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Sunday, February 26, 2012

GOOF OFF WHILE YOU ARE AT WORK!

I hope this blog will help some people out there to waste time while they are at work! Please enjoy your day!

THE NEW PALACE

I caught a lift with the owner of the hostel, Mohammed. He was going to the airport to pick up some guests which were arriving and he said the palace was on the way. I had seen the palace from a distance and it looked impressive.

When I got there I discovered that although the outside was indeed impressive, the inside was pretty dull. It was one of those 'lets put up pictures of people you don't know or care about' places. I'm sure that many of the tourists studied this stuff but I also know those facts leave their minds after a day or two. No net gain.

They had set up the inside like a maze but had forgotten to put up 'this way, stupid' signs to help direct the tourists. I either completed the limited tourist area of the palace more quickly than I thought or skipped off of the tour path sooner than expected. Either way, I was happy to get out of there.

Once I left, I decided that a walk would do me some good. Although it was only a few kilometers back to the hostel, Indians acted with astonishment when I repeatedly announced I was walking. Walking over a kilometer or two must be very odd here!

While I was on my way back, I espied a different building in the distance and resolved thenceforth to investigate it. (Sorry, I've been reading Piers Anthony again). I wandered over to it and found it to be some sort of tomb. Again, it was much more interesting on the outside than on the inside.

I feel that I am starting to run out of things nearby in Jodhpur to go investigate. The city is becoming rather mundane to me.

According to locals I've spoken to here the temperature should be shooting up in another ten days or so. They say the temperatures can double from what they are now. I'm not sure if this is true but it sounds like it's going to get really hot and unlike the natives I have the ability to flee to more pleasant climes.



PLANNING THE FUTURE

Unless plans with Matt change my plans, here is what I'm thinking. I've done some research into India and discovered that from here I can go east to Jaipur then Agra then Varanasi. From Varanasi I've read it is a common journey to go up north to Nepal.

Now, for those who don't know about Indian towns and 'so what the hell does that mean', let me put it into Logan speak.

Jaipur: Right now, I am in the blue city but this is called the 'pink city'. It's like I'm in some sort of demented baby color palate. It's another big city which I'm not thrilled about (in one now) but I don't anticipate being there all that long.

Agra: This is the Taj Mahal. They charge 750 RS to get in and I'm not sure if I can take my video camera within. Aside from being a tourist attraction, it's also a holy spot. Hell, you can't even get bags into some places. I'm not sure if I'll actually even bother to go in. My bet is that it is one of those places much cooler on the outside than the inside. But I will hang out in the town and see what's up.

Varanasi: Since I've arrived in India, all of the tourists that I've encountered keep asking me if I've been to Varanasi. The name actually stuck in my head because it's been mentioned so many times.

Each 'jump' should be under seven hours of travel time. This means I should be able to minimize discomfort and arrive during the daytime. It's about 1200 miles of rough, inhospitable travel between me and my goal.

Note, this may all change. I might skip the pink city entirely if there is an over night train cheaply to Agra or something like that. I won't know until I start traveling.

That will then take me out of India and into Nepal. Due to a strange penalizing mindset of the Indian government, once you leave India you can't return for two months - even if you have a visa. I have no clue why this is.



NEPAL

According to the internet, the reason that carrying 500 or 1000 denomination rupee notes is illegal (with three years jail time) is because of counterfeiting. A strange crime.



STRATEGY CHANGE

When I first started traveling, I had thought about just hitting whatever city presented itself. Unfortunately, the cities not on 'tourist trails' are woefully equipped to handle guests. They have no good places to stay, little but piles of garbage to look at and so on. Hence, I now remain mainly on the traveled trails. This may change in the future.



A COUPLE OF DIFFERENT INDIAN DISHES

Jal Wati - two bread balls which are crumbled. Unfortunately, this is sometimes done with the unwashed bare hands of the waiter. There is a sauce which is then put on top. Chili sauce (use sparingly) is also provided. Pretty good.

