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“I like mornings now because I can actually do stuff in them” charl
While getting ready on new years eve for the party. “Sorry my room is in such a mess” “don’t worry, you and I have about the same chances of getting lucky” “true. So let’s just get drunk” - anon
“The world makes sense now! I understand why boys always have their hands in their pants in winter” anon while lying in bed shivering
“Trees don’t hit by self defence, don’t drink and drive ” on a sign board between delhi and agra
So we arrived at the Ravla Kempur after a very interesting train ride. It was quite an experience getting on. Its difficlut to know which cart you need to get on. So when the train arrived we jogged down the platform. However, We clearly didnt jog fast enough, as by the time we reach 8 cars down, and it wasnt ours, the train started moving. A friendly business man told us to just get on. Which was a schlep again, as we had our backpacks on. The train ride itself was unexciting as it was. They donot tell you what station you are near, so it was kinda a guestimate. Also they dont tell you that you are running late. So when we had to get off at a small junction station, We had to pop our head out of the door and shout to the locals asking what station we were at. We almost got off one juntion too early as we had to wait for another train to pass first.
When we got off we quickly found a taxi to take us to the Hotel. The hotel was in a little town called Ravla. and it was called the Ravla Kehmpur. Which was basically the chief of the villages’ house. We were greeted swiftly and offered breakfast. They made a spicey omlette. We were also asked not to take photos as they were building the set for the Second shooting of the Marigold hotel. Anna and I deceided to have another nap, as we decided to make this a quiet leg of our trip.
After our nap we were given lunch. Which was a vegetarian dish. But they were very friendly and it was tasty. Dessert was interesting. We at first through it was a fruity dish with Tomatos in it, but turned out to be carrots boiled in sugar and milk. And I think they added some ground corn to it. We had a walk through the local town which was a tiny little village. Very poor and the locals having a small plot that they would farm on. When we got got back we went for a bit of a horse ride. A child world came to mind after this ride through the fields that reminded me of the Karoo. My Holbeen was seer. hahaha. We arrived back, had another chill session. before they served us dinner on the roof. This was romantishesq. The next morning we had breakfast, and begged the films artistic director if we could take a photo just for a memory. We were allowed to take a photo from outside the room norman lived in and had his showered. We took a cab into udaipur.
Udaipur has a special feel to it. We arrived through markets which reminded us of nepal. The tuctuc dropped us off in the centre of the tourist area. We walked, Found the lake, and fell in love with this place. We took a boat trip on the lake. While we were there, anna said she wished we stayed here for a couple of days more. By the time we reached land we had the price of tickets. Headed over to the rail station to cancel our train tickets. and that was that. We made our way back to the city, knocked on some hotel doors and ended finding a little hotel next to the lake. We had sunset drinks (home mixed coke and whiskey) on the roof patio. Life was good.
The morning we slept in, Anna and I had a lovely chat about life, the universe and girls. We chatted about the future, the past and just generally chilled. We then went hunting for a little bakery for breakfast. As life goes, when you arnt looking for something you find many of then, but when you actually want it, you cant find it. We ended up having pancakes and tea. While having this we struck up a conversation with british chap, and then a lady who moved here seven years ago chipped in.WEe ended up having a lovely chat about the locals, the differences in culture and how friendly people here are. Charlie is going to go work on a farm for a month. Where they basically give you accomodation and food in exchange for working the farm. The lady was writing a book titled, “Starting a business in India” Which journals her starting of a small restaurant in Udaipur. She even reached the Top of longely planet six months down the line. Im really looking forward to reading her book.
We took a walk down to the Ropeway and got ourselves tickets for the evening, And now we are having a cain and coke and a brandy and coke. We have befriended a local argentinian lady who is going to come with us to the rope way. She is still afriad of everything local so us “experienced travelers” are helping her. Hahahaha. The Cable car was beautiful. The view amazing. Udaipur is a lot bigger than we thought it was. But amazingly beautiful. We Had sunset at the top of the hill and then headed down for lunch with Silvina.
