Gold Coast

Day 60 –  FRIDAY 20th March 2015

Arrived Melbourne at 2:00 am and had to wait around the airport till 6:00am to get our baggage checked in. Most uncomfortable.

Anyway, we made it back to the Gold Coast and home quite exhausted. In fact I think we need a holiday get over it!

Kuala Lumpur 2

Day 58 – WEDNSDAY 18th March 2015

Through the concierge we booked a tour of the PETRONAS Towers. It cost an extra $30 to do this. We should have pre-booked online a few days before.

We walked from our hotel to the towers which took about 15 minutes in a rather hot  34 degrees. It  appears that the sky is permanently hazy because, they say, by nearby Indonesia burning off their forest clearing. So visibility is always restricted.

Kuala Lumpur 1 - View from our hotel room

Kuala Lumpur 1 – View from our hotel room

Kuala Lumpur 2 - View from our hotel room

Kuala Lumpur 2 – View from our hotel room

Kuala Lumpur 3 - Our first look at the imposing Petronas towers

Kuala Lumpur 3 – Our first look at the imposing Petronas towers

Kuala Lumpur 4 - Entrance to the Petronas Towers

Kuala Lumpur 4 – Entrance to the Petronas Towers

Kuala Lumpur 5 - Petronas Towers Skybridge between towers at level 41 which is 170 metres above the ground

Kuala Lumpur 5 – Petronas Towers Skybridge between towers at level 41 which is 170 metres above the ground

Kuala Lumpur 6 - Selfie on the Skybridge

Kuala Lumpur 6 – Selfie on the Skybridge

Kuala Lumpur 7 - Looking up from the Skybridge

Kuala Lumpur 7 – Looking up from the Skybridge

Kuala Lumpur 8 - Lyn on the Skybridge

Kuala Lumpur 8 – Lyn on the Skybridge

Kuala Lumpur 9 - Petronas Towers viewing level

Kuala Lumpur 9 – Petronas Towers viewing level

Kuala Lumpur 10 - Petronas Tower 1 from tower 2 at level 86

Kuala Lumpur 10 – Petronas Tower 1 from tower 2 at level 86

Kuala Lumpur 11 - Looking down from level 86

Kuala Lumpur 11 – Looking down from level 86

Kuala Lumpur 12 - One of the many shopping centres in Kuala Lumpur

Kuala Lumpur 12 – One of the many shopping centres in Kuala Lumpur

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To escape the heat we went to the movies (in the new shopping centre opposite the hotel) and Kingsman followed by dinner at the same Japanese restaurant.

Kuala Lumpur

Day 57 – TUESDAY 17th March 2015

Our room at the hotel was not ready when we arrived at 9:00 am. We had to wait in the Club Lounge which was very comfortable but we were so tired. We craved sleep so much and by 11:30 when the room was finally ready we were about ready to collapse.  Three hours later we awoke much refreshed and set out for a look around the area.

Most of the activity in Kuala Lumpur appears to be around shopping. There seems to be a large international shopping on almost every block which is fine if you are a shopaholic. We walked around a bit (good for some exercise) but did not spend much. Opposite the hotel there is a brand new shopping centre which had been open only a few weeks. We found a nice Japanese Restaurant and had an early dinner.

Colombo to Kuala Lumpur

Day 56 – MONDAY 16th March 2015

Our flight does not leave until 12:40 am tomorrow morning which has given me plenty of time to update this website.

So, we had a full day available which gave us a chance to take a walk along the water front. From there we walked in to the business district where we were accosted by a chap who spoke really good English who offered to take us on a tour of the city in a tuk tuk. The price was very reasonable so we took up the offer. It turned out to be a very good decision. He took us to places we probably would not have found. It was so much better than yesterdays tour which was boring and painful.

 

Colombo 2 - Ocean Waterfront

Colombo 2 – Ocean Waterfront

Colombo 3 - Dutch Reform Church built in 1759

Colombo 3 – Dutch Reform Church built in 1759

Colombo 4 - Dutch Reform Church front

Colombo 4 – Dutch Reform Church front

Colombo 5 - Dutch Reform Church font

Colombo 5 – Dutch Reform Church font

Colombo 6 - Dutch Reform Church imposing solid door

Colombo 6 – Dutch Reform Church imposing solid door

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Colombo 6 - Dutch Reform Church imposing solid door

Colombo 6 – Dutch Reform Church imposing solid door

Colombo 7 - Dutch Reform Church imposing pulpit

Colombo 7 – Dutch Reform Church imposing pulpit

Colombo 8 - Dutch Reform Church tomb showing untimely death - skull and cross bones

Colombo 8 – Dutch Reform Church tomb showing untimely death – skull and cross bones

Colombo 9 - The Lighthouse under armed guard

Colombo 9 – The Lighthouse under armed guard

Colombo 10 - Maritime Museum - very interesting

Colombo 10 – Maritime Museum – very interesting

Colombo 11 - Tower and buddhist shrine - overlooks whole of Colombo from the port - 240 steps

Colombo 11 – Tower and buddhist shrine – overlooks whole of Colombo from the port – 240 steps

Colombo 12 - Buddhist shrine inside Tower

Colombo 12 – Buddhist shrine inside Tower

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Colombo 13 - View from tower showing new Chinese harbour development

Colombo 13 – View from tower showing new Chinese harbour development

Colombo 14 - Big Buddha in very old temple in the heart of the city

Colombo 14 – Big Buddha in very old temple in the heart of the city

Colombo 15 - Temple is full of treasures and other gifts

Colombo 15 – Temple is full of treasures and other gifts

Colombo 16 - 2500 year old tree in the middle of the temple

Colombo 16 – 2500 year old tree in the middle of the temple

Colombo 17 - Very old rickshaw in the temple

Colombo 17 – Very old rickshaw in the temple

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Colombo 18 - Lots of now illegal elephant tusk ivory

Colombo 18 – Lots of now illegal elephant tusk ivory

Colombo 19 - More treasures

Colombo 19 – More treasures

Colombo 20 - Impressive Buddha on a Peacock

Colombo 20 – Impressive Buddha on a Peacock

Colombo 21 - Even a very old Rolls Royce

Colombo 21 – Even a very old Rolls Royce

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Colombo 22 - Us with our Tuk Tuk driver John

Colombo 22 – Us with our Tuk Tuk driver John

Colombo 23 - Us with our guide Tony

Colombo 23 – Us with our guide Tony

Colombo 24 - Colombo's version of the White House - City Town Hall

Colombo 24 – Colombo’s version of the White House – City Town Hall

Colombo 25 - Victoria Park - Beautifully maintained

Colombo 25 – Victoria Park – Beautifully maintained

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Colombo

Day 55 – SUNDAY 15th March 2015

I made a terrible mistake today. I booked this leg of our journey myself so I did not have an agent to organise a tour. I chose a company at the airport and checked out their web site (www.srilankainfoguide.com) and it looked OK. Anyway, I booked what I thought was a tour, recommended by the tour company, to take us to Kandy. Well it took almost four hours to cover the mere 110 kms to get there. The ride was very jerky with lots of traffic weaving, bendy and bumpy roads and so SLOW. And, on top of that, the driver spoke almost no English so we found out nothing about places on the way or when we got there. Most disappointing.

Once there we visited the Elephant Orphanage where they care for baby elephants and others in need of care which was the only saving grace for the torrid journey. Then we had a look at the lake and had a cup of tea at the rather colonial Queens Hotel. Then we had to endure another four hours in the car for the journey home. We were exhausted and hungry when we got home so we went to a food court in a shopping mall attached to the hotel. We had the cheapest meal ever! $12.50 for a full curry meal each with naan, rice and lassis. The taste and quality was as good as any of the very expensive meals we have had to date. Remember The Mango Tree!

