March 19th 2012: Dubai, UAE – Arambol (Goa), India

Driven distance on March 19th 2012: 0km

Driven distance total: 37’980km (23’600 miles)

Early in the morning we finally landed in Goa, and as it supposed to be in India, we got ripped off for the first time when we changed money :-). By Tax we went to the beach village, which is 65km (40 miles) north of the airport. During the ride we realized really quick in which country we are, since the driver drove like a kamikaze pilot ;-).

After the search of a hotel room (with backpack and without Landrover :-) ) we spent the rest of the day being lazy on the beach!


Incredible Indiaaaa :-)


March 20th – 28th 2012: Arambol (Goa), India

Driven distance on March 20th – 28th 2012: 0km

Driven distance total: 37’980km (23’600 miles)

Sun, fun and nothing to do :-). We enjoyed the beach life in Goa in full. It is quite something special here – Room directly at the beach (5$ p.p.), cozy beach restaurants, a funny mix of tourists (From Russian 2-week tourists to hippies who are on the search of their spiritual side) and countless dogs :-). After some days we also found different friends, mainly the jewelry selling girls and a Nepali alcoholic were spending a lot of time with us ;-). Probably one reason was, that we invited the girls often to water and ice cream, and we fed the alcoholic with his daily soup... Besides the visit of the big Anjuna market, where tourists can bye everything imaginable, we actually didn’t do anything :-). One highlight of course was the visit of our friends from Ischer – machine technology GmbH, the service technicians Schranz, Jay und Simon. We had a funny time together and it felt good to meet some friends from back home :-).


March 29th 2012: Arambol (Goa) – Mumbai, India

Driven distance on March 29th 2012: 0km

Driven distance total: 37’980km (23’600 miles)

We were more then ready to leave after 10 days at the same beach! Loaded with backpacks we started the journey. By Taxi we went to the train station and waited for the train at comfortable 30°C (90°F) :-). Since we wanted to get used to the heat in the Landrover we chose the wagons without AC ;-)!!

Well, riding trains in India is every time a spectacle :-)! The tea and food selling guys who are hurrying through the trains (Chai chai chai chaaiii;-)), The sellers at the train stations and not to forget the travelling Indians themselves who are crumbling around in the wagons. After 5 hours we actually had enough, but the trip continued for another 6 hours until we finally arrived at 10PM in Mumbai. But all in all taking trains in India is great! The fun then started when we were looking for a room. There is nothing more rewarding then to hear multiple times “no room, full” at 11PM when you are exhausted and tired, and this of course after you arrived with luggage in the 4th floor! Finally we found a strange hotel. We couldn’t even take a shower after we collected big amounts of dirt and sweat during the day, since there was a water shortage problem... Welcome to Mumbai :-) 


March 30th 2012: Mumbai, India

Driven distance on March 30th 2012: 0km

Driven distance total: 37’980km (23’600 miles)

First we were looking for another hotel and quickly we found a nice AC room at the Salvation Army :-). Afterwards we went to office of the shipping agent to organize the customs release of the Landrover. Surprisingly the documents (Carnet) made it from Dubai to India and we just had to sign some paperwork. If everything goes well, we should be able to get the car back on Tuesday or Wednesday. Towards the evening we paid a visit to the „Gateway of India“, a big arch who was erected in honor to the visit of the British King Georg V. in the year 1911. Just beside it was the famous glorious Taj Mahal Palace hotel, which is one of the famous buildings in Mumbai. Although it is an impressive, almost fairy tale like building, we don’t’ stay here, it doesn’t fit in our travel budget ;-).


March 31th 2012: Mumbai, India

Driven distance on March 31th 2012: 0km

Driven distance total: 37’980km (23’600 miles)

Our day-trip to “Elephanta island” started just after the breakfast. With a trustfully looking boat ;-) we made the 11km (7 miles) to the island. Elephanta is famous for it’s cave temples, who were carved out of the rocks some 1400 years ago. It was really impressive, we just struggled with the heat!


April 1st 2012: Mumbai, India

Driven distance on April 1st 2012: 0km

Driven distance total: 37’980km (23’600 miles)

We were full of energy to check out the 16 million city Mumbai, since we didn’t go sightseeing for the past few weeks. In the quarter called Colaba, we were astonished from the many Victorian historical buildings, like the train station, the high court, the university etc… Those were absolutely fantastic monuments!


April 2nd 2012: Mumbai, India

Driven distance on April 2nd 2012: 0km

Driven distance total: 37’980km (23’600 miles)

On the schedule was another sightseeing day. But first we had another short meeting with our shipping agent to figure out what’s going on with the car. He said that they will bring the car directly to our hotel as soon as it is ready. Not sure if this would be a good idea:-)!

In another part of Mumbai we checked out some more sights. First stop was a pilgrimage place (Baganga Tank), which contained of a big bath. There were some religious people who performed some little ceremonies. It is always interesting here in India! We continued to a small quarter (Kotachiwadi) where the buildings and alleys suppose to look like in old Mumbai. Finally we went to a city laundry, (Mahalaxmi Dhobi Ghat), where dozens of concrete basins were aligned and countless people were washing by hand the cloth. Over a big area was nothing else to see then clothes, clothes and clothes.. impressive! The Hindu temple which we visited at the end was not really spectacular, so we ended up shortly after back in our hotel.

At 5PM we had one more time contact with our shipping agent and we fixed an appointment for the next morning to get the Landrover together from the port.


April 3rd 2012: Mumbai, India

Driven distance on April 3rd 2012: 50km (30 miles)

Driven distance total: 38’030km (23’630 miles)

At 9:30AM we had the appointment with our shipping agent at the gateway of India. After a one hour boat ride, a bus ride, a rickshaw and some waiting, we finally got to see the container of the Landrover. We already missed the car (as he missed us :-)) and we were happy when the car drove without any problems and damage out of the container. About one hour later everything was finished and we could start the adventure “driving in India”!! The first impression of the traffic is less terrible then it actually looks from the outside. We just didn’t care about any other car, we ignored completely pedestrians and hit the horn quite regularly. Oh yes, and mirrors are absolutely not necessary in India, you just cut off everyone you can! This is fun to drive ;-)!

After 2 hours in Mumbai traffic we arrived well at the hotel.   


April 4th 2012: Mumbai, India

Driven distance on April 4th 2012: 0km

Driven distance total: 38’030km (23’630 miles)

In the morning we had to do something that’s not really nice! Our budget got stressed because we had to deliver 1400$ to our shipping agent for the second part of the shipping. But at least everything has worked out! Afterwards we had to deal with the next not nice thing, we had to go once again into a hospital, because Maryse had again an abscess at the same place as in Oman. According to the guidebook, one of the best hospitals in Mumbai (as well in India) was everything else then convincing. After some thinking decided Maryse to fly once again back to Switzerland. At the same time I checked with my previous employer if they’d have something to do. Like this Maryse doesn’t miss anything of the trip and I can make some money for the travel.

In the evening we went together to the airport and Maryse flew once again to Switzerland. L


April 5th 2012: Mumbai, India

Driven distance on April 5th 2012: 0km

Driven distance total: 38’030km (23’630 miles)

Since it now really seems that I will be working for the next few weeks, I had to look for a safe parking for the Landrover! Of course I went to the office of our shipping agent and they could help me out.


