First Day In Nepal

on Wednesday, 31 March 2010

We arrive at the border at 3:30am and are just dropped in the bus car park. One of our fellow passengers tell us we will have to wait till 6am for the immigration office to open, but I have read it is supposed to be open 24hrs a day. We luckily find our way to the crossing through a maze of dark alleys, when we reach the border there is a sign that says “All foreigners need to have their passport stamped and just two blokes lying asleep under mosquito nets next to the sign. We decide not to wake them and walk a little further where a guard says we should wake them up. We wake them up and have our passports stamp and also have to pay 200R as a leaving present. We then walk up through the border and there is just no signs or information on what to do and nobody stops us, I know we need to get a visa, so go and ask a young customs guard what we should be doing, we could have easily just walked through unchallenged though. The guard points out the building which we had noticed when we came over but looked closed, we tell him it’s closed so he grabs his gun and takes us over. All the lights are off and there doesn’t seem like there is anyone there, we knock on the door and there is no answer, so the guard says we will have to wait till 6am. I am not waiting 3 hours so have a look round the back and there is a window with another man sleeping inside under a net, I tap on he window and call to him, I have seen him move, but he ignores me so I go grab the guard and amazingly he wakes straight up. He comes round the front and wakes a few other people up, I feel a bit bad as we have had to wake 5 people up early in the morning to get our stamps, but I don’t want to be waiting around 3 hours. We have to fill in some forms and it costs 40 dollars for the 30 day visa. We are all done and finally cross over into Nepal, meaning our time in India is officially over.

We walk through and instantly have offers of a bus to Kathmandu or Pokhara, we arrange a bus for the almost 300km journey to Kathmandu which should take 10 hours. Amazingly this bus is even worse than the one from Varanasi, it looks as if it is designed for dwarfs, I have to walk down the aisle ducking and the only seat I can fit in is the centre seat at the back. The leg room is so cramped, I can’t believe any normal sized person would be able to sit comfortably, especially for a 10 hour journey. We get going and as the bus is not very full, Tom has two seats and I end up lying on the back seat which is actually quite comfortable and the roads are much smoother so I manage to sleep. After about 2 hours on the bus and an hour sleeping I wake up and the bus is completely full apart from the back 5 seats which I am sleeping on and people are standing up in the aisle with no seat. I squash up into the corner and let some people sit down but it is so cramped I can’t imagine spending another 8 hours on here. Especially as the conductor and other passengers are constantly trying to squash us into smaller and smaller areas, which is just not physically possible.

We stop after about 4 hours of travel and it is just unbearable, we are starting to wish we had bought some of the Valium from the onboard drug dealer on the previous bus. We have something to eat and Tom comes up with a genius idea to sit on the roof, I think there i no chance of us being allowed but amazingly the conductor says we can. We think he is just happy he has two more seats he can cram people into. We grab our bags and climb up on the roof, there is so much space and it is nice to be able to stretch out, but on the other hand we have to sit on metal bars which are pretty uncomfortable but it is still much better than being inside.

The views from the top are amazing and we also manage to get a bit of a tan sitting on the roof, although it doesn’t feel too hot, because of the breeze my thermometer is totally off the scale and read about 65 degrees Celsius.

I decide to have a look on my laptop for some information on Kathmandu, but I turn it on and the screen has been smashed, so being in a foul mood after travelling in conditions I wouldn’t even subject cockroaches to, I am now really annoyed.  After about 280km and about 9 hours on the bus we think we are almost there when suddenly the traffic turns to gridlock and we are barely moving as the ridiculously overloaded trucks try and climb the mountain. The last 20km of the journey take about 3 hours and as we work our way up we come across truck after truck that has overheated and is causing the traffic to be worse and worse. None of the vehicles handbrakes seem to work and they all have to stick rocks under the back wheels to stop them rolling backwards, but on the way up we see several trucks which have rolled back and crashed into the cliff side or in one case into someone's house which had only just stopped it falling of the edge of the cliff.

Further up we see a truck that has actually driven clean of the edge of the cliff, somehow managing to squeeze through the bollards lining the edge of the road and fallen about 400 foot down the side of the mountain.

When we get up to where it has come of we find 3 guys trying to winch it back up just using a couple of hand winches and some poles to wedge the cable in the drain. Just after this the traffic finally clears and we have a clear road into Kathmandu. Just as we arrive we see some clouds coming in and it looks like in the distance there is some serious rain. We are dropped at the bus station and first things first we need to get some money as we only have 15 Indian Rupees between us. We then decide to find a cyber cafe to locate a hostel as all the ones nearby seem to be very expensive for what they are. We find  a hostel on Lonely Planet and go to try and find it, but as we step out of the cafe we realise it is absolutely tipping it down accompanied by huge lightning strikes and claps of thunder. The taxi quotes us 300R for the journey to hotel which we think sounds very excessive, although we are still working in Indian Rupees which are 67 to the pound whereas Nepali Rupees are 109 to the pound, so it’s actually not that bad. We jump in and he takes us to the Thamel area of Kathmandu where the hotel is located. Along the way it is still raining hard and the rubber from the guys windscreen wipers is non existent and the windscreen is steaming up like anything. I have no idea how he could see anything an we actually come within inches of smashing into a railing on the side of the road because he just can’t see anything. We finally get to the Thamel and are glad to see that everything is much busier and there are many more tourists around, as the area we came from nobody spoke very good English and nothing was written in English, unlike India. It was nothing like I had expected, but this is obviously the area to be. Our driver had no idea where the hotel was so we ended up just getting out. We had no chance of finding the hotel so ended up getting a room for 400R(£3.70) and going to find some food. We are recommended a local Nepali restaurant, so decide to give that a go and have a rice dish with some chicken and a couple of sauces and also a local Nepali beer called Gorkha. The food is nice, but the chicken barely has any meat on it and is full of bones, so seems a little odd. We have been sat on a table with a French guy who tells us that the Nepalese actually eat the whole chicken including all the bones, which explains it. We get an early night as we have been travelling for 24 hours non stop and plan to sort out our activities tomorrow.