The british lady we met recommended this restaurant. Which was an experience and a half. Its kinda like a buffet. But they come and serve you at the table and there are a bunch locals running around filling your plate with what ever you need. The flavours were spectacular. Everyone should visit it. Wonder if a place like that could work in durban?
We then rushed to a cultural show. It was pretty. and the dancers were really skilled. I loved how band banter is something that is common across all cultures. The band were crying with laughter at points. It had everything from puppet shows to Dancing to pot balancing on the heads.
Without a doubt, staying in Udaipur was the best decision we have made so far. Life is beautiful. People are beautiful. Soul is happy.
So today we did our sight seeing thing. But unfortunately its a religious public holiday so two places we wanted to visit was closed.
We started out at the Qutab Minar. This is an old tower and grave site. The tower itself is magnificent. It was a fort too
After that we headed over the the Lotus temple. This is a beautiful modern structure which is the the imiddle of New Delhi. What surprised me the most of this structure is that there are so many people flocking in there. Of all religions. And they all respect the people there. Their church is acceptant of others too. Its actually one of the things that make me the happiest about India. Everyone is acceptant of others beliefs. I wish this could be the case in SA aswell.
After that we headed over to Hymanys tomb. Its three major tombs, which Taj Mahjal was based on. This was a truely beautiful structure. It was not as busy as the Taj itself.
After this we had hoped to get to the Gandi Sirti, which is the Ghandi meuseem, and the place he was assasinated. This was unfortuanltely closed. We then tried the Planetarium, but this was closed aswell.
So Anna and I went home to have a shower and enjoy a bit of comfort before we head out to Udaipur tonight. This is an overnight train and it is our first of this kind, so I think it might be a bit of an experience!
The start of india was a bit of a faux pas. But turned nice
We arrived happily at our hotel Friday night. Was a nice hotel, with a minibar, so we had some snacks and hit the bed. I then realised that the trains are all overbooked and delayed due to the monsoon. So I had to make a planB. This entailed us booking a bus. Right. So busses leave from one terminal. I assumed this was a terminal where we could do something. But it was not. It was a gigantic bus stand. So we lost the morning…
The bus drive was nice, but took an hour longer than anticipated. We arrived there at dark, and we didnt know to get off the bus at the beginning of Agra, so had to take a tuctuc for 40 minutes. I did not think wearing a jacket was suited. So I was cold. And people know when Im cold its REALLY cold.
Hotel there was nice. We had chicken Korma for dinner. Very flavourfull. We hit the bed with the idea of getting the sunrise at the Taj Mahal.
so at quarter to seven we left the hotel to go and see the Sun rise. But wait. Its foggy. So foggy that you have visibility of about 10m. Sigh. But the fog will lift? Nay. We did the tour of the Taj. And we couldnt see the Taj Completely Even when standing infront of it we couldnt.
So we took a cab back to delhi. And Arrived at family friends of Annas. This is where India turned for the positive. The people are nice. And they are all academics (so I feel at home, considering my mom is one). They are Basically work on teaching methodologies and acting as a feedback loop in the teaching system.
The next day, we are going to hit a craft market. Anna is really excited about this. And tuesday, we will be doing a day long tour of the city. Organise by the city for 200INR. Its a bargain as you get to like 8 major places.On an Airconditioned bus. Looking forward to this. Anyhow, will check in with happy stories tomorrow!
Tonight, We are excited about dinner, why? Because it will be familiar food. Thats home cooked. It doesnt even contain meat and Im extatic! Veg lasagne! We then watched the marigold hotel, and I played some chess. One match lost, one drew.
The next morning we slept in a bit. We have traveled quite a bit the last couple of days. We headed into Delhi and visited a craft market. Nothing really tickled me there.
After that we headed into old delhi. We did this by the metro. What a pleasure. Busy, but clean and fast. We had a rikshaw tour for like Rs400. He took us to three smaller markets, a tea shop, and Karims, a small little indian food den tucked away in a random little alley. The food was tasty, But a bit too much rice for my liking. Both Anna and I bought Masala Tea, and chocolate tea. I am looking forward to trying that when I am home.
