Wednesday, 26 September 2007

Capital City (of Rajasthan)

Hotel Dera Rawatsar
I was going to upload the previous entry (about Pushkar) at this hotel, but turns out it's running on Windows 98 and won't recognise my USB flash drive, so I guess I'll just have to wait for the next place.
We're in Jaipur at the moment, the capital of Rajasthan. We thought it was going to be busy as today, but turns out after the elephant ride and looking around the city palace, that was mainly it in terms of sightseeing... we're now sitting around having a rest until dinnertime - pretty much the same as yesterday (after we arrived from Pushkar). Actually a lot of these cities have seemed not that huge because we don't actually spend time walking around the city itself, just being chauffeured from attraction to attraction, but I guess that's the nature of having a driver and being on a somewhat fixed tour. Ah well, we will have plenty of time to go 'byself, as we like' later on in our trip!
I thought I would mention also that I disliked the elephant ride at the Amber Palace as much as Pushkar, just because of the multitude of people there trying to sell you stuff and/or pick your pocket. From the moment we got out of the car, there were people trying to sell us postcards, silk paintings, turbans, hats, etc, etc. They just push it all in your face (in the case of the hats, they push it onto your head) and then try to get the money off you, and they don't know the meaning of the word 'no'. After a particularly annoying confrontation with a man trying to sell us hats, another tourist (also in the queue) recommended that the best way of getting rid of those guys were just to completely ignore them and pretend they don't exist. It's a bit difficult to do at first because it's so rude and completely against what most people have been brought up to do, but once they engage you in any sort of dialogue, even if you're saying 'no', they just talk and talk until I guess they guilt-trip you into buying something.
As for the elephant ride itself, it was uncomfortable and smelly (there was a river of elephant pee running down the path due to the sheer volume of tourists going up and down), which would have been maybe tolerable if not for the fact that the elephant handler (and a friend on the ground) tried to extort us into giving him a 100Rs tip! This is over and above the 250Rs per person we'd already paid for the ride itself as part of our 'tour'. We have him 30Rs between the two of us (Mark went on a separate elephant) which I think was completely reasonable, given that we gave our camel safari guides about 20Rs each for a much longer and more pleasant experience. I know it's not much NZD but it's the principle of the thing, I hate giving people tips when they've done hardly anything to deserve it and they basically hold you up for it. Eventually this uniformed guy told us to move along, I'm guessing he's part of the 'tourist assistance force' or some sort of official who's supposed to stop this sort of thing from happening, but gets so many bribes from the benefactors of this sort of extortion that he turns a blind eye to most of it, but will still step in if it looks like things may be getting out of hand.
As usual all the junk-sellers would ask where we're from, and of course never get my nationality correct, While we were waiting for Mark to get down from his elephant, this guy asked if I was from Taiwan, I should have just ignored him but I said 'no', then he kept asking me 'where are you from?' and I was pretty pissed off by this stage so I just said 'not Taiwan', and he kept harassing me until Mark got down and we could all leave together. From then on we just pretended everyone else was invisible, which seemed to do the trick. I think I'm going to have to readjust my manners and standards for what is acceptable in driving when I get back to New Zealand.
When we went to the lakeside to take photos of the Water Palace, the first thing we noticed was the overpowering stench of sewage and stagnation at the water's edge. Not long after we stopped of course we were mobbed by people trying to beg/sell us stuff/probably pickpocket us, including this group of kids who tried to get in our photos. I'm sure that if they succeeded, they would've demanded some sort of tip, but I guess it's possible they were also just being friendly. But by the way they just materialised out of thin air and came with the junk-sellers, I somehow doubt that. Anyway, we completely ignored everyone as well there, plus a huge tour bus of French tourists also unloaded at the same vantage point which was a welcome distraction.
The problem with avoiding everyone is that we could easily be snubbing anyone who might be genuinely trying to be friendly to us, but 95% of the time it's someone trying to rip us off, so it's better to be safe than sorry. This is probably the part I least enjoy about travelling through India, but again, probably totally unavoidable until they really clamp down on the corruption which seems to exist in every part of this country.

