Friday, April 20, 2007
It all starts with a reservation. Easy? NO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Well, if you are not booking over the Internet (that brings it's own problems!) you have to scramble through the one open booking window for a reservation form. Why they don't leave them out still amazes me! I say this because there can be up to 60 people in loose form of a queue at any one time. Sim usually goes to get the form as ladies can usually walk straight up to the front.
Form obtained and your destination in mind, you now have to know the train number and station code to fill in the form. These can either be guessed, studied or obtained from helpful strangers or the person at the window but then you run the risk of all the irate people behind you while you ask your questions.
On the form you also have to supply your name, age and sex as well as your preferred travel class. There are up to 8 classes with some not available on certain trains, so a little bit of guesswork here too. As a rule, on overnight trains we choose Air-conditioned 3-tier (AC3).
AC3 provides seats by day, convertible to bunks at night. AC3 coaches are not divided into separate compartments, but are open-plan, with berths arranged in bays of six (two upper, two lower, two middle) on one side of the aisle, and in bays of two along the coach side above and below the windows on the other side of the aisle. It's lacks the privacy curtains and individual berth lights found in AC2 (one class up). An attendant distributes pillows, sheets and blankets in the evening.
On day trains, we usually choose sleeper class as its a little bit cheaper. This is the way most of the Indian population travels long-distance, and the majority of cars on a long-distance train will be sleeper class. Sleeper class consists of open plan berths with upper, middle and lower bunks arranged in bays of six on one side of the aisle, and along the coach wall in bays of two (upper and lower) on the other side of the aisle. Bedding is not provided and at night can be quite crowded (although in theory all berths must be reserved, so it can't get overcrowded), and it's fairly grubby and basic. On the other hand, you get a better view of the countryside then in AC coaches, where the windows are sealed, tinted, and sometimes dirty. In summer, there are fans on the ceiling and a breeze from the windows.
So anycase, class decided, you are back in the Q and handing in your form. Indian Railways have a unique system: After a train becomes fully booked, a set number of places in each class are sold as 'Reservation Against Cancellation' or 'RAC'. After all RAC places have been allocated, further prospective passengers are waitlisted. When passengers cancel, people on the RAC list are promoted to places on the train, and waitlisted passengers are promoted to RAC. What a system..! Otherwise, if you want to skip all of this you can always pay extra for something called Tatkal, which I think jumps ahead of all the people mentioned before? Another option is asking for Tourist Quota, something we do often but have never got so we are not sure if it exists!
For internet reservations, the same process is applied but no Qing, instead you get to try numerous times to book your ticket without the overloaded system booting you out.
So, ticket in hand, you are off to the station. Stations vary drastically with some being neat, clean with helpful staff or other being a smelly, overcrowded and noisy. All stations have hundreds off people, your normal tea stores, portable vending carts, your handful of stray dogs and numerous people sleeping and eating everywhere.
The train arrives and off you go to get your seat. If you do not have a reservation, it usually ends up in an almighty scramble to get on the train and secure a seat, so much so, most people try and get on before the train has even stopped!
Your train, coach and berth number will be printed on your ticket and the station master will print a reservation list for long-distance train and post them on the noticeboard at each station about two hours before departure. All passengers have an assigned seat or sleeping berth so there's no overcrowding. However, pristine western standards don't apply anywhere in India, but AC2, AC3 class fairly clean by Indian standards, with both western-style and squat toilets usually in a reasonably sanitary condition. On the other hand, Sleeper Class gets much grubbier than the AC classes and unreserved passengers can sometimes enter the coaches making it crowded. Toilets in sleeper class can leave a lot to be desired...
Having found your seat, there are wire hoops hanging down underneath the seats to which you can padlock your luggage. We do this as a norm. Safely on the train, comfortable in our seats we wait for departure.
Train journeys can be long, so you have to eat...
People in India have obviously grown accustomed to the long train journeys and usually come with a packed lunch, breakfast, dinner or snacks or all. Nothing here seems to be regarded as not-travel-friendly so sauces and curries get packed in small plastic bags and rice and chappaties in other containers. They are so jacked with the picnic plates with built-in compartments for the different parts of the meal. And then they tuck-in. The aroma of every carriage is indicative of all the foods this can happen as early as5am for breakfast. The plates and any other rubbish is simply tosssed out of the window with not a thought about the environment. India has a long way to go to start addressing its litter issue but in places like Ooty and Munnar there are huge signs that say 'no spitting, keep clean.' Hopefully this will gradually spread throughout the rest of India.