India Round Up

on Tuesday, 30 March 2010

So we have now finished 1 month already and time has just flown by, it seems like only the 2 weeks we had originally planned to spend here. I totally underestimated the size and just how much there is to see and we only ended up seeing a small selection of cities. You could spend 6 months here easily and still not see anywhere near everything. The differences were huge, on one street you could walk down and see families camped out by the side of the road, with only a sheet and rubbish everywhere. Five minutes down the road we would walk past a Rolls Royce show room. Down in the south and further up in Rajasthan the heat could be unbearable, but then up in Kashmir there was snow and you could actually ski. The most amazing thing was just how chaotic everything was and how they seemed to have developed the most complicated way of doing things, there washing being one of them. The roads were amazingly bad and the Indian people just have absolutely no patience, no concept of queuing and in a lot of cases but not all, no manners. The hassle was sometimes annoying when you were tired or felt ill, but in general was just a bit of fun as long as you could resist and even though we tried so many different get out clauses they always used to have an answer. In the end sometimes you would just have to walk off and blank them to get away. The highlights for myself was obviously the Taj Mahal which does unlike most things live up to the hype, and also the Golden temple in Amritsar, some reason the people there just seemed more polite and friendly, I came to the conclusion that it was down to the religion and that the Sikhs were just more chilled out. Amritsar really was the highlight of India and was not even a place we had planned to visit. Their border change was a real highlight and is something that should definitely not be missed if you visit India. Although we have spent well over our planned budget, we have also done much more than we had expected, but I also feel that we have missed out on quite a bit too. India is definitely a country I will return to and as it is so cheap you could spend months here on very little money.

Highlight – Wagah Border ceremony

Lowlight – Delhi Belly

Comment of India - Tom - “Why don’t we try a Draw-t Kingfisher”

Funniest Moments -
  • Tom being nicknamed Air pig.
  • Me falling of the back of the boat and smashing into the outboard.

  • Seb's chat up line.

Our Last Day In India

We wake up at 8am, as Seb and Rob are leaving for Mumbai, so say our goodbyes. Today we had nothing planned until the afternoon, when we had to get the bus to the India/Nepal border. We lazed around all day, sitting in the hotel rooftop restaurant and just played a bit of poker with a few other people. It’s just not fun without money though! I take a few photos of the Ganges from the rooftop. We left the hotel at about 4pm, intending to catch the 7 o'clock bus, we thought the bus station was about an hour rickshaw ride away. We jump in to the most beaten up rickshaw you have seen, with parts falling off all over it and we have the worst rickshaw driver so far, he is absolutely mental, weaving in and out of people and even driving down the wrong side of the road. It only takes about 20 minutes, probably because of his ridiculous driving, but luckily there is a bus about to leave so we jump on that left at 5:00am. This is the worst bus ride so far by far, as it is on a public bus and the roads are absolutely dreadful! For 10 hours we don’t sleep at all and although the bus is pretty empty, so we can lye down, it is so bumpy that every 5 minutes you would literally jump two foot of your seat and crash back down on the lightly padded seats. We were going to be battered and bruised by the time we arrive at the border.

Varanasi, The Ganges And Some Burning Corpses

on Monday, 29 March 2010

So, we had expected to arrive in Varanasi at 11:30am, but by the time we arrived it was actually almost 2:00pm. The trains over this side of India have been very unreliable. We arrive at the station and I have heard that along with Agra, Varanasi is one of the worst places for hassle. We walk out of the station followed by several touts trying to sell us rickshaw or taxi rides, as we walk out we meet a couple of English lads also getting the same treatment and they recommend a hostel they have found in the Lonely Planet guide book and we share a rickshaw to the hotel for 60R. So 4 of us cram into the rickshaw with all our bags and off we go with our driver Pillow Panda. Because the alleys are so narrow down by the river, we have to get out and walk about 2km to the hotel through a maze of little alleys. The hotel is virtually on the bank of the Ganges right next to the Manikarnika Ghat, the main burning Ghat in Varanasi. We turn up at the hotel and decide we will all share a room, so we get a room for four, with air conditioning for 200R each. We drop our stuff and decide first things first to get our stuff posted, we are given a map of where to go, but soon realise this is not going to work as it seems to only show the main roads, not the maze of alleys. We eventually find the post office through a combination of luck and asking people every five minutes. Firstly we have to have our stuff packaged up, so we go across the street to a small shop and our stuff is wrapped in a cotton sheet and then knitted together with fishing line and some wax put on the joins, we think as a tamperproof seal. It costs 990R to send 1.250kg home and they say it will take about 3-4 weeks, we are told we could sent up to 10kg for only 2000R, so in hindsight we should have bought a load of cheap stuff and sent it back all in one go.

We get back to the hotel and have said we will go down to see the Ghats and have a boat trip along the river with our new roommates, Seb and Rob. We enquire about busses to Nepal and have two options, firstly we can get a coach to the border during the day and stay over night then get a coach to Kathmandu or we can get public coaches at night and stay the day at the border. We walk through the maze of alleys and luckily as we are so close we find our way to the bank of the ganges, coming out right next to the burning Ghat. They have four or five bodies burning and are given a little story about how they burn 200 to 250 bodies everyday and the ritual of washing and shaving the body and how the family have to pay a contribution and buy the wood for burning. Apparently they don’t burn, Holy men, pregnant women, animals, people with leprosy, people with cobra bites and children. We see the flame that has apparently been burning for 3500 years, and expect a big bowl with a flame or something, but instead it’s just a couple of smouldering logs on a wall.

We meet a couple of French Canadians Daphne and Maude, Maude’s name is pronounced Mould though and we all agree to share the cost of a boat trip and agree a price of 200R for the 6 of us. To be fair the boat trip is pretty boring and we see none of the Ganges dolphins or any dead bodies floating by.

By the time we are finished it is pretty dark and we have to walk back through the dark alleys being careful where we tread. Everyone is up for a few drinks so we go up to the roof top restaurant for a Kingfisher which soon turns into five and we get some drinking games going with our room mates, the French girls, and an American guy. Our budget flys out the window and we end up  with a bill of over 500R each. Our hotel seems to have a lot more tourists than anywhere else we have stayed, and we have realised that the lonely planet is the way everyone decides where to stay so from now on we will be using our lonely planet guide to find hostels.