Tuesday, 25 September 2007

A 'Holy' Hole

Hotel Master Paradise, Pushkar
Well, I can honestly say that Pushkar is our least favourite town so far. Basically from when we got out of the car to walk around the market and visit the famous Brahma temple, to when we got back in the car, we were constantly hassled for money. As soon as we got through the town gate there were guys shoving flowers in our hands and then trying to get us to go down to the lakeside to throw it in, then I guess try to get money from us, but we ignored them and kept going...
When we got to the Brahma temple (the main attraction of the city) there were a million guys trying to get us to leave our shoes with them, it was obviously some kind of money extortion ploy, but unfortunately we couldn't see many other alternatives since we couldn't take our shoes inside... We asked him how much it would be, and he said "it's a donation for the temple, as you like", so in the end we left our shoes there and went up to the temple... These people kept offering to give us a tour, of course we said no but they persisted, especially this little kid, of course they all said it was free and they were 'students at the temple' but yeah right... It seems like you can't be polite with these people, I just kept saying 'no' until eventually he left us alone.
The temple itself kinda had a nice view of the lake and the surrounding area but was otherwise wholly unimpressive, we took some photos and then left, when we went to collect our shoes, after we'd put them back on the guy (of course) asked for a fee, we said we'd already donated at the temple (we hadn't actually, but we thought that might get him to leave us alone), then he started going on about how it was his business, and then we were like 'you said just before that it was for the temple, not a business!' and basically left. I didn't feel bad at all because he was obviously experienced at ripping tourists off, and probably does quite well out of it... And we didn't really have an alternative either, i.e. leaving shoes somewhere that we weren't charged for.
Actually while we were outside contemplating whether to even go inside the temple, there was a little kid who went up to Mark and started playing some instrument, we totally ignored him, he played for about half a minute and then asked us for money, of course we didn't give him anything since we didn't even ask him to start...
We eventually found a quiet place by the lake and started to take some photos, but it wasn't quiet for long because some random guy wandered up to us and first told us to take off our shoes, which was completely stupid because we weren't even by the temple and we'd seen other locals walk past with their shoes on - then he started trying to tell us we weren't allowed to take photos unless we bought a special wristband from him, another obvious scam. That's when we got totally fed up and just left the town. All along the way there were people calling out to us 'hello, good evening' and someone even called out a greeting in Korean to me (I keep getting mistaken for a Korean or Japanese tourist) trying to get us to buy crap from them...
The really stupid thing about Pushkar is that it's supposed to be a totally spiritual place, but it's just one giant tourist trap with pretty much no redeeming qualities, I'm glad Rakesh warned us not to give money to anyone and not to buy anything at all, but I think we wouldn't have anyway. Okay, actually one redeeming quality I guess is that the hotel is fairly nice, but we're paying for it already.
Pushkar also proves once again how the Lonely Planet can be pretty useless sometimes, here's what it said about it:
"Pushkar is a small, magical, desert-edge town. (...) the town remains enchantingly small and extraordinarily mystic. (...) It's small and tourist-friendly."
Pushkar is anything but magical and holy, and I would definitely recommend skipping it if you can. The only thing we got out of coming here is I guess funny stories about how people tried to rip us off... Ah well, still not as bad as Niksic though!
P.S. India won the cricket, so everyone's going to be in a good mood tomorrow! Hopefully that means less people try to rip us off, not more...

