Monday 18 February 2013 – Wednesday 20 February 2013 – Back home in Bangalore and flight home to Australia

Monday, 18 February 2013

Up late this morning and after breakfast  shopping with Bharti and Gautham’s mum, Usha. Got a lovely bed cover and some pillowcase covers. Then it was time to say goodbye to Bharti as she had to leave for work. When Kanchi came home from school we did some more bits of shopping before it was time to meet Gautham. We went to a lovely Rajastan Restaurant. We were greeted at the door by a doorman dressed in costume. We were entertained by a magician and  puppet show before heading up to the dining room. We were given a big metal tray and then along came lots of little samplers before you chose what you wished to eat. It was fantastic.  There was a dancing lady and I did take a video of this very entertaining and enjoyable afternoon, but sadly I haven’t any photos.

We came home and I was gathering up my final things when the power failed once more. We were in the dark until about 8.50. Fortunately, I had done most of my packing before hand. Said my final goodbye to Usha and Kanchi before Gautham took me to the airport in a cab.  Said goodbye to him after having had a wonderful two weeks with him and his family.

Tuesday 19 February 2013

Boarded the plane after going through the usual Customs etc. for my flight to Bangkok. We took off at 12.55 am and then it was the long flight. Managed to get a little bit of sleep.  Arrived in Bangkok and only had a short stopover this time before flying on to Sydney

Arrived in Sydney at about 8.45pm and had to declare my little wooden items and also had to get my shoes sprayed then once again, first thing I had to find was an ATM as no Australian money – then got a cab to my hotel. After shower and more sorting out finally went to bed.

Wednesday 20 February 2013

Up early and felt unwell as my ears were still giving me trouble from the pollution. Got the shuttle from hotel to the Sydney airport. Booked in and had to pay $30 excess baggage!!!!  Had a lovely breakfast of eggs and bacon and a cappucino – was enjoyed. Boarded the plane for Canberra and took off at 8.30am and after a smooth flight arrived in Canberra at 9.15am.

Peter met me and took me home and here I was back on Australian soil safely after a fantastic trip.  Now back to reality as have to do everything for myself now after being thoroughly spoilt with everyone overseas taking care of me.


Saturday, 16 February 2013 and Sunday, 17 February – Trip to National Park

Saturday, 16 February 2013

Up early and down to take some photos – well, that was a waste as deleted them!  Met Gautham’s mum who came over from Mangalore to meet me and see the family. At 10.30pm Gautham’s friend, Keshav came to drive us on our excursion to a National park.  We travelled south and was on the longest flyover in India – no exits for 10kms. Was quite a lot of traffic – cars, tuk tuks, lorries, motorbikes, and people.  The road was not cut through rock and lovely flowers on the sides of the road.  We stopped at a flace called Fantasy Park and the area is renowned for its wooden toys.  The countryside started to get greener and passsed through the second largest sugar cane belt in Southern India.  Also lots of mulberry bushes for silk.  Now we passed lots of sheep, goats, bullock, hay stacks, coconut palms, sugar cane and bullocks.

We came to Mysore at about 2.30 passing the beautiful Philomena Roman Catholic Church on our way to the Ritz Hotel for a very late lunch. We continued on past the Mysore airport and several lakes. There were 150 year old banyo trees along the way. We arrived at the ?? Tiger National Park. Saw lots of monkeys.  We drove through the little village over a rough dirt track to the guest house we were staying at.

We freshened up and then had a leisurely night of eating, drinking and chatting and finally retired at 12.00 after watching the stars and moon.

Sunday, 17 February 2013

After breakfast, Gautham and I went up to the village and got a jeep through the Bandipur National Park – looking for tigers ha ha.  Saw heaps of deer, birds, peacocks and monkeys.

After our trip through the jungle we watched the antics of the monkeys with their very young and saw some elephants in the village. As Keshav was not going back to Bangalore until Tuesday we hitched a ride with a kind man to Mysore. The traffic was quite thick – bullocks, trucks coming right at you, motor bikes and tuk tuks. We had lunch at the Ritz once more and then proceeded to the beautiful Mysore Palace. Once again I have lost my lovely photos and the ones published are taken from post cards.