April 6th – 8th 2012: Mumbai, India

Driven distance on April 6th – 8th 2012: 0km

Driven distance total: 38’030km (23’630 miles)

Those days I didn’t do too much. Also the temperatures and the humidity wasn’t inviting for sightseeing trips! On the other hand I met some interesting people. A guy from England flew his 90cc small bike to Malaysia and drives the crappy bike back home to England. Another interesting day I had with Anna from Germany. We just wanted to enjoy some beers in the afternoon, but it ended in a heavy 2 hour discussion with a 60 year old French guy :-)!


April 8th – May 7th 2012: Malaysia, Sweden, Switzerland

Driven distance on April 8th – May 7th 2012: 0km (Thank god :-))

Driven distance total: 38’030km (23’630 miles)

Maryse had to visit once again the hospital in Switzerland because of the abscess! Really annoying for her if you want to travel the world.

For my side, I could once again be part of the working world for a short time. The first week I spent in Malaysia, then one week Switzerland and afterwards one week Sweden. I didn’t forget everything I learned once, but I came once again to the conclusion, that travelling the world in a car is more fun :-).

But anyways it was a good change and it was also great to see family and friends after tis long time.


May 7th 2012: Switzerland – Mumbai, India

Driven distance on May 7th 2012: 0km

Driven distance total: 38’030km (23’630 miles)

At least I had 2 seats for myself on the flight. Yes, you have read correctly, I flew alone back to India. A few days before the scheduled return, Maryse became another abscess and had to go to another hospital in Bern. Now we really hope that this problem is completely gone! So the next 3 weeks I’ll be travelling alone in direction north towards Delhi.

At the arrival in Mumbai I realized that there is not only chaos on the streets, but also at the airports. We had to wait for more then 30 minutes just besides the gates, because there was no free space available.

Then the big surprise!! Is the Landrover still here?? And of course, everything is as it should be. Since it was already after 11PM, I decided to spend the night in the car.

I had some action around 1AM, when a group of Indians ran a bit shouting towards the car. But luckily it wasn’t a group of thieves, it was Mustafa with some friends, who organized the parking space. He just was on his daily car observation tour and thought I did break into the car :-) !


May 8th 2012: Mumbai, India

Driven distance on May 8th 2012: 0km

Driven distance total: 38’030km (23’630 miles)

In the morning I had to wait, the car was locked in by other cars. Around 7 I woke up and finally after 10 I was able to move. Back in the salvation army I got again a AC room. In the afternoon I went to Mustafa to pay the parking lot. Later on I had to go to the „Auto association India“ to extend the validity of the carnet. There they mentioned that it is mandatory to have insurance, so I got insurance. 1 year costs 80$, slightly cheaper then in Switzerland:-).


May 9th 2012: Mumbai, India

Driven distance on May 9th 2012: 0km

Driven distance total: 38’030km (23’630 miles)

I had to wait the entire day to collect my carnet de passage from the „Auto association India“. The morning I used to clean the car and to buy a new car battery. Since the shipment is the secondary battery dead. And with this heat is a refrigerator something useful :-).


May 10th 2012: Mumbai – Aurangabad, India

Driven distance on May 10th 2012: 410km (250 miles)

Driven distance total: 38’440km (23’880 miles)

So, let’s go into the traffic chaos of India. Finally out of Mumbai, and this is where the fun just started. On the main roads the exciting car passing maneuvers start. Slow motorbikes, rickshaws, Ox-carts, and trucks. They always pass, even if they would be back home 50 feet after the passing! The cars in the other direction quite often have to slow down a bit in order to avoid a crash. Of course I adapted immediately to the Indian traffic! To whole passing thing is getting more interesting because I am sitting on the “wrong” side:-).

At lunch I took an unhurried 2 hour break in the city of Nasik, where I originally planned to stay. Somehow it wasn’t my thing and I kept on driving towards Aurangabad. The temperature climbed shortly up to 42°C (108°F), and the wind was blowing nasty into the car (no AC), so I had to close my window! Approx. half an hour later, the temperature was down at comfortable 24°C (78°F) and it was heavy raining! Around 6PM I finally arrived. After some tries to get the right hotel at the right price, I decided to sleep in the car.


May 11th 2012: Aurangabad, India

Driven distance on May 11th 2012: 60km (40 miles)

Driven distance total: 38’500km (23’920 miles)

For once sightseeing is also nice :-). But first I checked in at 8am into the hotel where I parked and spent the night in front of.

Approx. 30km (20 miles) away from that city are the fantastic 1300 years old Ellora caves. The area is containing 34 different temple caves which are cut out entirely from the rocks. There were three groups; Buddhism Hinduism and Jain temple caves to explore. The most impressing place was a huge temple entirely cut out of the rocks. They removed incredibly 200’000 tons of rocks until the masterpiece was reviled.


May 12th 2012: Aurangabad – Ajanta, India

Driven distance on May 12th 2012: 140km (90 miles)

Driven distance total: 38’640km (24’010 miles)

This morning I first went to two smaller sights in Aurangabad. The first was a not really impressive water wheel, and the other one is a mausoleum also called “small Taj Mahal”. This monument really did look a bit like the real Taj Mahal, but was not that impressive :-).

Now I started in direction Ajanta caves, which are even more known than the already fantastic Ellora caves. In the early afternoon I arrived and took a room with AC, since I didn’t have much interest to check out the caves in this heat! In the morning it is quite much more comfortable!


May 13th 2012: Ajanta, India

Driven distance on May 13th 2012: 10km (6 miles)

Driven distance total: 38’650km (24’020 miles)

Now it was time to discover the caves of Ajanta. Compared to the Ellora caves were here a lot of paintings visible, which are up to 2000 years old. The are also spectacular, but not more then the fascinating Ellora caves. The 28 caves are wonderfully located in a horseshoe shaped canyon. There weren’t too many western tourists due to the heat and season, but all the more Indian tourists :-).


May 14th 2012: Ajanta – Surat, India

Driven distance on May 14th 2012: 310km (190 miles)

Driven distance total: 38’960km (24’210 miles)

Today I was sitting for 7 hours in the Landrover, at comfortable 38°C (102°F), with very organized traffic :-). By now I drive more “Indian-style” then the locals ;-). Believe it or not, but I actually have seen a driving school car which I immediately passed. They really have to complete a driving test in this country!! I’m wondering what they actually learn?? :-). The scenery wasn’t that great, but there is always some entertainment from the completely overloaded trucks, cars and rickshaws :-). The roads here in India aren’t actually too bad. At least the main roads are quite OK, what wasn’t really the case in central Asia.  


May 15th 2012: Surat – Vadodara, India

Driven distance on May 15th 2012: 170km (110 miles)

Driven distance total: 39’130km (24’310 miles)

Around lunchtime I arrived in Vadodara. In the middle of the city the police stopped me because I missed a sign somewhere that I didn’t obeyed. Immediately they wanted to give me a fine over 4$. Successfully I moaned, that the traffic in India is very difficult  for someone like me;-)! The cops started to laugh and let me go!

Now it was time to move for once into a nice decent hotel, the Hampton Inn. Since I still have hotel points (like frequent flyer miles) from work, I am able now to stay 2 nights for free. As soon as the heat disappeared a little bit in the evening, I went to explore some smaller sights in the city. Before the dinner at Pizza Hut, I could actually conquer myself to see the gym also from the inside :-). From time to time it is also necessary to do something for the health.


