The Daily Explorer

December 29, 2011

The Wonder of India – Hyderabad and Hampi

Hyderabad, India: December 2011

MOZZIE BYTE (Editor): A warm welcome to all our Daily Explorer readers. For those of you who are joining us for the first time, Ray has been travelling and living nomadically for just over six years since he left England in November 2005, visiting 21 different countries so far on his journey. We have been publishing exclusive news and stories about his experiences (you will find all of these in our Previous Issues archive). Our aim at The Daily Explorer is to create a great publication for you, so please keep sending us your comments and suggestions as to how we can improve what we are doing. You can use the comments box on this site, or email Ray (ray@thedailyexplorer.com), ‘Mozzie’ or any of our correspondents at mozzie@thedailyexplorer.com.

Our latest issue will be the last one compiled for us by our seasoned Indian guest correspondent, Sam Ozer, who recently joined the team to follow Ray around India. Sam went with our global traveller as he made his way to the ancient city of Hampi, followed by a short and unexpected rendezvous with his brother in Hyderabad, before departing India for Thailand.

In case you missed our last issue, we had an update from Ray as he travelled through Rishikesh and Amritsar on his way to Dharamsala where he decided to stay for a couple of weeks so he could attend a three-day teaching with His Holiness, The Dalai Lama. You can read it now at: From Rishikesh to Dharamsala

Above: In our last issue, our intrepid explorer visited the magnificent Golden Temple in Amritsar before heading to Dharamsala for three days of teaching with the Dalai Lama. You can read it now at: From Rishikesh to Dharamsala

Looking at the map, Hyderabad did not appear to be a logical choice as a destination for Ray from Dharamsala, so I asked him what had inspired him to choose this particular city to visit next. “A few weeks ago, I received an email from my brother, who is an airline pilot. He works as a Captain for British Airways on their Boeing 777 fleet, which service many of the airline’s long-haul destinations all over the world from London. In the six years since I became a nomad, we had never been in the same city at the same time, so you can imagine my surprise when I discovered that he had been scheduled to fly a bunch of passengers to Hyderabad whilst I was in India. It seemed like an opportunity that was too good to miss, so I decided to change my original plan and go and meet him there. It is relatively cheap, easy and quick to fly from Delhi so I took the overnight bus from Dharamsala to take a flight from there. I actually got to Hyderabad with a few days to spare so I decided to just make a brief stopover in the city for one night and spend the remaining time in the ancient city of Hampi, which is some ten hours away by bus. This gave me a day in Hyderabad to explore before I left, so I focused on visiting the Hussain Sagar (lake) in the centre of the city” explained our traveller. “The lake is home to one of the largest free-standing stone Buddha statues in the world” he told me. “It was completed in 1990 after five years of work. However, when the 17.5 metre high, 350 tonne monolith was being ferried to its place in the Hussain Sagar, the barge sank! Fortunately, the statue was raised – undamaged – in 1992 and is now on a plinth in the middle of the lake” added our well-informed globetrotter.

Above: Ray’s route from Dharamsala to Hyderabad, and then on to Hampi is indicated by the yellow line. The blue line shows the route he travelled to reach Dharamsala from Delhi, which we covered in the two previous issues of The Daily Explorer

Below: For the second time during his visit to India, Ray arrives at the Taj Mahal – “Sadly, this time around it is not the beautiful, awe-inspiring creation that has captured the imagination of millions of visitors from around the world, but a rather noisy, dilapidated budget hotel in Hyderabad” said our traveller, who laughed when I asked him why he had sent me the picture

Above: The giant stone Buddha statue in the middle of the Hussain Sagar finally made it on to its plinth in 1992 – two years after the barge towing it out into the lake capsized!

