Sunday, 29 April 2012

Scary Stuff

He (Who me?), yes you, don't interrupt, has been playing with his photos all day long, and at last he's started to pay attention to the star of the show. (It's not just big feet you've got, you have a head to match.) Haven't (Have so!) Have not. (Have so.) Have NOT.  Now do pay attention we have a blog to create.

I was going to cheerily call this "Another Day, Another Monument," but events will show that things weren't that mundane.  It all started so well, we were in Jaipur for our second day, and yet again I got robbed of my beauty sleep so that we could go to another monument.  This time it was the Amber Fort.
You can see that it is big and we had to get from the car park to the courtyard. 
Some people got to ride up there on the back of a hephalent (it's called an elephant) If I want to call it a hephalent then that's what it is. Anyway we didn't get to do that.  Instead we had to go up in a jeep.  Much less fun but I 'xpect it was quicker.
 Anyway. here I am with what I was sure would be another hot bot moment, but it was merely warm, being quite early in the day.
 It was quite an impressive place with lots of rooms and a hall of mirrors and things.  Lily liked this room. It was nice and cool and there was even a spotlight for her to sit in to get her photo taken - Sometimes the supporting cast need a bit of the limelight too, though not too much.
 Before we left we looked over a very high wall down to the lake and the town beyond. As you can see, I was telling him off for (yet another) Hot Bot moment. (Nonsense it was still fairly cool).  All very well for you to say, it wasn't your bot, and it was a very long way down to the hephalents below.

Soon we went back down in the jeep and caught our bus back into Jaipur, and it's then that the scary part came.  This next picture is a clue - can you guess what it is?
 It's a bicycle rickshaw, the one in front of ours and we were launched into this!!!!!!!!!!!!!
The staff and Ann weren't really sure what to do and then Alan said "We must get Jock's photo,  so I was hauled out of the bag and held out by Ann - dangled over the road, but you can see that I was quite relaxed about it, though the photo's not very sharp (What a surprise, I was guessing where you were and taking your photo while trying not to get mown down by passing traffic.)  I was relaxed on the outside, but I was quite glad when it was all over. (You were not the only one, and by the time we got you out we'd actually left the worst of the traffic, so it was only marginal mayhem not total anarchy.)

That's about it for to-day.  When we'd finished it was back to the hotel to lie down in a darkened room.

Tomorrow I'll tell you all about the lovely town of Mandawa.


Saturday, 28 April 2012


Well, we're actually back home and have been for AGES, so the lazy boy is only now getting round to writing this up. (I had work to go to and things to do, so I haven't had time.) Excuses, excuses, I think I'll sack him.  (You can try, but if you do no-one will be able to read your adventures).  Oh alright then, just get a move on. (Yes sir!)

First a word about seeing the world on our travels.  Ann and Alan had to move around the bus so that everyone would get a turn at the front.  The rule was that everyone should move two rows clockwise.  All well and good except for the party of there who didn't know up from down and kept wondering why they seemed to be causing mayhem, cos they went the WRONG way.  Well, anyway, it mattered little to me, there was usually space between the armrest and the window for me to sit, and sometimes Lily too, and that suited us just fine.

As you can see, it gave us a good position to see the world and to wave at everyone.  People would look up at us from their cars and point, a bit rude I suppose, but the children liked us a lot, and wanted to take us home.  Alan wouldn't let us go home with any of them, which is probably wise as I don't think we'd ever get back. (Sadly, no you wouldn't. Much as we were very sad that the children seemed to have nothing, we couldn't let you go with them.)  
You can see how close Ann was to us in this photo.  It was a very big bus and cool and comfortable too. (Amazingly, sometimes too cool.)

From our vantage point we really could get a good view of everything, including the mad drivers.  There were occasions when I leapt backwards into Alan's lap when things got too scary, but by and large things were fine.