Kandy 1 - Elephant Orphange

Kandy 1 – Elephant Orphange

Kandy 2 - Elephant Orphanage - Baby elephant having a bath

Kandy 2 – Elephant Orphanage – Baby elephant having a bath

Kandy 3 - Elephant Orphanage - Lots of elephants having a bath

Kandy 3 – Elephant Orphanage – Lots of elephants having a bath

Kandy 4 - Elephant Orphanage - Us with an elephant

Kandy 4 – Elephant Orphanage – Us with an elephant

Kandy 5 - Elephant Orphanage - Elephants feeding

Kandy 5 – Elephant Orphanage – Elephants feeding

Kandy 6 - Elephant Orphanage - Elephants feeding

Kandy 6 – Elephant Orphanage – Elephants feeding

Kandy 7 - The lake

Kandy 7 – The lake

Kandy 8 - Queens Hotel

Kandy 8 – Queens Hotel

Kandy 9 - Queens Hotel sugar

Kandy 9 – Queens Hotel sugar

Kandy 10 - View from the top of hill behind the city

Kandy 10 – View from the top of hill behind the city

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Colombo - Best takeaway food

Colombo – Best takeaway food

Alleppey to Kochi to Colombo

Day 54 – SATURDAY 14th March 2015

Last night was our last in India. Today we drove back to Kochi then flew to Colombo. BUT, there was a state wide workers strike as a protest to the recent budget in which there were substantial increases in fares on public transport. All the shops and other businesses were closed and the streets were occupied by union led workers who were stopping every car and protesting to our driver that he should not be working. Some were quite aggressive so it was a little scary. They let us through when I showed our plane tickets even though the driver had put a sign in the window saying AIRPORT. The driver told us that on a previous strike he was dragged from his car and beaten up. Anyway, we got through OK.

Alleppey to Kochi 1 - On the way to the airport - the helmet on the lap avoids hat hair.

Alleppey to Kochi 1 – On the way to the airport – the helmet on the lap avoids hat hair.

Alleppey to Kochi 3 - Happy lads out for a trip to ther countryside on strike day

Alleppey to Kochi 3 – Happy lads out for a trip to ther countryside on strike day

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Goodbye India – Hello Sri Lanka! Arrived in Colombo at 5:30pm. By the time we collected our bags and got away from the airport is was already dark so we did not see much of surroundings. We are staying at the Cinnamon Grand Hotel which has over 500 rooms, is very busy, but very nice. Our room is quite large and comfortable but, alas, only one bathroom!

Colombo 1 - Cinnamon Grand Hotel foyer

Colombo 1 – Cinnamon Grand Hotel foyer

 

Alleppey

FRIDAY 13th March 2015

Today we drove to Alleppey to spend a day cruising the backwaters of the region and a night on a houseboat. The boat was a bit rustic but it was comfortable enough. We had three crew – driver, boat boy and cook. They made us feel very welcome and the food was very good but as usual there was too much of it.

The backwaters area has many rice paddies that were created with man made canals. The area is lightly populated with rice farmers and fishermen.

Alleppey 1 - On the way from Kochi lots of up market hi-rise apartment buildings

Alleppey 1 – On the way from Kochi lots of up market hi-rise apartment buildings

Alleppey 2 - Spinning coconut husks to make coir - these poor people are at the bottom of the rung earning less than $10 per day

Alleppey 2 – Spinning coconut husks to make coir – these poor people are at the bottom of the rung earning less than $10 per day

Alleppey 3 - Loading coir rope on to a roller

Alleppey 3 – Loading coir rope on to a roller

Alleppey 4 - Weaving coir rope to make carpet

Alleppey 4 – Weaving coir rope to make carpet

Alleppey 5 - Coir carpets that sell for $3

Alleppey 5 – Coir carpets that sell for $3

Alleppey 6 - Roadside stall for fresh coconut milk - delicious

Alleppey 6 – Roadside stall for fresh coconut milk – delicious

Alleppey 7 - Cashew nuts growing

Alleppey 7 – Cashew nuts growing

Alleppey 8 - Village house on fifth of an acre for sale at $80,000 - I think she is dreaming but happy to show us through

Alleppey 8 – Village house on fifth of an acre for sale at $80,000 – I think she is dreaming but happy to show us through

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Alleppey 9 - Owner of house for sale

Alleppey 9 – Owner of house for sale

Alleppey 10 - Luxury house boat - our digs for the night - a bit rustic

Alleppey 10 – Luxury house boat – our digs for the night – a bit rustic

Alleppey 11 - Houseboat - Lyn on the bow

Alleppey 11 – Houseboat – Lyn on the bow

Alleppey 12 - Houseboat - Map of the Backwaters

Alleppey 12 – Houseboat – Map of the Backwaters

Alleppey 13 - Houseboat - Lyn relaxing in the lounge

Alleppey 13 – Houseboat – Lyn relaxing in the lounge

Alleppey 14 - Houseboat - Sailing the canals between the rice paddies

Alleppey 14 – Houseboat – Sailing the canals between the rice paddies

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Alleppey 15 - Houseboat - Hard working lone fisherman

Alleppey 15 – Houseboat – Hard working lone fisherman

Alleppey 16 - Houseboat - Our bed with mosquito netting

Alleppey 16 – Houseboat – Our bed with mosquito netting

Alleppey 16 - Houseboat 1 - Ferry transport on the backwaters

Alleppey 16 – Houseboat 1 – Ferry transport on the backwaters

Alleppey 16 - Houseboat 2 - Living on the lake

Alleppey 16 – Houseboat 2 – Living on the lake

Alleppey 16 - Houseboat 3 - Rice paddy

Alleppey 16 – Houseboat 3 – Rice paddy

Alleppey 16 - Houseboat 4 - Fishing boat used on the lake - note the shaft with propellor

Alleppey 16 – Houseboat 4 – Fishing boat used on the lake – note the shaft with propellor

Alleppey 16 - Houseboat 5 - Local store on the backwaters

Alleppey 16 – Houseboat 5 – Local store on the backwaters

Alleppey 16 - Houseboat 6 - Large house boat

Alleppey 16 – Houseboat 6 – Large house boat

Alleppey 16 - Houseboat 7 - Up market house on the backwaters

Alleppey 16 – Houseboat 7 – Up market house on the backwaters

Alleppey 16 - Houseboat 8 - Backwaters Bar and Restaurant

Alleppey 16 – Houseboat 8 – Backwaters Bar and Restaurant

Alleppey 16 - Houseboat 9 - Lyn happy relaxing

Alleppey 16 – Houseboat 9 – Lyn happy relaxing

Alleppey 16 - Houseboat 10 - A catholic church on the backwaters

Alleppey 16 – Houseboat 10 – A catholic church on the backwaters

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Alleppey 17 - Houseboat - Michael looking at home driving the boat

Alleppey 17 – Houseboat – Michael looking at home driving the boat

Alleppey 18 - Houseboat - Even Lyn had a go

Alleppey 18 – Houseboat – Even Lyn had a go

Alleppey 19 - Houseboat - Michael being supervised by the crew

Alleppey 19 – Houseboat – Michael being supervised by the crew

Alleppey 20 - Houseboat - Cook and one of the crew

Alleppey 20 – Houseboat – Cook and one of the crew

 

Kochi (formerly Cochin)

Day 52 – THURSDAY 12th March 2015

Our guide today, Sebastian, made tour today really good. Pictures and comments say it all.

