29 November 2010

Kathmandu - Nepal

Have been enjoying staying in the Thamel district of Kathmandu the past few days, which acts as home to the majority of tourists.  Here I have had the choice of not just Nepalese food, but also Indian, Chinese, Tibetan, etc, so its been great.  There is all kinds of shops lining the little streets ranging from the trekking gear to arts and crafts, so its been good to wander round and take it in.
Yesterday I took a walk through the older part of town to see Durbar Sqaure, which is around the old palace and has many traditional buildings.  Today I took the short walk west of town up to the Swayambhunath Stupa (more commonly known as 'monkey temple') to not only admire the temple but the view back over Kathmandu; luckily it was a nice clear day and the mountains were visible in the distance.

27 November 2010

India up to Nepal

Setting off early morning from Varanasi the plan was simple, get a bus upto Sunauli where the border crossing is located, cross in the evening before getting a night bus over to Kathmandu.
In reality this turned into a much longer bus journey I had hoped for, passing through the fields of India took most of the day on the government bus and by the time i reached the border it was pretty late. So i cut my losses and stayed in a small guest-house here.
I was up early in the morning though, and with a few stamps of a passport and a few american dollars handed over for a visa i was in Nepal.
So another day of travel was ahead of me before my destination, the journey was more hours than I would have hoped for, but this was no problem as there were infinite stops along the way to buy bag fulls of fruit or whatever snacks the locals were selling.  And there was also the scenery, which started off with fields of lush green, before crossing rivers and weaving through the bottoms of the mountains.  By nightfall I had arrived in Kathmandu, the capital of Nepal.

25 November 2010

Varanasi & the Ganges - India

Here are some of the sights along the Ganges in Varanasi, got a boat along it this morning to see the sunrise, aswell as last night to watch the nightly puja (prayers to the river) ceremony

24 November 2010

Varanasi - India

After recovering some more from my bout of illness, i have took in the epic scenes along the River Ganges yesterday and today.  The series of ghats (steps down to the Ganges) run right the way along the stretch of river in the town, here people come to bathe and wash in the river, aswell as to be cremated on the burning ghats or even buried in the river.  Which is pretty unreal to observe, the town itself busy with hussle and bustle, aswell as a bad smell from all th waste getting washed into the river!
Off to visit some of the temples tomorrow, as Varanasi is home to literally thousands of temples; due to its spiritual nature.

21 November 2010

Amritsar - India

I arrived in Amritsar and headed straight for the Golden Temple, which is the main temple for the Sikh religion.  Here people are able to stay and be fed for free, so i stayed in the room designated for foreigners.  I then took in the wonderful Golden Temple itself which is surrounded by a moat called the Pool of Nectar, and then further buildings around it which are lit up at night.
So I was glad to be back in India, but unfortunately that night I had a bout of the 'delhi belly' and was rather sick indeed; have been recovering today, and got a train ticket to Varanasi.

19 November 2010

Pakistan - India Border

Had no troubles crossing over into India today, it was a easy little bus ride to the border, then breezed through Pakistani customs and exit, walked through the big gates past the flags, and got stamped into India, my home for the next 3 months!

17 November 2010

Lahore - Pakistan

     Well after the amount of travelling recently I have enjoyed winding down for the rest of the week here in Lahore.  Have walked around the old city; which is a total maze of shopkeepers and traders; to see the old Fort, which despite looking abit worse for were was pleasant to visit.  Badshahi Mosque is next to the fort and has the largest mosque courtyard in the world where people congregate outside.  Aswell as seeing the sights I had the chance to do some shopping here and invest in a Shalwar Kameez, which is a tradional pakistani outfit of a long cotton shirt and baggy pants, I have to say it is very comfortable and is like wearing pyjamas allday long.

There is so much choice for the street food here in Lahore, and I have enjoyed lots of spicy dhal, biryani, chicken curry, rotis and naan breads.
Today is much quiter in Lahore as it is the 'Eid-ul-Adha' festival, which is the feast of sacrifice, so there have been goat skins around the streets today after people have feasted on them.

14 November 2010

Multan - Pakistan

After setting a record of about 48 hours bus travel in 3 days I was more than glad to arrive in Multan.  And evan happy when my friend insisted I stay with him, so spent the evening recovering and having a well deserved shower.
I then had the job of meeting his family which was huge with aunties; uncles; cousins etc, and included endless handshakes and 'salaam's to them.  It happened to be a family friends wedding that day and I was delighted to be invited to the food ceremony of the wedding that night.  It has to have been the most bizarre meal I have ever been to, with men sat in 1 room and women another, we sat and waiting until the room and tables were full.  Then they served rice and mutton and chicken curries which everyone stuffed their faces with for about 15 minutes, and then just got up and left!
Have met more of my friends family today and had a look around some of the shops.