May 16th 2012: Vadodara, India

Driven distance on May 16th 2012: 110km (70 miles)

Driven distance total: 39’240km (24’380 miles)

At the Hampton Inn I got since a long time a fantastic breakfast buffet, hhmmmm yummy... Full of energy I started to go to the 50km (30 miles) away sights of Champaner und Pavagadh. The world heritage site Champaner is an old ruin of a, at that time, main city of the state Gujarat and lies directly at the 760 Meter (2500 feet) high mountain Pavagadh. The disused mosques and the old city walls are very special architectural construction. On the small tour I had always two Indians who accompanied me. I took them from place to place with the car, both of them on the passenger seat. On top of the hill was a temple who draw regularly a good number of pilgrims. There was a gondola rope way existing for the final 400m (1300 feet) in altitude. My concerns, if the gondolas will be falling down, disappeared when I’ve seen that they were coming from Switzerland and they weren’t even that old:-).


May 17th 2012: Vadodara – Galteshwar, India

Driven distance on May 17th 2012: 170km (110 miles)

Driven distance total: 39’410km (24’490 miles)

In the morning I had some nice encounters at the Hampton Inn. First there was the hotel manager, who was interested in what I am doing here with this kind of car. I explained her, that I wouldn’t work for the discovery channel, that I am just a tourist:-). She provided me some information regarding some sights for the ongoing trip. Shortly after, Dilip Patel, who is also a proud owner of a Landrover, started talking to me. Quickly we were in a discussion and he invited me for lunch at his home, also for the reason to take a look at his Landrover. In India there really are just very few Landrover Defenders on the road! We had a nice morning together with his sons and wife and the food from the current state Gujarat was delicious!

Actually I had planned to make a short stop in the city of Ahmedabad, but the 44°C (112°F) took al my motivation away to visit the city. Instead I took an AC room a bit further north.


May 18th 2012: Galteshwar – Mount Abu, India

Driven distance on May 18th 2012: 220km (140 miles)

Driven distance total: 39’630km (24’620 miles)

I escaped from the heat into a village called Mount Abu in the state Rajasthan, which lies at 1200 Meter (4000 feet). And in fact it was more pleasant up here! The town is covered with hotels for Indian tourists and it was accordingly overrun! The afternoon I spent quietly at the famous lake there and by visiting one of the temples.  


May 19th 2012: Mount Abu – Udaipur, India

Driven distance on May 19th 2012: 180km (110 miles)

Driven distance total: 39’810km (24’740 miles)

This morning I just wanted to visit the famous Jain temples Delwara before I continued my journey. I was at the temples around 9AM and figured out that the visitors time starts after noon! In a small restaurant just besides the temples I killed the next three hours. Definitely the highlight of the morning was that some young Indians came to look at the Landrover. One of the Indian girls asked me if she can drive it once, and since she asked so nicely I couldn’t say no :-). She was quite young and about 1.60m (5 foot 3), so ideal to watch over the spare tire on the hood!! The short ride on the small road was more exciting then on a roller coaster ;-). But it was funny!

After 12 it was finally possible to enter the temples, which are, according to the guide book, the temples with the most amazing carvings all over India. And really, it was breathtaking! The columns, walls, ceilings etc. were into the detail full of small sculptures and patterns! Absolutely fantastic. Allegedly there were 1500 stone cutters and 1200 helpers working for 14 years at the few, not that big, temples. Unbelievable!

The trip continued without any problems to the touristic place Udaipur.  


May 20th – 21st 2012: Udaipur, India

Driven distance on May 20th – 21st 2012: 0km

Driven distance total: 39’810km (24’740 miles)

Since I was already once before in Udaipur, I skipped the sightseeing. Instead of that, I spent quite a few hours in the AC room :-) with organizing and labeling of all the pictures on the web page.


May 22nd 2012: Udaipur – Jodhpur, India

Driven distance on May 22nd 2012: 320km (200 miles)

Driven distance total: 40’130km (24’940 miles)

I started my trip towards the fort of Kumbhalgarh after a delicious Nutella Pancake for breakfast. Around lunch I arrived there and visited the great monument. A really big fort in an uninhabited area in the woods which was surrounded by a 36km (22 miles) long and second largest uninterrupted wall in the world. There were almost no tourists, just a few Indian visitors. Along some detours I finally arrived at 7PM in Jodhpur. The guys everywhere in the street, who know many hotels, are actually quite helpful if you are travelling by car. You just tell them you need a hotel with parking and it even works most of the time. One of the guys just got in the car and led me through the tiny back alleys of the old city. Landy squeezed nicely it’s way through between cows and Indians to a hotel where I could park perfectly in front of the building :-).


May 23rd 2012: Jodhpur, India

Driven distance on May 23rd 2012: 0km (0 miles)

Driven distance total: 40’130km (24’940 miles)

In the morning I went on my way to see the fantastic old fort on the top of the hill. Majestic it is sitting above the so-called blue city of Jodhpur. Later on towards the evening I strolled simply a bit through the old market in the old town and enjoyed the Indian atmosphere ;-).  


May 24th 2012: Jodhpur – Jaipur, India

Driven distance on May 24th 2012: 340km (210 miles)

Driven distance total: 40’470km (25’150 miles)

The drive went on without any problems. Since it is again above 40°C (105°F) I intended to take a lunch break in an AC place to get cooled down a bit. It felt like an enlightenment when I saw the golden arches, so let’s go to McDonalds;-). At this point there is to say, that in the past couple years, many new roads have been built and as well a lot of new shopping malls like the where this McDonalds was in.

After I cooled down in my room in Jaipur, I enjoyed a tali, a traditional meal in India, for dinner at the local restaurant next door. It is indeed possible to live inexpensive here, a meal, yoghurt and a bottle of water costs 1$50 cents.


May 25th 2012: Jaipur, India

Driven distance on May 25th 2012: 0km (0 miles)

Driven distance total: 40’470km (25’150 miles)

Around 9 I started the day by taking a rickshaw for a sightseeing trip. Even though I already knew it at the start, I managed it to get ripped off a bit from the nice Indians :-). But this is part of the life here, specially in the very touristy Jaipur!


May 26th 2012: Jaipur – Delhi, India

Driven distance on May 26th 2012: 300km (190 miles)

Driven distance total: 40’770km (25’330 miles)

Unfortunately I could finally leave around lunchtime, since I had to pick up a new car license plate at 11AM. Therefor I finally arrived at 5PM in the capital Delhi, and started the hotel search. The biggest problem in the cities is usually to find a hotel with a safe parking. Since I was tired from the road trip I went to check in to the first hotel with a good parking, a bit expensive, but at least the car is safe :-).

For dinner I got a real yummy Cheeseburger at the Hard rock Café, which is located in one of the fancy new shopping malls for the richer Indians. The food and 2 beers did actually cost 25$, as much as other people make in a week. After I left the shopping Mall, I was immediately back in the reality of India, where many people have nothing! Those are the real differences between rich and poor!


May 27th 2012: Delhi, India

Driven distance on May 27th 2012: 60km (40 miles)

Driven distance total: 40’830km (25’370 miles)

Since I kind of lost track of which weekday it is, I went for nothing on a Sunday to the embassy of Myanmar:-). We would still have the plan to drive from India to Thailand through Myanmar.

