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Sunday, June 27, 2010

Rajasthan Part I

Rajasthan is the Land of the Kings, Maharadjas and Colours. It hosts some of the most beautiful forts and temples in India. It is mostly rural and half of it is desert. I rented a car and a driver (Kamal) for 12 days and saw magical villages, vast forts, beautiful havelis, incredible temples, pompous palaces and experienced the desert. Travelling from Delhi to Rajasthan felt like travelling back in time. People have to walk kilometers to get water, there is no service industry, no shopping malls. Check out my pictures to reveal the true face of India yourself. 
N
ow I want to give you some details on my itinerary. I added as well the name of the hotels in which I stayed. If you plan to do a similar trip I can recommend all of them.

Agra (Hotel Taj Home Stay)

The first stop on my trip in order to check out the magical Taj Mahal. Children living around the Taj are specialized in ripping off tourists. They were the most persistent species of rip-off people that I met. After visiting the Taj I headed on to Fatehpur Sikri which is another UNESCO world heritage site where people would be almost as persistent. They know that most foreigners travel to the Taj have no idea of the Indian prices and they ask for outrageous prices.
Jaipur (Hotel Amber View)
I met a few other travelers here: Melissa, Alex and Chloe. We spent a few days together. In Jaipur I had as well my first experiences with local people. I played cricket with children and hung out with local people that in the end only wanted to make money out of me. True friends, eh?
Pushkar (Hotel New Park)
Pushkar was quite an experience. I had the best Chai tea there, got my first Hindu mark on my forehead and drank a Special Lassi with a disastrous aftermath. Read up yourself...
Udaipur (Hotel Pichola Haveli)
Udaipur is my most favourite place in Rajasthan. It is a considerably small town with narrow streets, friendly people, a good mix of temples and palaces and has many opportunities to hike. I relaxed there for two days.

The Rajasthan tour will be continued in my next post... for now check out the first part of the pictures
here.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Delhi

Welcome to Delhi. If you have a car or a motor-bike then please remove all your rear mirrors. In India people do not look back. They are only moving forward with a fast pace while furiously honking at the same time. Arriving to Delhi was "quite" an experience. I arrived at the Delhi airport past midnight and because there are not many street lights only the next morning revealed the true face of the city: Crazy. Crowded. Hot. Dirty. Chaotic. But still very fascinating. Actually, I was scared to go out and walk on the streets the first day. Luckily my friend Raman helped me out and got me started.

Currently Delhi is one big construction site because of the upcoming Commonwealth Games in October. You will see traces of the construction work in almost all my Delhi photos. The belief is that by October the city should be a world class city. So all the homeless people are moved out of the downtown area, all illegally constructed buildings are destroyed, sewers are put into place and all streets seem to be renovated. The fascinating fact is that literally every street in Delhi is under construction. Inefficient workers seem to be available abundantly. People are very optimistic that all the construction will be completed by the time the games start (although it seems almost infeasible, but apparently Indians start to work quite efficiently if you give them deadlines).

Now to a completely other thing, I started reading Indian newspapers: Honour Killing: Family tortures and kills daughter and her lover

The most definitely best thing I did in Delhi was the City Walk Tour guided by former street children. The tour is offered by the Salaam Baalak Trust and gives street children a platform to improve the English they learn in children homes and tourists have the opportunity to get to know the city from a whole new perspective.

That is it about Delhi. Stay tuned for my Rajasthan report and make sure you check out my Delhi photos.
Hotel recommendation in Delhi: Hotel Lal's Haveli.