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



McDonalds, India

Friday, 22. November 2002 12:30
Another day, another McDonalds

I'm feeling better today... well I was till I had McDonalds for lunch. Mind you, the McD's here are different from home in many ways. 1) they are sparkling clean even when they are packed to capacity (which seems like all the time). 2) McD's goes from the place with the food you are scared of at home, to the place where you know what you are getting and view it as the safest thing in the neighbourhood. 3) there is not one beef burger (or pretend soy/beef mix like home). There are 4 different types of veggie burgers (one called Veggie surprise which scares me), and 4 different types of Chicken Burgers (one called the Chicken Maharajah Mac), along with various other veggie dishes. I rather like it. Plus, their veggie burger is FAR supreme to the evil that is done in North American McDonalds.

You know, I don't even know what I've told you and what I haven't. I know I told you about the fact that there really aren't any rules for staying in lanes and right of way here for vehicles, except for the biggest car has the right away. I was just becoming accustomed to this rule and thought I had it down pat and was fine with the near misses. Then we went on out taxi tour to Jaipur. See, I had only become accustomed to it when there were at least 4 lanes in total (2 in each direction min). I hadn't processed the theory of driving when it was applied to a 2 lane highway until our driver went into the oncoming lane and calmly ran a guy on a motorcycle off the road. But the guy on the motorcycle didn't mind. He just drove onto the 'shoulder' and kept going. We (and other cars) did the same thing to a smaller car, which again, just swerved off the road to miss us.

I was prying my nails out of the arm rest, and thinking "ok... so... the rule of the bigger car has the right of way applies to both sides of the road in this situation and the other car has to go off the road ... *FREEZE* and... that would mean... that the huge truck headed straight for us has the right of way".

There's something wrong when you get to the point where you see a motorcycle headed straight for you and you have a sense of relief "Whew! It's only a motorcycle". It got even scarier when we passed some wrecks. One had a van completely demolished and a truck that had ploughed into the brick wall of a bridge and was dangling dangerously over the edge.

Did I mention that large monkeys jumped ON our car?

I mailed out postcards today. Well, I THINK it was a mailbox. We'll find out, won't we?

Family transport includes scooters and little motorbikes. Saw an entire family of 5 on one of them (did I tell you this already?) Dad was driving with a son on his lap, mom sat behind him with a son between her and dad, and in her arm to the side was a toddler. Ta da. Circus India.

People here can't afford more than one helmet for their cycle, so they take a hard hat and apply a chin strap to it. I want to scream out "It won't save you! You've been lied too! Your life is in danger!".

I've decided that Madam means Money in India, because I always hear "Hello Madam. Come in here Madam. Look at this Madam."

Ok. The story about the driver deserting us. We'd had an exceptionally hard time with hundred of touts trying to sell us everything from tours on rickshaws to film. The beggars at this site we were at were numerous; in fact, this is where the one child grabbed my pant leg. I, surprisingly, was still taking it all in stride. Meanwhile, Penny was about to snap. We were headed to the car in the parking lot when we realized that our driver was gone and the car was gone, with our packs in it. We're looking around and another driver comes over (3 of them, actually) to tell us in broken English that something was wrong with the car and he will be back in 10 minutes. Ok.

So we sit on the brick wall in the hot sun away from the shaded area (that's where all the drivers and such were and there was no way we'd sit there despite the invitations). And I am totally Zen. I have no sense that this guy has taken off. It just didn't feel right. He'll be back. Penny on the other hand wasn't so optimistic, and started to speak in short bursts in an octave I've never heard her reach before. I tried to calm her down and reassure her, and pointed out that we had money, airline tickets, cameras, passports, all that... but there was no use. And I could feel HER panic crawling up MY spine, so I just said one last soothing thing and went quiet. Back to Zen.

Meanwhile, we played celebrity while a family of about 8 took turns having their picture taken with the stranded, sweaty white girls. Raju, the man who seemed to be the head of this group, invited us to dinner at his house. Penny, funny enough, was not up to going *grin*. Our driver did turn up 20 minutes later and all was well.

Sending this and will send a second one in a moment

Next Mail: McD's part 2

this travelogue is part of the subside travelzine
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