On the way to Jaipur we did see some interesting things. We were travelling through the semi arid region when suddenly we ground to a halt and the guide said "Quick everyone get off, you can get a few pictures."  What of I wondered, and we were at the back of the bus so it was quite a struggle.  This is what all the fuss was about. Camels and lots of them.

They were striding along, filling the road and once they'd passed us the whole heard started to feed on a neem tree.  The locals weren't impressed, but I thought they looked funny - the camels not the locals (I'm sure they thought the same of you!)

Get on with it Alan, we haven't reached Jaipur yet.  It was quite a long way and the scenery was flat and brown, though there were lots of fields where the wheat had just been mown.  So on we trundled until we came to a level crossing.  It was a single lane road, but that made no difference.  Mintu, our driver was quite legally sitting in the normal position on the road and this lorry pulled up behind us.  The lorries are quite amazing with home made bodies and cabs.  The box above the cab is often filled too, with people, though not on this occasion.

While we waited for the train our single carriageway became three lanes in each direction - that is three lanes facing three lanes.  When the train passed it took ages to sort out who was going where, lorries 'n buses 'n cars 'n bikes 'n carts all trying to get into the same space. Amazingly, there were no accidents and we soon were on our way to Jaipur.

 After depositing our cases in our hotel and grabbing some lunch we headed out for a tour of the city, and it's quite a scary place with cars darting everywhere along with tuc-tucs and rickshaws and bikes - the usual stuff, and we were getting quite blasé about it all.

First we went to the Royal Palace, a huge pile of a place with some interesting things to see, like the peacock gate, which is very splendid, but you'll have to look at Alan's website to see it.  We saw a sssssnake too, with a man playing a pipe to get it to rise up in front to him.  The man said we should sit down beside him as the snake was not dangerous - you can believe that if you like, but I couried down in Alan's bag just in case he was daft enough to go there. (I was only a little tempted, but then we had to move on.) Oh good, but you see, he's not entirely trustworthy is he?

Well, we saw the armoury and the lovely clothes exhibition and then I got my photo taken at last - but yes you guessed it - ANOTHER HOT ROCK to sit on. (Look, you don't have to keep going on about it, you're back home and you survived the experience.) All I can say is it wasn't your bot was it? (True, but I tried to wait until it wasn't too hot.)  Ha, a likely story.

Anyway, having seen the place we walked across the road to the observatory, and it was fascinating.  They had one sundial there that was accurate to 20 second and another that is accurate to 5 seconds.

That would be astonishing to-day, but these things were built hundreds of years ago without any computers.  In the pictures left and right of this we're sitting on an obscure thing to do with the moon.  Below we're sitting below my star sign - Indian style.  All this work was done so that the astrologers could produce even better horoscopes - what a waste of effort, but interesting all the same.

To-morrow we'll have another look at Jaipur including the incredible rickshaw ride.

Bye for now,

Friday, 20 April 2012

Nya Nya ne Nya Nya, I saw a TIGER

Pardon me for jumping to the end, there are interesting things to come, but I just couldn't wait to share these pictures with you.  We are at Ranthambhore again and I've become a big game hunter!  All in the nicest sense of course.  I spot the game and the staff take the photos (Not exactly Jock, it's our guide Ram who spots the game for us and excellent he is too.) Details, details, we get to see lots of game and I spot it, so there.
 This is me astride the roll-bar on the jeep we go out in.  The view is excellent from up there, even if he does make my feet look big (sometimes the camera doesn't lie.)
 This is a more sympathetic view taken by Ann. It shows how I travel about and get to see things.  First we get up at 5.00 a.m and there is much rubbing of eyes.  Then we zoom along the road to the reserve to get there just after 6.00.  We are out looking for cats - Tigers - and I thought I'd show you a few of the pictures he took this morning.

This was almost our first glimpse of Machali the oldest tiger in the reserve and the most photographed. It took Alan simply AGES to see her, he must be getting old (Watch it, you cheeky we bear.) I didn't thing she looked too big until she got up close.  She's GINORMOUS  If you think I've got big feet you should see the plates of meat on a tiger.  One kick from them and I'd be in the next country.  (Indeed you wouldn't last long and nor would I.)