Traffic home was quite funny. There are lots of strange vehicles traveling like this one
So this morning we paid for a tour through the mountains and two temples.
Before we left, we went for a walk and had our laundry done. We then had breakfast and found the rooftop of the building we are staying in. The view is magnificent
We started off by visiting Batpur. This is an old city, about 600 years old. The city is in the shape of a pidgeon with a wall right around it. There are various Hindi temples there. It was a combination of beautiful, buzzing with people, Yet extremely poor. A boy there asked us to buy him a school book. He is either a good conartist or a boy who wants to go places in the world. Im praying its the latter. He had a good grasp of the english language, And knew some things about the world because when we said we were from south africa he immediately responded with Wakka Wakka.
We then headed off to the Monkey temple. This is an ancient buddist temple. I expected to see some buddhists there, But there were only tourists.
We left there to do a small trek across the mountains. It took us across probably three mountain ranges and 12 odd km. It was very similar to trekking in the transkei as there were lots of rural villages around. This was probably the second most brilliant thing of our tour in nepal. We had a guide taking us through so we didnt get lost. There was a taxi waiting for us when we reached the other side. Unfortunately it was cloudy and moggy so we did not see the sunset we had hoped for on the peaks.. But it was beautiful none the less.
When we got back we met up with a friend of Annas mom. At first it was a bit akward but pretty soon we were chatting about everything. He took us to a local restaurant where we had Chicken MoMo and Banna Lassi. It was very similar to what we have had in China.
The next morning after breakfast from the hotel, madur came and fetched us and took us to a school he voulenteered. This is a “free” School. Free as in beer. They teach the children, give them love, give them fun. And feed them atleast once a day. They get a school uniform aswell. They target the local kids of labourers and Beggars, who often could not afford to feed them at home even. Most of these kids missed the traditional schooling period, so their classes are mixed over a wide age group, where you have a 9 year old in kindergarden etc. They only teach till Class 5, But their class 5 math is on the level of our grade 8 or nines. These people are kind at heart. They would give us the shirts off their backs if we asked them. The school runs on a minute Budget. Approximately R7500 per month. And yet they provide education for nearly 250 kids. That includes rent, salaries, Food and electricity. And I feel they give the kids an education that they want. Everyone seemed to want to be there. When the school is in financial difficulty, the teachers even loan the school money. These people make one feel so humble. I hope to make a small donation to them once I am back in South africa and have checked my finances. If between anna and I hope we can get enough to support them for a month. They Fed us a lovely vegetable curry.
This photo summarized the school best to me
After this Madur took us to a local Bakery Cafe. Its a fairly mainstream chain here in Nepal. there are about 6 of them in kathmandu. But this one was different. They employed deaf staff. And I dont mean one or two deaf people. There were only one or two speaking people, The Manager, The Head Chef and the security guard. I think we should get more stores like these. They teach people acceptance of one another. That is probably the thing I feel most humbled by the fact that no matter what your ethnicity, Religion, or disablity is, You will be accepted, and made feel human.
I would love to bring some people from south africa here one day. Maybe teachers. They would probably gain the most by a trip here. Their schooling system does so much with so little. And everyone seems happy. They are a close nit family. Everyone helps everyone.
This must be on the top of the strangest experiences Ive had coming into a new country. As we had to to take an unexpected cab, so we forgot to draw fresh USD for the visa. At Mumbai there was no forex in the terminal where we were. So when we arrived we had to get cash. But the forex place before passport control could not handle cards. So they sent us to the atm. Which was in the public road. So we passed customs and everything sans a visa. It was a funny experience. We then got back and had to pay and went through everything again. Odd. In most places if you get that far through they would have shot at us.
Our hotel included airport pickup, so it was very easy for us to find our place. When we arrived, the hotel manager helped us arrange our stuff for the two days. And its a bargain. After that we headed out to the local streets to do some shopping. We bought silk, Yak wool blankies, a scarf, and Anna got some hand made paper in the most beautiful colours. While buying material, we bumped into a gent, who immediately picked up I had an afrikaans accent. This surprised me as most peopole who lives in south africa cant even pick it up.