Monday, 24 September 2007

Walking Targets

Well, turns out the India-Pakistan Twenty20 cricket final is actually on today, in just over one hour in fact - we'll actually be out sightseeing but we should be able to catch the end of it. Also, turns out that the internet at our Udaipur hotel wasn't free because they tried to charge us 100Rs for it when we were leaving, which is only about NZ$3 but it was pretty poor of them not to tell us it wasn't free when we asked if we could use it, plus there wasn't even any sign at the computer, so... I managed to talk my way out of paying for that one. It's kind of the principle of the thing.
I was thinking I should change the title of this blog since being chaffeured around from hotel to hotel isn't exactly 'backpacking', but I'm still quite happy we went with the tour since it's cushioned the culture shock quite a bit, and Rakesh has been really helpful in telling us what brands of bottled water are alright, and where it's okay to eat 'non-veg' food.
Apparently Pushkar (where we are at the moment) is completely reliant on tourism for its economy, and therefore there's also heaps more people who are out to get you or rip you off. Rakesh told us that once he was driving an old German couple, who got accosted by a Brahmin (priest) at a temple, he followed them all around the place talking to them about the temple, and then demanded US$5000 from them! Of course the couple was outraged and tried to offer a little bit, but the guy persisted (he also had some friends at this stage), eventually the couple threatened to call the police and the priests left, but yeah... The moral of the story is - don't talk to anyone in Pushkar! Well, not quite, but basically don't let any random dodgy person offer you anything because they are inevitably going to demand money at the end.
Actually, ever since I arrived here it seems like all my manners have gone out the window, because you wouldn't really survive as a tourist otherwise. All the beggar women with babies on their hip, the little begger kids, people trying to sell you crap, people trying to get you to take their photo, people offering to give you a tour, you have to just pretend they don't exist because if you give money to one, you'll just get mobbed. Once when we were stopped on the side of the road some opportunistic kids ran over and started asking us for money and/or chocolate, they just looked like normal kids, not beggars or anything, but obviously they've had some success with tourists before... It's a bit disconcerting really, and tourism would be much more attractive here if this sort of thing wasn't tolerated, but I don't see it stopping anytime soon as long as there's still such extreme poverty around.

Sunday, 23 September 2007

Our Rajasthan tour continues...

