Thu 26/12/13 05:10
We got here at about 3 and had lunch right away. Soon we were off to see the village and the surrounding farms. It kind of had the ‘staged’ feel that I sometime get when I’m allowed more access than seems natural. For example, we went to a school and parked. Right next to the school is the village, and the first house in the village we went in. Some people snapped huge amounts of photos, and others like me kind of felt a little bad as if we were exploiting them. The woman who lived in the house, and her children, went about their day cooking or doing whatever, all while our group was snapping pictures.
We then headed to a farm for the same type of photo opportunity. I just didn’t feel like there was that much to photograph. There were goats and cows, and lots of other animals, but nothing that struck me as a sincere opportunity to take some great photos. I don’t know what I was looking for, but whatever it was I didn’t find it. After that we headed to a dam to watch the sunset go down. Unfortunately the fog was pretty thick so the sun disappeared way before it hit the horizon.
I’m upstairs on the patio of the hotel, some of the girls in the group are getting henna tattoos and some of the guys are watching. There is music playing in the background and a fire burning about 3 meters away.
Tomorrow I think we’re heading to Jaipur by truck. Seems a little bit strange since the train went past it this morning, but I guess this spot we’re at right now is a big enough draw to warrant the extra travel. It is really beautiful, but the cold weather kind of made it not that fun.
Thu 26/12/13 05:05
I got up early for the trip to… actually I don’t know the name of the place that we were going today, but I knew that we had to be awake by 5:45 to catch the train. I made sure I set both of my alarms and made sure that I did what I felt I needed to do in order to speed up the process tomorrow.
I got up as needed and was pretty much ready to go before time, as I was finishing my packing someone knocked on the door and asked where were you, the group already left. A little confused and a little indignant I caught a taxi to the train station and was sitting in my seat with time to spare. I guess I just screwed up and put the wrong time on my alarm. No worries though, as I arrived on the train and doing what could best be described as the walk of shame, everyone in the tour clapped and yelled as I made my way to my seat.
I honestly don’t know where I am right now. The train took us about 600 km away form Delhi and we drove about 2 hours to get to the hotel that we are at right now. So anyone’s guess where I am right now is going to be as good as mine. The feel of the place is so much better than in Delhi, well, I guess it really matters on what you like, loud and crazy, or quiet and mellow. This is a farming community and it is definitely quieter than Delhi. It’s kind of funny that now when I want to describe this area of india I want to use other locations that I’ve been to. For example, the way the farms are divided reminded me a lot like Vietnam and Morocco, the people are very friendly, like the people I met in Myanmar. Unfortunately this doesn’t give you very much context but it does make sense.
Fri 20/12/13 23:04
What can I say, I’ve been in Delhi for about 24 hours and although I’ve really enjoyed everything that I’ve seen so far, I’m still not happy. My first thought is that it’s just me, maybe I wanted too much or I expected something different, but I don’t think either is true. At least not entirely true but I’ll explain later.
I’ve taken a few walks outside of the hostel so far and the scenery is something straight out of the past. There aren’t really any cars, a few maybe, but mostly motorcycles and tuk-tuks. The mass of people are everywhere, most seem to know exactly where they are going and the rest are content to just lean against things. My hostel is in an alley that is right next to a bazaar. So that is the reason for the lack of cars, just going about three blocks from the hostel and everything I said earlier is gone.
There are a few things that I was expecting was how dirty and crowded it is. I love it. I guess there is something about people being people that I like. I can’t say that I’d prefer to live in the area, but I can say that I get regularly get tired of the opposite, which is total order and cleanliness.
I got in to the city about 5am and because of logistics I wasn’t able to get a room until about 8. That was nice since I thought that I’d have to wait until 12. Unfortunately the time between 5 and 8 was less than pleasant and along with any comfort, my temperament went sour quickly. Eventually though I did get my room, and I could stretch out and get some needed sleep. When I got to the room the bed was nothing more than a 4-inch piece of foam on a wooden box. Comfy. There was construction going on outside my window, along with the constant hammering and yelling, I got lucky enough to have the workers radio loud enough to make sure that there wasn’t a minute of silence since I’ve been here. The last thing is that it’s cold here. People told me that it would be, but I had hoped that they were wrong , but they weren’t.
