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 GENERAL INFO (Jump to Diary)
Although this tour is only about South India, also known as Peninsular India, this information regards the entire country. India, officially the Republic of India. While the southern part borders the northern part, the Arabian Sea on the southwest, and the Bay of Bengal on the southeast, the north borders Pakistan to the west, China, Nepal, and Bhutan to the north and Bangladesh and Myanmar to the east. It covers 3.287.263 km2. South India is the area including the five southern Indian states of Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Telangana, as well as the three union territories of Andaman and Nicobar islands, Lakshadweep and Puducherry, occupying 19% of India's area: 635.780 km2. The population was 253.051.953 in 2011.
The population of entire India was 1.324.171.354 in 2016, of which 79.8% are Hindi, 14.2% Islam, 2.3% Christianity, 1.7% Sikhism, 0.7% Buddhism and 0.4% Jainism.
As modern man have lived her for at least 55.000 years, the history is endless. While several European countries had colonies within modern day India, it gained its independence in 1947.

India is a mega-diverse country, a term employed for the 17 countries, that display high biological diversity and contain many species exclusively indigenous, or endemic, to them. India is a habitat for 8.6% of all mammal species, 13.7% of bird species, 7.9% of reptile species, 6% of amphibian species, 12.2% of fish species, and 6.0% of all flowering plant species. Fully a third of Indian plant species are endemic. India also contains four of the world's 34 biodiversity hotspots, or regions that display significant habitat loss in the presence of high endemism.
The south has a wide diversity of plants and animals, resulting from its varied climates and geography. Deciduous forests are found along the Western Ghats while tropical dry forests and scrub lands are common in the interior Deccan plateau. The southern Western Ghats have rainforests located at high altitudes called the South Western Ghats montane rain forests and the Malabar Coast moist forests are found on the coastal plains. The Western Ghats is one of the eight hottest biodiversity hotspots in the world and a UNESCO World Heritage Site

20/2 2019. After spending two days in a row, in the rather good imitation of a refrigerator called Denmark, I am ready to extend my voluntarily winter exile yet one more month. Central America was great, but this will be something else. I have found 60 sights, and I am sure the drive in my rented car in-between, will be exiting as well! While driving on Sri Lanka, I learned a few tricks, which might come in handy here: You can overtake, if the approaching vehicle has time enough to brake and drive into the side of the road. If you can squeeze a corner in between two cars, there will be room for you. You don't have too look for other cars, they will blow their horn, if you get in their way. Mopeds, motorcycles and tuck-tucks don't count at all. Stay clear of the busses! In any doubt, blow your horn, and do it anyway.

A cold walk to the station, a swift drive to the airport. Due to a technical problem, we wait one hour at the gate. Air India is old-school: Drinks, coffee and meals are for free. And as I have been looking forward for: Tea and vegetarian courses are natural options.

In New Delhi, immigration take forever, despite I have spend €80 on an electronic visa. I start walking the five kilometres toward the day hotel, but find it boring, and make the day for a tuc-tuc-driver. I find the hotel right away, book-in, and are kicked out even faster. They claim it is the wrong Runaway hotel???

Well, it is 16C, smoggy and it will rain in the late afternoon, so I plan to head on anyway. I only have four hours in Delhi, and can carry my 3300 gram backpack! I start with lunch at a local kiosk/diner, and chat with Indian Aakash Tejani, who work in the US.

Then I start walking around in this de-central trading area. Here are fresh fruit, dresses, shoes, cast-marks and way more. Several shops are ironing with coal-fired irons. Many parts of the streets and alleys are rather wet, and it is not all rainwater! Everyone are so smiling, and I get a few good photos of the locals, despite the lack of light.

In one alley, I find a pig with piglets, while the cows tend to sort through the trash, or walk right in the middle of the real busy roads. It is really intense, and I get a brake at a sweet restaurant, whit some rather dull sweets. Pretty much rice flour and sugar. They do have different names and shapes, but hard to tell apart in the mouth.

At two, it turns darker and colder, and it start to drizzle a bit. I get a tuc-tuc to the domestic airport - but the wrong terminal. A shuttlebus drive me to the right, and I get time to work. Two extra hours, as the flight is delayed.