Kochi 1 - Indian driving test - they have do an H
Kochi 1 – Indian driving test – they have do an H
Kochi 2 - Dhoby Khana laundry

Kochi 2 – Dhoby Khana laundry

 

 

 

 

 

Kochi 3 - Dhoby Khana laundry - not a patch on the one in Mumbai

Kochi 3 – Dhoby Khana laundry – not a patch on the one in Mumbai

Kochi 4 - Dhoby Khana laundry drying room - they use twisted rope instead of pegs

Kochi 4 – Dhoby Khana laundry drying room – they use twisted rope instead of pegs

Kochi 5 - Dhoby Khana laundry ironing room

Kochi 5 – Dhoby Khana laundry ironing room

Kochi 6 - Sebastian and Lyn at St Francis Church built in 1506

Kochi 6 – Sebastian and Lyn at St Francis Church built in 1506

Kochi 7 - Vasco de Gamas tomb inside St Francis Church

Kochi 7 – Vasco de Gamas tomb inside St Francis Church

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kochi 8 - Dutch Colonial house inside the fort waals

Kochi 8 – Dutch Colonial house inside the fort waals

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kochi 8 - Fishing Kochi style

Kochi 8 – Fishing Kochi style

Kochi 9 - Fishing Kochi style

Kochi 9 – Fishing Kochi style

Kochi 10 - Fishing Kochi style

Kochi 10 – Fishing Kochi style

Kochi 11 - Fishing Kochi style

Kochi 11 – Fishing Kochi style

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kochi 12 - Fishing Kochi style

Kochi 12 – Fishing Kochi style

Kochi 13 - Fishing Kochi style

Kochi 13 – Fishing Kochi style

Kochi 14 - AUD4000 gold leaf elephant - I offered AUD300 and got a laugh from the salesman

Kochi 14 – AUD4000 gold leaf elephant – I offered AUD300 and got a laugh from the salesman

Kochi 15 - Synagogue Clock Tower

Kochi 15 – Synagogue Clock Tower

Kochi 16 - Synagogue Clock Tower

Kochi 16 – Synagogue Clock Tower

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kochi 17 - Street in Jew Town

Kochi 17 – Street in Jew Town

Kochi 18 - Inside a spice shop in Jew Town

Kochi 18 – Inside a spice shop in Jew Town

Kochi 19 - Race boat needs 110 crew

Kochi 19 – Race boat needs 110 crew

Kochi 20 - Mattancherry Palace - built by Portuguese for King of Cochin

Kochi 20 – Mattancherry Palace – built by Portuguese for King of Cochin

Kochi 21 - Arabian Sea fishing fleet

Kochi 21 – Arabian Sea fishing fleet

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kochi Synagogue

Kochi Synagogue

Kochi Synagogue - hand painted Chinese floor tiles

Kochi Synagogue – hand painted Chinese floor tiles

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kochi Synagogue

Kochi Synagogue

Kochi Synagogue - hand painted Chinese floor tiles

Kochi Synagogue – hand painted Chinese floor tiles

Mumbai to Kochi

Day 51 – WEDNESDAY 11th March 2015

It took longer to get to the airport than to fly to Kochi which is just over 1000 kilometres south of Mumbai.

On our first look at Kochi you could tell that it is very different from all the other places we have visited in India. The landscape is very green, lots of palm trees and mango trees, tiled roofs on many houses, clean roads and streets with pavements, modern high rise apartment buildings, modern low and high rise office buildings, expensive cars on the roads and no cows!. Apparently the State of Kerala, of which Kochi is the capitol, is the first state in India to have a fully literate population. It is a major centre for IT development and international support call centres for business all over the world.

Looking forward to tomorrow’s tour.

We are staying at the Trident Hotel (Oberoi group) which is on one of the many islands (some man made) amongst the 56 rivers that run through the area. The room we were allocated had the smell of smoke. I reported this to the Adventure World (our travel agent) representative in Delhi who contacted the manager of the hotel. As a result we were moved to a very nice large suite with 2 bathrooms and a sitting room. Much more to our taste!

Had a buffet dinner in the hotel dining room which included a different style of food to what we have had so far. It was very nice.

Kochi  -Trident Hotel 1 - View from our suite

Kochi -Trident Hotel 1 – View from our suite

Kochi  -Trident Hotel 6 - Our suite -nice mango tree

Kochi -Trident Hotel 6 – Our suite -nice mango tree

Kochi  -Trident Hotel 5 - View from our suite

Kochi -Trident Hotel 5 – View from our suite

Kochi  -Trident Hotel 4 - Our suite

Kochi -Trident Hotel 4 – Our suite

Kochi  -Trident Hotel 3 - Our suite

Kochi -Trident Hotel 3 – Our suite

Kochi  -Trident Hotel 2 - Our suite

Kochi -Trident Hotel 2 – Our suite

 

 

Mumbai

Day 50 – TUESDAY 10th March 2015

Today we went on a City Tour. We felt that the guide was a bit disinterested but perhaps it was the content of the tour and lots of traffic. We drove past lots of buildings which she told us about but we did not stop at many. Nevertheless it was important to get some idea of what Mumbai was about.

The young housekeeper who cleans our room noticed that we had a birthday cake (from last night’s dinner) in our room and, together with his colleagues, prepared a lovely surprise for us by decorating our room with rose petals and balloons. It made us feel very special.

In the afternoon we joined a guided tour of the Palace section of the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel which was very informative.

 

Mumbai 16 - Victoria Station

Mumbai 16 – Victoria Station

Mumbai 17 - I cant remember what this is but it looks old and British

Mumbai 17 – I cant remember what this is but it looks old and British

Mumbai 18 - The Dhobi Ghat Laundry where 5000 men wash most of Mumbai's clothesl

Mumbai 18 – The Dhobi Ghat Laundry where 5000 men wash most of Mumbai’s clothesl

Mumbai 20 - Called the Hanging Garden but did not look like one - it is where Pharsi people leave their dead for the vultures

Mumbai 20 – Called the Hanging Garden but did not look like one – it is where Pharsi people leave their dead for the vultures

Mumbai 21 - Called the Hanging Garden but did not look like one - it is where Pharsi people leave their dead for the vultures

Mumbai 21 – Called the Hanging Garden but did not look like one – it is where Pharsi people leave their dead for the vultures

Mumbai 22 - Check out the Roman looking residence on the roof of this hi-rise building

Mumbai 22 – Check out the Roman looking residence on the roof of this hi-rise building

Mumbai 23 - View from the park which is the highest point in Muimbai

Mumbai 23 – View from the park which is the highest point in Muimbai

Mumbai 24 - Mani Bhavan - the house where Gandhi once lived

Mumbai 24 – Mani Bhavan – the house where Gandhi once lived

Mumbai 25 - Mani Bhavan - the house where Gandhi once lived

Mumbai 25 – Mani Bhavan – the house where Gandhi once lived

 

Mumbai 26 - Mani Bhavan - the house where Gandhi once lived

Mumbai 26 – Mani Bhavan – the house where Gandhi once lived

Mumbai 27 - Not happy Mrs Ganhi

Mumbai 27 – Not happy Mrs Ganhi

Mumbai 28 - Prince Philip Museum renamed

Mumbai 28 – Prince Philip Museum renamed

Mumbai 29 - Prince Philip Museum

Mumbai 29 – Prince Philip Museum

Mumbai 30 - Prince Philip Museum - History of miniture paintings like the ones we bought

Mumbai 30 – Prince Philip Museum – History of miniture paintings like the ones we bought

Mumbai 31 - Taj Mahal Palace Hotel - 1 - Floor staff surprised us with this for my birthday

Mumbai 31 – Taj Mahal Palace Hotel – 1 – Floor staff surprised us with this for my birthday

Mumbai 31 - Taj Mahal Palace Hotel - 2 - Floor staff who gave me birthday surprisel

Mumbai 31 – Taj Mahal Palace Hotel – 2 – Floor staff who gave me birthday surprisel

Mumbai 31 - Taj Mahal Palace Hotel - 3 - Enjoying the attention

Mumbai 31 – Taj Mahal Palace Hotel – 3 – Enjoying the attention

Mumbai 32 - Taj Mahal Palace Hotel - Floor staff surprised us with this for my birthday.

Mumbai 32 – Taj Mahal Palace Hotel – Floor staff surprised us with this for my birthday.

Mumbai 33 - Taj Mahal Palace Hotel - Floor staff surprised us with this for my birthday.

Mumbai 33 – Taj Mahal Palace Hotel – Floor staff surprised us with this for my birthday.

Mumbai 34 - Taj Mahal Palace Hotel - Floor staff surprised us with this for my birthday.

Mumbai 34 – Taj Mahal Palace Hotel – Floor staff surprised us with this for my birthday.