After this, we had dinner and headed back to the hotel. We are rather tired as we have basically traveled the last 30 odd hours. Tomorrow morning we get a sleep in, buying some stuff from a local bakery and then we will head off to the hills to do some hiking and sight seeing.
We started off our day by performing at a local school where Thomas used to teach. This meant we could sleep a bit later than normally. The concert was rather cute with a bunch of kids coming and cuddling with us. Most of them were under the age of 7.
To thank us for this the school took us to a magnificent restaurant where we had dumplings and other things I didnt recognize. I must say Ive learnt on this tour that fruit I saw on our fruit names chart when I was a little snot nosed bugger were actually very tasty. Ive had Star fruit and dragon fruit and both were very tasty. Pity we cant get them in Durban.
We went to a mall which we thought was a market, Had to buy gifts there for the Chaperones. This turned out to be a more difficult task than anticipated. So we ended up getting the tea and liqour. We got our own Dragon lady some dragon wine. Brett and I thought it was perhaps not enough as she did so much for the tour that when we arrived back at the hotel I dashed off to a market about 2km away, Where I saw lots of brillaint things, but couldnt find people who could converse in English there. So I finally found her a Dragon teapot. I decided that it was unfair that Brett was left out from the gifts as a chaperone gifts, I decided to buy him a bottle of local booze. He was not impressed that I pulled a fast one on him, but I think he deserves the credit.
After Dinner a couple of us went out to go get some beers and food. Di and I craved some Oysters, so we had the most bloody expencive oysters Ive ever eaten. At R70 a pop they were worth it however. We went back to the hotel by cab and and to round up the little buggers as they were running amock. And we know they all just went back to the rooms they were making amock in when we left, but hey, Both Di and I were over it pretty darn quickly.
The next morning we got up at 9, packed, and took the bus to the Border. This was a bigger schlep than anticipated as it meant we literally had to walk across the border. Take a shuttle to the next border post, And then take a shuttle to the bus area. We waited there for about 30 minutes before we realised that the busses would come too late for Anna and I, so we had an emotional goodbye as we thought we would still be able to see everyone at the airport. Im going to miss my little minions. Even though they could be real pains in the bums (or ears in the case of Vasti with her ear infection :-p ). I made some nice new friends on the tour. Vasti dug her way into my heart, and I learnt that Chloe is actually an amazingly interesting girl. Sucks that she is going to capetown to study.
We were both surprised at how pretty hongkong actually is. It reminded us quite a bit of Capetown with all the mountains. It was quite strange seeing the runway end with a boat anchored there hahaha.
Anna and I are now sitting at the gate for our flight. We are flying via Mumbai, so we will be arriving in the early hours of the day there. We will be in Nepal by lunch time tomorrow.
Today was a mix of touring and Concerting.
We started off by going driving to Mr Lees office, Where he gave us a tour and had a delicious lunch. His office is well suited to being a modern day Media company. It has a small recording studio, All the latest and greatest technology, and a brillaiant canteen. There was a memorial to Nelson Mandela, and Mr D. People got a bit emotional over both.
We then headed over to a local school. It was humoungous. It caters for near 3000 students. they have everything from an outdoor gym, Concert hall, Humoungous library, and astro sports field. Almost all the students board there. So its pretty much a small city on its own.
After that we made the slow trek towards the TV studio where we would perform our biggest concert of the tour. It would be viewed by 800 odd people and televised to another 30 million in the local area. This concert was a big stress to everyone due to the fact that it was televised live. But we made it and it was a roaring success. People loved it, got emotional.
So today was our sightseeing day in Guangzhou
We started off by going to the tomb of an old emporer of China. Was fairly interesting looking at some of their artifacts. But nothing to write home about (well I guess I am writing home right now, but you know what I mean). Outside we had some chinese roasted chestnuts which were interesting.
