So how much did it cost?

Ignoring my international flights ($1500) and other pre-trip costs (e.g. visa, vaccinations, travel gear/supplies),
my average daily expenses while in India were approx $42 per day (inc. trains, which admittedly I could have done in cheaper classes).

Indian Rupee (INR)
INR 1 = US$ 0.0256147
US$ 1 = INR 39.04

(update: as of mi-Dec 2011, the exchange rate is US$ 1 = INR 52.74, i.e. the rupee has gone down 25% in value vs the dollar in 3.5 years)

Delayed Delhi belly – doh!

I thought I had escaped 2 months in India relatively unscathed, but I returned with a gurgling belly, then spent the last 24 hours with diarrhea and some vomiting (in between fits of sleep the whole time). Welcome back!
And a big thanks to Susan for taking care of me!
I seem to mostly be over it now (on Sun)…

Update: or not! I was still very much under the weather until Tue morning, sleeping most of the day away… and even now on Wed morning, I’m not back 100%

Delhi for the day, leaving India tonight!

I can’t say that I like Delhi. It’s exhausting. I’m ready to go home.
Something positive: the Metro works. In 2 years it should go out to the airport too (they are expanding the system for the 2010 Commonwealth Games here).

While food is expensive here (and a 12.5% VAT on top), rooms are cheap for a capital city – I snagged a small budget room for Rs250/$6.25 for today (from 8:00 to 22:00, where checkout is normally at 12:00).
I can get a taxi to the airport tonight for Rs200/$5 (1 hour!).

Pakistani-India Wagah-Attari border ceremony

The (Pakistani) Wagah-Attari (India) border crossing, 30km west of Amritsar (and the only border crossing between the 2 countries), was both amusing in a farcical way and scary in a “Zieg Heil” kind of way. A little too patriotic.
And with guards’ walks that could have been out of a Monty Python Ministry of Silly Walks sketch!

Border ceremony photos: Indian border guards lined up; at the border gate (with Pakistani women’s stand in background); with an Indian border guard afterwards

Amritsar, and top 5 reasons why the train is better than the bus

Arrived in Amritsar late yesterday afternoon after a 5 hour bus ride from Chandigarh.

The Golden Temple complex is impressive (some liken it to the Taj Mahal in grandeur, but since I didn’t see the latter up close, I can’t comment). The walkway around the sacred pond is all marble with inlaid patterns.
Plus the little touches are nice: no fee to keep shoes (and no tip allowed!), and free simple meals (donation accepted) in the Langar, or community kitchen.

Off to the Pakistan border ceremony now…

Photos: Golden Temple at sunset; what time is it? (clocktower at the Golden Temple complex)

Top 5 reasons why the train is better than the bus:

  • no constant honking
  • no constant acceleration and braking
  • no constant swerving
  • no loud music
  • washrooms on board

It’s hard to believe I’m flying home tomorrow night already! (after my night train to Delhi, and a day, but not night, in Delhi)

Highlights of Mumbai

More text to come…
Note my time was limited, and there were several sights I didn’t see that I should have.
The big highlight was getting to meet some locals from one of my online clubs…
See also my previous Mumbai entry including the Gateway of India photo.

Map of India and my stops

Map of my India trip
note that some town names in my “flags” will have slightly different spelling (due to new and old names), but if it sounds close, it’s the same :-)

Here is the list of places I visited (with state name for the first time entering a state):

Arrived in Chandigarh

Surprisingly, my night train from Bikaner to Delhi was virtually on time (only 20 min late), and, after an auto-rickshaw transfer between railway stations,  my fast train to Chandigarh was exactly on time!

I’m staying with a friend’s parents here in a leafy suburb of this modern, grid-like, clean, green city.
Will do sight-seeing mainly tomorrow (there are only a handful of sights here; it’s more about the visit).

I’m finalizing my last bit of travel as follows:
Mon – will take a 6-hour bus to Amritsar to see the (Sikh) Golden Temple and the nearby Pakistan-India border ceremony;
Tue night – will take the night train to Delhi
late Wed night – flying home!

No photo of my hosts yet, but here is the amazingly tasty home cooked lunch:
clockwise from top: rice, chana/chickpea masala, mutter gobi (peas & cauliflower), chicken curry, salad; not pictured: spinach/cilantro raita, chapati

Home cooked lunch