Sunday, 25 March 2007

First Installment (22 March)

Not really knowing how shattered Paul was going to be when he finished his trial we booked the first few days in India as Rich Tourist. Airport pickup, car with AC, tour guides etc. It certainly made settling in to the chaos a little easier.

In Delhi for the first couple of days we saw a huge Mosque, an ancient pillar of sorts, Gandhi's assassination and cremation site, market, hawkers and more cows than you can shake a stick at. Possibly the funniest moment in all of it, aside from a cycle rickshaw going the wrong way into 'four lane' traffic, was when a man was talking to us, unbelievably not trying to sell anything and asked "So where in New Zealand are you from - Hamilton or Timaru?".

Making a new friend at Jama Masjid

Boys at the mosque

The crazy driver who took us into oncoming traffic

Our next stop was in Agra for a day or so. In addition to the usual things, the Red Fort (pretty), rug shops (we were restrained) and the Taj at sunset (stunning) we happened to stumble upon the first day of a Hindu festival. From our terrace restaurant we had a great view of all the floats (covered jeeps), coloured horses, brass bands, dancing, flashing lights. Of course as fate would have it I'd left my camera at the hotel and there's no visual record, then again no photo could capture the absolute noise or mayhem. Getting lost in the middle of it to get back was a definite highlight.

Taj at sunset

Paul and Amy at the Taj

Yesterday was a day of travel (Agra Delhi Hydrabad and finally Chennai), and time for the holiday to stop and for the travel / poor tourist to begin. The plan had been to stay the night and then venture to Mahabalipuram in the morning but two non-psycho-killer looking German guys asked us at the airport if we wanted to share a taxi down here last night and it seemed like a good idea.

Mahabalipuram is about 60km out of Chennai on the coast and was badly hit in the tsunami (all the boats on the beach were launched in 2005/6, and one of the cafes has a mark showing where the sea came through). We have had a very pleasant day here, breakfast from the local markets, lots of time on the beach, checking out ancient temples, more loitering on the beach and a bit of haggling with the locals.

Paul enjoying the beach

The Five Rathas

Shore Temple

Amy at the Croc Bank

Our new friend on the beach

Not too sure what the plan is from here... Pondy is looking good. Might just need to head back to the beach to ponder...

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