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India



India is amazing, beautiful, sublime ... but also dirty, hectic, confusing and sometimes a major pain in the ass, but no matter what you think of it, most people agree that it is deeply memorable. Before I went to India I remember asking people who'd been there before what they thought of it. Most people simply said, "It changes you."

My trip to India started with a little side trip to Bangladesh. I flew out of Thailand on Bangladesh airlines and spent one glorious night in Dhaka. This is one of the few places I've been seriously told not to tell anyone I was an American and actually heeded their advice.


Dhaka, Bangladesh

Dehli

First thing I did when I got to Dehli was to meet up with my friend Jamie's friend Heidi who lives in Dehli, and is learning Hindi there. The following is a picture of the children I saw in one of Dehli's slum areas where she goes to help the kids who live there.

Dehli children

After craving Dr. Pepper for untold months I would have done just about anything to get some. As luck would have it, Heidi had heard that you could get Dr. Pepper from the US embassy so we headed to the embassy to find out if the rumors were true. It turns out that the American Club across the street does have Dr. Pepper, but you need to be a member to get in. As a result we begged and pleaded and only 10 minutes later we had 10 cans of Dr. Pepper and I had a big smile on my face. I drank my last can sitting on the beach in Goa and enjoyed every sip.

Getting Dr. Pepper from the US Embassy

After visiting the embassy we decided to act like normal tourists and visit tombs and temples.

India gate in Dehli


Humayun's Tomb


Lattice screen in Humayan's Tomb

We found a door slightly ajar beneath Humayun's tomb and decided to take a peak. It turns out we'd found a tunnel that leads directly to Humayan's burial place beneath the building. The pictures below show the pitch-black catacomb we were walking around in, and, if you were wondering, the little black things hanging from the archway are bats.

Bat's under Humayan's Tomb


Heidi under Humayan's Tomb


Isa Khan Niyazi Tomb

Goa

Goa, Goa, Goa ... It is indeed one of the nicest areas I had the ability to visit while in India, but it was no California beach and as you can see all the beautiful women bathe with their clothes on. Kind of takes the excitement right out of going to the beach.
However, Goa did end up being pretty exciting when I got bit by a big black dog on the beach. This necessitated a series of 5 rabies shots that I have only just finished, some of which were taken under pretty excruciating circumstances, but fortunately I survived and I haven't noticed any foam coming out of my mouth, yet, although I have been feeling like biting people occassionaly, but that's probably just my internal vampiral instincts coming out.

Goa bathing with their clothes on

If it weren't for the cows on the beach, things might even get dull.

Cows on the beach

What was really disturbing were the 50+ year old racquetball players at Anjuna. In my not so humble opinion, swimsuit size should be proportional to the age of the man/woman wearing it.

Anjuna beach


Anjuna beach in Goa

I met three Brit's while I was in Goa and we all rented scooters. There were a few times, particularly when barreling down tiny roads in the middle of the night with large buses coming from every direction and I've just driven partly off the road in the dirt and through some bushes, when I think renting a scooter wasn't the best idea I ever had. However, they were a lot of fun and we were able to go everywhere and see just about every one of the north Goan beaches.

Getting around on scooter


Boats on the beach

Mumbai (Bombay)

It's very different from Dehli, but still very much India. Bombay has some crazy architecture, both good and bad, that makes it quite enjoyable to see.

India Gate


The Taj Mahal hotel


Near the train station in Mumbai (Bombay)

Here's a great example of that Bombay architecture I was talking about. This one I like to call "Fallen Building." About a block from my hotel this building had collapsed without warning.

Fallen Building

Doesn't this hotel remind you of the Bates Motel crossed with the Adam's Family house crossed with the Haunted Mansion from Disneyland?

The haunted hotel

Udaipur

This is the first city in India that really took my breath away. It's absolutely beautiful and happens to be the place they filmed James Bond's "Octopussy", which consequently can be seen every night in every guesthouse in town.

The ghats near the floating palace


Rooftop swimming pool in Udaipur


Udaipur at sunset


Monkey at the Monsoon palace in Udaipur

Jaisalmer

Jaisalmer is like something out of a fairytale, it rises out of the desert like a mirage and is equally enchanting on the inside where you can get lost in a maze of alleyways where shopkeepers offer every type of Indian curio you can imagine.

Entrance to the Jaisalmer fort

While I was in Jaisalmer I met a couple from the UK, Lynsey and Nick, (hey *&#(@er) who I ended up going on Camel Safari with. Here's a shot of Lynsey feeding one of the innumerable street cows.

Lynsey feeding the cows in Jaisalmer


Jaisalmer street scene


Ramesh showing off his painting I just bought


Jaisalmer fort


The lake in Jaisalmer

Dessert Camel Safari

We took a three day two night butt bruising Camel Safari through the vastness of the Rajhastan desert. It's amazing to lay out on the soft sands of the dunes at night and stare up at the stars and hear only the sounds of grumbling flatulant camels in the distance.

Rocket taking a drink


The birth of a lamb in the dessert


Johnny


Lynsey and Nick


The dunes


Camp at sunset


Nice socks, Lynsey


Sunset in the dessert, or was it sunrise?


Skull


Dessert sunset

Pushkar

Pushkar was the only place I got sick and the only place where I tried the all you can eat buffet, you can draw your own conclusions. Despite that it was terribly enjoyable and is home to a great number of foreigners who it seems have decided to never leave. A few of which have gone completely native and wander the streets barefoot dressed in robes. Below is a great picture of an Israeli couple who never left ;)

Old couple in Pushkar


Pushkar garden


Streetside cafe in Pushkar


Pushkar sunset

Agra

This is considered one of the worst places in India to visit and most people only make it a day trip. Agra is annoying, dirty and all the other things you find in India, but has a reputation for being particularly nasty that is all too well deserved.
Some guesthouse owners, lacking any morality whatsoever, used to deliberately poison people and then rush them off to supposed doctors who would keep them drugged and treat them for food poisoning all the while charging them rediculous rates for treatment. It wasn't until foreign insurance companies started getting a series of high doctors bills from Agra did they send in their own team of investigators and send some of the doctors and guesthouse owners to jail. Despite it's terrible reputation I found Agra to be relatively easy to deal with and is home to the Taj Mahal and Fatehpur Sikri, two great examples of Indian architecture.

Entrance to Fatehpur Sikri


Courtyard next to the mosque at Fatehpur Sikri


Tombs in Fatehpur Sikri


Fatehpur Sikri


Fatehpur Sikri archway


The Taj


School field trip to the Taj

Varanasi

Sometimes referred to as "Very Nasty", Varanasi is an important spiritual center for Hindu's. It is thought that if you die here and your body burned on the ghats you will be released from the cycle of reincarnation. As a result thousands of people come here to die.
The Ganges is considered a holy river and is used to perform Puja by thousands of devout Hindu's everyday. This gives the place a unique religious vibrancy I didn't see anywhere else in India.

Varanasi ghats


Varnasi ghats

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