Available on every train is of course, chai (tea). The men come along singing: 'chai chai chai' or 'coffeeee cofffeeee cofffeeee.' These are more sugar than anything else and come in a tiny little cup. They also sell other things like fried veg patties, samoosas and more specific items (?) like colouring-in books and eucalyptus oil. Then there are the packaged meals which seem to be curry and bread of different sorts. We have had the veg rice on two separate occasions, served in a little tin foil contained and tasted okay with little consequences. Station food which is served at a pace at each stop, with men running through the carriage or shouting through the window to sell their item.
The train also serves its own food but we have been warned to stay away from it. It has recently been referred to on the news as inedible and dangerous with a large amount of it being prepared in the slums!
Having eaten, rested and half awake - you dont get much sleep with 70 other people burping, snoring and running up and down to the toilet, you arrive at your destination. You are now ready to find your hotel, but first, its back to the rickshaw/taxi drivers to get there..
Ps. I hope you are feeling tired after reading all of this... imagine actually living it!
Thursday, April 19, 2007
From Munnar -> Ooty -> 24 hours of Movement -> Hampi -> Toilet Timeshare (goa) and then to Rishikesh.
All are updated below.
Thanks for understanding and sorry!
Wednesday, April 18, 2007
Goa's Anjuna market, Sim in hiking mode, another pic from the hike.
Train accomodation in 3 Tier sleeping, Ant having a shave and women preparing to swim in the Ganges.
Last, but by no means least, India described in one image...
Rishikesh is a small town in the northern state of Uttaranchal in India. Popularly adored for its scenic beauty dotted besides the holy Ganges river, Rishikesh is traditionally known as the spiritual and yoga capital of the globe. From the music legends like The Beatles to new age celebrities like Kate Winslet - everyone wants to come down to this city of Yogi's and Temples.
Rishikesh is also the Gateway to the Himalayas - and for us, Himalayas meant 'cool', so off we went.
This small town is the point where the holy Ganges exits the Himalayas. The banks are lined with ashrams, where saints and holy people live, most of them surviving on donations from others. Rishikesh is the lap of Hindu philosophy and learning and signs of religious rituals can be seen all over Rishikesh – in the numerous temples lining the banks of the Ganga and more so in the people that walk the streets everyday.
The small streets are littered with holy men, (sacred) cows, lots of cow sh1t and the odd mix of yoga'd up foreigners. It was very peaceful and different to most other places we have been in India with less hassling, touting and hard sells.. so really a pleasure for us.
Everyday we would walk around through the small lanes taking in the sights and sounds. At all times during the day people would be dunking themselves in the river, cleansing themselves in the holy water and offering flower sacrifices to their ancestors. In the evenings at about 6pm, a slight breeze would blow setting off the temple bells ringing as the sadhus, pilgrims and tourists prepared for the nightly 'ganga aarti' ceremony. You can feel the holy experience and how the beliefs make Rishikesh the holy city that it is. It was an experience and gave us an idea of what Varnassi must be like.
However, for us, it turned out that Rishikesh was hotter than we thought, with temperatures reaching about 34 degrees and the humidity about 80%. So after a few days in this holy city we left for the (higher) Himalayas . . .
We spent the first two days in Benaulim, in the South of Goa, swimming and eating all the delicious fresh fish, before heading North to Baga Beach where we had booked a week of timesharing. It was not your usual concrete mass but a set in beautiful palm trees, with bamboo massage rooms and a hammock area with cushions under the shade of the trees. There were two swimming pools set in these great gardens with waiters bringing you drinks and snacks when you wanted them. It was exactly what we needed and were so up for some luxury.
Another big excitement was that we had our own little kitchen which meant we could eat at home some nights. Three months of restaurant eating gets a bit much when you can't even make coffee for yourself. So the first day we went to the local market to buy fresh vegetables and things to make our own salad at home. The veggies were all soaked in mineral water and salt before we began the salad making. Chilling on our balcony and loving styling it for a bit, I started to get really bad stomach cramps. I'll leave the details out but it was an entire night of both Ant and I in the toilet. The throwing up was so violent that it must have been food poisoning and we had even joked: "imagine if we get sick from our own food." There have been times when we have had no choice but to eat in some dodgy places but usually we are okay so not sure how we managed to make ourselves so sick.
