Kristen Hofgaard [e-mail: - phone: (+45)40976317 - web: k82.dk

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Travel notes from India and Nepal

(February-June 2004)

Travelpartner (5. February to 13. July): Saron Rose

We left Denmark: 5. February 2004

FLIGHT

Flight ticket bought 5/1 - 2004 (My birthday) at Kilroy Travels Denmark

Flightroute:

Austrian Airlines:
Copenhagen, DENMARK - Vienna, AUSTRIA - Delhi, INDIA
(Total time in the air: 9 hours 20 min)

Thai Airways:
Delhi, INDIA - Bankok, THAILAND - Tokyo, JAPAN
(Total time in the air: XX hours XX min)

Austrian Airlines:
Tokyo, JAPAN - Vienna, AUSTRIA - Copenhagen, DENMARK

COSTS:

Used before I left Denmark:

Flightticket incl. airport tax: 10.548 DDK
Travel insurance: 2.512 DDK
Vaccination: 1.335 DDK
Visa India: 400 DDK
International driverslicense: 25 DDK
WWOOF Japan membership: 40 USD

Used since I left Denamrk:
I still dont know - Ill add later...

Price examples:

Trainticket 2nd class sleeper 1907 km (Agra-Londa): 509 Rs.
Scooter rent pr day (depended on season and the guy you are dealing with plus the length of time): 80-150 Rs.

People:

Hmm what a topic... I think what makes travel interesting is the people. The differences, the manners, the language, the... all that makes a country as we find it is the people.
The Indians are manny and everywhere. On long road distances there are always people by the side. They are in shops, walking along the road or drinking chai. When I have told people how the working hours is in Denmark (37hours/week) they have told me how lucky I am compared to all the work they have to do... I think they have a lot to do and I know that they get a shitty sallery, but why do I have this strong picture of indians chilling out everywhere, drinking chai? It is verry hot in India so they need some breaks, but seeing a bunch of guys sitting by the road just observing the happenings in the street picture is not just ones i a while its everywhere and all day long...
Ok they have some tea-breaks ones in a while, but they can work too. I met 3 guys who was diggin a well. They'd used only few days on digging a 20 meters deep and 4 meters wide hole with spades and baskets to pull up the dirt and stones. They got payed 100 Rs pr day! (about 2 USD or 12 DDK). It looked impressive I think!
It is hard to describe my impression and maybe I shouldnt, but I made the topic so...
I found the Indians very hard to get close to. I mean closer than "where do you come from" conversations which is in huge numbers by the way. I dont know why, but I have the impression that potential friends make a big difference because they see us westerners with either too much respect or no respect at all. In Europe you dont call a guy you've bin talking to in the bus for 30 min as your best friend. Its my impression that many Indians worship the idea of having a friend from Denmark because its cool or something. Maybe its the money. I answered the question many times, how much my sallery was in Denmark and ofcoarse it sounds crazy compared to the sallery those well-digging guys gets.
It is my impression that the Indians are to bussy thinking of money. If its only because of my white skin then I dont know what to call it else but raceism. It is tough words and I dont want any of you guys in India who have bin good and nice, to feel affected - we are all different and I met some verry good people too. An example could be you Abdul, Hasina, Appu and Sabash you are real friends - thank you.

Whether:

When we arrived Delhi about 22:00 the temperature was 13 degrees and it got colder in the night.
It got a lot warmer as we arrived Goa and the long pants was only in use in the night.
We got a nice breeze from the ocean though and we never saw a cloud on the sky. It got warmer and more humid. 40-45 degrees is normal.
Kerala was not as bad as people said it would be- hot as hell, it wasnt. The monsoon hits Kerala first and it was a releaf to get the shade of the clouds which only gave us a little rain. We enjoyed every single raindrop!

Language:

As 10 procent of the population speaks english as first language you are not totaly lost. Almost all signs are in english. In the countrysid though people dont know english and the words you've learned in Hindi (the most spoken language in India) they dont understand because India has so many languages. On the 10 Rs bills there there are written 12 different languages and this is only few of what you can find in this huge country. I gave up learnning any of these and used the english.

Transport:

We undoubtly prefered using Indias excelent railways doing long distance travels. THE TRAIN is cheap (see example above) and the service is far better than what we are use to in Denmark. You get offered cold drinks, snacks, warm meals, chai and much more all the time. The train is slow but your time passes easyly socialising with the other passengers - always good vibrations.
In the urban life THE RICKSHOREs are THE way to get arround. They are nice and convenient - when the bargening is done. The drivers often ask you 10 times the resonable price so it can be tough!
BUSSES are verry cheap and convenient when you know the area and where to get of. They drive fast.
In Goa you will be offered renting a BIKE verry quickly. We rented a scooter and I realy recomend. License or not - they dont care. It is cheap and a nice way to escape from "the crowd" for a while...
I have only very little experience HITCHHIKING because of the cheap train-tickets and the long distances, but what I did in Goa on small trips was with great luck.

Food:

Yammee!! Always rise and dhal (sauce). Sometimes fish and meat, but to many familys thats to expensive. They have many variations of the mentioned ingridiences and it can be soooo good! It is hard to find western food in the places we went outside of Goa so you better like spice!
My experience is that the mothers in the privat homes cooks the BEST!
Eat with the right hand and keep the left clean. In expensive restaurants you get knife and fork but you can still use your hand (I think, I did...). I love this way of eating - instead of using metal tools here you are so close to the food.

Toilet:

A hole, a tab and your left hand.

Driving:

Left side. Fast but alert. I think there are many verry good drivers in India. In that traffic you have to be much more alert than in Denmark where the roads are in control and you can allmost take a nap ones in a while.

Hinduism:

It was an important and interesting part of my time in India to learn about Hinduism.
Reading books and listening to a teacher has never realy cought me in this topic, but beeing in India where Hinduism is everydaylife for the people I meet, that wakes me up!
I was sitting in the train reading about "The Bhagavad-gita" which is an old Hindu scripture written as a hymn, considered very important. It is teacing about the importance of doing ones duty and achieve repeated rebith. As I am reading this I notice the guy next to me is sitting with a little book mumrmuring the written words. The doctor, as he was, was reading "The Bhagavad-gita"! Experience is the best teacher.