Mumbai 35 - Taj Mahal Palace Hotel - Floor staff surprised us with this for my birthday.

Mumbai 35 – Taj Mahal Palace Hotel – Floor staff surprised us with this for my birthday.

Mumbai 36 - Sniper on the roof of the hotel overlooking Gateway of India Police special event

Mumbai 36 – Sniper on the roof of the hotel overlooking Gateway of India Police special event

Mumbai Palace Hotel - Dinner at Masala Kraft Indian Restaurant - Very Good

Mumbai Palace Hotel – Dinner at Masala Kraft Indian Restaurant – Very Good

Mumbai Palace Hotel Tour 1 - 111 years old

Mumbai Palace Hotel Tour 1 – 111 years old

Mumbai Palace Hotel Tour 2 - 111 years old

Mumbai Palace Hotel Tour 2 – 111 years old

Mumbai Palace Hotel Tour 3 - Original Reception Desk with very valuable modern art

Mumbai Palace Hotel Tour 3 – Original Reception Desk with very valuable modern art

Mumbai Palace Hotel Tour 4 - The Lift

Mumbai Palace Hotel Tour 4 – The Lift

Mumbai Palace Hotel Tour 5 - Stairs to first level - in footsteps of famous people like Barak Obama and John Lennon

Mumbai Palace Hotel Tour 5 – Stairs to first level – in footsteps of famous people like Barak Obama and John Lennon

Mumbai Palace Hotel Tour 6 - A trunk used by the rich and famous long ago

Mumbai Palace Hotel Tour 6 – A trunk used by the rich and famous long ago

Mumbai Palace Hotel Tour 7 - The Ballroom - reconstructed after the bomb blast in 2008

Mumbai Palace Hotel Tour 7 – The Ballroom – reconstructed after the bomb blast in 2008

Mumbai Palace Hotel Tour 8 - Gateway of India from the Ballroom terrace

Mumbai Palace Hotel Tour 8 – Gateway of India from the Ballroom terrace

Mumbai Palace Hotel Tour 9 - The gardens with gazebos

Mumbai Palace Hotel Tour 9 – The gardens with gazebos

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mumbai – Michael’s Birthday

Day 49 – MONDAY 9th March 2015

A short flight (and quarter hours) from Jaipur took us to Mumbai. Then it took us an hour and half to get the hotel from the airport! The traffic in Mumbai is really bad. At least the city looked quite clean and modern compared to all the other places we have been in India. We did not see any cows in the streets so the smell around the place was OK!

Our hotel is the Taj Mahal Palace (the site if terrorist attack in 2008).  Our room is on the 16th floor of the Tower attached to the old original hotel. The old part of the hotel (the Palace) is 111 years old and quite beautiful. See pictures below.

We had a good walk around the streets (that even had pavements!) near the hotel and saw many buildings that were built during the British rule. We felt quite safe and comfortable out in the streets compared with elsewhere.

 

Mumbai 1 - On the way from the airport to the hotel - guests arriving at a wedding party

Mumbai 1 – On the way from the airport to the hotel – guests arriving at a wedding party

Mumbai 2 - On the way from the airport to the hotel - guests arriving at a wedding party

Mumbai 2 – On the way from the airport to the hotel – guests arriving at a wedding party

Mumbai 3 - On the way from the airport to the hotel - the groom's horse

Mumbai 3 – On the way from the airport to the hotel – the groom’s horse

Mumbai 4 - Taj Palace Hotel - our room

Mumbai 4 – Taj Palace Hotel – our room

Mumbai 5 - Taj Palace Hotel - view from our room

Mumbai 5 – Taj Palace Hotel – view from our room

Mumbai 6 - Old double decker bus like they used to have in London

Mumbai 6 – Old double decker bus like they used to have in London

Mumbai 7 - Police Acadamy

Mumbai 7 – Police Acadamy

Mumbai 8 - Taj Palace Hotel - from the outside

Mumbai 8 – Taj Palace Hotel – from the outside

Mumbai 9 - Taj Palace Hotel - from the outside

Mumbai 9 – Taj Palace Hotel – from the outside

Mumbai 10 - Boats at moorings across the road from the hotel

Mumbai 10 – Boats at moorings across the road from the hotel

Mumbai 11 - Boats at moorings across the road from the hotel

Mumbai 11 – Boats at moorings across the road from the hotel

Mumbai 12 - Horse carriage rides along Marine Dive outside the hotel

Mumbai 12 – Horse carriage rides along Marine Dive outside the hotel

Mumbai 13 - Taj Palace Hotel - afternoon cocktails on the terrace near the pool

Mumbai 13 – Taj Palace Hotel – afternoon cocktails on the terrace near the pool

Mumbai 14 - Taj Palace Hotel - afternoon cocktails on the terrace near the pool

Mumbai 14 – Taj Palace Hotel – afternoon cocktails on the terrace near the pool

Mumbai 15 - Taj Palace Hotel - My birthday dinner at the Souk Lebanese restaurant

Mumbai 15 – Taj Palace Hotel – My birthday dinner at the Souk Lebanese restaurant

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jaipur

Day 48 – SUNDAY 8th March 2015

First stop today was the Amber Fort via the Pink City. This is another massive fort complex with lots of buildings inside the permitter. To get up to the entrance we took an elephant ride which was fun.

Jaipur 1 - The Pink City
Jaipur 1 – The Pink City

 

 

 

 

 

 

Amber Fort 1 - Elephant transport for tourists

Amber Fort 1 – Elephant transport for tourists

Amber Fort 2 - Elephant transport for tourists

Amber Fort 2 – Elephant transport for tourists

Amber Fort 3 - All aboard then elephant

Amber Fort 3 – All aboard then elephant

Amber Fort 4 - Half way up on the elephant

Amber Fort 4 – Half way up on the elephant

Amber Fort 5 - One way traffic ahead

Amber Fort 5 – One way traffic ahead

Amber Fort 6 - Main entrance

Amber Fort 6 – Main entrance

Amber Fort 7 - Top view of entry courtyard

Amber Fort 7 – Top view of entry courtyard

Amber Fort 8 - View of Amber city with fort lookouts along the ridge

Amber Fort 8 – View of Amber city with fort lookouts along the ridge

Amber Fort 9 - The kings garden

Amber Fort 9 – The kings garden

Amber Fort 10 - View of the lake and fort walls

Amber Fort 10 – View of the lake and fort walls

Amber Fort 11 - Original colours still vibrant

Amber Fort 11 – Original colours still vibrant

Amber Fort 12 - The winter palace at the heart of the fort

Amber Fort 12 – The winter palace at the heart of the fort

Amber Fort 13 - Ceiling of the winter palace still has all the colours bright and inlaid with Belgian glass and mirrors

Amber Fort 13 – Ceiling of the winter palace still has all the colours bright and inlaid with Belgian glass and mirrors

Amber Fort 14 - Inside the winter palace - you can clearly see the Belgian glass inlays sparkling

Amber Fort 14 – Inside the winter palace – you can clearly see the glass sparkling

Amber Fort 15 - Entry courtyard as seen by the wives

Amber Fort 15 – Entry courtyard as seen by the wives

Amber Fort 16 - Well kept gardens inside the palace

Amber Fort 16 – Well kept gardens inside the palace

Amber Fort 17 - Houses in the fort area

Amber Fort 17 – Houses in the fort area

Amber Fort 18 - Real live snake charmers with a real live cobra

Amber Fort 18 – Real live snake charmers with a real live cobra

Amber Fort 19 - The fort from across the lake together with Sabhi our driver

Amber Fort 19 – The fort from across the lake together with Sabhi our driver

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Next stop was the City Palace followed by a visit to the usual arts and crafts bazar. But thankfully this one was different. The artists occupying this venue were had all one awards for their work which is the qualification for their presence. They paint intricate very colourful pictures using a brush with one hair from a squirrel. The colours used are from the natural pigments of stone which do not fade with time. The paper they use is very old rice paper (more than 110 years) that had previously been used for land contracts. They even have a stamp duty mark that authenticates them.

