Friday 28th February
Chill day in Alleppey, spent the day giving myself a pedicure and sorting trips for coming months. Shirley arrived about 5pm and then we went out for some dinner.
Saturday 1st March
Another lazy day, had a lie in, did washing, sat out on my balcony reading, sorted trip to Egypt for end of April. Sat chatting to Mathew in the lounge whilst waiting for Shirley to return from her backwaters trip. We shared some pakoras and onion bhajis she picked up from a stall on her way back. Spent the evening reading and packing rucksack ready for the off on Sunday.
Sunday 2nd March
Went for late breakfast with Shirley, wandered back passing the alcohol wholesalers which had the most disorganised queue outside, must have been over 100 men all fighting to get into the shop and buy bottles of alcohol! The police were there trying to calm things down. The traffic could barely pass through the throng of people right across the road! Hilarious!
Finally reached Brown’s, checked out and said goodbye to Mathew. Jumped in a tuktuk with Shirley and headed to Alleppey train station. We bought 2 tickets in sleeper class for 60p each, thought as it was only an hour train ride we would slum it with the masses! Well turned out to be interesting! There were no seats so we walked to the front of the train and ended up standing in a small opening by the kitchen and toilets! Delightful mixture of aromas….piss and pakora!
I managed to stand by an open door for the hour in the breeze watching the keralan backwaters whizz by, occasionally interrupted by indians squeezing past me to lob leftover food and bones wrapped in newspaper out of the door onto the tracks.
When we arrived at Kochi train station we had a quick sit down and a drink to recover before jumping in tuktuk to the homestay. Some old codger took it upon himself to stare at us constantly then when I got up and put rucksack on he leant back in the seat and tried to push his head into my chest, unfortunately we had sussed him already and the only thing his head came into contact with was Shirley’s rucksack after she swung it at him for being a pervert!
We headed to our homestays for the night, Shirley was staying back at Costa Gama where we had stayed the week before. I had checked into another homestay just up the road called Dreamcatcher. In the evening I wandered up to the Tibetan restaurant to meet Shirley for dinner.
Monday 3rd March
Monday saw me having to set the alarm for 3.20am so I could get ready and walk down to Costa Gama to meet Shirley and the taxi at 4am.
Whizzed round to the domestic terminal of Kochi Airport and flew up to Delhi.
Arrived in Delhi and jumped in taxi to Shirley’s homestay in Saket area, once she had checked in we walked around to my room at the Trinity Art Hotel, also in Saket area.
After I had checked in we wandered over the road the PVR cinema square where there are loads of street food vendors and restaurants. We sat at a kebab stall and I had a paneer tikka wrap, which was amazing. We then wandered around the shops and stalls before finding dairy milk in the 24/7 supermarket!
Tuesday 4th March
Had to set the alarm again for 3.20am as Shirley and our driver were calling at 4am to pick me up. We then drove 3 hours to Agra, which was an experience….the rules of indian motorway driving are quite simple when you get the hang of it:
1. Ensure rear lights do not work so that in the morning fog the vehicle cannot been seen by approaching cars
2. Drive in the middle lane at all times even if nothing in the left hand lane
3. Overtake in any lane you like and ignore signs stating overtake on the right only
4. Have headlights on full beam at all times even when driving towards or behind other vehicles
Anyway we made it alive to the Taj Mahal, spent 2.5 hours wandering around before meeting the driver in the Mayan rooftop restaurant for some breakfast. Nothing like eating puri chapattis with potato curry and curd with the soundtrack of tooting horns!
We then drove past the Red Fort to the Baby Taj and spent 30 mins wandering around the gardens watching the water buffalo cross the Yamuna River below.
Our driver then took us back to Delhi where we witnessed a tuktuk stuffed full with indian men, so full in fact that one of them was standing on the back clinging to the roof as it hacked down the motorway at 50mph! Back in Delhi Shirley and I grabbed some late lunch and shopping before retiring for an early night.
Wednesday 5th March
Had a well-earned lie-in and met Shirley at 8.30am for a day sightseeing in Old Delhi. We wandered round to Saket metro station and jumped on the metro 15 stops to Chandni Chowk. We then wandered down the famous street of Chandni Chowk past the Sikh temple, the Jain temple and Mcdonalds! We crossed over the mental intersection where you just walk across 6 lanes of traffic hoping they all stop for you! Cycle rickshaws, tuktuks, motorbikes and buses all fighting to overtake each other! We went to the Red Fort for a wonder, we then walked to the Jama Masjid mosque and wandered around there for 20 minutes.
After we jumped into a tuktuk and went to Gandhi’s resting place and eternal flame. Next to this was a lush green peaceful park where the distant tooting horns and traffic were quelled! We sat chatting in the park for a couple of hours only being disturbed by a group of 4 young lads who wanted their photo taken with us for some college project on tourism! Find that somewhat dubious but as they were polite lads we indulged them!
We then flagged down a tuktuk and got him to drop us at New Delhi metro station so we could get the metro back to Saket. Shirley and I then had some late lunch and popped to 24/7 for emergency rations! Said goodbye to Shirley as she is now heading off back to Ireland, having finished her 4 weeks in India.
I am now about to embark on packing my rucksack up again ready for the off back to Kochi tomorrow. Got a 6am flight down to Kochi and then 3 days chilling round the pool before I join a 2 week tour of South India with Gadventures on Sunday.
Next 6 weeks will be hectic as on 3 x 2 week tours around India which are pretty much back to back! Still they will take me all over India from Kochi, Waynand, national parks, Munnar, Chennai, Pondicherry, Madurai, Delhi, Jaipur, Jodhpur, Jaisalmer, Bikaner, Pushkar, Udaipur, Agra, Varanasi, Amritsar, Shimla, Rishikesh, Mcleod Ganj and many others!