Posts Tagged With: pondicherry

India… The good, the bad, and the downright evil

Well India has provided some of the best and some of the worst experiences of our lives. In some areas the scenery, people and food are among the prettiest, friendliest and tastiest (respectively) we have seen, met or had…in other areas …not the same story. Despite this we covered a lot of the country, saw a lot of sights, places, cities and have some insights that may prove useful to future travellers.

India certainly has a lot positive to be said about it and there are some must see items that make planning a trip very worthwhile. There are also some places that quite frankly are ruined by the people that you are forced to encounter along the way. Our trip was more low budget that some but higher budget than the typical backpacking style holiday.

We spent our money on the food, beer, accommodation and transport…choosing to pay that little bit more for the extra space and comfort and things like private bathrooms. That said…accommodation was generally about $20 a night for both of us and at its cheapest was $10. For not much extra (than our allowance) per day you could plan a very nice Indian sojourn and by paying the little bit extra can avoid some of the shonks that we hit along the way. You will be overpaying for what you get but the extra money takes away some of the headaches and surely that is worth a little more.



Indian Must dos

With the beauty of hindsight this is where I would go to if I was to plan a short (2-3 week) holiday in India (in no particular order).

Agra – Taj Mahal and the fort…this one is obvious but they truly are that good. I suggest that 2-3 days is about the right amount of time here.

Amritsar – golden temple and the border show. Can be done in a one full day journey if time is tight but the people and food are so nice you will want to stay more.

Aurungabad – Ellora and Ajanta caves…absolutely stunning. Two days is about right. This was the surprise for me, had never heard of them but were the highlight of the trip.

Hampi – absolutely fantastic with so very much to see, need about 2 full days but will want more as the people and place are so good.

Jaipur – this has 3 forts, temples, a palace and all the old city walls and is again worthy of about 3-4 days depending on your schedule and timings. Jaipur is in Rajasthan and most of Rajasthan is pretty similar with forts and palaces etc. They are all different but are also very similar so if time is against you Jaipur would be my pick.

Ooty – the Indian blue mountains (Nilgiris) with a toy train ride to boot. Stunning scenery and clean by Indian standards.

Udaipur – we loved this place. The water and lakes make it very different to the other sights you tend to see. If you come in early in the morning you could see everything in a day and a bit so one overnight would be about right..add an extra night if you want to hit the fort and Jain temples which are a bit of a way out. We stayed for 6 days and enjoyed it all but most people will not have as much time.

The end.

My list would leave out 2 key ones on almost everyone else’s list and they are

Goa – a must for beach goers…we could have skipped it. It was nice and we had a good time but unless you are in dire need of sand and water it could be skipped.

Kerala – the cruise of the back waters was nice and a good treat. Our cruise was probably a bit long and one to two nights would be about right. There are afternoon cruises but you stay in the main channel with all the boat traffic.

Great if you have extra time

Now if you have a little more time available then these are my choices for good second tier spots with nice attractions, people etc

Darjeeling – tea fields, toy trains and the Himalayas on a clear day.
Hyderabad – an Indian city that is really trying to get it right.
Jaisalmer – desert, fort, safari. Nice if you have the time.
Jodhpur – nice place..very Rajasthan with forts and palaces.
Kanyakumari – the southernmost tip at the edge of 3 oceans
Mumbai – beautiful architecture, the gateway to India and Elephanta island.
Pondicherry – the French parts

Nice if you have LOTS of time

Mangalore – still the best food I have eaten in India (just not much to see)
Cochin – a nice afternoon but not too much to see
Trivandrum – good zoo and some nice architecture
Bangalore – not too much going on here

Don’t even bother

Bhubaneswar – caves and temples…not that fantastic and the experience is wrecked by the lying and cheating of what feels like almost everybody in the town. The worst that India has to offer.

I have left New Delhi off this list entirely because my experiences in New Delhi were entirely terrible. I came to Delhi 4 times (including transits) and had an atrocious experience each and every time. I may have been entirely unlucky…or it may well be the worst capital city on the planet, full of lying cheating scoundrels. Alas as New Delhi is a major transport hub you may just have to stop here to get to some of the nicer parts of India. Should you wish to do such a trip then I will let you form your own New Delhi opinion and would be happy to hear it.

I will leave the India topic with a few of my favourite moments…

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And my all time favourite moment…was…

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Farewell India…it has been an experience…





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Having hit the bottom we started our journey north. The first port of call was Pondicherry which is simultaneously both the best and worst Indian city that we have been in. Unlike most of the places this joint was colonised by the French rather than the Brits. The French know how to develop a city…especially a seaside esplanade…wide streets, tree lined avenues and fantastic architecture. It is a calm and relaxing place to be…at 6pm each night they ban all motor traffic from the esplanade and the next 3 parallel streets and it turns into a pedestrian paradise. Add to this that it is about 8 degrees cooler than the south with a brilliant sea breeze that makes it a cool and wonderful place to spend time.IMG_20140118_111555

Further to the city the French influence continues strongly up to today. This translates to awesome bakeries, cafés, restaurants, real cheese and real coffee. China had no cheese at all and India has paneer or crappy singles slices wrapped in plastic…cheese is heaven…Brie, blue, Edam and many more…combine this with fresh baguettes and an almond croissant or two and this place rocks. The restaurants are a mix of Indian, French, Italian and the ‘odds and sods’ ones that you generally find around the place. A standout is the steak that pops up on the odd menu or two.

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As I mentioned this place is both the best and worst…as no cars are allowed into the last 3 streets before the beach the tuk tuk drivers stalk the third street waiting fo ramblers to finish their afternoon/evening walk. As they wait nature inevitably calls…being India…it leaves when it has to…our hotel was on the third street in and at no time did we leave or enter the hotel without seeing at least two people peeing in the stagnant gutters. Needless to say this has an effect upon the aroma of the area.

Now let’s not be silly here…we have been in India since late November so we are no stranger to the open drains and the smells but this place adds a new dimension. Jill was amused that they called one of the open drains the Rue de Petite Canal. Sadly there is the Grand Canal that runs through the middle of the joint. I titled this Rue de Poopoo. It was disgusting, every time I walked past it I was involuntarily dry retching and Jill was not a lot better. There was a heap of local restaurants along the street of the Rue de Poopoo which we did not go near.


The French quarter of town is the bit right by the water (in the 3 block zone and away from Rue de Poopoo) and is known as white town. In here there are any number of great restaurants and the odd juice bar (Kerala style). In all Pondicherry is great if you can keep away from Le Canal O’Crap.

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