Coming to India we had been given so much advice: don't drink tap water, brush teeth with bottled water only, ask for no ice in drinks, eat in places that are busy, don't eat anything raw, peel all fruit etc etc. Initially were stuck to this but I soon was desperate for salad and just always make sure its in a decent place. The problem isn't always the place, its the water. Anyway up until Goa we have had on and off upset stomachs but never felt sick and were doing well with the different food. Until Goa, both of us felt so sick for 4 days and resigned ourselves to antibiotics to kill all the bacteria in our stomachs.
We spent the timesharing week mostly in the room, in the toilet really, with occasional visits to the pool for a swim. We rarely ventured far from the hotel as either of us could need the toilet at any time.
The toilets in India are an entity in themselves. We were told by friends about the Indian style toilets and that we should get used to it. This is usually a whole in the ground which you squat over. There is always a bucket and jug for washing as they use this for cleaning rather than toilet paper. This is why many people in India will only shake hands with your right hand. They also eat with their right hands and use the left for toilet washing. All our guesthouses have had western toilets but most local restaurants will only offer Indian Style. The train toilets, also Indian and Western style, aren't so bad. Everything falls onto the tracks. Sometimes the Western ones are so manky and gross that its better to just squat. You get the hang of it. The key is to hold your breath as the smell in itself is often enough to send you out. There have been some toilets which I have literally felt so sick just going into, the floor filthy with who knows what everywhere, but when you have to go you have to go. Anti-bacteria gel has been a lifesaver!
We didn't set foot in our kitchen again and named it the "Bacteria Zone" and still do not know what we ate that was bad. It might have been something on a plate or cutting board, who knows. One of our few outings. we managed to go to the Goa market which was great and our first real outing from the hotel in a week.
We left our toilet timeshare at the end of 7 days and flew on a local airline called spicejet, to Delhi. The temperature was between 38 and 40 degrees so we went from the airport to Delhi train station where we caught an overnight train to Rishikesh. We decided to leave out Rajasthan due to the heat and will return one day to travel those parts of india. Its a very common route and easy to travel so we thought we would head for the mountains to get some cooler weather. Rested, healthy and having moved on from boiled rice, we were on our way . . .
ps. The lack of photos in this section is reflective of how little time we spent away from the hotel room! Oh well. at least we had air con and sattelite tv!
Thursday, April 12, 2007
We went to shul again on the Friday night which was a good thing as there were exactly 10 men including Ant. Ant wore his own pants this time . They asked us for shabbat supper but we needed to find somewhere to stay etc so couldn't join them.We left Cochin by train for Coimbatore where we spent the night in a dirty, old hotel. Its a bustling duty Indian town that is simply for passing through. Our train to Mettupayalam left Coimbatore at 5.15am so we just needed somewhere to shower and sleep for a few hours. The train to Mettupayalam is two hours and there we got on the miniature steam train to Ooty.
The train travels through the Niligiri Hills and could take 2 hours but in the steam train takes five hours. The train is bright blue and red and looks like a toy, blowing off steam every few minutes. Ooty is a big Indian honeymoon destination so the train was full of newly weds who seemed to bring their families with them. No food item is not travel-friendly for Indians so anytime of the day or night they will begin unpacking their hundreds of bags filled with packets of rice, smaller packets of sauce and gravies and will tuck in, filling the train with curry aromas.
We pushed onto the train with the rest and got great window seats on the left hand side of the train (as recommended by the lonely planet) as you got to see waterfalls etc. On our train to Mettupayalam we met Brando, another traveller. He said his mother named him after Marlon Brando. He is from America but moved toRussia and is a twenty two year old that has been travelling for 16 months. His budget is a 100 dollars a month! He told us weird and wonderful stories about how he pitches his tent on building sites in different towns in India, buries his backpack so that he can go exploring, visits national parks and gets removed by rangers for not paying entrance fees, avoids train charges and regularly gets kicked off.... a crazy and wild kid that we called Frodo from Lord of the Rings. He looked exactly like him. We also met a German woman who was going to Ooty to work with disabled children.
As the miniature train steamed upwards you can feel the air getting cooler which was great after the 36 degree humidity in Cochin. Arriving in Ooty we joined the Geramn woman in looking for a guesthouse. The auto-rickshaw drivers constantly try and convice you to take their suggestion of a guesthouse as they cut some cash out of the deal from the guesthouse owner. So after seeing five dirty places, we found one that we liked, Maruthi Cottages. It had a great tv and they put the Hindu Times under your door every morning. Ooty has lots of tourists so we ate delicious brown bread, pizzas and salads, which you ususally can't find anywhere else. Ooty is famous for homemade chocolate and every shop sells mounds of different kinds of homemade choc. Oils like Eucalyptus, Lemom Grass and so many others are made here so there are lots of little shops selling teas, masala, cinamon, chocolate, ginger, and oils for different things. After seeing the tea plantations in Munnar we decided we wanted to do more jungle and forest trekking in Ooty and would need a guide.
