India cultural reflection:
India has so many people and so many things. Here are the highlights of our trip:
Ø We started in Kolkata which has the most candy shops in the world and is the 9th largest city in the world.
Ø Next, we went to Darjeeling where you can see the 1st, 3rd, 4th and 5th largest mountains in the world.
Ø Varanasi has the Ganges River, the most holy place for a Hindu to be buried, and has the most silk saree shops in the world.
Ø Kanha National Park has the largest population of tigers in the world—131.
Ø Khajuraho’s temples are a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Ø Agra is home to the Taj Mahal, a wonder of the world!
Ø A pair of Siberian cranes, an endangered species, comes every year to Keoladeo Ghana bird sanctuary.
Ø In Jaisalmer, the fort is also a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Ø In Delhi is the Red Fort, also a wonder of the world, and Delhi is the 14th largest city in the world.
India is the largest democracy in the world. It also has:
Ø the second largest population in the world to China,,
Ø the world’s highest nonmilitary airport in Leh, Ladakh (3,256 meters),
Ø the highest cricket pitch at Chail, near Shimla (2,250 meters),
Ø the world’s longest train platform at Kharagpur, west Bengal (833 meters),
India also invented trigonometry!
And, an Indian holds the record for:
Ø the longest finger nails (totaling 6.15 meters on one hand),
Ø non stop crawling(1400meters),
Ø hand shaking (31,118 people in eight hours)
India is home to a several hundred languages: Assamese, Bengali, Gujarati, Hindi, kannada, Kashmiri, Konkani, Malayalam, Manipuri, Marathi, Nepali, Oriya, Punjabi, Sindhi, Sanskrit, Urdu and many more………
India is the birthplace of two of the world’s major religions of Hinduism and Buddhism and the birthplace of Jainism and Sikhism too!
These are just some of the records in India. There are many more. Maybe some day you will be able to visit India and experience some of the many wonders of India.January 19, 2006: Get to Delhi…………………………………..MARRIOTT
When we got to Delhi at 11:00 we took a rickshaw to the Marriott because G had points to stay there!!!!!!!!! When we got there, they said that we didn’t have a reservation but we did so they gave us a room!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! When we got up it was so nice so we took out all the stuff we would send back and went to dinner. We had dinner and went back to the hotel and watched a movie and went to bed.January 18, 2006: Jaisalmer…………..go to train station and leave to Delhi
When we got up, we stored our bags and had one last look around the fort. Madu showed us some Jain temples and dad and I went to a look out tower and I got some footage and dad took pictures. Then we walked back, had lunch and got our bags and went to the train station. When we got there our train was there so we got on and did some language lessons and wildlife lessons and then I read Harry Potter 3 and went to bed.January 16, 2006: Camel ride………………………………………..Jaisalmer!
Today we got up, had breakfast and got on our camels. We had walked a little bit and my camel was behind mom’s camel and my camel bit mom’s. Her camel’s legs started to shake and it started to run really fast. Mom’s camel ran so fast and all I saw was mom’s head bobbing every which way and she was screaming at the top of her lungs! After that, my camel led so he wouldn’t bite mom’s camel. We had a little break and when we were done with the break, peter and mom switched camels because peter was really good at riding camels. When we were almost to the place we would eat lunch, me and Peter’s camel started racing and Peter’s went really fast like when mine bit him. When we got there, my camel was tied to a tree. We ate lunch, had a nap and then dad and I went on a walk and when we came back, we left to go back to the jeep that would take us back to the fort. When we were 5 minutes away, we saw three camels and one was wild!!!! And at the end we saw a herd of gazelles. When we got there, we said goodbye to our guides and got in to the jeep back to Jaisalmer. When we got there, we got rooms, ate dinner and went to bed.January 15, 2006: Jaisalmer………….1 and a half hour camel ride and sleep in the desert!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Today we woke up and went with Kalu, a friend mom made on the first day we were here and he took us to places in and out side the fort. First we went to the king’s palace and the queen’s palace. Mom, peter and I went in but D and G stayed out. We walked through and looked at things used in the 12th century and later in wars and during the king’s life back then. When we came out the other side, we took a rickshaw out of the fort to a haveli, a house where rich people lived. When we got in, we climbed lots of stairs and saw bedrooms, instruments, kitchen and kitchen supplies, and turbans from previous centuries on many floors. One of the havelis was called the 5 Brothers because five brothers owned it. When we were done, we went to Gadi Sagar, a reservoir for Jaisalmer and it has these really cool temples coming out of the water. When we got there, we went on a 10 min boat ride in the reservoir among the temples. When we were done, we had to go back to the fort to go on the camel ride. When we got to Dream the Desert office, we got in a jeep that would take us out to the camels. It was about an hour drive. When we got there our guides saddled up 6 camels and then we got on. When the camel gets up, you get thrown forward and then back violently but you get used to it. Then we started walking to the sand dunes where we would sleep. Peter kept trying to make his run and when he finally got it to run, mom's camel ran too and she kept yelling “WHAT IS IT DOING” but then her's stopped and we could see where we would sleep. When we got to the start of the dunes, Peter’s camel kept sitting down. Then we got to where we were going to sleep and we went up to the hill to watch the sun set. Then we came back to camp and sat down and talked and made a fire. We had dal and veggies for dinner and went to bed with the stars above us and G, Peter, and I called out all the stars we know.January 14, 2006: Day at Jaisalmer…….