Our Early Morning Visit To The Taj

on Sunday, 28 March 2010

We had been told by numerous sources that the best time to visit the Taj Mahal was early in the morning, so that’s what we did. We were up at 5:30am to get ready, aiming to be there at 6:00am, it was hard work getting up so early, but you have got to make the effort. I have been bitten really bad on my feet and legs the night before, because of the river near the Taj Mahal they are out in force, I literally have about 15 bites on each foot! We had decided to walk as it was only 5 minutes, although there was a free electric rickshaw ride there, we didn’t want the hassle from the guides wanting to show us round. We get to the east gate entrance, and there is already quite a few people queuing, luckily the men’s queue is considerably shorter than the women's and it only takes 5 minutes to get through the security and inside. We walk through the courtyard and through the gate to where the Taj Mahal is. It really is as impressive as everyone says and definitely worth the extortionate foreigner entrance fee. We take a few photos from the typical positions, but even this early there is hundreds of people, so it’s hard to find a good shot. We go and have a look a bit closer and see the two huge marble coffins inside where the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan and his wife Mumtaz Mahal are buried. Apparently it was built for her, by him and he also had planned to build an identical one but in black marble for himself. They started building the year after her death and it took over 20 years to build. Shah Jahan was overthrown shortly after completion by his son and could only view the Taj Mahal from house arrest in Agra fort. The inside is pretty basic with just some small rooms surrounding the main room, we make our way back down the garden and take a few more photos, but there is even more people now, so we decide to make a move.

We have a little stop for breakfast at an extortionately priced restaurant and then visit Agra fort. The entrance fee for the fort is 250R and if I am honest it is a bit of a let down. Compared to the Amber fort it is nowhere near as good and much more expensive, also some parts are closed for renovation. There is a good view of the Taj Mahal from the fort, but the heavy smog make it just a outline in the distance

We have finished by 11 o'clock, although it feels much later, because of our early start. We return to the hotel and chill out, waiting for our train to Varanasi at 11:30pm. Our last stop in India, before we enter Nepal, where has the time gone, 4 weeks already! I leave you with my favourite photo of the Taj Mahal with a bit of HDR added.

First Day In Agra

on Saturday, 27 March 2010

We have a bit of a lye in on our first day in Agra and decide to just chill out and do the attractions tomorrow. We start of by going to get our tickets for the Taj Mahal, which are 750R each, a lot of money, but it’s got to be done. As we are walking down the road a rickshaw driver pulls up beside us and starts trying to take us somewhere, we decline in every possible way but he just follows us for about a mile down the road, until eventually we decide to go and check out the local golf course, on the way we have our first accident in a rickshaw, when our driver hits a cyclist, fortunately it is not bad and he is ok. Although the course is absolutely empty, without a single person playing they want 700R for 9 holes, which seems a bit steep and they won’t budge on the price, so we decide to not bother. We end up having a look around town and doing a bit of shopping, we try to post some stuff home, but the first stop India post, tell us we have to come back on Monday, for what reason we don’t really understand. We also stop off at DHL, but initially they want 4000R(£60), it comes down to 3400R, but it’s still ridiculous, so we will now have to wait till Varanasi to try and send our stuff with India post who charge about 1000R. We get a fairly early night as we plan to visit the Taj Mahal at 6am tomorrow morning, apparently the best time!

A Day Of Travel

on Friday, 26 March 2010

Today we had a day of train journeys ahead of us, going from Amritsar to New Delhi and then changing and continuing to Agra. Instead of paying the 40R to get a rickshaw to the station, we thought we would be smart and walk it. After attempting to take a short cut through the maze of winding alleys and getting completely lost in the darkness. Our train was at 6:30am, after about 30 minutes of walking around, we give up and decide to get a cycle rickshaw, we negotiate it for 30R(45p) for the journey. We jump on with our rucksacks and the bloke starts pedalling and quickly gets up some decent speed, it takes 15 minutes to get to the station and the poor bloke is absolutely shattered. The bikes are old things with no gears, it must be one of the hardest jobs there is, I feel a bit bad that we battered the price down and so give him 40R. We get in the station and our train to New Delhi is due at 6:30am, but we quickly find out it is delayed. After about an hour and a half of waiting Tom goes to check what is going on and is told the train is waiting on platform 4 and not 5 where we had expected it, he rushes back to where I am waiting on the platform just as the train is pulling away and says the train is leaving. We grab our bags and run down the platform after the train, but are told by the guard not to jump on. We stand on the platform and think we have missed our train, as we are standing there a guard comes over and checks our reservation and luckily it was not our train and ours is actually the next one coming in. We have an AC chair car and end up watching 3 films for the first journey to Delhi, thanks to the carriage having power points. We arrive at New Delhi station, which is huge, with 16 platforms, at about 5 o'clock, with our connecting train leaving at 5:30pm. We get on the next train expecting a 3 hour journey to Agra, we have the same AC chair carriage, but an added extra on this carriage is that it is full of cockroaches, climbing all over us. After 5 hours on this train we finally arrive in Agra and get a rickshaw to a hotel near the Taj Mahal. We finally arrive and get checked in to a hostel 500m from the Taj Mahal at 11pm. So we have been on the road for about 18 hours and are absolutely shattered. We have 2 days in Agra before leaving for Varanasi on the evening of the 28th.

The Amazing Wagah Border Ceremony

on Thursday, 25 March 2010

We arrived at Amritsar station at about 3:30am, brilliant! We end up getting a rickshaw to a hostel we have found, but they want 1200R, so we give it a miss. We walk through the golden temple complex and there is hundreds of people sleeping around the temple and loads of people going in. We try a few hostels but they want us to pay for the rest of that night and also the next night, which we don’t want to have to. In the end, we are going to just camp out and not bother with a hostel for that night, but then we come across a place that will do us a 24 hour stay for 650R and as we are leaving at 6:30am, this works out perfect, so we get the rest of tonight and the next night for the same price or less than most other places wanted. We get a few hours sleep, but as we are only here for one day and we want to visit the Golden Temple and the Wagah border ceremony, we can’t sleep in too much. First things first we go about organizing our trip to the border crossing. We are given two options, one is to have a taxi take us and also stop at a couple of temples and a water park for 400R each or a shared minibus to the border and back for 75R each. We decide as we haven’t got much time anyway we will just take the shared minibus ride, which I think seems pretty cheap for a 60km round trip.

Next we decide to check out the Golden Temple, this is to Sikhs, what Mecca is to Muslims, and the place is constantly busy. Even better it is free and they also do free meals for everybody, although we didn’t try it. We have to leave our shoes outside and also wear a bandana to cover our hair. I can safely say this is the most impressive thing I have seen on this trip and imagine it will be on par with the Taj Mahal. The Temple is situated in the middle of a large pond with a walkway joining it to the outer square. Apparently the temple is made of 750kg of gold, I’m not sure what the price of gold is at the moment, but that must be a hell of a lot of money in the 10’s of millions of pounds. We take some photos from the outside, and decide not to go inside as the queue is absolutely massive.