The LonelyPlanet recommends Mike Dawson, from Europe but that has lived in Ooty for most of his life. He told us on the phone that the jungle has been comparedto Africa and is amazing but has recently burnt down. He was taking a dutch couple that we met on a trek which he called a 'lunar landscape' due to the trees still burning from the fire. We decided against this. We asked him if there were routes we could do on our own. He told us of one but that at the moment there were charging bison and that he avoids this area by going off the track and into the trees. Charging bison! We decided that we'd definetly need a guide. We went to Reflections Guesthouse in searach for another guide and heard not such good things about their guide and his treks. An Israeli couple told us that the house guide, Anthony, was disinterested in the walk and was miserable as his daughter had recently got engaged to a muslim and his family was Christian so this meant that his daughter was going to convert. Several days later other travellers did his walk and said that he was still miserable.
After our visit to Refelections Guesthouse we decided to move there, great outdoor area and more chilled. We chatted to a few other travellers about trekking and looking for a guide and eventually got a small group. They had heard of a guy called Seni, referred to in The LP, who you had to meet at 8am outside a certain bakery. At 8am a tall man arrived and introduced himself as Seni. None us were sure he was Seni as very frequently in India, tips and names from the LP are used to create business. Seni then shows us his friends travel guide badge and we all laughed. He said he was going to change into better shoes and would return with his badge. The group consisted of Hugo from Oxford (UK), Sam from Liverpool but lived in Reading (UK), Rhea from California, Andreas from Arizona but born inSouth Africa, and Ant and I. Rhea and I were the only girls. She is a chiripractor that has just spent a month in an ashram doing volunteer work. Seni, our guide, returned as he had said and showed us his badge and he was the Seni Appen referred to in the book. He ialso returned wearing his hiking shoes - known in the western world as school shoes! We told him how hard it was to find him and that you never know who anyone is in India.
Seni, a tall, really dark, thinly built man. Ant told Seni that he looked more like an African than an Indian. He has this great gentle way and would ask us questions, like names of flowers on trees, and gather us up in a group to tell us one of his hundreds of interesting stories. The day began with a 9am local bus higher into the hills. He made sure the two girls had seats on the bus while the boys stood. The trek was amazing, through forest and jungle, past lakes and waterfalls and toda houses and villages. Todas are the tribes that inhabit the Nilgiri Hills. He showed us their round wooden dome-like homes and some tribal people making embroidery. We stopped at the lake and Seni shared out biscuits he had brought for us. We shared our Marie biscuits as well. Who would have thought the good old Marie would be international. They have been a saviour for us and lots of different stages of our travelling.
Anyway, like most Indians Seni wanted to know our professions, earnings etc. He then asked me what the difference was between lithium and tranquilisers was. I said that a doctor would bethe best person to ask and that I was not a doctor. I asked him why he wanted to know and he told me how he was locked up in a mental health institution for 10 months. He showed me the scars on his wrists from the handcuffs he had to wear everyday and how others bit and tortured him. He said that he still takes Lithium and took the pills out of his pocket to show me. He explained how 'he smokes, gets upset and has to go to hospital'. He'd had some traumatic experiences, and went on to tell us all about his heart attack as well.
His knowledge of the land, the animals and the people was amazing and each time he would gather us up for a story, I'd wait excitedly for what he had to say. They were stories of when he saw the tiger cubs eating and he ran to get away from the mother. He said that he had seen only 5 tigers in the last 6 years. He explined the land and how it changed over the seasons and how the tribes inhabited its different parts. Seni would stop to show us the scratch marks on trees of different animals and the faceces and who they belonged to, as well as the track marks. He warned us against taking porcupine stalks out the forest as it meant that you would fight with a friend. Seni shared lots of these kinds of stories with us. At one point he gave us all a big stick to walk with and to smack on the ground if any animal were to charge.
