Trip In A Nutshell
It’s hard to put the trip into words of any sort of substance that can properly capture the experience; so much happened in so little time, and yet it was three weeks. So there will likely be a string of posts in the future, or posts touching on aspects of the trip to try to cover it in its entirety.
It all started with surprising everyone at the airport, and my favourite moments of the trip are tied: either the very beginning, with Gail recognizing Adam and I standing there to pick them up (rather than someone with a “WUNKER” placard), or at the very end, where Anne, Adam and I were sort of sprawled on the bed waiting til the 11:30pm pickup of Anne and David to the airport. From Dehradun Airport up to Mussoorie, then to Rishikesh, Haridwar and Amritsar; down to Delhi, off to Agra, Keolodeo National Park (formerly Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary), Ranthambhore National Park for New Year’s Eve, then Jaipur, Jodhpur, Ranakhpur, Kumbalgarh, and Udaipur… then back to Delhi, and off to the Andamans.
We saw Qutub Minar, the Taj Mahal, Fatehpur Sikri… but no tigers. We saw palaces and miniatures, camels and horses, birds and fish, monitor lizards and saltwater crocodiles. I evidently developed a fascination with doors while I was in Lucknow and kept hounding Adam to take pictures of doors wherever we were; I’ll be cleaning up the images and at some point posting a slideshow of the “Doors of Rajasthan”.
The sight-seeing was good, and our guides were mixed; there are so many different ways you can explore any particular site (historical, cultural, from an architectural view, an artistic view, even economic!), and most of our guides did a solid job of providing an equable view, not focusing too much on any one thing, and making sure they connected it to the other things we had seen or would be seeing. Some guides were better than others, but throughout the majority of it, we had two people with us always: Rajinder & Jasminder, otherwise known as Pannu and Sandy. Pannu was our driver, and Sandy his assistant (it seems pretty common in any sort of commercial driving enterprise), and they were with us from Delhi to Udaipur – and then again in Delhi, much to our surprise, to bring us to the airport. And again to pick us up from the Andamans!
The diving in the Andamans was good, and I would recommend it as a one-time visit; it wasn’t spectacular enough to make me want to go back again. The dozen bug bites I have on each leg from the mosquitos also don’t make me want to to wander back there any time soon, either! 🙂 I got to practice my Hindi (and wish I’d learned Bengali, in the Andamans); Claire got her elephant ride at Amer Fort, and it rained at least once a week for the entire trip, proving that monsoon is not the only time you get rain in India… just the majority time.