After being hounded by the hawkers we headed up to the Mysore train station for our journey back to Bangalore. We had a sleeper as both tired and arrived home at about 9.00pm after another tuk tuk ride.  Chatted with Gautham’s mum, aunt, Bharti and Kanchi and then to bed only to have a shocking coughing fit.

Tuesday 12 February 2013 – Thursday 14 February – Overnight train to Allepy and back to Bangalore

Tuesday 12 February 2013

Had a restful day as going on another overnight trip.  Gautham took me in tuk tuk to the railway station and boarded train and had a sleeper.

Wednesday 13 February 2013

I got picked up and driven past through lush tropical country  to the Green Garden Hotel. Today was a quite day as communication problem.  At 4.30pm I got picked up and went to Kumarakan Bird Sanctuary. Watched a very interesting film about the sanctuary and then had a leisurely walk through the well laid out park to the backwater lake, had a coffee and back to the hotel and had an early night after a delicious fish meal.

Thursday 14 February 2013

After breakfast, got driven to my houseboat. houseboat


Was a beautiful way to spend several hours. Saw lots of birdlife, passed lots of other houseboats and little fishing boats. Also passed villagers doing their personal and general washing and fishermen. Way out in the lake, you saw lots of poles near little boats and next thing a head would pop up. This is a way the fishermen dive for the fish. We did a circle of Vembanad Lake. On the shore were lots of big hotels nestled amongst the coconut palms and banana plants.  Came back to the hotel after a great restful cruise.

In the afternoon, got driven to Allepy Beach but this was another disappointing beach compared with our Australian beaches. The tide was way out.  We past lots of school children coming out from school and hundreds of motorcycles.  Arrived at the railway station and boarded the train at 7.30pm.  Slept reasonably well and Gautham met me at Bangalore Railway Station at 8.45am and got another tuk tuk home.

This is where my photos run out as I inadvertently deleted and evidently cannot be retrieved.  Very disappointing.

Friday 15 February 2013

Home again in Bangalore. Another lazy day.  Was a long power failure so at about 5.30pm Kanchi and I went up the street and got a pair of shoes and into California Pizza Restaurant.  Bed reasonably early in readiness for another out of Bangalore trip.



Saturday, 9th February 2013 – Monday, 11th February 2013 – Overnight train to Ponducherry

Saturday, 9 February 2013

Just stayed at home today. At 8.30 Vally and I had the longest and most hairiest  tuk tuk ride to the Bangalore Railway Station. I hated the railway stations as you had to walk down so many steps only to climb up again. We didn’t have our booth numbers so picked a booth and when the railway attendant came he told us we could stay there. At about 11.30 the couple who were allotted the carriage came on board and they were not very happy that their seats/beds were occupied but they sorted themselves out. The train trip was quite good and did manage to get some sleep.

We arrived at Ponducherry at 8.30am and was met by our tuk tuk driver, John who took us to the upmarket hotel, the Sunway GRT Grand I decided to choose. We  booked into our room and then had breakfast..

John picked us up at about 11.00 and had a long drive to the village of Auroville.  This is a huge research centre. It is an amazing place. It is an exceptional experiment in building a new city in the midst of a relatively backward area. When the first Aurovilians arrived on the site of the proposed township in the late 60’s, early 70’s they found a severely eroded land. Now, it is a beautiful, huge area of flowers, shrubs, ferns and trees.   We had a long, leisurely walk to the Golden Globe through beautiful gardens.  You could not enter this building but was very impressive just looking at it externally.

After visiting the Auroville, we went to the Sri Aurobindo Ashram which was founded in 1926. Sri Aurobind,  was born on 15 August 1872 in Kolkata. He moved from India to England and led a very interesting life, including a year long confinement in prison. He was acquitted and emerged enriched by momentous spiritual experiences. In April 1910, he sailed for Pondicherry, a French enclave in South India. It was time for him to explore the way for mankind’s liberation from its bondage to ignorance through spiritual means. During his 40 years in Pondicherry, Sri Aurobindo devoted himself to the practice of Yoga. Sri Aurobindo’s collaborator was the Mother. When she met Sri Aurobindo in Pondicherry in 1914, she at once recognised him as the Krishna of her visions. When Sri Aurobindo went into seclusion in 1926 to fulfill the demand of his Yoga, she took charge of his disciples. Of her life and work, the Mother once said: “I came to India to meet Sri Aurobindo. I remained in India to live with Sri Aurobindo. When he left his body I continued to live here in order to do this work which, by serving the Truth and enlightening mankind, to hasten the rule of the Divine’s Love upon earth.”.  Was a very peaceful place to be.

