Tour to India – Jo’s India part VI

Hello all,

We are currently at a  cardamom/coffee plantain in Munnar Kerala.

On Saturday November 5th we rented a vehicle at the Marriott and went to the airport to pick up Savita who was arriving at 11:30.  We were a bit concerned as after an hour she was still not out, apparently the custom guy has a bit of an issue with her passport–she has an indian name Savita but doesn’t speak Hindi, she was coming from England but has a Canadian passport etc.  Actually, she said that he was young so I am sure he just wanted to spend some time talking with him!

We asked her if she was okay with touring Bombay right awayS(from the airport) as this was her only opportunity to do so, she agreed so we went on a tour of Mumbai with her.  It was great to have Larry give her a commentary on Mumbai–Dhobhi Ghat, Victoria station, Gateway to India, Taj hotel, etc etc.  We went for a nice lunch and after a while she said that she was falling asleep so we brought her back to the hotel, where she fell asleep and Larry and I went for a bit of shopping.

We checked out really early on Sunday for flight to Kochi where our tour with Splendour holidays started.  We were picked up by a nice air conditioned car and driver and went straight to Allepy and a fantastic houseboat, where we stayed overnight and relaxed and ate and relaxed and ate!

This morning our driver picked us up and drove us to Munnar where we are this evening.  Kerala is experiencing monsoons so we have had rain each day a first time for me in India.  We just had Ayurvedic massage (Shai/Mum/Dad– thought of you again today) so we are a bit zoned out.

We are fine and doing okay.  Tomorrow we tour Munnar and then the next day, we are off to Kochi.

It is great to hear that everyone from the India tour is back in Canada, I am glad that everyone is safe and sound.  After I received the emails from everyone, I think I had the best sleep.  I am happy to report that except for one day that Blaine didn’t feel well, we didn’t have any other major illnesses (my biggest fear).

Time for a kingfisher…enjoy the day everyone,

Jo and family

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Tour to India – Jo’s India part V

Hi all,

I can’t believe that I haven’t written for so long…needless to say, the whirlwind tour has had me very busy.  After Jaipur/Diwali, we drove to Jodhpur.   We arrived to a lovely Gateway Hotel in Jodhpur and fell  asleep early.  The next day, we toured the fort in Jodhpur which was really nice.  Unfortunately, the King of Bhutan was also visiting the fort so the place had been closed in places till he went through causing a bottleneck of tourists.  I guess there were many wars between gujrat and Jodhpur kings and there is a lot of “booty” and other gifts from war wins in the fort.  The place was full of gujratis on their diwali vacations.

Jodhpur is a “blue” town unlike Jaipur which is pink.  The residents of Jodhpur paint their houses blue to keep the insects away.  So when you look at the town from the top of the fort, it looks blue.

One of the couples travelling with us (Rod and Linda) got a text message just as we were leaving that they were the proud grandparents of a girl so there was  a lot of celebrating that evening.

After Jodhpur, another bus ride to Udaipur.  The hotels where we are staying are very nice and beautiful but by the time we reach them at eight or nine, we have a quick supper and then bed and we leave the next day, so not much use of the nice facility.

Udaipur palace was also full of gujratis…we went on a boat ride after looking at the palace and had lunch on the island hotel,  It was quiet and lovely.  We didn’t check out much as in Udaipur as we had to drive to Ahmedabad…another long ride.  The people were pretty tired by then.  We reached Ahmedabad really late, bed and left at 6 a.m, the next morning for our flight to Mumbai.  Sorry, didn’t make any call to anyone.

In Mumbai, we stayed at the best hotel to date.  We rested till the afternoon and then a city tour with a fabulous tour guide.  It was very hot(38) and humid.  That evening we had a farewell dinner at khyber restaurant.  The next morning we took the boat to elephanta caves.  The caves are fabulous and the tour guide made each panel come alive.  In the afternoon, we did some shopping and had an early dinner so the group could leave for the airport.  Larry and I said our
goodbyes at the hotel as they do not let you in the airport without a ticket.

This morning it was lovely without 12 other people around us.  We had a quiet breakfast and then went to the newest movie in town–Ra One in 3 D.  Larry liked all the action scenes.

Now we are at the Marriott and await Savita’s arrival on the 5th. The tour was very successful and everyone had a great time.

