Note: this is the third post in a series about my trip to India and Africa. The others are available at Amsterdam and India. The full set of pictures is also available on Flickr.
We flew from Mumbai to Tanzania on Kenya Airways. We had a long 11 hour layover in Nairobi, but we were warned not to leave the airport or else we would likely be mugged or robbed. We stayed inside.
The first event was a big one: climb Mount Kilimanjaro. We had a great group of people to climb with - 3 Americans and two Germans.
The climb started off in the rainforest jungle. It rained nearly every day, so we had to learn how to deal with the downpour. Ziplock bags to the rescue!
The entire climb took 7 days: 5 up and 2 down. We climbed slowly in order to acclimatize to the 19,000 foot altitude. Some campsites had magnificent views. Some did not.
A team of 26 porters, guides and chefs carried all the gear for us, including delicious meals, dining gear, and a "toilet tent."
On the final day, a freak snowstorm covered the peak of the mountain in snow and clouds, freezing everyone to the bone. My glasses froze over.
Despite the cold we successfully made it to the top! Unfortunately we couldn't see anything at all. Supposedly it's one of the most magnificent views of the African plains that can be seen. 😐
After seven days on the mountain living in tents without showers, we were excited to get back to the hotel.
After the climb, we went on a safari in the Serengeti National Park. The scenery was unbelievably amazing - we saw hundreds of thousands of animals.
Lions sat by the side of the road and weren't even bothered by all the tourists snapping pictures of them.
Due to excessive rainfall, we got a free upgrade from tents to these "luxury lodges".
The Ngorongoro Crater is one of the most beautiful places in the world. Stunning.
One day we saw a pride of lions eating a giraffe. The next day the giraffe carcass was almost completely gone. Here a hyena and a jackal are scavenging it.
We were lucky enough to spot a cheetah and 3 of her cubs eating a gazelle.
Apparently leopards are even rarer, but we saw one of those too.
There were so many giraffes that we had to shoo them out of the road.
Warthogs are actually fairly ugly. The Lion King was a lie.
Herds of wildebeest were all over the place.
Rhinos are very endangered - there were only 21 of them left in this area.
When we forded this river I was sure we would get stuck.
Monkeys were everywhere.
There are a lot more pictures, but I don't have room to include them all here. Head over to the Flickr set for more!
Posted on February 7, 2010
Note: this is the second post in a series about my trip to India and Africa. The others are available at Amsterdam and Africa. The full set of pictures is also available on Flickr.
After Amsterdam, we flew off to India.
The first stop was New Delhi, the capital. The city is very much under construction and extremely polluted, much like Beijing. I had heard that cows idly wander the streets with no fear or harassment in India, but I was surprised at the extent to which this is true. Cows were everywhere.
This is the India Gate - an arch built by the British commemorating WWI.
Qutb Minar - built by the Mughals.
Big dosa. The Indian food was very good all around. It was sometimes difficult to tell which food was safe to eat (cooked and/or boiled) if you were not familiar with what each dish was made of.
The Taj Mahal is in Agra, a city about 400 km outside of Delhi. It was rainy and polluted on the day we went.
The Red Fort of Agra is another attraction in the city.
In the opposite direction is Jaipur, the capital of Rajasthan, famous kingdom of the Maharajahs.
The Water Palace is a famous attraction.
Elephant rides were available for a fee.
Snake charmers huddled around touristy areas.
Next up was Jamshedpur, a smaller mining town on the eastern side of the country. We attended the wedding of a friend. It was a traditional-style Sikh wedding.
The groom rides a horse to the ceremony.
Everyone wanted a picture with the funny white people.
Kolkata (Calcutta) is another major city nearby, on the shores of the holy Ganges river. People famously come from far away to "wash" in what must be the filthiest river in the world.
Many flowers are available for purchase to use as offerings to the gods.
Mother Teresa's house for the sick and dying is next door to the Temple of Kali, Goddess of Destruction. It was sort of a weird juxtaposition.
Mumbai was the last stop on the trip. This hotel is the site of the 2008 terrorist attacks. It seems to have recovered fairly well, though security was very high.
Mumbai has a very nice waterfront and is the most clean and modern ("Western"?) of any Indian city we visited. Unfortunately we were laid low by an E-Coli infection while in Mumbai and didn't get to see much of the city.
Fortunately we recovered just in time for the next leg of the trip - Africa!
Posted on February 7, 2010
In December after leaving my job at Microsoft, I went on a trip to India and Africa for a month. I'm only now getting around to writing up a post about it since I've been super-busy recovering from the trip, moving to San Francisco, and starting my new job at Facebook (more about that later).
The full set of photos is up on Flickr for perusal now. This is the first post in a series about the trip - the others are available at India and Africa.
On the way to India we stopped in Amsterdam for a day. It was the middle of winter, so many things were closed, including the famous Rijksmuseum, above. Had it been open, I would have apparently been able to see lots of Rembrandts, Vermeers, Van Goghs, etc..
Here are some of the famous "fries with mayonnaise."
The city's canal system is very extensive - it's nicknamed the "Venice of the north". The only boats I saw anywhere were tourist boats, so the canals don't seem to get much real use any more.
We went on a tour of the red light district called "Randy Roy's Redlight Tour". It's run by an American woman from Michigan(?). It was very informative - recommended.
This is the main train station, which provides easy access to/from the airport.
A big attraction is the Heineken brewery and museum "experience". Unfortunately we only had one day so I didn't have time to go inside.
Next up: India!
Posted on February 7, 2010