Saturday, October 29, 2011

Jaipur Delhi

Jaipur is a small big city and the hype it gets makes it all together a dissapointment for me. We stayed in a ruddy backpackers some 5 K from the walled city sandwiched between the private bus stands and railway station. We enjoied smashing clay pots on the ground at lassi shops. Tony's guest house, be it a ruddy one, was choclate cake packed with character, charm, charms and boyish potential. The owner, Tony, is an 80 year old BOY. When we visit jaipur again we have squaters rights and must meet his Guru.
After the jaipur there was sweet dusty paralizing Delhi. We stayed one night in the construced tourist 'you're still in dirty spiritual India' sanctum of the main Bazzar for one night. We met some charming English folk, namely Jay and whatshisname and an exellent if sleasy Goan waiter named Alex who expetly proceeded to get us horribly drunk. The hangover made it well past mid day and skewed our haggling powers notably. Goldie payed 1000Rupees for some henna hands and I let some goofy rikshaw baba toat us to an expensive handi craft store where we went mad and never reached our final agreed toat destination of Preet Vihar on the opposite side of the river in East Delhi. East Delhi is where my good friend Rohit's brother currently presides upon and resides within the Malhan family appartment. We reached the appartment in the gated community 'Gagan Vihar' at approximately 11pm dusty and embarrassed. Delhi was from this point on meraculous.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Jodhpur - Jaisalmer - DESERT

Jodhpur. We arrived on camels from beautiful holy Pushkar. Jodhpur was incredible. We stayed at Discovery guesthouse in a room with a Fort View surrounded by great blue houses and bizarre electrical work. There were two power cuts daily.

We visited the Merengarth Fort and did the amazing audio tour and trawled the markets for trinkets for Bella, it took forever to buy what ever, i ended up with a pink turban and an antique sikkim dagger. I got up early in the morning to take photos of the sun rise and met an excellent pakora walla who made me a mix batch of potato, onion and paneer pakoras slathered in green jalapeno chuttney scrunched up in some old news paper. I was his first customer and i was very proud. That day for lunch we went to the EGG MAN. A man famous for dealing only in eggs and egg omelette we found that he sneakily runs a small supermarket and a travel agencey out of the same hole in the wall. Hardly only an eggs income but the figures were still impressive, he told us he sells between 2 and 4 thousand egg omelette per deim and has owned his store since the 70s. We moved onto Jaisalmer after some excellent Kashmiri curries at the hotel restaurant which was situated 5 feet from our hotel room. We also shared a300 rupee garlic naan at a fancy rooftop bar and drank some fancy King Fisher out of beer glasses in Jodhpur. The bar was stunning, overlooking the city and lit up romantically in the shadow of the looming Merengarth, we nibbled our naan bread and complementary pappad.

Jaisalmer was ages away and we reached it by bus with a weirdo guide named Mr Love (Prem) early in the morning and crashed out in a hotel room at Padam Niwas Guest House. All the while prem who naturally turned out to be the hotel manager sat in the parking lot revving his 500CC Enfield and shouting out for us to come for a ride with his crazy ass. Goldie went once or twice over the few days we were in Jaisalmer.

The main point of Jaisalmer was to see sand dunes and do awesome stunts off them. This was semi easily done. For 3000 rupee we hired a camel team for a night and two days. Quite expensive, to take us into the great Tsar Dessert surrounding Jaisalmer and make camp in the dunes under the stars. Our camel guides were terribly young but so good. We shared three camels one for gold ( Lucky) one for me ( camel Robert) and one for the two young guides( I forget the name of the last camel. awful) . The dunes are so amazing and massive and ridiculous and being on camels again was very good. Ali at Fort View hotel, who sold us on a second camel safari is a real bro and we took him out for dinner the night after our trek to thank him. We ate at a famous unlimited talhi house just outside the old city walls, his choice, it was cheap, it was boss.

We explored the Golden city's old sand stone buildings and ate momos on a gorgeous rooftop overlooking all of Jaisalmer from the very top of the Fort walls. It was an insane place to be, the entrance was small and bare except for a sign that said something like 'tibet momos cooking', it was difficult to find any service as the way to the rooftop was speckled with small apartments where all the staff had retired for rest as it was dead quiet at 4pm, but we made it up the dark steps to the beautiful rooftop and patted our own backs as the Goan waiter, who looked Tibetan, wrote down something like 'momos, momos, more momos'. The food was good, the view was breathtaking.

Jaisalmer is a beautiful, small city. The buildings are all made out of the same yellow sandstone from out in the desert which we went to see still being excavated in masses of uneven bricks. There is mental stone work and carving everywhere just on ordinary houses that have become ancient. Stone jalis both here and in Jodhpur at the Merengath Fort were mind blowing but here in Jaisalmer they're just everywhere in the Fort, which is by the way still totally occupied and alive, and outside the Fort in the old walled city.