The Pondicherry museum was next on our list – not a very interesting place and rather run down.

After having visited so many Hindu and Bhuddist temples, I was fortunate to attend mass at the beautiful Sacred Heart Basilica.

We were taken back to our hotel at 6.30 and had a wonderful massage and then room service.  A fitting end to a very busy yet enjoyable day.

Monday, 11 February 2013

After breakfast, John took us to Auro Beach. Another disappointing beach compared with Australian beaches and then around to the lighthouse.

We came back to the hotel and went to another hotel and had a good rest. At about 10.00pm we were taken to the bus station. We finally took off at 11.30pm. We on the top double bunk and it was a very rough trip.  We arrived back in Bangalore at 7.30 am next day and got a tuk tuk to home.




Monday 4th and Tuesday 5th February 2013 – In Delhi and flight to Bangalore


4th February 2013 – Monday

Today, Monday  was a shock to the system – raining. First lot of rain I have seen since leaving Australia.

Had a sleep in until 8.00 and then had breakfast and for most of the day took the opportunity of using WFI before the usual daily power failure.  Later in the afternoon, Sunil had some papers to deliver so he took me and showed me some of the sights of Delhi –   Unfortunately, couldn’t get any postcards so have to wait and see what photos I can post here as my IPaD had not charged overnight.

Sorted out my luggage and decided that I needed another little bag/case of some description so one of the boys from the hotel was sent out to get me one and also some locks. Just had to mention I needed something purchased and off someone went. Will be hard to go back home and have to do things for myself.


5th February 2013 – Tuesday, at 3.00pm the taxi came and I said goodbye to the very helpful staff at the Hotel Today International and headed for the International Airport although was an internal India flight.  The flight was delayed by a half an hour so took off at 6.40pm.  Arrived at Bangalore Airport at 9.15pm and there to meet me was Gauthaum and Kanchi his 9 year old daughter. We had about an hour’s taxi drive from the airport to Gauthaum’s home. Was terrific to finally meet Gauthaum after speaking on the internet/sctrabbling for about 4 and a half years. His wife, Bharti was not at the airport as she was at work. Her hours are from about 2.00pm to 11.00pm. so I met her when she came home.  I have been made so very welcome, I know how royalty feels.

This is my "home" while in Bangalore

This is my “home” while in Bangalore



Friday 1st February 2013 – Flying from Kathmandu to Dehli

Up early to do final pack up before being taken to the Kathmandu airport.  Said final goodbyes to staff at the Peak hotel.  

Went through Customs again and yes, frisked again. Then was informed that the plane was going to be delayed by 3 hours because of bad weather in Delhi.  So all I could do was do a wander around the airport.

Finally in the air at 6.30pm. When I arrived at Delhi, I did not have any money whatsoever, as Indians do not take Bhutanese currency yet you can use Indian rupees in Bhutan. My mind has been agog with the currency changeovers and where you can use this and that. So, off to the ATM I go and that decided it was not going to give me any money.  Then I thought I had better see where my driver was but noone to meet me. Not sure whose mistake. Back to the ATM machine and this time was able to withdraw. I am getting quite tired by this time. So, then it was off to get a reputable taxi and get to my hotel. The taxi driver was very good and finally got me to my destination, Hotel Today.

IMG_2625h (6)

This quite a long day so was pleased to see my room and shower and get into bed.

In Bangalore – from Wednesday 6th February 2013 – Late Saturday 9th February 2013

Wednesday – 6th February 2013 Today it is the second anniversary of my mother’s death.  RIP Mum.

This is my home while in Bangalore.


I had a good sleep and up late this morning. After breakfast I had a little walk a couple of houses away where it is quite interesting to see how a house is being constructed. Just all seems so very primitive. There is a cement mixer and the cement is then poured out onto little metal dishes and given to the workers (two being women) who put the dishes on their heads and taken to the columns that are being filled with cement.  Will be interesting to see how much progress on this dwelling is done before I leave to go home. Will put in a post with the progress of the house from the time I arrived in Bangalore until I leave.