 

Jaipur 3 - Sun Dial details at the Jantar Mantar observatory

Jaipur 3 – Sun Dial details at the Jantar Mantar observatory

Jaipur 4 - The Jantar Mantar observatory

Jaipur 4 – The Jantar Mantar observatory

Jaipur 5 - The small sun dial  at the Jantar Mantar observatory

Jaipur 5 – The small sun dial at the Jantar Mantar observatory

Jaipur 6 - The big sun dial at the Jantar Mantar observatory

Jaipur 6 – The big sun dial at the Jantar Mantar observatory

Jaipur  7 - The City Palace

Jaipur 7 – The City Palace

Jaipur 8 - The City Palace

Jaipur 8 – The City Palace

Jaipur 9 - Lyn with our guide Sanil at the City Palace

Jaipur 9 – Lyn with our guide Sanil at the City Palace

Jaipur 10 - At the City Palace

Jaipur 10 – At the City Palace

Jaipur 11 - Lyn with award winning artitst Hanuman

Jaipur 11 – Lyn with award winning artitst Hanuman

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ranthambhore to Jaipur

Day 47 – SATURDAY 7th March 2015

We had another long car ride today, about 4 hours. It was only about 150 kms but the road was really bad, mostly dirt with lots of pot holes.

Ranthambhore to Jaipur - The only way travel

Ranthambhore to Jaipur – The only way travel

Ranthambhore to Jaipur - Camel transport still viable

Ranthambhore to Jaipur – Camel transport still viable

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our hotel in Jaipur is the ITC Rajputana which belongs to the same chain as the hotel we stayed at in Agra and it was about the same standard except we did not get a suite so only one bathroom (but we managed anyway).

Ranthambhore

Day 46 – Friday 6th March 2015

Up early for a jeep ride in to the Ranthambhore National Park to see wild animals including the rarely sighted tigers. We were lucky enough (so we kept being told) to see a couple of tigers from a distance.

Ranthambhore 9 - National Park - Spotted deer

Ranthambhore Safari – Spotted spotted deer

 

Ranthambhore Safari - Looking for Tigers
Ranthambhore Safari – Looking for Tigers

 

Ranthambhore Safari - Found a Tiger

Ranthambhore Safari – Found a Tiger

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After breakfast back at the hotel we went for ride to see the Ranthambhore Fort. It was built by the King of Rajasthan around 500 AD. It is an amazing structure that has 6 impenetrable gates in series followed by a water trap that would wash away invaders should they get that far. According to legend the fort was never penetrated by an invading army, a testament to the architects and builders.

Ranthambhore 19 - Holi celebrations in the street

Ranthambhore 20 - Holi celebrations in the street

Ranthambhore 20 – Holi celebrations in the street

Ranthambhore 21 - Holi celebrations at the hotel - Sangid and Michael

Ranthambhore 21 – Holi celebrations at the hotel – Sangid and Michael

Ranthambhore 22 - Holi celebrations at the hotel - Lyn and Sangids wife

Ranthambhore 22 – Holi celebrations at the hotel – Lyn and Sangids wife

Ranthambhore 23 - Lower entrance to the fort

Ranthambhore 23 – Lower entrance to the fort

Ranthambhore 24 - Us and the monkeys at the fort

Ranthambhore 24 – Us and the monkeys at the fort

Ranthambhore 25 - Lyn at the fort with great view

Ranthambhore 25 – Lyn at the fort with great view

Ranthambhore 26 - They celebrate Holi everywhere even at the fort

Ranthambhore 26 – They celebrate Holi everywhere even at the fort

Ranthambhore 27 - Inside the fort walls

Ranthambhore 27 – Inside the fort walls

Ranthambhore 28 - Amazing impenetrable doors at the fort

Ranthambhore 28 – Amazing impenetrable doors at the fort

Ranthambhore 29 - Lyn and Michael at the top of the fort wall

Ranthambhore 29 – Lyn and Michael at the top of the fort wall

Ranthambhore 30 - One of the buildings inside the fort

Ranthambhore 30 – One of the buildings inside the fort

Ranthambhore 31 - Monkeys with baby at the fort

Ranthambhore 31 – Monkeys with baby at the fort

Ranthambhore 32 - Monument built by the kings son for the king at the fort

Ranthambhore 32 – Monument built by the kings son for the king at the fort

Ranthambhore 33 - Map of the fort built around 500 AD

Ranthambhore 33 – Map of the fort built around 500 AD

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The rest of the day we relaxed and had a nap (to catch up on lost sleep) before a very nice outdoor dinner listening to  the Indian rock band.

 

 

 

Agra to Ranthambhore

Day 46 – THURSDAY 5th March 2015

Today we spent the day driving from Agra to Ranthambhore, 6 and half hours in the car along lots of bumpy roads.

Agra to Ranthambhore 1 - Gateway to Rajasthan

Agra to Ranthambhore 1 – Gateway to Rajasthan

Agra to Ranthambhore 2 - First class passenger travel and a late model Morris

Agra to Ranthambhore 2 – First class passenger travel and a late model Morris

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The hotel here, Vivanti by Taj, is a heritage classified building that was built by the king of Rajasthan in 1930 as his hunting lodge. Very comfortable.

Ranthambhore 1 - Vivanta by Taj hotel

Ranthambhore 1 – Vivanta by Taj hotel

Ranthambhore 2 - Vivanta by Taj hotel

Ranthambhore 2 – Vivanta by Taj hotel

Ranthambhore 3 - Vivanta by Taj hotel

Ranthambhore 3 – Vivanta by Taj hotel

Ranthambhore 4 - Vivanta by Taj hotel

Ranthambhore 4 – Vivanta by Taj hotel

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the evening the General Manager of the hotel invited us along with some other hotel guests to join in their Holi festival celebrations. Holi is the Hindu celebration of spring. Holi is a major festival in the Hindu religion. It is celebrated on the day after the last full moon of the Hindu month of Phalguna. Phalguna falls between late February and early March in Western calendars. It is also known as the festival of colours because everyone paints each other with powdered colours. It is also a national public holiday.

 

Ranthambhore 5 - Holi festival celebrations being in the hotel car park

Ranthambhore 5 – Holi festival celebrations being in the hotel car park

Ranthambhore 6 - GM of hotel receives Holi blessing in the hotel car park

Ranthambhore 6 – GM of hotel receives Holi blessing in the hotel car park

Ranthambhore 8 - Indian rock band at hotel dinner

Ranthambhore 8 – Indian rock band at hotel dinner

 

 

 

 

 

Agra

Day 45 – WEDNESDAY 4th March 2015

Very early start today to see the Taj Mahal at sunrise. It is a magnificent marble structure and truly one of the wonders of the world and a symbol of love that will never be repeated.

Taj Mahal Sunrise 1 - Main Gate

Taj Mahal Sunrise 1 – Main Gate

Taj Mahal Sunrise 2 - Security - so many people

Taj Mahal Sunrise 2 – Security – so many people

Taj Mahal Sunrise 3 - Inside the enclosure - Our fist sight of the famous landmark

Taj Mahal Sunrise 3 – Inside the enclosure – Our fist sight of the famous landmark

Taj Mahal Sunrise 4 - Getting closer

Taj Mahal Sunrise 4 – Getting closer

Taj Mahal Sunrise 5 - My first shot on a hazy dawn

Taj Mahal Sunrise 5 – My first shot on a hazy dawn

Taj Mahal Sunrise 6 - Proof that we were there

Taj Mahal Sunrise 6 – Proof that we were there

Taj Mahal Sunrise 7 - Still a bit hazy

Taj Mahal Sunrise 7 – Still a bit hazy

Taj Mahal Sunrise 8 - Lyn lifting the Taj Mahal

Taj Mahal Sunrise 8 – Lyn lifting the Taj Mahal

Taj Mahal Sunrise 9 - Getting closer

Taj Mahal Sunrise 9 – Getting closer

Taj Mahal Sunrise 10 - View from the Taj Mahal back over the gardens to the entrancel

Taj Mahal Sunrise 10 – View from the Taj Mahal back over the gardens to the entrancel

Taj Mahal Sunrise 11 - Magnificent marble with inlays

Taj Mahal Sunrise 11 – Magnificent marble with inlays

Taj Mahal Sunrise 12 - Close up

Taj Mahal Sunrise 12 – Close up

Taj Mahal Sunrise 13 - Last shot before we left

Taj Mahal Sunrise 13 – Last shot before we left

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After the visit to the Taj Mahal we went back to the hotel for breakfast then off again to see the fort. There are lots of forts around India most of which were built by Hindis to protect their homes or Moguls who invaded India and then had to protect themselves!