We stopped at a local village Indian restaurant for lunch and were all starving by this stage. We then made our way past the waterfalls and towards the bus stand to catch the bus back into ooty town again. Seni wanted to take us for chai in his local chai shop before we left him. We went into this dark tiny little chai shop and sat in the corner. He asked us all to write comments in his notebook which he shows other potential trekkers. It was 7pm so we ate little samoosa type things called 'pups' that were filled with potato and spices. We then said goodbye to Seni and walked back to our guesthouse, all glowing with the days experiences.
Ooty was cold at night so we fetched long sleeve tops and all went for supper together and spent ages talking about Seni and the day. Andreas and Rhea left the next day and Sam the day after that. We were happy chilling, reading our books but when the day came when we planned to leave, an Indian strike. This hit all of Tamil Nadu and pretty much everything in Ooty was closed, every shop, market , restaurant, station etc. We ate at our guesthouse but the owner later told us she wasn't supposed to provide us with food. The strike was for the government to provide better opportunities and education for the poorer classes. The following day we left Ooty refreshed, chilled out and heading towards Hampi . . .
The area is simply stunning and you are in awe of the millions of boulders, huge rocks and dry landscape that surrounds the area. However, within this arid landscape lies a little oasis with lush palm, banana and mango trees nestled near the river. Hampi is a great places to spend a few days wandering around and discovering the rich, vibrant history. Somehow, unlike other places we have visited, it still maintains its old world charm.
It is very hot! Dry dry heat. And the walk between some sites can be long but the surrounding area is quite breathtaking. The ruins of Hampi are located within a large area and most of the famous places have motorable roads leading upto them, the real pleasure in exploring Hampi comes from walking around. Virtually every rock in Hampi has a story to say and is a visual delight, especially due to its stark contrast from most other places. Rocks are all you see whichever direction you look at. It is very hot! Dry dry heat - we mentioned this earlier... but a reminder won't go amiss... .
So suitably refreshed from a mid morning sleep, we wake to explore all the ruins. We start off in the main bazaar, its a long road leading up to a huge temple, almost 50m high, with all the trimmings...beautiful stone, carvings, flowers and even monkeys. We spend the day hanging around and find out that evening, Hampi will host a festival - it marks the wedding of 2 important Hindu gods. The town is beginning to become alive and we are excited to experience our first Indian festival.
Time rolls by and late afternoon arrives... and so do about what seems like a million Indians, village people (not the ones in silly builder/cop/cowboy uniforms!) and religious folk. The festival entails moving a huge cart up and down the main street a few times. Its hauled by at least a 100 men and the crowd throw all sorts at it as it passes.. bananas, flowers, water etc.
We never saw the end as we only lasted 20 minutes. The carnival like atmosphere was quickly over-ridden by fear as we were pushed along in large waves by the crowds. Pushing and shoving we had to fight off attempts from a few party spoilers who liked the look of my camera (they didnt succeed!) and villagers who I assume had never seen a foreigner before, feeling up Sim. It wasn't a pleasant experience and we made a hasty retreat to watch from a (very safe) distance. Needless to say, no festivals equals less people. Considering India has a billion people, we are now keeping well clear of festivals!
The next day we decided to get out of town and go see the sights and generally to avoid the crowds from yesterday. We woke at 6am to avoid the sweltering heat (someone said this was meant to be a holiday!) and took to the outer limits of the town, exploring ruins as we went along. Some of them were absolutely mind boggling, amazing feats of architecture, design and sculpting. You can see by some of the pics (and these are a only a few examples) that the sites are truly breathtaking.
Founded by our new love for Hampi (all was lost the previous evening!) we landed up quite far out of town and decided to cross the river to a nearby village called Anegondi - also a UNESCO site. Crossing the river ..? um.. lets just say we crossed in a what Indians call a coracle... I would refer to it as a cattle skinned saucer! Imagine our surprise when some guy pitches up on a motor bike and comes along too. Anycase, we made it across, exploring some more sites and the like. It was now 11am (it felt like 3 days!) and at least 40 degrees so we headed for some deserved rest at a local restaurant under a huge mango tree by the river.... bliss! The afternoon was much the same - sightseeing and chilling!
The next day was pretty much the same but most of the emphasis was on chilling. It is very hot! Dry dry heat - we mentioned this (twice) earlier... but a hey!, we will remind you again (Feel our pain!!).
After two days of boulder gazing we were ready to leave the oven/Hampi, afterall we were heading to the beaches of Goa. Up at 5am (this is not funny - 3 days in a row before sunrise!) and off the train station for the one train a day to Goa leaving at 6am. However, lucky for us it was delayed by 4 hours of station boredom - we read the newspaper (3 times - in case we missed one or two of the classifieds), slept, ignored beggars, avoided rabied dogs, ate biscuits or chatted to the station master - after all he wasnt that busy.. one of his 2 trains for the day was late! 10 hours later we arrived in Goa. We could smell the sea again!