 Their pets included spray painted little chicks! And here is me with 1 of the local shopkeepers
Getting bus to Lahore tomorrow

Iran to Pakistan

Well after an overnight bus from Kerman in Iran to the border, the crossing over to Pakistan was easy enough at customs, the trouble then was having to pay for a secuirty guard for the bus to Quetta.  All the buses have security though, it is just they make tourists pay for this conveniance!
So at about 5pm we set off from the border to head to Quetta, on an ancient relic of a bus, and doubled with the dubious 'road' it was along night aboad, not the best journey by far but memorable I guess.
After this leg of the journey I had planned to get the train upto Lahore, but upon arrival in Quetta there was no train tickets as it was a holiday.  In the end I opted for another long night of bus travel to Multan, 3 hours south of Lahore, with an english speaking pakistani that I had met.

10 November 2010

Kerman - Iran

Arrived early yesterday morning after a night bus, and checked in to a nice hotel to have a good nights sleep before another night bus later to get me towards the Pakistan border tomorrow, once over the border its then another long bus ride to the city of Quetta, and will then get on the train upto Lahore, so a busy few days travel ahead.
Anyway, had the company of the lovely Iranian girl I met last week in Keshan and had then also bumped into in Esfahan, so she took us to some of the nice gardens outside of Kerman.  We had a good time despite the girl being worried about the police stopping her for being with a foreigner.  But there wasn't much to worry about really and we also went to a smart Iranian restauraunt last night, where I tried yet another kebab.  Just time to say goodbye to the beautiful Iranian later before I get the bus.
And so tomorrow my time in Iran will be coming to an end, have enjoyed it here as the people are most helpful and friendly, and have done plenty of sightseeing; as obviously the nightlife scene is none existant which is a shame for all the young people here as they are often worried about what may happen to them.

8 November 2010

Shiraz - Iran

Went on a half day trip this morning to see the ancient site of Persepolis, which was impressive and had a tour guide to explain the history of how it came about.  Then have spent this afternoon exploring the bazaar, where my friend decided to try on some of the clothes.
 Also here is me giving to chairty, as all over iran they have these charity boxes lining the roads, and Iranians being muslim often give alms to others.

Finally I enjoyed one of the many non alcoholic beers that Iran has to offer, there not great, but I dont think they know any better!

5 November 2010

Yazd - Iran

Carried on across Iran the other day as it was raining, so we took the bus to the historical city of Yazd.  Have a nice hostel here but the old city can only be described as a maze of all the different backstreets and alleys, so it has been a little confusing navigating and finding our way to the sights and mosques etc.
Not alot is happening today as friday is Irans holy day so the vast majority of shops and sights are closed.  We did take a taxi tour out into a couple of the desert villages surrounding Yazd though and these good to see with some good scenary and views, evan if the old villages weren't upto much themselves.
Also got to try a camel burger yesterday for lunch, which was pretty good!
Good iranian food of green Khoresht, like minty limb stew and lentils.

 One of the mosque entrances around Yazd.  Below we played football with some of the locals around the backstreets, with the old mud buildings in the background.

2 November 2010

Esfahan - Iran

After alot of travelling recently have slowed down now to enjoy the wonderful historical city of Esfahan.  Have already spent time looking round Iman Square (which is the 2nd largest square in the world after Tianamen Sq in China), which has the Iman Mosque at one end and the old palace to the west, with the shops and bazaar running around the outside. 

Have been able to find some much more interesting Iranian food including:
Esfahan Biryan - which is ground lamb served on a large flat bread with lime and salad, was reasonably tasty.
Ash - some sort of very thick soup thats a strange yellow colour, containing meat and vegetables all mixed together, ment to be a speciality but wasn't that impressed with it.
Fereni - a sweet desert made of rice flour, sugar and rose water.  I just thought it tasted like a strange angel delight pudding.
And tried lots of cakes like these here from the bakeries.

Also spent last night walking along the river looking at the 200 year old bridges that cross it, but most of the entertainment came from trying to hook up with 1 of the iranian girls, and being told numerous things that are forbidden in iran.  We witnessed this first hand as some local boys playing music and singing under the bridge got a telling off from the police!  So no wunder many of the young people aren't fussed on their country, it can be pretty strict.