Tuesday, April 25, 2006


Wow! I know you may not believe us and would prefer to stick with what CNN would tell you but the Pakistanis are unbelievable hosts. I have heard it said by many tourists here that it is almost impossible to do or see anything because they spend all their time chatting to locals and drinking tea. We've already had our own experiences with this of course as we've been to a wedding and spent considerable time with our new friend Javed at his or his friends' homes to chat or have tea. It's been an amazing experience as we've gained tons of insight into the culture, the complexities of family relationships, Islam, etc. We've already had to turn down more dinner and lunch offers than we could possibly go to even if we ate out at every meal!
Having said all that, I am so far the most disappointed with the food. They eat a lot of meat and these days greasy chicken just doesn't appeal to me very much. A few days ago we moved over to Islamabad. You'd never believe how organized and modern looking it is (indeed this whole country feels so much more organized and sensible than India did). The highway was 6 lanes with no traffic. Islamabad is only 40 years old or so and as it was built from scratch the just created a huge grid system so that it is divided into sectors. Wide streets, lots of green belts, little traffic, etc. We were here to get some more visas but that is being delayed a little so we are probably heading north into the mountains of the Hunza valley for the next week on a lung cleansing mission.

Friday, April 21, 2006


The third day in Pakistan and we were already getting full into it! We were taken, by our hotel activity guide dudes, with a few other foriegners from the hotel on a "field trip" day. The first high light of the day was Qawwali. It was in a little underground buiding/room and everyone was crowded around sitting cross legged infront of the stage and its performers. Of course we had to take off our shoes at the door. A bunch of different groups would rotate and try to gain money from the crowd. Some earning more than others. The music was basically two accordians, a couple of drums and singers. All traditional songs and sung in there own language. We were the only foriegners there and heck, the only woman too. We had the best seats ( spots on the floor) in the house and felt like royalty. Evey one is so nice too. Some very interesting things happened that I'll never forget. For starters, since it's so crowded in there and I'm guessing that to prevent people from smelling too much BO they had pest eterminator look alikes misting the crowd with perfume and cologne. We also got offered small snack packages to try which were very interesting tasting. A few people got out and danced or sat on the ground doing some WIERD swaying thing. The one or two guys in charge collecting money would throw the money around and in the performers faces, and put flowers around their necks. We also got a flower necklace because we were in the front row. By the end of it my butt felt like a rock. Other than that, it was great fun.
Next we headed straight to the Kabaddi game ( a local sport). There were tons of gaurds with guns and when you arrive they frisk everyone. Of course there are ONLY males so when we arrived, they stepped back and said go right ahead. We were taken to the very front again with our own gaurds basically the whole game. Everyone was smiling and friendly. At first we were all confused becaiuse we didn't know how this game worked. It was awesome because t was like being at a school rally. Everyone was screaming, cheering and could hardly stay in there seats! I loved it. I was given free juice and a Pakistan flag that I wved around and the camera crew came around and took tons of pictures of me and the gang. Who knows, I might see myself in the paper! Pakistan won against India, so you could imagaine the excitement! At the end we were escorted out the back way to prevent getting in the way and causing a riot! We sat in a back room and sipped chai and waited for it to calm down outside before taking off back to the hotel. The people are so welcoming and friendly. They make you feel so spoiled, I love it!
We came back and chilled in our hotel or a couple of hours before taking off to go see and ear some more traditional Pakistan Sufi music! That was just crazyness itself! Everyone was crowded around cross legged on the floor. We (us foreigners) got special, more isolated seats on the steps. They were very strict on keeping the girls (we were the only ones) and guys seperated. There were two drummers with a single drum strapped around them and they used a stick and a hook type thing. They drummed for three hours with out stopping, and they sounded amazing! Then they had a few "dancers" join in. This stuff was messed up! They were mostly shaking there heads wildy back and forth and didn't stop or literally 2 hours STRAIGHT! They are going to have the WORST head aches!! It can't possibly be good for the brain to rattle it that much!!! It was definately a wild show! There were tons of people on the outside of gates trying t get in to see th show! Hanging through the bars. Oh yes, they had people handing out chapatis and dal, chai and all sorts of small sweets! I don't know where on earth you can find something else similar to that performance! We didn't leave until 1:30 am! I'm glad we decided to come to Pakistan because I would have been missing all this fun! I think everyone at home should be more open minded and not so judgemental and have a better attitude towards everyone! We're being treated extremely well.
Oh ya, I like this hotel because it feels like home with a kithen, couch and t.v., nice people etc.
P.s. we made the news again. T.V baby!!