 This is a close-up of the old lady, strolling along looking for somewhere to sleep.  When she got to a good spot she lay down and went spark out.  Raj says she lost her canine teeth fighting a crocodile about 8 years ago, but I still think she'd give me a good hard suck (You betcha!)
 We trundled around and staff used some time taking pictures of birds.  Above is a magpie robin, pretty isn't it.
 This is a bee-eater with its breakfast - silly name to call it as it's eating a dragonfly.  I reckon it should be called a Dragonfly Eater myself.  (Well yes they do eat more than bees, but mostly bees so the name won't change.) Humph!
Alan was idly snapping away while we waited for the tigers to appear.  We could hear the sambur deer barking, which means that there's a predator about, so we had to be patient.  I wanted to get out and play with the monkeys, but they were very agitated too for some reason. (Tigers eat monkeys, so they weren't going to hang around even to play with you.) Shucks, anyway, after hanging around for simply ages, suddenly there was a great commotion as we saw not one but THREE tigers.  This is a famous group as it consists of a male tiger and two female cubs.  The cubs were orphaned at about three months and the male adopted them, something unheard of before. Well they were hard to see at first until one of the young females came out to chase the monkeys (See what I mean.)  Alan got this lovely picture and a few more and then we went back to camp for our breakfast -- totally exhausted.

Tuesday, 17 April 2012


Well now, we had the beauty of the Taj and then straight off up the road again - my head is spinning with all the rushing around. (Yours is not the only one I can tell you!)  They told me we were off to a place called Ranthambhore where there are tigers, but instead we went to another place with stones.

First of all can I show you the indignities of my super snug method of travel.  I am STUFFED into a compartment of Alan's camera bag (No you're not, you are gently eased into position so that you can travel without risk of you being grabbed at by anyone.) Actually it's not too bad and I do come out from time to time.
Anyway, I sat patiently until we were on the bus and then I got out to look out the window at the world passing by - strange lorries with home made cabs, tuc-tucs full to overflowing with people,  tractors, home made tractors, horses and carts and camels and carts.  What fun I've had, though driving through towns is a bit stressful. 

First stop was the amazing abandoned city of Fatepur Sikri.  It's right in the middle of nowhere and is quite fantastic.  Lily and I had our rock moments (nicely shaded and not hot.)  True but we're getting a bit of a phobia you know.  
 These pictures were taken sitting in the hall of private audience, an amazing construction.  The building looks like it should have two floors but instead there is one with a pillar in the centre.  The pillar supports a circular platform on which the Sultan sat.  He could hear everything and be heard but not seen.  Very secure and of course he could choose not to turn up.  We're sitting on the carving on the pillar, cool(ish) and quite comfy.
 After only a short time there it was off down the road for lunch at a place called the Bagh (which just means "garden")  After lunch we went for a stroll and I found this cannon thing to sit on.  Mean old Alan wouldn't let me fire it so I just had to imagine it. (I don't think that this has been fired for a long time and it might have exploded and taken you and me with it.) Hmmph I still think you're a killjoy.
 Next I got to travel on a train for absolutely hours 'n hours.  It was quite fun really and I got to see lots of new people.
The train took us to Ranthambhore where Lily and I went off to see monkeys, deer, birds and a TIGER, but we didn't get our photos taken.  Not fair I say - explain that Mr Alan (Well, I didn't want you to fall out of the bus thingy and end up as a tiger's fur ball. Anyway we'll be back there again and I promise I will take a shot of you.)
 I don't know what all the fuss was about.  When we left Ranthambhore for Jaipur I met this fine fellow and he let me sit on his head. (He wasn't a real tiger so it's hardly likely he would have complained.)

Well that's all for now 'cos the staff wants to go to sleep.



Saturday, 14 April 2012

A Great Big Monument

Hello again, this the story of my visit to Agra.  The staff tagged along of course as did lovely Lily.  She and I have had a great time.