A part of the afternoon I spent in one of the modern shopping malls, with the intention to visit a movie theater. When I wanted to pay for the ticket, I denied! Unbelievable but true, the price would have been 19$!


May 28th 2012: Delhi, India

Driven distance on May 28th 2012: 30km (20 miles)

Driven distance total: 40’860km (25’390 miles)

The Landy got once again some new engine oil and new filters, and he was happy about it;-). Other than that, I just checked out a bit Delhi, but I wasn’t in the mood for touristic activities, also because I have been in Delhi twice before.    


May 29th 2012: Delhi, India

Driven distance on May 29th 2012: 50km (30 miles)

Driven distance total: 40’910km (25’420 miles)

At 3.30AM I crawled out of the bed to pick up Maryse from the airport. At least at this time the traffic was no problem:-). After we were finally back in the hotel, we enjoyed a few hours of sleep. For nothing we started another trial at the Myanmar embassy to obtain for a special request to cross overland. They just said no and led us to the ministry of foreign affairs in Myanmar. The 44°C (112°F) pushed us back to hotel room in the afternoon! During dinner we enjoyed the chaotic Indian atmosphere at the main bazaar road.


May 30th 2012: Delhi – Thanesar, India

Driven distance on May 30th 2012: 240km (150 miles)

Driven distance total: 41’150km (25’570 miles)

At the outskirts of Delhi we made a stop to visit the relatively new and huge Akshardham temple. It is from a Hindu …. And is wonderfully carved and decorated with over 20’000 different goddesses. The day continued to the unusual Lotus temple, which (as the name already says :-)) shaped like a lotus blossom. In India the lotus blossom is the symbol of purity. In this temple are all religions allowed to pray or meditate according their believes. Before we were allowed to enter the praying room we had to listen to some words of the Baha-religion and to some rules how to behave inside :-). After our short spiritual moment ;-) in the lotus temple, we started the trip towards Amritsar. Therefor we had to cross once again through Delhi. After approx. 2 hours we had most of it behind us and we could drive more or less fluently...


May 31th 2012: Thanesar – Amritsar, India

Driven distance on May 31th 2012: 300km (190 miles)

Driven distance total: 41’450km (25’760 miles)

We continued our journey after a bad breakfast and a noisy night besides a gas station. The long drive to Amritsar was once again a sauna similar experience at 46°C (116°F)L!


June 1st 2012: Amritsar, India

Driven distance on June 1st 2012: 60km (40 miles)

Driven distance total: 41’510km (25’790 miles)

One of the main attractions in Amritsar is the golden temple, the holy shrine of the Sikh religion. Since we weren’t motivated to walk during this heat, we got a bicycle rickshaw to drive us around. We are honoring all the people that do hard work at this heat, like for example those rickshaw drivers.

The temple is really beautiful and the ambiance is as well very peaceful. Towards the evening we started to go in direction Pakistan :-). No, unfortunately only until the border, where there is every evening, when the border closes, a ceremony. Against our expectations, there were already hundreds of people (mainly Indian tourists) waiting for the gates to open. Of course, pretty soon started the Indians to climb over the fences (Indians simply can’t stand in a queue :-)). Then there was even a military vehicle coming through the masses and the gate was opened for it. Actually they were planning to close the gate afterwards again, but the masses of people behind the vehicle just pushed it further open, and of course we were in the middle of it, the normal insanity in Indian ;-). After finally arriving at the stage we could wait another 1 ½ hours at approx. 45°C (112°F) and sunshine until the spectacle started. First there were Indian volunteers running up and down with the Indian flags. Afterwards they encouraged the Indian and Pakistani audience to get into the patriotic mood... Finally there were the soldiers who showed some walking exercises. The legs went so high that it almost looked like they will fall down. The short walk to the border, who remembered to “Monty Pythons flying circus” :-), is accompanied by tremendous applause and loud choruses of „Hindustan zindabad!“ (Long live India!). It really was a impressive and amusing spectacle!


June 2nd 2012: Amritsar – Jammu, India

Driven distance on June 2nd 2012: 220km (140 miles)

Driven distance total: 41’730km (25’930 miles)

The journey led us further north into the state Kashmir, to Jammu. Jammu is simply a stopover on the way to the mountains and has not much to offer.


June 3rd 2012: Jammu, India

Driven distance on June 3rd 2012: 20km (10 miles)

Driven distance total: 41’750km (25’940 miles)

First, Landy kissed slightly a bus which was coming from the other direction, but luckily it was only a small touching on the sides. Now Landy has some tiny blue marks:-). Since our car makes some strange noises, we intended to grease the drive shafts before starting the further trip. Since most of the shops were closed because it was Sunday, we tried our luck at a gas station, which sent us directly to the next place besides them. 20 Meter (60 feet) aside was a place with a few small trucks and a couple of Indians. One of them we simply called the “greaser”, because he looked like he has been greased himself from top to bottom :-). That guy also helped us then. Pretty quickly we realized, that the u-joint at the front drive shaft was damaged again. This one we had replaced half a year ago in Kirgizstan! Shortly after another “mechanic” came to the scene and we started to disassemble the car on the open road. Nobody could speak English and we just hoped that we could find new parts on a Sunday. After we dismounted the drive shaft, we took a rickshaw to get new parts. Afterwards we went to another “Mechanic” where we installed (or better said squeezed or forced :-)) the new u-joints. At the end they welded some things where I wasn’t really happy about. Finally after 6 hours and 60$ was the car running like new again ;-). Since it already was 4PM we stayed one more night in Jammu.


June 4th 2012: Jammu – Srinagar, India

Driven distance on June 4th 2012: 300km (190 miles)

Driven distance total: 42’050km (26’130 miles)

Finally we are going to some higher regions! We are happy to be able to flee into the mountains after days of 45°C (112°F). The trip led us at one point up to 2500m (8250 feet) and we were finally able to see some blue sky without the dust and smog! In the western part of Kashmir is still a very big presence of military, because the bordering area with Pakistan. Also in the villages that we passed we saw smaller groups of people with Pakistani flags. It seems that some of the villages would prefer to belong to Pakistan instead India.

The traffic was absolutely annoying, because currently is high season for Indian tourists as well. All tourists had to get registered at a check point to enter further into Kashmir, about 100km (60 miles) before Srinagar.

Actually somewhat exhausted from the trip we finally arrived around 8PM at some hotels. Since there is peak season, many of the hotels were booked or had exaggerated prices for crappy rooms. In the hotel Swiss :-) we also tried without success to get a room, but at least we were allowed to stay at the parking and could use the restroom and Wi-Fi system :-).

The temperature here in Srinagar is comfortable again, and in the evening we could use even a small jacket!


June 5th 2012: Srinagar, India

Driven distance on June 5th 2012: 0km (0 miles)

Driven distance total: 42’050km (26’130 miles)

Since most of the habitants in Kashmir belong to Islam, we were woken up by our favorite alarm sound „Muezzin“ at 4AM:-)! We used the morning for the very urgent general cleaning session of the Landrover. As usual in India, we were interrupted by nosy Indians to answer the usual general questions :-). In the afternoon we strolled around a bit in Srinagar and checked out the scene at the Dal Lake. Very amusing was the Indian waterskiing – you take a wooden plate in the size of a door and strap it to a slow motorboat :-).


