Re: Where I’ve been
A seaside suburb of Den Haag. It’s a little dull, is The Netherlands, and the food is terribly expensive and terrible. But if you have someone to visit…
India is incredible. For one it’s just enormous so you can’t hope to see even a small fraction, but it’s more of a culture shock than anywhere else I’ve ever been (and I’ve got a few on every continent bar Antarctica).
There is no real sanitation. The streets run with open sewers and everywhere is a building site or a pile of rubble. When people have rubbish, they chuck it in the road and a cow eats it. Or every now and again people build it up into piles (in the street) and set fire to it. A common sign of friendship amongst men is to wander the streets holding hands.
The food - or at least the vegetarian food - is largely brilliant. I love various rotis and am happy with paneer though. The meat they don’t really seem to try so hard.
We went to a pilgrimmage town where alcohol was banned (along with meat, eggs, etc) and instead of beer were offered bhang lassi ie. pot-smoothie. It was absolutely delicious.
The Taj Mahal is gorgeous and we were hassled so hard at Fatehpur Sikri that a child called my girlfriend a ‘Devil Woman’ and a man screamed across a mosque at us demanding money. This is because he had gone ahead and delivered the tour we had refused (by following us around and shouting inormation).
Indian 3rd class rail is uncomfortable, as are terrifying Nepali buses (we would constantly be driving on the edge of roads that were falling into ravines, littered with the overturned bodies of other buses). We took a lot of Valium to withstand it.
Nepal is friendlier than India, which though it’s incredible, has a kind of bothersome edge to it. The pollution in Kathmandu is enough that it hurts to stay more than a couple of days, but Pokhara is beautiful and relaxed.
We walked to Annapurna base camp which was beautiful - even if it did rain a bit: the monsoon ended weeks later than expected.
In Chitwan National Park (which a hilarious flier suggested was ‘arguably the 20th best national park in the world’) we rode elephants to see Rhinos (which are hideous!) and then bathed in the river with them. I have glorious photos of elephants spraying us with their trunks.
All in all, a good trip.