Well, our tour has been pretty hectic so far! We're currently in Udaipur, a lakeside city surrounded by mountains, which is a cool respite from the scorching desert heat in the rest of Rajasthan.
Our camel safari took place about an hour away from Jaisalmer, we had a camel and a guide each and rode up to the sand dunes to watch the sunset, where there were a ton of other tourists as well. Like every other touristy place in India there was an enterprising drummer/singer guy who would ask for your name, sit down and sign some song, and then ask for money. He did it to Mark who unfortunately couldn't stop him in time, at the end he asked for 100Rs but I gave him 10Rs, which I think wasn't too bad a deal considering I took a video of the whole thing! Will upload it to YouTube later on... 
At night we had dinner with the people who ran the safari, usually there would've been music and dancing as well, but since a young woman and her baby had died the previous day they weren't having that, which was totally understandable... And I don't mind that much either, being pulled up for cultural dancing isn't really my thing!
We opted to stay in the desert so we got in a 'camel car' (basically a wagon pulled by a camel) and went into the sand dunes again, I'd been wondering whether it would involve tents or something, but turns out they just put the bed and the mattress on the sand, and that was it! By the time we got settled down it was about 11pm, and there was a slight breeze but it was still quite hot, so I didn't get the most amount of sleep ever, but it was definitely a novel experience... We got up at 5.30am or so to watch the sunrise, which wasn't really that different to sunset really, and that's when all the insects came... not that pleasant, but we got to see some interesting dung beetle action - will also upload the video when I can!
Our guide was called Vikram and unfortunately he didn't speak a huge amount of English, but he seemed fascinated with my GPS unit (just takes a log of GPS coordinates so you can match them with your photos) and also my Lonely Planet phrasebook. He told us about the animals we saw as we went past on the camels - apparently the cows and goats are used for milk, the donkeys for farmwork and carrying things, the camels for tourists and also pulling things, but the dogs just sat around doing nothing...
Both on the way in and out of Jaisalmer we saw a lot of windmills, which apparently supplies most of the electricity to the town and surrounding area.
After Jaisalmer we went to Jodhpur, famous for its teas and spices... Rakesh took us to one particular shop and we may have gone a little bit overboard, but I mean when I looked at the prices and compared it to how much it costs for a small little box of Greggs or Masterfoods stuff which isn't even as nice, we thought we might as well... The teas we tried were reeeeally nice as well, in fact all the masala teas (chai) we've had here have been a million times better than anything I've ever had in New Zealand! Then again there are probably places you can get better stuff in NZ, I just wouldn't know where, and it's probably expensive as well.
In Jodhpur we stayed at a quaint little guest house with a lot of colonial artefacts, taxidermied animals (okay, not sure if I can use that as an adjective but...) and other curious things. Kind of a shame we didn't really have a chance to play on the billiards table! Not that I know how to play billiards...
There were actually quite a few blocked roads in Jodhpur which was a bit annoying, at one of them Rakesh just looked down the other side and said "No problem, I go on the wrong side" and soon enough we were zooming down the road against tons of oncoming traffic. Great! In fact, we've had tons of fun driving experiences here so far, they don't really have road rules here per se, definitely no such thing as the 2 second rule, the don't-pass-unless-you-can-see-100m-clear-on-the-other-side rule, the give way rules, the wear-your-seltbelt-all-the-time rule, etc. But I'm already quite immune to it all, we've only seen two or three accidents so far (and they weren't that major).
People are always asking us 'which country?' or  'where (are) you from?' and when we say 'New Zealand', they usually immediately mention cricket. We had one guy in a museum who started listing all the cricket grounds he knew, actually first he asked if we were from Hamilton (LOL) and then continued to mention Napier, Auckland, Christchurch and Wellington. Since the Twenty20 world cup is on at the moment, everyone mentions that right away. Last night we witnessed our horrendous defeat to Pakistan in our hotel room, actually we didn't even bother watching the whole thing since it was obvious we're going to lose... And then turns out that India beat Australia (yay!) so it's going to be an India-Pakistan final - should be exciting, I hope India wins otherwise everyone's going to be in a bad mood tomorrow... Of course nobody knows anything about rugby, but I guess there's no big games on until much later anyway. If all goes according to plan we should be in Goa when the world cup final is on, so provided we're in it (and we better be) hopefully we can find a touristy enough bar to watch it in!
Anyway, should probably stop hogging the hotel computer, I've also been uploading some photos to my flickr page so feel free to head over there and have a look! Hope everyone's still doing well, and I'll update again when I have a chance to. =)

Thursday, 20 September 2007

Desert Fort

Well, we've arrived at the famous desert fort! Just had a really nice dinner at a restaurant with a 'magic balcony', James and Mark had about three very large bottles of beer between them, I stuck with the lemonade... Anyway, our 'tour' is going not too badly, the past few days have mostly been spent in the car but there should be less of that from now on!

Our driver is called Rakesh and he's absolutely hilarious... He loves Bolliwood songs (of course) and sings along but to the girl part, makes this funny high pitched squeal when we have close shaves with other traffic on the road (which is quite often), and since he found out Mark was single he seems to be trying very hard to set him up with a girl, haha...

I don't have a huge amount of time, so will try to mention as much as I can in bullet points:

- On our way out of Delhi we nearly had an accident because there was a truck stopped on the highway, everyone was honking angrily etc, I naively assumed it had broken down but turns out the driver had just stopped to get a drink from a street-side vendor! Rakesh remarked, "In India, life is not important, but drink is very important."