From there we went to a Temple, which got converted to an academy during the Chinese cutural revolution where they tried to destroy other beliefs. The building had quite a few intricate instruments that fascinated chloe, so much so that she wanted to buy a whole set. Thankfully when she came back to the store she decided to buy only one
We then had lunch at a 5 diamond restaurant on a small lake. It was very flavourfull. They did this strange jelly block that had nut flavoruing in it and caremelized sugars. The venue was rather pretty.
We then headed over to the most beautiful Gardens. They had roses coming out of our ears. Vasti and I were in heaven. We ran around like little kids taking photos of all the roses we were fascinated by. They had midnight roses (ones Kirsty used to adore). Beautiful big bulbs. Soul was happy. And it was nice to see someone else going apeshit about them too.
We then headed over to an art gallery where I opted to go to a coffee shop as I was a bit pooped. This was a quaint little shop in the middle of an island on the river. Trees surrounding it and skyscrapers behind it.
We had dinner on a party boat. Dinner wasnt something to write home about but the experience was nice. Was a great view of the city.
When we got home, we were told that the one guy who was ill this morning needed to get food. Sigh. So we had to take him to macdonalds, as he slept the whole day. So Di, Charty, him and me went over to Macdonalds, and I decided to get a bit of fake beef.
When we got home we had to round everyone up to get to bed as people were still faffing around and tomorrow is our biggest concert which will be aired live to 30 million people by our host Mr Lee. After we rounded people up we discovered some kids were not in their rooms and had to track them down too, which then means I found someone with an infected earring and had to clean that up with some alcohol and a needle.
We ended off the night with a brandy and coke in our room, while watching a bit of dispicable me on TV in chinese.
We have reached the point of the tour where people are starting to get a bit irritable with people. Some of my girls are a bit unhappy with gossiping happening, and all I can do is explain to her that these people are just silly. I wish I could keep them all happy. They work so hard, all they deserve is to enjoy this tour to its fullest.
So today was our first day in Guanzhou. We had two concerts.
The first was at the Guangzhou museum. It was the opening of an african exhibition. The local school we played against also played there, but they were more like small ensembles than the bigger group. After that the local school kids gave us a tour of the Museum. I missed most of this, as the first local I spoke to was a horn player, even though he didnt have a horn in his hand, horn players seem to find each other first :-). So We spent chatting about the music we played the whole way through, then we reached the end and I was like, uhm, whoops
We then had a stop at the local Opera house. This place was a huge glass building, which looked like a gigantic spaceship. They had their new year season advertised there and they had 3 of the worlds best conductors there, with a couple of great orchestras, Carmen, Jose Carreras. It was silly even. The architecture is much different to the previous places we have stayed at. Everything is a lot more modern. Yet with a nice chinese feel.
We then headed off to the next school where we had chinese fast food. Which consisted of Port Skin, Chicken soup, Vegies and rice. Was not bad, but the pork skin was very rich and fatty. We had a bit of a break time before the next concert started. This was the signing of the sister school agreement. Lots of big wigs, including our MEC of arts and culture. This was followed by us playing Armenian dances, Africa and Sky way, The chinese school played two pieces, and then we played jasmin flower together. We had 8 horns in total which was kewl. As some of you might know, my eyes dont blink in sync always. So at one point during the concert I found that my eyes met a girls in the audience. And then I noticed shortly after that she was winking at me. uhm, whoops :-p
We had dinner at the school. Which consisted of Lets call them riblets, chicken wings, spicey duck, and some veg. We spent this time chatting to the locals, and getting some chill time.
The evening was free,which was brilliant as Charty arrived tonight. It was brilliant seeing her tonight. Ive missed her since she moved to china so that she can teach english. We had a walk down a local street looking for a bar or something similar.
But after failing to do that we turned back and stopped at macdonalds. I had a Pineapple pie. Was rather interesting. Tasty even. We met up with some other band people and had a pint or two, before walking her back to her hotel. I think we might have
some problem, as some of the band guys asked who she was with great smiles on their faces, So they might start flirting. Sig