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Entries about transportation

Taxi! Taxi!

sunny 29 °C

Writing about our taxi-cum-time machine in Mysore got us thinking about the numerous cars we’ve ridden in since our arrival. The first thing that always happens is that the driver pulls into the nearest gas station and demands payment so that he can fill up. Petrol is $1.40, (90pence) a litre, and has jumped 10% since we arrived – causing two recent taxi strikes and a fare hike starting January 12th.
Here’s a heads-up for anyone thinking of visiting India. Most Indian taxi drivers are lunatics who constantly play chicken with other road users: they overtake in the path of oncoming vehicles and on blind bends; they take delight in forcing smaller vehicles off the road; they drive the wrong way on dual-carriageways or U-turn into the face of speeding traffic; they constantly blare their horns; they talk incessantly on cellphones; they consider “Keep Left” signs to be political slogans best ignored; they always say they know where they are going – yet never do; they never ever have any change; and they will always want to stop at a “very special museum” that you just know will be a thinly disguised store selling touristy trinkets, sarees, silks and carpets. We can be exceedingly obdurate in our refusal to be lured into such money-pits, but we are occasionally waylaid by a particularly friendly driver.
And then there are the unauthorized side-trips that can be unexpectedly interesting, like the joss-stick factory in Mysore and the sugar cane plantation on the road to visit a temple at Belur.

These women each make 6,000 incense sticks a day to earn a few dollars…
Incense_workers.jpg
Firstly they coat a thin bamboo stick with a mixture of gum and charcoal and then roll it in coal dust…
Making_incense.jpg
The sticks are then dusted with coloured powders and impregnated with aromatic oils …
Incense_sticks.jpg
The incense sticks are beautiful and have a wonderful fragrance – unlike the conditions in which these women work.
The hands of the joss-stick workers are permanently stained black by the coal dust, but these sugar-cane workers are blackened all over…
Fuel_for_fire.jpg
An ancient 2 stroke engine spewing black smoke drives a mill to squeeze out the juice from the cane…
Sugar_factory.jpg
Then the liquid is boiled for four hours in a massive steel pan, 15 feet in diameter, using the squeezed out canes as fuel.
large_Boiling_sugar.jpg
As the mixture cools the raw sugar crystallizes and is formed into balls for sale.

We got the hard-sell at the joss-stick factory and caved, but Hamid, the driver who sidetracked us into the sugar cane plantation, had his own interest at heart and blackmailed us into buying him a bottle of fresh cane juice – sometimes you just can’t win.
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Posted by Hawkson 20:22 Archived in India Tagged transportation Comments (3)

Last week's quiz/This week's question.

sunny 34 °C

Tuk_Tuk.jpg

Last week's question was: If it is $15 one way from Bangkok to Hua Hin by train, (250 Kms.), how much is the return?
The answer is $1.50 cents. 75pence UK.
Unbelievable but true. 250 Kms. for less than the price of a cup of Mr. Starbucks finest Java.
Why? Because we went 2nd. class with air conditioning and came back 3rd. class with the window wide open.

This week's question involves Tuk-Tuks; tiny 200cc tricycle taxis that are ubiquitous in Thailand.
The question is: How many passengers can you comfortably take in a Tuk-Tuk?

Answer next week.

Posted by Hawkson 23:59 Archived in Thailand Tagged transportation Comments (2)

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