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

We're In

Well, we made it to Lahore without any problems. Our first impression is that Pakistan is nicer, quieter, dustier but cleaner and, unfortunately, has worse air pollution than India did. But that could all change quickly as we haven't really seen anything yet. No cows and dogs, but more horse and donkey carts though. More cars in general, the tuk-tuks are smaller and stinkier (pollution) and there are no street signs so it's hard to get around. Chicken is the only thing on the menu everywhere it seems too. Hmm.... guess we have to stop being vegetarian.
The guest house we are in is the main backpacker one so there are a lot of overlanders here with a lot of crazy stories to tell. The owner is cool and organizes activities and stuff to see the local culture. Last night we had a pakistani music group jamming on the roof until almost 1am. Good, but way past my bed time. Another crazy thing is that we ran into the english biker that we met in Sri Lanka almost 5 months ago! It's so cool to meet people again after so long.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Leaving India

Okay all you sleepy blog readers out there, it's time to wake up and smell the coffee!! After 5 months and a grand total of 385 hours spent on Indian trains we have decided we've seen it all and don't feel guilty to be leaving. We are being brave and adventurous out here for YOUR entertainment too. So don't miss a beat! We've finished the first year of our trip that we planned and are starting the next. Our original plan was to start heading East from India but those plans are long gone and we are entering Pakistan tomorrow and heading WEST......by land! It will start getting VERY interesting from here so stay tuned........we'll be moving quickly and seeing lots. Wahoooo, it's back to the road we go!! Keep in mind that comments are always accepted and welcomed(hint hint)!

M.A.B.S. the travelling quartet- subdivision of "Team 5". (We miss and love you Sky!!)

P.s. We'll keep you posted.....as often as we can. So don't worry
P.s.s. Watkins! If this next leg of the trip doesn't get you to the keyboard we just don't know what will!!

Friday, April 14, 2006

5 Top Favourites

Each of us are going to list our favourite 5 places or things in India......

-Puri: A good beach setting that I hardly got to enjoy. Best way to spend a day is sitting on the porch soaking up the beauty of the garden around. I especially liked Puri because the people were so friendly and layed back (taking dishes from any restaurant and returning them later, paying days later etc.)! And you just can't forget "Bird Lady"!

-Hampi: I really liked Hampi just for its unique setting and the laziness of it all. Hot sunny weather, palm trees, tropical fruits and beautiful scenery!

-Hassan: Just outside of Hassan we found beautiful Jain temples! I love how you can walk anywhere and everywhere having absolutely no restrictions even on/in 900 year old temples! Sandra being able to share the experience and making it even more of a blast!

- Orchha: Just a simple town with a peaceful river and ruins all around for a good day of sight seeing. Again, having no restrictions or limits. Wandering in and out and about, up and down skinny passage ways and staircases. It is also a good break from all the busy cities and people buzzing around constantly!

-Bikaner: Just one of those places you don't find very often. One of the best memories, arriving by train and catching a ride, cramming not 3, not 4, but 5 people AND all our big back packs into a tiny tuk-tuk and driving through the early morning fog! That was one of those kinds of things you just had to be there to appreciate how crazy we really are. Bikaner itself was a nice, quiet town and I saw, for the first time, camels pulling wagons with monster truck wheels everywhere!

-Hampi: I loved the setting of a tiny village amongst the ruins, banana plantations and giant boulders. Also being free to roam the ruins without anyone around. Seeing the sunset from high above the village on a hilltop.

-Puri: Is on my list because the part of town we stayed at was so layed back. The people left you to fend for yourself. Sometimes a little too much but a very pleasant change. If the shop keeper didn't have cold water in his shop he would send you across the street to a different place, that's how nice they are. Our hotel's garden was great.

-Jaisalmer/Camel Safari: Sleeping beneath the brilliant stars on the sand dunes under a pile of warm blankets after a campfire of twigs with singing from our guides. Jaisalmer's roof top looking out on the daily life below and the sand fort.

-Kanyakumari: Sitting on the southern point of India. Looking out at sea, sitting in the sand and yapping with the poor lady selling bobby pins for the afternoon. Hearing all about her experience with the Tsunami. This was definately one of those memorable days.

-Jain Temples Near Hassan: Of all the temples, churches etc. that we have seen, I love the Jains best. They have amazing detailed carving work. I could spend days just looking at it all!

Honourable mentions: It's too hard to stick to 5 so I must add Ellora Caves, Taj Mahal because I get to mark it off my to do list, and of course our four great visitors; Brittany, Sandra, Alysha and Paul! It wouldn't have been the same without them!!
Maggie the mom

-Golden Temple in Amritsar: So clean, so organized, and the people didn't care if you were there or not so you could just sit back and watch all of the pilgrims without feeling out of place. The whole free food and welcoming atmosphere of the Sikhs was great.

-Rat Temple near Bikaner: Damn, that place was cool! A temple dedicated to rat worship is so out there you just have to go. It blew me away!

-Burning Ghats in Varanasi: Another thing you just have to see to believe. So open to view I could have stayed there all day watching.

-Hampi: For reasons already stated above.

-And any time spent wandering around with Alysha. She is an inspiring person to travel with and got me into all sorts of weird places, especially in Jaisalmer!

Honourable mentions: The Ellora Caves and any Jain Temple is worth seeing.
One thing I still haven't figured out is what is the circle inspector of police? We saw signs for the office of the circle inspector of police all over in the south. What kind of job is that?!

