A Travellerspoint blog

Still tasting India

semi-overcast 28 °C

Thanks to the great people at The Oberoi in Agra (for bringing Nat flowers and Valium when she was a little under the weather) and my friend Shaz (who has been a wizard at making arrangements for us and finding little gems to brighten our days) we are still in India and hunting for things we can appreciate about the country.
We returned to Delhi on Wednesday and went straight to an appointment that Shaz had made for Nat to see the cities best homeopathic doctor in the hopes he had a solution for her recurring headaches. It was a quick trip and he seemed very confident, so we will follow his prescription and keep our fingers crossed. A remedy for this problem would be worth at least 100 trips up and down that road to Agra! After the appointment we went in search of some food and were taken to an excellent restaurant for both food and cocktails. And yes, cocktails are perfect after you have tried to find solutions for headaches!
The one thing that we have admitted we love is the food. No matter where we have eaten, it has been amazing every meal and has the tendency to run through our systems pretty quickly so we are always hungry.
Thursday we left Delhi and the safety of our host and headed out on our own to the state of Kerala in the south. I only had a few minutes online to book a hotel in the city of Cochi, so I had my fingers crossed as we drove from the airport into the night. The hotel guaranteed a clean room and wifi and the pictures were solid so I thought it would be a fine start as a base to make our plans in this area. We didn't arrive until almost 9pm to find that the internet was down and the cook had gone home, so we could pick at the remains of the buffet for our dinner. ..not really the reception we were hoping for, but we managed,
If you google Kerala or even watch the TV ads they play in this country about this area you will see beautiful beaches and quaint little fishing villages...we haven't quite got that far yet, I guess. We used the hotels office computer to do a little more research and found the hotel we are in now and it is quite a step up. I know we were spoiled by the service in Agra, but as we are the only people staying at this place, we are doing okay here too. It is in the town of Alleppey which is known for rice barges that have been converted to take tourists on overnight tours of the lake and little waterways that cut threw the coast here. We have booked one for tomorrow night so we will have some pictures to share I am sure.
For now, we are having a great day. I'm not sure if Nat is by the pool or has ventured into the kitchen to get some tips from the chef, but I should probably go and find out...

Our current internet connection doesn't want to send pictures, so I will when I can...

Posted by colincampbell 08:51 Archived in India Comments (1)

A taste of India

semi-overcast 15 °C

I think it is probably a good thing I am writing this blog as I can temper Nat's severe distain for this country so far. In fact, last night, she called it "Hell on Earth." The population of this country is over a billion people and we were warned about various things we would encounter. Our arrival from Nepal was amazingly pleasant, the airport in Delhi seems very new and the immigration officer was probably the nicest airport personal we have met to date. My friend had sent a driver to pick us up as he was arriving on a later flight that night and we were shuttled off to his house about 45 minutes away. Delhi is a city of over 20 million and is hectic to say the least, driving is quite an adventure with cars, bikes, tractors, horses, trucks, 3 wheeled motorized rickshaws, elephants, dogs....did I miss anything??
His apartment was a nice change from Nepal with a heck of a chef in house ready to make us dinner after a nice warm shower. We were still recovering from flu so got an early sleep. The next day we explored Delhi a little bit, seeing the government buildings and some other sites. When we got out to take pictures, Nat was instantly a star with her blond hair...everyone wanted their picture taken with her and she embraced it.
Yesterday, Shaz had arranged for us to come to Agra to visit the Taj Mahal which is about 200kms or a 5 hour drive away, the roads haven't improved from Nepal! The 3 lane highways also have two dividing lines so the people here seem to think that means there is room for 5 vehicles wide. Lots of honking and general chaos. The road was simply described as devastating; from the miserable conditions that people and animals live in to the pollution in the air, water and on the ground, it is a giant shocker for us.
The hotel we are staying in is spectacular with a view of the Taj Mahal out of our window, but it can't change the fact that just over the fence, this is another planet. We explored the Taj Mahal this morning, which thankfully, was worth the drive and are heading back to Delhi now. I'm not sure how much more of this country I can convince Nat to explore, but we are heading south tomorrow to the beaches of Kerala in the hopes it is different.
Not sure where you will here from us next...