Below: Things are not always what they seem – on closer inspection, the shores of the Hussain Sagar (left), like so many places in India, are an unofficial repository for tonnes of garbage which an uneducated population discard without any concern or understanding of their impact – “They seem completely oblivious to the fact that there are rats running around everywhere and the stench is unbearable. They don’t even seem to notice it” observed Ray. Later that day, our eagle-eyed nomad spotted India’s only flying elephant passing over the city centre (right)

To get from Hyderabad to Hampi, you can either go by train or bus, or a combination of the two. Knowing that Ray had experienced some difficulties with travel arrangements in recent weeks, I asked him how things had gone for him after his arrival in Hampi. “Well Sam, I am exhausted” was his reply. “I have travelled all through the night on three different buses, without sleep and I am pretty fed up with schlepping around India on these old, noisy and grotesquely uncomfortable moving sandstorms” he grumbled. Sensing all was not well, I was keen to find out what actually happened.

“If you want to go to Hampi, you have to take a bus to a nearby town called Hospet and then change on to a different bus there. I made the fatal mistake of trusting someone else to arrange things for me – something I never normally do, but when I arrived in Hyderabad, the guy in my hotel seemed to know what he was doing, and I was pretty fed up with having to go through so much effort as you do in India, so I authorised him to go to the bus station and get my ticket for me. The next morning, which was my day of departure, he showed me the ticket – it was not a ticket to Hospet but a town some 35 kilometres away. “I could not get you a ticket to Hospet directly, but you take this bus then you can change en route, all for the same price” he explained to me. “It didn’t sound completely kosher to me but I was too tired to argue with him so took the ticket and left. When I got to the bus station, it was almost impossible to identify the correct bus from the hundreds that were parked and I struggled to find anybody who could help me. Eventually, someone pointed me towards a bus they were certain was the right one, so I jumped on and the bus pulled out. About thirty minutes into the journey, the conductor asked for my ticket and when I showed it to him, he explained (without speaking a word of English) that my ticket was not valid and I had boarded the wrong bus. With my frustration and anger building like a boiling kettle, I calmly asked where the bus was actually going. I discovered it was heading in the right general direction and given it was now dark, I decided to buy a new ticket and stay on the bus till it reached its terminus, in a small town called Gangavathi, at around 2am” recalled Ray. ”

Above: Arriving in Gangavathi (the middle of nowhere) at 2am in the morning, the only people around were the ones who sleep in the bus station, like this family (woman under the blanket with one child, second child beside her and man on the bench) – “It is painful to see, but it is like this in every place I have been” observed Ray

With another 35 kilometres to go to Hospet, our global explorer had to wait for the next available bus, which finally arrived at around 3.30am. “By now, I was really tired, quite hungry and getting very short-tempered” admitted Ray. “I arrived in Hospet at around 4.30am and discovered that the first bus out of there to Hampi was going to be around 6.30am, which meant having to wait another two hours. This kind of hard-core, budget travel is really character building stuff” said Ray. “There were a couple of tuk-tuk drivers in Hospet who offered me a ride to Hampi, but they were asking about ten times the price of the bus and given I was not under any time pressure to get there, apart from the desire to find a room and take a shower, I didn’t take up their offers” he recalled. “I eventually got to Hampi at around 7am, to be greeted by the usual mob of around 20 tuk-tuk drivers and guesthouse touts all waving and shouting at me, wanting me to go with them. I cannot describe how exhausting it all is and anyone considering travelling here will no doubt experience it themselves when they come – it takes a lot of getting used to” added Ray. “Despite it all, Hampi was an amazing place and I am really glad I made the effort to go there”.

Above: Panoramic view of Hampi with the Virupaksha temple in the centre (Photo: Wikipedia)

Hampi in Karnataka state, is the site of the once-magnificent capital of the Vijayanagar Empire. The ruins of the empire are spread over an area of 26 square kilometres. “This is definitely one of the most impressive places I have visited as a traveller” said Ray. “On a par with Angkor Wat in some ways, the site is sprawling and a huge amount of time would be absorbed if you were to totally explore every facet. The whole area is a visual delight, especially due to its stark contrast from most other places I have visited in India. Rocks are all you see whichever direction you look in. It is an ideal spot for people who are interested in history and/or nature” said our traveller. “A bicycle is the best way to explore Hampi if you enjoy history, culture and nature. I was able to rent one for about 30 rupees per day ($1) , including a padlock. If you don’t want the exercise, there are plenty of rickshaw drivers who are more than happy to take you round the various sites for a day, for around 500 rupees ($15)” he added.