When we woke mom and I went to the restaurant we went to for dinner because peter forgot the LP India there and G, D and Peter stayed at the hotel and ate there. We got the LP and ate breakfast and when we were done, peter, D, and G came and we walked around the fort to look for a tour operator to go on the camel safari the next day! We decided to do the tour through Dream the Desert tour and we would leave a 3:00 in the afternoon the next day! Then we walked around the town and decided to eat dinner at an Italian restaurant and Madu came with us. I had pizza and we all had Italian food. It was really good!January 13, 2006: Get to Jaisalmer and walk in da fort yaaa!!!!!!!!
When I got up I started reading Harry Potter 2 and was almost done when we got to Jaisalmer. We got out and mom had made a friend and we got a tuk-tuk to his hotel in the fort. When we got to the main road, we had a great view of the fort and on our way we saw 2 camels and that was really cool. When we got to the hotel we got our rooms and we went to the restaurant there and ate. When we were done, I finished HP and then went walking with G, Peter around the fort. There are places to buy stuff everywhere and we went to a Deutschland bakery and we got some cinnamon rolls. Then we went back to the hotel and I worked with dad on my photos and then mom came back and we went to eat dinner. We talked about what camel ride we wanted to do then we went back and went to bedJanuary 11, 2006: Keoladeo Ghana NP go to Jaipur (pink city but I didn’t see no pink so there’s no proof it’s pink)
We got up at 6:00 and went to the park and got a rickshaw to take us around the park. I’ve never seen so many birds in my life. They were everywhere. On each side of us were swamps and tons of birds in them. We saw 50 different species and probably 1000 birds or more including:
White-breasted water hen
Common moor hen
Crested serpent eagle
Common tailor bird
Lesser golden woodpecker
Scavenger, or Egyptian, vulture
White-throated king fisher
Black winged stilt
We saw so many painted storks because it was breeding season and on the butts of the full grown birds, it looked like someone painted it red. It was really cool! When we got back, we ate and packed and went to the bus stop and got a bus to Jaipur (the pink city). When we got there I was looking for all the pink buildings everybody said was there but didn’t see anything pink so I don’t think it should be called “the pink city”. When we got to the train station we waited for our train that came at 11:30. When the train came we got on it and got our beds and went to sleep.January 10, 2006: TAJ MAHAL and going to Keoladeo Ghana NP
Today we woke up at 7:00 to visit the Taj so we walked over bought our tickets and a guide. When we went through the gate, it was foggy so we waited for the sun to rise and change the color of the Taj. While we waited, I filmed because I couldn’t bring my camera past that point. When the sun rose, I locked up my camera and started walking down the path to the Taj, then took a right to look at the emperor’s guest house and look at another view of the Taj. The carpets of the guest house and the gold pillar on top of the Taj were stolen by the British. Then we went into the Taj where the king Shah Jahan and his wife are buried. On all the walls there were engraved stones (emerald, jade, onyx, and coral) in different designs. Then we started walking back to the entrance but we stopped by the famous bench where Bill Clinton and other famous people have sat. We took our pictures there, then I got my camera and we went out and back to our hotel and went to the bus station and got a bus to Baratpur where Keoladeo Ghana national park and bird sanctuary is. When we got there, we got a hotel and the manager of the hotel was really nice and he took us to a resort that he owned. We had dinner there and me and peter played billiards. When we got back, we went to bed.January 9, 2006: Going to Agra!
