The Elephant Court

Some days don’t like myself.

Some days I wake up and I think today is going to be a good day. I will be a good person. Then, somewhere along the way I lose myself. I lose my composure and my ability to keep calm. Yesterday that happened. I am embarrassed and I feel bad about it.

We started the day as we have been, by driving from one hotel to the next.  I have been getting car sick, so I have been in the back sleeping, while grandpa is in the front with our driver, Kumar.

I was less than pleased with the Tea County Hotel as I told you yesterday.  I will be giving them bad marks when I write my review.

We made it to the Elephant Court Hotel, which I have been so excited about, since I saw their photos online. Granted photos are deceiving and the hotel wasn’t quite as beautiful as the photos show. Meh.

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We went to the room at 12 pm after checking in and the internet died. I called the front desk and asked for them to help.  They sent someone with the username and password.  I explained to him that it wasn’t a sign in problem, it was a repeater problem.  He said he understood and started to walk away like he was going to get help. He turned around when he figured out that I knew what I was talking about because his cell phone connected when it hit a different repeater. Oh joy, I am not an idiot.  I told the gentleman that I was going on a boat tour and that if they could fix the internet in my room that would be lovely.

The Boat Tour

It was a boat tour, nothing exciting. We did however get to see two different herds of elephants, otters, birds, rocks that grandpa calls elephants that are in disguise, trees that the woman next to us calls snakes that are in hiding, a wild boar, some deer, and that one dudes hand that kept getting in my frame. It was fun. Sadly the boat was big.  We had 8 people per row, so it is hard to get some of the awesome shots of all the above mentioned cool things…oh well.  You will take my word for it right?

 IMG_4072The boat everyone is boarding is our boat

IMG_4082This is Hank

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This is getting OTTER-ly ridiculous but you can see Kevin and his offspring

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As the Spanish call them… El Kevino Familia.

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The Kevin Family

IMG_4060This isn’t a race thing but this is Black Kevin

IMG_4066Kevin and Baby Kevin

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This is Kevin.

The Spice Plantation

So at first I didn’t know what we were going to see. Grandpa and I questioned if we really wanted to go on the tour, but we paid for it and it would be silly not to go. It was only an hour right?

WRONG! We were in the van heading back to the hotel 47 minutes after arriving at the Spice Plantation.

Really? Wow! Nope, I will not say it a was good tour. I wouldn’t even call it an alright tour. It was awesome! The guide was really good and he really enjoys his work. You can tell by the way he explains the tour. It was hands on and we learned a lot from it.

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Our guide for the spice planation

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Cocoa

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Kevin the Elephant

Dinner and the Blow UP!

Grandpa and I live by the rules of: it is 5pm somewhere.

We have a drink together every few nights and discuss everything. If this was a cigar lounge we would be the men with the white mustaches and the monocles. We waited until dinner this evening, which started at 7.  I had gone back to the room and found that the internet still wasn’t working. After about 20 minutes of waiting for no one to show up, I called back and asked that they fix it while I enjoyed my dinner.

Dinner was wonderful! Dessert was amazing and I almost went back for more cake.

I like cake. Cake is good. Let them eat cake! The cakes a lie! Enough about the cake Carl!

So after dinner, we headed back to the room and still no internet. So I called and a gentleman showed up with the same username and password “fix” like before. I could tell that no one else on my block had been contacting them that the wifi was out. After that news, he told me he would see if the IT guy could check it out. They never showed back up. I went to the pool to work and call Texas (where we could get internet).  Low and behold, the gentleman who came to our room found me and told me that the IT guy could fix it and had known since 1pm. This is where I start to dislike myself.

This guy wasn’t the problem and he wanted to be helpful, but he just didn’t have the ability. I asked for his manager and he kindly took me to the front desk.  He called his boss but his boss was heading home and told him to get my cell number so he could call me.  Since I don’t have wifi, he couldn’t do that. At my limit, I asked the gentleman to take me to the overnight GM and we finally found him.

I did my best to remain calm, I really did, I promise.  I explained that I was tired of people coming to my room.  I told him I had explained the problem time and time again over the phone and they just kept sending people who brought me the same username and password. Clearly the IT guy isn’t doing his job. 

I told him I wasn’t looking for anything and that I just wanted him to know that it really makes it hard for someone reviewing his hotel to do their job when they cannot connect to the internet.

The Big Fix

I sat at the pool and talked business for about an hour until my phone was ready to die.  I needed to sleep, but when I got back to my room the internet was fixed. I asked my grandfather and he told me that the IT guy came and fixed it!

I woke up and packed.  I head straight down to the front desk to find the GM, Mr. Shaju Sebastian and I thanked him for getting it fixed.  He told me that when I told him that the ladies in the room next to me were also without internet that he called the IT guy back and told him to fix it. Thank you.