Later on that day, I walked down and met Kanchi from her school bus and then went down to a local park.

Gauthaum came home late so we took turns on being taken on the back of the bike down to a nearby Chinese meal and then home to bed about ten. Didn’t see Bharti that night.

Thursday -7th February, 2013

Up at about 9.30 this morning. Breakfast and then my ironing taken to the man in the street around the corner.  He has his clothes set up on a wagon type contraption and has a hot stone and an iron with coals and he is there from early hours to quite late at night.


Mid morning Bharti took me up to her local temple. There were hundreds of followers praying. Given flowers to give up as offering  to Shri Saibabar and ask for a wish. After some market buying of fruit by Bharti we then went and picked up Kanchi from school.



We came home, and had lunch and Bharti prepared the evening meal before heading off to work.  Didn’t have a late night.

Friday 8 th February, 2013

Up about 8 After breakfast went and looked at the progress of the house being built. I am amazed at the doings here. There is a cement mixer that incessantly whirs around with the stones, rocks and sand being thrown in. There are the piles of these products in the street and a guy puts the rocks etc into a little metal dish and then it is placed on the women’s heads and off they regally strut alternatively with cement or getting the rocks for the cement mixer. Backwards and forwards they go and they beam these huge smiles at me. Just fascinating to watch but it is the cement dust that is causing me a bit of a problem. Went to bed at 8 as feeling off but then at 12 decided to get up and have some pork and talk with Bharti. Gauthaum was still out with clients again.

Saturday, 9 th February, 2013

Just stayed indoors nearly all day today and Syan helped me with my photos. Had dinner and then Vally (Gauthaum’s and Bharti’s home help) and I left at 8.30pm for the railway station for an overnight train trip to Pondicherry.  We went from home to the railway station in  tuk tuk. I think this was the longest and hairiest drive I have had. Unless you have been to Asia and been in one, you have no idea how these drivers manipulate/ negotiate where they want to go. With the use of their horns, everyone has respect for each other but very scary when doing a turn straight across the opposite side of the road. BUT you have all the faith in the world of them. You do really pray though that their brakes and steering are up to scratch. Well, we made the 18kms trip to the Bangalore railway station safely. Once again there are heaps of sleeping people on the floor.




Saturday 2nd and Sunday 3rd February 2013 – Delhi to Agra and return to Delhi


Saturday 2nd February 2013 

This is the day that I have waited for over 50 years – visiting the Taj Mahal. On the “wish list” for so long but never believed that I would have been able to actually set foot in the grounds and touch the magnificent structure. Unbelievable for sure.

I was picked up at 5.15am from the Hotel Today for the drive to Delhi Railway station to board the early morning Luxury Express train to Agra. I have never seen so many sleeping bodies strewn all over the railway station floors. I was safely ushered into the carriage of the train and seated with three other people. We shared a table between us. One of the men was an 81 year old and he had such interesting life stories to share. He was a teacher and had also been a marathon runner. He and the other two men were going to view some educational projects. The train left on time at 6.15am As it was dark, their conversations made the journey pass quickly. Breakfast was served and also beverages.

We arrived at AGRA at about 8.00 and was met by Shivpal Singh Jodha and given a lovely fresh flower lei.



Was taken to an upmarket hotel to freshen up and have a coffee before I was taken by my guide, Monu Khan down to near the Taj Mahal to the Eastern Gate where we got in a horsedrawn carriage to the entrance.


Excitement here as I was actually going to see THE great TAJ MAHAL.  


Isn't this just an amazing photo.
Isn’t this just an amazing photo.


Monu suggested we come early as it being a Saturday about 40,000 to 50,000 people would be visiting during the day.  It is a pristine white marble mausoleum built by Emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his wife – Muimtaz Mahal.  One of the Seven Wonders of the World it wook 20,000 workers from neighboring Islamic countries, 17 or 22 years (differing dates) of ceaseless toil to create this exquisite monument.  It is hard to believe that this truly magnificent structure was commenced in 1631.  The wonderful architecture and its adornments are linked to the passion of eternal love that inspired it.

Once again, I cannot find enough adjectives to describe what you see and can touch. The artwork is just out of this world and to think it has been standing all these years.

I cannot write here all about this beauty but one just has to be here to appreciate all that is said about the Taj Mahal. An experience of a lifetime for me and one of my dreams being fulfilled.

