Sunday, February 12, 2012



Yeah, it may not be spelled correctly but I've seen numerous spellings for towns that vary guide to guide - even within the town itself! Considering English is the offical second language of India (with many people here not speaking Hindi) I do find that a bit odd.

Anyway, this area I now find myself in is the self proclaimed 'Yoga Capital of the World'. This is also where the Beatles (a musical group) wrote their 'White' album.

Other travelers I run into frequently ask me what I am here to study. They are suprised that I am just here for the quite. I leave out that the cheap living is doing a lot to keep me here as well while I wait to see what Matt is going to do.

You can easily live on $10 per day (no extras, no fun) here but the town does have a couple disadvantages. Electricity and internet. The infrastructure here is shitty. If there is any incliment weather, it knocks out the electricity. Nothing serious though. It's generally on again within a few minutes. The internet is a bigger problem. Not a lot of people have it to offer. Those that do like to charge by the hour for it. The sad thing is that places to stay haven't figured out yet that offering free wireless to their customers is a way to get more customers. The only places that have wifi at all cost about double the low end. Here, the low end is extremely common. If you can't find a room for 200 RS, you haven't looked at all. Disclaimer - this is in February. I've heard that the 'season' starts closer to the end of February.

February in Rishgikesh is surprisingly chilly. I recommend a light coat unless you are a very thin blooded person then wear something heavier. During midday it gets nice and warm but in the morning and evenings it gets frosty. Almost enough to see your breath.

I got absolutely sick of staying in the 'Lucky' place. The staff were absolutely great and such but the bathroom floor was always wet due to shitty plumbing. Nothing better than walking through cold water in the middle of the night to go to the toilet. So, I moved out of there and into a place that would be very nice if only it had a heater.

Right now, my plan is to hang out here until I can drag a definitive answer out of Matt as to whether he is coming or not at the end of this month (20 days away). If he is, I will either stay in this town or one nearby and hang out for awhile. If he is unable to come, I am going to immediately flee into southern India in search of warmer climes and internet in my room so I can upload a shitload of pictures and videos.


The 'street food' in India is the best I've had in the world. They have something called 'Thali'. As far as I can tell, 'Thali' is Hindi for 'you get some variety in your meal'. I can get a big metal plate of the stuff including bread and as many refills as I want for 30 RS. That's USD .60. A little over half a dollar to eat as much food as I want. I limit myself to one plate of the stuff but you really can't beat the price. The taste is excellent as well. I wouldn't say it's the cleanest place but if you like 'clean living', I really can't recommend India.


Contrary to previously received information, I don't believe India has the cheapest medicine of the places I've been to thus far. I think Cambodia is a bit cheaper. India has very reasonable prices, however. I am stocking up as much as I can. Sadly, that is only a couple months ahead. More than that would take too much space in the pack. As it is, my medicine is already the size of a persons head. Too much room but I like not being ill. Or dying.


Although I have overheard hippies talking about drinking, I haven't yet discovered where they did it. Or got the booze. I'm in one of the 'holy' towns. No booze, no meat. Hell, some shop keepers don't even have plastic bags though that may be more out of being cheap than any desire not to pollute the environment. Getting ahold of drugs, easy. Go get it from the hippies. I've been offered drugs (hash, pot) a few times but after my experience in Amsterdam - and the fact that it is technically illegal in India - I politely decline. Amsterdam was OK to get stoned in. Here, I'd be worried about getting splatted by a car. Hell, I've been 'clipped' by various vehicles here and in SE Asia so many times I stopped counting. Big target.


Several Indians have told me that I look and sound exactly like Bollywood star 'Bobem Irani'. I have no idea if this is true. If I met him and it was, I would probably start the conversation with something like "My, you're a handsome man!"


The fact that many of the people here can speak English fairly well opens them up to all sorts of ridiculous questions being asked by Logan. Sure, I could go on line and read all kinds of stuff but I like to stick with my policy of 'harrass the locals'. Poor devils.