1_1320817594608_photo 1.JPG

2_1320817600625_photo 2.JPG

3_1320817606625_photo 3.JPG

4_1320817612626_photo 4.JPG

Posted by colincampbell 21:46 Archived in India Comments (0)

The last photos of Nepal

semi-overcast 14 °C

As we hiked back down and made our way back to Katmandu, we quickly forgot about the rain and the cold. We adjusted our flight to India and had one night in Katmandu which we spent at a little french restaurant and then later, with our friends, at a Nepali live music bar. Great way to spend our last night.

1_1320751875874_photo 1.JPG

2_1320751880843_photo 2.JPG

3_1320751886500_photo 3.JPG

4_1320751890094_photo 4.JPG

5_1320751895595_photo 5.JPG

Posted by colincampbell 03:31 Archived in Nepal Comments (0)

More photos of Nepal

semi-overcast 14 °C

Despite the rain, we still managed to get a lot of great photos. The morning we hiked to Poon Hill was particularly chilly, but well worth it. The view of the Annapurna mountain range at sunrise was spectacular.

1_1320751577281_photo 1.JPG

2_1320751582924_photo 2.JPG

3_1320751588488_photo 3.JPG

4_1320751593004_photo 4.JPG

Posted by colincampbell 03:26 Archived in Nepal Comments (0)

Pictures from Nepal

semi-overcast 7 °C

We have caught up with a fast internet connection for the first time in a few weeks, so I will start by adding the photos we couldn't get online from Nepal. Although the chaos of Katmandu and a few other little things didn't really appeal to us about the country, you can't deny the fact that the landscape is stunning and that most of the people that we met were wonderful.

1_1320744684020_photo 1.JPG

2_1320744691099_photo 2.JPG

3_1320744697631_photo 3.JPG

4_1320744701522_photo 4.JPG

Posted by colincampbell 01:31 Archived in Nepal Comments (0)

Where's The Four Seasons!?

overcast 0 °C

No, you aren't supposed to be hearing from us yet, or for another five days for that matter. In fact, we are meant to be sitting high in the mountains with nothing but a spectacular view and a few sherpa's telling us treacherous tales of their adventures living in the Himalayas. Weather is a fickle beast and it was 100% against us this week.

It all started like any good story should, sunny skies and our party of four ready for anything. Our guide, Sujan, is only 21 but has been trekking professionally since he was 17 and is not only tireless on the trails but has everyone on the mountain on speed dial, very handy when it comes to confirming bookings at the tiny tea houses we stay in along the way. Our porter, Raj, was actually just taking time away from his many other businesses during festival time to make a bit of pocket money and get out of Katmandu. He clearly wanted to practice his English and seemed to think that teaching me Nepalese was the best way to do that, I did my best as he fired phrases at me while we hiked. Conditions on the first day were ideal and we took a taxi 40kms to the bottom of the trail, the roads were rugged to say the least and the ride took over an hour. Hiking was easy as we went through little villages, over suspension bridges and past acres of rice millet that were being harvested. There was a bit of uphill, but nothing serious and we were at our first tea house by mid afternoon, enjoying a hot shower, ordering dinner and then helping in the kitchen as it was warmer then the dining room as the sun went down. Our accommodations were simple, but comfortable enough and with our sleeping bags we were pretty toasty warm.