We have a couple of hours spare so have a bit of food and use a internet cafe opposite the temple entrance, while we wait for our minibus to the border at 3:30pm.

We go and catch the minibus which is basically a Mitsubishi Supercarry with some seats in the back. We arrive and there are already four Indians in the back, we are told to get in the front. We jump in but I am half sitting on the drivers seat with the gear stick wedged against my leg, I think surely this cannot be right he can’t drive like this, and with space for two people still in the back, Tom is about to get in the back when the bloke turns up with two more passengers, now we have 8 of us to get in. The other two passengers, a couple of Canadians jump in the back and the driver tells me to straddle the gear stick, with my foot almost on the clutch. So for 45 minutes I have to sit in the middle of two seats with my arms in the air and just hoping the bloke doesn’t have to put it in reverse. Now i know why it was only 75R each!

We arrive at the border and there isn’t really any information about where to go, we are convinced to sit down and are told it doesn’t start for an hour and a half, and we don’t need to go straight in. We sit and watch as people start going in and see several tourist going in, so decide to go in ourselves. I have read that there is a part reserved for tourists, but as we walk in there is no signs or guidance by any of the numerous guards, apart from a women's and a men's section, so we end up going with everyone else. We think we have fairly good seats right at the front of the grandstand, shortly after we start seeing the tourists come in and go into their own little section, but we can’t be bothered to get up and move, so stay where we are. The Indian side fills up very quickly and gets unbelievably cramped and our view is soon made a lot worse with people standing in front of us, not to mention we are sitting on concrete and it is absolutely sweltering. We are sitting there over an hour before the ceremony begins, with just loud music, people dancing in the middle of the border area and school children charging up and down towards the Pakistani side with Indian flags. Eventually the ceremony starts and the man with the microphone starts some chants going and jeering up the crowd. By which time there is more people on the Pakistani side and they have their own music and chanting going on. Once the crowd are all worked up the guards come out and the ceremony starts with each of the guards being given the microphone and just giving the longest shout possible, after which they look like they are about to pass out and then they march really quickly up towards the border gate.

They continue with the shouting and then starts the high kicking and generally trying to intimidate each other on each side of the border. We can’t really see the Pakistani side, but it seems they are doing the same sort of thing. This continues for about half an hour, with the gate opening and closing several times and finally finishes with both sides hoisting and lowering their flags together. This really is a weird ceremony, but so far one of the highlights of the trip for me, a definite must see if you are in the area. They perform the ceremony every day at about 6pm, and it is free to watch, just make sure you get in the tourist section if you want a good view, or in the Indian section for the atmosphere. With the ceremony over, everybody rushes out and it turns into a huge stampede, we push through and quickly get back to our minibus, luckily we are first and get in the back for the return trip.

We get back to Amritsar and decide we will have another visit to the Golden Temple and see if we can have a look inside. We get in and it is almost as busy as it was in the middle of the day, we decide we will queue anyway. A lot of the people stop and kneel at the entrance and kiss it for, in some cases quite along time. Inside there is constant chanting, almost the complete inside is covered in gold, with a huge chandelier in the middle. We have a quick look around and then leave, getting an early night for our train at 6:30am to Delhi and then transfer to another train to Agra, a total journey of about 13 hours and this time during the day in seats, not beds. Can’t wait!

The Best Part of Kashmir… Leaving

on Wednesday, 24 March 2010

We have to be up early in the morning to make our way to Amritsar. We are up at 5:30am and get ready, before having some breakfast, accompanied by a last ditch attempt by Hasan to make an exchange of one carpet and one scarf for his iPod touch. Eventually he gets the point that there is no chance we are parting with our iPods for some cheap scarf and bit of carpet. He tells us, he will be taking us to the bus stop, it doesn’t start well when he says “There is little problem with car” and we have to bump start it for him. It only takes about 15 minutes to get to the bus stop, he says stay in the car while he finds the bus, while there sounds like there is a riot going on outside, this makes us a little uncomfortable, but he returns and guides us to the minibus. The minibus is only half full, but they are desperately trying to encourage other people who have just turned up at the bus stop to use their service. We eventually leave with about three seats free, unfortunately it is early morning and some how the window has fallen out of the minibus, fortunately it doesn’t smash, but they don’t bother putting it back in and the wind-chill is freezing, not to mention there is a blind man on the bus who is chanting really loudly. We have an eight hour journey ahead of us and are not happy! Thankfully about 10 minutes into the journey they stop and replace the window so at least we are not freezing. The next problem though is the driver is an absolute nutcase, the bus keeps braking sharply as he attempts to overtake but soon realises he has no chance of getting past before the truck coming the other way hits us head on, so he slams on the brakes and drops in behind the other vehicle. This is bad enough at the start, but once we get into the mountain roads, he is doing the same thing going down the roads at about 70mph, with 1000ft sheer drops alongside us. Along the way they are constantly stopping, trying to get anyone going the same to jump in and fill he empty seats. The road out of town and through the country is absolutely full of soldiers, there are men stationed every 100 yards down the road going for miles, soldiers camped out on top of buildings and soldiers checking under bridges with mirrors. We go through a tunnel through one of the mountains which is 2531m long and is basically just dug straight out with no lights or anything. The only entertainment along the way are more of there ridiculous road signs, which I made a note of and are listed below.

  • Drive like hell you’ll be there.
  • If married divorce speed.
  • This is a highway not a runway don't take off.
  • After whisky life is risky.
  • Life is short don’t make it shorter.
  • Speed is knife that cuts life.
  • Speed thrills but often kills.
  • Don’t be silly in the hilly.
  • Drive with care accident rare.
  • Drink and drive less survive.
  • Peep peep don’t sleep.
  • Save your life for your wife.
  • Be Mr Late not late Mr.
  • Don’t be rash or you will crash.
  • Happy minds make good roads.
  • Life is a journey complete it.
  • Haste makes waste.
  • Better late than never.
  • Roads are nerves of city keep them clean.

The scenery along the mountain roads is absolutely incredible, if they were better quality roads, I think Top Gear would be straight out here for a “Greatest roads challenge”.

