The trip has come to an end.

As we landed in Cairo to change the plane, I was so curious to see what is beyond thouse gates and then reality control kicked in … next time, soon.

Again planturos@gmail.com for questions

Bogdan

As I explained to Stefan when we started this trip I am here just for me and i also told him that i will not tell to many people about it.
It is not Karma, it is the simple fact that each of us sees things differently. From the people that i met so far that traveled to the same places we did, no two had the same impression or liked the same things or places.
In the end not the places you visit make the trip great but the people you meet and you will have great trouble in finding the same people we did.
If anyone reading the blog needs advices about planning the trip and “technical” information i will be more than glad to answer at planturos@gmail.com

And sometimes nothing is better that anything

Have a great one,
Bogdan

Google vs Bogdan

Till Bogdan will be in a good karma to bring this page up to date you can try to figure up what is this trip about by using Google Translate. Not very accurate but better than nothing. So:

AsianPaths.com in English translated by Google

I recommend first to read what Bogdan has written here and after that to click the Google translation.

Laos and Cambodia – bad part

I write about this two together as we felt the same in both countries – not truly welcomed.
It all started good in Laos and we forgot about all we read about this two countries but unfortunately we were quickly remembered.
The thing is that from the moment you step in you become a wallet and everybody will try to get something from you and as much as possible.
You might think I am exaggerating but unfortunately that is not the case. Let me give you a few examples:
– the first place where the tuk-tuk driver actually tried to leave us about 1-2 km away from where we asked to be taken, and that at 10 o’clock in the evening;
– people at stores (especially in Laos) were just making up prices when they were seeing tourists, especially if they knew you have no other option – we have been asked for twice the price or even more;
– the transport in this two countries costs a lot and they offer almost nothing back – we payed 40 dollars for a trip from Pakse to Siem Reap and in return we had to change 3 mini-buses a sedan and a bus in two days… oh and so that I don’t forget we were 8 people in the sedan, two on the driver seat, two in the passenger seat and four in the back and we were kind of sold to this “taxi” as they thought probably that continuing by the mini-bus with just the two of us would be to expensive for them
– you also have to pay extra 3 dollars at the border between Laos and Cambodia, one for each stamp
– we were for the first time sworn at by a tuk-tuk driver not satisfied with the fact that we do not want to stay at “his” hotel;
…. and the list continues with all kind of stuff like this.

The basic idea that we came with is the this land is not backpacker friendly.

Thailand – Final impression

We only spent in this country 24 days but i felt it like a 2 months holiday. It is truly a country with a lot to offer and it also does it in a welcoming way.

I left from Thailand with a simile on my face, beautiful memories, brown skin, a whole bunch of Facebook friends with whom i hope to cross paths again and a hole in my pocket.

It does not cost that much, it is cheaper to spend your holiday here than in Europe but you are tempted to do so many things and if you are on a backpacker budget you will fill it.
You will also feel like is hard to get a feeling of the local way of living as there is a big language barrier but in the end if you will be spending here the few free days you get from work it will make little difference.

It can appear on anybodies Top Ten Things To Do list so do not miss it if you get the opportunity.

Pictures here

Thailand

So far I’ve been in Bangkok and on one of the eastern islands, Koh Tao.

Bangkok is impressive, it is a true touristic capital. They have managed to combine very well the traditional element with the new. To this mixture you add the huge commercial centres, night life, massage and red light districts and you get a holiday that can really cover all kind of tastes.
We have tried a bit or more of everything and the result of that was some very crazy (also quite expensive) three day with site seeing during the day and all night party.

After Bangkok we went for Koh Tao. I guess i got used to the bumpy Indian roads cause for seven hours (the length of the bus trip) i could not close one eye. We then had to wait for another 4 hour on the peer for the boat to leave and 3 hours on a beautiful boat ride, on the open deck.

Koh Tao is known for it’s diving courses – the cheapest place in the world to become a licensed diver and also one of the most beautiful. It took us about 5 hours of wandering to find accommodation, as now, in high season it is full almost everywhere. Also as most of the island businesses evolve around diving you are generally asked to book also a dive if you want a room, that at least is the case for the budget ones.

