Monday, April 26, 2010

March Madness and Spring Fever

I'M SORRY my lovely readers for my absence but as you might be guessing I've been very busy. I've been on 4 trips since I last posted and it has been a complete rush. The first one which I had mentioned in my previous post very briefly was to Rajasthan. It was a class trip for geography and we were investigating the eco-tourism in effect there. If you want more information... google it :p just kidding. Eco-tourism is just what it sounds like: tourism in an eco-friendly fashion. So we stayed at an eco-friendly hotel (which turned out it wasn't) and went on a couple of safaris through Ranthambore National Park to look at the state of the park and how it dealt with pollution, etc. As you can see from the photos I've posted, we took an overnight train there (so much fun!) and ended up seeing two leopards mating (oops).

Most of the trip was spent either at the hotel, at the park, or going to some different markets. Rural India is very interesting and so peaceful compared to fast-paced Mumbai. I loved seeing the old ruins inside the national park and the beautiful colors worn by the locals. On our last day we drove to Jaipur to get on a plane back (our school didn't want us to miss another day of school by taking the train). We didn't see much of the famous city, just ate lunch at a Pizza Hut and then did some quick shopping in some shops.

The nest trip I went on was during Spring Break to Lonavla, a small Maharashtrian village where my host family has a vacation home. We barely went out except for meals, spending most of our time reading or playing cards. It was really relaxing surprisingly, considering me. My family in U.S. usually can barely stay in the hotel for longer than maybe 2 hours when there are places to go (this might be a slight exaggeration but pretty close to the truth). I was only anxious because a lot of my friends were just hanging out in Mumbai and I wanted to be with them. But really, it was nice getting to know my host family better. The picture above of the man and the coconut was spurred by me. We found a coconut had fallen so I wanted to see how much juice was inside. It turned out not much but the guy was kind enough to open it for me.

The third trip was to beautiful Goa. I know it's such a typical place to go and yes it was the second time I was going but gosh was it worth it. My German friend and I went together to meet her friend and her friend's mom who had already been there for 2 weeks or so. We stayed at the same guesthouse/hotel as them, in no way luxurious (just the way I like it). Unfortunately due to malaria threats, I brought along some odomos (mosquito cream) and we used it safely. Honestly I recommend this because if you want a tan (and even if you don't) the mosquito medication they give at the travel clinic will just make you more pink than brown. Trust me, Austin has been taking the stuff all year and he says he's way whiter here then he ever was in the US.

We rented out bicycles and everyday rode to the beach in the morning, went into the waves then got out to eat breakfast, layout for a couple hours, bought from some hawkers, ate fruit and had lassis (like the Indian milkshake), got back in the water, and repeat. I love the sea and the beach (the latter not being found in Mumbai unless you just want to sit on the sand with all your clothes on) and it was incredibly awesome to just be there. Although it is true that Goa is expensive. A ten-minute taxi ride which would be maybe rs. 30 in Mumbai, they want to charge rs. 500 is such a rip-off. But I guess they are just trying to get the best out of the tourists. But if you accidentally forget your swimsuit, have no fear they do sell those. And don't be turned off by the ugly fully covered + skirt swimsuits that displayed outside shops. Inside you will find real bikinis and one-pieces! (I learned because I'm smart) And the price is under rs. 500 (remember bargaining is my secret weapon, I got mine down to around 400).

In the end, I got a nice tan, some nice jewelry (4 pairs of anklets ahahahah), a dress, swimsuit, and some nice memories. It helped that we were at a nice beach too (Benaulim) at an awesome beach shack (if you stay at one of these all day and order food, drinks, etc. they allow you to use these beach chairs). Sandra, my friend, and I took the train back (I will repeat, trains are amazing; although not always the cleanest thing, even in AC, it's still good, we went and came back this way for only rs. 1500) and I returned to my host family.

The last trip was to Jamnagar in Gujarat the week-end after my brithday. So before we talk about the trip let me just say, my birthday was AMAZING! In Indian schools, they allow you to wear whatever you want and it's tradition to bring chocolates and give them out to your classmates (weird right? I thought you were supposed to receive gifts on your special day... just kidding). After school was finished and Austin and I were walking out, he spotted Hrithik Roshan, one of our favorite actors, and we immediately followed him. He was being showed around the school since his kid will be coming next year and we didn't know whether we should stop him for an autograph. But we got our answer when some other kids stopped him so we rushed up and got his as well. It was even more cool though because when I told him it was my birthday, he wrote out (and spelled correctly) my name as well as happy birthday then gave me a hug. I kept my composure but I was freaking out inside! I was practically jumping up and down. When I get back to US, I'm definitely getting his autograph framed.

So Jamnagar was nice. We had to take planes there and back (a bummer) and had to take buses everywhere since it was the entire 11th grade. Thankfully, my friends and I were all on the same bus. Sanjana and I ended up rooming together. I ended up getting a bit in trouble on the first day but that cleared up. I didn't really do that much that weekend since I'm not taking a science and my group didn't have much for me to do. The pictures you can see of the water and rocks and the octopus were taken at this marine sanctuary near Jamnagar which was awesome to go to. Austin held one octopus but the one in this picture was actually poisonous so we couldn't hold it. It was funny though cause it ended up inking on him. On one of the nights we were given the option to go play football or watch a movie, so Austin, Sanj, and I picked the movie, I truly B-C rated one called Prince. All of us who went took pure delight in making fun of it because the dialogue and plot were so bad. As my classmate loves to point out it took the storylines and other aspects from about 20 other famous Hollywood blockbusters and smushed them together. I thought was one of the funniest parts was when the hero on a motorcycle started going up a parking lot entrance in Mumbai, despite this part of the film taking place in South Africa.

Well since then, nothing has happened except that Austin and I are currently buying presents for those back in US. It's scary to think that we only have about 35 days left in India. Where did the time go? I'll update soon, I promise!

(you happy now mom? :p)

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