26 Jun - 29 Jun 2011 New Delhi



South Asia
Republic of Incredible India, the world's biggest democrazy
New Delhi
Paharganj
Clean and modern double room, including wifi and breakfast, for only INR 655.- or US$ 14.55 per night. Very friendly, helpful and professional staff. Our number-one budget place in Paharganj; book directly here (best rates).

Click below for an interactive road map of the Smyle Inn in New Delhi, which we would highly recommend, and for directions:








Relaxing in our friendly and highly recommendable budget guesthouse with its great roof-top terrace, the tried and tested Smyle Inn, catching up on some overdue admin work (travel blog, photos, financials) and preparing our upcoming travels to Southeast Asia: Malaysia, Sulawesi and Myanmar.
"There are three trips you take to India: the one you think you’re going to have - that you plan for; the one you actually have; and the one you live through once you go back home...” 

Leaving behind Delhi's “...surfeit of muchness, its faecal odours, its hellish noise, its anonymity and its uncaring crowd of the desperate fighting to survive...” (according to Salman Rushdie), taking a pre-paid taxi from Paharganj to Delhi’s modern Indira Gandhi International Airport (booked through our reliable guesthouse for INR 250.- or US$ 5.50 for the uneventful ride: "...tank you for vishiting India, Seirrr!"), flying with the Indian budget carrier Go Air (“Fly Smart”) in a brand-new Airbus A 320-200 from Delhi to Bangalore for INR 4,033.- or US$ 91.- per person, one way and all inclusive, thereafter with Air Asia (“Now Everyone Can Fly”) in a cramped and worn Airbus A 320-200 from Bangalore’s modern and efficient Bengaluru International Airport back to Kuala Lumpur’s functional KLIA-LCCT at Sepang for only INR 3,412.- or US$ 77.- per person, one way and all inclusive, killing time in mid-air with our impressions of India’s current socio-political situation and the fascinating parallels in the day-to-day life between the present-day India, controlled by a Hindi-speaking majority, and the prae-collapse Soviet-Union of the 1980s, controlled by a Russian-speaking majority: (i) women who toil as unskilled manual labourers on primitive building sites, (ii) men who drink themselves into a stupor with cheap booze and try to escape from the hopelessness of their daily grind, (iii) bragging print and broadcast media which tickle unceasingly the political class' vanity, (iv) brutal and unprofessional cops who intimidate and threaten their own people, (v) signs and billboards with silly slogans and hollow phrases everywhere which contradict the visible lack of good manners, such as (a) the aggressive and very inconsiderate traffic behaviour, (b) the omnipresent littering without any sense of guilt, and (c) the disgusting spitting/urinating/defecating in public places, and, after a smooth landing on Malaysian soil, being issued with a 90-day visit pass for a “social visit” to West Malaysia and Sabah on arrival (free of charge, but only after we had passed the Malaysian government’s latest brainchild to keep travellers on a short leash, the compulsory fingerprint scanner); nevertheless selamat pagi, Malaysia.












“Now India is a place beyond all others where one must not take things too seriously - the midday sun always excepted.” 

Putting our extensive four-month tour through the subcontinent, from the most southern point at Kanyakumari to the most northern point at Kargil, in a nutshell: One doesn't have to be crazy to stay sane in India; but it helps!


Click below for more blog posts about our trips to Asia's interesting cities
25 Oct - 08 Nov 2012 Hanoi
02 Aug - 11 Aug 2012 Ulaanbaatar

Click below for a summary of this year's travels
2011 Map Konni & Matt

Visit the Konni & Matt Online Albums and order high-res travel photos 
Konni & Matt Travel Photos


Facing Jammu and Kashmir
© Konni & Matt


Recommended books - click below for your Amazon order from the United Kingdom:


For Amazon schnaeppchens from Germany, please click here
For Amazon bargains from the United States, please click here
For Amazon bargains from Canada, please click here

25 Jun - 26 Jun 2011 Mandi






South Asia
Republic of Incredible India, the world's biggest democrazy
Himachal Pradesh
Lahul
Mandi (c. 760 m above sea level)
Hotel Partap Palace +911905222248
Adequate double room for only INR 500.- or US$ 11.10 per night.

