Friday, October 29, 2010

Stories from India (भारत) - Flora & Fauna

Besides big cities with lots of traffic and people, India has to offer a big variety of open nature and wildlife. There a plenty of wildlife sanctuaries and national parks spread across the country - fortunately, because only in the last 40 or so years the preservation and protection of the Indian wildlife became a topic. Before that, plenty of hunting for elephant, tiger, was totally normal and widely common over there.

While in Bangalore we visited the Bannerghatta Biological Park which has a zoo and safari area with has plenty of adopted and rescued animals in a nice place south of town. Entry fee for zoo & safari was $3.50 and you could spend pretty much all day there. We saw some cobras, pythons, leopards, monkey, siamese(!) jackals, elephants in the zoo and plenty of tiger, lions, bears on the safari.

The Nagarhole National Park, where we spent 3 days, is 4-5hrs southwest of Bangalore and if you ever in India I recommend you go there for a few days. This park and the neighbouring Bandipur park has the highest density of elephants in entire Asia (1500+) and around 65 tigers living free and roaming the 248 sq mile (Nagarhole) area. Traveling via boat on the Kabini river, we saw elephants, marsh crocodiles, deer, lots of monkeys (rhesus macaque and langur), and many different birds.

After getting up at 5am in the morning on Saturday, we headed out via boat to cross the river and then onwards on a Safari truck in search for tigers. Unfortunately, there was no sighting of them that day but still plenty of langur monkeys, gaur, wild dogs, hogs, and again all types of birds to watch.

buck fight!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Stories from India (भारत) - Traffic

-After a long season it was time to take a break and we headed to India to visit family in Bangalore, India who moved there for work a year ago. I've seen parts of South East Asia but India is so much different, from culture, religion, food, languages and much more. Plenty of things to see and explore. 2 weeks are not enough time to see and understand everything but you get a descent idea of what life is like over here.

Traffic is crazy here, at least when you're coming from Europe or the US where driving is somewhat 'regulated'. Not here. Someone said you don't use your brakes, you use your horn instead. Having a horn is more important than having a working turn signal or lights on your car. It 'regulates' the traffic - Indian style. As a driver you are responsible for what you see ahead of you - the operators of other vehicles (bikes, rickshaw, scooters, cars, buses, etc.) just have to watch out to not hit you from behind or side. It all looks weird, and - for western standards - dangerous but it works out just fine and you rarely see any accidents. And last but not least, you don't want to hit a cow - ever. They are holy here and traffic comes to a halt if there's one on the road. And that happens quite often and everywhere - you just make your way around it or honk your way by.