I am sorry for the way that happened!  I am thankful for the service and willingness to fix this. Credit where credit is due and you sir handled my problem and made sure that the guest on our block had internet.

Milkshakes

The Elephant Court is a hotel I intend on returning to with someone special one day. I love south India and I want to spend more time here.

Also they had a vanilla milkshake for breakfast that was amazing!  I will go back just for the milkshake. I guess it is true what they say, The Elephant Courts milkshake brings all the boys to the yard.

Alright, well I need to sleep.  I am going to get this sent on and and pass out!

The Tea County (UPDATE)

Mumbai to Kochi (Cochin)

We flew in about 9 am to Kochi with Spice Jet in India. I am now officially not a fan of this airline.

Total Confusion

Our ticket read gate A6. The board read A3. A kind gentlemen we spoke to at A3 had a ticket that read A4. Then the PA system said it was gate A6.

Everyone rushed back to A6 only to be stopped by the Spice Jet officials telling us to go back to A3.  After all that, we still had to wait an additional 30 minutes because they didn’t have a plane for us.

I think Spice Jet needs an adult to help them. I can call one, but I charge a finder’s fee to stupid people.

A Green Ride

The car ride to the Tea County Hotel was long and twisty.  It is pretty and green but it made me a bit green, if you know what I mean.IMG_3797

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I will be writing a full review of the hotel when I get home.  In short,  this is a big STAY AS FAR AWAY FROM hotel. They are horrible and someone needs to share that. It looks nice from the outside but the inside is nasty!

A Pleasant Change

We had our first Christian guide yesterday! We visited the Tea Museum.  We got a short description about how tea is made and it was nice. After that, we visited a few local tourist hotspots like Echo Point.  The highlight was seeing the elephants on the side of the road. It was fun. I don’t have much to talk about in regards to the tour.  It wasn’t a long extensive tour, but it was enjoyable, none the less.

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The Mystery of Mr. Mistry

As I sit here and question my life choices.

Yesterday we were given the total VIP treatment. We went to visit not one, but two diamond factories.

My uncle went to school with a gentleman who owns Lexus SoftMac. If you picked up this card off the street you’d have no clue who he is and what they do unless you googled it.

I knew we were going to see a diamond factory but I didn’t know anything more than that when we left the hotel. We drove across the river and into a Gem and Jewelry park in Surat, India.

As we pulled into a parking lot, Uncle mentioned he did the landscaping for the company. I figured he just knew the company based on that fact.  NO!  It turns out Mr. Utpal Mistry grew up with my Uncle and they are very good friends. Mr.Mistry owns a company that makes diamond cutting machinery and they cut large diamonds.

How large? The one he handed me was the size of a large marble and was valued around $4.5 Million.

4.5 Million Dollar Diamond

Stones, Rocks, Diamonds!

He handed us these stones like they were worth nothing! I will admit I was incredibly shocked that I was holding stones like that. We are walking through the factories with the owners of the companies and the employees are looking at us . We are assuming the thought that was going through their heads were who are these people?

My neighbor back home works for Zale’s so she visits Surat on a fairly regular bases. She said she might be able to try and pull some strings and get us a small tour as this isn’t something the public is just allowed to visit. She is sweet and thoughtful like that.

I think my uncle had more pull and got us the tour of a lifetime. Mr. Mistry was amazing. He was so nice and willing to take us on a tour to see the gems and even let us handle them. I cannot even describe how amazing it was to even be there and see the process.

Uncle, YOU ROCK! You are truly a diamond of a man. You sir shine bright like a diamond. Lucy in the sky with diamonds, diamonds are forever. Every kiss begins with Kay… wait that doesn’t work.

Something around 80% of the worlds diamond are cut in India.  The fact we were on the tour and that Mr Mistry took time from his busy day to share this with us was so incredible.

On a side note:

I have been noticing a weird trend in India. Some men, in really nice suits, wearing sandals. I understand it is because they remove their shoes a lot.  It is just funny for me to see.

When I get home I will have to upload photos solely about the diamond factory because I was allowed to take pictures everywhere! I am not going show some things, but I will show you things like the gems and other pictures I doubt would be a security threat. I wasn’t told I couldn’t post any of the pictures, I just believe it is better to be on the safe side.  Also out of respect to our most gracious host.

Diamonds

$4.5 Million Dollar Diamond

Today was a very normal day for Grandpa and I. We held a $4.5 million dollar diamond today, like it was nothing.

I am only meeting 6 family members while I am in India.  I wish we had the time and the ability to meet more. They are truly the salt of the earth.