When I finally make it to Pune, the Avis car is not to be found outside the arrival terminal. I am 45 minutes late, but they do have my flight number. The phone number I have, is defiantly not to Avis, and I'm a bit lost. I take a tuc-tuc to the reserved Sheraton hotel, and sort it out here.

I make a short stroll along the dark but busy streets, where I find some small temples and a lot of noisy cars. Back at eleven, and try to get some sleep - although the jetlag is real bad by now!

21. I wake up real early, and the view from my room is fantastic. Despite I'm in a huge city, it is mainly green - and a huge road. The breakfast buffet is a killer, but I try to restrict to the most delicious looking ten dishes. Here are not only cooks inside, preparing whatever you order, there are several outside, operating the huge grills.

Lunch is worse: So many dishes, places on my huge dish, and time and time again. After the fifteen first, I start to be critical, but never the less, I am stuffed when I stumble out.
Dinner is not much better. The real posh restaurant Exotica serves a lot of delicious dished, and when I'm so ready to give in, they ask me; "would you like more of the starters?" This can only go so wrong...

A much needed stroll in the warm and busy streets after 23, reveals some more fat dogs. I think India is the only country I have even been in, where the street dogs have a weight problem. Some of them are obese! The Indian government is effective, and where the former project was to get Indians to use the toilet (information and the construction of 100.000 toilets) they now focus on plastic.

You don't get plastic bags at the shops. The India Air served the food with wooden tools, the blanket and earphones came in paper bags. Now, the streets and rivers are not dominated by plastic trash - and they continue getting India cleaner. A massive task, and so far, it seems like they might actually achieve it!

23. I am up early, and get to enjoy the suspicious red sun raise over the city. At nine, I can't avoid the tempting breakfast buffet any more, and plunged into it. Then I finally get my Indian car, a used Suzuki, perfect for what I need. I get to drive eight kilometres, before I get it parked at the hotel. The traffic is fare from as intense, as I had feared - it is almost polite!

I walk out to Aga Khan Palace, where Gandhi was in house arrest, and his wife is buried. It is a magnificent little palace with a nice park around. However, the exhibitions within it are not that impressive. I get a cup of tea and a vegetarian burger at the Cantina. On the way back, I make a breath loop in the huge mall, containing around 450 shops, mainly known American brands.

Besides from the known posh hotels and the mall, here are a huge area with nature - preserved by the military. On the sidewalks, people live and sleep. A black-smith is making an axe over charcoal. The contrasts are immense!

Somehow, I find myself at the huge dinner buffet, and get to try yet some more traditional dishes.
I estimate there are around 50 different courses prepared, a huge desert area and five cooks outside, ready to prepare way more on the grills on demand.  One of these days, I got to find a hotel without a restaurant! Idel in Pune.

24. I still fight with the jet-lag: Fresh awake at two and again at six. Well, I guess I can find something to do at the office, until it is time for breakfast. But it would be so cool to save this abilityy; to wake up fresh, way too early, till I actually needed it.
The weather here is by the way great: 21C at night, 30C at the middle of the day.

I really keep it tight this morning, at the breakfast buffet: Only müsley, omelette with vegetables, a chocolate croissant, the six most interesting chutneys (which the cook insist on making a couple of pancakes for), the five most interesting fruit yoghurts with exotic composts, and  line of masala tea. Pretty proud of myself!

At lunch, I find my self at the awesome vegetarian restaurant with all the small balls, but this time, all the different courses are new, and I have to work my way through them all. They are just as great as last time.
At seven, I feel I have to get down and have some diner, although I don't really feel hunger. At least, I won't order the buffet!

I just order a dal with rice. Unfortunately, there is a bit of a delay in the kitchen, and that leads to way more food. One waiter bring me some flat breads with spices, another a huge dish with different breads and alike. Then a cook place a huge bowl of delicious vegetarian soup in front of me, and before I get to finish that, I get 3/4 of a litre dal with equally amount of rice. And some more flat breads. I usually eat up, but not this time. I should have chosen the buffet...
Why not crack open Diary 2, now when the adventures begins.

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