How are things in Canada?  Is everyone doing fine?

Jo and Larry

Tour to India – Jo’s India part IV

Hello all from Udaipur,

We have had a whirlwind tour of Rajasthan India.  We are staying at such beautiful hotels but have had very limited time in them as we spend the day touring and end up back at the hotel to eat and go to bed!  As I mentioned Jaipur in my last post, Jaipur was amazing.  Someone read that there were 170 people hospitalized from burns due to firecrackers in the Jaipur area.

In Jaipur we saw the fort, the city palace and Jantar Mantar (the observatory).  It was great.  Then we drove to Jodhpur (yes the pants Jodhpurs come from this city).  We stayed in a Taj hotel that was lovely.  We were late getting there so touring the town started the next morning after breakfast.  We went to the Mehrangarh Fort.  It was very crowded as a lot of Indians are on holidays for Diwali.  Also, the King of Bhutan was visiting the fort at the same time.

We all loved the fort…then we went to a gift shop and bazaar…after dinner we had a Rajasthani dance recital.  It was funny because they thought I understood the language but I could only pick out some of the Hindi words, anyways
it was nice evening.

Today we spent the day driving to Udaipur.  Our day included lunch in a lovely mango tree resort and hotel, a visit to a fabulous Jain temple in Ranakpur and then a drive through the mountains.  Tonight we have a free evening and then we off to Ahmedabad after touring Udaipur tomorrow morning.  Then it is an early morning flight to Mumbai.  I will try to call the Bhatts in Ahmedabad if we get there early.  The tour is keeping both Larry and I very busy so we are looking
forward to our respite on November 3.

Very exciting news – Savita is going to join us on November 5th in Mumbai (Bombay).  She will spend the rest of the vacation with us and fly back to England on November 17th, (the same day as us but on British airways)  We are really looking forward to this.

Okay must sign off.

Take care,

Jo and Larry

 

 

 

Tour to India – Jo’s India part III

Hi All!

We had an amazing Diwali in Jaipur…lots of lights and fireworks.  The bus ride from Agra to Jaipur was hot and long.  Apparently we have three more of these rides and people are already complaining about their backs….ouch.   We are doing  fine otherwise.   We went for dinner at someone’s home for Diwali, will have to fill you in on the details upon my return.  This morning we went to the fort and had an elephant ride, it was bumpy but fun.  Tomorrow we are off to Jodhpur.  We also went to McDonalds for lunch today – needed some American cuisine.  I haven’t written about Agra – which was beautiful and nice to see the Taj Mahal again.

Okay must go…running out of time on hotel internet.

Jo

Tour to India – Jo’s India part II

Good Morning everyone,

Sorry that I have not sent anything for a couple of days because we have been very busy.  I actually woke up early today so that I can catch up on my emails.  We left Delhi in the morning of Sunday October 23.  Sy, Dad and Mum the airport
is not the one we were at…they have a new domestic airport.  I think it was getting built when we were last here.  Actually, the Indian government built a whole bunch of new airports in Delhi, Agra, Jaipur, Varanasi etc in time for commonwealth games and they are very nice airports.

We had no issues at the airport, I was kept very busy trying to explain to the folks that we all need tags for our carry on and everything has to be stamped.  The procedure is so confusing but the group was okay with all the red tape.  When we got to the gate, we were told that the plane was late so we sat around and waited and finally arrived in Varanasi around two(ish).  Instead of going to the hotel and checking in etc, we ended up going straight to Sarnath.  We stopped at a local restaurant and made a stop at what I would call second class bathrooms.  Some of the folks were not too happy, but then we all had “thumbs up” pop so everyone was all smiles.

In Sarnath, we ended up going to the museum and then the deer park.  Larry really enjoyed the Buddha statue in the museum.  We also went to the Buddha temple and I finally checked out the Bodhi tree on the side (for those that may not remember this is my third visit to Sarnath and didn’t make it to this tree).  The tree is a gift from Sri Lanka to Sarnath – a twig from their Bodhi tree.  Actually when Ashoka sent his son to Sri Lanka to spread Buddhism, he went there with a twig of the original tree.

