Kolkata and Bangalore

Trip Start Oct 04, 2007
Trip End Sep 30, 2008

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Monday, October 8, 2007

We arrived in Kolkata at 6.30am and we're collected by a man with a sign 'suzi loach'. He drove us in his ac mercedes to our guest house in the centre of kolkata. Our first glimpses of India were from the car window looking out at shacks on the road, people washing in the river, animals or people pulling carts, masses of yellow taxis beeping constantly in such an intense heat.

We had 3 days in Kolkata. We visited Kali temple and were shown round by a priest - it was heaving with people trying to get a glimpse of the statue of the goddess Durga as the Durga Puja festival is approaching in the next few days (at the end of the festival period they throw replicates of the goddess into the river). We had red dots placed on our heads and red string tied round our wrists to give us good luck and happiness.

We walked through Sudder street and surrounding areas - full of market stalls - mostly selling rubbish but great atmosphere. I did manage to buy a couple of tops - each for about 1 pound! Around this area there was lots of poverty with families living in shacks on the pavement and tiny children sleeping naked. It is also well known for it's backpackers so lots of budget hotels and some bars. We had our first drink on a roof terrace overlooking kolkata, accompanied by a great curry!

We also visited Victoria memorial at dusk; an amazing building. Within the gardens a group of young Indians asked to have their photo with us to our bemusement - but they were all very friendly.

After day 3 we decided to get out of the heat and changed our plans resulting in us getting an impulsive flight south to Bangalore. We are here and it's much calmer (in parts!). There are fancy shopping malls, bars and restaurants - inc a McDonalds! The climate is much cooler and we are saving money by having non ac room at hotel.

We have visited the parliament building and the Bangalore palace - which is a replicate of Windsor castle! We have also been to 2 markets - which were very hectic.

We have used a variety of transport - all a little scary due to the nature of the laneless roads, no indicating and congestion! The auto rickshaws have been handy but each driver barters with you or insists on taking you to an expensive shop on route - they must get commission. We've been taken to a few expensive shops to 'only look' as part of the journey - but i did end up buying a wooden elephant! Off to Mysore tomorrow - we'll be in touch in a few days.
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