We decided to go with one of the 44 diving firms more forced by the accommodation factor but in the end we did not regret it as the dive instructor, Ylva (big thanks for holding my hand although sometimes i squeezed really hard), was more than helpful. I was scared for the whole length of the dive but it was a beautiful experience that i am certain i will try again. It all looked like a colourful, full of life, underwater garden. The fact that i was clueless and the mask generated tunnel vision added to the excitement.

One down point that i can mention – even in the touristic areas the local people know little English, so be prepared for extra explication rounds 🙂

India as seen by me

India is like an illegal bare fists boxing match. It is full of the all the wrong things, it is not played fair and somebody will get hurt badly;  but for those of you that have the guts to watch it, it’s going to be interesting, as it was for me.

We as Romanians are used with this kind of matches, we have them also though ours are a little bit softer. Most of the foreign people (others than Romanian and Indian) that we talked to were enthusiastic about India even when travelling on low budget but if you want to enjoy it better try using high class hotels and taxis in the city and hire guides even if it will cost you; it will help you see better the incredible part from the touristic commercials.

Some general facts – we spent about 120 euros per week and you can go probably even as low as 70. We liked Goa, Pushkar and the north mountain part. We felt good at the Swiss Cottage in Rishikesh, Maharaja in Pushkar and the Tranquility hotel in Darjeeling. I am not saying that the rest of the hotels were bad but these 3 had more than just rooms to hire.

Have a lovely day,
Bogdan

New Delhi

After 2 days spent in England and half spent in a plane we finally got to New Delhi. It was about 6 am when we found a hotel in the Paharganj area and little did we suspect what will the city offer.
We spent the 2 days walking around what can be described as an attack on all your senses. It is crowded and colorful and the traffic is a killer (rush hour every hour from dust of dawn till late in the night), it has parts that smell like hell and it is covered in a never settling cloud of dust, there is constant horning and screaming (from sellers and rickshaw drivers trying to make their way in the crowd).
As a foreigner you will constantly be approached by people trying to sell you something or scam you or by taxi and rickshaw drivers but the good thing is that they are not at all violent and if you keep your calm it will all be over after a very short conversation and a smiling “no, thank you”.
It is not a charming city and Connaught Place and the subway system are the only two places that resemble what an European would consider normality but that is what makes this place interesting along with the people that leave in it.

I do not think that it is a city that you would want to miss if you come to India, but i would not stay for more than 1 week.

You can see the photos from New Delhi with a click here

Ramnagar – Corbett Tiger Reservation

After a train journey that should have taken 4 hours but took 7 we finally got to Ramnagar at 12 in the evening. This wouldn’t have been so bad except for the fact that we had to walk around the town for another 40-50 minutes to find an opened hotel. It looked promising, not necessarily on the inside as on the out side as it had a river bank right next to it and we were close to Himalaya.
Next morning my interest in the river drifted away with the garbage that floated in it but we had anyway other things on our mind. We went straight for the Corbett Reservation and booked a one day safari.
The guide and the jeep driver were very nice and although English was not their strong point managed to make us feel good and provided enough information. We didn’t manage to find any tigers although the guide tried his best and the elephants were on leave also but we were not disappointed as the whole experience was really interesting (we got to see the real Indian jungle and also some groups of monkeys and spotted deers and also tried some fruits). Overall I would say this is a thing to do if you get around here – the high season is April to June when it is dry and you will be able to spot the animals from the observation points around the water holes (keep in mind though that this would also be the most crowded season).

I would have here one more thing to mention, the bus journey from Ramnagar to Haridwar. First of all it was a real adventure to find the bus just because of the fact that at the bus station there was nothing written in English and because our pronunciation of Haridwar was a little different of theirs – the good thing was that the bus was not there yet and we had time to figure out what and where.
After waiting for about an hour the bus came and a mass of people sprinted towards it. We only managed to find seats thanks to some nice Indian fellows that I think took pity seeing us with the huge backpacks. The second thing that strikes you when traveling by bus in India is the bus … it is one of those things that you just cannot imagine how it looked when it was new. All buses and trucks have written on the back PLEASE HORN some also add something like USE DESPERATLY AT NIGHT TIME and this is because they generally do not have mirrors so overtaking is always accompanied by horning.
Also the driving here is crazy, even though it was night tine the roads were full of buses and trucks and overtaking another car almost always became an adventure; thanks for the drivers that are true masters of their domain. And also a common thing in our experiences until now the people were opened and not only helped us with the seats but also took the time to understand what we were trying to say and helped us to get down at the right stop.