- There's tons of Engrish around, especially on menus, such as "Chicken Marryland" "Salad Street" "Kuchumber Salad" "Chicken Clear" (under soups)

- There are three main 'safe' brands of bottled water in India, one of them is 'Aquafina' (by Pepsi) and 'Kinley' (by Coke). James got three bottles called 'Yash' from a roadside vendor cause we were thirsty, but Rakesh said it coiuld be a bit dodgy and fortunately got us a refund for two of the bottles, we had to keep one but I'm sure we can use it for something... Water bottles usually have a 'maximum retail price' on it, usually it's about 12Rs (just under 50c NZ) but sometimes at hotels and other touristy places they charge about 30Rs, and they've rubbed off/blacked out the 'MRP'... nice! It's still super cheap compared with NZ, but so is everything so you can't really compare.

- I'm sure everyone has already heard this about India but there are cows absolutely everywhere, and of course people can't hurt them so if they wander into the middle of the road everyone has to brake and swerve to avoid it. Sometimes when we're going past one of they seem to stare angrily at you, Rakesh said "In India all cows are angry."

- On the drive to Jaisalmer we saw some people walking along the road, we asked Rakesh where they were going and he said they were pilgrims, usually having to walk about 200km... And this is in the middle of the desert! A bit crazy... They usually rest under tree shade during the day and walk during the night when it's cooler.

- Little kids will often wave at us as we're driving by, I guess cause we don't look Indian, I usually wave back, and once this kid seemed really happy once we did, hehe.

Okay, time to go back to the hotel so I better stop writing, we're going on a camel ride tomorrow so that should be uncomfortable but fun...! I got an Indian simcard for my phone and I've emailed the number to most people, but if I forgot to include you, send me an email... I mean, I don't expect most people would need it anyway, but just in case you want to send me a txt or something...

Tuesday, 18 September 2007

Our day in Delhi

Well, looks like our original plan has gone completely out the window now... One of the guys at the hotel we're staying at showed us a tour which included transport and accommodation for all around Rajasthan, also Agra and Varanasi, so... We decided to take them up on it because even though it would've been cheaper arranging everything ourselves, it would have been so much more hassle as well, and even from going around Delhi today, I became reeeally appreciative of having an air-conditioned car to go back to, and also windows to hide from the constant barrage of beggars.
In a way, I guess it would be more 'authentic' to go super-budget, but there seem to be so many scams and people wanting to rip you off that things are much more likely to go wrong if you go completely DIY. Not that we're exactly going 5-star, either! You can't really escape from the... I guess I'd have to say... crappiness, if you go outside at all. I mean, India is indeed Incredible! as advertised, but not all in a good way. Every time you stop at a traffic light there's a beggar woman holding a baby asking for money, or some kid banging drums, also hoping for a rupee or two. At the tourist attractions themselves people are constantly coming up to you and trying to sell you useless trinkets. We're pretty good at ignoring them and saying no, because there's just no way giving beggars money is going to help in the long run, and the hawkers will just totally rip you off. Also there are quite a few people who come up and say 'photo?', I presume they want you to take a photo of them and then give them some money, but none of us were really big fan of portraits of random strangers, and there are enough of those on the internet... Actually sometimes the first thing they'll ask is 'what country?', and when we say 'New Zealand', sometimes they go away again, which is a bit funny but I guess it works in our favour!
Today we got a driver named Dinesh who took us around to all the main sights including the Ghandi Memorial Park, Humayun's Tomb, Lodi Gardens and India Gate. He was really helpful, and it was a bit funny because when we were waiting in the car while James and Mark stocked up on rupees at the ATM, he asked me, "So you and James are... friends?" I took that to mean boyfriend/girlfriend so I said, "yeah", which he quickly followed up with "Are you married?" To which I had to suppress a laugh and say "No"... I guess that sort of thing isn't really approved of 100%, though you'd think they'd be used to it from tourists by now...
There are so many animals here! Mice, squirrels, crows, stray dogs, cows... We even saw two mongooses (mongeese?) chasing each other around the park. Squirrels are unheard of in New Zealand so I was highly amused and took plenty of photos, but by the end of the day the novelty value had worn off... Also there are these gigantic ants which are about five times the size of normal ants in NZ. Yum!
We've only spent about 24 hours in India so far and already I miss things like Auckland's mild climate, being able to drink tapwater and not being hassled for money every five minutes... But! I'm still excited to be here and see all these amazing things in the flesh. One thing we really lack in NZ is the deep history which exists in other, long-inhabited countries. And I'm sure that when I look back on this we'll mainly think of the good parts, and the bad parts will become funny stories. Not that anything really bad has happened yet, but as I said, it's only day one, so we shall see. I'd like to avoid any major catastrophes if possible, but of course this won't be under our control. Also, money-wise I had no idea US dollars would bethat handy, I wish I had stocked up heaps when it was at 80c to the NZ dollar, but ah well, it's still way cheaper than travelling in NZ or Western Europe!

