Friday, 12 May 2017

A.P Tourism – Visakhapatnam, India

Today was a whole day tour which I booked a day before from A.P Tourism which I thought at first was a travel company, but now I think its semi government linked. A.P stands for Andhra Pradesh Tourism which is the state I was in right now in India.

Train Ride from Visang to Araku - India
The tour was a package very local at a price of Rs 875. It was named Rail Cum Road day trip to see multiple sights but ultimately to see the famous Borra Caves. Morning I had to be at the railway station meeting point where they had an office at Gate 2. 6 am reporting time was no joke and I was there on time to only see them gather the rest of the local Indian tourist for the train. Luckily the guide could speak Hindi, Telagu and also English. 

I was the only abroad tourist on that trip of nearly 60 people. 

The train experience was not that great but that was also one of the major highlights of the trip. To take the train from Visang to Araku a 3 hours journey. At Visakhapatnam train station while waiting for the train to depart, packed breakfast was served with a bottle of water. Some sort of rice cake and a fry donut. Scenery was not bad for being in India …. Since good beautiful scenery is really hard to come by in India with all the people and trash and shit lying around. 

Train Ride from Visang to Araku - India

Train Ride from Visang to Araku

Passing By Karakavalasa - India
It look like one of the many many places I have been too …. Cameron highlands for one … but not as pretty …. Then again everything is relative …. I have been in India for nearly a month now …. It’s wonderfully pretty.

They were proud of the many tunnels that the train has to go through to get to Araku. Apparently it is not common for a train to enter tunnels in India …. That was the excitement …. As we enter the tunnels, I could hear screams of excitement, joy and a cheer while we sit in the train looking at pitch black walls. Out of tunnels …. Scenery … then back into tunnels and repeat till Araku.

Araku Train Station - India
Araku is one of the protected places in India. Some sort of Tribal act to protect it from being develop hence it still retains its culture and nature beauty. Off the train after three hours and onto the bus. Bus was pretty good surprisingly and since Araku was about 1000m above sea level the air was much cooler despite the Indian summer …. 
Modern Bus for A.P Tourism - Rail Cum Road Day Trip
First stop was the Botanic Gardens ….. Entrance fee of Rs10 was already covered in the package and a short stroll of 30 minutes and we were off again to the next stop. At the botanic gardens the guide told us about the famous food in Araku ….

Entrance to the Bontanic Gardens - Araku , India

Bontanic Gardens in Araku - India

Bamboo Chicken … it takes 30 minutes to cook thou so no chance to sit down and order one …. But …… you can place your order and they will deliver it at the next attraction. 
How to Cook a Bamboo Chicken .... India
Down the bus and I placed my order of one Bamboo Chicken putting a deposit of Rs100 

The next stop was the one item that was not included in the tour package …. The Tribal Museum. Only Rs 40 for the entrance fee and I paid it going in and getting a very good look at the Tribes information around Andhra Pradesh. Although small it was a good museum all in life size clay model and replica of all their houses, lifestyle, tools and costumes. 

Tribal Musuem
Bamboo Chicken - Araku, India
Walking out the museum I remembered my Bamboo Chicken. 

The stall was just outside the museum and the guys forgot about me …. Or rather they never really took any notes or names …. They just took the deposit money to count how much bamboo chicken they needed to make. The guide was there fortunately and vouch for me that I had given the Rs 100 deposit and I got my Bamboo Chicken. Price was Rs 130 so I paid the balance 30

Price of Bamboo Chicken
Bamboo Chicken was cooked without oil or water by stuffing the marinated chicken into the bamboo then roasting it. Reminded me of scout days when we use to cooked food similar ways as well and somehow it tasted similar but with Indian flavour .. 

Next stop …. Lunch …

Lunch was Indian Veg Thali …. Nothing special there but while I could only attempt half a portion of their serving I saw the crowd gorge themselves round after round. … 

After lunch at the same place we were treated to the second highlight of the day … Tribal Dance … Outside at the open field the local community started playing their music and the grandma’s dance their traditional dance for us tourist to watch. Watching them and the Indian tourist I realized how different they are ….

The tribal community was so much different in physical size, facial, skin tone from the tourist Indians that were there to watch them. I realized India was much much more than I thought it would be ….. 

One distinct marker that I notice on the tribal women was the nose rings …. They had three instead of the usual one … three thumb size rings loop their nose making it look like a bulls horn. 

As the dance progresses the tourist joined in. Hands were locked in a peculiar manner with one hand over a shoulder and the third person will grab the wrist of the first that is over the shoulder and this repeats down the line making them looked like a conjoined centipede from the back.

The dance was more like a coordinated movement of legs while walking. It looked like an evolved form of marching but with no fix pattern. The lead walker would change rhythm, direction and even form circles at time and somehow all the rest behind fall into sync with her all the time. 

Tribal Dance in Araku - India
The tourist that joined the dance never got the footwork down …. Or rather they never even tried …. They more or less thought it was a Bollywood type of dance and started doing their own thing while being drag along the centipede line.

One guy gave the lead a 500 tip while they were still dancing and a cheer was broke out … from my point of view … these tribal ladies knew how to milk the tourist crowd well … begging is much harder …. They were getting tip after tip and nothing less than 500 as the Indian tourist forget them self and the whole field become a mess of tribal dance, Russian leg kicking and Bollywood hand gesture. 

The bus horn blast and we parted to move on to the next destination.

Borra Caves … 

Along the way the driver stopped at the highest peak of Araku area for us to get a vantage viewpoint of its greenery …. 

Viewpoint somewhere in Araku - India
The entrance fee was Rs 60 but it was already included. Borra Caves reminded me of Batu Caves just on a larger grandscale …. It was after all, form out of limestone and has a Shiva Linga naturally formed out of the stalactite and stalagmite formation. The huge cave was a natural beauty in terms of its formations and history …. 

Borra Caves - Visakhapathnam India

Borra Caves - Visakhapathnam India

Borra Caves - Visakhapathnam India
Then it was the boring 3 hours bus journey back to Visakhapatnam …. We break for a chai along the way once and after it was Bollywood on board till the end ….. If only they had subtitles I would not have fallen asleep …

Travelled on : Aug 2015

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