Thursday, April 5, 2007
Having a little time on our hands, you can always think of recurring themes throughout India.
All men have moustaches.. they must think they are cool or all belong to the Tom Selleck Fan Club!
Everything is negotiable!
Everything that is edible has at least one kilogram of sugar in it.
You can run into animals at anytime. There are a gazzilion stray dogs! Cows rule the road.
Anywhere is a toilet. Anywhere is a trash can.
The music. Its a lot and its everywhere.
Sweating profusely, burping out loud and spitting in public is all fair game!
Time and distance is a raw guess.
Electricity is a privelege.
All taxi drivers and rickshaw drivers quote you triple the cost - even if they brought you to the same place yesterday for a third of the price!
So, after a lot of investigation it turns out Ooty is not that easy to get out of as it was getting in to. We booked a bus ticket on a private bus only for the bus to be delayed by a day by a state-wide strike. Eventually we caught our bus - a little 20 seater - at 8am in the morning.
The bus took 5 hours getting to Mysore (Ooty to Hampi: leg 1) down a winding mountain road covered with 36 hairpin bends (we know this as everyone has a signpost that counts them down.. quite silly if you ask me as you would want drivers to watch the road at these points and not the signs!). Anycase, we made it down safely and even took a shortcut thru one of the National Parks (to save time I presume) but only after the driver paid the guards a little bribe!
Eventually we arrived in Mysore and headed straight for the train station. We booked a ticket to Bangalore (Ooty to Hampi: leg 2) via train which was only 4 hours. We also tried to book the overnight train to Hampi from Bangalore from the same station but it was unfortunately full. We were now facing a stay over in Bangalore as the ticket office window closed in front of us.... it was 2pm on a Sunday of course.. "No more tickets.. come back tomorrow!"
So we've got a ticket to Bangalore and off we go. The train arrives at Mysore station and although it stops for over 20 minutes at the station, there is an almighty scrap, push and shove to get on to the train and secure your seat even before it comes to a halt! Bewildered and a little bit dazed by being pushed onto the train by sheer force of numbers, it turns out that our two reserved seats are taken by 7 people who are unwilling to move. Words exchanged, we find new ones.
Four hours later we arrive in Bangalore which is a large metropolis teaming with Indians ready to take your money! You can always guess how big a city is by either the amount of people sleeping in the train station and/or how long it takes you to exit the station. Bangalore is big....
Since the ticket office is closed (its Sunday!) we head off to the bus stand to investigate another route to out of Banglaore (Ooty to Hampi: leg 3). The bus stand turns out a stroke of luck as we book ourselves on sleeper bus (oxymoron!) to Hampi leaving at 10pm - its an 9 hr journey.
We have 2 hours to spare and we grab something to eat before finding your local air conditioned expensive hotel to use use as a waiting room and toilet facility before heading back to the bus station.
The sleeper bus is an experience not to be missed. It's a large Greyhound type bus but minus the aircon. It has a combination of seating (airline type seats which recline) and a top row of sleeper bunks which you can lie flat on. We had seats. A further hour and a half late leaving, we are on our way to Hampi.
We are not sure if we have mentioned this before about driving in India, but besides the roads being incredibly poor, the drivers use their hooter more often that they use the brakes. The hooter is used when
- passing another car/bike/truck/rickshaw/pedestrian ("Im coming past. move over"),
- going around corners ("Im coming around the corner, watch out!"),
- when feeling another car is coming in the opposite direction ("I know neither of us have our lights on so Im going to honk so you can hear me!") or
- generally just for fun or to say "hi" to your buddies as you drive past!
Our bus ride to say the least was uncomfortable, bumpy and noisy. The driver refused to stop hooting every two minutes. He also refused to slow down for speed bumps. Between the two of us we managed about half an hours sleep and Sim even managed to be bounced off her chair from one of the many bumps in the road!
Time passes (slowly!) and we arrived safely in Hampi at 7am. We have now been traveling for 23 hours and the two of us ready to bite anyone's head off due to lack of sleep and the constant feeling of being on a rocking for the last day.
Its 8am and 38 degrees ! A far cry from the cool, crisp mornings of Ooty - What were we thinking?? We find a hotel - it takes 3 attempts - and pass out.