The journey from Delhi to Agra wasn't that far, but it was quite slow.  I soon got used to Alan wincing at the traffic.  Something to do with people driving on the wrong side of dual carriageways and even parking their camel carts there to have a quick chat with their friends.  I don't see whats wrong with that, it all adds to the variety of life (And takes years off one's life as well -A)

First we visited the India Gate in New Delhi, it's a very imposing war memorial near the presidential palace, with lots of names on it of Indian and British soldiers who were killed in the two World Wars.  I wanted to sit on a post to get my photo taken but Ann held me up instead (Sorry we wanted that too, but it wasn't allowed.)
Next up was the Q'tub Minar, a HUGE minaret covered in red sandstone.  Apparently it's the largest free standing minaret anywhere.  Here I am getting my bot heated again  (Sorry no option if I wanted to get you and tower in the same picture.)  We spent some time here and I only got my photo taken once, humph. (Humph yourself!)

Then, there was lunch where I wasn't invited (Just as well as I think that's where I picked up the dreaded Delhi belly - a mild attack but unpleasant).  I'll forgive you just this once.  We hit the road again to Agra, where there's some great big palace thingy.  En route we stopped  for a snackeroo, and not before time for the two bears.  When we stopped we found this friendly elephant so Lily and I climbed aboard and had our portrait made (I say bear, that's very formal.) Occasionally I can be you know.

We went for a stroll in the gardens and I really liked them, though once again (sigh) hot bot time, like it or not, but it was a pleasant break from all that travel.

Next morning the damned phone rang at 5.30 and he and she immediately jumped out of bed. Just when I was getting my body clock slightly better adjusted.  This became a pattern in the days to come.  Anyway out they trouped and LEFT US BEHIND. (As I explained, we were warned that we could only take our purses and our cameras into the site, so we had to leave you behind.) That's your story and you're sticking to it (All true.) Well anyway they came back raving about this Taj Mahal place, and I didn't even get to go.  Alan says that in the morning light it is exquisite, but you'll have to wait until he posts the pictures to find out.  I've seen them and the place really does look fantastic.

Finally, I got to make an appearance.  We went to the Red Fort of Agra and it was GINORMOUS. We only got to go round 40% of it because the army are in the rest of it.  As you can see the gardens are lovely and for once I didn't get something hot to sit on.

In this shot the Taj is dimly in the background through the haze.  Ann was holding on tight because there was a very big drop behind me.  Then she gave me the FRIGHT OF MY LIFE.  A stupid fly landed on her arm and she used me, ME, I mean ME to chase it away.  I thought she was going to throw me away, and I was all of a tremble. (I did tell Ann off, and she was very sorry.)  I should think so!
 Well, equanimity restored, we carried on the tour ending up in the big square where Lily got her hot bot moment, and then I joined her.  I'm becoming quite used to it now, but, you know, it is a bit of a shock

Alan finally relented and took me to see the Taj Mahal.  I was all psyched up to getting up close and personal only to find that we were on the other side of the River Jumna.  Still the light was stunning and the view fantastic.  Here  am sitting on a merely warm wall, while some silly person wanders around behind me. (Sorry, there wasn't much I could do about that.)

Anyway that's about all, except that the bus ride there and back was, shall we say, interesting.  Alan described in an e-mail to some friends and family like this: 
"In the evening we had transport organised so that some of use could travel to the far side of the Jumna river to see the Taj at sunset.  This was another amazing experience, not least the journey there and back.  Roundabouts are for cars, buses and lorries, while tuc-tucs, bicycles, hand carts, delivery bikes and motor bikes can take the shortest route to their preferred exits, and you must avoid the cows at all costs. Traffic lights are only for use when there are police in attendance.  They often have a count-down display and, as the time reduces, the bicycles,scooters and motor bikes line up like a racing start to see who can get going first.  Precedence at T-junctions is based on size and who gets there first.  Even a short journey in weekend traffic is slow and entertaining.  We have seen the chaos but  no accidents."

