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Megs and Kev hit India
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Not long to go now!!

Wellington, New Zealand

Only 8 days to go before we jet off, getting excited now. Think we have everything organised.

Thought we set up this travel blog so everyone can read what we get up to, see where we travel on the map and maybe if we work out how to upload photos you can see those as well.

permalink written by  megankevin on January 25, 2007 from Wellington, New Zealand
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Not long now

Wellington, New Zealand

Only one sleep to go, if we haven't packed it now we have to buy it!, I'm sure it be cheaper in India anyway. Thanks for all your good wishes and speak to you on the other side!

permalink written by  megankevin on February 2, 2007 from Wellington, New Zealand
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Arrived in India!

Delhi, India

Arrived in Delhi in the early hours of the morning - the horns started before we even left the airport!! There was traffic everywhere - even at 4am. Auto-rickshaws, bikes, buses, cars, pedestrians - the lot! the driving consists of honking and swerving! Indians have the most amazing spatial skills ever!! it's totally nuts - but it totally works!

You can see all the prep for the Commonweatlth games in 2010 - new metro lines above the roads are being built everywhere (dunc, you'd love it!). They've obviously made a huge effort to plant heaps of trees too - although they don't look too well...

As we drove through the streets leading to our hotel, we did actually think that maybe a bomb had gone off - lots of them in fact - the place is rubble and dirt, people laying under bankets and dogs roaming. Hotel room very spacious and comfortable - though a little smelly! hehe..

Feeling good!

Woke up to sound of horns (its Sunday morning, is it never not rush hour!). Now have to be brave and venture outside. But first we can have breakfast in the Hotel so we don't have to leave just yet.

Our first experience of food in India interesting, has buffet which is a mixture of European and Indian delights which we weren't sure what they were but tried them anyway. Tea urn pours out tea which already has milk and alot of sugar in it.

Left the hotel and within the few mintues walk to the metro station we had at least 3 beggers which we ignored like professionals. Streets are not so dirty once they are full of the markets and people and traffic.

Metro is very cheap only 8 Rs which is about 25c. As its all new its very clean and efficient and I think its better than the London Underground.

Went to the Red Fort - big and impressive. Got an auto rickshaw there - which is definitely an experience - experiencing the crazy driving realy up-close and personal!

Got even closer to death on the bike-rickshaw on the way to the Ghandi Monument - all FUN!

then using the pedestrian mode we crossed four roads to get to Gandhi museum - wee hee - you really know you're alive!! Really enjoyed museum - even had bullet he was shot with!

Cruised around a bit, caught up with the rest of the tour in evening - all seem nice - phew! two other English, 2 Austrian and 6 Aussies......Went out for tea with couple of student Aussies.

5 Feb
Started the tour proper this morning - with a crazy as local bus ride across Delhi. the sights on the way are indescribable - and even the photo's don't do any of it justice. We went to the Muslim temple, then through a mad maze of alley ways, markets - so skinny - but that doesn't stop cars, motorbikes, rickshaws and hundreds of people using them! the wires above are....scary....but the monkeys jumpin all around them seem to be doing alright!

We to the Sikh temple - which feed 10,000 people a day - for free! Megan rolled a roti for one of them.

riskshawed our way to the Spice Market - which had everyone coughing and spluttering. back on the bikes to cross town to another metro station and then back to the centre of Delhi - Connaught Place.

Chillin, shopping and eating our way to 9 this evening - when we head to the train station...and no Delhi Belly to report as yet!!

permalink written by  megankevin on February 4, 2007 from Delhi, India
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Going down the Ganges

Mirzapur, India

The train station at Delhi was mad - so many people and all pushing to get where they're going. the train, when it finally arrived, was so long - and we were at the other end to our sleeper carriages!! made it through the bustle finally and found our beds for the night - bunks three high.

The train is really smooth and quiet, but still only managed a few hours sleep. Drinks people come through constantly once the suns up - chai, nescoffee....

