the Indian family I was travelling with went in to pay their repects, I had to be content with a peep into the temple grounds from the roof of a nearby hotel. Images of the three gods are pasted all over the town, and with their big eyes and stumpy little arms they reminded me of characters from South Park, so I was a little disappointed that I didn't get to go inside and see Cartman & co for myself.

On returning to Bhubaneswar I checked my emails to find one from Sarah which caused me some alarm. On arriving in Makassar, a city in the south of Sulawesi, she had checked into a crummy hotel. After lying on her bed reading for a couple of hours she discovered that someone had removed the slats from her window and had been spying on her. She put her own lock on the door and fell asleep, only to be woken at 3am by loud knocking and shouts of "miss, miss, open the door". Three guys were trying to force their way into her room, and she only managed to get rid of them by letting off her rape alarm right in front of the door. She lay awake fearing they might return until it got light, then checked out of there and took a flight north to Manado, considered to be a much safer place. In her email she suggested that I cut my time in India and Nepal short, and go to Indonesia earlier than planned. My instant reaction was that I wanted to be with her, and as soon as possible, and from then on I knew that my time in India had almost come to an end.

Whilst Sarah was holed up safely in the friendly town of Manado planning my complicated voyage to Indonesia, I spent my second day in Orissa sightseeing around the city of Bhubaneswar. It is home to literally thousands of temples, of which we saw but a handful, as well as the zoo, some ancient cave temples, the state museum, and a Buddhist peace pagoda on a hill overlooking the city. We managed to fit a whole lot of sights into one day, but I felt very rushed and exhausted by the end. That night I took a train north to Calcutta, from where I could catch the cross-country express back to Delhi and my brought-forward flight to Singapore.
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