Oh yes, the piece de resistance that night was being overtaken on the left by a tuc-tuc just as the bus was turning left onto a bridge, and, while that was happening a motor bike came the other way, turned right and went between the bus and the tuc-tuc.

I think that sums it up for now.  My amanuensis says he'll endeavour to post some more blog while up in the hills where we're off to in the morning - the call is at 5.00!



Thursday, 12 April 2012


 Well we have been busy haven't we. A week into the holiday and I'm only getting the staff in line to write this up for me.  (Watch it or this will be the last post in every sense of the word).  Whatever, we had two plane flights and my companions were somewhat shattered by it all.  We got on our lovely bus and this was my first chance to look out.  I now have my own perch by the window, and while it's often a tad warm, the view is fantastic.
 The bus took us to our hotel in Delhi, the Taj Palace - cor it was posh.  Doesn't Alan look a bit of a nana with that dot on his forehead and the flowers round his neck?  I, of course, carry it off with insouciance as you can see.

No nosh though, well they went off and had some leaving me with Lily (I didn't know she was coming too, so it was a bit of a surprise when Ann sat her down beside me).  She came from the same place as me, but she's a year or two older so the other bears in Ann & Alan's hug thought it would be a good idea for her to come along as well.  I really am glad she came too, one needs support when outnumbered by the servant species. (The what species??? You really are pushing it my lad.)  She looks like I've just cuffed her on the ear, doesn't it, but honest, I didn't.

This is us under pictures of Ganesh the elephant god of prosperity.  He's a funny elephant though 'cos he's got hands. Still he looks friendly enough I must say.

Following a brief respite we were off for a trip around Delhi.  I have to say the place is very interesting but the drivers are quite quite mad.  I had my paws over my eyes quite a lot, but we got through anyway.  This picture is in an old Mosque.  It was very hot indeed and Ann and Alan had to go bearfoot (No Jock, we went barefoot!) Yes, that's what I said.  So they hopped about a lot and stood on the shady bits when they could.  Alan put me down briefly to get a photo but changed his mind - he's been doing that a lot, setting me down on hot rocks, and it gives me a very hot bot I can tell you. (A bit like me after the nice hot curries we've had.)  No need for crudity please Alan!

Next we headed for a very important place in India called the Raj Ghat.  This is where the great Mahatma Gandhi was cremated after some madman killed him in 1948.  Gandhi-Ji as he was known was a very wise man and is still much revered so we went to pay our respects.  The place is  set in lovely gardens and Alan went down to the granite slab and took one pictures you'll be able to see on his website very soon

It was a long hot afternoon so it was certainly time for some grub.  This little poppadom didn't look like much but it was a start.

I made a new friend, Partho in the restaurant and he chose a very nice meal for us all. He was very interested in my story, and I thought he might want to take me home, but he put me down on the table again so that I could have my meal.

 Several subtly different curries with prawns and vegetables in spicy sauces, and they were all very yummy.  I really needed a good wipe down to get all that gravy off my fur - there's only so far a tongue can reach you know! (Too much information bear.)

Then of course Jack told me I had to take care and get lots of beer to wash it all down.  The Kingfisher is very nice indeed.

I was left to sleep it off while they got a tour of the kitchens - fascinating, but more important was that I got to have my picture taken again before we left the restaurant.
 So off we went back up to bed and looked out for the most effective way to get to our room so I hitched a ride on a friendly ephalump ellybelly ELEPHANT, and don't we look smart.  Then we all fell over in a big heap and tried to sleep.

Well, that's about it for now, I hope the staff catches up with things soon, but be patient they are being driven hard. Most mornings we're out and on the road by 8.00 and sometimes sooner. Internet access is a a bit of a problem, but not too bad, so in the next few days the lazy boy will pull his sock up ('Scuse me, who's lazy, and I haven't worn socks since I arrived in India.)  That proves it, no socks so he can't improve, you really can't get the staff any more.

See you soon, byee,