We drive along the edge of the mountain with hardly any barriers along the way, with the river running down below. There is signs of landslides all the way along and people are actually repairing one stretch which had lost half the road. The size of some of the boulders at the bottom were just ridiculous, they make the giants marble look like a spec of sand. If anything the drive was the highlight of our trip to Kashmir sadly! Unfortunately the photos I got are pretty dreadful, due to being cramped in a tiny minibus and not being able to lean out the window for fear of being hit by the vehicles travelling within inches in the opposite direction. I just wished I had my video camera on me.

After about eight and a half hours we are dropped in Jammu city and are back on our own again, it has got so much hotter in the 300km we have travelled. In fact from being freezing this morning, it is now hotter than it has been, my thermometer has gone off the scale and is now reading about 55 degrees Celsius. We finally find an internet cafe to crash in and find we are a bit interesting as we have people visiting the shop to have their picture taken with us. We decide to walk to the station where our train to Amritsar leaves at 9:25pm and stop off for a pizza along the way. The train will be arriving in Amritsar very early morning as it is a short journey, so I have no idea what we are going to do when we arrive. This time we are in AC3 which is still 3 tier sleeper carriages like the sleeper carriages we have had before, but includes air con and some refreshments. If I am honest it is not much different and definitely not worth the extra money.

These Vans Were Made For Walking

on Tuesday, 23 March 2010

We were up at 7am and amazingly Hasan comes in at 8am and says our breakfast is ready and that the car is outside waiting. We eat the toasted naan bread and boiled eggs and go out to get the jeep. Firstly we stop off to get my passport which I happily receive back and we begin the 2 hour journey to Sonamarg. Along the way they have come up with some ingenious catchphrases for road safety, including “Be Mr Late Not Late Mr”, “Don’t be rash or you will crash” and “Life is a journey complate it”. We have been promised clothing and as much food and drinks as we could need, also donkeys for when we get a bit tired. We stop a little earlier than we had expected and the road signs say it’s still about 10km to Sonamarg, we get out and our guide who is a 70 year old man greets us outside his house wearing about 8 layers and with some smart leather shoes which he is going to climb in.

Apparently we will climb the mountain, on the other side of the road. Although whether it could be classed as a mountain I am not sure, more than likely it would be a hill. There is no sign of any clothing or donkeys or anything, so Tom is going up in jeans and plimsolls, luckily it is quite warm and a jumper is actually not necessary. Our driver gives the guide a bag which has our lunch in it, which is the same rubbish we had the day before in the boat, stale jam sandwiches, more boiled eggs, tangy tomato crisps and some biscuits. We only have one bottle of water that we have brought with us from the houseboat. We start climbing and it is quite steep and rough ground, it doesn’t look like many people have climbed this mountain. We stop about every 10 minutes for little breaks where our guide makes weird screeching noises, to notify us we are stopping, we think more than likely the stops are just to waste as much time as possible. When we finally reach near the top, which our guide says is about 4000m, although we have not climbed anywhere near that because we were already at 2740m above sea level in Sonamarg.

The air is thin and it is pretty tiring climbing up here, we keep thinking the top is very close, but there always seems to be another bit you can’t see afterwards. We finally reach a flattish part and the guide says we can’t go any high because of the thin air and that it would be dangerous. We take a little rest at the top and then start our descent back down, which is hard in itself not to slip on the loose ground. Most of the way down our guide is hinting about a tip, we are a bit annoyed that we didn’t get what we were promised, but that was not the guides fault. He invites us into his home and gives us some Kashmir tea and bread, we give him a tip of 200R and leave for the journey back. I ask the driver if there is any water in the car because I am so dehydrated, apparently there is none so we have to stop of along the way and buy some. So much for everything we could possibly need would be provided! We plan to complain and try and get some money back, but I am not holding out much hope.

Our Shikara Trip On Dal Lake

on Monday, 22 March 2010

We were up fairly early, expecting our boat trip of the lake to begin at about 10am. I am relieved to wake up feeling much better after feeling worse than I have ever done before. Hassan arrives with some breakfast of boiled eggs and toast and jam, and says our boat trip won’t actually start till about 11am. After breakfast he brings in his bag full of scarves and carpets, that we have to politely browse and then decline, he is very worried about us telling anyone that he is trying to sell us anything and swears us to secrecy. We are shown to our boat and the owner is apparently eighty years old, although he doesn’t look this old. We are slowly paddled around the lake and down some rivers, we had expected to be shown some sights, but rather we just get hassle from people trying to sell us clothes, flowers and seeds. Parts of the river are heavily polluted and the smell is just unbelievable, we see several dead animals slowly rotting in the water. We have to stop at a local honey shop, which according to the owner Mick Jagger visited, I am somewhat sceptical of that. Tom tastes some of the honey, including Cannabis and Opium honey, obviously we don’t want to buy any and Tom finally conveys to the woman that we are not interested. We have a bit of lunch on the boat, including more boiled eggs and stale jam sandwiches, then return back to the houseboat. We had not had as much time as we had expected but were relieved to get off because we were not really seeing much. We have dinner back at the houseboat where I query Hasan on my passport which I have still not received back from Mustafa our tour guide, which is a bit worrying. He also has said we are being collected at 10 o’clock tomorrow morning for our trekking, when we had expected to be picked up at 8am. He says he will see what he can do and he says he will get us breakfast at 8am, I am not very confident in us starting any earlier and we will probably still be waiting around till 10am

The Delhi Belly Strikes

on Sunday, 21 March 2010

Last night the stomach problems, which we have so far avoided so well, struck. I was up all night with vomiting and Diarrhoea every hour or so, and barely slept. We were being picked up from the room at 9am and I didn’t know whether I could hack the flight to Srinagar. I am guessing it was the chicken I had eaten the night before, which we were overcharged for. Then the guy tried to short change Tom in the morning twice, so steer clear of S.P.G in New Delhi. We were collected promptly at 9am and taken to Delhi airport, I felt like I was constantly about to be sick and was aching all over and totally knackered after not much sleep. We arrived at check in and went through security, just as our plane is called I realise I have left my fleece back at check in. I go back and have a look, but it is long gone, so we are late for the plane and I have lost my fleece, just as I will actually need it in the Himalayas. We are some of the last people on the plane and when we get to our seats which have been taken by other people, we question what is going on and they tell us to sit in other seats, not where we were supposed to sit and not together. The flight is only one hour, but I have a man with a baby on his lap screaming and kicking me non stop, not too mention we will miss flying past K2 because we are now on the other side of the plane. The family are downright rude to be honest and we have realised although most are friendly a lot just don’t have any manners. So I have to put up with this baby screaming and them both whacking me in the arm every 5 minutes, while I feel absolutely dreadful. We arrive at Srinagar airport and are met by one of the guys we met in the tour office, so everything looks legit, which is a relief. The security around the airport looks pretty high, with soldiers and checkpoints everywhere, we have to fill in some forms and are then driven to our house boat on the lake.