Agra Fort 1
Agra Fort 1

 

Agra Fort 2

Agra Fort 2

Agra Fort 3

Agra Fort 3

Agra Fort 4

Agra Fort 4

Agra Fort 5

Agra Fort 5

Agra Fort 7

Agra Fort 7

Agra Fort 8

Agra Fort 8

Agra Fort 9 - View of Taj Mahal across the river1

Agra Fort 9 – View of Taj Mahal across the river1

Agra Fort 10

Agra Fort 10

Agra Fort 11

Agra Fort 11

Agra Fort 13

Agra Fort 13

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Then in the evening we went back to the Taj Mahal for a sunset viewing. The colour changes from white to yellow as the sun goes down.

 

Taj Mahal Sunset 3
Taj Mahal Sunset 3

 

Taj Mahal Sunset 4 - View to Guest House

Taj Mahal Sunset 4 – View to Guest House

Taj Mahal Sunset 5 - Turning yellow as the sun goes down

Taj Mahal Sunset 5 – Turning yellow as the sun goes down

Taj Mahal Sunset 6 - Peaceful view of the river from the Taj

Taj Mahal Sunset 6 – Peaceful view of the river from the Taj

Taj Mahal Sunset 7 - I am getting better at selfies

Taj Mahal Sunset 7 – I am getting better at selfies

Taj Mahal Sunset 8 - Getting more yellow

Taj Mahal Sunset 8 – Getting more yellow

Taj Mahal Sunset 9 - Last shot still white from the front

Taj Mahal Sunset 9 – Last shot still white from the front

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dinner at the hotel’s Peshawri restaurant was a real treat.

Dinner at Pashawri Restaurant in the hotel - excellent food - love the bibs

Dinner at Pashawri Restaurant in the hotel – excellent food – love the bibs

 

 

 

 

 

 

Khajuraho to Agra

Day 44 – TUESDAY 3rd March 2015

Today was not a good day. To get from Khajuraho to Agra  we had to take a 9 nine hour train journey.  It started off with us not waking up until 5 minutes before our scheduled departure. I set the alarm to 6:30pm instead of 6:30am!

Our seats were what is described as 1st Class. However, in our opinion it was closer to 3rd class. The cabin was private enough but it was grubby and dirty and we did not want to touch anything. The common toilet was absolutely disgusting.  Lyn did not go all day! There was no alternative because there are no flights to Agra from here.

Khajuraho to Agra 1 - Grubby dirty 1st class train - I can't believe she is smiling
Khajuraho to Agra 1 – Grubby dirty 1st class train – I can’t believe she is smiling

 

 

 

 

Khajuraho to Agra 2 - Grubby dirty 1st class train

Khajuraho to Agra 2 – Grubby dirty 1st class train

Khajuraho to Agra 3 - Grubby dirty 1st class train

Khajuraho to Agra 3 – Grubby dirty 1st class train

Khajuraho to Agra 4 - Grubby dirty 1st class train

Khajuraho to Agra 4 – Grubby dirty 1st class train

Khajuraho to Agra 5 - Agra station - busy like this 24 hors a day

Khajuraho to Agra 5 – Agra station – busy like this 24 hors a day

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The only joy for the day was arriving at the best hotel we have stayed at so far, the ITC Mughal.

 

 

ITC Mughal Hotel Agra 1- Impressive Luxury Hotel ITC Mughal Hotel Agra 2- Impressive Luxury Hotel

ITC Mughal Hotel Agra 3- Impressive Luxury Hotel

ITC Mughal Hotel Agra 3- Impressive Luxury Hotel

ITC Mughal Hotel Agra 4 - Beautiful large suite

ITC Mughal Hotel Agra 4 – Beautiful large suite

ITC Mughal Hotel Agra 5 - Beautiful large suite

ITC Mughal Hotel Agra 5 – Beautiful large suite

ITC Mughal Hotel Agra 7 - Beautiful pool area near the spa

ITC Mughal Hotel Agra 7 – Beautiful pool area near the spa

ITC Mughal Hotel - Great Shower

ITC Mughal Hotel – Great Shower

ITC Mughal Hotel - Biggest Shower head ever

ITC Mughal Hotel – Biggest Shower head ever

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Khajuraho

Day 43 – MONDAY 2nd March 2015

Today we flew from Varanasi to Khajuraho – 1 hour to the airport then 45 minutes in air!

Khajuraho is a temple city where the are many temples all in one are. Apparently they were built here because the local granite makes really good foundations. The hotel (the Lalit, same group as the one in New Delhi) is beautiful and we had a lovely room.

 

Lilat Khajuraho 1 - Lovely hotel with nice room

Lilat Khajuraho 1 – Lovely hotel with nice room

Lilat Khajuraho 2 - Lyn in the beautiful gardens

Lilat Khajuraho 2 – Lyn in the beautiful gardens

Lilat Khajuraho 3 - Lyn at the pool

Lilat Khajuraho 3 – Lyn at the pool

Khajuraho 1 - Temples

Khajuraho 2 - Temples

Khajuraho 2 – Temples

Khajuraho 3 - Temples

Khajuraho 3 – Temples

Khajuraho 4 - Temples

Khajuraho 4 – Temples

Khajuraho 5 - Temples

Khajuraho 5 – Temples

Khajuraho 7 - Temples

Khajuraho 7 – Temples

Khajuraho 8 - Temples

Khajuraho 8 – Temples

Khajuraho 9 - Temples - Kuma Sutra inspires many carvings

Khajuraho 9 – Temples – Kuma Sutra inspires many carvings

Khajuraho 11 - Temples - Three religions in one

Khajuraho 11 – Temples – Three religions in one

Khajuraho 11 - Temples - Three religions in one

Khajuraho 11 – Temples – Three religions in one

Khajuraho 12 - Temples East

Khajuraho 12 – Temples East

 

 

 

 

 

Varanasi – Ganges at Sunrise

Day 42 – SUNDAY 1st March 2015

This morning our guide picked us up at 6:00am (which meant a we had to get up at 5:00am!) for a visit to the Ganges River to watch the morning  bathing ritual.

We arrived at the waters edge in time to almost get sprayed by a relieving cow (missed us by that much!). We saw men getting their heads shaved which is a custom for grieving relatives. Then we went for a another boat ride but this time in daylight.

After the boat ride we walked through a very old part of the city where the streets are so narrow that only bicycles, motorcycles and pedestrians can pass. In this area there is a gold covered Hindu temple and a Mongul mosque that was built on the foundations of a Hindu temple which the Mongols had demolished to assert their power). Photos could not be taken in this very heavily army guarded area where everyone is touch searched upon entry. Apparently they fear an attack by Muslim extremists.

