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The Kirwan Twins Adventures We've finally graduated, so we're setting off for three months to backpack around India, Cambodia, Vietnam and Thailand before entering the "real world."

A breath of cool, crisp air...

INDIA | Saturday, 21 April 2007 | Views [1124] | Comments [1]

After our long trip in Rhajastan, we all eagerly awaited the arrival of our new travel buddy for a week - Sven - as well as our relief from the hot weather in Northern India. In Delhi, we boarded a 6am train to Shimla.  During the British Raj, the government would rule India from this summer capital in the Himalayas to escape the heat and enjoy the scenery.  Now a popular Indian tourist spot, we headed up north for some cool weather and relaxation after our hot and hectic desert tour.

We hopped on the first 5-hour train to Kalka, where we disembarked to catch the Toy Train (because that's exactly what it looks like) to Shimla.  Although the slowly ascending journey through the mountains, was spotted with neon flowers and continuously changing fauna, our combination of little sleep, jetlag, and impossibly uncomfortable seats made for a tiring trip.  When we finally arrived 11 hours later, we had to climb a steep footpath to Hotel Doegar, where we debunked in retro 70s meets porn star rooms. Super cheesy and apparently a "honeymooner hotel." Hmmm...

We headed into the town, where we felt as if we'd mistakenly arrived in a European hill station bedecked with Tudor and Alpine style buildings.  Thankful for the change of scenery and the cool weather, we quickly found a restaurant to feed our rumbling bellies. Emma ominously predicted that "the last time I was this tired, I got sick;" the next day she reported back to us on her sleepless night and remained in bed for the next three days :(.  Sadly leaving her in Bobby's good care, Sven and I headed out to the Viceroy's Lodge, an old Victorian building used as the viceroy's vacation home during the British Raj.  Now it serves as an institute of advanced studies open only to PhD students who are admitted by a selection committee of 80 people.  We wandered the gardens and tried to blend into the scholarly surroundings while reading our books until Sven's winter skin began to turn pink.  After a few hours, we headed back to check on Emma, who was worse than when we had left her.  We called a local doctor who perscribed her all the necessary meds and spent the rest of the day relaxing in our room and keeping our ill little soldier company.

The next day, Sven and I decided on a more ambitious walk to "the Glen," the sight of old polo grounds.  We wandered downhill for about an hour when we finally reached what looked like a Glen, but, instead, turned out to be a town called Annandale.  Scared that we might never find the Glen in the bottomless valley of the Himalayas'foothills, we searched for a quicker route back to town and wandered up a nearly vertical footpath that finally (and luckily) brought us out into Shimla's center.  Satisfied with our walk, we headed back once more to check on Emma and Bobby and spent the rest of the day, once more, rewarding ourselves with naps and room service :).

The next day, with Emma rejuvenated enough to make a walk into town, we decided to relocate to the Oberoi Cecil, a fancy hotel in a 19th century colonial building at the other end of town.  We rejoiced at having a bathroom with a separate shower and toilet (most bathrooms have a sink, toilet, and shower head combined in one) and clean, comfy mattresses as opposed to the array of planks and springs we'd been sleeping on throughout India. We spent the rest of the day enjoying the hotels amenities, including a swimming pool and jacuzzi, spa, billiards room, library, and video rental.  Later on, Emma and I treated the boys to a belated birthday/going away dinner at the restaurant and dined on yummy food and wine.

Emma and Bobby left the next morning, and Sven and I made a trip to nearby Tattapani rumored to have bubbling sulphurous springs.  After a dizzying journey down into the valley, we arrived in a small town set on a raging river.  At the guesthouse where we stopped, we walked down to the river and found these so called springs, which better resembled puddles of scalding water.  Unable even to immerse our feet, we decided we'd go rafting and take a respite from the heat.  Piling back into a car, we wound back up the mountain upstream where we set off in the raft.  The ride itself was comparatively dull to Sven's stories of the Gambeze River and my own experiences in Costa Rica, but the scenery was fully worth the trip.  At one point, we jumped into the water in a safe zone and let ourselves become numb to the ice cold himalayan water as we floated down the river on our backs. Although refreshing and rejuvenating, I shivered the whole way back and looked forward to the hot springs when we returned. 

After another restful sleep in a luxurious mattress, Sven and I headed up to Jakoo Hill, where a temple for the Monkey God perched on Shimla's highest point and was also, befittingly, home to hundreds of monkeys.  The temple itself was disappointing (in fact, we couldn't tell which small religious structure was the actual temple); however, I amused myself for at least an hour watching baby monkeys cling to their mothers while the alpha-males prowled the terraced mountain looking for leftover food.  For the rest of the day, we found ways to amuse ourselves until we had to cath the night bus back to Delhi by stuffing our faces with our last Indian dinners, getting our fill of Indian beer, and enjoying the clean mountain air and seeming disconnection from the outside world.

Back to reality!


Tags: Mountains



where are the photos>?????

  Mamma Apr 24, 2007 12:15 PM

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