-Kolkata: All the fun people

-Delhi: More fun people and good shopping

-Amritsar: For the golden temple. It's so cool.

-Taj Mahal: With Sandra and Alysha at the same time. I also got to knock it off of my to do list!

-Hampi: It's like the flintstones!

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Time Warp

I was reminded yesterday, that we are in a time warp when an ox pulling a wagon full of ice blocks went by. Having been here so long it's gotten so normal that we never notice the difference of here and home. A walk down the street consists of old rickety, large wheeled, one speed bicycles, three wheeled automobiles, men at work sewing by foot power sewing machines, bicycle powered knife sharpeners, oxen, people and bicycle drawn wooden carts loaded with various things such as people, ice, wood, garbage, clothes, fruit etc etc! The many street venders with their hand made goods calling out, seems as though they should be from mid-evil times. The streets dusty, dry and full of pot holes makes it look like a true gong show maneuvering all these carts around and dodging the little distractions (people, dogs, beggars, cows etc.) Outside the cities in the agricultural areas it seems as though nothing in that department has changed in thousands of years. Everything is hand done with the help of oxen and there is a lot of agriculture in India. It is really pretty too. We also spend a lot of time with candle light because the electricity in this country isn't the greatest. They have too many people and just not enough power. Speaking of electricity, the power lines are a tangled mass of unprotected low hanging wires!! It's is unreal! The ladders they use are made of bamboo along with all of the scaffolding and supports. Everything is made with red bricks and then covered with plaster. You should see the paint brushes. They're anything from a piece of cloth to a branch. The brooms are all short handled stocks of hay.....or something but they are very efficient. But anyway, I know there must be many things I have forgotten to mention or just plain old don't realize how odd it is anymore! It is all very interesting though.
We'll be leaving India within a week and I promise the blog will be getting a bit more spicy from here! Stay tuned and we'll be letting you know where our next destinations are and what our five favourite places in India are!

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Can you believe it

Isn't it crazy how we're all inside the same planet, under the same blue sky but life on the other side can be so upside down and backwards?!! For example: At home (Canada) you can go to the keg and have a nice fancy dinner and eat a juicy tender steak (omg, I would die to have one of those right now) but over here in India or even Nepal, I read in the newspaper this morning that a woman was sentanced 12 years in prison for killing a cow!! Can you believe it?! But so often we find articles about dowery deaths. Men killing their wives for not receiving the dowry they were promised. We never hear anything of the husbands being charged. THAT is messed up!! Or how at home if you find anything weird in your meal you can have it for free, but here it's only the norm to have a nest of cocroaches in the wall beside your table. In fact this morning at breakfast I had to kill one that skitted across my plate, hahah. Or how you're not allowed to own a farm animal in the city but cities here have dogs, pigs, chickens, cows, horses, goats and sometimes camels running around lose.
It's a crazy world.....

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Rough Patch

Well, yeah, I guess you guys are right and I am feeling a little jaded and frustrated these days. In all honesty I do like India but I'm going through a rough patch these days and am getting attacked on all 4 sides. Any of you that believe we are on a "vacation" should try this some time. It's not a stroll along the beach....
Of course India is known for its hassle and I must say as the official interface between India and our group that I have to deal with it a lot more than the girls.
Speaking of the girls, they are more annoyed at India than I am and I've had to deal with a lot of "We are ready to leave this country now" talk for the last 2 months. A lot of travellers say INDIA is an acronym for "I'll Never Do It Again". I can see why. Though I don't necessarily agree I can say that if I ever come back it will definately be without any female companions. The female angle just adds 15 extra layers of hell to the experience that I don't need. I don't know how they put up with it and I feel so sorry for all Indian women..... They're a lot tougher than I am. While I'm on the subject of females I'll have to correct Shean. I can't sell the girls here (much as I'd like to sometimes). By Indian practices it is the bride's family that pays up the huge bucks to get rid of their daughters. It's such a huge thing that "dowry deaths", where the wife mysteriously dies at home because her family still hasn't paid up enough, are all too common and on any given day it doesn't take much effort to see examples in the papers. Hard to imagine that stuff still occurs. It's disgusting.
Thirdly, I have been trying to get out of this country for a while now but organizing the next leg has been a very stressful process. I have been very distracted by it for a while now for reasons that will become very clear in the next few months. We are not going to be coming home after a year out. For any of you that still believe that old lie, well, tack on another year to be safe though I am only planning the next 6 months so far.....
Finally, yeah, my health has been a bit on the fritz lately. As it turns out I seem to have a rib out of place now. Don't ask me how I did it but I remember hearing the crack one morning in Puri and I am still skin and bones enough to be able to see that it's not right. On another note, hard pillows suck. Bad for the jaw. My jaw has gone back to popping in and out of place like before. I got braces a second time to fix that, I don't think I can handle a third....
I know this post is beginning to sound like a rant and that is not what we meant this site to be so I appologize. I'll try to be better in the future. We leave for Delhi tomorrow morning. I strongly suspect we'll be there for our final two weeks in India before our visa runs out and we have to leave.