Anyways, back to the tour……we got to the Gateway hotel, checked in and then the group wanted to do the Ganga arthi from the boat.  Anil and our local rep from Varanasi had arranged this, we quickly went down (took local cars) but it
took us a long time to get down because of the traffic.  We had an ideal spot on a boat to watch the aarti; a very brief explanation of aarti is that this is the offering of song and lit lamps to one or more deities.  The place was really packed due to Diwali, also known as the Festival of Lights.  As I sat on the boat, I kept looking at balcony where I sat with Mum and Dad and brother Shailesh last time we were all here and I must admit that I missed them all and had a couple of tears running down my cheeks.  We had a nice supper in the Gateway Hotel and bed as we had to wake up at 4 a.m. to go for the morning ride.  BTW, the previous evening after the aarti, we went over a bit of a boat ride and saw three/four bodies burning on the ghats (stairs leading down to a body of water, like the Ganges, or this may refer to areas along holy river-cities) which was sad to see, our group was very respectful about not taking pictures.

Monday, October 24, 2011

We woke up at 4 a.m.  I must admit that Larry and I didn’t sleep too well.  The assault on the senses from everything, the jet lag and the early mornings are taking a toll on us slightly.  We drove down to ghats once more and went on the boat ride.  I had explained on the bus about the river, and its significance…relating it to the Mother Earth/ Mother River in the aboriginal culture.  Many of the group members wanted to do a memorial for their loved ones so we did a pooja from the boat.  Lynn was very sad as she did this memorial for Al.  It was so very sad…the sun was hazy but still Varanasi was in its utmost beauty.

We got off and walked along the paths and alleys for a while.  A bit of a culture shock for most of the people as the dirt and rotting garbage is gross.  I wish the Indian government would clean up that city as they get so many tourists and the mess is such a turn off.   We returned to the hotel for a nice breakfast….the staff made me a dosa (a crispy, savoury pancake) special for us, as it is usually not on the menu.  After breakfast, Larry and I went to the Mandir Palace.  We did a small pooja (offering) of all the lingams (a representation of Shiva used for worship in temples) in this Mandir.  Lynn and her niece Linda joined us.  It was quiet and we didn’t have a poojari (temple priest) or any pooja offerings; these are traditional gifts of specific items like food, drink and flowers or everyday items that are offered to or symbolically offered to the deities.  We had a bottle of water and some flowers. We made a dhanteras pooja for the first day of Diwali.

After checking out, we went to a silk factory.  Funny thing is; it was next to the Raddison hotel and where Sy and I went last time.  Many items were purchased at the silk factory by the group.

Our flight mid day was from Varanasi to Khajuraho.  We landed and after check in went to the Western temples; this place is my favourite now – the temples are amazing.  They have the reputation as the Kuma Sutra temples, but the
erotic statues really only represent 20% of the statues found there.  The rest of the sculptures are amazing.  Check them out on internet.  Can’t take photos or describe them adequately.  I came back to the hotel and had a shower as we were out
in 38 degree heat and fell asleep through dinner…

This morning, we check out soon and then we are off to the Eastern temples (check them out in a different light) and then on to Orchha, Jansi and then a train trip to Agra.

If I don’t get another chance, Happy Diwali to all!

Please let the parents (both sets) know that we are fine.

Love to all,

Jo

 

 

 

 

Tour to India – Jo’s India part I

Hello all,

We are in Delhi!  Thankfully, we had an uneventful flight to Toronto and met up with the people from Regina and Edmonton to complete our group.

Jet airways was packed to the hilt, regardless of this we managed to get to Brussels an hour early.  After the brief stop in Brussels, we reached Delhi.  There were no problems with lost luggage or customs.  The tour representatives
were there so we collected the group and made it to the hotel just before midnight.

This morning we started off at 9:30 and since we have only one day in Delhi, we did the town!

We started with the Red Fort and then a rickshaw drive through Chandni Chowk bazaar; everyone really like the drive through the chaotic bazaar.   Then we went off to Gandhi Samadhi and a “cottage industry” shopping tour.

Then to Humayun’ s tomb, a photo-op at Lotus temple, Qutab Minar, a stop at India gate and then ended the day with a nice dinner in a lovely restaurant.

Our escort/guide Anil is very knowledgeable and friendly.

The town is crazy busy because of the Diwali function but our driver and sidekick are taking us around.

Everyone is feeling great but really tired.

Tomorrow we are off to Varanasi; I will check in again very soon!

Love to all,

Jo