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Archive for the ‘India’ Category

New Delhi

Posted by Heliocentrism on November 15, 2017

July 29–31, 2017

By the time we got to Delhi, I was still a little sick and Mark was getting worse. Generally, Mark is less of a baby than I am, so even while sick Mark can go out and do things, though he would prefer to sit or lay down and nap. We had 3 days in Delhi, the day we arrive, one whole day, and the day we left. So we decide not to do anything on the first and last day; we would just rest on those days. But the day in the middle we just had to see something or do something in Delhi.

Look at me; I’m the tuk-tuk driver now!

The middle day, we hired a tuk-tuk driver. We weren’t planning to, he just talked himself down to a reasonable price. And, since Mark was sick we thought it would be better to have one guy drive us around all day rather than having to negotiate on each leg of the day’s journey.

(BTW: What Mark had could now be called Delhi Belly, because of his geographical location.)

I’m sure this man thought that he was selling himself short when he dropped his price down so we wouldn’t walk away. But after we asked to be taken back a little after noon and still paid the full day’s fare like we had agreed, he didn’t feel so bad.

 We only went to 3 or 4 places. Most of which, we got out of the tuk-tuk for 3 minutes, took a quick photo, and then got back in. I actually like riding around in the tuk-tuk especially once we left downtown Delhi. It felt good to be outdoors and moving around without having to exert any energy.

Of course our tuk-tuk driver tried to take us to a textile and craft shop, but we refused to go inside. He was in the middle of telling us why we should just go in and look around when Mark made a retching noise and stuck his head out the tuk-tuk. Not wanting any vomit in his vehicle, the driver took us home without any further delays. But, before he left us, he made us promise we would call him so he could take us to the airport the next day. We didn’t.

At the airport trying to make up for all the sight-seeing we missed in Delhi

The next day we went to the airport to get a flight to Paris. We were really looking forward to Paris’ over-the-counter medicine.


India
(Republic of India)

How to get there:

You can enter India by plane, train, bus, or boat.

The question of visas are a little hard to answer. There are conflicting options online. Some sources say most people can get a visa on arrival, other’s saying you can’t.

  • I recommend getting an e-visa before you go.
  • If you get a visa from the embassy or consulate on your country, just know that the visa process might be outsourced to  Cox & Kings Global Services.

Phone:

  • Emergency Numbers:
    • Police 100
    • Ambulance 102
    • Emergency 108
    • Women help line 1091

Website:

Downloads:

Videos:

Books:

Notes:

  • Watch out for touts.
  • Be wary of anyone being too nice or helpful. They are usually, but not always, looking for a way to get your money.

Akshardham

Basic Information

Website

Downloads:

e-mail:

  • info@akshardham.com

Cost:

  • Entrance is free, but a donation is asked.
    • Some exhibits cost money to enter
    • All the exhibits combined cost a little over 200 rupees.
  • Parking is not free.
    • If you have hired a driver to wait for you, you may have to pay for his parking.
  • The cloak room is free, but there is a deposit.

Hours:

  • 9:30 – 18:00
  • Opening Times for different areas vary

Video

Notes:

  • There are many areas to this complex.
  • All the restaurants inside are vegetarian.
  • There is a long list of things you cannot bring:
    • phones
    • cameras
    • usb drives
    • music device
    • electronics
    • weapons
    • umbrellas
    • luggage
    • toys
    • pets
    • food or drinks
    • tobacco, alcohol, or drugs
  • There is a dress code.
    • Make sure to cover shoulders, navel, forearms, and knees.
    • A short sleeve shirt and Capri pants will do.

Lotus Temple

Basic Information

Websites:

Cost:

  • Free
  • Free Parking

Hours:

  • 1st October to 31st March: 9:00 am to 5:30 pm (Last Entry 5.00 pm. For winter)
  • 1st April to 30th September : 9:00 am to 7:00 pm (Last Entry 6.30 pm. For summer)
  • Closed Mondays

Videos:

Notes:

  • You cannot take photos inside the temple, but unlike Akshardham, no one will take your camera or cell phone from you.
    • It’s done on the honor system.

Map:

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Agra: Diamonds of the Souls of Our Feet

Posted by Heliocentrism on November 10, 2017

July 25–28, 2017

The view from the hotel

Be Fancy

When we got to Jaipur we booked a stay at the Comfort Inn. It’s an American hotel chain. The Comfort Inn is a nice business hotel, nothing fancy. It’s clean, nice, and dependable.

But the one in India was a 4 star hotel. It was a fancy hotel, yet still a Comfort Inn with a standard Comfort Inn price. …And yet, fancy.