June 6th 2012: Srinagar – Sonamarg, India

Driven distance on June 6th 2012: 90km (60 miles)

Driven distance total: 42’140km (26’180 miles)

In the morning we went on the almost obligated boat ride in Srinagar. With a small gondola like boat, the gondola guy cruised with us along floating gardens and shops, and as well along many houseboats. During the one hour boat trip we (as little ornithologists :-)) could see some birds. For example the rare king fisher bird.

Somewhat outside of the town center we visited one of the huge gardens dating back from the Mogul times.

Now let’s go further into the mountains to Sonamarg. Unfortunately is currently the weather not that great, it rains and is approx. 15°C (60°F)! At the arrival in Sonamarg we did see something else then we expected. On several parking lots we have seen hundreds of jeeps and other cars who are coming packed with Indian tourists who are driving from Srinagar to here to check out the nearby glacier.


June 7th 2012: Sonamarg, India

Driven distance on June 7th 2012: 0km (0 miles)

Driven distance total: 42’140km (26’180 miles)

Since it was raining the entire morning, we kept staying in our room. In the afternoon the sky cleared up and we used the chance to hike up to the Thajiwas glacier. All the Indian tourists were brought up by jeeps or horses, we were the only people who hiked up the easy 2 hours! Arrived on top we were a bit disappointed because the glacier was only visible a tiny bit far back. We enjoyed anyways the nice valley with the green fields and the mountain creek. (also here in the mountains are the creeks full of garbage, the negative effect of tourism...). Most of the Indian tourists have seen for the first time snow, and played around in the remains of avalanches. The locals made their business with renting out skis and sleds and with operating small tea stalls. On the way back to the village, we crossed several small groups of tents from locals, and we got invited for a salty tea. Those people (sometimes entire families) are coming here from nearby villages for three months to earn some money from the tourists by renting out horses, and to let their cattle feed on the lush green fields. The rest of the year they don’t have any work. Because of the huge amount of snow is the village Sonamarg uninhabited in the wintertime.


June 8th 2012: Sonamarg – Kargil, India

Driven distance on June 8th 2012: 130km (80 miles)

Driven distance total: 42’270km (26’270 miles)

The trip towards Kargil was actually quite adventures. Somewhat before the Zoji La pass (3529m / 11580 feet), the road went along some cliffs where it is going vertically down on the right side and vertically up on the left side. Since the Indians really do not have any patience on the road, there are from time to time very annoying crossing maneuvers. At one point we had to wait for 15 minutes until all the vehicles could cross each other. To make the whole situation even a bit more exciting, there were even some small rocks falling down on the road from the cliffs :-).

While we had bad weather, the gravel road led us passing at one point between 6m (20 feet) high snow walls, which are created through avalanches. We had lunch in the village, where they measured the second lowest temperature worldwide. In the village Drus, they measured once incredible minus 60°C (-76°F)! Unfortunately we were one day too early to enjoy the yearly polo game in Drus, but anyways it was fun to see them at the training.

After the more than 6 hours trip, we were happy to arrive in the little town of Kargil.

Very interesting was as well the fact, that the people were very different between Sonamarg and Kargil! Sonamarg is mainly Muslim country and Kargil belongs mainly to the Buddhist religion. Also in the restaurants was the food completely different than in the western part of Kashmir.


June 9th 2012: Kargil – Rangdum, India

Driven distance on June 9th 2012: 140km (90 miles)

Driven distance total: 42’410km (26’350 miles)

Let’s go to Zanskar! First the trip led us through the green Suru valley. Many Muslim families are living here in their small stone houses. At the bottom of the valley we could see the gorgeous rice fields and further up the grey brown mountains with snow capped peaks. Unfortunately were the two 7000m (23’000 feet) high peaks Nun and Kun quite cloudy. Since we have to back the same way, we will have another chance to see the majestic peaks. The trip was really bumpy and we were only able to drive in snail speed, but on the other hand we could really enjoy the landscape :-). Finally we arrived in the first Buddhist village Rangdum, where we stayed overnight. There are no hotels here, but very quickly we found a family where we got a room. Or better said, we stayed in there eating room! The 130-population village lies at 3670m (12’040 feet) and is a collection of typical low Ladak houses from this region. For dinner we went to their kitchen, where the entire family watched us eating :-). We had rice, vegetables and beans, for drinking some butter tea and for desert we had the honor to try the local „Tsampa“ (yoghurt mixed with flour and sugar). This was indeed quite strange to eat :-).


June 10th 2012: Rangdum – Padum, India

Driven distance on June 10th 2012: 100km (60 miles)

Driven distance total: 42’510km (26’410 miles)

After the breakfast with the family we started and visited first the nearby monastery Rangdum. There are 25 monks living in the 450 years old Buddhist monastery.

The 100km (60 miles) long trip took more than 5 hours and specially towards the end it was very bumpy and annoying. But anyways we were able to enjoy it, since the trip, which went higher than 4400m (11’440 feet), was really fantastic from the mountain scenery. For a change we picked up some hitch hikers for the final 90 minutes, since it doesn’t have much traffic anymore up here. 2 women and a small child squeezed themselves in the back of the car and enjoyed of course the bumpy ride:-).

Padum lies at 3500m (11’480 feet) and has a population of 1500 people. What is also fascinating for us, is the remoteness of those places. It takes 14 hours to get into the next, somewhat bigger village, or 3 days to get to the next airport.


June 11th 2012: Padum, India

Driven distance on June 11th 2012: 0km (0 miles)

Driven distance total: 42’510km (26’410 miles)

Since we were quite worn out from the very exhausting drive yesterday, we took a resting day! We strolled a bit around in the village, which is basically a main road with some shops, restaurants und hotels. The remaining houses where people live are quite spread out. Many of the people from the surrounding small villages come here to do their purchases. Therefor it was very interesting to observe the different people. The locals from the region Zanskar are living traditional, are looking like Tibetans and quite shy against tourists. Also many Buddhist monks are walking around in the village.


June 12th 2012: Padum, India

Driven distance on June 12th 2012: 80km (50 miles)

Driven distance total: 42’590km (26’460 miles)

Our daily program was to visit some of the Buddhist monasteries in the near area, which are between 500 and 1000 years old. The first monk monastery, the Stongde Gompa, lies about 10km away from Padum and thrones nicely 300 meters (1000 feet) above the valley. Very nicely we were welcomed by one of the monks and we could enter and see the monastery from the inside. In a small prayer room we had the chance to sit besides two older monks during their chanting. Also we got some tea and bread:-). The view to the surrounding mountain scenery was fantastic and the ambiance was very peaceful.

Another 15km (10 miles) further away in the village Zangla, we visited a Buddhist nun monastery. Also here we could see the impressive old paintings and scripts and finally we were invited for tea as well:-).

Back in Padum we enjoyed some sunshine at our hotel.


June 13th 2012: Padum – Rangdum, India

Driven distance on June 13th 2012: 130km (80 miles)

Driven distance total: 42’720km (26’540 miles)

Before we started our return journey we drove to the nearby Bardan Monastery, which sits spectacularly on a cliff. Since we still had a long journey in front of us we skipped to see the Monastery from the inside. In Rangdum we slept at the same family like on the way up. In the house there is no heating, but on the other hand installed the government a solar system that every house has at least one light bulb per room. During the winter (approx. 6 months) is the entire Zanskar valley completely cut off from the outside world and the entire family lives in the same room where there is a big central oven. We also learned that the area where the villages sits, is owned by the monastery of Rangdum. Every family has to pay the monastery 1000 Rupees (approx. 20$) pro Monat for rent or it has to take care of one cattle from the monastery.