Today we got up at 6:00 and took a taxi to Jhansi where we caught a bus to Agra. When we got to Jhansi, the taxi took us to the train station and we got on a train to Agra. The train was packed but we found seats. When we got to Agra, it was a mad house because tons of people were trying to get on and they didn’t let the people on the train get off so we had to push our way through the crowd and went to reserve our tickets from Jaipur to Jaisalmer. Then we went to get a hotel so we got a taxi and went to some of the places LP recommended. We went to the first place but we decided that it was too far away from the Taj and that was the only reason we were there so we decided to go closer. He said that it was 80 more rupees and we had already paid 80 rupees but we didn’t now how far it was so we went but it wasn’t far at all so we got ripped off. We decided to walk and we went to Siddharth hotel then to the Kamel, a restaurant that had a roof view of the Taj. We ate our dinner looking at the Taj then we went to an Internet café. I checked my email and bought watching wildlife in east Africa by LP on amazon.com. Then we went back to our hotel and went to bed.January 8, 2006: Khajuraho
When we woke up in the morning we saw that we were across the street from the east temples and I spotted a gray hornbill. The manager of the hotel said that they come from Panna, the nearby national park. We ate our breakfasts and went to the temples. There were hornbills and parakeet flying everywhere. We went to the first temple and there was a giant statue of a cow because cows are sacred. Then we went into the big temple and started walking around it while mom was telling us history about it. At all the temples, there are carvings of women. At one temple there was a statue of a lion. After we saw the temples we went to try to get a picture of a gray hornbill and we got some good pictures. Then we went back and ate lunch and went to the internet but there were only 3 computers so I did a word search and finished it. When we were done with the internet, we went to a restaurant where we had reserved a table in a tree but when we got there, the tree was taken so we went to our hotel’s restaurant and talked about our travels in Europe and where we wanted to go.January 7, 2006
We got up super early to get on a jeep to see tigers and other animals. It was really cold so we put on lots of layers of clothes and got on the jeep. We got to the first gate, paid our admission fees and headed to the core gate to get our guide. When we got there, the guide hopped in and we set off to look for animals. We turned down this road because we heard a wild chicken calling and soon after, saw fresh tiger tracks from maybe 5 a.m. that morning. They were going in the opposite direction as us but we moved on. When we got to our first meadow, we saw our first chital deer, eating some grass and dad got some nice pictures of them. We kept going through these huge meadows and there were lots of deer but no tigers. One meadow had a whole bunch of peacocks with their vibrant blue necks and their feathers sticking out but we never saw them fan them. We kept moving on. Then we saw a barasingha deer which is an endangered species only found in Kanha. We saw a lot more chital deer and we found out that there were 21,000 in the park so we were going to see them quite often. Then we got to a place where there was a radio station and museum. The radio station was for the trackers that went out in the morning to look for tiger. When they spotted a tiger, they radioed in to the guides and the guides came out with a number to get an elephant to see the tiger. We ate breakfast in our jeep and we started walking toward the museum but just then, our guide came running out with a number to get on an elephant. We set off in the jeep and we were all very excited. We got to a long line of jeeps that were waiting to get on elephants. We waited for a long time and were so excited because we were finally going to see tigers. When our turn came, Dad, Grandma and I got on one elephant because we were all going to take pictures or video. When we got to where the tigers were, the mom was fast asleep behind a bush. There were two cubs with the mom. One cub was sleeping on a rock but his face was covered by a bush. That cub was sort of asleep and awake at the same time but it didn’t really care much that people were moving around. But one cub was really restless and he walked up and laid down on a rock in the open. You could see that it was very uneasy about everything. But the mom and the other cub were just sleeping. The scenery was cool because there was this rock that they were on and green bushes everywhere. We all got good pictures and I got video. We only got to stay a little bit because there were more people waiting to see the tigers, but still, it was the top 5 most amazing experiences of my life!January 5, 2006