Tonight I am bringing a taste of my cooking to India.  I am cooking for the family, which is as it might seem to be, a hard task.  You see,  my family here are all Hindu and only eat Vegetarian. I am a red blooded American and I so love eating meat.  I don’t really cook much vegetables at all, much less “vegetarian”. On top of that, they do not use the milk of a cow.  They will use the milk of a water buffalo. We will see how dinner turns out.

Sugar Cane Juice

We have been drinking sugar cane juice since we arrived in Surat.  This is only a problem as we have gotten a taste of the good life and we don’t have sugar cane juice shops in Texas and California. This could prove to be difficult when we return to the sugar cane free lifestyle.

Tomorrow we leave for Mumbai on a train. I am not sure how I feel about that. On one hand I want to see Mumbai and continue my trip of visiting India.  Sadly, on the other hand I have home cooked Indian meals and amazing family that I am not ready to leave.

Train to Mumbai

I was unable to finish this yesterday due to timing so I am picking this up on the train to Mumbai.

Cooking and Sharing Tunes

Last night we were picked up by Uncle who took us to the market to meet up with my aunt.  Here we purchased the ingredients for dinner. I made a super simple pasta dish that I make back home. Grandpa and Uncle went to meet up with someone, so auntie and I went back to the house and cooked. This gave us an hour of time to get to know each other. I asked if she listened to music while cooking and she said she did but only when Uncle is gone. He doesn’t like that she is a stone cold rocker! *puts up the rock fist* Granted I didn’t find this out until she was listening to my iPod and started listening to 30 Seconds to Mars. This is also the woman who is training for base camp on Everest. Hardcore.

What I Miss from Home

So I am missing a few more things today, such as Dr Pepper and Fajitas. Cheese is used so differently here that am really missing that too. They say home is where the heart is, but I agree with the saying that home is where your devices connect to wifi automatically. Hotel wifi is spotty at best and trying to upload the photos is proving to be harder and harder the farther south we go.

It is curious how many people have been so intrigued by the fact that I work with firearms for a living. I figured most people would be like Americans who are afraid of firearms but is it quite the contrary. People seem to like them here a lot. Even the young ladies I have been talking with.

I guess an Indian wife might not be that bad, if I can find the right one.

Love and Marriage

Love and marriage has been a topic for the past few days between grandpa and I. We have been discussing a young lady who I fancy. It is hard for him to believe, based on the nature of the situation, that I have developed real feelings towards her. I trust him and take his counsel on a number of matters. On this, I think we have come to an impasse.

We talk about finding someone for me and that has been a running joke for the whole trip. I will say this, I leave it in Gods hands as to who I end up with. The Good Lord above has given me many people who I deeply care about, regardless of what we call them after the smoke has cleared.  I look forward to seeing what God has in store me.

Song of the day:

In the Ghetto – Elvis Presley

This has to do with a web series I have been watching for about 8 months now. I hadn’t heard the song until they started accidently singing it, not knowing it was a real song.

The ghetto back home and the poor there have nothing compared to the poor here in India. This place, although very poor isn’t a welfare country. People work for a living and don’t expect the government to handle their laziness. While they might not be pulling themselves out of poverty, they are at least working in one form or another.

Wait have you been reading this whole article just to find out about the diamonds? Sorry. I got side tracked.

So we met up with…..to be continued tomorrow……

The Gir Jungle: Safari Time

The True Lion King Part 1 of 2

 

Monkey In Gir

Hello, I will be your guide today…..

Today is Thursday the 11th and I am in the Gir Jungle. Time: 1:22pm

Today I didn’t wake up feeling like P-Diddy. I woke up feeling more Kurt Cobain (post 1994). Grandpa has a cold and since we are sharing hotel rooms and really never apart, I have picked up his cold.

I Feel Another Rant Coming On

I would like to complain for a minute if I may. I was told by my grandfather that we are coming on this trip to find me a bride and yet all I have seen him do is ignore his one job. I am not bringing him on these trips anymore if he cannot even do the one thing he was charged with.

Complaint hour over.

Travel Day

So yesterday was a blow-off day. We spent the whole day flying and driving so I didn’t have much to write about. Sorry. We have internet in the room so I am able to keep publishing articles. In case some of you are wondering, I am writing the articles, uploading the photos to dropbox and having my mother upload the article to the website. That way, I am not spending my whole trip in front of a laptop waiting for things to load.

I had plans to vlog this trip, but with the speeds of the internet here, I decided I would rather not hassle with it.

Family Finally

We have met up with a family member of mine who lives in India. He is the one who planned the lion part of the trip. (Very nice man by the way).

