Well, our last day in India....
I'm really sad - would have loved to have ventured further north but will have to be for next time.... (altho i suspect it will be with Simon's ma or my pa cos no one else seems remotely interested anymore...!)
Since my last entry we have seen and done a whole lot more - for anyone coming to India, Aurangabad (for the Ajanta and Ellora caves) and Jodhpur and Udaipur are a must. Having said that I understand that Udaipur can be very ordinary if the monsoons are bad and the lake is empty!
We met some wicked Aussie travellers in Aurangabad - cousins Jade and Craig who'd done their final six week med student placements in a state hospital in Chennai - and Lucille, Craig's fiancee who had come to meet them at the end. The stories they told (and digi pics.. ugh) made me VERY determined not to get sick in India. Especially get pregnant. Especially carry to term and deliver (they were in the ob/gyn ward). YIK YIK YIK!
some pics (mine of Aurangabad, not theirs of women delivering and other such delights!) will follow as soon as i get to Hanoi. have given up trying to load photos. it makes me angry. and India does that quite well enough all by its little (okay, very very large) self.
Rajisthan is awesome! Jodhpur fort is incredible, and Udaipur is really nice and laid back. Jaipur is, however, (you'll be used to this word by now) a hole. sigh. a total great big stinky hole.
While we were there we decided in a moment of sickness tiredness and general get me the hell out of here-edness to see if we could move our flights forward. The one thing that words well, easily and without a hitch in India is the singapore airlines desk in Delhi, god bless them! free change of flight five days earlier and all done instantly. Hurrah! We were Agra (and Tah Mahal) bound, then to Delhi and out.
I later came to regret that decision - once my cold had passed I would have loved to have gone further north but for S our departure couldn't be quick enough!!!
Agra is AWFUL. (Except for the Taj, oh, and the fort is okay ;o)) but otherwise it is the worst place in India for hassles, people driving at you and random kids cyling past muttering "b****" unprovoked. Still, it is a must see and do.
We also went to Fatepur Sikri which is fabulous.
Now. Delhi. It astounds me that people bang on about Delhi being full on. Its India, sure so there are occasional pushy touts and the usual raging hormonal males, but its a great city! Its so much cleaner than Cairo and a million times less chaotic. And I loved Cairo. It was even fine for me to wander around on my own. Simon had managed to get an awful allergic reaction to something that made him look like he had measles (or the plague, if you were to listen to him). I am highly suspicious and keep looking for red pens, it coincided oh so conveniently with the Ashes.... ;o)
So that is that - Singapore for a few nights then on to Thailand for detox and diving...
Musings and more tips
I think that travellers in India and tourist people are bad for each other, bad for Indian tourism and bad for blood pressure generally on all sides.
Touts behave badly, tourists react, touts behave worse to the reactions, tourist rudeness escalates. The result: western tourists think India is awful, stressful, pushy, in your face, rip off blah blah blah. Indian locals on the other hand think westeners are rude, shouty, sweary, snobby people. Oh, and we all dress like slobs. Sigh.
And yet in almost every place if you leave the tourist drag you meet such wonderful people.
Worst moments: Passenger train. Shudder. (see previous entry re rats and cockroaches). Jaipur and Agra - kids deliberately swerving straight into you to watch you jump. The first whiff of urine. The rest of the whiffs of urine. Narrowly avoiding stepping in poo.
Best moments: never actually stepping in poo! meeting Ankita, a lovely girl from Agra on the train to Delhi who chatted with me the whole way. An insight into people who aren't involved in tourism and a reminder that all of humanity isn't doomed ;o) Everything we saw! Dinnertime. Lunchtime. Finding the book "holy cow" at a low point and reading it restoring my faith in my sanity - for what its worth!
Funniest moment (altho it wasn't at the time): watching my mild (okay, except when he plays sport) mannered boy turn into a ball of righteous anger, a true Samuel L Simon moment, complete with language. This was a response to the ninth person pushing in front of us and this (foolish, foolish man) not slinking back to the end of the queue as the others had previously. I will recount later to anyone interested. I'm not typing this out (actually am in Singapore and its probably illegal to here!)
Handling touts/sleases masquerading as adolescent males:
1. politely say no;
3. firmly say no;
4. crack out the "would you talk to your sister like that" (this can be taken further still - "do you talk to your sister like that? bet you do. Sister f*cker") - that is the worst insult of all in India. To be used v v sparingly but it is remarkably effective.
Don't assume that your ultra baggy long sleeved shapeless top from the gap is modest. Don't assume that your non-existent chest is a plus. The ONLY way to "hide" your boobs is to wear a dupatta. over whatever you're wearing. Its brilliant. You look like a twit but no one looks at you to notice it.
Buying train tickets:
The person who pushes in front of you is NOT joining a friend in the queue. He just doesn't give a cr*p that you've been waiting for millenia. He's more important. Do tap on the shoulder and tell them where to go. Or (see above) bring out the Samuel L jackson in you ....
Most importantly though, go to India, its an amazing, incredible country.
Hope everyone reading this is well! More soon