Film City

Trip Start Aug 12, 2006
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Trip End Nov 12, 2006


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Saturday, September 16, 2006

On Saturday we decided to go to Film City which is located about an hour and a half outside of Hyderabad. It is one of the largest film studios in the world and has a wide variety of sets.

We took a number of semi-back roads to get there and passed large numbers of freight trucks, although smaller than our semis, that pretty much clogged the roads and made it difficult to get through. In talking to Younus, we found out that the drivers that do the Hyderabad to Bombay run make about 1,000 rupees or a little more than $20. I can't remember if that is one-way or round trip. Either way, not a great deal of money by our standards for a 12 - 15 hour drive one-way.

Also along the roads were a large number of marble and granite shops. They had all of the slaps stacked up on end so you could pick your size, color, and variety. Being all in a row, you could go back and forth between the stores to check which pieces you liked better. If you knew exactly what you wanted and the shipping costs were not too prohibitive, it might not be a bad idea to buy it here and ship it home. Even with the shipping costs, you might come out ahead of the game compared to sourcing it in the U.S.

Once we got into the park and bought our tickets, we boarded a bus that took us down to the actual starting off point for the tours. This place is huge! It was about a 10-15 bus ride just to get to the starting point for the tours. We really didn't know what we were doing when we got off so we wandered around a bit and wound up in the concession area. We took a few pictures and found a place to eat lunch.

Lunch was interesting for most of the group. I think I ended up with the best end of the deal. I had a chicken burger with fries that was pretty good. the rest of the group ordered pizzas which had a very sweet sauce - almost a sloppy joe type of sauce. Not at all what one would expect on a pizza. Oh well, at least we tried something new.

We ran into a lady who took pity on us and told us which bus to take depending on where we wanted to go. They must not get a lot of western visitors as they didn't have good signs posted. The buses are color coded and have different staging areas depending on whether you are going back the entrance, going to the sets, or going to the gardens.

We decided to go to the sets first. The girls learned quickly to use elbows and not to expect anyone to let them on first. Even though the park tries to enforce a line, it is pretty much a lost cause and everybody just forces their way on the bus. Once situated, we were off to the movie sets. It was interesting to see that they look much more impressive on screen then they do in real life. The tour guide spoke a mixture of Hindi and English so we tried to follow him as best we could. We couldn't find out how they do it, but he said that one of the houses can be switched around to twenty different floor plans. They dropped us off at the jail and the bus took off! Apparently, you are supposed to look at the jail, walk up the hill, look at the train station, and then hop on another bus. One thing that was interesting was the use of facades on the buildings. For example, one side of the building might represent the airport and the other side would look like a hospital. You couldn't tell as long as you were looking head-on or even from the side.

As we were driving back from the sets, we passed some really cool gardens. The bus made another stop to briefly look at them and we decided not to get back on as we could see the staging area from where we were and we want to look at the gardens in greater detail. I kept saying how much the area reminded me of Arizona with the scrub brush and red rocks and one of the gardens happened to have cacti in it. So naturally everyone had to tease me that finally here was something that looked like Arizona. We spent quite a few hours wandering around here looking at various things. I have included a lot of comments with the pictures as it would be hard to lay out the context here.

One thing that was really funny was that the girls got to experience the rock star life. A number of people came up to them and asked them for their pictures. Naturally, they didn't ask Luis and me for ours. Or if we were included, I sure that they will photoshop us out of the pictures. It wasn't just men or young boys, but entire families. A guess our group isn't something the locals see every day.

We talked to some of the families who said that they were on vacation. One thing that was interesting was the different conception of distance. We asked one group how long it took them to get there and they said, "not long - only two days!" That's how long it took us to get here! We found out later that many of the locals do not fly, they either drive, take the bus, or take a train when they go on trips. A wonder how much cheaper it is to travel that way as we were able to get tickets to Delhi for around $125 - $150 round trip.

By the end of the day we were pretty beat and ready to go back. Ravi (the Partner in charge out here) was having a party at the Guest House in the evening so we had to make it back in time for that. It was probably the first thing in my life that I was early for even though I was on time. The party started at 7PM, but most people didn't start to show up until 8PM. The food was great and they held it outside by the pool. They put colored lights in the bushes and it looked real pretty.

I posted a lot of pictures, so please check them out.
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