It looks very chilled out and it seems like a totally different country to the rest of India, the view from our bedroom window is pretty impressive, and the whole town is surrounded by mountain ranges.

We are met by Hasan, who is going to look after us for the 3 nights we are on the boat. He brings us biscuits and green tea and starts chatting to us about Kashmir. He gives us suggestions on where to go, unfortunately the highest golf course in the world is under snow, so we won’t be having a round there and also the area with the highest gondola in the world is covered in snow, although you can ski there, which seems ridiculous considering yesterday it was 40 degrees. We have not decided what we will do while here yet, but as I still feel pretty tired and ill, we chill out for the afternoon and wait for our tour operator to come explain in a bit more detail what we can do. We end up getting a phone call saying we should go to his office to discuss our trips while in Srinagar. We are offered quite a few options varying from £76 to £229, the trips we can do are visit a ski resort, do some trekking to the golden temple, could be done over several days and a river boat cruise viewing the local sights. We end up settling on the river boat cruise tomorrow as I am still feeling a bit dodgy and a day trek to the golden mountain the following day, without staying a night on the mountain, we felt we would have plenty of time for longer term trekking in Nepal. We also give the skiing a miss because we just don’t have the time left, we are already going to go over the time we had planned.

One Day In Delhi

on Saturday, 20 March 2010

So, after our nightmare of a train journey and being completely lost in Delhi at night, in what must have been the roughest parts of the city. We have a bit of a lye in, in the worst room we have stayed in to date, and the worst shower ever. We have decided to have a chilled out day in Delhi and see the sights on our return trip to Delhi from Amritsar, so decide to just go chill in an internet cafe, as we have all our bags after having to check out. Walking down the street, which is the very traveller orientated area of Delhi, we get the constant drug offers as we walk down the street, with the usual introductory question of “Where are you from?”, except for one blokes introduction, which was “Nice beard”! After an hour of sitting in the internet cafe we get bored and decide to go book our ticket from Amritsar back to Delhi. We get to the station and at first somebody tells us to go inside, but then are told we have to go to a reservation centre 2km away. Straight away I am wondering what is going on here and have read that scams are quite common taking you to tour offices to book the trains. The bloke is quite forceful in trying to get us to go in the rickshaw which makes me even more suspicious, and I tell him to leave us alone. We start to leave and meet the first bloke again and he asks whether we have booked the ticket or not, it seems there was a bit of a misunderstanding and the booking office inside only takes bookings for the next day, and you have to go elsewhere for bookings further ahead than that. He convinces us to go in the rickshaw to the apparent booking office for Delhi tourism or Incredible India. We get there and it is a small shop, the bloke inside speaks very good English and says that there is no available trains from Amritsar to Delhi for at least a week and also that our ticket to Amritsar is not a sleeper ticket but a seat ticket. There is no way we are going to do what we did last night for 12 hours. I am really unsure of what is happening anyway and think it is just a big scam to get us to book something different. He offers us a itinerary which involves, one night in a luxury hotel in Delhi including breakfast and a half day tour of the city, a flight to Srinagar, right up north in Kashmir, with 3 nights staying on a house boat on the lake, then a jeep ride to Jammu City and a train to Amritsar, then trains from Amritsar to Agra and Agra to Varanasi. This for £170, I am very cynical of what he is saying and he keeps bringing out testimonials and photos and even offers to ring somebody on one of the tours, which if anything starts to make me even more suspicious. Eventually we book the tour but I am still unsure whether it is kosher or not. We are driven to the hotel, to drop off our stuff before starting the tour, the hotel is much better than we are used to and has wifi, so first thing first I try and get some information on the tour company we have booked with, I only find one blog from somebody who says they were equally cynical but had booked a £1000 tour of India through the same company and had, had a great time. This puts my mind at ease a bit, but we will just have to see if we have any problems.

Our tour of the city starts with a trip to the place where Ghandi was living when he was assassinated.

It has been turned into a museum and amazingly it was free. Next was India Gate and the parliament building.

Lastly we visited yet again another temple, this was a huge place and we had something to eat while a young Indian boy practiced his English on us and was actually better than most people we have met.

That was our half day tour finished, unfortunately we were not able to visit the Red Fort as it was too far away and in the opposite direction. We are dropped off back at our hotel and are going to be picked up at 9am for our flight to Srinagar with Jet Airways, we wait to see whether we will be picked up. We chill out in the room and catch up on uploading some photos for the evening. Sitting in the room I have just checked the foreign and commonwealth travel advice for India, which states only essential travel to Srinagar and generally steer clear of Kashmir. I am not sure what we are doing but what’s the worst that can happen, apart from being blown up.

The Amber Fort, Jaipur

on Friday, 19 March 2010

Our second day in Jaipur was spent visiting, what is probably the main attraction in the city, The Amber Fort. We thought we were being picked up by Papi in the morning at 9:30am, but at about 9am we get a knock on our hotel room and Papi is there with his brother who is apparently taking us to the fort. It takes about 30minutes to reach the fort. Along the way we pass an unfortunate man whose cocunut trolley has fallen over going through a big pothole.

There is elephant rides available in front of the fort, but it’s not very interesting, just travel about 1km down the road and then back the same way.

We decide we will save the elephant ride for when we can ride one in a more interesting setting. We have had to check out and bring our rucksacks with us, we get to the fort and don’t know whether to take them with us or not, our driver convinces us not and I take a photo of his number plate just in case. We get inside and there is a entry charge of 150R each, quite a reasonable charge considering the amount we have paid for much lesser attractions. The fort is a huge maze of weird rooms and tunnels going all over the place, we got pretty lost several times, there is also some underground caves they used to move around secretly and for escaping, you can only walk along one small section, but we where lucky to find it, because it’s not very obvious.

The whole place is very confusing and a guide would probably come in quite useful here. The path leading up to the fort is lined by some weird people, including lots of people with weighing scales, I have no idea why and a man with a cow, with a leg growing out of its head. We spend about 2 hours in the fort and then return back down to the bottom to get our rickshaw back to the hotel.