Jaisalmer Fort + Goldie Foot

and then we caught the crazy Jaipur train.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011


We caught a train second class from Jaisalmer to Jaipur. half an hour into the 12-14 hour ride a friendly man started giving out snacks to the whole booth. He was a bit drunk and was showing me the bottle of white rum he had hidden under his bag. Apparently he was trying to give it to me. He stood up next to the carridge door and was watching the countryside flying by for a while and then we saw him fall out. There was panic through the carriage for all of 5 minutes. Someone pulled the emergency stop chain and all the Indians piled out of the carriage to see the body. It was decided that the man had committed suicide and we found out after that he knew no one on the train. the train started up again about 2 minutes after it stopped. Not important and the body was left on the tracks. At the next station someone gave his belongings to the station master. The train was packed thick with Indians. The Isles were lined with sleeping men and the booths and the loft. We had a seat between us really and my arse was on fire. Sitting on those trains really takes it out of me after only about 6 hours. Every kind of Indian transport really sucks so it's not worth paying more for private services or AC or first class, not that we could afford it. The internet cafe i'm in has an automatic generator. Amazing. i'm in the dark typing.

Jaipur was hot and crowded and we had an awesome sweet lassi in a terracotta cup at a local fry shop. We stayed at a beautiful garden rooftop hotel called TONY'S and we met TONY the owner who was really odd and prolific and awesome. He had started the guest house only a year before and it was crazy packed with decorations and trees and cacti. I made him a card with a tree on it and he freaked out:) Jaipur was an impressive walled city with sprawling markets but overall it was just loud, crowded and dirty and we moved on after 2 days.

One really cool walla in Jaipur had an old box camera from the 1800s that was his grandfathers apparently and stood on the street taking 'old photos' of tourists. I'll put up a photo of our old photos.

We did see the Jaipur Jantar Mantar which was mind warping and impressive. Massive stone astrological dials and stair cases and tall poles wrapped with barbed wire that some magical how measure the altitude of heavenly bodies and track the zodiac all built in the 1700s. Crazy stuff.

There were many more things to see in Jaipur. We spied Tiger Fort up on the hill behind the old city and saw the out side of the amazing palace of the winds but we had to move on.

Goldie Michael at Jiasalmer

These are photos from Jaisalmer. The Fort here is incredibly incredible. Even more so than the beautifully well preserved Mehrengeh Fort at Jodhpur. People still live in this Fort that MUST be why. I loves it.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Udaipur and backward

In a first rate palace of a guest house in the lake city of Udaipur, Rajisthan, a city itself litterally littered with impressive palaces. We've run aground here and we're digging in our heels hard. Udaipur is stunning and marvelously chill. The monsoon has the temperature at a cool 25 degree average and we've been having some georgeous sun. I watched the most dazzling sun set this evening from the monsoon palace high up in the Aravalli Hills above the city. Suposedly they shot some scenes in Octopussy at the monsoon palace, at the gate entry which is actually the entry to a wild life sanctuary not a monsoon palace there is a sign post indicating the standard fee for shooting a feature film per day 40 thousand rupees just over 1000 new zealand dollars.

Today marks four days in Udaipur and tomorrow will be five and doubtfully the last. Gold has been ill since yesterday evening but is coming right now. I have a tailored suit to pickup tomorrow at 1pm in the city centre from a man named Raj who has also offered to let me have a cruise around for the day on his scooter. Very cool guy raj.

day one in udaipur we arrived south of the centre at 4 in the morning and rested awake with our packs till morning light at 6 sheltered from the rain in a plush and well lit alley with a hand chai wallah awake and cooking at 5 am. Surprising since things start very slowly in the mornings in India. 8-10am seams the usuall retail laze introduction. We haggled a 40 rupee rickshaw to our beautiful and enormous hotel room where we slept. The mosoon apparentlt flooded the town centre on this day but we really were dead to the world. We met four travellers 2 from New Zealand both DAN and two who had lived in New Zealand for over a year Carolina French girl I think and Ian a very tall English man from Essex, emblazened on his baseball cap in black letter type. and three more Palmer, Palmer and Rick, with Ian complete the intimidating gang of Four Essex boys only after mentioned on account of their non New Zealandhood.

Day two in Udaipur was wet but we manuvered throuought the city. Saw the breath taking lake from multi angles and perspectives and ate on rooftops that sort of deal. Met a very handsom Indian man name of NARU who sold me his CD excellent
trawled the tourist area foe cooking clases and ended up booking one two days in advance. a commitment to udaipur in itself.
brought a fair amount of drugs = that night we went a bit far. I had far to much of something and went to bed very early with a wide pitt of death swirlling in my head. Gold found the bed at around 5 am and we didn'tleave the hotel at all the following day.

Day three the weather was disappointingly fine and the skies taunted us from our rooftop but we just sat and ordered cold drinks and lassis all day instead and wrote things down about our selves.
The gang dindled from 9 to 6. Double Dan and Carolina moved into the centre of town when they discover the first night we all arrived we had miss a giant Ganesha drowning festival the final day of the ten day Ganesha bananza that had been following us around since Mumbai.
Rick is sick in hospital with the mysterious Indian Gastro Flu.

