“Forrester Research says that more than half the people with a DVR routinely skip commercials” … Only half? That quote is from page 2 of this great ArsTechnica article about the rise of product placements in tv shows. Being able to pause and rewind whatever show you’re watching is very nice but for me skipping commercials is THE reason I must have a DVR from now on. It’s freaky to hear that nearly half the people with a DVR do not routinely skip commercials. What sort of weirdos are these people?
We watched Flight Plan last night thinking it might be fun and suspenseful. It ended up being just ok suspense and leaves you not really caring about any of the characters or what happened to them. Jodie Foster plays the ‘one woman against all odds’ role she’s typically seen in. Usually she does a good job of making you care about what’s going on with her character so you want to keep watching just to see what’s going to happen. For some reason that didn’t happen this time around, though. There are some moments of uncertainty about what’s really going on but they’re fleeting and don’t make up for the otherwise bland story. If you really love Jodie Foster or have a thing for movies on airplanes go ahead and see Flight Plan. Otherwise, don’t bother!
I have a new photo gallery up with a couple of albums of photos taken while I was in India a few weeks ago. The first album is the India Highlights album with 69 of my favorite pictures from the trip. The second India Trip album has all 297 pictures and is well worth the time in my opinion! I’ve added captions to almost of the pictures so you can usually tell where we were when the picture was taken… Mumbai (Bombay), Pune, Udupi, or Gokarna.
I arrived home safely after nearly 40 hours of continuous travel/waiting around. It’s very nice to be home but I’m still feeling a bit groggy and disoriented a few days later. I’ve begun the process of going through my pictures and will put some up soon. There’s some nice ones in the bunch, I think! I’m back to work and trudging through my backlog. That’s always a nice thing to come back to after a vacation.
From Udupi we took a 3 hour or so train ride to the beach town of Gokarna. It’s south of the world renowned Goa resorts and still relatively unspoiled and undeveloped. There are 4 beaches near Gokarna and we ended up on Om Beach. The name is a little silly, but one of the others is actually named Paradise Beach! We didn’t visit that one but from what I’ve heard it has no developed place to stay at all. You have to bring in everything you need and camp and it’s about an hour walk from the closest point you can ride to. Om Beach does have one developed hotel/restaurant but it’s still pretty bare bones. That one fills up fast each day and if you don’t get in you have to trudge farther down the beach to one of the places offering huts with no lockable doors and no power. For 50 rupees a night that suits some of the people attracted by a place like Gokarna just fine.
The beach itself is beautiful and relaxing. I was sad to have only had one short day and a night there. I have a few pictures that probably don’t really capture it. A couple days and nights more would have been a nice way to finish off the trip, but alas! We did take the time for a quick swim in the ocean and it was quite a perfect temperature.
This morning started off a little early with a quick job packing things up with time left for a final breakfast looking out over the Indian Ocean. While sitting there we met up with an American woman from San Francisco (small world, yeah yeah) who had just gotten in that morning and was in need of a room. Lucky timing for her! The three of us finished breakfast together and it was time to begin my long journey back. A train to Margao, then a taxi to the airport in Margao, flight to Bombay, shuttle bus to Bombay’s international terminal, flight to Paris, and final flight to San Francisco. So far I’m in Bombay’s international terminal but cannot check in until 10:30. Delays in Margao and the slow inter-terminal shuttle setup have put me close to 4 hours past the time I expected it to be, but that just means 4 fewer hours sitting and waiting later. In about 28 hours I’ll be stepping down back in San Francisco.
After traveling for about 24 hours total including two trains, a couple of auto-rickshaws and a few hours of waiting around in between, we reached the temple town of Udupi. Our guest house is basic but clean and costs 100 Rupees per night for a double room with its own bathroom. A similar room cost 3 times as much in Hampi. The guest house is right across the way from the beautiful Krishna temple. We have found ourselves here in town during the time of a festival and we caught a fun procession of an Elephant, a sort of parade float “car”, musicians and people. We also joined into a crowd of people going into the main temple to take some peaks at the carefully guarded temple idols. Non-Hindus are often barred from entering a Hindu temple so it was a nice treat for us to go inside during this festival time. I have many pictures and some video of the temple and surrounding buildings.