The small town of Mirzapur we arrived in was mental! Decided to get a couple of rooms for the hour we were there - so we could all shower (for the last time in three days) and have some brekkie. Was well worth it.

The streets remind you of a unicef ad - there is rubble everywhere, noise, poor people and lots of little kids. Really amazing and quite surreal.

Arrived at the boats. We weren't quite sure what to expect, but I don't think it was this - three boats (four of us on each) and two skinny wee guys rowing us and all of our luggage for 48Kms a day (for three days). Basically you just lay on the boat 9about 1/4 mtr from water - and watch this amazing Ganges world go by!! People bathing, washing, living, everything!! About 10 mins out we saw a boat load of people offload a body wrapped in muslin cloth into the river. A little later we passed a dead horse and then a pair of legs decomposing in the water! Meanwhile the rowers kept on taking drinks of water from the river!! Guide reckons there faith in the 'Mother Ganges' stops them from being ill.

Had a separate kitchen boat, so we all stopped together and had a lovely lunch - the food is great all veggie.

Stopped up for the night about 5.30pm and put up tents on a sand dune in the middle of the river - amazing. Sat around drinking chai then had another lovely meal by candle light. Went to bed about 9pm as still tied from not sleeping on the train. Kev yelled in his sleep and Megan screamed and scared the shit out of everyone in the camp.

7th Feb

Opened tent to amazing outlook - man in his fishing boat crusing slowing down the Ganges

Had brekkie then took of for another day of lazing around on a boat. Today is much colder though.

Stopped in a little village which was very basic and went into a temple and a school. The kids were very cute. Megan took a photo and all the kids run at her straight away as they wanted to see themselves on the camera. Some little kids were sitting around outside didn't know what was going on. Apparently we were only the second group of westerners to ever go in there.

Went to a mans house (must of been rich as he had a car and a tractor and he also had a bike in his lounge) He played us some music on this type of piano accordian thing. He was singing away but it sounded awful, the sounds had good meanings but they all sounded the same and he woundn't stop. Then one of our boat dudes was we only have 5 mins and started clapping so we could get out of there.

All the village followed us on the way back to the boats and tried conversing with us.

Saw dolpins on the Ganges, can't believe they can survive in that water.

Camped up in a similar place as the night before and had dinner, this time it also included hot chips!

permalink written by  megankevin on February 6, 2007 from Mirzapur, India
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Varanasi, India

Got up early and still cold and wet, Megan did some yoga breathing with the guide. Headed of on the boats again for the last leg, the rowers must be really tired one has a big blister on his hand.

Our boat arrived at Varanasi about 2pm, shit everywhere, people just come down to the river to do a dump!! this is definitely a 'shit' beach!

Walked to our hotel which wasn't far, and back to the traffic and beeping, difference this time is there is also cows wandering around.

Was very exicted about having a hot shower, but no luck as only cold water, then no water at all and Kev had to rinse himself from a dribble of water from the tap.

Went into busy market in Old Varanasi the went to ghats. Kids trying to sell postcards and beggars all over the place. Went to ghat where they burn the dead. They do between 100 and 200 a day!

Had drinks at hotel in the Austrians room (2 chicks from tour). Hadn't been able to drink for the past few days (on the Holy river) so they went down well and conversation was definitely flowing!! Couldn't drink in hotel restaurant (have to be at least 250 mtrs from river) so after a quick bite down there it was back up to the room for more!!

9 Feb

Woke up to the sound of more beeping! still no hot water, bvut Kev got more than a dribble this time at least.

Caught rickshaws to Buddhist Temple (where Buddha stopped on his way to enlightenment - or some shit). The temple itself was not that exciting, but our self-employed guide was quite amusing! attached himself to us and then demanded money at the end... oh well, it only works out a couple of dollars..

