Tuesday, 30 December 2003

Magic Masala

a great merry christmas to all!! (a few days late) perhaps?? how's your plan for the new year countdown?? :)

we'll be heading on to the pretty lake city of udaipur tonight (our final "new" destination before we start on our return leg) and enid (travelmate) and i are definitely going to have beer (indian national beer kingfisher??), my favourite indian dessert gulab jamun (brown sweet glutinous ball soaked in sugar... yummy.. :)), ice cream (if we can find any), maybe tandoori chicken (luxury dish), my fav palak paneer for dinner, hopefully at a nice restaurant overlooking the lake to celebrate the near completion of our great Indian adventure!

stuff we managed to do since the last time i blogged:

- visited the sacred rat temple (managed to get enid to go in though she practically freaked out at the entrance... she even started counting the number of rats to see if there were too many and panicked when she lost count.. strange girl..)

- camel safari to the desert (we saw three camels in the distance.. suspected there were either terrorists or the three wise men.. sat with an excitable Indian family and watched the stars while enjoying beer and curry and gulab jamuns.)

- saw sand dunes ala Sahara desert.. nice.. :)... took back 1 litre of sand.. durrh... hahaha..

- visited two very beautiful cities (Jaisalmer and Jodhpur) with their cobbled streets, quaint shops, and pesky children.

- shopped shopped shopped

that's all for now..

Monday, 22 December 2003

Desert Land Story

It turns out that Indians in India are every bit as kiasu as Singaporeans.. or maybe even more so..

we took this full-day tour of the pink city of Jaipur today, which covered all of these ten touristy attractions (something which i usually hate to do...) somehow, package travel to me feels a lot like i'm being herded around like cattle.. grr.. give me independent travel anytime!.. . anyway, have to admit it saved us a mighty lot of time and gave us a certain amount of immunity against touts, cheats and indian ah bengs for a day.. haha... anyway, managed to see the amazing Hawa Mahal (Palace of Winds) in the old city of Jaipur - it's this flat pink building with more than 900 windows! pretty cool..

anyway, we realised that the day tour was filled 90% by these rich Indians from other parts of India, with their suits, expensive looking punjabi dresses, dangling jewellery, well-clad children and all.. however, their behaviour was pretty obnoxious.. we spent pretty much the whole day being pushed and shoved around by them in every place we went to. Indians appear to have no sense of personal space. In a positive way, it means that they are not shy in approaching us to talk. They were usually chatty and friendly and extremely curious. But negatively speaking, even now, there's this guy standing behind me.. grr... it seems that there's constantly someone looking over our shoulders.. this is probably how they can survive in a country with a billion people.. gulp...

after this big city, we'll head to a smaller city tomorrow, Jhunjhunu, to look at wall drawings from long ago and hopefully spend Christmas in the desert in the town of Bikaner afterwards.. maybe we may even see the 3 wise men??? hahaha.. the town of Bikaner has a temple of sacred rats which i'm still trying to persuade my travelmate to go with me to... Seems like they'll even run over our feet when we are inside.. heh heh.. so fun!! :p what a story to tell the grandchildren..

ok, enough updates for now.. till i find another cybercafe in the land of masala! take care and keep healthy!!

oh ya, btw, this is.. err.. Day 27 of my 45 day Great India Adventure.. be back on the 9th Jan (yep, a day after my birthday.. :p), just in case my friends need to know that.. tata!

Saturday, 20 December 2003

India Odyssey

i'm convinced India is only for the very brave... or the very insane..

for one, Delhi is one incredibly crowded place.. there's people EVERYWHERE!! and cattle, auto-rickshaws, cycle rickshaws, fruit sellers, masala tea stalls and people trying to sell us saris and shawls.. the constant cacophony rings in our minds even when we go to bed at night... the number of touts who are trying to rip us off in a million and one truly imaginative ways makes it really hard for any traveller trying to travel independently to believe in anyone here at all..

but anyway, we've seen Taj Mahal! Yippee! And i tell you, it has to be seen to be believed - solid marble .. it's really beautiful.. besides, it's an oasis in the desert of touts, postcard salesmen and argggh!! never mind.. got to shut them off ... we've started telling anyone hassling us that we are from Sundaland (so we can stop them saying we are from Japan) and a few of them actually reply "oh Sundaland! Yes, we have many tourists from Sundaland!" ???? these people are unbelievable!!

after surviving Delhi and Agra with our souls and minds intact, my travel mate and I are finally venturing into Rajasthan, the land of colour, architecture and deserts. Today, we visited the UN Heritage Wildlife Reserve Keoladeo Ghana National Park near this dusty town called Bharatpur and saw the most amazing population of storks, egrets, kingfishers and numerous other bird species. A day away from people.. what a relief..

check out the fiesty entries on my travel mate's blog - i'm not missing Singapore as much as she is though.. heh heh.. may spend New Year's Eve in the Thar Desert... see first..

okee, will update again when i can.. take care all!!

Saturday, 13 December 2003

Hello from Sikkim

i've seen the world's third highest peak Kangchendzonga after trekking 5 days through some of the lushest temperate rainforests i've ever seen.

i've been through temperatures ranging from 10 degrees to -10 degrees celsius, camping out in tents surrounded by dogs, yaks and horses.

the snowy Himalayas from Sikkim are stunning. the children of Sikkim look Tibetan and are extremely adorable and trusting. the village is peaceful and we've so far attended one funeral and one wedding. from the scenary here, i'm beginning to believe that this could indeed be the Shangri-la that the world has long been searching for. Photos will never do this place justice...

we're done with our project helping the folks at the Conservation Committee with compiling information and taking photographs and will begin to help them to build their website in a while to come to show the world what this place offers..

my knees and thighs are still aching from all the climbing.

i'm overdosing on puri, masala tea and dhal.

wish to say more but the internet connection is way too slow...

all else, i'm fine and will begin the second leg of my trip through Rajasthan in 2 days time. can't wait! :)

missing all and will write again soon as i can. love you all!