A Travellerspoint blog

The Pink City

semi-overcast 90 °F
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We arrived early Monday morning in Jaipur - aka the Pink City. All the prominent buildings here are painted In a pink/orangish hue. We ended up scoring a really good deal on an apartment so we are living in pretty nice style for the next few days. We have our own kitchen and the kids each have their own room. They apartment has an agreement with the hotel next door so we can use their pool and other facilities. The temperature here is about the same as Amritsar I would guess but the humidity is dramatically lower, making it much more tolerable.

Yesterday we toured the City Palace Museum and the Jantar Mantar, an observatory consisting of various large instruments built in the early 1700's. They look like giant abstract sculptures in a park-like setting. Madie wasn't feeling so well last night but seems to be better today. I think the pollution is making her throat sore.

Today we toured the Amber Fort which is about 7 miles outside of town. Really stunning place. I didn't take this photo (left the ipad in the room) but here it is:

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We will be here in Jaipur until Saturday at which time we will take the train down to Kota, then by car to Bundi. We plan to stay in Bundi for a few days and take in the annual Teej Festival.

The kids amaze me at how well they have adapted and jumped right into all of this. I am so glad we are all here together at this moment. Can't think of anywhere I'd rather be.

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Posted by madpax 02:17 Archived in India Comments (2)

Last Day in Amritsar

95 °F
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The Golden Temple was pretty impressive. We walked around the lotus pool in which the temple "floats" and tried not to melt for the heat. Around 100,000 visitors/pilgrims make their way through the temple every day. As you walk in the main entrance there is a few windows in which you drop your shoes and then a trough of water in which to wash your feet before entering. We all had to buy head coverings in which to wear while inside. The most curious thing of all seemed to be us - we were stopped countless times to have our photo taken with people and their families.

After the Golden Temple we went to the site of the Jallianwala Bagh massacre. In 1919 some 400 Indians were fired upon and killed by a British General and his troops who were there to dispel a peaceful protest. Another sad story in India's colonial history.

Took an afternoon nap and then headed out to the border with Pakistan at Wagah. They have this macho spectacle of a ceremony at dusk to officially close the border gates between the two countries every night. It's quite a show of stomping, shouting and fist pumping between the guards on either side of the gate. The crowds are incredible - they had us packed in like sardines. I think I lost 5 pounds just sweating it out for the couple hours we were there.

We take the night train tonight to Jaipur - about 14 hours. Everyone is doing well. The kids are awesome. Having a great time.

View from roof of our hotel:

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Posted by madpax 19:29 Archived in India Comments (4)

Amritsar

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Flights were non-eventful other than being delayed an hour or so. Delhi train station was usual madness of touts and more touts.

We arrived in Amritsar Friday afternoon around 1:30pm. After a frenetic rickshaw ride to our hotel we all crashed for the next 16 hours. We are currently waiting for the hotel restaurant to open so we can get some food and head out to see some sights. We are situated directly across from the Golden Temple which we can all see from our rooms. This evening we are going to take a taxi out to the border with Pakistan to watch the closing ceremony.

So far the heat has surprised us - much more humid than anticipated. That's what we get for going to India during the monsoon!

Posted by madpax 18:48 Archived in India Comments (2)

India Revisited

sunny 65 °F

Seems like there has always been this unspoken understanding that we wouldn't visit the same country twice, especially just over three years on. There are so many places and experiences in this world that one should have at least once - why go back to the same place? India seems to have changed that understanding for us as one just can't experience all that India has to offer in one holiday. Unless one were to make it permanent that is......

We are leaving in four days for a month long trip around north central India with the kids. Haven't any concrete plans other than a train out to Amritsar after landing in Delhi to take in the Golden Temple and stompy border ceremony with Pakistan, among other things yet unknown.

Makes me smile to see the four backpacks lined up in the living room waiting for some clothes, the camera and a good book.

More to come....

Posted by madpax 09:48 Archived in USA Comments (2)

Cartagena to Bogota via Medellin

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We left Cartagena early Friday morning (5am) and decided to take the southwest route back to Bogota. What could go wrong?

Friday ended up being a day of lessons learned. The first lesson we learned is that we hadn't properly thought through how many pesos we actually had in our possession before leaving Cartagena. The reason this is a problem is that apparently outside of the major cities it is impossible to exchange USD even at the banks. During the day we must have tried at least 8 different banks and countless strangers to exchange money. And as the day went on our pesos just kept getting more scarce (Colombia has a lot of highway tolls). Complicating matters was the fact that the mountain roads of the west were even worse and slower going than those we experienced in the eastern part of the country. By the time we reached the city of Medellin (3 million people), we had been driving for almost 17 hours, it was dark and raining, we had less than 1/8 tank of gas in the car and we had about 7 dollars worth of pesos to our name. We reasoned in our exhausted stupor that the airport should at least have a money changer and if nothing else maybe we could sleep there. When I went in it turned out all the money changers were closed but at least I was able to get an ATM to work (something that hadn't worked all day) so I could withdraw some pesos. We found a hostel outside of the airport with gas station next door. Score. And to top it off they even had a small restaurant so we could eat. We hadn't eaten in over 12 hours as we wanted to save our pesos. We considered ourselves pretty damn lucky and recorded another lesson learned - when in a pickle such as this......go to an airport.

We got up early again this morning and made tracks for Bogota. Again a lot of mountain driving which just never goes as you expect and is a lot of work driving. Our car is a manual so there is a lot of shifting. Kelsey does an amazing job driving although we did get pulled over again today for passing in a no passing zone. We almost got the ticket this time - he actually had the ticket pad out this time to start writing. We both starting saying "no passing, no passing" really excitedly and apparently he thought that was funny enough to let us go so got lucky again. We got into Bogota around 6pm or so but took and hour or so to find (get lost) a hotel close to the airport. Got to talk to the kids for a bit and then headed out to find a restaurant for dinner and looking forward to a cold beer. Not so fast. Found an English Pub of all things and they wouldn't serve us a beer. Why you ask? Not because we aren't old enough. Not because they were out. Because the country is having national elections tomorrow and there is a country wide moratorium on selling booze of any kind from 6pm today until 6pm on Monday. I nearly shed a tear. The police are patrolling the restaurants making sure they comply. The one we were at they even made them cover up the backbar to hide all the bottles. They said they wanted them to cover up any indication of alcohol on the premises. Wild.

Hope all is well with everyone. Love to all..

Posted by madpax 18:50 Archived in Colombia Comments (5)

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