Spent a lot of the afternoon at a Tailors. We all sat on matrsesses on the floor surrounded by stacks of fabric. The tailor talked to us all about how the fabric was made and dyed and printed. It was really interesting - as was trying on various designs - and purchasing!!! A couple of skirts for Megan and a couple of shirts for Kev will be awaiting us when we return to Delhi! very cheap.

That night we went out on the river again for a flower ceremony. We had musicians - a sitar and a drum player - they were ok.....again , I wouldn't buy the CD he tried to sell us.

We made wishes as we sent off marrigolds in we leaf bowls with candles in them. It looked so beautiful as it got really dark. If some of them made it a way down the ghats some of those wishes may come true!

had tea that night in a nepalise rooftop restaurant (bc you can drink there), except Megan had Chicken Enchilladas!

10 Feb

Went into town with James and Tracey (English couple). The rickshaw ride and the road into town are unbelievable. potholes everywhere, round-abouts which everyone ignores and cows everywhere! it's absolutely filthy and mad - but really exhilerating!! this is a place where you truely know you're alive. Every time we venture out we take our lives into our hands it feels like - but actually it all works very well and there's only a few accidents and no road rage!!

Walked along Ghats again, but this time headed into the old town which is full of markets in alleyways. You feel as though you've stepped back in time thousands of years. It is filthy, but there's so much going on you don't really notice - cept when you stand on a pooh!

The whole time we had this wee boy following us - trying to coax us into his uncle's solk shop! they don't know the meaning of 'no' here!

When we finally found our way out of the maze we checked out some of the more 'local' ghats with people doing their washing hard out and just living.

headed off for overnight train at 4.30pm - played cards and drank 'special' coke, fanta and lemon drink. (had to put that whisky and vodka somewhere!)

There were a newly-wed couple in the bunk next to us - what a way to start your life together!! They didn't appear to really know each other anyway....

permalink written by  megankevin on February 8, 2007 from Varanasi, India
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Taj Mahal

Agra, India

Took our second overnight train from Varanasi, arriving only 3 and a half hours late to Agra.

Streets are very dirty and there's obviously been a lot of rain - there is water everywhere. there are people and animals and rubbish everywhere too. It's a bit of a dreary day and megan's fluey, so probably not the best impressions! Had breakfast on the rooftop restaurant at the hotel which has a view of the Taj! Very exicitng, much bigger than we thought it would be.

Went to another Red Fort, this one is more impressive than the one in Delhi. It is huge and more intact. Our tour guide had lots of interesting Maharaja stories.

After lunch we went to the Taj Mahal! Its just WOW as up close it is even bigger and more impressive, pictures don't do it justice. Took heaps of photos even got one on the Princess Di bench (we think).

Made our way through the numerous touts selling snowglobes, postcards and mini chess sets, to this flash 5 star hotel. It was out of this world and we felt quite special sitting on the balcony having a drink with the Taj in the background and a man with a flag going round the hotel shooing the pigeons!

Megan stayed at the hotel as was sick and Kevin went out to dinner with the others in the group. Some of the guys had turns driving the rickshaws, very amusing.

permalink written by  megankevin on February 10, 2007 from Agra, India
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Pink (Terracotta) City

Jaipur, India

Took a 6 hour bus ride from Agra and arrived in Jaipur mid arvo. Journey not too bad, still lots of beeping on the main roads. Couldn't see what the driver was beeping at as he had a curtain blocking the view out the windscreen - probably a good thing.

Leaving Agra, we had the wonderful sight of lots of people having there morning poo - in any space available.

The accomodation in Jaipur was very nice and we finally had a hot shower. Chilled out for a bit and then went to see how carpets are made. The guy was very funny as he sounded just like Borat. We must have been convinced as we bought one - maybe the rum and cokes Borat gave us helped us with our decision!

Caught cycle-rickshaws back from dinner that night which is alway an experience - we tipped the guy well as we think he was worried about the wear on his tyres.

It seems every town we visit just adds another animal or two to the traffic - here there are also camels and elephants!