You can see the photos from Ramnagar and Haridwar with a click here

Haridwar

I do not have much to say about this small city, i cannot go as much in detail as Stefan is doing with the Romanian version. All in Haridwar revolves around religion and this means that for people that do not practice Hinduism it is not much to do.

Rishikesh

Yes it is an important point on the yoga map and yes the Beatles were here in 1968 writing the White Album but i do not do yoga and also did not meet the Beatles; what i can say about Rishikesh is that it was the first place where i felt good in India.
This city on the heals has a lot to offer and it does it in silence, which after the previous stopping points was just what i needed. Got to do rafting on Ganja and also cliff jumping. Tracking and bungee is also available for the wanting (bungee only in the hot season which means we did not get to do it).

We stayed at the Swiss Cottage which turned out to be great; it is not a luxurious place but it is clean and it comes with a great view and a great restaurant in the back yard :).

Click here for photos

Moussourie

Moussourie was a short stop for us as it was on the way to Amritsar and it also promised a great view of the Himalaya Mountains (you can see pictures of it by using the links found at the end of every entry in the Romanian version)

In this moment i realized that in India the saying that the journey is as important as the goal is always true. We woke up early in the morning to get a bus to Dehra Dun but to our surprise after a few hours waiting we found that this route was blocked by a one day strike. We were lucky to meet up with two English ladies that were going the same way and were able to share a taxi (which in the end was not that expensive). As Dehra Dun buses were on hold we had to take another taxi all the way up to Moussourie (2530 meters), and here the real adventure begun. The driver was a little old man, the car was a little old Ambassador and both of them were practicing the Indian way of driving (fast, never heard of mirrors or of making sure that when you overtake something no car is coming from the other direction,and horning is a must), it is just that this time it was up the mountain on a sinuous, narrow road flanked by rocks and the abis and it took about an hour.

PS: the view was good and my camera made it look closer (with the 40-150 lens). It is probably the closest i will ever be to Himalaya but who knows.

Click here for photos

Amritsar

A place with a bloody history this city on the border with Pakistan is now trying to put on a modern cloth.

We stayed here for one day only but if was a full one. We started by visiting the Golden Temple, a place of majestic beauty that in my opinion is worth at least the same appreciation as Taj Mahal; afterwords we took a 11 km rickshaw ride to the border with Pakistan. Here according to the Lonely Planet Guide, twice a day, an exercise of friendship takes place in a joined ceremony of opening and closing the border. To us it looked more like a propaganda exercise conducted, of course, by a propaganda officer that agitated the crowds, a screaming contest between the two parts, with the ceremony being moved to the second place.

At night time i got lost in a Asimov book that i found in the restaurant area of the hotel where we stayed (The Guest House) but was stopped mid way by a Pakistani men that lived in Sweden with mood for chatting. He turned out to be an ok guy although a little weird and hateful towards English women :).

If you have the time visit it … if not, make the time cause it does not take long. Pictures can be found here.

Agra

I visited Taj Mahal so now i will be able to go home and proudly answer yes to the question that comes in general to peoples minds when they hear the word India.

You can also visit the Agra Fort – a massive red sand stone construction and also dine at one of the many restaurants with a view of Taj Mahal (although for reasons unknown to me the Taj is left in total darkness during night hours).

We also took the bus for a visit in the nearby city of Fatehpur Sikri where you can find a large and impressing complex of palaces and The Jama Masjid mosque buit by the Mughal Emperor Akbar.

Photos here and here.

PS: word of special meaning – Sexy :).

Pushkar

A lake, a bazaar, two hill temples that offer a stunning view of the surroundings and beautiful sunsets and rises and most of all very interesting people.

If you ever get here i strongly recommend the Maharaja guest house – it is run by a Jack of all trades that gives a relaxed and happy aura to this place.

Photos here.

You will see, if you go on picassa and look at the photo albums that we have covered more of India than it is written in the English version but this is written by me (Bogdan) and i am a lazy person that is cheap with words 🙂 I’ll try to push through and write about the other places also. Until then check out the photos here

Bogdan

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