We stop off briefly at a internet cafe, then decide to go explore the city, I have a look at the thermometer and it is reading 50 degrees Celsius. We spot a Pizza hut and pop in to get out of the heat, we end up ruining the budget and eating here, mainly because it’s air conditioned and we don’t have to lug our bags around. We then head to the train station to catch our train to Delhi, while there we book our ticket from Delhi to Amritsar leaving tomorrow. The train is supposed to be due at 4:30pm but doesn’t arrive till 5:15pm, so we are going to be even later arriving in Delhi at 10:30pm with nowhere booked to stay! We get on the train and people don’t seem to be sitting in the correct seats, but Tom takes a spare seat and I take one of the upper beds. Shortly after the train stops again and about 50 other people rush into the carriage, now in a carriage for 8 there are 27 people, and Tom comes up and sits on the top bunk with me after getting abuse down the bottom.

This is going to be an absolutely nightmare for 5 hours. We finally get to what we think is New Delhi train station and after barging our way through the crowd of people rushing on before anyone has got off, I finally manage to push through just before the train leaves. We walk outside the station and it seems to be in the strangest place and not at all as big as I had thought it would be. We walk through some alley ways and finally reach a main road. By this time it is past 11pm and oddly I can’t find a single hostel. We ask a rickshaw driver to take us to a hotel we have found on hostel hero that says it is 5 minutes from the railway station, but he wants 300R to take us. We don’t think so and carry on walking, until we see a policemen and he trys to arrange a taxi for us, but the taxi driver says there are only rooms for around 2000R. We carry on walking until we come to a security gate and they ask what we are doing, we say we want a hotel that’s close, they say there are no hotels here and we discover we got off at Delhi station and not New Delhi station. I don’t believe that there is no hotels at all and we carry on walking, until eventually we stop a rickshaw driver and ask him to take us to the hostel we found near New Delhi station. It takes about 20 minutes to get there and we actually only see one hostel on the way there. We arrive in a road with hundreds of places to stay and loads of travellers around, even though it is past midnight, we spot a hostel that we had read about and go to have a look. It looks reasonable at first sight and we are just so knackered we can’t be bothered looking around, we get it for 300R for the one night we are staying. When in the room we realise part of the window is missing, the mattress is absolutely disgusting, the TV power cable has just had the wires stripped and stuck in the hole, so they spark every time you move them, there is no head on the shower, so it is just a pipe with water pouring out and every time you flush the toilet loads of water pours out of the handle onto your hand. This is the worst to date!

Jaipur City Tour

on Thursday, 18 March 2010

We arrived in Jaipur at 6am after an 8 hour train journey from Udaipur. The train was slightly larger than the previous one we had got, with lightly more headroom which was nice. We had been warned that Jaipur was notorious for rickshaw drivers not taking you to the places you asked and instead taking you to a hotel where they got commission. We checked a few  hostels near the station but they were a bit too expensive, so we got a rickshaw to a hostel we had found on Hostel Hero that sounded quite good. Surprise, surprise we first end up at a different hostel than we had asked for, we tell him we are not interested and want to go to the place we had asked for. We get there and it is full, so we check out a few others in the area. While walking around we come across a young boy who has been tied to a post with a bit of reed and is trying to untie himself.

The cheapest we can find is 150R but it is a 10’x10’ box room with nothing but a bed and an outside toilet and bathroom. We have some local Indian breakfast there recommended by the waiter of chhola puri, which is some type of lentil and vegetable sauce with some naan type breads. We next head to another hostel we have found on hostel hero, and again it is full. We walk around trying  a few other places, but they are either too expensive (more than 300R) or full. We then meet a bloke who is going to show us a hostel for the right sort of money, the first one has a huge Rottweiler outside that almost bites Tom’s leg off, so we are already not too keen on the area, it is also way too expensive. The second is only half built with an outside toilet/shower just on a half built part. He then says he will take us to some others, we go look at these and they are also two expensive, but near the last one there are a few others which we check out and eventually end up going for a slightly better room for 350R. It is now past 10am and we have spent more than 4 hours walking around trying to sort out a hostel. We then get dragged into the obligatory city tour by the rickshaw driver, Papi for 300R for the afternoon, we get a shower and wait for him to return at midday. We ask him if we can first stop at the railway station to get our ticket to Delhi, the trip is only 4 and a half hours so we get seats for 100R (£1.50) each. The first stop on our tour is the city palace, there seems to be one in every city, the entrance fee was 300R(£4) each, a bit steep, but included camera fee and an audio guide of the palace.

When we actually get inside a lot of the areas are no photography, so I have to take some sneaky photos without the flash. We come into the main courtyard and there are two large silver jugs, apparently they are in the Guinness world record book for the largest solid silver items. Each one was made from 14,000 silver coins melted down and formed around a wooden mould.

In this room we start getting had over, firstly we are forced into having a henna tattoo on our hands, mine is a basic sort of pattern, but Tom’s ends up just being a big scribble which we have no idea what it was supposed to be, answers on a postcard please.

Then  comes the demand for money, Tom refuses and I give them a 50R note that has been covered in pink paint from a Holi party and nobody will let me use, I resent even giving them that for the mess they have put on my hand, which will take days to get rid of. Then comes the guards wanting photos, Tom has one taken and I decline, knowing what’s coming, again they want money, again Tom refuses. We have a look around the armoury, which is a no photography area, but I manage to get a few sneaky photos.

There are hundreds of guns, swords and daggers, including a couple of huge guns which must have been 4 metres long. We then get to the exit and there is a snake charmer with a cobra, I have a few photos taken stroking it and he puts it around my neck.

Then, you wouldn’t Adam and Eve it, he wants 500R, I knew there would be a request for money but I wanted to do it anyway. In the end I didn’t pay him anything, which was perhaps a bit stingy but after all the other requests for stuff I didn’t want I was a bit annoyed. There was an observatory, but there was an 100R admission fee and we thought you could see quite a lot without going in, whether there was more hidden away we don’t know but the entrance fees to get in 4 or 5 places, plus the rickshaw driver is taking us well over our budget. We drove through the pink city, which was just lots of shops, visited yet another lake palace and another temple, Ving temple, plus a  few other places, one of which we didn’t decide to pay to go in. We have decided that we will not be doing any more of these city tours, because they end up being very expensive with all the admission fees and once you have seen one temple, you have seen them all. From now on I think we will be researching the sights in the cities we are visiting and just do the ones we think are most interesting. We then had the usual trip to the block printing textile shop, and are again shown how to do it and they try and sell us more carpets and table cloths, then there is Jaipur Mall, we end up seeing the same tourists at each place, obviously being taken exactly the same way. Jaipur Mall is absolutely empty and most of the items in there are massive and also ridiculously expensive. There is a 4 million rupee silver swinging seat, and other huge bronze and marble statues, I have no idea why they would think we would buy anything, and I can’t imagine anyone except the King spending £58,000 on a chair.