It was now time to take one last look at the magnificent Taj Mahal as we left to be taken to a factory/shop where marble artefacts were being manufactured. There were several men sitting down chipping away at marble and their hands and fingers were worn to the bone literally. I asked whether they could wear gloves but was told that it was not possible. Here I made my special purchase for Brenda – yes, a little marble elephant.

Was then driven to the Pinch Of Spice restaurant for another delicious meal – I feel as though all I am doing is eating but food is delicious and very healthy.

At about 1.30pm we left for the 45kms drive to Fatehpur Sikri. 

This is a marvellous red sandstone city built in 1585 by Akbar who was the Mughal dynasty’s greatest Emperor. Here is still the mysterious tomb of Salim Chishti, the Muslum mystic who gave his blessings to Akbar for a son.  There is just so much history about these wonderful places, I can not begin to start – I will read all about these beautiful places later on. Once again, I am in awe of the magnificent architecture in the rich red stone and the brilliant colours of the interiors of these buildings.

We then travelled back to Agra – many many interesting sites and characters along the way. I was then taken back to my hotel where I had a meal and then to bed after another wonderful, wonderful day.

Sunday 3rd February 2013

Another early start – picked up at 6.45 for the rear view of the Taj Mahal but was very foggy. The place we are at is Mehtab Bagh (Mughal Garden) . The fog was so thick, you had to believe you are walking amongst beautiful 500 year old gardens and ruins located across the Yamuna River.  Not a chance of seeing the Taj Mahal from this spot today. Met three lovely people – Terri and husband Mark from US and a friend who now lives in Portugal, Beverley who was a wonderful lady of 80.  There were breaks in the midst so we were able to take some photos. Decided we could not wait around for several hours so said our goodbyes to the newly met friends.

We made another quick stop back at the welcoming/freshen up hotel – cars were checked for bombs and met with Shivpal Singh Jodha  before we headed off to the impressive AGRA FORT. Another amazing red sandstone monument – no matter which way you look, just all so impressive.  Here the gardens were done in a most unusual fashion. In these places, there are so many different buildings, gates etc. one is just awestruck – well, I am.  Agra Fort is the largest fort in India.

It is just so hard for me to try and talk about these magnificent buildings as just steeped in so much history.  Once again I will be referring to my brochures and booklets at a more leisurely pace.

Once more it was back to the Pinch of Spice restaurant before visiting the Itmad-Ud-Daulah’s tomb, a beautiful mausoleum built by the Mughal Emperor Jeehangir’s queen in 1928 as a memorial to her father. Many historians revere the mausoleum as the inspiration of the Taj Mahal, yet it still has an original beauty. It houses significant “Pietra Dura” inlays, marble screens within a walled garden and a view of the Yamuna River.

At about 3.15pm said goodbye to Shiv and Monu my lovely guide who really made my visit to Agra very fulfilling – he has a wealth of knowledge about this area.

I was due to return to Delhi by train, but due to bad weather once more, the train was delayed and I would not get back to Delhi until about 2 or 3am so it was suggested I drive back and this was the option I chose.



It was a 204kms trip but was on a new freeway. In places it was dense fog in front yet you could see out to the side of the car.  Had several stops along the way at the special convenience places.

Arrived back at the hotel about 7.00pm as traffic was very heavy.  I stayed at the hotel and Sunil, the owner spent some time talking with me and then arranged my dinner and a massage before retiring after two wonderful days in Agra.




Wednesday 23 January 2013 – Still touring around Kolkata.


Wednesday 23 January 2013

Good morning/afternoon/evening..

After breakfast just watched the ever increasing traffic of everything imaginable from pedestrians, trucks, cars, taxis by the thousands, hand pulled vehicles, tuk tuks, and trams. At about 9.30 my driver picked me up and we set off in utter chaotic traffic.

I do not know which lane one is in but I felt quite safe with Mr X that I got in the front seat to see better. Our first stop was Mother Teresa’s House where she prayed everyday and her tomb is here. image


After there to the INDIAN MUSEUM which was very interesting but needed more time. The sights around this city are hard to describe. So much poverty – 20 million and who knows how many Bangalese are living if you can call it that as absolute squalid conditions.  Went to JAIN TEMPLE which was built in 1867 by its founder Rai Badridas Bahadur. It seemed too overdone with its interior but still spectacular.  On we went – up and down little alley ways to a nice restaurant for lunch.