So when it was time to pick a hotel in Agra we asked, “What can I get for about 60USD per night. The answer was… opulence.

These guys played while we ate breakfast every morning

We booked a 5-star hotel and it was nice. But I never felt very relaxed there. One reason was that there was always someone lurking around every corner to make Mark and me more comfortable. For example, at dinner if I were to run low on mint chutney on my plate, before I had the opportunity to pour some more myself, someone would pop out of nowhere to pour it for me.

If I were to drop a spoon or something, before I could pick it up, 3 people would rush over; one with a new spoon, one to pick up the dropped spoon, and another to apologize for the slippery spoons. There was even a guy who pushed the elevator buttons for guests. At first I thought this was nice, but after a day or two I felt like a toddler.

We didn’t realize just how fancy the hotel would be until we pulled up at the gate. The taxi we came in was a dilapidated old junker that coughed as it went down the street. It’s driver was the least shadiest guy hanging out at the train station that night. I made Mark pick a cab quickly because I felt like I was on the verge of tossing my cookies.

When the car pulled up to the hotel and a bell-hop took our back-pack, the shame started to sink in. Then I remembered that we used to live in a very posh apartment in Bangkok and would come home muddy and dirty from camping trips almost every weekend. We would walk through the lobby and staff would run to open doors for us and hand us our mail. If we could afford to live in such an apartment, paying our rent on time, they didn’t care what we looked like when we returned.

So, I acted like I did when I lived in Bangkok. “Yes, this was just normal stuff for people like us who travel adventurously and regularly stay in fancy hotels,” I thought to myself. I have no idea if we fooled anyone. If we did look out of place, everyone was too polite to say anything.

The view from the back of the hotel.

Another reason for my discomfort was food poisoning. I drank a lassi somewhere in Jaipur before getting on the train and was quite sick by the time I got to Agra. I almost didn’t see the Taj Mahal. We had 4 days in Agra and I spent the first 2 in bed… and the bathroom.

The truly sad part, was that at our hotel every breakfast was a buffet of Indian dishes from all over India. I sat and watched Mark enjoy all the food he could stuff into his face. I ate mainly plain eggs, a banana, or milk. On the last day, I was feeling much better and sampled more types of foods. But, by then Mark had gotten sick.

I was so sick, this was the best smile I could fake.

I didn’t feel well enough to go to the Taj Mahal, but I was not going to miss it! I went and just walked very slowly. I was so weak, I kept having to sit down. I also kept an eye out for bathrooms, hoping that I would not have to use any, or worse, end up throwing up on the grounds of the Taj Mahal.

We hired a driver from the hotel. He dropped us off and would come back for us in 2 hours. All I had to do was “contain” myself for 2 hours. I did manage just that. We saw the whole thing, though I did want to stay much longer. My body couldn’t take it and I was glad to be back in bed afterwards.

Tea and Taj later that day


India
(Republic of India)

How to get there:

You can enter India by plane, train, bus, or boat.

The question of visas are a little hard to answer. There are conflicting options online. Some sources say most people can get a visa on arrival, other’s saying you can’t.

  • I recommend getting an e-visa before you go.
  • If you get a visa from the embassy or consulate on your country, just know that the visa process might be outsourced to  Cox & Kings Global Services.

Phone:

  • Emergency Numbers:
    • Police 100
    • Ambulance 102
    • Emergency 108
    • Women help line 1091

Website:

Downloads:

Videos:

Books:

Notes:

  • Watch out for touts.
  • Be wary of anyone being too nice or helpful. They are usually, but not always, looking for a way to get your money.
  • When taking tuk-tuks or taxis, use google maps or some other GPS app to make sure the driver has taken you to the correct destination.

Taj Mahal

Basic Information

Website

Cost:

  • 1,000 rupees
    • Includes:
    • Bottle of water
    • Shoe covers
    • a bag to hold the water and shoe covers
    • a ride to the main gate

Hours:

  • sunrise – sunset
  • Closed Fridays

Videos:

Notes:

  • Built between 1632–53.
  • There is no official audio guide for the Taj Mahal.
  • Be careful when hiring a guide.
    • If you don’t want a guide, keep telling the people who harass you that while you walk away.
    • They will follow you.
  • Don’t forget to sit on the Diana bench, if you can.

Map:

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Jaipur: Buy From Me, No Me, No Buy From Me…

Posted by Heliocentrism on November 5, 2017

July 22 – 24, 2017

Jaipur, the Pink City, had some of the most beautiful photo-opps. Just scrolling through my Jaipur album online takes me back to a place with magical views. But, traveling through Jaipur was very tiring. Everyone is working you hard to buy their stuff.