June 14th 2012: Rangdum – Kargil, India

Driven distance on June 14th 2012: 130km (80 miles)

Driven distance total: 42’850km (26’630 miles)

Like yesterday we had to continue driving the same way back as we came. This time we got lucky with the weather and we had a great view to the two 7000m (23’000 feet) peaks Nun and Kun. Once again we were happy when we arrived in Kargil after an annoying 6 hours drive. 


June 15th 2012: Kargil – Lamayuru, India

Driven distance on June 15th 2012: 120km (70 miles)

Driven distance total: 42’970km (26’700 miles)

After the first 30 minutes driving we encountered the first heavy traffic jam, because a military convoy of approx. 50 trucks came from the other side. Since at many points the road is narrow everybody blocked each other. They had some issues with crossing and we saw some blown up tires and ripped off covers from trucks :-). Almost every day we see those convoys and anyways, there are immensely a lot of military camps here in the north. After almost an hour we could finally continue driving. And again led us the trip through gorgeous mountain valleys. In Mulbekh we did visit the tiny Chamba Monastery, which contains a excellent 8m (26 feet) high, 100 years old stone relief of a Buddha. On the way we crossed the highest point of the Kargil – Leh road, the 4147m (13’605 feet) high Fotu La Pass. The hotel search in Lamayuru was a bit difficult, since there is a festival the next 2 days and most of the places were booked. Therefor we stayed in the car and enjoyed for dinner a Swiss chees fondue :-).


June 16th 2012: Lamayuru, India

Driven distance on June 16th 2012: 0km (0 miles)

Driven distance total: 42’970km (26’700 miles)

Around 9AM we started our way to the Buddhist festival. The little village Lamayuru sees for once unbelievable many visitors, on one hand many western visitors, but on the other hand also many locals from the surrounding villages. The festival took place at the front yard of the village’s monastery and was the perfect location for a festival like this.

Colorful robes and masks were moving and turning along with the unusual sounds of deeply sounding horns and other instruments. The ritually show was telling the story from life and death and the victory of the good versus the evil.

Unfortunately there were also a handful of tourists that absolutely had no respect and took pictures from the local people like they were animals in a zoo.

Most of the local visitors were there in their traditional clothes and turned peacefully on their prayer wheels or prayed with their prayer chains.

To get some change from the festival, we hiked up another 100m (330 feet) to a Stupa on the hill, from where we had a great view at the festival and the surrounding mountains.


June 17th 2012: Lamayuru – Leh, India

Driven distance on June 17th 2012: 120km (70 miles)

Driven distance total: 43’090km (26’770 miles)

Also this morning we visited the festival, but unfortunately there wasn’t much going on in the morning, so we started our journey towards Leh. The trip wasn’t quite as spectacular as the previous once.


June 18th – 23rd 2012: Leh, India

Driven distance on June 18th 2012: 0km (0 miles)

Driven distance total: 43’090km (26’770 miles)

After arriving in Leh, we first had to get used again to the masses of tourists. The advantage of those touristy places is the variety of food, so on the first evening we took some Italian food. Afterwards it would have been better if I (Stefan) wouldn’t have taken the Lasagna, because I then had 2 – 3 days some problems with my stomach and we couldn’t do much during this time. After we were again „Sightseeing“ ready, we did go and checked out the sights of Leh. The Leh palace as well as the Tsemo fort are overlooking fantastically Leh. The palace with it’s nine stories is somewhat similar to the Potala palace in Tibet. As well very special was the wonderful huge Shanti Stupa, which was constructed on an elevated point.

Another unforgettable sight was the Donkey sanctuary :-), where left alone or sick donkeys, who can not be used anymore for work, are welcomed. We were nicely welcomed from the donkeys and we had to see that they start to eat us up ;-). The whole thing was funny indeed.


June 24th 2012: Leh – Lukung, India

Driven distance on June 24th 2012: 160km (100 miles)

Driven distance total: 43’250km (26’870 miles)

Our daily goal was to get to the Pangong lake. On the way to there we visited the Thiksey monastery, one of the biggest monasteries in entire Ladakh. The Tibetan looking buildings are built on a big cliff side and in the main building stands a 14m (46 feet) high Buddha statue. There are numerous of monasteries here in Ladakh to visit, but since we are no real experts of the Buddhist religion, they all look somewhat similar to us ;-). Afterwards went the road through many hairpin curves high up the valley and we had a marvelous view of the villages below, until we finally reached the 5360m (17590 feet) high Chang La Pass. Of course the temperatures dropped a lot and it was even snowing. We also felt that the breathing is somewhat more difficult, but we had enough time to get acclimatized in Leh, so that we didn’t experienced any other height problems. At the highest point of the pass we enjoyed a so called „Meggi“ :-) (Instant noodles) and some sweets. Afterwards it went back down through beautiful valleys where we could also see some Yaks. Just in time we arrived at the lake and could enjoy the fantastic evening ambiance while we were eating a cheese fondue :-).


June 25th 2012: Lukung, India

Driven distance on June 25th 2012: 70km (40 miles)

Driven distance total: 43’320km (26’920 miles)

Now it was time to explore the lake. It is unbelievable, but most of the Indian tourists visit the lake in one day. So 5 hours drive to the lake, one hour at the lake and 5 hours back to Leh. We on the other hand, took one full day just to see the lake and it was absolutely worth it. We cruised with the Landrover another approx. 30km (20 miles) along the lake shore until the point where tourists are no longer permitted, since some part of the lake belongs also to China. The somewhat salty lake had a deep, intensive blue color like we have never seen it before! The absolutely clear lake was surrounded by numerous twisted, mineral colored, partly snow capped mountains. Also impressive was, that the lake is absolutely boat free and lies in untouched nature. Besides some military boats it is completely prohibited to have a boat, since the lake belongs partially to China. We really enjoyed the tourist free nature area.


June 26th 2012: Lukung – Rumtse, India

Driven distance on June 26th 2012: 160km (100 miles)

Driven distance total: 43’480km (27’020 miles)

Now it was time to say good bye to the wonderful Pangong lake and we drove the same way back over the high Chang La Pass. This time there was a real snow storm on the top and we felt like in the deepest winter! After arriving down in the valley we directly started driving the famous Leh – Manali road. But before we continued over the next 5000m (16’400 feet) mountain pass we slept in a small nice village.


June 27th 2012: Rumtse – Sanchu, India

Driven distance on June 27th 2012: 180km (110 miles)

Driven distance total: 43’660km (27’130 miles)

After the first 5 minutes of driving, the Landrover almost stopped working. It wasn’t possible to get the engine higher than 1500 rpm.! Somewhat clueless we tried without success to get him back to shape. After some thinking we decided anyways to continue. With approx. 10 – 20 km/h (10 mph) we crawled up the second highest drivable pass in the world :-). At the top, at 5360m (17590 feet) got the car so little air, that we had to use the reduction gears to climb the final incline. We were lucky that there were no bicyclists, they would have passed us guaranteed;-).

The Landscape rewarded us with wide sandy plains which were surrounded by high mountains, as well as with unforgettable canyons!