When we got to Kanha, we ate and got a hotel called Pugmark and then started exploring options for going to look for tigers. At 4:30, the owner of the hotel (a nice guy) took us on a trail through a little bit of the national park. We saw some monkeys and deer and at the end we missed a leopard by 30 seconds. Then we went to see a movie about tigers. It was really cool; it showed us the life of a tiger and its cubs. Then we went back to the hotel and went to bed.January 4, 2006
Today we got up at 6:00 to go on a boat ride. When we got to the river, we got in the boat and started down the river. Our boat driver was telling us all about the ghats like what they are used for and what their names mean. When we were going along the river, we saw people bathing and doing their morning prayers. When we got to the burning ghat, there were logs everywhere, piled in boats and a huge pile on the land. Then we saw all the families around a fire which was where they were burning their dead family members. Then some guy got on our boat and started telling us all about the process of burning the bodies. They had to pay 250 rupees per kilogram and it took about 200 kilograms to burn a body. When he was done telling us about all of this, he got off and we started moving on. Next we saw local kids playing cricket along the side of the river and after that was an area where men were washing laundry. They each had a pile of clothes and what they did was soak the clothes in the water and then beat the hell out of the clothes on a rock. It looked really cool. Above was where the laundry was drying and it was beautiful because there were all different colors of clothes. After we saw the laundry, we went back to where we started and went back to the hotel and had breakfast and me and peter played soccer in the lawn. At 3:30 we started our second part of the tour. A guy took us around the town and showed us all the different temples. We didn’t get to see very many because it was bad traffic. The last place we went there was a huge map of India and showed all the mountains and where the elevation went up and down in the country. Then we went back to the hotel and played soccer again and at 5:30 we took a taxi to the train station and got on our train the Kanha.January 3, 2006
When we got to Varanasi, we booked our tickets to Kanha the next day and then took a taxi to a hotel called Barahdari that had a garden so peter and I could play soccer in the field. That evening a guide took to see the Ganges River and all the ghats. When we got there he told us about some of the ghats and then took us to a sari shop because mom and grandma wanted to get one. When we got there they had a mat to sit on and they would show us the saris and silk. So they showed us all these different colors and patterns and showed mom a sari. Peter asked if they had small pieces and they did so they all started looking through them but I fell asleep. When they were done they woke me up and we went back to the river where we went on a boat ride to a ghat that had prayer celebrations every night. When we got there, there was a row of people performing a spiritual dance but we couldn’t stay long because peter was really hungry. So we got a rickshaw back to the hotel and ate dinner and then went to bed because we had to wake up early the next morning to go on another boat ride.January 2, 2006
Today we are leaving Darjeeling and going to Varanasi but this time we got a jeep down the mountain so I had a seat and we weren’t squished at all. This time we took a different route and I thought it was much better but when we were 2 /3 done we had to go along the top of a mountain and had to make these really sharp turns and Peter would fling his body at me and thought it was great fun. When we had gotten down the mountain, there were huge tea fields. At the end of the ride was Siliguri where we were going to catch the train the Varanasi. Before we left we ate at the train station’s restaurant and then got on the train that left at 3:00 in the afternoon. We had to get off the train at 3:00 in the morning and take another train at 5:00 to Varanasi.January 1, 2006
Today mom, Peter and I went to the zoo and Himalayan Mountaineering Institute. When we got into the zoo, we visited all the deer first—sambar, musk, and barking deer. Then we went to the museum at HMI and saw all the equipment they needed to climb Everest, like what you need when you sleep at base camp. We also saw photos of many of the people who climbed Everest, like the sherpa Tenzing Norgay and Sir Edmund Hilary, the first two people to climb Everest. Then we went back to the zoo where we saw common leopard, snow leopard, clouded leopard and the Indian and Siberian tigers and Tibetan wolf. Then we went on to see the black bear and jackal and red panda and some civets and a yak. We walked back and ate dinner and went back to the hotel.
The first highest mountain in the world: Everest, 8848 meters or 29,028 feet (We saw this mountain!)