Chola Bhatura - 60 RS. Two, huge puffy pieces of bread, two different dips. Pretty decent.



ALCOHOL IN INDIA

Testing two different rums, I'd suggest McDowells Rum over Old Monk. The latter tastes as though it may indeed be made from old monks.



WRITING IN INDIA

This has been a problem for me. The parts of India I have been to thus far are a bit too...demanding and noisy to write in. If you find a nice, quiet restaurant someone will immediately decide it is too quiet and turn on blaring music. You really can't object as everyone else starts singing along to it. But it doesn't help with your concentration. The invention of the headphones only seems to have reached a few Indians. Overall, there are just too many things around yammering for my attention to actually relax. When you step outside into the din you must constantly be on your guard. Don't step in that! Dodge that vehicle! Beggar! Cow! Look at that amazing thing! Go deaf from the horns! Someone is trying to grab you! Kids wanting you to yell 'hello' back to them! Someone is staring at you - are they a friendly local? Someone trying to sell you shit you don't need/can't use/don't want! Dead animal carcass! Another vehicle! This is the way I've been seeing India thus far. I'm not complaining - I know eventually I'll be somewhere I can concentrate on writing more. But here be the maelstrom. From the time you wake up until you go to sleep, India comes at you 100%. In my mind, this is why so many people end up either hating it or loving it - or often both. Places where the famous author (name?) wrote near areas like Ummaid Bagh Resorts (I'd written about a couple blogs ago) are complete abnormalities in the whirl of India.

So, more writing when I calm back down...



INDIAN FOLKWAYS

Change. Indians are almost compulsive about wanting exact change and not wanting to give up any more change than they have to. It is quite a struggle to get the bigger shops to give up change so you have small bills for the 'street' cafes and such. It's like prying out fucking teeth to get it sometimes. The general formula - if the item costs more than the amount of change you're getting back, they won't whine about it as much. For example, if you give someone a 500 RS note for something costing 400 RS, not much whining. If the item had cost say 50 RS, much whining. They will even lie to you and tell you they don't have change, change can't be found and so on. Rather than argue with them, I just prep my 'day wallet'. [For those who haven't read the early blogs, a 'day wallet' is something you keep only the cash you will be spending on this particular day in. Handy for pickpockets and such.] I prep my day wallet by taking out all of the cash other than the large note I want to spend and hiding it away. I then approach the store, make a bit of a show pulling out the bill and discovering alas! I have no more money. They will still ask if you have change. They will still whine. Sometimes, you have to put back the item and ask for the return of the bill - but they'd rather give you the change than lose a sale. Even at big stores, they may have to send out for change. I'm not sure why. I know in the USA, every cash drawer usually has $100 or more in it for the purposes of making change. [Yes, a lot of signs say that they have less than $50 in cash but this is to discourage stupid hold up men and do you really believe everything you read?]

It is important to horde as many of the 10 RS notes as possible. 20's and 50's are (for this) basically big 10's. Horde them. They are really inconvenient and not worth all that much. But you can go through 100-200 RS in 10's quick during a single day...

Sometimes, when I find someone who has a bundle of 10's I will ask for them to make change if I can separate out a 100 RS note without attracting too much attention to what in India is considered a 'wad'.

Banks often will give you the same problems about making change or pull that 'are you a customer' crap. Unfortunately, society wouldn't think responding "No, but I am a violent ax murderer" as a viable answer to such a query - despite the person asking clearly deserving such a retort.

I've said it before but it bears repeating - ripped or 'distressed' bills are more difficult to offload. Don't accept them from people - demand new ones. You have to act as you would if they tried to give you a piece of paper with 'this is money' written upon it instead of a bill. In America, simply taking 51% of any bill into a bank will cause them to give you a shiny new one. Not so in these countries. I have no clue why. Having to inspect each bill of your change is just one of those fun 'pain in the ass' things about life in India. I'd like it (as they would) if they all got the plastic money of countries like Australia or Romania.



