Sick of Khajuraho
Trip Start Oct 21, 2006
115Trip End Mar 21, 2008
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Three days in one place, especially one as small as Orchha, feels like a long time so we are kind of ready to go again. Painful diarrhoea aside, we really enjoyed Orchha and would recommend it to anyone looking for respite from the hectic cities. Get in quick though, because in another five years it could be over-run with tourists and touts, like Khajuraho.
When the tourist boom began in the mid-70s, locals and carpetbaggers realised that where there are tourists there should be souvenir shops. And over-priced restaurants.
"Sir, how are you today? Please come look my store. One minute only. I have special price for you. Where are you from? How you like India? Where are you going? Please, sir, madam - beautiful Kashmiri shawls I have. You want statue? This is best store in India. Please, see my letters from customers all around the world. How much you pay for this bronze elephant? Best quality in India. Come, have some chai. Please, madam, look one minute. You look every other store, why not mine? I make special deal . . ." and so on, and so on, ad nauseum.
At first we respond with polite "no thankyou"s but this does little to deter them. "Maybe later" is translated as a firm promise - on the way back the same guy will say "you promised to visit later, please come now. I am waiting for you.
It's not just the handicraft stores that have irritating touts. Men representing the restaurants, internet cafes, travel agents and convenience stores all bombard you with their pleas for business. Rickshaw drivers slow down and toot as they drive past then yell from their windows, causing the backed up traffic behind to honk as well.
Tuesday, January 16
There is a big crowd of Koreans waiting on the platform at Satna and we figure it is unlikely they would all let the train go without them, so we stand nearby. It is another one of these vast platforms and when the train arrives an hour late it stops at the far end from where we are all standing. This sends the Koreans into a panic, fearing they will miss the train. They all race down the platform like a herd of buffalo, sending Indians flying in all directions. We follow in their slipstream, as we don't want to miss the train either and we all descend en masse upon the same carriage - presumably the foreigners' car. We needn't have rushed, as the train doesn't leave for another hour. The Koreans busy themselves by taping huge plastic sheets up against the windows to stop the draught and unloading all their sleeping equipment.
It's a step up from our previous train journey, we are now in Second Class Sleeper. This means that everyone has a designated 'berth', a thinly padded bench that can double as a bed when required. It doesn't feel all that Indian though, being surrounded by Koreans on all sides. At least we are not stared at constantly and manage to get some sleep before we roll into Varanasi Junction station.