Above: “Entering Hampi is a bit like stepping back in time into a vast, ancient, secret world” said Ray. “An amazing place to spend a few days in, very meditative and peaceful”

Below: Locals down at the river washing clothes and bathing as the day begins

Above and below: The main bazaar in Hampi. In the background is the Virupaksha temple, which is the oldest and the principal temple in Hampi. The very origin of the city and its history as a sacred place revolves around the myths associated with this temple. It is believed that it has been functioning uninterruptedly ever since its inception in the 7th century AD. That makes this one of the oldest functioning temples in India. It is located on the south bank of the river Tungabhadra, just next to where the local bus arrives from Hospet. This area in general has been an important pilgrimage centre for the worshippers of Lord Shiva. Virupaksha temple is equally sought after by tourists and pilgrims and the annual festivals attract huge crowds

Above: Ray takes a closer look at some of the hand-carved stone pillars inside the Virupaksha temple

Below: Once you start to get out from the centre of Hampi, there are literally miles and miles of pathways and ruins to explore, giving this whole area an “unreal and bewitching” feel, according to Lonely Planet – “They are spot on” confirmed our global adventurer

Above and below: At the epicentre of Hampi’s attractions, the Vittala Temple is the most extravagant architectural showpiece of the whole area. No amount of words can explain this spectacle. The temple is built in the form of a sprawling campus with compound walls and gateway towers. There are many halls, pavilions and temples located inside this campus. Vittala, after whom the temple is known, is a form of Lord Vishnu. This aspect of Vishnu was worshipped in this part of the country as their cult deity by the cattle herds. The temple was originally built in the 15th century AD. Many successive kings have enhanced the temple campus during their regimes to the present form. The highlight of the Vittala temple is its impressive pillared halls (below, left) and the stone chariot (below, right). The halls are carved with an overwhelming array of sculptures on the giant granite pillars. The stone chariot located inside the campus is almost an iconic structure of Hampi

Above: For our readers with sharp eyesight, this view from inside the vast compound of the Vittala temple shows the tiny, white Hanuman temple perched high up on one of the tall hills in the background, near Anegundi (right of centre) – “When I saw it in the distance, I just had to find out how to get to it and whether or not it was possible to climb to the top” he told me (Editors Note: Ray did find a way to get there – see below)

A very popular part of the huge complex is the Zenena enclosure, which was a secluded area reserved for the royal women. This walled harem houses many interesting highlights including the beautiful Lotus Mahal – a two-storied, very symmetric structure exhibiting a fine example of Indo-Islamic architecture. The base of the structure depicts a Hindu foundation of stone just like in the temples, typical of Vijayanagara architecture, while the upper superstructure is Islamic in architecture with pyramidal towers instead of regular dome shapes, giving it a Lotus-like look, originating in the name. “I discovered that this is one of the very few buildings that has the plaster intact, though it is defaced at several places due to wear and tear; the dampness on the walls is very visible. The exemplary carvings on the pillar arches including those of birds and delicate art work can be very mesmerizing, especially with the Makara Torana on top of these arches that can still be seen on some of them” said Ray. It is also believed that the Mahal or Palace was air-cooled and maintained its temperature during summer. The proof of this can be seen in the pipeline work above and between the arches. The entire monument is surrounded by a fortifying wall which is rectangular in plan. The four corners of the fortifications have watch towers that would have been used to keep an eye on the intruders into the Womens’ chambers. While it was a very popular practice to have Eunuchs hold guards at Queens’ Palaces in the North India, especially during Moghul rule, the existence of such a practice has not come to light in the Vijayanagara kingdom and era.

