Saturday 5 August 2017
This trip is a little different. I am going to work.
But of course, squeezing as much sightseeing in as possible!
We landed into Bangalore at 4.45am local time, after 9 hours of lazing around, completely unable to fall asleep. I flew business class, which is a long-haul first for me. So it was all super exciting.
I was first in line at passport. My bag was one of the first off. And stepping out of customs into the arrivals area, where were the crowds?! Maybe because it was just gone 5am. But the airport wasn't chaos. Every time I've landed into other Indian cities the chaos instantly hits you – sometimes quite literally as you are hounded by taxis and other random people.
Just before I flew to India for the first time about five years ago, I was in Thailand and sharing a room with a girl who had just left there. She told me that she agreed with a phrase she had heard:
Five years ago that make me pretty terrified of somewhere I was pretty nervous about travelling around. But instantly I loved it. I have no idea what she was talking about.
And now on my fourth trip back – I am so excited.
The taxi into the city took nearly an hour. It was starting to get light as we approached the city. There wasn't too much traffic, but I was surprised how many cars, trucks, buses and pick up trucks full of people riding on the back, there were out on the roads.
The hotel was incredible. When we pulled up the guys knew my name before I had stepped out of the car. I was taken straight up to my room – didn't even have to go to reception. My room had a great view – all across the Palace and gardens. A faint noise of horns beeping from the main road nearby.
I wanted to sleep. But places to explore.
I was going on a walking tour at 9am. It was now 6.30am, so after a shower, a bit of a rest and the most incredible breakfast ever (I wasn't hungry, but decided I should eat as I was going to be out for the next few hours), I headed off.
I was meeting the tour at a shopping centre in the middle of the city. Again limited traffic and we arrived within 15 minutes. The only taxi the hotel would use was their own cars. They don't tell you the price, you only get that afterwards when you settle your bill. They charged me £24, which is absolutely outrageous for here. A 'normal' taxi would have cost barely a tenth of that.
I waited and waited and waited. It was gone 9am. After calling, turns out they didn't realise they had a tour today. More waiting. And finally at 10am, someone showed up. I was too tired for that!
We had a driver, and went to some cool places.
A snake temple. Being a small garden area full of snake headstones. Some covered in wax and tikka. Next to this were lots of people queuing at a breakfast place. We were in a residential area. People were sitting on their front porches, doing washing. One house was a silk saree weaving place. The clanking of the machinery was loud, as threads were automatically weaved between each other – using plastic patterns.
The place I was most excited about in Bangalore – KR market. A fruits, vegetables and flower market. Which can only be described as colourful chaos. The market opens at 3am each day and usually flower trading is over by 8am. I had intended on waking up early one morning to come here, so glad I don't have to do that anymore and we're going now!
The market is just off a busy road junction. Cars, scooters, tuk tuks and buses all weaving between each other and around all the people on the roads. The sides of the roads lined with street sellers, wagons of pomegranates, flowers laid out on the floor. And in the middle of the chaos, cows grazing on scraps of leaves.
Away from the main road, the market spreads out across several streets, as well as an indoor section.
We wandered around some of the outside streets first. Neat piles of fruits and vegetables everywhere. Mostly familiar, limes, pomegranate, apples, oranges, tomatoes. But one thing I've never seen before – a large, green, round fruit which looked a bit like a melon.
Then inside. To the flowers. Wow. Even though the main trading of the day had ended, the centre was still filled with hundreds of flowers. All threaded together on a string and arranged in large wheels. All around were people sitting in groups threading flowers.
It was possible to go up several floors and look down at all the flowers moving around below. It was so cool.
It was a large Hindu festival yesterday. And apparently they ran out of flowers. The demand was so high that a one foot length was selling for 20,000 rupees (around £230!). The numbers of flowers here, I couldn't imagine them running out.
The indoor market had spice stalls too. Tikka piled high in perfectly formed conical shapes.
Back in the car and across the city to some Hindu temples. One of these temples has a cow statue where water pours from the mouth of the cow. Apparently no one knows where the water comes from. All around the temples were small market stalls selling all your temple necessities – coloured powders, flowers and small trinkets.
Driving around the city we saw lots of the different areas – government buildings. Military buildings. Golf course. An IT shopping area. Markets.
Then to a main shopping street. Bangles. Bindis. Sarees. A clothing area. And I managed to buy a cropped saree top for wedding that I'll be going to later in the week. Success! It cost me about £10 and will match perfectly – gold and navy.
A bit more driving around and I was dropped back at my hotel. Bangalore seems like a nice city. Much cleaner than other Indian cities I have visited. I also saw no people sleeping on the streets. Generally people seem richer here – probably because of all the IT jobs, accounting jobs and outsourcing which happens here.
For the rest of the afternoon, I hung out by the pool. It was too chilly for swimming. And I kept falling asleep. So I had an early night.