Second highest mountain: K2, 8611 meters or 28,244 feet.
Third highest mountain: Kanchendzonga, 8598 meters or 28,156 feet (We saw this mountain!)
Fourth highest mountain: Lhotse, 8571 meters or 28,113 feet (We saw this mountain too!)
Fifth highest mountain: Makalu, 8481 meters or 27,790 feet (We saw this mountain too!)December 31, 2005
Today we went to the Tibetan refuge center (TRC). We walked down the hill to the TRC and went to the gift shop and to the work shops of weaving, making rugs, and other art work. When we were done, we walked through the tea fields and got to the road and started walking down the road toward the Tenzing Norgay rock. There, we got some tea and Peter and I climbed the rock. When I got to the top, it was a great view of the mountains. I climbed down and took the harder route up and did it and then went back down and sat down to wait for Peter. When Peter was done, we started walking toward town, and when we got there, we took a taxi to the center of town and went to the hotel and watched I, Robot and went to bed.December 30, 2005
Dad’s joke of the day: After mom said, “If you don’t stop this dialogue, Paul, this is going to drive me nuts!” Dad says, “Oh, no, we don’t want mom to go ‘Planters’ on us!!!” (as in Planter’s Peanuts!!!). He’s so corny!December 29, 2005
Today, Dad and I got up at 7:15 a.m. to go to Observatory Hill. The morning didn’t feel as cold as the day usually is. When we got to Observatory Hill, there were prayer flags everywhere so I started filming and Dad started taking pictures. Swinging in the prayer flags were cheeky monkeys so I filmed them. Then we went back to the hotel to get the rest of the family.
After Peter and I shared our recently completed school projects, we started walking to the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute (HMI) and the zoo. When we got there, it was closed. There was a family there too, Andre, his wife and their baby. They were teachers at St. Joseph’s school and they invited us to see the school. The school was built in the 1800s, so it was really old. When they were done showing us the school, they invited us to their house and we had tea and little snacks and then dad brought up the subject of cricket and Andre’s brother knew a lot about cricket and so he told us all about cricket and said that we could go play. So we went to the field and started playing. We weren’t very good but it was really fun. We tried to play a game where you had to hit the ball and run to the pitcher’s mound and back to the wicket and the out field had to get the ball in and hit the wicket before the batter got back. It was really fun but it started getting dark so we had to leave.December 28, 2005
Today we got up at 4:30 to go to tiger hill to see the sunrise. The van was waiting for us outside our hotel so we got in and started the journey to tiger hill. When we got there, the sun was coming up and there were people everywhere. Mom and I went through the crowd and found a great spot to see the sunrise. When we were out for 15 minutes or so, it seemed the sun stopped and that was when I got cold so we went inside and got some tea. But when I was getting my tea, the real sun came over the clouds and the sun illuminated half of the mountain, Kangchendzonga, the 3rd highest in the world and everyone was running around trying to get the best spot. I spilled half my tea because one guy screamed at the top of his lungs that the sun was rising as I was walking by him and I drop half of my tea! When the sunrise wasn’t in color, everybody started to leave but there were still some great views. When almost everyone had left, we even got to see Mt. Everest, just the top but we still saw it!
After Tiger Hill, we went to a monastery in Ghoom. It was a Tibetan Buddhist monastery. At the entrance there were two big bells that you had to run around to make them ring. Then we went to the war memorial for all the people from this area that had died in wars and where the toy train loops around. I also got to look through a telescope at the Kangchendzonga Mountain Range and the surrounding area. The guy told me all about the mountains, Darjeeling, and the tea fields. He showed me which side of the mountain was in Nepal and which side was in India.