Above: The Lotus Mahal is a fine example of Indo-Islamic architecture

Below: Ray makes friends with a group of students on a field study trip – “For some reason which baffled me, schoolkids kept wanting to take pictures of themselves and their friends standing next to me. Maybe they thought I look like someone famous? Anyway, it was very sweet” he told me

Above: Also in the Zenena enclosure is the Elephant Stables. This long building with a row of domed chambers was used to ‘park’ the royal elephants. These were not the military elephants but were the ceremonial ones which were used by the royal household. Apart from the royal elephants, temples also had elephants of their own to perform various pujas. There are 11 domed tall chambers; some of them are inter-connected. The centre one is specially decorated and larger than the rest. Probably, the musicians and the associated band troupes had been using this during ceremonies involving elephant processions. It has a greater Islamic character about it. The domes are of brick and mortar, drum-shaped, ribbed and octagonal. The superstructure of the central upper pavilion is lost. It probably had a Hindu Shikhara in consonance with the Indo-Islamic architecture

Below: A view over part of the Royal Centre gives an indication of how vast this ancient city would have been

Above: Bathing seemed to be very important to these people – this is what is left of the Queen’s Bath.  In all probability, this was a royal pleasure complex for the king and his wives – “It’s a bit of an unassuming, plain rectangular building from the outside, but when you get inside, the story is quite different” observed Ray. For an idea of what the Queen’s Bath might have originally looked like, you can see it in 3D in the short video clip here:

Below: The water for the Queens Bath was supplied from huge stepped tanks (left) in the Royal Centre, via a series of stone aqueducts (right)

Above: When taking a break in Hampi, there are several choices for food, with plenty of budget street vendors like this one….

Below: …. and some nicer restaurants, like the Mango Tree – “It was recommended to me by a fellow traveller and I really enjoyed my meal there” said Ray. “It has one of the nicest, most relaxed settings I found during my visit to India, at a very affordable price. It is set along side the banks of the river and you can lounge comfortably on the steps underneath the huge mango tree while sipping some of the best lassis you will come across” he told me

Above: After a good meal, someone always has to do the washing up. This young girl is watched closely by a chicken (left) – “I wonder if he thought he might be on those plates sometime soon” laughed Ray. For really large numbers of pots and pans, serious help is required as demonstrated by this woman who has enlisted the family cow to assist (right)

Just across the Tungabhadra River is Anegundi, which literally means “Elephant’s pit”. A small village, it is from a bygone era dating back to the time of the Ramayana. This rustic hamlet is steeped in history older and richer than Hampi. Archaeological digs have revealed 8,000 years of continuous human settlement here! Anegundi is believed to be Kishkinda, the vanar (monkey) kingdom of Ramayana. The birth place of Hanuman, Anegundi was the capital of the Vijayanagar kingdom before it was shifted to Hampi. “I discovered that the Hanuman Temple I saw from a distance a couple of days earlier was here” explained a quite excited Ray. “So I crossed the river, took a bicycle and rode about four kilometres until I reached it. Then, it was a relatively straightforward and pleasant climb up 570 twisting, turning steps to the top of Anjanadri Hill to reach the temple. I was courted by many impish monkeys as I went up, who all had their eye on my backpack, hoping there might be some food” recalled Ray. “I made it to the top in around 15 minutes and discovered the views over the surrounding countryside are truly spectacular” he told me.

Above: Ray approaches the Hanuman Temple perched on top of Anjanadri Hill in Anegundi, which was the original capital city of the Vijayanagara Empire before Hampi replaced it

Below: The temple is accessible via a winding staircase in the rocks – “It is definitely worth every one of those 570 steps for the views when you reach the top, but watch out for the monkeys as you ascend” warned our traveller

Above: And what about those views! You can see from these pictures that Hampi is well worth the visit. The area is simply stunning and you will be in awe of the millions of boulders as far as the eye can see. However, within this arid landscape lies a little oasis with lush palm, banana, and mango trees nestled near the river. Hampi is a super place to spend a few days wandering around and discovering the rich, vibrant history while also having a bit of ‘your’ time – “It is also a great place for reflection and contemplation” said Ray

Below: Anegundi retains much of its old traditions – these farmers are looking after their goats ……

Above: …. whilst these people are harvesting the wheat – “It looked like very hard work to me” said Ray