VIDEOS

Scary Kid
Trip to the Palace 1
Trip to the Palace 2
Jodhpur New Palace



NOTES ON LOOKING FOR A NEW PHOTO STORAGE PLACE

Photobucket has served me for many years but I have decided to look for another. I'm not sure if it is a problem with the internet in India or Photobucket. It starts uploading fine but then slows and stops. I don't have this same problem with youtube.

In the past, some folks have suggested various places to store photos but these didn't meet my needs. While 100mb might be OK for the average person who simply doesn't take many pictures, I can take that in a single day. Hence, I'm looking around and thought I would keep track of my findings here in case it helps someone else.

Something I have found baffling is that these places seem to make their money from selling prints to people. Who the fuck still wants prints?

Disclaimer: I am also uploading stuff to Facebook which doesn't seem to be experiencing the problems that photobucket is. Unfortunately, I can't have people who aren't friends able to access the Facebook content.

Flickr, 300mb/month max.
Shutterfly No max mb but uploader also stalls.

So, I'm still looking... I suspect my current difficulties could be due to shitty internet.



WHAT I'M LISTENING TO NOW

Reading books is rough in India. You have to compete across the constant din of too many people packed into too small of area with those people never having heard the term 'noise pollution'. To be fair, they have too many other forms of pollution to really be bothered about some noise. Hence, for my wanderings around and such, I use MP3s of recorded books both to keep amused as well as to help ignore the armies of touts and beggars. Here are a list of current ones I'm listening to for those who might be interested:

MC Beaton - Hamish McBeth series. I'm up to book 15 in the series. This is one prolific author! Her stories are about a Scottish constable who solves crimes. Although some people define the 'cozy' as a type of story with a strictly female protagonist, I do not. This definition seems a bit more general. Hence, I would describe these as 'cozy mysteries'.

Piers Anthony - Apprentice Adept series. Holy crap, can this guy talk. People who want lots of extra definition would like PA. These are fantasy books dealing with a very interesting mix of science and fantasy. Although I don't like that the books feel extra 'padded', the world and plots are intricate and interesting. I had reread the first three books. I didn't know there were more written later in the same series so I will check them out after a break.

Andy McNab - Nick Stone series. With a protagonist name like 'Nick Stone' you have only three choices. Porn, stoner humor or action. These are totally action. I like them because the author has good tradecraft and knows of what he writes. My interest waned by the time I got done with book ten. I'll be getting back to those later.

Derek Landy - Skulduggery Pleasant series. I was quite surprised to find out these books are suppose to be for kids. They seem quite good to me. The protagonists are a little girl (pre-teen) and a living skeleton. Say what you want but I enjoy the books as well as the narrator.

Bruce Sterling - I've only got one of his books on my MP3 player currently, Zeitgeist. Bruce Sterling is famous for writing 'cyberpunk' genre stuff. Unfortunately, that genre aged worse than a hard living hooker after the 1980's and much of it is barely readable today. When you are reading about the 'near future' as it was envisioned in the 1980's and actually living in the time they supposed, you see just how silly many of the premises are. For some reason they still expected floppy discs, form sheet papers and colored Mohawks to be 'in'. Hell, I don't know why. I don't expect much of this crap to be around in another couple decades and I'd just make up new terms. I guess they didn't think of that. Anyway, I've got several of his works but usually have to delete them after a short time as I can't maintain the suspension of disbelief.

So, tat's what I've currently got on my MP3 player. This baffles Indians as they can't figure out why I'm not listening to music. Telling them I don't like music is baffling as well.