We are the only people in the shop, fortunately the staff are not pushy and we just walk around for 10 minutes so our rickshaw driver can get his 20R commission. Next is a jewellery shop, this is even more unbelievable, us walking in, in shorts and flip flops and the bloke is trying to sell us necklaces with what must be 50 diamonds on it. We have McDonald's for lunch and then head to a festival that is on today, called Gangaur festival, we arrive at about 4:30pm and it is not due to start till 5:30pm. I decide to get some fruit from a local stall, you can’t just buy a single banana, you have to buy a 1kg, I then get roped into buying some oranges. So end up with about 8 bananas and 8 oranges for 70R(£1). The Oranges are actually green, but these are some of the nicest oranges I have ever had. We get a place on top of a building to view the parade, but the parade doesn’t actually end up starting till about 6:30pm, by which time we have had enough of the hassle on top of the building, not to mention the urine, faeces and used needles, so we decide to go down nearer to where the parade goes by. Like an absolute idiot, I have not bought another battery for my camera out with me, and the days sight seeing has used it all up. Therefore I am afraid there are no photos of the parade. It starts with some people dressed up in costume including 2 people dressed as dogs and being led along by another man.

This is followed by a couple of elephants all dressed up and painted faces, followed by a band and then about another 25 elephants and about 6 camels and a few horses. At the back there is another band and some old men carrying a shrine on their shoulders, as the shrine is carried past people start chucking coins into the procession, most missing the shrine and striking people in the face, it looks like fun so I through a couple, hitting the target with one. We then make it back to the hotel, but there are thousands and thousands of people all trying to get out and walking down the main road followed by a few maniacal motorcyclists swerving in and out of people. Through a bit of luck and a bit of help by a policeman we find our way back to the hotel, opting to walk as the rickshaws couldn’t move in the mass of people going down the road. Tomorrow we have booked a trip to the Amber Fort, and then leave for Delhi at 4:30pm. We have also decided to make the trip to Amritsar on the Indian/Pakistan border, so will only be staying in Delhi one night and then returning after our quick detour to see the golden temple and the Wagah border crossing ceremony.

Lazy Day In Udaipur

on Wednesday, 17 March 2010

Today we didn’t really do anything, just chilled out at the hotel, caught up with some photos, almost all are up now. Just watched some TV and caught up on the latest episode of 24 after spending the whole day downloading it, it’s getting good. his is the first day since we got here that we really haven’t done anything and it was a well needed rest. On the other hand it’s going so quickly we don’t really want to waste a day. We decided to go and find a restaurant to eat at tonight because the hotel food is pretty dreadful. We walk a little way up the road and it doesn’t look like we are going to find one. We ask a Tuk Tuk driver and he says there is one about 1km away, he initially wants 40R to take us, but we barter him down to 20R. We jump in and about 100m down the road we stop, bargain! This is a really nice restaurant and is much better than anywhere we have eaten before, waiters are smartly dressed in waistcoats and we think it is going to be astronomically expensive, it ends up being not much different than most other meals we have had. We have our sleeper train to Jaipur at 10:20pm tonight. So that is the end of our time in Udaipur.

Our Tour Of Udaipur

on Tuesday, 16 March 2010

Our second day in Udaipur we have booked a tour through the hostel we are staying at. We are up quite early as we are being collected by our tuk tuk driver at 10am. We have a bit of breakfast and go down to meet him. Our first stop is the train station, so we can book our ticket for Jaipur leaving tomorrow evening. Trying to book a train ticket every other time has been a nightmare, with us having to fill out a form which is far from simple. This time though the guy at the window is much more helpful and is able to show us what to fill in, along with the fact that it is much quieter and you can actually get to the front of the queue without endless Indians just barging in front of you. There are several other foreigner booking tickets to Jaipur in order to get to Amritsar, another possible destination on the list. The next stop is the lake hotels, one of which is the kings summer palace and one which was in the film Octopussy.

Apparently the rates for a room at these island hotels is about $5000 a night. The next stop was the City Palace, the entrance fee was 50R each and there was also a 200R camera fee, which I chose not to pay, as it seemed a bit steep. In hindsight I should have paid and we should have also got a guide. The palace is absolutely massive with loads of tunnels linking the oddest of rooms. There was some very impressive mirrored rooms, ceiling and floors as well and a lot of photo opportunities inside. Outside I could take some photos but they don’t show any of the inside.

The next stop was the statue of Maharana Pratap Smarak on his horse and also the hall of heroes museum.

Afterwards we visited a textiles warehouse where they showed us how to do block printing and we could have had a suit tailor made for £75-£150 in pretty much any style or fabric we wanted.

I think we will wait till Vietnam though for the suits. Then there was the Princes Garden, the outside was quite nice, but the fountain inside looked like none of the 10R everyone was paying to get in had been used to look after it.

The final place was the Bhartiya Lok Kala Museum, which had a huge collection of folk art, including masks and puppets and also included a puppet show.

All the places had small entrance fee costs and some also had camera charges, only about 5-10R each though. We then stopped off for some lunch and we got Usman our tuk tuk to drop us at a local Indian restaurant, where we had a tray of assorted food and breads for only 45R each, and they just kept bringing more and more.

That was the tour over, but our tuk tuk driver managed to convince us to go visit his shop, which we did and after Tom had bought himself a leather journal, which was bartered down from 450R to 360R(£5) we returned to the hotel. We had put some laundry in to be washed and thankfully that was back, because our towels had started to smell rather nasty! We had some food at the hotel, which to be fair, although the hostel is great, the food isn’t that good. We also find a leaflet in the hotel stating that a double economy room is only 39R(55p), Diamond deluxe room is 89R(£1.20) and a dorm 18R(25p), we are starting to think maybe we haven’t got such a great deal. How on earth a place can charge only 25p a night I don’t know. Tomorrow we plan on just chilling out and relaxing all day after quite an expensive day today, so we will get a well deserved lye in.