June 28th 2012: Sanchu – Keylong, India

Driven distance on June 28th 2012: 110km (70 miles)

Driven distance total: 43’770km (27’200 miles)

While we were sitting outside for breakfast, there was all of a sudden a Mercedes truck approaching. Hmm, somehow a truck like this doesn’t fit into India.. and there was actually an Austrian overlander couple inside who drove also from Europe to India. The cabin on the truck was quite luxurious, with flat screen TV, kitchen, toilet and shower. After some talking the Austrians kept on going and Stefan tried once again to get the car in proper working order, without success. Anyways we continued our journey and crawled once again in snail speed up to the 4950m (16’240 feet) high Baralacha Pass. After we drove down about 1000m (3300 feet), there was also the landscape changing. After the dry high plateau desert of Ladakh, we enjoyed the wild landscape of the Lahaul valley, with green fields and waterfalls who are coming down from glaciers.


June 29th 2012: Keylong – Manali, India

Driven distance on June 29th 2012: 120km (70 miles)

Driven distance total: 43’890km (27’270 miles)

On the last part of the Leh – Manali road we crossed the famous Rotang pass. In a village, around 10AM, an Australian girl and an Israeli guy asked us if we probably have some tools with us. About 90 minutes later we continued our trip, after they have fixed their Royal Enfield motorbike. Since there is everywhere construction going on at the Rotang pass, there are sometimes some tight places to cross each other. At one place, it took unbelievable 2 ½ hours until we could continue. From the highest point of the pass (4000m / 13’100 feet), it continued endless curves down the hill to the 2000m (6550 feet) high Manali. The weather was quite bad, it was raining. In Manali it looks quite similar like in Switzerland. Green forests, beautiful mountain rivers with the surrounding mountains.

In the evening we met again the French guy who lives in Pune with his Indian girlfriend, that we met already at the Pangong lake and had a nice evening :-).


June 30th – July 1st 2012: Manali, India

Driven distance on June 30th – July 1st 2012: 0km (0 miles)

Driven distance total: 43’890km (27’270 miles)

For two days we settled down in the cozy easy-going Old-Manali. We discovered some impressive older buildings made out of wood and stone, and after crossing the backpacker area there is still the feeling of an Indian mountain village going on. After Stefan got some information from the Landrover shop at home, he could fix the car again. The diesel pump needed to be changed, now Landy runs again like new:-). Overnight there were some schoolboys having fun with the car, and they let the air out of one tire, but on site we could easily re-pump the tire with our own compressor.


July 2nd 2012: Manali – Mandi, India

Driven distance on July 2nd 2012: 140km (90 miles)

Driven distance total: 44’030km (27’360 miles)

The journey in direction South led us along a wild river where there were numerous river rafting trips offered. Since we are assuming, that the same chaotic, dangerous  system as on the road is happening on the water, it wasn’t very tempting for us;-).

We encountered again some higher temperatures since we did arrive in lower elevation areas. There was a real chaos in Mandi, so we continued for another 10km to spend the night.


July 3rd 2012: Mandi – Shimla, India

Driven distance on July 3rd 2012: 180km (110 miles)

Driven distance total: 44’210km (27’470 miles)

Along a small winding side road we drove up to Shimla. The landscape here is very hilly and even every single steep hill has been formed to a plateau like stepped area for farming. Of course the signs for direction were missing and we needed the help from the locals to find our way. After such an insider-Tipp we ended up on a small dirty dust road… We asked several times along the way for directions, and every one confirmed that this is the right way to Shimla. Fortunately we ended up at some point again at the “normal” road and we actually won 30km (20 miles)!


July 4th 2012: Shimla, India

Driven distance on July 4th 2012: 0km (0 miles)

Driven distance total: 44’210km (27’470 miles)

Shimla is one of the few places in India with a “no traffic” zone. Like this it is quite more relaxing and it’s not necessary to be afraid of getting picked up by a rickshaw by accident:-). Shimla lies at an altitude of 2200m (7240 feet), on a 12km long forest ridge and is as well a very popular “hill station” destination for Indian tourists.

So now we went about 30 minutes on foot up the steep hill to the Jakhu temple, Were we could also say hello to the Hindu god „Hanuman“ with the monkey head ;-). The huge orange Hanuman statue thrones fantastically over the mountain town Shimla.

Shimla is as well worth a trip because of the few British monuments from the colonial times. The British used during this time Shimla as their main place for the summer.

In the afternoon we got to know what Monsoon actually means. Within seconds it started to poor down like crazy. We escaped from shelter to shelter but at the end we were still getting completely soaked. In the town there were all of a sudden many small rivers coming down the streets.


July 5th 2012: Shimla – Chandigarh, India

Driven distance on July 5th 2012: 120km (70 miles)

Driven distance total: 44’330km (27’550 miles)

Now there was another very winding road going down on the other side to the city of Chandigarh.


July 6th 2012: Chandigarh, India

Driven distance on July 6th 2012: 0km (0 miles)

Driven distance total: 44’330km (27’550 miles)

One of the main attractions of Chandigarh is the huge so-called „rock-garden“, which was created from an artist called Nek Chand. Made out of all kinds of recycled garbage he made some kind of labyrinth. Connected areas and stairs are opening to valleys with waterfalls who are populated by statues of porcelain. In the middle of the “garden” is some kind of playground with huge swings, which we of course couldn’t miss:-).

Just besides the rock-garden is the high court located, which is a work from the famous architect Le Corbusier. Unfortunately we didn’t arrange a special permit to enter the high court area and we had to stay out. A short visit we paid to the high court museum, in which the handcuffs from the Mahatma Gandhi murder, Nathuram Godse are displayed.

The weather god gave us again some heavy monsoon rainfalls and we found some protection underneath a bridge from the storm. Later in the afternoon we tried to get such a permission to the high court. Unfortunately nothing worked out as planned and we had to cancel the project, and since it was Friday we couldn’t even postpone it to the next day.     


July 7th 2012: Chandigarh – New Delhi, India

Driven distance on July 7th 2012: 270km (170 miles)

Driven distance total: 44’600km (27’710 miles)

The trip went so far without any problems and the landscape wasn’t very exciting… The entering into the capitol city of Delhi was actually very annoying. We squeezed us through tiny overfilled alleys and had to drive extremely slowly... At this heat it wasn’t very excitingL. There are quite a few exotic traffic users, which aren’t very much helping for a fluent traffic, for example bicycle rickshaws, auto rickshaws, ox and horse carts, pedestrians, cows, pigs, dogs and so on…


July 8th 2012: New Delhi – Agra, India

Driven distance on July 8th 2012: 230km (140 miles)

Driven distance total: 44’830km (27’860 miles)

Our GPS help is usually the iPhone and Google maps, so we also looked like this for the best way to Agra. After we finally arrived at the expressway after one hour of heavy traffic, we were standing in front of a blockade at the entry ramp. The expressway was completely finished, including all the signs, but not yet released for the public. A little bit angry we tried our luck at the entry on the opposite side, but also there it was closed. We asked the police guys at the ramp what now the best way to Agra is. Since they probably felt bad for us they gave us special permission to use the expressway:-). With cruise control at 100km/h (60 mph) we drove on the completely new empty expressway towards Agra. It was a very unusual feeling to drive for once 2 hours without concentrating constantly :-).


