Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Random Travel Update 11

Last location: Abu Dhabi, UAE
Arrival Date: November 19, 2007
Departure Date: November 19, 2007

Current Location: Sydney, Australia
Arrival Date: November 20, 2007
Departure Date: November 27, 2007

Next Stops: Tasmania

There was fog. My flight to Dubai from Mumbia was delayed 3.5 hours.
I missed my connecting flight to Hong Kong, thus missing my connecting
flight from Hong Kong to Sydney.

Mark was great. We left the airport after a few hours of trying to negotiate an alternate course. I spent the night in Dubai. Booked a new ticket to Sydney direct from Abu Dhabi. Arrived at the airport at 8:30am. More fog, delayed again. Flight was 14 hours but otherwise great. Less than half of
capacity. Arrived in Sydney 12 hours late.

Met up with Jon.

Sydney is wonderful. I am happy.



Saturday, November 17, 2007

Random Travel Update 10

Last location: Goa, India
Arrival Date: November 08, 2007
Departure Date: November 16, 2007

Current Location: Mumbai, India
Arrival Date: November 16, 2007
Departure Date: November 18, 2007

Next Stops: Sydney, Australia (via Dubai and Hong Kong international airports)

India was an adventure. The last three weeks have been a whirlwind of
dodging scams, checking in and out of hotels (12 total), inhaling fire
fumes and auto traffic exhaust, making travel plans, trying to avoid
illness and seeing a few sites along the way.

I almost managed to make it out of India unscathed. My vegan diet at
home must do wonders for my adaptation to local cuisine. I didn't
encounter a single episode of diarrhea all month. Unfortunately, Mark
and I came in contact with a bit of poison ivy on our way to and from
our eco-friendly hut in Palolem (Goa) two nights ago. Luckily,
medicine is easy to come by here and our hotel has an on-call doctor
to assist us. We should be itch-free in a few days.

I have hundreds of pictures to post. With the exception on Goa, I
would not recommend India as an ideal vacation spot for those looking
to "get away from it all". However, it is a wonderfully picturesque
country, when you get past the pollution.

I have a million stories and only a few minutes of internet time.
There was the time Mark heroically fired our driver, Chandar, for
driving drunk while taking us from Agra to Rajisthan in the middle of
the night. We had to pull over in the middle of the trip, stay at a
roadside hotel, and take a local bus the next morning.

There was the time we had a rickshaw driver drive us around for an
hour "searching" for our hotel only to introduce us to a friend of his
who just happened to have a hotel nearby. Luckily I had negotiated
two rates in advance, one hundred ruppies for a direct trip to our
hotel, 50 ruppies for getting "lost". In the end, we got a free tour
of Jaipur, made it to our hotel, and saved 50 ruppies.

There was the time we were picked up by a resort spokesperson on the
side of the road in Baga (Goa) and promised one of four great prizes
if we only agreed to be taken for a 60 minute tour of the resort down
the street. We agreed to go and I was able to negotiate the sales
woman to let us pick up our prize of "7 free nights in Goa or Bali"
before the tour began. Then we took the next free cab to the
destination of our choice.

There was the time we booked a scuba diving trip out to a local island
in Goa only to be called five minutes before our scheduled departure
to be informed that our trip had been canceled due to the fact that
some military VIP required use of the island that day. Of course, when
we went to pick up our refund, we spoke to a group of 11 divers who
had just returned from a great trip with the same dive company.

There were hundreds of good moments too. The time I convinced a group
of small children to return their starfish collection to the sea so as
to prevent them from dying. The time I went parasailing with nine
Mumbians, half of whom seemed to be horribly scared of heights. The
time I rescued a butterfly from the tide. The time we went to an
"authentic" Rajisthani village for dinner, henna and human powered
ferris wheels (think Old Tucson Rajisthani style).

Traveling with Mark has been great. The beaches of Goa are beautiful,
and the weather has been gorgeous for us the whole time. No rain. The
handful of good people we came across were truly wonderful, and we met
two new friends on our train ride from Mumbai to Goa. I have a slight
tan, and apart from my poison ivy rash, I feel wonderful.

Our flight from Mumbai to Dubai has been delayed, so we are stuck at
the Marriott for six more hours. I don't mind, though I hope I don't
miss my connecting flight to Hong Kong. If all goes well, I will be
in Sydney in less than 48 hours.



Friday, November 2, 2007

Random Travel Update 9

Last location: Delhi, India
Arrival Date: October 31, 2007
Departure Date: November 02, 2007

Current Location: Agra, India
Arrival Date: November 02, 2007
Departure Date: November 03, 2007

Next Stops: Rajastan, India (Ranthambore, Jaipur, Pushkar)

The UAE was great. We visited Dubai and Abu Dhabi. Both modern, globalized, desert cities on the rise. I am a big fan of the desert. Though, as it turns out, sandboarding is not nearly as fun as it looks. Indoor snowboarding however, is a wonderfully good time. Camels are very dirty and smell horrible close up. I intend to post photos, but the connection speeds here in India are tragically slow.
Mark and I left Dubai late Wednesday night on a red-eye to New Delhi. India is pretty much everything anyone ever said it would be. Dirty, crowded and poor. Beggars are rampant and the pollution is sickening. Still the sites, when you get past the touts, are beautiful.
I am at an internet cafe now, fewer than 100 meters from the Taj Mahal. The Taj Mahal is truly breathtaking, despite the thick layer of smog that surrounds the place. I have taken many photos. Hopefully, I do not lose my camera before they are all uploaded.
The food here is amazing. Better, perhaps, than anything I have ever tasted in the United States or anywhere. It is very much a vegetarian utopia with over half the restaurants serving only pure vegetarian meals. Even the McDonalds menu is over 50% vegetarian.
I am devastated that Webshots continues to hide my photos. I may have to re-upload everything to Flickr when I return to a first world nation.