Monday, 17 September 2007

A slight change of plans

New Delhi, Hotel Ajanta

Okay, while I have a chance to type it up, here is our renewed itinerary:

18/9 - Delhi to Bikaner by car
19-20/9 - Jaisalmer, includes 'evening camel, stay in desert, and morning camel' according to Guman, the guy who organised it, LOL
21/9 - Jaisalmer to Jodhpur
22/9 - Jodhpur to Udaipur
23/9 - Udaipur
24/9 - Udaipur to Pushkar
25/9 - Pushkar to Jaipur
26/9 - Jaipur
27/9 - Jaipur to Agra
28/9 - Agra to Varanasi (by night train)
29/9 - Varanasi
30/9 - Varanasi to Lucknow
1/10 - Lucknow
2/10 - Lucknow to Mussoorie
3-6/10 - Mussoorie
7-12/10 - Hiking in the mountains
13-14/10 - back to Delhi, Mark leaves for NZ, James & Clara go to Mumbai, possibly by domestic flight (better than a 24 hour train ride!)

Okay, from then on it's sort of similar to our previous itinerary, but it's probably subject to change so I can't be bothered re-typing it again.

One of the downsides about this trip is that everywhere you go you have to try and avoid being ripped off, the problem is you can't avoid doing things like paying for accommodation, transport and food, and whoever you get it from will obviously be trying to make as much profit from you as possible, so it's just a matter of choosing who to get ripped off from... Like for example when we got the business room we were told that breakfast and the minibar stuff was included in the price. I was a bit dubious, but there was never a pricelist on the stuff, and we were so thirsty so we decided to just drink the Coke anyway. Of course, when we checked out it turns out they totalled the amount for the minibar stuff and asked us to pay. I was nearly going to argue with them and try to find the person who told us it was included, but then we worked out that it was going to be about $5 NZ, which is... actually not much at all - in fact it was cheaper than getting the same drinks from a roadside stand, i.e. 30c for a soft drink. So it wasn't a ripoff at all, but I would've appreciated them being more upfront about it. Ah well, I guess if we even think of $5 as a tip, then that's not too unreasonable.

Arrived safely in India!