Click below for an interactive road map of the Hotel Partap Palace in Mandi and for directions:









Overnighting in Mandi, a historic town which is built along the banks of the Beas River, known for is old stone temples and called the Varanasi of the Hills, and, the next morning, taking an H.R.T.C. (Himachal Road Transport Corporation) Bilaspur bus from Mandi via Chandigarh, the Le-Corbusier designed, soulless new capital for the Indian state of Punjab, planned in the post-war modernist style with empty dual carriageways and garden-like, huge roundabouts (later naturally amended with ubiquitous Indian alcohol outlets in one of their corners: “English Wine & Chilled Beer”), straight to New Delhi (570 km, 14 ½ hours, INR 390.- per person), thus leaving the Trans-Himalayan rain shadow and arriving during the already fully developed southwest monsoon, India’s most awaited and most crucial season, with good rains heralding a good year for economic growth.
Click below for a summary of this year's travels

Visit the Konni & Matt Online Albums and order high-res travel photos


Facing India
© Konni & Matt


Recommended books - click below for your Amazon order from Germany:
For Amazon bargains from the United States, please click here
For Amazon bargains from Canada, please click here
For Amazon bargains from the United Kingdom, please click here

24 Jun - 25 Jun 2011 Keylong






South Asia
Republic of Incredible India, the world's biggest democrazy
Himachal Pradesh
Lahul
Keylong (c. 3,350 m above sea level)
Khandroling Guest House +919418205932
Adequate and reasonably clean double room, with shared bathroom, for only INR 200.- or US$ 4.45 per night. Friendly staff.
Beer: 650-ml bottles of chilled “Godfather Super Strong” (8 % alc./vol.), available for INR 100.- from our guest house.

Click below for an interactive road map of the Khandroling Guest House in Keylong and for directions:









Overnighting in Keylong, the capital of Lahaul, leaving the majestic but heavily militarised Indian Himalayas the next morning and taking a H.R.T.C (Himachal Road Transport Corporation) Keylong rust bucket (the same worn and rusty but still reliable vehicle with the same virtuoso of bus driver at the wheel as on the previous day) from Keylong via the dangerous and infamous 4,112-m high Rohtang-La Pass, the highest point on the Manali-Keylong road, jam-packed with (i) flimsy Tata 4x4 SUVs, steered by newly rich domestic tourists from New Delhi and Mumbai, and (ii) rugged Tata 2x4 lorries (“goods carriers” and tankers on contract with Indian Oil), steered by turbaned and bearded, exotic looking mahout-turned-truck drivers from Punjab, to Manali (115 km, 6 ½ hours, INR 130.- per person), a major tourist destination for Indian holidaymakers, and taking thereafter a private Kanika bus from Manali to Mandi (110 km, 4 hours, INR 125.- per person), a quaint town with 81 temples, an obscure 17th-century palace and a colourful bazaar, which is huddled on the left bank of the Beas River at the southern end of the Kullu Valley, just below its junction with the Uhl River.



Click below for a summary of this year's travels
2011 Map Konni & Matt

Visit the Konni & Matt Online Albums and order high-res travel photos 
Konni & Matt Travel Photos


Facing India
© Konni & Matt


Recommended books - click below for your Amazon order from the United Kingdom:
For Amazon schnaeppchens from Germany, please click here
For Amazon deals from the United States, please click here
For Amazon deals from Canada, please click here

20 Jun - 24 Jun 2011 Leh






South Asia
Republic of Incredible India, the world's biggest democrazy
Jammu & Kashmir
Ladakh
Leh (c. 3,500 m above sea level)
Kailash Guest House +919906999135 omtara_ya@yahoo.com
Spacious and clean double room (the Zanskar-named first-floor "sun room" of this khangpa, a traditional Ladakhi house), with shared bathroom and great views of the white six-thousand-metre giants of the Stok Range smashing up into the sky, for only INR 300.- or US$ 6.70 per night. Friendly and helpful staff, very good English.
Beer: 650-ml bottles of lukewarm “Godfather Super Strong” (8 % alc./vol.) for INR 100.- per large bottle freely available from the guest house; a better deal: INR 65.- per large bottle at the local English Wine Shop in down-town Leh.


