Posts tagged India

India Part IV: Lovely Lava

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Lava is situated on a ridge in Himalayan mountains. From our little balcony on the third floor of “The Hotel Orchid”, you can just see down to the plains. We saw very few other customers during our stay, but it was not tourist season. The hotel staff seemed to be family and treated us warmly, serving us tasty food and offering lots of smiles.

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India Part III: Orchids? We kid.

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After Jaldapara we headed from the plains into the mountains, the Himalayas to be precise. We were still in the state of West Bengal, but the terrain was to change significantly. Taking another reserved jeep, we hit the road (and believe me, it hit us back).

We could see the Bhutanese Himalayas to the north of us and we drove on the plains, often crossing rivers with little water, but wide beds of mountain gravel. During monsoon, it would be a different story.

In this picture you can see a tall chimney. These were for brick-making, and dotted the area. If you look carefully on the right side of the picture (you may need to click on it to see it more clearly), there is a dump truck in the stream bed. We commonly saw piles of rocks that people were making from the stones in the river bed. They were then loaded onto trucks which took them to construction projects. At times we saw people smashing rocks by hand to make gravel.
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India Part II: Elephant Day

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We find Ryan, Amanda, and Asher (as well as a friend of theirs and a jeep driver) on a train platform on the other side of the world in New Alipurdaur, India. I have to say it felt great to see someone we knew. We piled in the “reserved jeep” and I told the adventure of getting there. Ryan later said it was one of his favorite parts of our visit; to hear what he knew so well about India from a brother’s new eyes.

A “reserved jeep” is a SUV that is wholly for us. A luxury in India. We drive through country roads, constantly using either side of the road to avoid large potholes, or rather stretches of broken pavement, and we catch up. Somehow we got to the topic of the side-to-side wagging of the head that Indian people do. Though it looks like “no”, it turns out it means an emphatic yes. That had already been the source of quite a bit of confusion on the train.

We went to Jaldapara, where we were dropped off at Jaldapara Lodge. Like most things in India, it looks rundown, but the inside was recently renovated. There were queen beds, a walk-in shower with a small dedicated water heater on the wall, a functioning western toilet, and an A/C unit that was not wired up yet. Lincoln was exhausted from the journey, and fell asleep in the kiddy backpack.

From India 2008

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India Part I: Getting There

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This is overdue, but we’re going to attempt to give our India trip some justice. Hopefully we’ll be able to share something interesting. We’ll be putting all the pictures up in Picasa and you could look at a slide show of all of them there, but there will be stories here to go with the pictures, so I’d recommend exploring here. However, click on the pictures if you want to see them larger. This will be in multiple installments which will hopefully take less time than the trip did.

Days 1-3: Getting there.

We left from Denver, with a direct flight to London. This might have been more exciting for Lincoln if it wasn’t his 7th or so round-trip flight this year. Still, he likes planes.

From India 2008

One thing that can be interesting to track is the H.P.R. (the Happy Picture Ratio). It is usually much higher at the beginning of the trip. (more…)

Updates from India

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Update 1: Missed connection in London… will now be going through Delhi. Only have 1 more minute on this paid internet connection. Adventure begins.

Update 2: Made it to Kolkata. Now, to figure out how to get to the train station. Nicole has used a “squatty potty”. I’m holding off. Delhi’s air was dreadful. Kolkata much better. Definitely an adventure.

Update 3: We are now in Gangtok, the capitol of Sikkim, India. We have been in taxies, an overnight train, jeeps, microvans, more jeeps, on trails, public buses, and a gondola. Lincoln has had (and recovered from) giardia. We’ve had southern Indians meals and those in the style of Nepali cooking. We’ve had to adjust our plans multiple times (Ryan and Amanda escorted a woman with labor issues to a hospital in Kalimpong). We are all doing well and really look forward to sharing pictures and stories!

Update 4: We are now in Varanasi by way of Allahabad (an unintentional 6 hour detour involving a missed train station). Whoah! What a city. We can add cycle-richshaws to our vehicle list and camels to our lists of animals seen. To get to the ghats (steps down to the holy Ganges river), you can’t even take a cycle-rickshaw as the “roads” become alleyways… a maze of corridors usually wide enough for a person and a bicycle (or motorcycle) to get down to the river. Speaking of mazes, you have to carefully negotiate the cow patties and other refuse. Our hotel (which we almost didn’t get to) is nice. The city is overwhelming. There will be plenty to say and I think I may have taken close to 1000 pictures… which would be worth a million words. Tomorrow we will begin the multiday effort toward home.

Update 5: We are home, safe, sound and jet-lagged. We think Nicole and Lincoln have giardia, but that should be overcome soon enough. I look forward to sorting pictures and sharing stories. Like how I almost lost our camera in London. Or the 27-second bus ride. Of any of a thousand things. More hopefully soon!

Update 6: Well, when we returned our computer had died. So I got a new one on Black Friday. And then when it was about ready, I re-painted the floor in the garage (long story), which unfortunately released so much fumage that we had to evacuate our house at 1 am to avoid the carcinogens. So we’re staying at my Mom’s house (almost a week now). When we get back to the house, we’ll try to get some pictures up!

India? Are you kidding?

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(Update: Because of a couple factors, our trip has been postponed till November 3rd through the 23rd.)

Nicole: We’re going to India in two weeks! After playing with the idea for nearly as many years as Ryan and Amanda have been living over there, we finally committed to going. Well, we have our tickets. The plan is for us to leave on September 22, 2008, and return on October 15, 2008. I’ve sent off my passport to be renewed, we got a smorgisbord of shots, and I learned all about what we need to gather to get our Visas. Wow. This seems a bit unreal. I’m expecting that feeling to persist until we’ve been there and returned home.

Mark: I hope to blog about our adventure, to share pictures and stories with you, and hear some of your feedback as well. We’ll see how well we do at that. At any rate, don’t expect us to return calls or emails during those weeks. If you would like to know more about Ryan and Amanda’s work in India, check out www.smoothpath.org.