New Delhi, Hotel Ajanta
Well, KL turned out to be a bit... underwhelming, given that we had limited time and money. Our hotel was in the wops (not unlike the airport hotels in Auckland) and it took 40 mins to get into the city. We turned up at the Petronas towers, marvelled at the height and shape, and then found out we had arrived too late to get tickets to go up to the bridge before we had to go back to the airport, so... Ah well. At lunchtime we met up with Natalie, James' sister's friend, and we had lunch at a Penang restaurant at the mall, which had the best Char Kwei Dieu (sorry for the mangled spelling, I have no idea) I've ever eaten... And it probably wasn't even close to the best in Malaysia itself, but easily surpassed anything I've had in NZ.
Back at the airport we visited our good friends Ronald McDonald and the Colonel for dinner, mainly because we were enticed by McFlurrys (for some reason NZ seems to be the only country to have discontinued this delicious dessert) and the KFC had been recommended to me by Malaysian workmates. The chicken was nice enough I guess, but I was highly disappointed by the potato & gravy (usually my favourite), which tasted nothing like the stuff in NZ.
I've often been told that smell is the strongest trigger of memory or something like that... So I guess when I stepped into the Delhi airport terminal it wasn't surprising that the smell immediately reminded me of Indian shops and restaurants I'd visited in Auckland. After heading through customs I was a bit apprehensive about the gauntlet of drivers I'd heard/read about who apparently accost you as soon as you come out of the arrivals gate, but fortunately we found our hotel pickup person easily enough and headed off with him back to town.
I had been expecting the driving to be crazy, but I was still a bit shaken at all the close calls and frequent honking. James said one of the interesting points as well is that all the drivers seem completely calm as well, even as they're cutting in front of other people or being cut in front of. Also, while I was dozing off, apparently he saw a cow on the side of the road! I'm sure we'll see plenty more later on as well.
At the hotel, we were ushered into the manager's office where he took down our details, photocopied our passports, etc. While that was going on, his small mouse nonchalantly scampered from under the door of a neighbouring office into the one we were in, and then quickly under the manager's desk! Nice. We also saw a whole traffic island full of field mice in KL as well, which was kind of cute and gross at the same time.
Anyway, it's nearly midnight and we're all dead tired, so I better end this entry and let everyone go to sleep. Hope I actually get to upload this sometime soon...!

Truly Asia!

When I stepped off the plane at KLIA and into the nearest loo, I was immediately greeted by the familiar (but dreaded) sight of the squat toilet. That's when it really hit me that I was back in Asia... I've only been from the airport to this swanky Malaysia Airline-sponsored hotel but already the muggy heat makes me miss Hong Kong in a strange way.
Anyway, after being warned about the food on Malaysia Airlines, my expectations were rock bottom, so I was pleasantly surprised by how relatively normal the meals were. I guess it might have helped that they must've stocked up in NZ, so I may yet revise my judgment after the flight to Delhi tomorrow.
During the flight I watched Waitress (with Keri Russell and Nathon Fillion) which was not too bad, and also Surf's Up, which was pretty enjoyable, as CGI penguin movies go... Easily beats Happy Feet in any case! Also played a bit ofBejewelled 2, Tetris and even Who Wants to be a Millionaire - we all just missed out on the million pound question, but some of the questions were so entrenched with British cultural references we just totally had to guess... But it's not nearly as fun when you know you're not actually going to win anything.
We hadn't really counted on being able to go out and see anything in KL since it's so far away from the airport and the hotel we're at, but one of James' sister's friends lives here, and we don't have to board the airport shuttle bus from the hotel until 3pm, so we'll go into town and meet her. I'm actually quite excited about seeing the Petronas towers, way prettier than Taipei 101. No offense to my Taiwanese friends, but that really has got to be one of the most inelegant buildings ever constructed.
Oh, one last thing - I am often amused by what certain countries will ask on their arrival cards, for example the U.S. one asks if you've ever been a Nazi or in a terrorist organisation, which is totally hilarious because I can't imagine why anyone would say yes, but I noticed on the Malaysia one they remind you that the penality for drug trafficking is death, and a flight attendant cheerfully reminded us as well over the intercom, so... I'm glad I wasn't trying to smuggle over any P! Ha.

Saturday, 15 September 2007

I think I've got everything

And even if I don't, I suppose as long as we have our passport and air tickets, that's all we really need. James reckons I've packed too much stuff, but I guess I just want to be prepared for nearly all eventualities, and apparently it's a bit of a girl thing, to overpack. Still, we're only taking his huge macpac and for me, a largeish daypack (i.e. I won't have a large pack of my own), so it's still not too bad. So far his macpac is about 15kg, which is frankly nothing compared to the weight of the suitcases my family regularly brings back from Hong Kong! Then again, this is a completely different kind of trip...
I guess the travel preparations aren't really that exciting compared to the trip itself, so I might leave it there for now - the next update will be when I get some internet access in KL Airport or Delhi!