Archive for June, 2009
So I was in Varanasi train station, at 8am, waiting for our train to depart for our journey to Nepal, when out of the corner of my eye I spotted a hairy caveman-like creature in the tourist office off to our left.
I walked over to investigate more closely. And what do you know? It was my great friend Murdoch Stephens, who I had last seen three months ago, in Thailand, at the start of his Asian marathon.
We had about seven minutes to catch up with each other before the train demanded our separation.
Just look at our happy faces!
India — it’s smaller than you think.
India has been oft lauded for its ‘Incredible India’ tourism advertising campaign. Incredible, the country certainly is, and not just because of its many natural and cultural wonders. (Yesterday we visited the Taj Mahal and were duly gobsmacked.) After three scant days here, I can tell it is also incredible for a number of other reasons, namely:
- Its summer temperatures (mid-40s these last few days in Delhi)
- The sheer number of people who accost me on the street to buy crap or take a ride on an auto-rickshaw (I’m not complaining — I know that survival here depends on being able to hustle, haggle, and harrass)
- The mango lassis (especially great when chunks of mango are included in the drink)
- The cheap and wonderful curries
- The antiquated computers used to book tickets at the train station (they look just like the glorious Amstrad of the early 90s)
- The touts on the street who fake an Australian accent in futile attempt to attract my attention
Having done two nights in a decrepit Delhi hotel, we now move on to Varanasi, where we can watch dead people being cremated on the concrete banks of the Ganges and drink bhang lassis.
Got any good books to recommend? Shantaram is crap (I don’t care what Johnny Depp says).
Haven’t had many opportunities to post here recently, but since leaving Yangshuo more than three weeks ago I’ve done numerous fun things, including:
- Slept overnight on an isolated part of the Great Wall of China
- Spent a night in a sleepy little village a couple of hours’ drive outside of Beijing
- Spent lots of time on trains
- Hung with friends in Beijing
- Drunk beer from bags in Qingdao
- Seen the sun rise (kind of) over spectacular rice terraces high in the mountains of Guangxi
- Spent four days on a horse in the Mongolian countryside
- Played ‘spot the plainclothes cops’ (an easy game, seeing as they were all sporting crew-cuts and China badges) in Tiananmen Square on June 4, the 20th anniversary of the massacre
- Wrote about that anniversary for the New Zealand Listener (full story not online for another couple of weeks; but it’s in this week’s issue)
If you’re interested, Time Out has also published my feature about the sorry state of refugee processing in Hong Kong.
New Delhi on Tuesday, and then up to Nepal for at least a month. Bring on the rains.