Let me touch you with my Poo Poo Hand
Trip Start Jul 18, 2006
52Trip End Jul 17, 2007
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Where I stayed
Salvation Army Guesthouse
We arrived at about 3am and stepped out of the airport to go to the cashpoint only to instantly be swamped by about 20 taxi drivers all clamouring for our business, whoa! We bartered one guy down but then turned back round when he walked away from the taxis lined up and went towards the dark car park, hmmmmmmm!! All the meters in the taxis outside were broken (how tragic) so we went back inside the airport and got a pre-paid taxi to the "hotel" for cheaper. The drive there was surreal, we thought we were going to the busiest city ever but there was nobody about, a few police with rifles in groups and pack of dogs chasing the taxi but other than that it was like a ghost town! We arrived in Sudder Street, which is like the Kolkatan equivalent of Benidorm and woke up the sleeping guy at Hotel Maria. What a lovely introduction to India. There was a room with two single beds (sheet metal on legs with a damp mattress) with dirty sheets and a fan, that was it! While Aaron checked in with the reception (where the guy needed glasses so took about 10 minutes to read the details on the passports) Beth sat in the room and had a little weep.
Needless to say the next morning we woke up early and found a new hotel, being the savvy travellers we now are we asked to see the rooms first, unforunately most places were going for the 'Guantanamo Bay Chic' style so we ended up in the Salvation Army guest house. The room has no windows and is damp as hell but there is a fan and a bathroom en-suite (seems so wrong to refer to it as that!), it even has free fleas in the bed but nothing to catch them with.
Stepping out onto the street is like stepping out into another world. There are people absolutely everywhere, the aromas range from mouth watering to stomach wretching in a few steps and new cars overtake hand pulled rickshaws in the craziest traffic system yet! Basically, it's like another world and totally took us by surprise, whist on the other hand it's not as bad as we thought, it's odd! The heat here is amazing, you'd think we'd be used to it by now but everywhere has it's own particular brand of heat and Kolkata is some sort of magic heat sweat, at this rate all our t-shirts will be gone in a day or two (we should have followed the lead of crazy butt naked guy round the corner and cast off our garments, maybe give it a week or so) As a result we haven't ventured too far into the city (there isn't a whole heap to do either). We went to the train station to get our tickets to Darjeeling and have had a couple of wanders round the neighbourhood. We also saw the Victoria Memorial, a reminder of how "ave it" England was back in the day. It was like a cross between the Taj Mahal and St Paul's Cathedral. Speaking of Cathedrals, it's really weird to see so many churches round the area, you wouldn't expect it at all!
One thing we have done very well is eat!! The food here is awesome (probably the only reason Beth is still hanging around). We've tried to avoid the Delhi Belly by avoiding meat so have had loads of Lentil dishes, and our most expensive meal for both of us has come to £2! The only downside to eating is that we've been getting things you eat with your hand. Because of poo poo hand (ie the hand you wipe with) it means you can only use your right hand for eating, which will take a lot of getting used to! (we would just like to clarify at this point that we are NOT partaking in the poo poo hand but are sticking to good old fashioned toilet roll). We just got a hand-pulled rickshaw and both feel so incredibly guilty it's not funny, some poor little guy walking both of us round made you want to weep! Anyhow, we're off to see Mother Theresa's house, maybe she'll let us have some tea.....