Our flight into India landed at midnight, so we made sure our hotel came with an airport pick up. On the ride over our driver kept asking us about our plans for our time in Jaipur. Before we had even pulled out of the airport parking lot, he was hounding us to hire him as our driver for the duration of our stay.

We did hire a driver for one day. He too kept asking us about our plans in Jaipur. We couldn’t lie to him and tell him that this was our last day, he worked at our hotel. Instead we tried to change the subject and evaded his questions. But he was a determined guy.

We had a list of places we wanted to see, but he had his own plan. He talked about a restaurant he wanted to take us. We politely told him we already had a restaurant in mind. When we stopped at the Amber Fort, we had lunch at 1135AD which is in the fort. When we got back into his car he was ready to take us to his restaurant.

“We already ate,” we told him.

“When?” he scowled.

“While we were at the fort. Remember, we told you we wanted to have lunch at 1135AD,” Mark replied.

“So you don’t want to have delicious dalh?”

“No.”

We wanted to see a museum and asked the driver to take us there. But he didn’t. He took us to a craft and textile shop instead. We didn’t know what was going on, but once we realized he had taken us to a place where we were expected to buy expensive paintings or statues, we walked out of the building.

“Don’t you want to look around?” he asked.

“No, we want to go to the museum!”

He tried to talk us into staying, but we would not stay. I started yelling that I wanted to go to the museum. He told us that it was too late to go to the museum. We had wasted too much time driving to the stupid shop. (Later, I found out that it was not too late to go to the museum.) We asked to be taken back to the hotel.

“You would rather go home than look in this shop?” The driver seemed surprised.

We were so pissed off at this driver, we never hired him or anyone else who worked for our hotel again.

These women tried to charge me for this photo and only one of them seems happy.

At the Amber Fort we saw these sweeping ladies with their beautiful bright saris. Their job is to sweep the fort and palace. They approached me and asked if I wanted to take their photo. “Sure, why not?” I told them. I pointed my camera at them, but they encouraged me to hand my camera to someone else and get in the photo too.

I handed my camera to Mark, and sat next to them. The one who asked me to take the photo looked really pleased. Her friends, on the other hand, could not hide their disdain. Mark snapped a few photos and then I thanked them. As I got up, all the women, as with one voice, said, “MONEY”.

They had asked me to take their photo. True, I was happy enough to oblige, but I did not know this would require payment. Mark offered them a few rupees, but they wanted more. “Dollar,” one of them demanded. Mark and I walked away.

I saw them do this with many other tourists. Each tourist thought that they had met a friendly lady wanting to be in a photo. No one I saw gave these ladies any money. It’s unfortunate, because had these women put up a sign saying “photo 5 rupee” or something, many people would have gladly paid. No one likes being scammed.

Another day, Mark and I were walking down a street in Jaipur. We were looking for a place to have lunch. As we walked, all the shop keepers called to us to come buy their food, drinks, clothes, shoes, etc. One shop keeper in particular caught our attention. He stood in the doorway of his shop. I didn’t fully understand why he was calling to us.

“Don’t you sell tires?” I asked.

“Oh yes. The best tires! Come in and see.”

“I don’t have a car.” I thought it was necessary for me to point this out.

“I can give you a good deal,” he said and he motioned for Mark and me to enter.

“No thanks.”

I raise my lassi to Jaipur. “To Jaipur!”


India
(Republic of India)

How to get there:

You can enter India by plane, train, bus, or boat.

The question of visas are a little hard to answer. There are conflicting options online. Some sources say most people can get a visa on arrival, other’s saying you can’t.

  • I recommend getting an e-visa before you go.
  • If you get a visa from the embassy or consulate on your country, just know that the visa process might be outsourced to  Cox & Kings Global Services.

Phone:

  • Emergency Numbers:
    • Police 100
    • Ambulance 102
    • Emergency 108
    • Women help line 1091

Website:

Downloads:

Videos:

Books:

Notes:

  • Watch out for touts.
  • Be wary of anyone being too nice or helpful. They are usually, but not always, looking for a way to get your money.
  • When taking tuk-tuks or taxis, use google maps or some other GPS app to make sure the driver has taken you to the correct destination.

