India: Week Four

Day twenty-two: Same Old
Still in hospital, still hooked to a drip, still watching endless crap films on the telly. Loving life..

Day twenty-three: The Great Escape
After waiting all morning, it was made official that my freedom had come! ...but not from needles. I was allowed to be discharged based on the fact Christine and Aman had their own drip, and the four remaining doses of IV antibiotics could be done from the comfort of their home.

Leaving the hospital was amazing. Even if I was still sick, and lying in bed completely lacking any energy or appetite, it was a lot better than doing it in hospital. Nothing much happened to be honest, we were both just ecstatic to be free.

Day twenty-four: Rory’s Big Day Out
With Clare still recovering, I went sight seeing taken by Christine’s driver. Seeing the wonders of New Delhi from an air conditioned car may not have been the most authentic travelling experience, but it was certainly a welcome change. After seeing the president’s house, which makes downing street look like it’s from an industrial estate in the north of England, I went to the impressive India gate. An old woman picked me out the crowd of locals to demand 100 rupees to walk the last 20 yards up to the gate. I refused and turned to walk away, she then let me through anyway, revealing herself as the chancer I suspected.

Afterwards, I explored an underground bazaar, only purchasing Fosters brand water and an “official” Liverpool top for 300 rupees (£3). We went to drive through old Delhi, but the traffic was so bad I decided to call it a day. An uneventful night of reading, writing and eating (for Rory more than Clare) followed.

Day twenty-five: Driving Miss Clarey
Finally feeling a little energised, we hit up some markets with Christine’s driver. Mainly, an impressive craft market of around 100 stalls selling paintings, wooden sculptures, silk scarves and jewellery. After buying a small painting, and some presents for little ones, my energy had been completely used up and we returned to Christine and Aman’s. Not the most exciting of days, but after about a week of lying down, being upright and outdoors was bliss.

Early night for us both for early morning train to Ranthambhore. 
*we swear it gets more exciting! Stick with us!!*

Day twenty-six: First Class Ballers
After a disgustingly early train (first class tho), we arrived in Ranthambhore greeted by a Tuk Tuk driver from the hostel. Aditya hotel was exactly what it said on the tin, simple but nice. After a bit of food and booking our safaris for the next day, we wandered about the town and it became abundantly clear the town is there for the sole purpose of tigers tours. No shops or restaurants to speak of, just guesthouses and tour operators.

We decided to eat in a rooftop restaurant of a nice looking hotel, what a good choice. After ordering we noticed no one was in the kitchen cooking. It turned out there was no chef, so they had rung their other hotel to deliver it. Predictably, it was lukewarm and the portion sizes were pretty pathetic for the price. Leaving disappointed, our pockets annoyingly lighter but our stomachs still not full, we sat on the roof of our hotel ordered some more food and chatted the night away with a couple of Israeli girls, comparing our experiences of India.

Day twenty-seven: Going On A Tiger Hunt
Another disgustingly early morning, although this time the prospect of seeing wild tigers made it easy to get out of bed. We had decided to go for the cheaper option of booking a place on a 20 seater canta rather than a jeep, though some of the people made us regret this choice. As the morning wore on and the optimism about seeing a tiger dwindled, the two American guys who did not stop chatting s***, and the Indian man who stood up to block everyone’s view at every opportunity began cause tempers to shorten. The morning safari finished and we’d only seen some deer, peacocks and monkeys. Not particularly worth the money.

As the afternoon came, we went into the safari with tempered expectations, debating whether to bother. The drizzle that started did nothing to improve our mood. The people sharing the canta with us weren’t quite as obnoxious, finally a check in the pros column. Then, only 10 minutes in, we saw a tiger. Unfortunately so did 6 other cantas. The road crowded and the view limited, we still managed to steal a few sights of our long awaited tiger lying in the river, back to the hundred or so people with no cares to give.

We heard you had to be lucky to see a tiger in Ranthambhore, so we were pretty shocked too see another tiger as we were heading out of the national park. It was only a glimpse of its arse as it walked away over a hill, but an impressive sight nonetheless.

We didn’t make the same mistake as the previous night, and ate in our hotel, satisfied with the U-turn the day had taken.

Day twenty-eight: A Close Shave
After a later start than planned, we decided we were going to investigate Ranthambhore fort with our day before the train. Only getting there proved difficult. We had been told the many jeeps that sped up and down the road to the park would pick us up and drive us there no problem. Our hotel manager also added that, ‘our skin’ would mean we'd definitely be picked up. It didn't prove as easy as we thought, and after many attempts and the help of a security guard, we finally made it to the fort.

What had started a gloomy morning soon turned into a gloriously sunny day, making the steep climbing steps a tad difficult. After exploring it's little temple, watching people do their laundry in the lake and staring over the amazing hilltop views, the heat soon became unbearable. Luckily, after negotiating our way back down the hill, we found out original jeep driver sitting waiting and returned relatively easily (if slightly ripped off) back to our hotel.

Once back, Rory went out to get a fresh haircut and close shave, a strange experience to stay the least. That’s when the rain started. And when it rains in India, it really rains. We had given ourselves plenty of time to get some food, check out the hotel and make it to the train station within time for our 4.30pm train. The staff at hotel Aditya had a different idea. The manager, who was the only one to speak English, was nowhere to be seen, but we were “reliably” informed he be there in 10 minutes. This assertion was repeated several times over a 2 hour period. The food we ordered took over an hour and a half, arriving just as we set off for the station, despite us cancelling it. It took a threat of us not paying for the manager to finally arrive. We made it to the station with minutes to spare, to find the heavy rain had already caused the train to be 2 hours delayed.

It wasn’t the worst station to wait in, but was also by no means the best. Eventually the train arrived and we set off for Agra. Arriving at the hotel we had decided to splash out on at 1 in the morning was not part of the plan. We quickly settled in, and prepared to rise for the Taj Mahal.