After more sights such as the stadium, the Botanical Gardens, Eden Stadium – the largest cricket stadium in Asia, the race course, past VICTORIA MEMORIAL –  a magnificent building but I was getting very weary and sadly passed on going inside.


On our way back to the hotel we stopped down at the Hooghly River and saw the Howrah Bridge – world’s third largest cantilever bridge when it was opened in 1943.  The other bridge is Vidyasagar Setu and is the longest cable stayed bridge in Asia – broad enough for 6 cars side by side. Was opened to traffic in 1992. There was absolute filth on the banks once again very depressing as saw a lady and her little girl down at the riverside and not far away was a whole lot of rubbish including dead carcasses of animals. Very sad.

I got back to my hotel safely and have to admit I did have a little rest until dinner time. Was certainly a whirlwind tour of Kolkata but the main attraction I wanted to cross off my wish list was seeing Mother Teresa’s quarters.

An extremely smoggy city – Could not live here!.

Wednesday – 23 January 2013 – First day in Kolkata, India

Wednesday 23 January 2013 

Good morning – don’t think the traffic ever stops!

imageWas woken up at 5.30 by chanting and the honking of horns so up at 6 .  Went outside of hotel and just watched the many many sights that passed.  There was a little road beside the main road so there were many different forms of transport – beat up old trucks, buses that were overcrowded, tuk tuks, pedestrians by the dozens, motor cycles, ambulances, dogs, dogs, decent buses and of course cars and thousands of taxis.


Very early in morning

Will continue on next post.

Tuesday. – 22 January 2013 – Sydney-Bangkok-Kolkata

I am going 2 skip an entry for Monday as trying to get all my gadgets to work is all too much.  I left Canberra Monday afternoon and arrived in Sydney ok.  Got a cab to hotel, dinner and then to bed.  Was thinking of what I am going to be facing in the next few days.

Tuesday 22 January 2013

Tuesday morning up at 6.ooam.  Down for 7 am shuttle bus to International airport. Booked case in and breakfast by 8. Plenty of time to go through customs and gate 60. On plane at 9.30 and greeted with Sadaweka – took me back to my time in Thailand but this is a different trip. Finally got to seat 61a a window seat.   The interior of the plane was all really brightly coloured with their pinks, purple and gold scheme and the crew very friendly. Just before take off an Indian chap came and sat in the spare seat beside me.  By the way, there appeared to be me and another Aussie and the rest of the plane Indians.  This chap didn’t like me asking him to put his seat belt on and then he chewed on something and then got the bag out and spat in it.  I thought I don’t need this so asked the attendant to ask him to return to his own seat and he did begrudgingly.  Too bad.  We took off at 9.55 and now had 8.30 hours ahead of us until we arrived at Bangkok.   At 11.15 we were served a lovely tasty meal and would you know it – the arrogant Indian chap put his seat back only to be told by the occupant behind to go easy as his tray almost ended up on his lap.

I was just mesmerised by the landscape of our great country.  image image

We finally left Australia mainland at 2.30 Aussie time.  Another meal at 5.15. In between watching the landscape and my watch the time went quite nicely.  We arrived on time in Bangkok at 6.20 Aust time. 2.20 Bangkok time. Now to fill in 6 hours.  Was the longest day Walked around the airport which is huge.  Couldn’t see Gate C10 so asked and told it was “down there, turn right and one kilometre”.She got me a trolley so off I went.  Walked and walked looked and looked.

Bangkok Airport

Bangkok Airport

Bangkok airport

Near empty Bangkok airport at gate c10

Thought the boarding would never come.  Decided to fill in a bit more time so had a meal and then sought out the boarding gate. It was really strange for such a huge airport, when I reached the gate, almost deserted.  Finally boarded at 9.30 and took off at 10pm.  More eating and arrived at KOLKATA at 11.10.  Got my bag, through Customs and hopefully someone wold be outside to meet me.  Yes there was my sign and there was a driver.  Was about half an hour to my hotel and the staff took me to my room.  I was quite exhausted as by the time I got to bed it was a 26 hour day/night without even a catnap.  But all went smoothly and now I am on Indian soil.image