13 Feb

Got up early and headed to this small centre called Ladli, which helps the children of Jaipur, giving them skills in jewellery making and teaching them. They help about 300,000 children every day in various ways. YOu just can't believe the things these girls have had to endure.

We bought a whole lot of their jewelery - which was actually very good.

We caught a local mus up to another Fort - this one had lots of ddetail still intact - mirror rooms and really interesting architecture - they had some good ideas about aircon back then!

the hills surrounding were lined with old walls and turrets - must be alot like the Great Wall I reckon.

After lunch we decided to brave the shops - and put on our haggling hats!! It was heaps of fun and on the whole I think we did ok - got most of the things we bought below 50% of the original asking price. Did end up with a whole lot of stuff we proabably didn't need to buy - but hey!

In the evening we headed out to a Bollywood movie - Megan was stoked! It was really good, and you could follow most of it pretty well - the blokes weren't too impressed though and did try to sneak to the pub at half time!!

permalink written by  megankevin on February 11, 2007 from Jaipur, India
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Roopangarh Fort

Kishangarh, India

Kishangarh is the closest place on the map - we are actually futher into rural Rajasthan - about 1 hour by jeep.

Roopangarh Fort is the coolest!! It is really old, like stepping back in time, and has been converted into an hotel. We were very impressed with the exterior, but you should have seen our faces when we saw our rooms!! They were amazing. Our room was as big as a tennis court, with really cool old furniture, wall hangings, swords, photo's.....All the rooms were different, and all with their own charm. We spent the early afternoon lunching outside, drinking a few bevvies and playing a game of cricket!! Megan's team won! The staff loved it. PLayed a bit of tennis on the court too. Beautiful hot day, amzing scenery, great company!

We took a walk around the local village, checking out what the locals do and how they live. Each caste and house has it's own industry basically, so we watched four being milled, sewing being done, carpentry, ribbon making, cigarette making!! The people of the village were so happy and friendly - and all the kids chased us around asking for 'one photo'. it was cool.

We were back to the Fort in time for sunset - up on the roof! Perfect.

We spent the rest of the evening outside, eating, drinking, talking shit.. sat around a big fire the waiters built for us. Aussie Ang and Megan did a wonderful bollywood dance up on one of the balconies!

Once it got really late - just after midnight - a few of us headed into the really old part of the Fort (about 400 years old). It was really dark and scary - especially when one of the guys kept hiding and jumping out of strange places!

Once we were up the top of the fort Megan told the tale of the Maharaja, and choosing his 12 virgin brides.....and the others who weren't picked and had to then burn themselves on the pyre (the waiters had turned up half way through to light us another fire!).. It was very funny! Great night had by all! Especially English James, who didn't appear until the trucks were ready to leave the next day and then spent the next two days in bed!!

permalink written by  megankevin on February 13, 2007 from Kishangarh, India
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Camel ride in the desert

Pushkar, India

It was very sad to leave the Fort. It was such a neat place and we'd had so much fun there. We headed off late morning for Pushkar - and our new form of transport - a camel!!

The two hour jeep ride was a bit rough, but the country side is beautiful! it's very rural and brown, but the people make up for the lack of colour by wearing really brightly coloured clothes - and massive smiles!

Pushkar is a very religous place - they'll be no alcohol (prob good), meat, eggs or fish for the next couple of days! There is a small lake here surrounded by ghats and temples. We got a good view of this from the roof top restaurant we ate at. There are lots of tourists - heaps of whom are Israeli. They all dress very hippy, and it feels like Thailad or something. Poeple come here for the 'special' Lassi, but we've been warned off this potent drink.

THe town itself is a lot smaller than others we've visited and much more quiet. Not a honk in earshot!!

After lunch it was a short walk to our camels! arrrghhhhh. Once you're on them it's ok - it's the getting on and off that is terrifying! Especially for Megan who had a big metal bike pointing directly at her front bum! After a good couple of hours 'on-board' we were ready for tera firma!

