Finishing up our last week in Mysore, our exams went really well =) The last morning we decided to go see some sights for the last time before we left. We decided to go to the Mysore Palace which is in the heart of downtown. We had been there one night when it was all lit up and the entire place was stunning. But this time, we were going to tour the inside. The entire place was over the top with gold and chandeliers and stained glass. There were giant ballrooms and paintings on the walls depicting the grandeur of when the Palace was first built. I could imagine myself dancing on the marble floors amidst a crowd – and my friends thought it was funny that I wanted to be a princess. But what girl doesn’t? =) I wished I could have the inside of the palace all to myself so I could explore all the nooks and crannies! But alas we were confined with the rest of the tourists. I was sad when the tour was over and I hope to visit other forts and palaces in North India. After the Mysore Palace we walked around the grounds and went for an elephant ride! I really felt like a princess then. Although we felt like we were perpetuating the system it was really fun for 10 minutes. After we were able to pet the elephant and by feeding it 10 rupees it blessed me on the head. I don’t think the blessing really did that much as right after that I ate some really bad ice cream that made me sick later haha. But I love elephants and I’m in India so what the heck.
We travelled to Hyderabad in an effort to break up the trip from the South to the North. We could definitely feel the heat rising in the city. Apparently Hyderabad is the largest city that we will visit in India – and I loved it. It was very organized, well planned, and clean. We only spent a few days there so we only did some sight seeing and mostly shopping. About 90% of the pearls that come to India pass through the city at some stage. I definitely took advantage of that as I love pearls! =) One morning we visited the Fort that was just outside the city. It was pretty giant and we climbed all the way up to the top. From there we had a pretty spectacular view of the city – and the entire fort.
We were all a little hassled there though with all the other Indian tourists wanting to take photos with us. After the fort we went to the Hyderabad Race Track! I had never been to horse races before and it was a lot of fun. I didn’t bet any money – but some of the students did. It was mostly fun just to watch and cheer for the horses that people bet on. The racetrack was filled with mostly men. We figured the only women there were horse owners and sat in the really expensive seats. The camera men had fun putting our group on the Jumbo Screen a lot. It was really hot outside though and I appreciated some downtime in the hotel afterwards. Since Hyderabad is a pretty big city there was a lot more pollution which made some students feel a little off.
One night for dinner we went to the lake – which is actually really pretty despite all the garbage in it (which really smells). At the lake they had a really awesome craft fair and a water park (which we did not go to). But they had a food court type of area which we had to go through intense security to get in. It was filled with mostly chain places. And surprise!!!! They had Booster Juice! It was amazing =)
It’s funny going to a country like India and pigging out on Booster Juice but it’s a nice treat from home once and a while. The man at the counter asked me where I was from. I told him Canada, and he told me that Booster Juice was a Canadian company. I smiled and was like, “Oh, I know.” =) The Strawberry Sunshine tasted really delicious.
Another night for dinner we went to the lake again and went to the waterfront restaurant. It was a beautiful place and probably had some of the best food I’ve had in India so far. The service was impeccable which in India is like a miracle. The wall that faced the water was entirely glass so there was no bad view in the place. The live jazz music was also perfect. If I ever go back to Hyderabad I’m going back there.
Hyderabad was a good break and transition to Varanasi. The train ride from Hyderabad to Varanasi was 28 hours long. It actually wasn’t that bad at all. We tried to always change up what we were doing so we wouldn’t be bored. The temperature though on the first day was really hot. We stuck our hands out the windows and the air felt like a furnace. Apparently it was only 37 degrees. Our professor Chris Hall warned us that in the North it will get up to 45-47 degrees. And the people in the North are more aggressive and less laid back. Plus they don’t really speak English like in the South – mostly Hindi and Urdu. The North is distinct from the south so it seems certain that we will have a new host of experiences awaiting us. But that is what I love most about India. It is an incredibly diverse country – not two places are the same. There is never a dull moment and always an important lesson to learn or new experience.