Today, Hampi is in the list of “Unesco World Heritage Sites in Danger”. It was inscribed in the endangered list in the year 1999 following the proposal and construction of the controversial suspension bridge on the Tungabhadra river. The heavy traffic on the road to this bridge led to dismantling and reconstruction of a mantapa within the borders of the site. The government of Karnataka decided to destroy the bridge, taking the brunt of nearly one million US Dollars on to its not so healthy coffers. The decision came after several meetings between Unesco officials and the state government and a stern warning from Unesco that it would deprive Hampi of its Word Heritage status unless corrective measures were taken. After this episode, Hampi’s dangers are far from over. Today, Hampi faces more problems than ever. Pressures of urbanisation haven’t spared this once divine abode of Gods. Only 58 of the 550 individual monuments at Hampi have been included in the conservation plans. Many historical villages, temples and mantapas, residencies and shops are not protected by the official agency. The most difficult challenge at Hampi is the establishment of a park service to control the vast site. Every day, ancient site materials are removed for use in nearby construction projects. New roadways and buildings are illegally encroaching upon the marked site areas. Huts and shops can be seen close to and sometimes inside the sites of archaeological importance. Deforestation, increase in vehicular and industrial pollution is causing a threat to the delicate creations at Hampi. The effects can be seen on the fading natural colouring used on the ceiling of Virupaksha Temple. These colourings were all natural extracts and were a great piece of art. Pollution, looting, unregulated stone quarrying and the limited nature of existing monument protection hamper current conservation measures.

Above and below: As Ray prepares to leave Hampi and travel to Hyderabad, he takes one last look at the Bazaar. Whilst conservation efforts are underway to preserve the ancient site, some consider the measures being taken as heavy-handed and unfair to the ordinary people who live in the collection of ruins in the Hampi Bazaar. These people are in a fight with the authorities to keep their homes and condemn the inhuman and illegal eviction and demolition taking place there. Eviction notices were issued a few hours before the demolition, giving no time and opportunity for people to respond and react to the notices. Neither alternate housing nor clear guidelines for conducting business were issued prior to the eviction. The fallout of this demolition has been that many families, some with small children and some with aged people have been pushed on to the streets, do not have a place to live, and livelihoods have been affected – “The conditions do appear to be quite awful, but par for the course in India, based on what I have seen. To be really honest, I am looking forward to meeting my brother in Hyderabad and staying in a five-star hotel for a change” admitted our global nomad

Hyderabad (see map above) is the capital of Andhra Pradesh and is sometimes referred to as the ‘City of Pearls’. As of 2011, the city is one of the largest metropolitan areas in India with an area of 650 square kilometres (250 square miles) and a population of around 14.5 million, making Hyderabad the fourth most populous city in the country. Established in 1591 AD on the banks of the Musi River on the tip of the Deccan Plateau, the twin cities of Hyderabad and Secunderabad come under the ambit of a single municipal unit, the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation. The city was once a global center of the diamond and pearls trade and during late 20th and early 21st century, has emerged as a major global centre for the information technology (IT) and biopharmaceutical industries. The city is also home to the Telugu Film industry, known popularly as ‘Tollywood’. “If it were not for my brother Paul flying here, I don’t think I would have come” said our traveller. “The timing couldn’t be more perfect as I have been in India for a few weeks and am getting ready to head back to Thailand for the end of year celebrations. It will be great to meet with Paul and stay in a relatively comfortable place before I have to face the horror of going back to Delhi to leave” explained Ray.

Above: Captain Paul Martin, a.k.a Ray’s brother, arrives at the crew hotel in Hyderabad shortly after touchdown at the recently completed Rajiv Gandhi airport, at around 6am – “As luck would have it, I arrived at the hotel less than ten minutes after Paul, having been travelling all night on the bus from Hospet (Hampi)” said Ray. “It is the first time in six years that the two of us have met up like this. He flies to different cities all around the world so the chances of him going to the same place as me are pretty slim. When I ran in the New York Marathon in 2009, he cleverly and covertly arranged his schedule so that he would be in charge of the BA flight that I was booked on, without telling me. It was a huge surprise and something I will never forget!” he told me. “He is a great friend as well as my brother – I am very lucky” said our traveller. “If he treats his crews the same way he does me, I am sure he must be regarded as an excellent Captain too”