Click below for an interactive road map of the Kailash Guest House in Leh, which we would highly recommend, and for directions:









Studying the delicious vegetarian cornerstones of Ladakh's cuisine at Norzin’s Ladakhi Kitchen Restaurant +919903874998 and indulging in (i) Tibetan momos (steamed dumplings, filled with spicy veggies), (ii) skyu aka chu tagi (eggless pasta of various shapes, served with spicy veggies), (iii) tsampa aka paba (roasted barley, grinded and kneaded into a heavy dough, accompanied by trang thur, the Ladakhi, herb-based version of the ubiquitous Indian raita), (iv) thukpa (noodle soup) and (v) tigmos (pleaded steam buns, accompanied by spicy aloo ping).
"You leave a little buttered tea in the bottom of your bowl and put a big dollop of tsampa on top of it. You stir gently with the forefinger, then knead with the hand, meanwhile twisting your bowl round and round until you finish up with a large dumplinglike object which you proceed to ingest, washing it down with more tea. The whole operation demands a high degree of manual dexterity, and you need a certain amount of practical experience before you can judge correctly how much tsampa goes with how much tea. Until you get these proportions right the end product is apt to turn into either a lump of desiccated dough or else a semiliquid paste which sticks to your fingers. Sometimes you lace this preparation with a form of powdered milk, made from curds which have been dried in the sun."


Visiting the 17.5-m high blue-haired Maitreya Buddha, attended by Drukpa monks from Hemisin, in the palace gompa (admission: INR 25.- per person) of the 17th-century royal palace of the Kings of Leh at Shey, located at an important vantage point in the Indus Valley, c. 15 km southeast of Leh (local minibus from Leh to Shey for INR 20.- per person, one way).



Exploring the wealthiest and biggest (350 residing monks) monastery in Ladakh (admission for foreigners: INR 100.- per person, admission for Indians: INR 50.- per person), the very touristy 17th-century Red-Hat (Drukpa) monastery at Hemis, c. 45 km south of Leh on the west bank of the Indus River (local minibus from Leh to Karu for INR 30.- per person, one way, plus a strenuous 7-km uphill walk past numerous chortens and mani walls), watching fit and humble Ladakhi lamas practise their sacred dances in the main courtyard and watching fat and cocky nouveau-riche tourists from New Delhi watch those agile young lamas.



Hiring a rumbling 350-cc Royal Enfield Thunderbird vintage chopper (“Made like a gun; goes like a bullet...”) from Adventure F2 +919622991956 for INR 500.- or US$ 11.10 per day, taking our protein pills, putting our helmets on (unfortunately, not wearing our Alpinestars motorcycle jackets yet) and honking our way up, through many steep hair-pin bends along the old Silk Route, to the 5,602-m high Khardung-La Pass, the highest motorable pass in the world, for an exhilarating high-altitude experience and for amazing views over the Indus valley.


"Get your motor runnin'
Head out on the highway
Lookin' for adventure
And whatever comes our way

I like smoke and lightning
Heavy metal thunder
Racin' with the wind
And the feelin' that I'm under

Yeah Darlin' go make it happen
Take the world in a love embrace
Fire all of your guns at once
And explode into space

Like a true nature's child
We were born, born to be wild
We can climb so high
I never wanna die..."
(Steppenwolf)


Leaving the dry, arid plateau of Ladakh and taking a H.R.T.C. (Himachal Road Transport Corporation) rust bucket from Leh along scary roads (with ongoing rockfalls and landslides, meltwater streams crossing the way and deep ravines right next to the bus) over the 5,370-m high Taglang-La Pass (traversing the Zanskar Range), the 5,065-m high Lachalung-La Pass, the 4,950-m high Nakli-La Pass, the infamous Gata Loops (a series of 21 hair-pin bends, carved out of a massive scree slope of the Zanskar range, which take the road from an altitude of 4,740 m all the way down to 4,200 m over a span of less than 8 km) and the 4,880-m high Baralacha-La Pass to the Upper Lahul’s village of Keylong, set amidst fields of barley and buckwheat, surrounded by brown hills and snowy peaks (c. 420 km, 15 hours, INR 510.- per person).



Click below for a summary of this year's travels
Recommended books - click below for your Amazon order from the United Kingdom:
For Amazon schnaeppchens from Germany, please click here
For Amazon bargains from the United States, please click here
For Amazon bargains from Canada, please click here