SOME GENERALITIES OF INDIA COSTS

Street food $1 (50 RS) or less.
Basic restaurant, $2-3 (100-150 RS)
Outrageously expensive, $8-10 400-500 RS)

Tea from street shop, 5 RS (.10 USD)
Tea from a guesthouse, 20 RS (.40 USD)
Soda from a store, 20 RS (.40 USD)
Soda from a guesthouse, 30-40 RS (.60-.80 USD)

Cigarettes, generally 120 RS (2.40 USD)

Beer - may or may not be 'illegal', 150 RS ($3 USD)
Very small bottle of rum or whiskey, 70 RS (1.40 USD)

Rooms (cheap end), 200-500 RS. If you pay more than that, you don't generally seem to get a lot more room value until you pay a LOT more than that.

1 comment:

  1. Hmmm... I did read the previous post instead of the morning newspaper... and I do read this to goof off from work...

    STOP WATCHING MY LIFE, LOGAN!!

    ReplyDelete

PICTURES

{{2011}} London, GB | Rail N Sail | Amsterdam, Netherlands | Prague, Czech Republic | Budapest, Hungary | Sarajevo, Bosnia | Romania | Chisinau, Moldova | Ukraine: Odessa - Sevastopol | Crossed Black Sea by ship | Georgia: Batumi - Tbilisi - Telavi - Sighnaghi - Chabukiani | Turkey: Kars - Lost City of Ani - Goreme - Istanbul | Jordan: Amman - Wadi Rum | Israel | Egypt: Neweiba - Luxor - Karnak - Cairo | Thailand: Bangkok - Pattaya - Chaing Mai - Chaing Rei | Laos: Luang Prabang - Pakse | Cambodia: Phnom Penh | Vietnam: Vung Tau - Saigon aka Ho Chi Minh City

{{2012}} Cambodia: Kampot - Sihanoukville - Siem Reap - Angkor Wat | Thailand: Bangkok | India: Rishikesh - Ajmer - Pushkar - Bundi - Udaipur - Jodhpur - Jasalmer - Bikaner - Jaipur - Agra - Varanasi | Nepal: Kathmandu - Chitwan - Pokhara - Bhaktapur - (Rafting) - Dharan | India: Darjeeling - Calcutta Panaji | Thailand: Bangkok - again - Krabi Town | Malaysia, Malaka | Indonesia: Dumas - Bukittinggi - Kuta - Ubud - 'Full Throttle' - Gili Islands - Senggigi | Cambodia: Siem Reap | Thailand: Trat | Turkey: Istanbul | Georgia: Tbilisi

{{2013}} Latvia: Riga | Germany: Berlin | Spain: Malaga - Grenada | Morocco: Marrakech - Essauira - Casablanca - Chefchawen - Fes | Germany: Frankfurt | Logan's Home Invasion USA: Virginia - Michigan - Indiana - Illinois - Illinois - Colorado | Guatemala: Antigua - San Pedro | Honduras: Copan Ruinas - Utila | Nicaragua: Granada | Colombia: Cartagena | Ecuador: Otavalo - Quito - Banos - Samari (a spa outside of Banos) - Puyo - Mera

{{2014}} Peru: Lima - Nasca - Cusco | Dominican Republic | Ukraine: Odessa | Bulgaria: Varna - Plovdiv | Macedonia: Skopje - Bitola - Ohrid - Struga | Albania: Berat - Sarande | Greece: Athens | Italy: Naples - Pompeii - Salerno | Tunisia: Hammamet 1

{{2015}} Hammamet 2 | South Africa: Johnnesburg | Thailand: Hua Hin - Hat Yai | Malaysia: Georgetown | Thailand: Krabi Town | Indonesia:
Sabang Island | Bulgaria: Plovdiv | Romania: Ploiesti - Targu Mures | Poland: Warsaw | Czech Republic: Prague | Germany: Munich | Netherlands: Groningen | England: Slough | Thailand: Ayutthaya - Khon Kaen - Vang Vieng | Cambodia: Siem Reap

{{2016}} Thailand: Kanchanaburi - Chumphon | Malaysia: Ipoh - Kuala Lumpur - Kuching - Miri | Ukraine: Kiev | Romania: Targu Mures - Barsov | Morocco: Tetouan | Portugal: Faro

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