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



Palace of the Wind, Jaipur

Thursday, 21. November 2002 11:58
India, brought to you by Coca Cola

Oy mateys

Ok. I just spent an hour writing back to as many emails as I could that had direct questions and such. Now it is time for that impersonal mass email once more.

That night that I emailed you lot, I was confronted in the alleyway by a guy in a blue shirt. Somehow he knew I was from Canada (I suppose word travelled fast in that little area) and called out "Hey Canada, where are you going? I want to talk to you. I've been waiting out here for you". Yes. In your country that might be flattering, but when a man waits for you in a dark alleyway, we call that stalking.

Where on earth do I begin? India is still the land of crack. Maybe someone slipped me a bad batch of acid and I am actually at home, on my couch, with Twin Peaks on the television.
We went to Jaipur in Rajasthan. It was nice to get out of Delhi. While on the road, you pass dirty shacks where people are selling food or anything else... another 200 meters and there is nothing... another 200 meters and there are 20 camels nibbling on some overhead leaves... another 200 meters and there is a groupings of mud and straw houses with water buffalo outside... another 200 meters and there is a free standing McDonalds... another... what? I'm sorry... what the fuck was that? Where am I? What is WRONG with this place? A McDonalds that looks exactly like the ones at home, in the middle of nowhere, between the starving farmers and the camel pond. Crack baby land. That is where I am.

Every 5 minutes you are guaranteed to see a stone open-faced 'building' that is covered with Coke images. Second to that are Pepsi, and then Cadbury. *just makes a stunned Dan face*. Coke makes a brand of water here. I spend most of my time drinking coke when I don't have a plastic water bottle glued to my hand. Their logo says "100% Trust". We've expanded on this, and say "In Coke We Trust".

Here's some differences between home and Jaipur. At home, you go into a monument or heritage site, people are generally quiet, you look around leisurely, and then you make a stop at the gift shop if you like before leaving. In Jaipur, you go into a site that is probably bustling, even if only 5 people are there. You don't stick around one spot too long because a) you will be accosted by the 70th hired guide who wants to work for you or b) the smell of urine may overwhelm you, since not only do men piss on the streets (in Delhi and Agra too) wherever and whenever they want, but they also choose a specific room INSIDE anything that is partly outdoors (this example was in a historical fort), or c) someone will try to sell you something or send their starving child over to get you to give them money, or finally d) the monkeys will get you. That's right. The monkeys will get you. We were in a palace where the windows were open, and there were a group of monkeys playing inside.

I've started new techniques to dealing with undesirable situations. A girl was persistent with trying to sell me some postcards. She followed me forever, and I just could not shake her. I finally counter offered her things I owned and tried to sell them to HER instead. "Water bottle... for you, 100 rupees. No? 75 rupees. Used ticket to fort, 50 Rupees". She was confused, then laughed, then finally left.

We had an experience with child beggars again. The first one that is emblazoned on my mind would be when we were stopped in Jaipur, and a young girl came up to Penny's window and just lay her forehead on it, staring in at us with a tin cup in her hand. It was the longest red light of my life. I don't know what made that one stand out so much... maybe because it was our first up-close experience. All I know is that we have never talked about it.

There were more experiences. Kids with amputated limbs, children who look like they haven't been changed or had a bath in weeks. Not all of them fit this profile. Some are dressed in normal wear and look the same as other kids. If they aren't sent by their parents for money, they ask "Photo? Pens? Chocolate? Chewing Gum?". The children are most persistent. One time I looked back at this little girl who was following me, asking for these things in a pretty little pink dress, and put my hands out to her as I asked "Cheeseburger? Pizza? Coke?" She laughed at the crazy white woman and said no. I shrugged and we parted ways.
Ok. Sending this off before starting part 2.

Next Mail: coke part 2

this travelogue is part of the subside travelzine
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