The Long Bus Ride Heading South

Trip Start May 09, 2006
Trip End May 08, 2007

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Wednesday, April 11, 2007

We set out on the train from Delhi to Jaisalmer in Rajasthan, which was a mere 8 hour journey...Jaisalmer proved to be one of the highlights of India, being it's only "living fort"...built over 500 years ago, it is the only fort of it's kind because people still live inside it's walls...proving to get from Rajasthan further south by train was more difficult, so we opted for the ever-exciting bus ride...afterall, I had done so many at this point, why not keep going? The buses ended up taking us from the deserts of Rajasthan all the way to the bottom of India, in the state of Kerala...about half of India's land surface...on the way, we welcomed my friend Mark who came from New York, who braved the 14 hour bus journeys, sharing his "sleeper bed" with total strangers...proving that laughter while travelling is the best way to cope. We saw Bombay, wandered through the filthy and fascinating day markets, discovered Gandhi's former residence, smiled with the locals who begged for photos, and rode our way through rural villages until we reached Goa, which was hardly what it's reputation has built it up to be.  Thoroughly disenchanted with the English-boozing set on pre-packaged holiday packages, we opted for more of a "backpacker vibe" and settled in at Gokarna, in the Southern state of Karnataka.  This is the kind of place where you can lose yourself in a holy village that seems mostly unchanged throughout time. Of course the influx of foreigners brings lots of touristy shops and restaurants, but by and far, it was a great place to relax. We headed further inland to Hampi, the site of the Vishayanga Empire, and the ruins are over 1000 years old.  There's no wonder why this place is on my top five of India list. The crumbling hills of rock are mesmerizing, and wandering around the ruins is truly magical.
We ended our journey in the Southernmost state of Kerala, known for it's backwater canals, millions of palms, beautiful beaches and Chinese fishing nets. Again, it was an idyllic experience.
Though I sit here and write with such pride as to what I've seen and how much I have accomplished over here, I can't believe it's the end of my year abroad.  Soon New York is upon me (but not before I meet Mom in Italy/Switzerland to tour the Alps!).  I know it will be shocking to be back living as we do in the West, but not without one thing: India has transformed me, fascinated me, and taught me to see the most simple of things in a new light. Though this is one of the world's most impoverished places, I will leave so much richer, in tears of joy for having made the decision to come here, and in sadness, realizing that this voyage has reached its end.

I will see you all back home - April 27th!!!

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stilltrekkin on

Greetings from Kathmandu
I wonder how many times I have said to myself in the last few months, 'I wonder where Dana is?' Good to hear that you are still rollin' along. You say it will be hard to say goodbye to I guess that means he is still sharing the ride with you...or has been.
I'm back in Kathmandu - have been here since March 6 and don't return to Canada until May 26. If you would like to revisit Nepal have a look at my on-line album at Still hard at work and still enjoying the journey. Hope you'll keep in touch. Enjoy Switzerland..but the cleanliness and order may be a shock after so much time in South Asia! Elsie

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