Day 4 we rickshawed to town for our cooking class. Spent four hour there and were horribly full of food we had to catch another rickshaw and sleep it off

Day 5 Gold is sick in bed and Mac is out buying suits and taking 3 hour bicycle rides up mountains.

Day 6 Gold is ripping it back to health and colour and michael is up another mountain taking in magnificent sunset

Day 7 suit day and potential dinner with Chris and Ian. Palmer (Adam) and Rick are headed homewards.

dinner was fly

Days 8&9 in Udi were spent running around buying loads of drugs for Gold's stomache

Day 10 rode another bicycle about town to see if i wanted to buy it but it was a junker and i needed to get to Delhi first anyway so we left on the night bus to lake city Pushkar. Crazy bus living hell bus i can not explain bus!

Working back ward we were in ....AHMEDABAD
1 night in expensive squallor underneath a dirty Indian restaurant GOODNIGHT HOTEL, we were staying in the basement of the GOODNIGHT HOTEL 'residential'. FABULOUS dinner at the HOTEL MG's 'casual dinning' restaurant the GREEN HOUSE we spent an out of character 1000rupees on a dinner that for the most part we had to take home wrapped in bananna leaves along with our 100rupee loyalty certificate.Three more nights we spent at the EXCELLENT value for money HOTEL CADELAC on Advance Cinema Rd. We scored a tripple room for 4oors with the extra bed as a pack shelf and needless to say we got messy.

We chilled out in Ahmedabad. Went to Ghandi's paper factory and purchased some authentic Ghandi paper!!! that i started painting on imediately and a Ghandi budget ledger which i transfered all our acounting into that night aswell. Brought so awesome ladus and temple junks got lost, visited a heritage fort the usuall.

before that we were in quaint and filthy JALGAON a one nighter in the magical hotel Plaza, magical as in clean and the manager had real manners that wavered somewhat over Gold's generally harsh and constant pigeon English. I refused to ride a general train ticket overnight after the already strenuous journey from Aurangabad that's the only reason we stayed and we left bright and early the next morning.

We stayed in Aurangabad and did nothing spesh but we had DAY TRIP FABBBBBNESS at ELLORA CAVES we started too late as usual due to Golds need to sleep till 1pm but we saw a good deal of the fantastic Elora heritage caves and the brilliant excavated temple at the center of the cave network. We should have spent more time, it was all over way too fast and it was naturally a beautiful day. On the way you can see the Aurangabad Fort which sits cool on a fat paired mountain surrounded by stone outposts down on the overgrown monsooney plain very awesome.

before these were two awful places MUMBAI and CHENNIA too big too polluted we left Chennia as soon as we got there but
in Mumbai we invested 4 days trying to get out to Elephanta Island which we never did because of monsoon rains. Thinking back on it we could have paid some one to take us there but no bother. We spent our time walking long distances to kill days. We visited an absolutely breathtaking Hindu Brahmin Tank. Absolutely Mumbai's saving grace. The 'centre of the earth' they say is at the very centre of the beautiful cool peaceful tiny, massive expanse of water and is marked by a wooded pole. Hindu celebrations were in session when we visited dazed after a 15K walk through the city from our hotel. We were in total awe. It was intensely beautiful. In Mumbai we stayed in separate and sickeningly expensive dorm rooms but it was here that we found the pamphlet about Mewar Inn at Udaipur so fair good. In my dorm I had one budding English/Chinese Bollywood actor who was shooting adds and television series episodes every day and another quite depraved Englishman who is probably quite famous amongst tourists who stay at the Red Shield in Mumbai by now, old Mick who was stuck in Mumbai for three years on drug charges and sort of threw his weight around the whole hostel and was mates with all the staff like it was his very own mansion and he was there under house arrest. We met Mick on supposedly his last week in Mumbai. Congratulations Mick!
before Mumbai and before a GIAGANTIC 26hour train expedition was PONDY Pondicherry.

One of the charming things about Pondy was how easy it was to get there, from Madurai and Dil Se we were droped on motorcycles (packs and all) basically directly onto the appropriate bus and were on the road all to quickly to say Bob's your uncle. We earned our selves a practicall personal bus guide. He told us all the long stops, which is worth more than you'd think. you never know about the big breaks unti it's too late and the ticket dude or the driver never bother to tell you. They just want to piss and eat some sugar. That is also exactly what i want to do. He told us we had to transfer buses and where and when we arrived in Pondy it was light still which is always helpful.

PONDY was gorgeous pastel blue skies every day and deep open ocean as far as the eye could see from the foot of our own personal balcony at the incredible Sri Aurobundo Ashram/ Park Guest House. We rented bicycles on the 3rd day or so and rode all the way to Auroville an awful little communist settlement of foreigners 15-20K add confused circles, from Pondy. They don't mingle or provide for 'outsiders' but no mind.

and that is what went on