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India – Day 11

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Another day of roaming around. But first, some more delicious breakfast. And laundry. You might have noticed there is no dryer in these pictures. It’s common practice here to dry clothes on a clothes line – usually on the roof, or a balcony.

First stop. Kailasagiri. This is a park/recreation area type place that’s mildly religiously themed. I am not entirely sure there’s much super-interesting to say, but it was a nice place to roam around.

Visakhapatnam, being a big port city, has several beaches. Sunny day, comfortable temperatures and free time. What better time to check out said beaches?

What followed for lunch is possibly the only time I’ve been disappointed with food in my tour of India. The food came late and wasn’t worth it. If you ever do visit this country, stay away from overly posh restaurants – they show off more and do less of the actual good cooking. This is probably true in most other countries, but here, I feel like it’s even more the case.

Fresh guava from the farmer’s market before bed. Yay. The fancy cutting job’s credit goes to the cousin whose place we were bumming at.

India – Day 10

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Day 2 of not doing much in Vizag.

After breakfast, it was time to check out the Farmer’s Market. This place is setup with basic stalls that local farmers can sell their crop in. I think they pay some sort of rent, but apparently it’s fairly tiny.

After a lunch back home (with fresh veggies we bought from the market in the morning), and a small (3 hour) nap, we left to check out downtown – an area called “Jagadamba”.

And if you are wondering. Yes. The food was delish.

India – Day 9

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Overnight train again to Vizag.

We were insanely tired after our train ride (some of which involved not sleeping till 3am because my dad, brother and I had to sit on the same berth because our seats apparently weren’t confirmed). The rest of this day was mostly just lazing/sleeping at my cousin’s place.

Went out for a stroll in the evening though. Saw the following for the first time.

Auto-rickshaws have been around since forever, but recently, they apparently started doing these “Share Autos” where a slightly bigger Auto-Rickshaw is basically run like a small bus. The first customer dictates the final destination of the Auto. The driver then periodically stops at random places where he sees people waiting and asks if anyone is going in the same direction. If they are, they get to have a shared Auto ride for about 1/5th to 1/10th the cost of having your own Auto ride. Being India however, this sharing doesn’t stop at any sane point. As seen above. In some cases, people also cram themselves in the tiny boot area you see above.

Anyways. That done. Dinner Time.

The vegetables above are from a local farmers market (more on that later). It’s pretty common here for people to get vegetables and such less than a day before they are used. Sometimes, like this day, they were bought a few hours before they are used. And they were probably picked a day or two ago. Obviously, there are supermarkets and recently, there are more of them, but for the most part, people haven’t gotten the Costco bug there… yet.

Thank god.

India – Day 8

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After more religious stuff waaaay early in the morning when it is cold… and early, half the group (an aunt, my brother and I) roamed the top of the hill around the temple. The first place was “Vishnu Padam” – Footprints of Lord Vishnu. There are apparently other places around the world that they have these (I guess he traveled too).

Somewhat unrelated, but if you go around to spots like these and more general tourism spots like the Qutb Minar and Taj Mahal, you’ll see people walking around with cameras that will take your photo and photoshop it onto something related. Here, they were selling photos where you’d be photoshopped onto the main Tirumala Temple etc. The best part to look for is their Photoshop stations.

Next up was a garden / small zoo. But most of it was fairly boring except for a rock formation.

The rest of the day was another random temple and a dam.

Off to Vizag in the evening! This involved going down a hill full of hairpins, in one of these:

Oh, and we’re probably doing about 30mph … the ENTIRE FUCKING WAY. The entire ride down was like being a passenger in some sort of insane (awesome) modified rally car that takes 5 passengers. Every corner was High-G country. The squeaking noises you hear are the tired brakes of the bus that was in front of us as it also brakes way too late into corners. Repeatedly.

 

 

 

India – Day 7

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The train journey was an overnight one. We reached Tirupati early morning.

The main area of interest here is the temple atop the nearby hill town of Tirumala. People of the Hindu faith come here from basically all over the country… or from the other side of the planet, like we did. Kind of like Mecca, but for Hinduism.

There are two ways to get up the hill – a comfortable cab ride, or walk for about 7 miles, including climbing up about 2400 stairs. Guess which route we took?

Yup.

But before that, a delicious breakfast.

We were dropped off at Alipiri in a cab. We would be picked up at the top … about 3 hours later. We were climbing up the stairs with our backpacks and socks on. Shoes aren’t allowed. Some people going up also carried other things – usually offerings. Some also “promise” (there isn’t a good literal translation for the word) to their God that they will also do other stuff as they climb, like light small candles as they walk up the stairs.

About halfway through the way up the hill, the stairs end. Thankfully. But then you start walking up a road… against traffic. But before we started on the road part, we came across a rest area where people were eating the food they brought or were handing out free food for other travelers – called “Annadanam”.

So about that road…

As you can see, the footpath sort of runs out at random points. The buses however, don’t stop coming.

The rest of the day was all religious stuff that’s not really camera friendly.

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Copyright 2012 Aditya Gaddam