Below: A little bit of luxury goes a long way with our traveller, who stayed with brother Paul at the ITC Kakatiya hotel – “Soft, fluffy pillows and room service are a couple of the things that I miss the most from my ‘old life’ and I always appreciate the chance to have a bit of comfort when the opportunity comes” he told me

Suspecting that Ray and his brother Paul would simply be glad for the chance to hang out together, I wondered if they had planned to do any sightseeing whilst they were in Hyderabad? “There are a couple of places we would like to see, which we can do without having to rush around too much. I know from my research that Hyderabad is home to many historical sites, including the Chowmahalla Palace. We also want to visit the Charminar, which is a four-sided archway with soaring minarets in the old city’s hub arch and the Mecca Masjid mosque, which is one of the oldest and largest mosques in India, with some of the bricks made out of soil from Mecca” he told me. “Last but not least, there is the Golkonda Fort, which is perhaps Hyderabad’s most popular site for visitors” added Ray.

Above: Once rested, Ray and his brother Paul headed for the Charminar (centre, left), which is a striking four-sided archway with soaring minarets in the old city

Below: From the gallery at the top of the Charminar, you get a great view of the chaotic and colourful Laad Bazaar

Above: The Mecca Masjid Mosque is one of the oldest mosques in Hyderabad and one of the largest mosques in India. Muhammad Quli Qutb Shah, the fifth ruler of the Qutb Shahi dynasty, commissioned bricks to be made from the soil brought from Mecca, the holiest site of Islam, and used them in the construction of the central arch of the mosque, thus giving the mosque its name. It formed the centrepiece around which the city was planned

Below: The chandeliers in the splendid Durbar Hall at the Chowmahallah Palace. The 19 spectacular chandeliers of Belgian crystal were recently re-installed to recreate the lost splendour of this regal hall. The palace is unique for its style and elegance and it is believed to be modelled on the Shah of Iran’s palace in Tehran. Building of the palace began in the late 18th century and over the decades a synthesis of many architectural styles and influences emerged. This palace consists of two courtyards, the southern and northern courtyard. The palace originally covered 45 acres (180,000 square metres), but only 14 acres remain today (Photo: Wikipedia)

Above:  Ray’s brother Paul, outside the Chowmahallah Palace, enjoys being able to spend some quality time with his younger sibling – “The two of us had a great time and it was brilliant to catch up and hang out together” was what Paul told me when I spoke to him afterwards. “It was just like being two kids again!” added Paul

Below: Just like being kids again? Here are a couple of pictures we managed to obtain from Ray (taken in the sixties) that show these two were friends from an early age – “Apart from some odd moments here and there, we generally got on pretty well” said Ray, who used to share a bedroom with his older brother Paul when they were growing up. “We are both aviation fanatics too – something which was a hobby when we were really young and is now a career for Paul. Although I obtained my private pilots license in 1990, I have only flown with him once, as I think he really appreciates his time off for other things” added Ray

Above and below: Last but not least, our global explorer had time to visit the impressive Golkonda Fort before leaving Hyderabad. “The complex consists of four distinct forts with a 10 kilometre long outer wall with 87 semi-circular bastions” said Ray. “Some are still mounted with cannons. There are eight gateways, four drawbridges, a number of royal apartments & halls, temples, mosques and stables inside. I am told the fort used to have a Vault chamber where once the famous Kohinoor and Hope diamonds were stored” he told me

