A journey through South-East Asia - visiting the temples of Thailand, floating down the Mekong in a slow boat, seeing the sunset in Laos, waiting for the quiet of night in Hanoi, drifting through Halong Bay, trekking the mountains of SaPa, travelogue, trip, travel, journey, road, Asia, Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, Indochina, Mekong, Halong Bay, Hanoi, Vang Vien, Chang Mai, Bangkok, slow boat, Luang Prabang, Pak Ou



Dusty intersection

Saturday, 16. November 2002 10:24
india part 2

As I teetered in my seat on the bus, trying to remind myself that I am, in fact, not feeling ill, I was just dumbfounded by what I was seeing. I'm listening to these successful government workers laugh and talk leisurely, while our bus weaves in and out of a sea of cars, rickshaws, water buffalo carts, loose cows and camels.

And for those of you who have never been to India, their highways are a mixture of paved and dirt roads that have 3 lanes, though no one uses them as a guideline. The bigger the transport, the more 'right of way' it has. Oh, and a lot of intersections don't have anything to tell you to stop... even when there are hundreds of people on the highway (some are on bikes or on foot too, walking through the cars when there is a pause).

As they are chatting about where they are going to vacation next, I am focussed on the sudden crop up of various shanty towns (tents, tarps, and cardboard) that are a stone's throw away from the curb. Entire families living in... nothing but pollution and dirt. Then I saw the 2 year old on the side of the highway, all alone, to have his bowel movement in what seemed to be the designated area. (that was a moment of 'where the hell am I?).

Unreal. The pollution is overwhelming at times. I feel like I have smoked 2 packs of cigarettes some mornings (no I haven't had any). My inhaler is my best friend today.

So much has happened and my mind is goo. We hired a cabby to take us around all day. He was a dapper Indian man with a classic handlebar moustache and smashing green turban who didn't speak a word of English. THAT was interesting. But we saw some marvellous things and when he wasn't being a stoic scary driver, he had an appeal to him (for instance, he thought it was funny how I handled the men who surrounded our car with items for sale).

I had mentioned to Penny that it was only a matter of time before people started to ask for a picture with the blonde, and it happened seconds afterwards. I had a good laugh, until I too started getting invited into snapshots with young men, people's children, married women... you name it. "Look honey... white people. They must be rich or famous, or at the very least, a rare thing in this part of the world. Lets have them pose with our children".

I still am calculating how much I could get for Penny.

I'm going cross eyed here. Let me get my head straight. There have been some spectacular things, but I am bogged down by my first dreadful day of Delhi nonsense that started with our driver being late, and missing our train to Jaipur, and then getting stuck at the train station area (starts with a P...but I cant remember it) which is the WORST section. Trying to find a place to stay, having not 1, not 2, but 3 people try to pull classic scams (pretending to call a place and let you talk to them so they can tell you there is no room, but really calling a wrong number or their colleague, for example; as well as places that claim to be government run but they aren't - you realize this when they start to haggle costs).

And Penny and I did really well (I was impressed), but being in such an aggressive part of town has psyched me out a little (today was the first day someone actually reached out to grab me on the street. I can take the verbal hassle, but having someone come at me freaked me out. Mind you, I won back my power when I saw another guy try to block Penny in the street, and I came straight at him with my shoulder, sending him spinning out of my way to avoid the full blow). NOTE TO FRIENDS AND MOTHER: This is the first time we've experienced this, and overall, everyone is harmless and even very helpful.
(sending email again)

Next Mail: india : 3rd and last instalment today

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