Sunday, May 16, 2010

Bangalore, India

Welcome to India, This is where things really get interesting.

Here we found crazy forms of transportation, huge piles of trash, no shoes, staring eyes, beautiful palaces, lots of cows, strange temples, bodies floating in the Ganges, and more. Travel in India is often not geared around comfort, relaxation, or vacation. It is about being surprised, shocked, disgusted, and amazed. Every time you step outside of the safety of the hotel the world awaits that is very foreign to a westerner.

Well here it goes....

A sketchy first encounter:
We flew into Bangalore, southern India, on a inexpensive flight arriving around 11:00 PM. We took a bus from the quiet terminal. I showed the bus driver on the map where we wanted to get off. When he signaled that we were at our stop, we hopped off the bus and found ourselves in the dark in India. Kind of scary. We took out our head lamps and ventured down the road with the map in the Guide book showing the way to the motel. The first motel had bars over windows of the dimly lit rooms, and the second we couldn't find. It was a bit past midnight and we were both overwhelmed by the dirty streets. We opted for a tuk tuk, sketchy option, but it seemed as though it was the only one. He took us to the hotel we requested, but not without lots of haggling over the price and arguing about the location. He wanted to take us to "his recommended motel". We passed. We were deleted to arrive. It was very comfortable. Whew, kind of a scary start.

The next day:
Taking a tuk tuk is an every day occurrence in India. Note that this is the Indian version. We have found that every culture has its own take on this form of transport.

A three wheeled pickup truck. This looks like it would be handy back on the farm.

Tuk tuks are used in the countryside as well.

Riding is only the half of the experience. Meeting and talking to the driver is the other half. Like the stereotypical taxi driver they can be very interesting characters.

The best or worst part of riding in these open air three wheelers, is the immersion you get in the streets. The sights, sounds, dust, and smells all come to your senses are first hand.

The streets are far from the typical American urban boulevard. They are worn out, filled with trash, cows, and the sounds of horns. Traffic patterns or rules fall to the whim of the driver. Point "A"to point "B" is the only concern.

There are lots of fresh fruits and vegetables being sold on the streets. As tempting as it was, we stayed away from fresh produce in order to avoid food poisoning.

We visited our first Hindu temple in Bangalore. It was called Big Bull Temple.

The carved statues were ornate and sometimes scary.

Inside the temple sat a big black bull. We watched as many people took off their shoes and entered with money, incense, fruit, and flower arrangements to offer to the bull.

We visited the summer palace.

The interior was ornate and characteristic of old Indian architecture and design.

A guy tagged alongside of us for a while giving us information about the surroundings that we didn't ask for. After a while, I asked him how much he charged. He replied "as you like." We let him continue. When our 20 minute "tour" was complete, I gave him about two dollars, about a full days pay. He put on a show and acted offended and undercut. He asked for ten dollars. I insisted that we had treated him very fairly and we walked away. This became a very common scenario while we traveled. We eventually refused the "guide" services, because of the complication and tension afterward. You can never give them enough, but they always smile when you walk away.

We didn't stay long in Bangalore, but were off to Hampi where there are renowned temples and ancient ruins.


Jeff said...

Yawn ... all this old stuff. Do they have iPads over there?

Alissa and Mike Quirk said...

Wow! Never knew India was so dirty. Would you guys ever go back there?

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