Ganges at Sunrise 1 - Relieving Cow and head shaving

Ganges at Sunrise 1 – Relieving Cow and head shaving

 

 

 

Ganges at Sunrise 2 - Almost as crowded as the night before
Ganges at Sunrise 2 – Almost as crowded as the night before
Ganges at Sunrise 3

Ganges at Sunrise 3

Ganges at Sunrise 4

Ganges at Sunrise 4

Ganges at Sunrise 5

Ganges at Sunrise 5

Ganges at Sunrise 6 - They even swim in this very polluted water

Ganges at Sunrise 6 – They even swim in this very polluted water

Ganges at Sunrise 7 - Once a palace to a king

Ganges at Sunrise 7 – Once a palace to a king

Ganges at Sunrise 8 - Example of a mansion from a bygone era

Ganges at Sunrise 8 – Example of a mansion from a bygone era

Ganges at Sunrise 9 - The Laundry

Ganges at Sunrise 9 – The Laundry

Ganges at Sunrise 10

Ganges at Sunrise 10

Ganges at Sunrise 11 - Guest house

Ganges at Sunrise 11 – Guest house

Ganges at Sunrise 12 - Lyn launching candle to Shiva

Ganges at Sunrise 12 – Lyn launching candle to Shiva

Ganges at Sunrise 13 - Lyn watching candle turn upside down in the wind

Ganges at Sunrise 13 – Lyn watching candle turn upside down in the wind

Ganges at Sunrise 14 - Michael launching candle to Shiva

Ganges at Sunrise 14 – Michael launching candle to Shiva

Ganges at Sunrise 15 - Locals bathing area

Ganges at Sunrise 15 – Locals bathing area

Ganges at Sunrise 16

Ganges at Sunrise 16

Ganges at Sunrise 17 - Tourists

Ganges at Sunrise 17 – Tourists

Ganges at Sunrise 18 - More cremations

Ganges at Sunrise 18 – More cremations

Ganges at Sunrise 19 - More cremations

Ganges at Sunrise 19 – More cremations

Ganges at Sunrise 20

Ganges at Sunrise 20

Ganges at Sunrise 21

Ganges at Sunrise 21

Ganges at Sunrise 22

Ganges at Sunrise 22

Ganges at Sunrise 23

Ganges at Sunrise 23

Ganges at Sunrise 24

Ganges at Sunrise 24

Ganges at Sunrise 25 - Seagulls being fed fish and chips

Ganges at Sunrise 25 – Seagulls being fed fish and chips

Ganges at Sunrise 26

Ganges at Sunrise 26

Ganges at Sunrise 27 - Our disembarkation point into the very old part of the city

Ganges at Sunrise 27 – Our disembarkation point into the very old part of the city

Varanasi Old City 1

Varanasi Old City 1

Varanasi Old City 2

Varanasi Old City 2

Varanasi Old City 3

Varanasi Old City 3

Buddah's first sermon site 1

Buddah’s first sermon site 1

Buddah's first sermon site 2

Buddah’s first sermon site 2

Buddah's first sermon site 3

Buddah’s first sermon site 3

Buddah's first sermon site 4

Buddah’s first sermon site 4

Buddah's first sermon site 5

Buddah’s first sermon site 5

Buddah's first sermon site 6

Buddah’s first sermon site 6

Buddah's first sermon site 7

Buddah’s first sermon site 7

Buddahs first sermon site 8 - School kids who thought we were a novelty

Buddahs first sermon site 8 – School kids who thought we were a novelty

Buddah's first sermon site 9 - All the kids wanted to be in the phoito

Buddah’s first sermon site 9 – All the kids wanted to be in the phoito

Buddah's first sermon site 9 - Same school kids

Buddah’s first sermon site 9 – Same school kids

Buddahs first sermon site 10 - University students doing ba survey on tourists

Buddahs first sermon site 10 – University students doing ba survey on tourists

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Varanasi

Day 41 – SATURDAY 28th February 2015

A one and half hour flight from Delhi took us to Varanasi. The city is the oldest continually inhabited city in the world, over 5000 years. And it looks it!

The streets are narrow, dirty, smelly and terribly overcrowded. The main income earner for the are is the spiritual pilgrimage of Hindus for dip in the Ganges or being cremated along its banks.

We stayed at the Radisson Hotel which, according to their web site, is one of the finest 5 star hotels in the city. Well, in our opinion, 5 star is stretching it. The hotel is old, tired and smells of urine (but that could be the smell wafting in from outside!).

At sunset we went for a boat ride on the Ganges to see the funeral pyres which are lit along the banks in specified areas run by the Untouchables (the lowest cast of Indians). Apparently, in spite of this title, they are doing well financially since there are over 300 cremations per day every day of the year. They get well paid for the service and are entitled to sift the ashes for melted jewellery that is often left on the bodies. We stayed on the boat tied up to the steps and watched the evening performance by the Hindu priests.

Varanasi Streets 1

Varanasi Streets 1

Varanasi Streets 2

Varanasi Streets 2

Varanasi Streets 3

Varanasi Streets 3

Varanasi Streets 4

Varanasi Streets 4

Varanasi Ganges River 1 - Sunset

Varanasi Ganges River 1 – Sunset

Varanasi Ganges River 2 - Sunset

Varanasi Ganges River 2 – Sunset

Varanasi Ganges River 3 - Sunset

Varanasi Ganges River 3 – Sunset

Varanasi Ganges River 4 - Sunset

Varanasi Ganges River 4 – Sunset

Varanasi Ganges River 5 - Sunset

Varanasi Ganges River 5 – Sunset

Varanasi Ganges River 6 - Sunset

Varanasi Ganges River 6 – Sunset

Varanasi Ganges River 7 - Sunset

Varanasi Ganges River 7 – Sunset

Varanasi Ganges River 8 - Sunset

Varanasi Ganges River 8 – Sunset

Varanasi Ganges River 9 - Sunset

Varanasi Ganges River 9 – Sunset

Varanasi Ganges River 10 - Sunset

Varanasi Ganges River 10 – Sunset

Varanasi Ganges River 11 - Sunset Cremations

Varanasi Ganges River 11 – Sunset Cremations

Varanasi Ganges River 12 - Sunset Cremations

Varanasi Ganges River 12 – Sunset Cremations

Varanasi Ganges River 13 - Sunset Cremations candles floating away

Varanasi Ganges River 13 – Sunset Cremations candles floating away

Varanasi Ganges River 14 - Sunset Cremations launching candle for Shiva

Varanasi Ganges River 14 – Sunset Cremations launching candle for Shiva

Varanasi Ganges River 15 - Sunset Cremations

Varanasi Ganges River 15 – Sunset Cremations

Varanasi Ganges River 16 - Sunset Prayers

Varanasi Ganges River 16 – Sunset Prayers

Varanasi Ganges River 17 - Sunset Prayers

Varanasi Ganges River 17 – Sunset Prayers

Varanasi Ganges River 18 - Sunset Prayers

Varanasi Ganges River 18 – Sunset Prayers

Varanasi Ganges River 19 - Sunset Spectators

Varanasi Ganges River 19 – Sunset Spectators

Varanasi Ganges River 20 - Sunset Prayers

Varanasi Ganges River 20 – Sunset Prayers

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

New Delhi

Day 40 – Friday 27th February 2015

This morning we went on a guided tour of New Delhi. This is a city designed by the British in the 1700’s.

New Delhi Scene - Lyn at India Gate

New Delhi Scene – Lyn at India Gate

New Delhi Scene 2 - Humayuns Tomb

New Delhi Scene 2 – Humayuns Tomb

New Delhi Scene 3 - Humayans Tomb

New Delhi Scene 3 – Humayans Tomb

New Delhi Scene 4 - Humayans Tomb

New Delhi Scene 4 – Humayans Tomb

New Delhi Scene 5 - Humayans Tomb

New Delhi Scene 5 – Humayans Tomb

New Delhi Scene 6 - Humayans Tomb

New Delhi Scene 6 – Humayans Tomb

New Delhi Scene 7 - Crowded Bus

New Delhi Scene 7 – Crowded Bus

New Delhi Scene 8 - We were the attraction for student tourists from South India

New Delhi Scene 8 – We were the attraction for student tourists from South India

New Delhi Scene 9 - Qutab Minar - 1162 Minarette with 2015 Jet

New Delhi Scene 9 – Qutab Minar – 1162 Minarette with 2015 Jet

New Delhi Scene 9 - Qutab Minar

New Delhi Scene 9 – Qutab Minar

New Delhi Scene 11 - Qutab Minar

New Delhi Scene 11 – Qutab Minar

New Delhi Scene 11 - Qutab Minar

New Delhi Scene 11 – Qutab Minar

New Delhi Scene 12 - Qutab Minar

New Delhi Scene 12 – Qutab Minar

New Delhi Scene 13 - Qutab Minar Bollywood Film Shoot

New Delhi Scene 13 – Qutab Minar Bollywood Film Shoot

New Delhi Scene 14 - Qutab Minar

New Delhi Scene 14 – Qutab Minar

New Delhi Scene 16 - Qutab Minar

New Delhi Scene 16 – Qutab Minar

New Delhi Scene 16 - Qutab Minar

New Delhi Scene 16 – Qutab Minar

New Delhi Scene 17 - Alai Minar

New Delhi Scene 17 – Alai Minar

New Delhi Scene 18 - Alai Minar

New Delhi Scene 18 – Alai Minar

New Delhi Scene 19 - Presidents Official Residence

New Delhi Scene 19 – Presidents Official Residence

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We had dinner at the hotel again but this time our choices were not as good but it was very nice anyway.