Day two we were warned about a steep climb and the Nepalese don't seem to buy into switchbacked trails, but prefer to cut stairs into the mountain side that go straight up. Sujan had told us of the 3280 steps that we would be climbing to our next stopover, and I didn't count, but we did at least that many. We climbed out of the fields and into forests that made us feel like we were walking into a National Geographic magazine, it was absolutely stunning. I wish I could add some pictures to this blog, but it is somewhere around day two that I lost the adapter to plug the memory card into the ipad, we'll replace it in India this weekend. The temperatures started to drop that night and the menu was exactly the same as the previous, which didn't bother me, but by the 4th day, Nat never wanted to see mixed fried rice again. The cloud cover had been pretty solid so far and that second night we saw a little bit of rain, we crossed our fingers and figured things would improve as this is not the time of year for rain. Day three was another epic climb, not as difficult as the previous, but equally spectacular with forests, waterfalls, rivers and somewhere in the hazy clouds were some deep valleys and big mountains that we would catch a glimpse of, every now and again. About an hour from our destination, the heavens opened up and the rain began for real. We picked up the pace as best we could, but had to be careful on slippery rocks and greasy mud. We arrived in the tiny village of Ghorepani and were happy to find our tea house had a nice fire in the dining room. A lady we met from Colorado aptly described the accommodations as "ply-woody" and our third floor room was desperately far away from the fire to compete with the wind whistling through the cracks in the windows. We piled on the blankets, but the combination of rain and cold did it's damage that night on Natalie and a chest cold set in. To add insult to injury, the fried noodles didn't agree very well and she was pretty sick that night from them as well. Like a trooper, she almost willingly was dragged from her sleeping bag at 4:30am to start the hike that would have us seeing the sun rise over the 7 peaks of the Annapurna mountain range. It was a tough climb for that time of day, but it was worth the view and the weather cooperated enough that we got some stunning photos. Before hypothermia set it, we got her back down the hill and back into her sleeping back for a nap before we continued the hike.

At this point we were unsure as to what we should do. The clouds set back in by 8:30 that morning and our view was gone and it wasn't long before the showers started again. We pushed on to the next town which was about 5 hours and would be our last chance to decide to go on or call it quits. The hiking is so amazing that we really wanted to continue but whenever you stop the damp cold sets in and the same menu arrives with more mixed fried rice and dahl bat. I think it was lunch on day four that Nat had had enough of Nepalese mountain food and came up with my favourite quote, "I want to be home...but not like the US or Canada...but home at The Four Seasons!" Her cough was getting worse and I remember the stern words of my father when I wanted to do silly things (like camping in subzero temps in Canada) when I had a cold as a kid. What was the point in getting sicker and enduring more cold, wet nights, especially because the clouds were keeping the mountains hidden? The final straw was our accommodations that night, usually a mountain top chalet with 180 degree view would be ideal, but these are thin pieces of plexiglass that may as well be open windows when it comes to keeping out the cold. And the town council in this village prohibits fire so there was no chance of drying out any of our gear. We spent the evening with a few new friends huddled in the dining room which was warm from the body heat. The next morning I had a quick conference with Sujan and told him we would be shortening our route. Not wanting to disappoint he quickly adjusted our 10 days to 7, skipping the Annapurna Base Camp, but still getting to the hot springs. I love his spirit, but I don't think he understood Nat's health situation and I told him to try again, we would be in Pokhara the following night. I think he was most concerned with his bosses reaction or that we would be asking for a refund, but I assured him that there would be no problems there, we just needed to get warm and dry as soon as possible. At our highest point we had been at 3200 meters above sea level and with this change of plans, I think we climbed back down to low levels in one afternoon. It might have been the toughest day on our legs, but we were back below the clouds (as opposed to in them) and definitely in warmer climates.

Yesterday was a nice two hour walk along the river back to where we started. Sujan with his trusty cell phone had our driver waiting for us and we were back on the road to Pokhara. I had almost forgotten about the chaos, the tragic road conditions and the excessive use of the car horn, but we were quickly reminded. We aren't sorry that we bailed out early as the weather isn't getting any better, in fact, visibility might be getting worse and it rained all night again last night. Back in our guesthouse in Pokhara, we were both looking forward to our first hot shower in a few days. I don't think Nat saw the positive points of the energy saving solar water heater on this grey day when all she wanted to do was shower. Her shower gear was packed in a flash and we were out the door looking for an electric water heater which we found at a spa next door. I got an hour long massage and she had an hour long hot shower...works for me!

It has been a blast in Nepal, but with the weather the way it is we figure it is time to move up the time table on India. We get a bus back to Kathmandu tomorrow morning and Sunday we fly to India where I am pretty sure it will be much warmer. We are being met at the airport by friends in New Delhi and think we have some pretty good adventures planned, last night Nat was checking out camel trekking in the desert...I think she wants a tan!

Posted by colincampbell 21:40 Archived in Nepal Comments (1)

(Entries 31 - 36 of 70) « Page 1 2 3 4 5 [6] 7 8 9 10 .. »