A Travellerspoint blog

relief

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cool, crisp mountain air. a respite so fulfilling after weeks of baking in 40C heat that i nearly forget that glorious feeling of the first sweat of the day. though, those bad dreams of sticky, sweaty heat still linger in my mind.

darjeeling was the first stop on my himalayan tour, not too memorable a place given the fog which blanketed the town for the duration of my stay. its famous tea did not delight, but the combination of beer and the world cup of cricket was pleasant.

making my way north, i entered into sikkim, which is technically part of india, though should be its own country if my questionnaire was valid. it consisted of the following:

Q: where is your family from? usual answer: "nepal" or "tibet"
Q: do you like india? why or why not? usual answer: smirk, head shake and an audible "no, india bad country"

if my efforts were indeed objective and thorough, and i obviously think they were, then "democracy" is failing once again. the virgin territory in the far north of this Buddhist area is still heavily protected, but the southern half of sikkim, the area which i visited, is prone to indian and western tourists tossing trash anywhere but the proper receptacle. despite much effort from the sikkim tourist office, the number of tourists is still relatively low so the rubbish issue hasn't gone too far, yet.

on the flip side, the views of the snow-capped himalayas, which form part of the border with nepal, are absolutely breathtaking. the first morning i awoke for sunset i was greeted with more clouds, but later, during a spectacular jeep ride, i was able to see the white crystals in the distance. a bit of a tease, but still grand. after a few days mulling around sikkim's capital, gangkok, i spent a few hours (20) on various different buses and arrived in kathmandu. the city is full of friendly people, hindus and buddhists alike, some monkeys, and heaps of japanese restaurants. i still can't bring myself to order sushi outside of the motherland, nihon. more trekking stories will follow in the coming weeks, in addition to (hopefully) more photos depending on the internet connections in the mighty kingdom (people's republic) of nepal.

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Posted by ggithens 07:02 Archived in India Comments (0)

ind!a pictures

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here are some more pics from india. excuse me for the excess photos of the taj, but really, it was magnificent.

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Posted by ggithens 23:32 Archived in India Comments (0)

ind!a

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View ind!a on ggithens's travel map.

two weeks after crossing into the subcontinent, my views on travel have significantly shifted. after a few months roaming urban cement, rice paddies and mountain passes in SE Asia i became accustomed to the relatively easy-going aura of the trip. on arrival in the backpacker piss-and-shit hole in new delhi i was a bit shaken, but still intrigued at what refreshingly raw india may offer.
delhi itself has a shopping cart full of all the goodies, ranging from posh restaurants and nightclubs to dirt-poor indians living in garbage dumps. i relished taking in both sides- the new and the old, the rich and the poor, the clean and the dirty, and any two antonyms you'd like to toss in here ( and ).
after only 2 days in the capital my head was swirling, my body was aching and my cough was so horrid that i bolted to the desert. it wasn't planned, but rather decided at the ticket counter when a nice indian railway employee told me that the taj mahal was closed on fridays and that the journey out to rajasthan was beautiful. so be it. i took the 19-hour overnight train to jaisalmer, arriving at 2pm in the absolutely baking heat. the forts and castles in rajasthan have been without a doubt the highlight, and the first one i set eyes on has kept me in this province since. the sandstone fort shadowing the winding alleys of jaisalmer was taken directly from my childhood fantasies of the middle-east. but this was western india, in the land of the kings.
i also ventured out into the desert on a camel for three uncomfortable days. the dunes we slept on were magnificent, and the sunrise/sunset combo each day almost changed my sleep schedule. but alas, the pictures were lost to a faulty memory card and an internet cafe clerk who deleted all the pictures.
there are more wonderful pictures that will appear below from jaipur, udaipur, chittor and bundi, the other wonderful places ive visited on my tour of western india. the cities of blue havelis are abundant, as are colorful costumes donned by women. my attire has been quite a fashion hit as well-one black and one white sandal. it seems that indians don't understand the concept of being different. i explain to each kind indian-and it's been roughly 100 so far-who tells me my sandals are two different colors that "i chose them because they were different" "but why, sir?" is their retort.
another example of scary conformity came on a train ride with a long-haired scotsman. it appears his locks were a bit funny-looking to a couple indian men and they inquired why he would choose such a hairstyle. his answer, plain and simple was, "because i like it". again the indian response, "but why, sir?". as odd as the interactions are, i keep answering the wandering questions, "sir, your country?" and "sir, your good name?". it's been a fantastic two weeks, and there are months to come :)

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Posted by ggithens 23:14 Archived in India Comments (0)

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