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Bannerghetta National Park

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We decided early on in our trip that we wanted to see some tigers. After some research we discovered a safari-like experience at Bannerghetta National Park outside of Bangalore and decided to experience this on Saturday.

We had the hotel taxi take us out there around 11 and the driver helped us get tickets and told us how to get in the line for the safari. We loaded into the bus and decided to sit closer to the front so we could get pictures out the front window if needed. After sitting in our seats for about a minute, the guy loading people on the bus motioned for us to come up to the front seats. I figured we were getting special treatment because we both had cameras (you have to pay extra to take pictures) and we were foreigners. So we started off on the trip and stopped a few places for animals. I was sitting on the window side so I had the easiest view for pictures. The guy would motion for B's camera and he would take pictures for her from the seat in front of us where he was sitting. At one point, he mentioned for B to move to the front seat. I thought he might be tired of taking her pictures and thought it would be easier. When we would get to places where the action was on the right side of the vehicle, the driver would take my camera and snap some shots for me. I thought that was nice.

Eventually, the loading guy had B sit in the front passenger seat in the bus and he stood in the door area behind my seat. She had the best seat on the whole bus.

We saw lions and tigers and bears (oh my!), leopards, white tigers and an elephant. At the end of the trip we waited to get off the bus since we were in the front. After everyone else had left, we started to get up but were confronted by the loader guy who wanted 100 Rupees for him and the driver. They had after all given us good seats zand taken some good pictures for us. We had been conned!

Now, I had planned to tip the driver since he did take my camera and shoot a lot of pictures for me. However, 100 Rupees is out of the question. That is only about $2.50, but it's all relative in India. And I was especially not going to give him that much money when he did not tell us upfront that we could pay for better seats. We probably would have paid since this was a really important part of our trip. I tried to give the driver 5 Rupees for helping me (not the loader guy) but he waived me away. So we each handed the loader guy 5 Rupees and got off the bus. B is better about being firm than I am and had she not been there I probably would have given him the 100 just to get him to leave me alone. As we got off the bus we hear the driver sortof yelling at the loaded guy. B thinks he was yelling at the loader guy for trying to get money out of us. Hopefully he was!

In any case, we got some really good shots. This is one of my favorites. This boy was just posing for me!

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Posted by mexibell 07:32 Archived in India Tagged animal Comments (0)

Power (or lack thereof)


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In order for the light to shine so brightly, darkness must be present.

-Sir Francis Bacon

There are famous quotes all over things in our hotels. Most noticable are the drink coasters that we get at meals. However I did spot this one in the most appropriate place: a box of matches in my room.

When we first arrived at our hotel, I spotted a candle and matches in the room and thought, "How nice. They gave us a citronella candle in case we want to open our windows at night." It would keep the bugs away. Logical, right?

But it doesn't smell like citronella. Only after the power went out for the first time on the first Sunday did I realize that the candle is for the time when the power goes out but doesn't come back on in a few seconds.

It is rare to go a day in the hotel without losing power for a minimum of seconds, a maximum or minutes. Sometimes you can even tell when it's about to go out because the lamps in the room start to go brighter then dimmer, brighter then dimmer. We've even lost power at work, however the computers and internet must be on some sort of UPS system since we didn't lost any work (I would expect no less from our company). The funny thing is that everyone takes this in stride and it doesn't interrupt whatever they are doing. After the first few days, B and I started to laugh at it.

Losing power was something we were warned about from our co-workers who had already been here. But being here and experiencing it everyday is nothing like I expected.

Recently there was a cable cut under the Mediterranean that has affected some of the telecom services in India and other areas. Fortunately, our hotel and work has not been affected by this, but I would not have been surprised if they had been. You just learn to roll with the punches here.

Posted by mexibell 04:17 Archived in India Comments (0)

Food Update


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Ever since we got to India, I've had the worst night sweats. The only time I've ever had these was when I was sick and they are horrible. For two weeks I've woken up at least once a night covered in sweat. At first I thought it was the down pillows and comforter, but I think if I had an allergic reaction I would be breaking out or puffing up. I've kept my room as cold as it will go, have moved to sleeping in a t-shirt and putting my hair up each night but it has not improved the situation.

After talking to my travel buddy B, she suggested that it might be my malaria medicine that I have to take everyday. It could be...I didn't have this problem before coming to India. I decided to check up on the side-effects of this medicine, but very few people mention night sweats and it's not an official side-effect from all the medical websites.

Before having Kyle call my doctor, I decided to research night sweats to see if I could find a homeopathic remedy that I might be able to find here. After some Googling I think I might have found the culprit: spicy food.

Now I do like spicy food and have not had any tummy troubles from what I've been eating. I'm actually enjoying working my way through the hotel restaurant menu. However I don't think my body is used to the amount of spicy food that I have been eating. So I've decided to cut out the spicy food this weekend to see if the condition improves. If not, I think I can assume that the night sweats are from the malaria medicine and enjoy the spicy food! It's only for two more weeks...

More neat information on the food in India...

