Thursday, January 26, 2012

Kolkata was our final destination in India. We've heard mixed reviews about it so weren't sure how it would be.

The train was 4 hours late so our journey from Varanasi was 18 hours! Wowzer. Thankfully we were in 2AC class so it was a bit cleaner and people were quieter and slightly better mannered!

There's not many tuk-tuks here to we had to get an old school 'Ambassador classic' (see yellow cars in photos) taxi which are everywhere! It took about 30 minutes to travel 1km as the traffic was that bad and then another 30 minutes to get to the hostel.

We found an ok hotel, and went out for a walk. Kolkata is easily the tidiest place we've been to. There are also no cows or as many stray dogs. It has a very colonial feel to it as the British created buildings in large parts of the city.

The next day we tried to find the Indonesian embassy as we need to get a 60 day visa and you can only get it out of the country. We walked through the slums and makeshift houses but the people barely paid us any attention, and went about their daily routines. We eventually found the building where it was meant to be, but the embassy was long gone. We then went for a drink on a rooftop bar, to relax after all our walking, which had views of Kolkata. It didn't look appealing from our vantage point and the sunset was more grey than red! 

The 9pm film was Avatar which we hadn't seen and to be honest we can't see what all the fuss was about! It wasn't in 3D mind.

The next day we went to the post office to send home our first load of souvenirs (which includes a mini Taj Mahal and various fridge magnets!). The post office was as expected, unorganized, chaotic and uninformative. Then a guy from outside said he would help us - there was loads of parcel wrapping people on the street (not part of the post office). Everyone was using them because the post office didn't have boxes etc. He gave us the forms to fill in while he boxed our stuff. He then sewed, yes sewed material on the outside, before sealing the corners with wax! How incredibly old school. So Dad (Paul D) expect that in about 10 days time! He pushed past people and gave it to the guy behind the counter.

We were done within 30 minutes and we paid the guy about £1.50 (including tip!)

The remainder of the day was spent sight seeing. We went to Victoria memorial which is... a memorial for Queen Victoria. There was a section in there to say how the British took over before bribing India for their independence in exchange to fight for us in WW2. 

Kolkata definitely benefited from having the British and they recognize that. A lot of Kolkata was rebuilt, the section that wasn't, looked horrendous - a bit like Old Delhi did. 

Last Action hero was unfortunately the 9pm film that night so not great.

We checked out went to the same place for breakfast for cornflakes with banana and 4 slices of toast which is a great way to start the day when you dont know where your next meal is coming from.

We then headed to the airport. We haggled the taxi driver from 400 to 300. It took 1 hour to do the 15km so when we arrived we gave him 400 which he seemed happy with! We have done that quite a bit, haggled down but then seen how far/ how good something is then gave them what they initially asked for. The small differences don't matter to us but does to them.

Kolkata has been a nice stay. It's tidier, no cows, less dogs and people are friendly. We didn't do many sights as our bodies had gone into shutdown mode knowing that the end of our India trip is near! 

Next stop its Malaysian Borneo.



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