Okay as promised here is my update of our Nagarjuna Sagar day. Only 6 days late. :P
FYI you can find all the photos of this day here.
So last weekend Scott and I were looking for a day trip on Sunday off campus, we had wanted a full weekend trip but the police station shennigans killed that idea. :(
We looked at what was within reach of day that seemed pretty interesting and found Nagarjuna Sagar which is a large dam and reservoir with a collection of ancient Buddhist relics.
We called up the APTDC - Andhra Pradesh Tourism Development Corporation - to buy tickets for the day tour, which was only about $15 including bus to and from the area and entrance to a waterfall site nearby. They told us we couldn't bur or reserve over the phone and that there were only two tickets left so we couldn't just show up the next day and expect seats. We therefore had to get an autorickshaw and head into town and they were closing in an hour.
The driver couldn't understand where we wanted to go and he couldn't read the map of the city. We did get him to agree to 600 rupees both ways - or so we thought (see later). He took us on a nice tour of the city COMPLETELY the wrong way, when we finally got to APDTC it was 15 minutes after closing, but because India time works a little differently - things start later than scheduled and end later ;) - they were still open.
We got our tickets and the rickshaw driver took us a more direct route home thankfully. Unfortunately when we finally got back he wanted more than the 600 we had agreed - awkward. Scott and I finally just had to walk away after paying him - but he followed us until we went to the ISB front desk.
So the next day we hired a real taxi who got us there in only 25 minutes versus the one hour the night before. When we finally got on the bus, which of course left 45 minutes late, the bus was half empty (!). Arghhhhh.
So the bus ride was fine, there was no AC but there were thick sheets covering the windows. One annoyance was that the seats reclined WAAAAYYYY back so the person in front was like on your lap. :( I slept most of the way there so I didn't really care. About halfway to Nagarjuna Sugar we stopped in a little town for what I guess was a late brunch. The only discernable restaurant was pretty sketchy so I decided to just eat some cookies I brought. Scott decided to begin a fast that would last the whole day. ;) The town itself was pretty tiny and probably the most destitute I have ever been to: there was garbage on the side of the road and goats just walking around or taking naps. Pretty interesting for sure.
Scott and I ventured back and discovered everyone from the tour was waiting for us - whoops! - and we were on our way again. Think I feel asleep again after doing some of my readings for school. We finally got to the dam and stopped at a little hotel that had some amazing views for lunch.
I decided to brave the buffet but Scotty continued his hunger strike, now more determined than ever. The food was tasty but I suspected I was pushing my luck (luckily I wasn't). Scott and I bought bottled pepsis that looked like they were from the 70's - Scotty didn't recognize the bottle opener on the machine which made me realize our age difference. :P
The vista from the hotel was great - the scale of the reservoir was hard to make out due to the haze - until I realized the tiny little dots on the water were boats. There was also some interesting wildlife just walking around the grounds including a boar and a MONKEY (if I only knew - see later).
After lunch we went by the dam to the ferry station to get on the boat to go to the island with the Buddhist museum and artifacts. The ferry launch area was really cool - there was a beach where hundreds of people were washing clothes by lashing them across the rocks and various ceremonies involving water - no idea what they meant but they looked cool).
On the boat w spoke with a nice older Indian couple from London who gave us a pretty thorough history of Hindu spiritualism, pretty interesting and insightful. The boat ride was probablt another 1/2 hour and when we finally got to the Island Scott and I began to realize how remote we really were. At this point we had been traveling for about 4+ hours and it was already near to 3:00PM (!).
We also were the only non-Desi people within 20 miles. People who stare at us or try to say hello in very broken English, it was really cool actually. There were a bunch of school children on a class trip of some sort who seemed very facinated with us. I really started to get the impression that they hadn't seen very many (if any) white people before. Scott and I decided to ditch our tour guide, whom we couldn't understand, and explore the island on our own. The one major bummer was that we only had an hour (!) to see the whole island and the museum - not nearly enough time. :( The island was like a little oasis, with lots of flowers, grass, plants etc. Essentially the island used to be a large hill in the valley that was flooded by the dam, before the flooding occurred they relocated and recreated most of the many Buddhist ruins up onto the hill/island. Very cool stuff.
We checked out the museum, which was interesting but less so then the actual island itself so we blitzed it and went back out. I then braved the bathroom and we were off again.
We ventured to the west end of the island and were approached by a group of young guys who were fascinated with us. One asked to have his picture taken with us and his friend pulled out this awesome 1980s looking manual advance camera that was HUGE. Then about 4 more guys each came in, one at a time. I felt like a celebrity it was hilarious. Once everyone was done we moved on to see some more ruins, pretty cool but I wish I had more time. :(
It was time to go so we headed back to the boat, not nearly enough time to see everything which was a real disappointment. :(
Hilariously our boat pulled away from the dock when they realized they had left some of the school children behind. :O We redocked to pick them up and we were on our way.
Even though it was pretty bright when we left the island the sun sets REALLY fast here so there was an awesome sunset back at the ferry landing when we got back. Most of the laundry washing was done at this point and people were mainly there for leisure, diving off the rocks into the water etc. it was a very cool visual:
With that we were done with the dam, but we were still going to go to the waterfall - hopefully the sun would last.
Next chapter: When Monkeys Attack!