The camel dudes set up our camp ( a massive tent for all of us to sleep under) while we enjoyed another sunset - this time surrounded my desert, small farms and grass huts. just beautiful.

We sat around the fire while the camel dudes collected our food from some local houses. Everyone was very quiet - still recovering from the big night!

When dinner did finally come, it was...interesting.....very tough and hot. dunno. didn't have seconds!

The tent was cosy, but definitely not comfortable, as there were no matresses. A group of dogs fought all night just outside.

16 Feb

Got up ealryish - although not early enough as most of the others had gone off for a morning walk up a nearby hill....bummer. Had another interesting meal - porridge and toast this time - although we've never had porridge like that before...

One of Megan's shoe's had gone walk-about and the fear was that the dogs had had it for dinner! luckily it had just got caught up in the tent door. phew - it's her only pair.

After brekkie it was back on the camels...and the scary metal pole! Alot more comfortable with the whole thing today and Kev looks quite the pro, especially wearing his camel dudes bright Orange turban the whole trip back!!

We spent most of the morning sitting around the pool at the hotel - heaven!! Would've been perfect if you could order beer!

Had a little walk around town - mainly markets selling loads of clothes and scarves. Very colourful and the shop people don't seem to hassle us much at all.

Had a really nice dinner with the group ad it's our last night we'll be able to do this. Sat by the ghats, which look much prettier by night. Everyone seems knackered - it's been a busy and amzing trip - and most of us have also had a bit of the flu at one time or another. Happy to report there's been no Delhi belly though!! wee hee.

17 Feb

Slept in a bit and then went wandering into town. Had a really big brekkie and spent all our money on little nik-naks! panicked a bit when the only ATM in town didn't accept our card, but managed to change some TChqs in some dodgy wee office..

Caught the train from Ajmer to Dehli at about 3.30pm - 'Sitting A/C'. It was very comfortable and the food was never-ending!! After we first got on they brought around tea and biscuits, then they brought a sandwhich and fried Indian thing (and more tea), then it was tomato soup and bread sticks, then this big dinner with rice and dhal and all sorts!! Then came yoghurt and finally they served icecream! it was incredible - we're wondering what the plane food will be like now!!

permalink written by  megankevin on February 14, 2007 from Pushkar, India
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Back to Delhi

Delhi, India

Arrived in Delhi at about 11pm. The honking is back!! cool to come back when you're much more accustomed to India! It doesn't seem half as hectic or dirty as when we first arrived - only 2 weeks ago!!

Some electrical probs with the original hotel so had to stay at another one. Had one last drink in the Austrians room - and said good-byes to those leaving the following day. it's really sad saying bye when you've just shared some amazing experiences, but I think we'lll definitely catch up with a few of them in the near future.

18 Feb

And here we are! Finally catching up on this blog and chilling out!

Then we went to Qutb Minar which is a big tower thing built about 700 years ago, amazing that it is still in good condition and still standing. It was quite a big trip on the auto-rickshaw and the driver was determined to take us to some overpriced shops on the way back, no matter how many times we said no he still took us there. Looks like all auto-rickshaws take their customers there as there were lots of them outside.

Went out for the last supper with the remaining tour members. Had quite a few Kingfishers to celebrate.

When we first got into Delhi 2 weeks ago we met someone called John who said he was a student. He took us to a travel agent that a friend of his from Australia used as they were good and didn't rip you off. We booked three nights accommadation in Goa there (which we didn't go there for) then after talking to the other group members about what they paid its sound like we got ripped of and it was a scam. Anyhow on the last supper one of the Austrian chicks had befriended someone called John who was a businessman and arranged to meet her (and us) at the restaurant we were at, we joked about how it could be the same John, and it was! He didn't stay long enough for us a quiz him, he made his excuses and left pretty quickly. It was very funny and bizarre in a city of 12 million plus.

19 Feb

That's it for the group - we're now 'independent' travellers!! Off to Mumbai!

permalink written by  megankevin on February 17, 2007 from Delhi, India
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