A Travellerspoint blog

Entries about tourist sites

Delhi - Incredible !ndia Indeed


View Around the world ın 8 months on chrisvasil's travel map.

We had 2 stays in New Delhi: the first for Diwali and the second for a wedding.

Our flight was to Kolkata, and we only found out later that Diwali is only heavily celebrated in Delhi and Mumbai, so we booked a train ticket to Delhi. The journey was scheduled to last 30 hours and was delayed by 10 hours, for a total 40 hours in the train. The train ride was comfortable and mostly uneventful, except for the chai-wallahs waking us up with their calls of "chAI chAI chAI" through the night and for the fact that I became an instant celebrity when I pulled out my laptop: all the kids on the train then crowded around us to see travel pics.
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At our first experience in Delhi the guy at the prepaid taxi stand tried to steal 400 rupees from us: I gave him a 500 Rs bill, he put it in the register, took out a 100 from the register, and said I only gave him 100. I then gave him a 500, and after counting my 500s I realized I had originially given him a 500. We confronted him on it, and he gave us back the difference except for 100. We confronted him on that, and he gave us back the last 100. The thieves are shameless and are also fearless of losing their jobs.

There are vegetable and fruit markets everywhere
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A lot of swastikas, which is especially unexpected so shortly after leaving Europe. It seems the 2 main symbols in Hinduism are the swastika and the star of David, an odd contrast.
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The Lotus temple, belonging to the Bahai religion. This religion is 150 years old, and spreads the word by building temples of a scale and design to make them landmarks.
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India gate - a gate leading to a street that leads to Parliament and military buildings, and is surrounded by an oasis of green space in a city that doesn't have much plant life.
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Qutb and Qutb Minar are a complex in ruins and a spire, in the Mehrauli area in Delhi where Islam was first established in present-day Northern India, a thousand years ago.
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A Hindu temple complex
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Cows are everywhere on the streets. This guy keeps them clean.
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We returned to Delhi 10 days later for a friend's friend's wedding (same friend whose parents graciously let us stay with them, which was wonderful) - which was great as we (Sue especially) had been wanting for years to go to an Indian wedding.

Posted by chrisvasil 02:35 Archived in India Tagged tourist_sites Comments (0)

Bangkok - Life in the year 2552


View Around the world ın 8 months on chrisvasil's travel map.

Going to Asia from Europe was a nice change - everything is so much cheaper: meals for a dollar, double rooms for ten, and the food is so good! This posting describes both our sejourns in Bangkok, totalling 7 days and interupted by the trip to Chiang Mai.

We're staying near the backpacker district of Khao San Rd, which has great shops to buy and sell equipment and books, and surpisingly has some excellent thai food. It is also near a 6-way intersection which is terrible to cross, made me get lost about 10 times, marked by this elephant monument.
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Our first day there was a day of national celebration (an actual one, not the one tuk-tuk drivers make up every day - more on that later), so we saw a show of music and dancing in front of City Hall.
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Half the pics we took were of food, it was all so good and so cheap
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Sue decided to be Buddhist while in Thailand, so she prays at all the shrines and many of the temples we pass.
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It turns out Ronald McDonald is Buddhist too. I was wondering why he hadn't been seen at church, synagogue, or mosque in North America. A statue like this is outside almost every McDonalds we passed by in the country.
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The vast majority of Thai Buddhas are slim, and a few seem to violate the rule of Buddhist statues that says they can't have apparent bones or muscle (one of 32 rules for making images of Buddha). But there are some fat Buddhas.
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Juxtoposition of old and new
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The Temple of the Emerald Buddha and Grand Palace are amazing, so big and ornate. Obviously, before finding the entrance we were told by tuktuk drivers that it is closed today, but another temple is free today, so we should go there with them. We politely declined, before being told by another tuktuk driver a few minutes later that we're underdressed (Sue wearing a tank top) and wouldn't be allowed in. We finally found the entrance, and though Sue had to borrow a blouse from the clothing-borrowing office there were otherwise no problems.
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Me posing as a rat
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Our hotel price was absolutely cheap, and it was pretty good 20091015_036.jpg

There's a massive night market along the sidewalks in the park in front of the Grand Palace, selling everything from used shoes to jewelery to food. Here is a view from there
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Democracy Monument, close to much good food and one of our main landmarks to find our way home
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Posted by chrisvasil 10:56 Archived in Thailand Tagged tourist_sites Comments (1)

Cinque Terre - Dramatic seaside villages on cliffs


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Cinque Terre is a stunning collection of 5 picturesque villages with farms perched along cliffs and overlooking beaches. Each village is about the same: a few thousand residents, a beach with touristy restaurants nearby, a convenience store somewhere in town, and trails leading into the hills.
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There are trails connecting the 5 villages, accessible for 5 Euros and with a total of 5 hours of hiking. We skipped 2 hours of the trail, going instead by train, to conserve our energy.

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Posted by chrisvasil 10:47 Archived in Italy Tagged tourist_sites Comments (0)

Paris - Why can't anyone tell I can speak French???


View Around the world ın 8 months on chrisvasil's travel map.

It was vaguely annoying that when I spoke to people in French in France they tended to answer me in English; it was only after about 5 days in the country that I broke down and started using a fake French accent. I was concerned that it was because I've lost my language, so I took comfort in overhearing other people from Quebec complaining about the same thing.

Fontaine St Michel, where an angel is triumphing over Lucifer (who is then banished and will eternally rule over hell, rather than heaven as he was plotting)
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A bridge that is centuries old. When it was completed the king had a big party, had his sketch artist sketch the guests, and to immortalize them and the best party ever he had their images carved to adorn the bridge.
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At the Louvre by day
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That evening we went to the theatre, with cut-rate seats to see Moliere's L'Avare at La Comedie Francaise. It's a good play, but we could only see about half the stage and only half of us could understand the language. Here was our view.
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Louvre by night
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Arc de Triomphe
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View from the Arc de Triomphe
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We spent our last day at churches:
Sacre-Coeur
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Notre-Dame
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Posted by chrisvasil 10:34 Archived in France Tagged tourist_sites Comments (1)

Amsterdam - Grimier than when I was last there

semi-overcast 21 °C
View Around the world ın 8 months on chrisvasil's travel map.

Amsterdam wasn't quite as charming as I remembered (possibly having to do with us staying in the Red Light District this time around, as opposed to the fancy parts when I was there for an interview a couple years ago).

Property taxes were originally based on the width of the property, so a lot of the places are narrow. This also causes them to design the staircases to be very narrow, so that it is impossible to bring furniture in and out - so there are beams pointing out of the top floor, to which they attach pulleys so that they can bring furniture in through the windows.
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Some of the houses were built slanted forward, so that the furniture wouldn't break windows on its way up. Only later did they realize the same effect could be had by making the beams longer.
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Many of the houses are built on poor foundations, so slanty houses are quite common - so much so that there are firms that specialize in replacing floors so that the floors aren't slanty even though the houses are, and other firms that specialize in making windows that aren't quite square.
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About one street of every ten is alongside a canal, and I very much like the way the streets are laid out as concentric circles.
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Posted by chrisvasil 08:15 Archived in Netherlands Tagged tourist_sites Comments (0)

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