Everyone at work is all about sharing their food. And it's not just to have me try their food; they share amongst themselves freely. It's vey friendly and fun to try the different foods. And they seem to like the fact that I'm willing to try everything and really enjoy it.

I learned before coming to India that a lot of people eat with their hands. That's cool...when I go to Eithiopian restaurants back home we eat with our hands. However one thing I have learned here is that you are not supposed to eat with your left hand. Why? I am not sure. A lot of the people at work do use their left hand, a lot do not. But we've never been told that we shouldn't by anyone.

The waiters here are almost "sub-servient" in a way. At first they would pour my Diet Coke for me and I felt very uncomfortable. Then they bring us our dishes and they serve us from them (from the serving bowl to our plates). While they are doing this, they are almost completely bent over from the waist and it makes me very uncomfortable. The serving of the food bothers me because they leave the serving bowls on our table, but then don't really want us serving ourselves. If we reach for the the serving bowls sometimes someone appears and takes it from us to serve us. Some of the waiters have learned that we can do it and leave us to serve ourselves (after the initial food placement into our plates). The hotel is the worst about it. But since we're there for breakfast and dinner almost everyday, they are learning what we like and I'm up to pouring my own Coke now.

One last thing...All the waiters we have met with are men. Nothing but men waiters for two weeks. I don't think it's a coincidence. I will need to ask one of the girls at work and see if there's something behind it.

Posted by mexibell 08:25 Archived in India Comments (0)

Amba Vilas Palace

Mysore Day Trip: Destination 5


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Amba Vilas Palace is also known as Mysore Palace and was our last planned stop of the day. It is large and ornate and has design elements from all over the world.

Once we were able to find a spot to park, our driver got out and walked us to the temple where we met a friend of his who is also a state licensed tour guide (the only ones you are supposed to trust). We were told that we would have to leave our cameras outside and I started to panic. I had brought my very new, expensive digital SLR camera that I promised Kyle I would protect like it was my own child, and they expected me to leave it? After talking with Ravi (our taxi driver) and looking at the camera drop-off, he convinced us to let him hold the cameras since he was working for us and our hotel. He has to be trustful where as the guys in the camera room do not have to be. So I left my camera in Ravi's capable hands and went off to tour the palace with the guide.

We had to take our shoes off because there was a temple in the palace. I was still wary of giving my only pair of tennis shoes to people, but since we had a guide I felt a little better.

There is so much history and beauty in the palace that I can't describe it all. It was rebuilt in the early 1900s when a fire destroyed the old palace. There is a large public court which has paintings all around the perimeter, but it pales in comparison to the inner court. The doors are all carved out of wood with intricate designs. There are even some silver doors that lead to the temples. There is a large seating gallery that is open to the outside where the maharaja used to sit and hold court for the public a few hours each day.

In this picture, the right side of the palace is the front, where the seating gallery is. We entered into the palace on the left side of the picture.

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The maharajas were the rulers of the states up until India became a republic. Is it still the home of the descendants of the maharajas today. At night on weekends, holidays and festivals the palace is lit up with 60,000 bulbs. It was going to be lit up that night but we would have to wait a few hours to see it, and we were getting tired. So we decided to do a little shopping instead.

Ravi took us to one of the cottage industries shops in Mysore and I bought a pashmina in bright pinks, oranges and yellows and an irridescent blue silk scarf. The cottage industries shops are state-run and very reputable to purchase from.

After that we came home and crashed into bed. I got a little sunburned on my shoulders where I didn't get the sunscreen. All-in-all not a bad trip.

Posted by mexibell 08:20 Archived in India Tagged tourist_sites Comments (0)

Chamundi Hill and Chamundeshvari Temple

Mysore Day Trip: Destination 4


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After lunch we headed up Chamundi Hill which rises from Mysore sharply and can't be missed. At the top of the hill is Chamundeshvari Temple. It was built in the 17th century and refurbished at some later point. We had to walk a little ways to get to the temple from where the taxi could park. Along the way were food stands, souvenier shops, beggars and animals. We saw our first free-roaming moneys but were sure to stay away since they like to steal, not to mention the diseases. The temple is stunning to see close up. The carvings are so very intricate and immaculately white. I can only imagine what it would have been like when it was first built and the "riff-raff" wasn't around.

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B and I decided not to go into the temple. It would require removing our shoes and we were not sure that we would get them back. Also I am constantly scared of doing something inappropriate and causing an international incident. This was also the only location in the entire day that B and I felt very uncomfortable. We were approached a lot by kids and people selling things. I don't really want a small figure of Ganesh, thanks.

Apparently I do not have the tone of voice that makes people leave me alone when I tell them. These little kids followed me around at the temple and as much as I tried I could not shake them. One was reciting the capitals of the US states and asked me if I had a man at home (I read that Indian people are very inquisitive and will ask you all sorts of personal questions). We only stayed about 20 minutes and then headed back down the hill.

Posted by mexibell 08:05 Archived in India Tagged tourist_sites Comments (0)

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