Friday, April 10, 2009


Day 395
After the not so yummy free breakfast at the Salvation Army I headed out to find the train station. I wandered around for two hours. Cab drivers kept telling me that it was very far but I knew that I was just around the corner. Eventually I ran into some Irish guys who pointed me the right way.

Buying a train ticket here is a nightmare. Tourists must go to the tourist quota window. You must also have your passport with you. The most annoying bit is that you either have to pay in dollars, euros or pounds at a bad rate or have you receipt from the atm or money changer. I had gone to the atm but hadn't kept the receipt. The money I changed at the airport equaled only 804 rupees. Luckily my train ticket cost 802 and I just made it. There are also a huge range of classes to choose from. The bottom class costs about $5 for the 7 hour trip, I went with ac second and paid $16. I also got a top birth to keep away from wandering hands.

The walk back to my hostel only took about 15 minutes. I have no idea how I got so lost! After dropping of my guidebook I headed out to the Gateway to India again to take a boat to Elephanta Island.

Elephanta Island is meant to have some of the most impressive temple carving in India. It was built somewhere between 450 and 750 AD. The island got its name from elephant statues that are no longer there. To get there you have to take an hour long boat ride. I was shocked that I was one of only three westerners on it. I was also shocked (and happy) that I slept for most of the ride. When you get to the island you have the choice of either walking for about 4 minutes or taking a little train. I decided to walk, I was the odd person out. Then you have to walk up a lot of steps (really bad in the heat) that are lined with monkeys and hawker stalls.

The 1st part of the caves was dedicated to Shiva the destroyer. The centerpiece was as huge statue of him with three faces showing him as the destroyer, creater, and preserver of the universe. There were lots of other statues carved into the walls, but my favorite was of 4 armed Vishnu, the preserver, shown in an eternal dance for peace.

THe other 3 caves were basically empty and not all that interesting. There were also a lot of rather cheeky monkeys around. After I took a picture of one and it came towards me a bit I backed up. An American woman laughed and told me not to be afraid, that I was being silly. I told her about the man I saw get bitten in KL, she stopped laughing at me.

For dinner that night I met up with Imran, the Bollywood guy. We went for a few drinks at a nearby place that was really quite nice. After a couple of hours I went back to the Salvation Army exhausted. The sun just seems to zap my energy.

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