Indian Dinner at Lalit Hotel

Indian Dinner at Lalit Hotel

 

 

 

 

Delhi – Old City

Day 39  – Thursday 26th February 2015

Landed at New Delhi Airport at 2:30am. We did not get to bed until 5:00am after our guide went through all the paperwork and helped us check in.

The hotel (Lalit) is a very modern and beautifully decorated hotel. High ceilings and lots of marble. Our room turned out to be a magnificent suite which we found very comfortable. It would have been awesome but the fact that is was quite cold since only cooling aircon is provided.

Room pics

Delhi Lalit Hotel 1

Delhi Lalit Hotel 1

Delhi Lalit Hotel 2

Delhi Lalit Hotel 2

Delhi Lalit Hotel 3

Delhi Lalit Hotel 3

Delhi Lalit Hotel 4

Delhi Lalit Hotel 4

Delhi Lalit Hotel 6

Delhi Lalit Hotel 6

Delhi Lalit Hotel 7

Delhi Lalit Hotel 7

Delhi Lalit Hotel 8

Delhi Lalit Hotel 8

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our guide collected us around midday for an afternoon tour of the Old City. This was an excellent experience which included a ride on a cycle rickshaw.

Mahatma Ghandi Tomb

Mahatma Ghandi Tomb

Old City Scene

Old City Scene

Old City Scene 1

Old City Scene 1

Old City Scene 2

Old City Scene 2

Old City Scene 3

Old City Scene 3

Old City Scene 4

Old City Scene 4

Old City Scene 5

Old City Scene 5

Old City Scene 6

Old City Scene 6

Old City Scene 7

Old City Scene 7

Old City Scene 8 - Old Tech and New Tech

Old City Scene 8 – Old Tech and New Tech

Old City Scene 9 - Spice Market

Old City Scene 9 – Spice Market

Old City Scene 10- Check out the wiring

Old City Scene 10- Check out the wiring

Old City Scene 11

Old City Scene 11

Old City Scene 12

Old City Scene 12

Old City Scene 13

Old City Scene 13

Old City Scene 14

Old City Scene 14

Old City Scene 15 - Sari Shop

Old City Scene 15 – Sari Shop

Old City Scene 16

Old City Scene 16

Old City Scene 17

Old City Scene 17

Old City Scene 18

Old City Scene 18

Old City Scene 19

Old City Scene 19

Old City Scene 20 - Michael driving rickshaw

Old City Scene 20 – Michael driving rickshaw

Old City Scene 21 - Man living in a tree

Old City Scene 21 – Man living in a tree

Red Fort

Red Fort

Suitably attired Lyn at Jama Masjid  mosque.

Suitably attired Lyn at Jama Masjid mosque.

Wiring 30 meters from our hotel

Wiring 30 meters from our hotel

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

London to Delhi

Day 38  – Wednesday 25th February 2015

Rose early to make sure we got to the airport in time for our 11:45am flight to India. Just as well because we drove around the massive Heathrow Airport trying to find the car rental return depot for Avis. The signs were so conflicting we ended up at Terminal 3 instead of Terminal 5 and had to take the shuttle across. Anyway, we made the flight in plenty of time.

London 7

Day 37  – TUESDAY 24th February 2015

Today we dedicated our time to sorting out which clothes we should take to India and which clothes to send back to Australia.  We managed to completely fill our two big cases and arranged for them to be shipped home leaving us with just two small suitcases and backpacks for the rest of journey. Which is just as well because we are staying only one or two nights at each location.

Visited Howard at the nursing home and found him to be in great spirits and looking quite healthy. Let’s hope that the trend continues.

In the evening we visited Brian and Valerie at their magnificent home which occupies the top floor of an Edwardian style building in the heart of Hampstead. Ruth joined us for dinner at a very nice restaurant a short walk from Valerie and Brian’s.

 

London 6 – The West End

Day 36  – MONDAY 23rd February 2015

Went in to the West End by train today. Found Selfridges just across the road from Bond Street station. Had a look around but did not buy anything. Everything in London is very expensive for us Aussies.

Walked up Baker Street and had a hot salt beef sandwich at Reubens with pickled cucumber and lutkas.

It was too cold and windy to walk around the shops so we went to Finchley Road and saw a very good movie (The Theory of Everything).

 

London 5 – The Party

Day 35 – SUNDAY 22nd February 2015

Wow! What a party!

The Barmitzvah party was held at the hotel where we are staying so it was very convenient considering the still very cold (at least for us!) and now wet and windy weather.

The evening started off with a massive bang – the MC got all the guests up on the dance floor for a traditional dance and sing-a-long. It certainly set the atmosphere for the rest of the night.

Speeches and presentations were given by friends and family members including a video from Benjamin’s ex school friends from the US.

The band was really excellent and included a sax and an electric violin even a pair of dance leaders who kept the children and most of the adults on the dance floor doing line dancing. Extensive use was made of sophisticated electronic equipment including a terrific LED dance floor.

Even the food, which was prepared by outside kosher caterers, was excellent.

The whole event was professionally photographed and video recorded (links will be added when available).

The whole evening was full of love and good will and we really enjoyed it.

Here are a few photos that I managed to take. The professional ones will be posted soon.

Everyone on the dance floor

Everyone on the dance floor

Deborah and Daniel - the happy parents

Deborah and Daniel – the happy parents

Lyn with Brian and Valerie

Lyn with Brian and Valerie

Daniel at breakfast the following morning

 

 

 

 

London 4 – The Barmitzvah

Day 34 – SATURDAY 21st February 2015

Today we went to the Borehamwood and Elstree synagogue for Benjamin’s Barmitzvah. It was a very nice service during which Howard, among other members of the family, were called up to read from the Torah. It was really wonderful to see Howard present and totally with it considering his health difficulties over the past year and particularly over the past few weeks. Benjamin performed his Maftir and Haftorah brilliantly and Daniel (with his Dad) gave his blessing backed by a choir.  A very good performance all round. Many family members were present including Aunt Essie who is 93 years old.

After the service the congregation were invited to a kiddish followed by a lunch in the attached community hall for family and friends. Benjamin gave an excellent speech and so did his Dad in response.

Lunch finished about 4:00pm. A really lovely day.

Dressed ready for Synagogue

Dressed ready for Synagogue

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the evening we went over to David and Jill Graham’s home for a chat followed by a light supper at a local Vietnamese restaurant. Always great to catch with them and hear about their travels.

Tomorrow evening there will be a family function to continue the celebrations.

Weather still very cold (even colder than yesterday)!

London 3

Day 33 – FRIDAY 20th February 2015

Retail therapy day! We went to Marks and Spencer at London Colney armed with a 20% discount voucher kindly provided by Ruth.

Lyn bought a few very nice items while I restricted my expenditure to some socks.

Lovely Friday night Shabbas dinner at Ruth’s home with the Claydens and friends from New York.

Weather still very cold!