Hawa Mahal
(Palace of the Wind)

How to get there:

  • Coordinates 26.923938, 75.826750
  • Entrance 26.923366, 75.826070

Address:

  • Hawa Mahal Rd, Badi Choupad, J.D.A. Market, Pink City, Jaipur, Rajasthan 302002

Phone:

  • 0141 261 8862

Websites:

Cost:

  • Foreigners: Rs. 50

    2 Composite tickets

Hours:

  • 9:00 – 17:00

Video

Notes:

  • Included in the 5-monument Composite Ticket.
    • Tickets are valid for 2 days, starting on the day it is purchased.
    • You can buy the ticket at any of the monuments.
    • It’s called the 5-monument composite ticket, but you use it for 5 monuments and 3 other things.
  • You can take photos without having to pay a fee.
  • There is a composite tickets that’s lets you get into several sites.
    • Another benefit of this tickets is that you only have to queue once.
    • The down side is that the officials who inspect your composite tickets take about 5 minutes to scrutinize the paper before carefully punching a hole in the appropriated spot.

Jal Mahal

Basic Information

Website

Cost:

  • free
  • Part of the 5-monument composite ticket (though, I don’t know why)

Hours:

  • 24hrs

Notes:

  • This is a palace that is sinking in a lake.
  • You cannot go to it; you can only look at it from the shore.
  • It will take about 3 minutes to see it; 10, if you take a lot of photos.

Jaipur Lassi

Basic Information:

  • Jaipur is know for it’s wonderful super thick lassi with a milk skin on the top.
  • It’s served in a ceramic cup.

Website

  • Maybe this is the original shop called Lassiwalla.

Cost:

  • 1-2 Rupee

Hours:

  • If you want a lassi, there will be someone willing to sell you one.

Video

Notes:

  • There are a thousand and one shops called Lassiwala. There was one Lassiwala that became very famous, but then every shop changed their names to Lassiwala, so who knows which one is THE Lassiwala?
  • It doesn’t really matter, they’re all great.

The Amer Fort
The Amber Palace/ Fort

Basic Information

Cost:

  • 200 Rupee
  • Part of the 5-monument composite ticket

Hours:

  • 8:00 – 17:30

Video

Notes:

  • Built in 1592.
  • Very near to the Jaigarh Fort.
    • On a good, non-rainy day, you can walk from one fort to the other (no matter what your driver tells you).
    • It is a bit of a hike, being up hill and all.
  • There are a crowd of touts aggressively selling junk you don’t want outside the gate.
  • There are colorfully dressed sweeping ladies who will gladly let you take their photos, then hound you for money.
    • Whatever you give them, they will demand more.
    • Give them money if you want. They probably really need it.
    • But, you can also just walk away since they are not up front that they expect money for photos. No one will force you to pay them.

1135 AD

Basic Information

Website

Cost:

Hours:

  • 12:00 – 22:30

Notes:

  • The place can be a little hard to find.
  • It is in the Amer Fort, off to the side and in away from sight.
  • It looks fancy-ish. There are many photos of rich and famous people, like Prince Charles, in the restaurant, but the places looks a little shabby these days.
  • It’s still a nice experience.

Jaigarh Fort

Basic Information

Website

Cost:

  • 85 Rupee
  • Part of the 5-monument composite ticket

Hours:

  • 10:00 – 17:00

Video

Notes:

  • Here you can see the biggest cannon on wheels at the time it was made.
    • It was supposedly, used only once as a demonstration. It killed several horses, wounded an elephant, and caused many pregnant women to go into early labor.
    • It caused so much destruction that it was never used again.
      • It’s like they didn’t fully understand the point of a cannon…
  • Built in 1726.
  • You can walk between Jaigarh Fort and Nahargarh Fort.
    • It is a 2 hour walk.

Nahargarh Fort

Basic Information

Website

Cost:

  • 200 Rupee
  • Part of the 5-monument composite ticket

Hours:

  • 10:00 – 17:15

Video

Notes:


Isarlat

Basic Information

Websites:

Cost:

  • 200 Rupee
  • Part of the 5-monument composite ticket

Hours:

  • 9:00 – 16:30

Video

Notes:

  • Built in 1749.
  • Close to City Palace.
  • Just a tower.
  • We really only saw this because it was part of the composite ticket. It’s not that interesting.
  • It does give you a nice view of the city, but I’m not sure it’s worth the climb up and the walking around in pigeon poo.

City Palace

Basic Information

Websites:

e-mail:

Cost:

  • 500 rupee
  • 300 rupee for an audio guide

Hours:

  • 9:00 – 17:00

Notes:

  • The palace was built between 1729 and 1732.

Jantar Mantar

Basic Information

Website

Cost:

  • 200 rupees
  • Part of the 5-monument composite ticket

Hours:

  • 9:00 – 16:30

Video

Notes:

  • Construction was completed between 1724 and 1735.
  • Wear a hat, it’s super hot here.
  • Bring water and maybe an umbrella too.

Map:

Posted in India, Jaipur | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

 
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