Lois and Jason
India and Maldives
December 16, 2008 - January 3, 2009
Hotels and Special Events
Most of the hotels we stayed in were like
palaces. Our tour also arranged several special events to
help us appreciate the varied and exciting culture of India.
While our New Delhi hotel wasn’t anything
special in terms of ambiance, the buffet was some of the best food
ever. There were several tables, each with different
cuisines: soups, Indian (chicken & lamb kabobs),
Japanese, sushi, shrimp dishes, lox, pate, Chinese, cheeses, and
desserts. The staff was incredible, always at our side, very
nice and couldn’t do enough for us. One night our group had a
tasting menu of 14 Indian dishes, GREAT!
| Following our sunset boat ride
on the Ganges, we went to a Hindu monastery where we had a
delicious vegetarian dinner followed by a dance
demonstration where they explained what the various hand
movements and then a dance performance.
Our hotel in this ancient city, The Oberoi Amarvilas Hotel, is like
a palace. We were told it was rated as one of the top ten in
the world, and we could understand why. We arrived at midnight
and the driveway was lit up with fire torches. We had a
midnight supper which included cappuccino mushroom soup with the
cream frothed on top – fabulous! The entrance was all
fountains and bridges and at the far end were arches with couches
and gold and blue mosaics. Every room had a view of the Taj
Mahal. The grounds were like botanical gardens and the
swimming pool was outdoors, going indoors under gorgeous
arches. What an experience.
We stayed at the Oberoi Rajvilas, whose main building was once a
fort and we had to cross a “moat” to get to the grounds and our
room. The grounds were a huge park, complete with ponds and
fountains. All the rooms are bungalows, spacious and with the
most gorgeous bathroom with a marble sunken tub and a floor to
ceiling glass wall with a beautiful private garden.
|For dinner our first night in
Jaipur we went to the Rambagh Palace Hotel. When we
arrived our group was greeted by two elephants, four camels,
and a marching band. Before dinner we had a fabulous
dance show. Dinner was served outside beginning with
hors-d’oeuvres which could have been the meal in itself,
followed by a fabulous dinner.
The next day we went to the Raj Palace Hotel for a Rajasthan
style meal and puppet show. The restaurant was exquisite! A
glass gold and silver table. A procession of buglers
played, then a proclamation was read welcoming us, then we
were all served on a silver platter at the same time.
Before lunch we went to the gardens for the puppet
show. The costumes were beautiful and the show
cute. The puppets were for sale and we bought two as
Oberoi Udaivilas Hotel is built in a Moorish style and the grounds
are very large and gorgeous with many fountains. The property
runs along Lake Pichola, includes a deer park and eagle reserve, and
we saw lots of peacocks on the grounds. From our hotel there
is a view of the Palace Hotel which is located in the middle of the
lake. The James Bond film Octopussy was filmed in Udaipur and
the local are very proud of this fact. We felt that our hotel
was very cold and austere.
Our first morning at breakfast the pastry chef came around and asked
if everything was okay. We told her we enjoy almond croissants
and she said "ok, I'll make some for you for tomorrow." So,
the next morning she asked if we wanted our almond croissants.
What she brought were croissants with one almond sliver on
top. At least it was a good try. After breakfast
we went to a lesson on how to put on a saree and turban; it was
Kerala (Cochin and Kottayam)
We stayed at two different locations in southern India. Our
first stay was at a hotel with functional rooms with a nice view of
the pool and a river that ran behind the hotel. Our
second hotel was a tropical resort.
|For dinner our first night
in the south, we went to a chef's (Nimmy) home. She
prepared and demonstrated a 4 course dinner and passed
around the spices for us to smell as she cooked. She
was invited twice by the CIA(Culinary Institute of Amer.) to
make presentations in CA and she demonstrated her cooking
skills (which don't match those of Kevin, Uri, Donna or
Stacy), but it made for a fun and different evening.
It was nice to be able to see how a middle class Indian
family live. We had a very fascinating discussion
about the marriage of her son (studying in Boston), whether
it would be an arranged or a "love marriage."
way to our second hotel in the south we saw a mahout washing his
elephant in the lake. The elephant was lying on his side and
appeared to be having the time of his life.
Our hotel was the Kumarakom Lake Resort and designed as a tropical
paradise. The back steps of our room led into the swimming
pool which was fun to swim in as it weaved its way between
rooms. The bathroom was outside. The toilet and sink had
a cover, but the shower was out in the open. It was weird
standing outside to shower! We had privacy to shower but had
to close the curtains to get dressed.
We had the best New Years Eve meal outdoors with BBQ and about 20
food stations with food from every region of India. There was
dancing & music entertainment. As the hour got later the
music got louder so we went to our room about 11 P.M., but couldn’t
fall asleep until the music stopped!
The next day we went on a houseboat for lunch and curise of the
lake. There was a cook, butler and driver. That
afternoon we saw rope being made from coconut fibers and that night
had a special martial arts demonstration that was just
unreal. The next morning we walked to the local
village. The locals all came out to greet us and we saw
turkeys and a chicken painted red so that they would not be attacked
by the local birds.
Last stop before leaving for the
Maldives. We were supposed to stay at the Taj Mahal Palace
Hotel but the hotel was still closed since the November 26, 2008
terrorist attack. The alternative hotel was nothing
special. We did visit the Palace Hotel and there is a
memorial to the victims in a garden off the lobby.
Transportation-wise, we had several modes on this trip: we
rode in bicycle rickshaws, motorized rickshaws (tuktuks), jeeps,
open row boats, house boats, coconut boats, our big orange tour
bus and several airplanes, and our legs got a really good workout!
and recurring themes
Photo journalist: Lois Frand
reach us via email at Jason
February 12, 2009