My tour of India was never going to easily facilitate writing a travel blog:
- The lack of Internet access in most places
- Rolling blackouts and unpredictable electricity shortages - even in airports!
- Limited time (I wanted to see as much of the country as I could, in 3 weeks, without killing myself with exhaustion)
The inexplicable lack of wifi in all but the most expensive hotels was quite baffling, as I was previously led to believe that India was a burgeoning technological superpower. In the few hotels that DID have net access, queues were commonplace in the lobby as people waited for their turn to use the single computer that was plugged into the network. Indians seem to have an unbounded tolerance for queues, as you'll read in the blog.
Adding a wifi router is ridiculously cheap nowadays (only around $40), and would augment the hotel's appeal ten-fold (not to mention the ratings on TripAdvisor, where a lot of people seem to source their hotels nowadays).
As a result, the majority of this blog is being written on an May bank-holiday weekend, one month after getting back. Crammed into my tiny office I'm denying myself sunshine on this glorious day until I get the thing written, pieced together from a collection of small notes I typed up on the laptop as I was on the road.
The trip to India, though rushed, was so packed full of fascinating encounters and experiences that I don't want to miss relaying...
- Visiting the Taj Mahal (it looks like a painting set against the sky)
- The wonderfully-sculpted erotic temples of Khajuraho
- Varanasi (a world in itself, my time here was FAR too brief)
- The Northeast states with their beautiful scenery (and people) and living root bridges
- Flower-scented Kerala and the fascinating backwaters
- The sometimes-frightening, but admirably skillful rickshaw drivers that could always get you where you needed to go, without a scratch, despite facing jam-packed streets of cyclists and other drivers, each of whom thinks they own the entire road
and in the middle of all this I met some of the most endearing (and at times extremely annoying) people in the world, that were as fascinated in me as I was in them.
I can't count the number of times that *I* became the attraction for countless Indian tourists, and my sunburnt visage (or my sweaty back, for the surreptitious camera phone users that insisted on following me around) is clogging up memory sticks across the land.
3 weeks in India was never going to be enough time, and I barely skimmed the surface, but I'm happy that I got a general feel for the country and even in that short time had some experiences that will make for good fireside chats in years to come.
A return to India is definately on the cards though... and this time I'll be prepared for the queues and insane traffic.
Oh and regarding the Bhut Jolokia chili... the original reason for my trip ... after failing to find it in India, I soon discovered on arrival that I can get it from a local burrito café here in Dublin... *facepalm*