Back in Delhi to catch his flight to Thailand, I spoke to Ray to find out what lasting impressions of India he would be taking with him. “I hate to admit it Sam, but I am very happy to be leaving. Yes, there are some very beautiful places to visit and some spectacular sights, like the Taj Mahal and Hampi. However, getting around and functioning here is exhausting and most travellers coming here would do well to expect this” he said. What did he think of the Indian people? “People here routinely shout loudly at each other when they converse, they spit constantly without paying attention to where it lands, they urinate everywhere which leaves an unpleasant stench in most of the cities, they push and shove to get on buses and trains because there are so many people and they appear to me to be quite inconsiderate towards each other. A lot of the men seem to be always touching themselves and generally, their clothes are always filthy. Nobody here drives with any concern for safety and with tourists, I think there is definitely a rip-off mentality which is predominant. Some people who I asked to help me have blatantly lied or tried to cheat me, which has worn me down and left me constantly on my guard. But apart from these things, they are great” he laughed. “If you don’t mind travelling on noisy, slow, dirty buses through polluted cities, on roads which are often unsurfaced and very dusty, where you are likely to receive either poor service or none in most guesthouses and have no access to drinkable water, then you might actually love India” added Ray. “Perhaps it is precisely these things that make it the complete adventure that it is” he said reflectively.

Above: Despite his grumbles, our traveller had a nice surprise awaiting him when he made it to Delhi – “The management at the Hotel Singh Empire in Delhi had put my name up on their welcome board, which went a long way to making me feel better as I was preparing to leave” he told me

Below: Ray spent his last night in Delhi dining on the roof of his hotel – “They try really hard to get things right for their guests here, although they still have a lot of catching up to do to match the standards most westerners would expect, even at the budget end of the market

Above: Whilst in Delhi, our traveller had a chance to meet one or two interesting people – “I have a friend in England who said to me that if I ever went to Delhi, I must meet one of his best friends, called Shiv, who he studied with at the London Business School many years ago. So I contacted Shiv and spent a lovely afternoon having lunch with him and his family (left). They made me feel very welcome and it was a lovely way to complete my trip” recalled Ray. “Whilst I was with Shiv, I received a text message on my phone from another English friend Alex Soskin who had just arrived in Delhi with his girlfriend Marilyn (right). Unbelievably, when I texted him back to tell him exactly where I was, it was literally three streets away, so I was able to meet them too and share my experience of the country, as they had just arrived that day. Life just flows sometimes!” said our happy traveller

Editors Note: A huge thank you to our guest correspondent Sam Ozer, who has done a fantastic job on pulling together all the news and pictures from Ray’s visit to India. As we end the year, our global traveller has returned to Chiang Mai in Thailand to take part in his first half-marathon race for over two years. When I asked him about his prospects, he said: “I only have a few short weeks to get my body ready for it, which means having to train harder than I would ideally like to. Having said that, I love the feeling of getting into shape and as long as I can cope with the 5.30am starts most days, I am sure I will be in good shape for the race. I am hoping to register a personal best time” said our traveller cum athlete. We will be bringing you news of how Ray got on in the race, as well as an update on how things are shaping up for him regarding professional work in our next issue of The Daily Explorer, which will be online by mid January 2012.

As many of you know, our aim at The Daily Explorer is to create a great publication for you, so please keep sending us your comments and suggestions as to how we can improve what we are doing. You can use the comments box on this site, or email Ray (ray@thedailyexplorer.com), ‘Mozzie’ or any of our correspondents at mozzie@thedailyexplorer.com.

On behalf of Ray and everyone at The Daily Explorer, I would like to wish you all a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year and look forward to keeping you up to date with news and stories about Ray’s nomadic adventures in 2012. We will keep you posted!

MOZZIE BYTE

Advertisements

1 Comment »

  1. Thanks for sharing, Ray. Nice you went to Hyderabad. We also ended up there without planning it for what turned out one of the weirdest, most boring new Year’s Eve’s ever with some Catholic Indians ;-). But it was also a lovely visit to Irish friends. Isn’t the view from Charminar on all the rickshaws great? I’d certainly visit Hampi on a next visit, after reading your blog.

    Anyway Ray, you’ve got to go back to India some time. Despite all the discomfort we have come to love India and the Indians after so many visits and many many months there. Strange enough, I never thought I would say that, but I miss India more than Thailand. It has a soul and a magic and craziness that becomes addictive. But you do need to escape from it from time to time too 😉 The Kakatiya hotel seems to be fine for that :-).

    I’d love to catch up soon. All the best from Holland,

    Jeroen

    Comment by Jeroen Buis — January 21, 2012 @ 4:00 am


RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.

%d bloggers like this: