Google Map It

Even though 2 months may sound like a long trip, it's not. We have an ambitious route planned - one that would have us encircle nearly the entire country. Though plans are going to change and destinations will be added and subtracted, we've mapped ourselves out to have some sort of reference. So Follow Us

Saturday, February 28, 2009

I knew he was good for something

Pushkar, Pushkar, and more Pushkar. The place we never intended to visit became the place we are apparently never to leave. After exhausting ourselves in the bustling Jaipur we came here on whim of curiosity hoping to find a slower pace, a few less people, and some cheap sleep & fun. Sam had many opportunities to flex his bartering muscles on our travels through the desert with the many money hungry rigsaw drivers, and after a few hours of braving some cramped local buses and much staggering confusion we arrived at the Pushkar bus station. We were very tired, but still energized by your new sense of accomplishment after making it so far for such a small amount of cash, and set off to find a cheap clean place to rest our bags and our heads. We had no plan really, so the plan was to wander around pushkar until we thought of one.... BUT although I was feeling adventurous in spirit, my body was not willing to play along. A few staggering steps around town with my big back left me gasping for breath like a pathetic ten year old suffering from an asthma attack after too much tag and birthday cake. It was at this point that I realized that perhaps my 'cold' that I acquired in Delhi was no cold at all, but the dreaded yet popular respiratory infection that I my lonely planet warned me about. Soooooo Long story short my first Pushkar tourist attraction was the hospital, and my second and last was my Hostel bed. Sounds scary right??? .... Well it's not, my symptoms were mild, my medications strong, and the only pain I felt was from my boredom. Sam diligently sat by my side for the first two days, chivalrously enduring my boredom with me until he could take it no longer. We left me on the third early in the morning insisting that I rest, and against my protests convinced me that he would return shortly. I fall into a pleasant sleep and dreamt about my Sammy riding up to my window on a motorcycle, all sexy with the wind in his hair.
"Vrroooommmm Vrrooommmm" I hear.
I stick my head out my window and I realize I am in no dream. There he is in his movie star sunglasses on a shiny blue bike, wanting to ride me off into the sunset. After A few minutes of dressing and washing I am straddling the back of the bike, desperate to be saved from the body- mold I created on our mattress.

The start was..... shaky???
"Sam....have you ever done this before?"

"Well, I did ride a scooter in Lao, this is kinda the same."

GREAT! He :)
But luckily he's a fast learner and we were off in no time. We hit the open road, ditched Pushkar, and decided to find some adventure in some uncharted territory. Our first encounter was of the nastiest kind. Dead cow on the side of the road, it's head was fully smashed in with nothing but decay and maggots in its place. The rank of the smell was indescribable, and the cute pup that decided to feast on this rotting beast had me gagging for at least 15 km. Our second encounter was with some local truck drivers who decided to play around with us a little on the road, putting Sammy's driving abilities to the test. We first attempted to politely ignore their horn honking and invitations to pull over, but after being pursued for some distance we realized we weren't getting away without at least saying hello.
Now mostly for my parents sake I will include this all sounds a lot more dangerous than it is. If someone were following me like this is Canada I would probably call the cops, or hide in a gas station, but things are a little different over here. Sam and I really can't go anywhere without people flocking to us. The mix of our white skin, expensive sunglasses, adorable smiles ;) makes us pretty much irresistible to the locals.
So we pulled over for a cig break with the strange men. Their theeth were rotting to black, and they kept trying to force us to have a drink of their "mysterious" water bottle. They spoke NO english, and although one of the men was holding my hand a little to tightly for a little too long, it was a pleasant road side break.

Our third encounter was in some strange small town, clearly not accustom to tourists. Although Sammy biking skills were improving throughout the day, he still hadn't had much practice navigating through busy Indian streets, full of the usual; children, cows, bikes, goats, trucks, carts, camels... and etc etc. To protect our lives and the lives of all the things running around around us, Sam went slow and careful, making it hard to drive without stalling out since he still wasn't use to the clutch and switching gears. We staled a few times, but the most precious was when it happened, right in this town square. We were only stopped for maybe 2 minutes max, but it felt like an eternity as at least 200 people crowded around us laughing all trying to yell instructions in Hindi. Sam figured it all out of course, rev'd the engine, and we hit the road again.
The rest of the day was fairly normal. Just the usual navigating through the goat herds, eating some strange sweet yellow things from the man in the desert, and getting flocked my half naked kids all wanting to rub Sam's golden locks. Sammy drove use safely back dropped us off at the Pushkar Chabad, and after a long crazy day of wild free spirited fun, we brought ourselves back down to earth with a nice Shabbat service and the biggest Shabbat party I have ever seen. Who knew there were so many jews in India??????
SAM IS THE BEST> the end

m.




Monday, February 23, 2009

Clean Ears (sideways and disgusting...sorry)

Night Bus Thievery ;)

Was it yesterday that we took a sleeper bus from New Delhi to Jaipur? A sleeper bus...how do I explain this? Instead of luggage compartments they have apartments...wait.

Got a nice pad to it, but the traffic outside and the bumps on the road won't give you a moments rest. When you don't sleep at night the days seem to blend into themselves like a fine silk-cotton blend of a Rajasthani Sari - with all the print and color they're famous for.
Misha and I spent the first day defeating the grogginess by sleeping off half of it in what turned out to be one of the best beds that came our way since before Israel. Thank you Chit Chat Guesthouse. The other half was surpisingly productive with an auto-rickshaw taking us outside of Jaipur proper to Amber Fort (pictured below). This turned out to be our favorite destination so far. After mazing our way through the labyrinthine innards of the 16th century palace of the Kachwahas (fine I had to look that up), we rickshaw'd down the mountainside to the Water Palace, took a photo, obliged the driver to a courtesy stop in a textile factory to which he should receive commission if were to buy anything (we didn't), then finished up the day with a sunset view from Monkey Temple above Jaipur.
...Monkey Temple...it's the place where you go to get good views and feed monkeys with a Rs10 bag of peanuts for a chance to snap a couple good photos. What the hell? Of course I reminded Misha that these are the famed thieving monkeys that you hear about on Animal Planet. Watch your shiny things Misha. These are monekeys and they're smart. Well, I held off feeding the ones at the bottom of the hill because I wanted good views from above with the monkeys. That didn't fly with those crafty bastards. Midway up, touting the bagged peanuts in hand, something grabbed at my swinging right hand. From behind! Took that bag right from me, Misha and I giving a mild shriek at the sheer surpise and craftiness of that SOB. I had to watch from a distance that fool monkey open the bag of peanuts and eat them, Misha laughing at me, totally disgraced, absent of peanuts.
So Jaipur, the Pink City, isn't anything to rave about but it's all an adventure and we're pulling the early bus to Pushkar.

Above: Amber Fort, Jaipur, Rajasthan

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Clean Ears' Debacle?

It took a pair of New Dehli ear cleaners and a pesky shoe shining teen to finally teach me the power of a woman. Yes, I admit that women have power that I, as all other men, shall never be privy to.
Fresh from some fine South Indian cuisine at the Banana Leaf after a long walking day through the Delhi National Zoo, Misha and I thought it a pleasant plan to rest in the fast coming evening sky on some non-descript grassy knoll smack dab in the center of things, that is Connaught Place. Backpackers aren't usually welcomed in the chic center of New Delhi's shopping and fine dining, but neither Misha or me think much of invitations - we flat out don't need them. Travelers such as ourselves are ping'd as stingy and have their own seperate corners to wallow in where injured wallets alike bask in as close to local prices as any foreigner is allowed.
Turned out the Center Park doesn't allow cameras inside it but really, I think, we didn't fit the part so we settled upon some more public grounds across the street...near some bazaar brimming with cheap gaudy shiny things that don't kill the wallet but fail to impress a mind of class (such as my own). Of course, mind you, such bazaars often kill the wallet so hide the big bills and realize everything you buy is similar to the rubbage lining the streets.
So the new grassy knoll wasn't so grassy- I'd say closer to mud sprinkled with peach fuzz, so little peach fuzz that the broken bench leaning against the tree at the foot of it was all the most appealing.
It didn't take long for the hounders to come, the guys that don't distinguish from a sucker rich Westerner from a mostly frugal can't-use-your-services-mister-because-I'm-broke-broke-broke traveler such as yours truly. Oh sure, the first man offered me the cleanest ears in the world but my ears are fine thank you very much. I can't forget about that boy that promised to polish up charge free my..."very fine English, no, Canadian, no, American, yes, fine American leather shoes...just to look, clean for free because you've never cleaned them sir, I'll bet you that. Look at these scuffs this leather is sick and I must," because in his trade it's just plain hurtful to allow such inhumane treatment to go on.
"No thank you my friend I like them just fine and really it's kind of you to say we're a couple of movie stars but its the sunglasses friend. It's just the sunglasses."
By this time there was something of a hounders' convention about and they happened to choose a quiet broken bench to convene at, a familiar broken bench at the bottom of some peachy knoll. No doesn't go. No it doesn't.
After reading for fun the odd scriptures of tourists of yesteryear that the ear cleaner touted about as a fine trophy, that is a testament to his "doctor-like" skill, my ears began to itch. Well, maybe a chance for a funny picture and something to write about. I broke the confident heritage of noes, the fine fortifications that we had built, by inquiring to how much an ear cleaning costs these days.
"You're not getting your ears cleaned!"
Yes, mam, yes Misha mam. You heard the lady and I must answer to somebody. Of course it was about that time that I felt something cold and peculiar probbing my left lobe. Dammit, here we go.
Misha take the camera and roll this please and by the way sir I'm a poor-boy so as long as you're happy when I am as you said things won't get difficult...
Who knew the gunk that was buried inside, clogging up the passageways of sweet melodies!?!? I tell you it made me sick when the dark mess of jerky looking loot came tumbling out with the fine maneuvering of Raj's spoony-looking thing. Made Misha sick too, so now she was thinking her ears needed cleaned. Luckily there aren't shortages of hounders. Soon we had a convoy moving on up the hill to catch the last bit of sun and my ears were tickling with the sensation of cleanliness.
Of course about the time we were done, still kicking away the shoe cleaners even after their (a father and two sons now) unwarranted attempts while having my ears cleaned (man hounders prey on the weak), they dropped the bag that they were looking for Rs1000. Sure convert it now and we've got $20 but damn that's money going the distance for us and something I plain didn't have. I told him Rs100 and he'd be happy but, "...no, no, no, 1000!" I said that's generous but my stomach was churning because I got one reaction to being suckered and that's a concoction of unadulterated anger with all it's surprises and the oddly paradoxical uneasiness of a child in trouble without his mommy.
I grabbed my belongings and looked to Misha for support, after-all she's part Israeli and they don't put up with shit. Her ears weren't as clean as mine because she didn't hear the numbers, but the man wasn't done with her yet. I drooped over like some puppy who shamefully pee'd the rug and mumbled to her that my guy was hounding for something way more than we had.
She looked over with pure disdain and put a show on that I haven't seen the likes of. First it was anger mixed with projected shaming to the convention and their tactics, then the magic, the reddening eyes, the short hiccup breaths, and boy did those hounders retreat!
"It's okay mam, 100 is fine. Very nice. Thank you. Everything is fine."
And I was holding back laughter as I padded this injured soul, watching those touts back up and scram, retreat to some old business man who doesn't care about money and hasn't the emotional complexities to cry in public.
I stood there happy to be free from conflict as a nervous happy ear-cleaner assured us of his love to negotiate his rate with the financially deprived.
Cleaned ears and hassle free, not two minutes later, Misha laughed and so did I...of course until thoughts of this stratagem exercised against me prevailed so I was hearing madness's laughter and power at work and suddenly I shook, took her bags and became a tad more chivalrous...

-sam

Friday, February 20, 2009

Thursday, February 19, 2009

New Delhi 1

We arrived safely after a 24hr transit, leaving us nothing but exhausted. After mazing through Main Bazar in Paharganj and checking out a good deal of below thrilling hostels we settled into deep sleep at the Hare Rama Guest House. It's...clean...and...cozy...and...comfortable? Well the roof lounge is awesome! The first meal were Dosas and we spent the rest of our time navigating through alleys of cows, traffic (people, animal, rickshaw - auto and bike, cars, and some vehicles I didn't know existed), and all the goodies of discount travel. The plan is sleep and sightsee and get the hell out of New Delhi. I promise that the rest of the posts will be more entertaining but right now typing is feeling arduous.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Last Day in Israel

So today is Tuesday, February 17, 2009. After little planning and varied levels of excitement, we're finishing up the business at hand. The last couple of days have been spent stocking up on free food (courtesy of Misha's...family and "family") and translating the Hebrew itinerary from flyeast.co.il. We've said our goodbyes and are looking forward to whatever it is we're getting ourselves into.

The Itinerary:
Meet at Arozolov Train Station, Tel Aviv - 630am
See the security guard by the tree by the red box. Meet group there with 4NIS each.

Bus to Amman, Jordan - should arrive at airport by noon
Flight from Amman to Bahrain - 330pm - 630pm
Layover in Bahrain - 630pm - 1100pm
Flight from Bahrain to New Delhi - 1130pm - 5am

(remember the timezones change)

Once in New Delhi we are headed straight to a hostel. That will put us at February 19, 2009. The airline is Gulf Air.