The Drive - honk. Honk honk honk. HOOOOONK

Trip Start Aug 15, 2012
Trip End Jan 10, 2013

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Flag of India  , Chandigarh,
Friday, July 27, 2012

The drive from Amritsar to Chandigarh is a 250 km drive and it took us about 5 hours to get there. Why so long? Well there is not a lot of national highways along the way so it does get congested along the way. Kind of like the Gold Coast highway back when it was only 1 and 2 lanes.

A few people told us Indians drive with their horns and after only a few days I think we've figured out the horn language. It's not dissimilar from ours:

Honk = hey I'm here
Honk honk honk = hoi watch out bucko
HOOOOONK = get out of my $@€ге way

I even saw someone use it to say hello. Who knows if the intended recipient knew if it was a hello honk. 

The main difference is they do it ALL the time. In fact the back of buses and trucks have signs saying Horn Please or Blow Horn just like we have Don't Overtake Turning Vehicle.

The driving is pretty hair raising but our current driver, Kashmir Singh, is very good and we trust him and his 20 years experience. It's not as bad here as it is in China. Almost, but it makes a difference when your driver is not a risk taker. I remember vividly our drive from Beijing to the Great Wall of China with Krista & Geir. Leigh & Geir were gasping loudly with every near miss and Krista and I were giggling nervously. That roll of toilet paper Geir had came in handy. 

One part of the drive followed a canal for miles and miles and what trees lines the waters edge? Eucalyptus trees! We kept an eye out for koalas but we didn't see any :). 

We are in the Punjab state and the Pun means five and jab means rivers. Needless to say we crossed many rivers on our journey. 

Funny Signs We've Seen:
No girlfriend, no tension.
Love is a sweet poison.
Central Mushroom Research Station.
Grow and Consume Shitaki Mushrooms.
For Police Assistance SMS 98765432.
Lane Driving is Sane Driving.
Don't Pluck the Flowers. 
A shop called "Binny's" - not sure what they were selling but I am sure it was some fine, fine product.

Trucks here carry people as well as goods and when there is too many people they just open the tray gate and hey presto more space. One truck had 6 men sitting with their legs dangling over the side. The ones we saw were heading to a temple and the passengers pay 50 rupees (just under an Aussie $).

There are loads of toll gates. They generally cost 20-30 rupees (35-55 cents). Some of the booths were so far from the car windows that another toll attendant would take the money and hand it through a heavily secured box. They always get a surprise when they see our white faces and we were always given a big smile.

Taxes, taxes, taxes are what the roads are about. In Chandigarh we needed to pay tax for the car to be driving in the city. Kashmir pulled up along the road and went with all his paperwork to pay the tax. You pay per seat in the car, not the amount of passengers.

Chandigarh is a planned city constructed in the 1950s. It is the most orderly place we've seen so far. It even has round abouts and street lights. Drivers blow their horns less here so its a bit quieter. But there is not much to see, a rock garden which was a little extreme really.

We've made some young friends along the way. While Kasmir was paying tax for us to enter Shimla two kids came running up to us when we got out to stretch. They spoke Hindi and were pointing to their belly and their mouths. They were sporting big smiles and were so cute despite the smell of not bathing for weeks.

How do the babies get around town? Well we've hardly seen a pram. Parents carry their babies in there arms (no pram perving here Jazz). The first prams we saw were in Shimla where you can hire a pram to go shopping and the babes can sit and play with the inbuilt keyboard on the front. Lucky there the volume seems quite low. 

Tour drivers here have a bit of a hard time. Kashmir is with us for 4 days in Shimla while his wife & 3 kids are at home in Amritsar. He stops when Leigh and I want to stop and is 100% dedicated to doing whatever we want to do. He sleeps in the car. There are no blankets or pillows to be seen. At Chandigarh the hotel charged him 50 rupees to park in the hotel car park. He pays all the tolls up front and recieves a receipt so he can claim them back from the 'office'. He is interesting and interested in us too. He laughs a lots and entertains us as well ad himself. 

It is a humbling experience for us!!
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