We have not yet decided if we are leaving town this afternoon or tomorrow morning. Either way we will be heading for the beach town of Gokarna for the remainder of my time here (only a couple more days!). From Gokarna, I will have a very long 36 hour or so trek back home. Fortunately, my stomach bug seems to have passed and I am much happier eating the local food.
Note that my previous two posts were done a little wrong so commenting was not possible. If anyone did try to comment on one of those two posts it would not have worked. Try again on this one!
After three nights in Hampi, we will be boarding a train destined for Goa and then Gokarna this afternoon. Our original plans to go to Udupi may be changed due to traveling logistics and my need to fly back in a few days. Hampi is filled with travelers, most of which seem to be very nice people. We have met 4 or 5 different groups now. We have not yet had a chance to check out the local ruins much but will be doing that in the next couple of hours before we begin our trek out. I came down with some sort of stomach bug and was sick in bed for a good portion of yesterday, unfortunately. I am still a little weird but feeling ok now.
We have explored a few different areas of interest here in Pune and will be moving on tonight. I have started to pick up some souvenirs. They are more expensive in larger cities but there’s more variety to choose from. Even the expensive prices are pretty low compared to the US, though.
We will be taking an overnight 13 hour train ride tonight. We will get off in Guntakal at around 8am and figure out how best to get to Hospet. From Hospet we will take a half hour bus ride to the village of Hampi. I am excited to get to Hampi. It is promise to be relaxing and relatively undeveloped compared to the big cities we have been in so far (Pune has about 3.5M people and Mumbai about 11M). Hampi is also a little off of the beaten path for tourists so that should give it a different feel. So far most everyone has been quite nice to us but we have encountered several people trying to rip off the obvious tourists.
There’s not much use in us trying to ‘fit in’. We have seen other travelers but most of the time we are the only non-Indians wherever we go. We get a lot of attention no matter where we are. I’m not sure if it’s a cultural difference or not, but people here stare for quite long periods of time… as much as 10 minutes sometimes! Easily 90% of the people passing us by on the streets give us a look to see what we’re up to and what we look like.
We have seen families cooking dinner on the sidewalk while a teenager dressed in new Western-style (as in Western Europe and the US, not cowboy) clothes walks by talking happily on a cell phone. There is a very wide spectrum of wealth and education among the people. Imported DVDs at the Borders look-alike bookstore were priced equivalently to US prices (1,999 Rupees for Lost Season 1) and we were able to fill both our bellies with tasty street food and some extravagant fancy sweets for 56 Rupees (about $1.20).
JPM and I are now in Pune (pronounced Poona) after spending yesterday in Mumbai (formerly Bombay). A four hour train ride brought us here. We had the best meal so far earlier today and we got a bit of a view of the mystery that is the Osho International Meditation Center. Do some quick research on that if you’re interested. It’s the most foreigners we’ve seen in one place by far, and they all wear the same maroon robes while wandering around near the place. Strange mix of east and west, third world and first.
We plan to spend a few days here, but may leave sooner if we run out of things we want to do. India’s major cities are severely polluted with difficult to breathe air and undrinkable water. Beggars are everywhere and extreme poverty is never very far from view. There is also a growing middle class of Indians that dress and act much like someone from Europe might. It’s a clash of worlds unlike anything I’ve seen before.
From here we will be moving on to a village called Hampi near some supposedly very impressive ruins of a city that was destroyed after being a major capital for several hundred years. I’ve never been good with specifics but you can look it up on Google or ask me when I get back. Until next time…
In a few days I’m headed to India for a couple weeks of fun and adventure. I’ve been wanting to visit India for a long time now and I’m really excited about it. I’ve had my arsenal of vaccinations and am taking along a small medicine cabinet’s worth of first aid supplies and medicine. I also have bug spray that will kill mosquitoes anywhere in the world at any time. The wearer merely has to think about the bug for the effect to happen. It’s amazing stuff.
I’ll be taking gobs of photos and jotting down my travel thoughts in my new moleskin journal. I still haven’t uploaded pictures from my Europe trip a year ago so only time will tell how long it takes me to tell this story in a public fashion. Keep North America warm for me!