July 9th 2012: Agra, India

Driven distance on July 9th 2012: 0km (0 miles)

Driven distance total: 44’830km (27’860 miles)

Since we wanted to escape the masses of tourists at the Taj Mahal we went at 6AM to the so-called most beautiful monument in the world. The entry fee is for India very steep. Foreigners are paying 15$ per person; for Indians it’s a bit cheaper: 40 cents per person:-). At the entry check point we got stuck. As it is just the way it has to be, as real Swiss people we both had our Swiss army knife with us:-). Also our stuffed animal „Scrat“, that we took with us for a photo session, had to stay outside:-). Well, you never know what is inside such an animal:-)). Finally arrived in the area, we could now see the astonishing huge mausoleum, which was built in the year 1653 from the Mogul leader Shah Jahan for the memories of his wife who died. His wife and himself have their graves inside the mausoleum. The huge central part, the mausoleum, is made out of white marble. In the west stands a mosque made from red sand stone, which is an important gathering point of the Muslims in Agra. An identical building is as well in the east, which was only built because of the symmetry of everything! All in all is the Taj Mahal really worth a visit and we were really astonished from the imposing monument! In the afternoon we continued the journey towards the Agra fort. The walls of the fort are more then 20m (65 feet) tall and 2.5km (1.5 miles) long and it was mainly used for military purpose. Even today is a big part of the fort restricted for foreigners because of the military. Later in the afternoon we entered the chaotic Kinari Bazar. Since before was heavy rain, we had to “smuggle” ourselves at one place on the back of a Rickshaw to not get wet feet:-).


July 10th 2012: Agra – Allahabad, India

Driven distance on July 10th 2012: 500km (310 miles)

Driven distance total: 45’330km (28’170 miles)

The entire day on the road is definitely too much!! Finally at 8PM we arrived in Allahabad. A sad reality in India is the big amount of accidents. The way it was in this region we have never encountered it before. There were many accidents with trucks, and quite a few of them were frontal collisions! But if you see how they drive, then it is really no surprise at all.


July 11th 2012: Allahabad – Varanasi, India

Driven distance on July 11th 2012: 140km (90 miles)

Driven distance total: 45’470km (28’250 miles)

Before we continued our journey, we went to see the few sights in the city. First we visited the so-called „Kushru Bagh“. Those are 4 impressive mogul graves located nicely in a beautiful park. Then we continued to a big church where we got a private tour from the priest:-).

Allahabad is as well the city where the 2 holy rivers Ganga and Yamuna are joining. Every 6 years is a “half” festival and every 12 years is a real Hindu festival, where millions of pilgrims are gathering to take a bath in the holy river. During the last “half” festival in 2007 were 70 million peoples present, the biggest gathering worldwide ever. Next year during the big festival, which takes place every 12 years, are even more people to be expected!

At the place where the rivers are joining, is as well the Akbars fort. On the inside of the fort is the underground temple Patalpuri located, where all kinds of Hindu gods are shown.

On the way to Varanasi we have seen many pilgrims, which were completely dressed in orange, and therefor they looked more like inmates or Dutch soccer fans :-)    


July 12th – 14th 2012: Varanasi, India

Driven distance on July 12th – 14th 2012: 40km (20 miles)

Driven distance total: 45’510km (28’280 miles)

Varanasi is one of the oldest living cities in the world and is considered as one of the seven holy cities of the Hindus. The pilgrims are coming to the ghats (steps leading to the river) to wash away their sins or to cremate in public their dead relatives. The Hindus believe, that when they die and get burned in Varanasi, they could escape the cycle of reincarnation and that they will go come to Nirvana (heaven). 

Well, at a walk along the Ganga you can see quite a lot. There is laundry washing, men are washing themselves from head to toe and are cleaning afterwards with the dirty river water their teeth, water buffalos are taking a bath, some fishing is going on, some ritually bathes are being taken, dead bodies are being openly cremated or just being thrown in the water and there are as well dead animals flouting in the river. Although we were more than ready for a refreshing moment, we skipped to take a swim in the Ganga river ;-). Of course we took one of the obligated boat rides early in the morning, where it was possible to see the entire thing from the river.

On the last day, we took a trip to the nearby place Sarnath, one of the 4 important sights for the Buddhists. In a peaceful park with some ruins is also the imposing, 34m (110 feet) tall Dhamekh stupa at the place where Buddha has it’s first religious speech. Around the park are also some Buddhist monasteries from different countries.

For us, the traffic was some of the worst in entire India!! When we arrived we had a small crash with a auto-rickshaw. The rear wheel of the rickshaw was sitting on the front wheel of the Landrover:-). We could lift away the somewhat damaged rickshaw without any problems and the rickshaw driver left in a hurry without any words... Luckily Landy didn’t get any damage. Another time we had within 3km (2 miles) several mini accidents. First a motorkibe crashed slightly into the back of Landy, afterwards we drove slowly into a bike and finally one on the side of the car.


July 15th 2012: Varanasi – Bodhgaya, India

Driven distance on July 15th 2012: 270km (170 miles)

Driven distance total: 45’780km (28’450 miles)

It was just one of those rainy boring driving days.


July 16th 2012: Bodhgaya – Kolkata, India

Driven distance on July 16th 2012: 500km (310 miles)

Driven distance total: 46’280km (28’760 miles)

Besides the absolutely normal insanity on Indian roads, we encountered something unusual indeed! Somewhere on the road we had a huge traffic jam and all the cars got stuck. Of course, every Indian still tried to pass somehow somewhere and the chaos was perfect. But luckily there is the police, your friend! As soon as they have seen us they said we should follow them and we had our own police escort:-). With sirens and blue flashing lights squeezed the police car through the cars, followed by us;-). After a truck was locked in completely on our side, the police started to use their power. First they yelled at the driver, that he drove a bit into another smaller truck. Now the entire story started to escalate completely. One of the cops started to bang heavily on the truck with his big wooden stick, which is not that bad, since they anyways look old and crappy. It continued with hitting the driver with the stick inside the cabin and at the end it was unbelievable. The cop broke with the wooden stick the mirror and a headlight!!! 5 minutes later a second Truck got smashed, and again a broken mirror and a broken headlight! And all this when it was just getting dark! We felt like in a bad movie, it’s like in the wild wild west.

We didn’t plan to drive all the way to Kolkata (Calcutta), but since there were no hotels for a very long time, we ended up at 10PM in Kolkata. 


July 16th - July 29th 2012 kolkata, India

After the first night we looked for a new hotel, since we didn't intended to leave the car every night on the road. The search was getting really annoying, since most of the cheaper hotels didn't have parking. Twice somebody explained to us that we can park by the hotel, twice we squeezed through tiny alleys and twice they explained us afterwards that it is now not possible anymore, really annoying and frustrating!!

In a somewhat more expensive hotel we stayed then almost for two weeks. First thing we did, we visited the office from our shipping agency to ship the Landrover to Malaysia. The organization took a very long time, since they probably never handled such a shipment. On July 17th we visited the office the first time and finally on July 26th we crawled with the car into the container, unbelievable.

We didn't really do much the other days! First because Maryse had some stomach problems and fiver and second, because we just didn't have anymore much interest to experience the normal Indian insanity ;-)

Besides the Kaligaht temple and a church we also visited the movie theatre where we had a lot of fun watching Ice Age 4 :-).