So as my writing has pretty much indicated, I’m not really in a good mood. That will change in a few hours after I join my tour. At least I’m hoping it will, and it better.
And so another adventure begins with me sitting in the airport waiting for my flight to board. No lie, it’s been hectic getting to this point so far. The airport has been packed all the way through the process. In fact it’s taken me more than 2 and a half hours just to get to the point where I am right now, sitting like a geek typing away on my computer while the masses surround me.
The last three months I’ve known that I’d be right where I am right now, but for some reason I didn’t really get excited the way I usually do. Oh sure, I worried that I make my flight, and whether I’ve forgotten anything, but I didn’t spend a lot of time daydreaming of the upcoming tour. I’m not sure why, but I think it has to do with having my flight the day after my grades needed to be turned. All week I’ve been trying to get everything completed so I’d be able to leave and I think that has been enough to shift my focus from dreaming of what it’ll be like once I land in Delhi.
I’ve also been looking forward to the next summers adventure. I’m not sure what I’ll be doing, but there have been some great opportunities that I’ve found.
It’s about 11 in the morning of my last day on vacation and I have to say that I am feeling lonely. About 2 days ago the group I’d been traveling with said good-bye to four members as they went their own way. Yesterday two more left for their next journey, and today after breakfast, I said good-bye to almost all the rest. I’m leaving for the airport in about 30 minutes, but I’m sharing the taxi with a member of the group. I know, a lot of numbers, so to summarize, I’ll just say that the group has been breaking apart for the last three days and it’s kind of sad. Of course there are some members that I really am going to miss, and it was toughest to say goodbye to them, but all of the group have been fantastic. I don’t think I could have asked for a better bunch of people to travel with. Even now while I’m sitting at the airport waiting to board my plane to Delhi, I’m missing a couple of the group right now. It is kind of funny that my job requires that I am in control of a classroom and speak in front of dozens of students every day and in my personal life I am very quiet, almost an introvert. This tour I really didn’t talk that much and just followed along like a member of the group mentioned, “like a gold fish.”
I made it home in one piece but I don’t think I can say that I’m glad to have all the comforts of home right now. I will say that I am glad to be out of the cold. I have to remember that I don’t do cold very well, and in fact if I were to say anything negative about the trip it would have to be the cold. Otherwise this was a great tour with some of the best people to share it with.
What will I be doing next? I’ve already been checking into a small vacation back to India sometime in the next couple of months, and I’ve volunteered for a trekking/kayaking adventure along the Amazon so who knows.
The tour officially ended this morning, but there is still the majority of the group still together. About five of us decided to take a flight to see Mt. Everest. I normally would not have done a flight like this, but I really wanted a reference in my mind of what the mountain looked like. You know that it is the highest point in the world, and that many people have died trying to climb it, but do you have a mental image of what it looks like? I didn’t. We took off right at sunrise in a turboprop that fit about 20 passengers. Each of us had our own window and when we got close enough to see Everest the pilot let up come up and take some photos from the cockpit. A nice touch, but to be honest I’m still not completely sure what Everest looks like. I mean I saw what the flight attendant was pointing at, and I know I saw Everest, but we stayed far enough away that there were always other mountains almost at high in the view. You know what I’m talking about if you’ve ever had someone point out something in the distance,
“See that tree out there? Look to the left of it.”
“The one with the branch sticking out?”
“No. Not that one, the one that’s further back…”
You get the idea? Oh well, it was fun anyway.
After the flight ended, two of the group had to catch a flight to Thailand, and the remaining three of us headed back to the hotel to meet up with the remaining group. The rest of the day we just walked around the city checking out temples and taking photos of nearly everything around us. We even headed about 10 km outside of Kathmandu to see a medieval city. Not a huge amount of things to take photos of but still very interesting.
Kathmandu is really nice city. It’s got kind of the dirty feel of India, but without the hustle and bustle that can really tax a person after a few hours. There is a strong western presence here as well. The shops seem to fall into about three categories, souvenirs, trekking gear, and restaurants/coffee shops all of which has bee fun to see. About the only thing that I have to say that I don’t like here is weather, or maybe not the weather, but the cold. In the day it’s been sunny and warm, but at night it is really uncomfortably cold. Coming from Dubai it has been tough on my to get used to it, and honestly I don’t think that I could ever get used to it.