When we got back to the hotel, we went to Chowrasta and ate lunch and then went to an Internet café. While Mom and Dad were on the Internet, Grandma and I went to Oxford Bookstore and Grandma got a journal book. I checked email and then Grandma and I walked back to the hotel. At the Internet Café, there was a bakery and today was the anniversary of the day Mom and Dad met, so we got a dessert to celebrate. When they got back, we had a celebration and ate our desserts and then went to bed.December 27, 2005
Grandma, Peter and I started to explore Darjeeling. I first wanted to see a good view of the mountain range and I knew that if we kept walking up that I would come to a good viewpoint. So we started walking and when we had walked as far as we could up, we got to a hotel and behind the hotel were a lawn and a great view of the mountains. A kid that was staying at the hotel told us all about the mountains and the town, like the name of the mountain range and where China, Nepal and Sikkum, a northern province in India, were. We headed back to the market. When we were walking through the market, there was lots of jackets and warm clothing. Peter wanted to see this one market that he thought was like a market he liked at Cameron Highlands but it turned out to be a string of tour agencies. I watched Liverpool vs. Newcastle United. Liverpool won 2-0.December 26, 2005
We arrived this morning in Siligori. We decided to get a van to Darjeeling. One thing that Dad didn’t tell us was that it was going to be a very dangerous ride with curves and steep hills right beside us. All the signs that we passed didn’t help. They said things like, “Go to a blood bank and give blood there, not on the road.” About half way there, we stopped at a restaurant then got on the road again. We hit some traffic in the nearby town, Ghoom, so that made our trip a little longer. When we got out of the traffic, we were only 11 km away but the last stretch was a very narrow road with a cliff on one side! One time we had to get out of the van and walk up because our van couldn’t make it up the hill with all the weight. When we finally got to Darjeeling, we got settled in a nice hotel that wasn’t that expensive called Hotel Seven Seventeen. Grandma, Peter and I were so excited because the town looked so cool and we wanted to go and explore it. We got out of the hotel and it was really cold. We walked down some stairs to a market and I got a hat, Peter got a fleece jacket and we all got gloves and that warmed us up. We then went back to the hotel, got some dinner and went to bed.December 25, 2005
Today we went to the Lindsay Hotel and went to their restaurant on the 11th floor with a view of Kolkata. I had minestrone soup. We talked and chose Secret Santas for the next couple of weeks until Three King’s Day.December 24, 2005
At 6:30 p.m., we went to the Salvation Army hostel where we met all the volunteers from Mother Teresa’s convent and we all walked with lit candles to her convent. There were 500 people walking through the streets of Kolkata with candles. My only problem was that I had to go to the bathroom really bad so I was trying to hurry as fast as I could. When we got there, I asked for the bathroom immediately! We went into the courtyard where there was going to be carols and a play. But there were so many people, there wasn’t a place for Peter and me to sit so we went inside and couldn’t see very well so we read our books, Thunder Cave, my favorite book ever! After the carols and play, it was time to go to up to the church. When we climbed up the stairs, we got a decent seat this time. When mass started, they put the baby Jesus into the manger. When it was time for communion, it was a mad house because there were so many people. But, we were one of the first to receive communion. When church was over, we got some hot chocolate and cake and walked back to our hotel. We were all tired and went to bed.December 23, 2005
Today Mom, Peter, G and I went to Mother Teresa’s convent. When we got there, we went to her tomb and we prayed over her tomb. Then we went to the museum of Mother Teresa and it showed all her favorite scriptures and mom read them to me. Then we went up the stairs to the chapel and the sisters were praying so we joined in and then G asked a sister if we could come to church tomorrow for Christmas Eve. The sister said we could so we went back to the hotel and I started reading a very good book called THUNDER CAVE that is set in Kenya, East Africa, where we're headed next!December 21, 2005
Since we’ve been in India, we’ve been drinking lassis, which is a thick yogurt drink, and it is really good here! You also see it along the street where they are stirring big pots of it. When you walk along the streets of Kolkata, there are lots of stores on each side and lots of cars and lots of people. There are lots of homeless people on the streets, and food vendors are everywhere so you’re never without food. The worst part of the streets of Kolkata is trying to get across the street, especially the street our hotel was on because there’s always traffic no matter what and the buses don’t care if they hit you or not so you have to watch out for them.December 19, 2005
Today we left for India. Before we left, we called some of our friends back home. It was fun because even though we’re talking over e-mail, we haven’t talked to them over the phone for a long time. When we arrived in Kolkata just 2 hours later, Grandma was sad because she really liked Thai Airways and she wanted it to be a longer flight so we could watch movies and relax for a longer time. When we got to India, we got our baggage and went to customs and got a taxi to help us find a hotel on Sudder Street in Kolkata.