This morning we woke up at 5 to head to the jungle. This is the best time to see if we could spot the lions in the preserve. We saw 8 lions (6 cubs and two large females), a pack of boars, a bunch of deer, a camel with the water buffalo, and a boat load of birds like peacocks.

The gentleman we met last night at dinner said they had not had any luck seeing lions, so I felt pretty lucky.

Luggage

I have been dreading this, but it is time to grow up and buy adult luggage. I have been traveling enough now that owning cheap cheap luggage is more hassle than it’s worth. Especially if you are going to be flying something like 28,000 miles in 7 weeks.

This trip has taught me that living out of a backpack and one checked suitcase works great for me. I will been in India and Dubai for almost a month and I would say in the two bags I have OVER packed.

I am really thinking about losing my skateboarders (fits a skateboard between the two pockets) backpack. I have used this for traveling for years. I think I should move over to a carry on size rolling suitcase with a small flat duffle bag that fits in an outer pocket for my new carry on.

Fortuna Audaces Iuvat (Fortune Favors the Bold)

I love this saying. I can be quite talkative in my own realm. Other times I like to be quiet and be with what I am working on. We had a second safari today that started at 330pm. Grandpa is sick and so he opted to sleep rather than join my cousin and I on our adventure.

Having no idea what animals might be active near the road, the safari started off slow but we stopped every now and then to take pictures of the deer, the trees and monkeys but hey we are here for the lions so come on!

Big Cats Ahead

After about 30 minutes we drove past a gentleman who had a big smile on his face and two thumbs up… if you have never been in the jungle that is slang for big cat ahead.

Fortune favors the bold is something that popped in my head while I was ruminating on what I was seeing in the Gir jungle. I can’t really describe why this has been part of my thoughts but it reminded me to always jump in feet first into everything you do in life.

Gir Jungle Lion

Ain’t she sweet?

Two Lion cubs in Gir Jungle

Two Lion Cubs out for a stroll

Lion Gotta Go

She is so BIG!

 

Chital Spotted Deer

Chital Spotted Deer

 

Water buffalo

Water Buffalo

Monkey 2

Monkey waiting on the side of the road for a ride?

Monkey 3

Never mind!

 

Indian Food

My family is Texan but they don’t really enjoy spicy foods. Before this trip my father and grandfather were worried about find me something to eat in India. To be honest, I think they were making Indian food out to be a bigger boogieman than it really is.

I walked into India with the goal of trying everything. Food, adventure, you name it: I want it! I would say that has paid off. I am now in love with Indian food. My cousin has shared with me that home cooked Indian meals are not as spicy as most of the places we’ve eaten at. Honestly I like the level of spice everywhere we have eaten.

Speaking of Food

I have to walk to dinner, now so I will sign off here. Well, one last thing I want to share. This is the song I am listening to right now. This has nothing to do with India or anything else, but I am in love with the song and I want to share it with you.

The Dangerous Summer – The Permanent Rain

Youtube the song if you are interested.

Lion The End

The End

Please honk! – New Delhi

Horn Please

Driving in New Delhi

Thoughts that don’t seem to go through Indian drivers heads

· Why is this guy honking at me?

· Did he just cut me off?

· Pick a lane bro!

· Man that guy almost hit me!

· Why are there people walking where I am driving?!!?!

· My car is unique and stands out in a parking lot

Traffic in Delhi

All kidding aside watching our driver yesterday was interesting to say the least. Watching him drive makes me appreciate the road ways in Texas.

 

police car Delhi

Lotus Temple

 

We left the hotel and went to the Lotus Temple, a Bahá’í House of Worship.  The outside is beautiful and amazing and is made of white marble.

Lotus Temple

After that, we went to a Hindu temple, The Akshardham Temple.  This Temple  does not allow technology inside the gates. It was interesting getting inside the walls as the security is a cross between prison security meets theme park security meets airport security. I was stupid and forgot I had a flash light in my pocket.  Thankfully the guard was nice and let me pick up my flashlight on the way out.

Akshardham Temple

 

If you want to go inside the main temples you have to remove your shoes.  Once you are inside, it is all hand craved walls and gold everywhere.  It was just beautiful.  This Temple and the Lotus Temple are both fairly new.

Akshardham temple is worth checking out if you are ever in New Delhi. Over 70% of tourist visit here.  I would recommend Googling it.  There are pictures online of the temple and it is really beautiful.

I stopped taking pictures after we left the Akshardham.  I had only slept 3-4 hours since since leaving on Wednesday (we saw the temple on Friday 02-05-16). I just couldn’t see straight anymore. When I got back to the hotel at 4pm I laid down and passed out until 4am on Saturday.

Next up is a guided tour of Delhi.  You can bet I will be taking a million photos just to try and give you a small taste of what we are seeing over here. This place is incredible.

Atticus James