I don't think they wash the blankets - or possibly even the sheets in the hotels unless they look dirty. Sometimes not even then. I asked for an extra blanket and they had to pull one out from one of the rooms rather than from the big store of extras that would be necessary if they actually rotated them in and out with a cleaner. This is the big disadvantage of a 200 RS per night room.


Other tourists doing various 'spiritual' stuff always seems to me they are playing 'dress up'. They dress in the clothing the locals do, wear the jewelry, spout psychobabble, even use the facepaint of the Hindu religion. This stuff is discarded when they leave the country. I'm note sure if it is actually helping them but overhearing some of the things they are talking about I really wonder. It is usually trite, self evident or silly. Who knows - maybe someone will hit 'enlightenment'.


One of the ten dollar bills I picked up somewhere was from the 1980's. American money didn't have all of the wild security stuff it does today. As a result, the national Indian bank didn't accept it when I was exchanging money. Make sure all of your bills initially - and when you change later - are new and in good condition or don't accept them. I was later able to offload the bill onto a private money changer. When you give them just the one without a bunch of the new money, it is less of a problem.

Finding an actual bank which will exchange money for foreigners and non-account holders in India isn't easy. There is a lot of paperwork and such associated with exchanging money. I've read that if you want to change your money back, you have to have kept the paper work that shows you got it exchanged in the first place. I don't yet know if this holds true with the private and more costly money exchangers - nor even if they can or will give you dollars or euros for your rupees.

Of all of the countries I've been to thus far, India is by far the most hassle for changing money at an actual bank.

Another notes on money - some vendors have problems breaking a 100 rupee bill. Most have some difficulty breaking a 500 rupee bill. I haven't tried to use anything larger than that. Banks and such will try to stick you with 1000 rupee bills. I recommend refusing them and getting change. Also, horde 10 rupee notes - useful for taxis and street food. You won't have much use for the coins.

According to information on the internet, having 500 and 1000 rupee notes on you is a punishable offence in Nepal. I'm not sure if this is true or why it is true. It is damned inconvienent for me though since I may be traveling to Nepal then back to India. I really don't want to try to get my money exchanged a couple times to lose a large percentage of it. If necessary, I will get any large bills broken down to 100 rupee notes then take the big wad of money with me. I'm not sure if 100 rupee notes are thick or what but they do make a 'wad' rather quickly. They are $2 bills (USD).

What's cheap? India (thus far) seems to be following the 'Asian way' in that things outside of the big cities are cheaper. In Europe, the opposite as a lot of hostels and such spring up and drive down prices.


I've heard from Indians that in Nepal you can rent horses to ride. I am sure that Matt had riding lessons and such - he is British. I am not a good rider but a lot better than other beginning riders I've seen. I wouldn't mind a day or two of the trip to be by horseback. After a day or two, killing the horse and bandaging my ass might become overriding fantasies.


Where I am to Nepal by government bus, 400 RS 2nd class sleeper train, 408 RS first class (4 bed in compartment) sleeper, 1193 RS

Bungee jump, $50 (2500 RS)

Rafting on rapids, 300-500 RS (depending on length of trip)

Internet cards (via a 'dongle') which don't work worth a shit on my computer are charged by the gig. 5 gig is 750 RS, 10 gig is 1250 RS. For 400 RS, I've been told he can unlock my dongle and make it so it can work in all countries. I'm hoping it works better than the POS dongle he lent me. Or my computer sucks. Who knows. If you come to India and need the internet, however, a dongle may be the way to go for normal stuff. Mine seems to drop every few seconds up to two minutes of on line time.

300 ml bottle of soda, 15 RS. This comes in a glass bottle. If you try to take the glass bottle away, they get pretty snippy with you and want to charge an additional 15 RS for the deposit.






    He did star in "3 Idiots", they may not be compliments.

  2. Yeah, because Matt's going to get his shit together enough to come over to India...

  3. So, I'm guessing you're doubting that Matt will do this thing Jamas?

    Thanks Marcus. I don't see the resemblance.

  4. PS: We could start a betting pool and have Pete hold the money and become our bookie?

  5. If only I were Marcus that would make sense.

    No bet from this quarter, I know better than to bet against a fellow Englishman, I either lose my money or my knighthood



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