Cant quite believe that a whole months gone already and indias over! We're now in Singapore which was originally supposed to be a stop over but since our flight to thailands cancelled we are slightly stranded here until we can negotiate a bus or train which we're going to sort out tomorrow. we miss india already but its a nice change to be in a developed country- the drive from the airport was a lot less exciting than any in india, we couldnt quite believe that the taxi had seatbelts! and stuck to lane markings! and understood what traffic lights meant! we decided we loved singapore even more when we saw our hostel which we had booked through sta before we came. its really modern with an amazing pool on the roof and free internet and coffee!!
Anyway back to our last week in India. The last couple of days in McLeod Ganj were spent chilling and doing what we do best- shopping, and as it turns out what we definately dont do best- yoga. The stiffness the morning after was even worse than after the camels (and that is really saying something!) The yoga man took everything so seriously and we tried desperately not to laugh as he told us to rellllaaaaxx our pancreas and gall bladders. dont even know where my pancreas is let alone how to relax it! the groin crunches were also a particular favourite of his. i think he was quite glad to see the back of us, considering we sniggered though a lot of the class, had to have a lot of private tuition and occasionally rolled onto/kicked the other members of the class (who were all a lot more experienced and took it a lot more seriously). As for shopping, lets just say becca nearly had a fit of happiness when she saw the sign for topshop. unfortunately it turned out to be a stall sellign toothpaste, toilet roll and the like. gutted.
we also did a proper trek, well by our standards anyway, up to a sacred lake which turned out to be infested by tacky swan shaped pedlos which we learnt were very popular amongst the youth of india. we unsurprisingly avoided them after learning from past experience. had an amazing picnic sat on the side of a mountain overlooking the himalayas with no one else in sight.
on the last night we decided that it was about time we went out for a drink and headed for McLlos- about as happening as it gets in McLeod Ganj. Met quite a few interesting characters here and sampled the pear wine (disgusting). A hammered bloke kept trying to strike up conversations with us with lines such as "the arch bishop of canterbury has a ginger beard- just like yours" (pointing to beccas hair- i think u can imagine beccas face at this remark). he had also apparently been in a film with joan collins but didnt know what it was called or what it was about strangely enough. to top it all off when the waiter came over to explain he couldnt have his order of chicken tikka masala (it was half 11 by this point) he ordered "rumble tumble eggs"- turned out he meant scrambled. Also met a few australian guys here who hace given us loads of advice for australia.
On Friday we said an emotional farewell to Mcleod ganj and against all the odds managed to catch our 4 oclock in the morning bus to amritsar. wasnt long before we had left our nice little bubble that was dharamsala- the bus driver did a u turn going round a blind corner and reversed into a car twice and we went past a sign that instead of warning to keep slow coz of the rediculously dangerous road instead had a photo of a deer and the slogan- "nurture your animals, they give us love and purity." another favourite was "tree is life, grow more trees". quite amusing if slightly surreal at 5 in the morning.
met some guys on the bus who were also staying in the golden temple and they took it upon themselves to look after us. just as well really since there was no way we would have been able to retrieve our bags from the roof of the bus, they weigh about 3 tonnes each.
amritsar was a late addition to our itinerary but we're really glad we did it, one of our favourite places so far. The golden temple is the sikhs holiest temple which houses the guru granth sahib (holy book). coz the sikhs are big on equality and helping others they let travellers and pilgrims stay in the dorms in the temple and eat in the 24 hour kitchen for free. although the dorm beds were esentially planks of wood with matresses and we were shoved in the corridor, it was definately an experience and it was great for meeting other travellers. spent alot of our time just wandering round the lake in front of the temple which had an amazing atmosphere. was the worst yet for flocking crowds and there was one point where we had such a big queue of people waiting for photos with us that we had to be moved on by crowd control (no seriously, a guy who worked there told us we were blocking the way). we made the most of the free kitchen, the food was actually quite good considering they make it for 20,000 people every day. the only way we can descibe the experience is the biggest and most confusing school dinner u will ever have. we felt we should do our bit to help and some of the travellers we met said they were going to help make chapattis so we went to join them. unfortunately we werent trusted with chapattis so instead we ended up shelling peas from their pods for half an hour. was a slighly surreal moment sat on the floor with loads of cross legged men in turbans tearing peas apart. after this got tedious we decided that washing up looked fun. it wasnt. far more serious affair than you would imagine, becca had a rather stern woman stood next to her grabbing plates from here hands when she wasnt scrubbing hard enough and there was alot of sly splashing going on.
since we were quite sore from the wooden bed experience and had the prospect of a sleeper train the next night, on saturday we decided to splash out and stay in a luxury hotel. we did a spot of hotel shopping, felt good to ask them if the suite was available although we did get a lot of what the hell are you doing here type looks. we dont think 3 girls in backpacks and aladdin pants are their usual clientele. the room we finally fell in love with had a balcony with a view of the temple, 2 king sized beds with 2 pillows each (pretty exciting after a month of sharing one small double which often consisted of 2 singles of different heights- not great for the poor sod stuck in the middle) and not just a shower but also a BATH!! amazing. spent a few very content hours lounging on our beds reading free magazines (becca got vogue!!) watching our wide screen tv. we worked out that this actually cost us the same amount as peacock resort i pushkar aka live wires and hairy fridge.
were brought back down to earth with a bump when we discovered our sleeper train was also home to a family of mice who spent the night running across the compartment between hannah and lauras bags.shared our compartment with a couple of extremely impressive snorers and a baby whose mother thought it would be appropriate to sing london bridge is falling down to until midnight.
our final delhi experience was much improved and we've now grown quite attached. this had a lot to do with the discovery of the backpackers area and the shops that went with this. we are also slightly embarassed to admit that not only was our first ever emal in india in pizza hut but our last lunch was in subway although we did have a great indian for tea. we thought since it was our last day in india we should get henna so we're now all sporting various body art ready for us hitting the beach (if we ever get there!).
as usual things dont really go according to plan with us 3 but we should hopefully be in thailand within 2 or 3 days provided that they bypass our lack of visa but thats a story for another time.
thanks for all the kind messages about the problems in india and thailand. we know that we've been incredibly lucky, weve met one guy who was staying in the taj when it was bombed and kept prisoner there for 3 days. not a nice story, think he was looking forward to getting out the country. we really really appreciate all the help and advice everyones given us. we like to think we can do it by ourselves but really we love it when we get a little extra help from everyone at home. cheers ellen, that was quite an impressive monologue hope you get well soon and we cant wait to see you!
hopefully the next time weget in touch will be from thailand!! having problems with the photos but will get some sorted from thailand we promise
love to all, xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx