08.10.2007 - 08.10.2007 35 °C
It's 7:00 am Monday morning and the overnight train pulls into Satna, the stop-off station for Khajuraho, a small town famous for its thousand year old temples. Departure was a bit of a nail-biter as inadequate signage meant that we weren't sure if we were in the right carriage, let alone the right train. The trip was fairly uneventful except for the fact that I finally took a test drive of the on-board squat-style toilet - I was apprehensive at first, but the strategically placed handrails made the task easier!
If you've been following this blog, then you should know the drill upon arrival in a new town - we're met at the station and driven to our hotel that's usually on the outskirts of town and is usually in the final stages of construction. The fact that the hotel is far from the center of things is my only (minor) gripe with the whole package. Apart from this, everything has gone remarkably smoothly.
After a 2 hour drive through beautiful countryside we arrive at Khajuraho, check-in, then head straight to the temples. The temples are divided into two groups - the western and the eastern - and it's at the more impressive western group that we begin to explore.
As usual, touts patrol the approaches to the main entrance. I'm not sure if he's mentioned it in his blog (http://dinofile.travellerspoint.com/) but Dean and I often amuse ourselves by narrating an imaginary late-night television marketing program called "The Toutmaster 2000". This is a magical device, packaged in spray-can format, that (marketing voice) ..."ELIMINATES ALL TOUTS IN A 1000 YARD RADIUS!!! RENDERS TOUTS IMMOBILE!!". At times like this we wished we possessed such a product!
Anyway, we're through the gates, and we wander around. The lawns are beautifully manicured, and the temples rise above the ground like alien spaceships. All of this would be impressive enough were it not for the carvings on the temples themselves - beautifully sculpted figures depicting all aspects of work, sex and play. It is the erotic aspect of the carvings that make the temples infamous (see photos below. Warning - some images may offend!).
After grabbing a bite we find an internet cafe and start to update our blogs. Just after nightfall, I begin to notice something crawling down my neck. Its a small black beetle, but no problem, I brush it away and continue typing. Pretty soon, I'm covered with beetles and other assorted insects, and looking down on the floor, I notice thousands of them! As it turns out, due to three straight years of low rainfall, Khajuraho is plagued by these things, and they all seem to wanna party as soon as the sun sets!
Beetles are the last of Dean's problems as his computer is infected by a virus. He made the fatal mistake of clicking on a suspicious looking file on his camera's storage card and pretty soon his computer screen is a patchwork quilt of windows displaying warnings, errors, international symbols of radioactive waste and bio-hazards, and the like. Staring at the screen and typing madly, he's trying to reverse the damage, beetles crawling all over his face! It's not a pretty sight.
In the confusion he accidentally deletes all his photos. Two weeks-worth of "kodak moments" down the toilet, just like that! (They may be salvageable, but the recovery process will have to wait till Sydney) Trying hard to remain civil, he politely suggests to the technician/shop-owner that they purchase and install the latest software security suite. Now, given the language difficulties we've experienced so far on this trip, I somehow doubt that Dean's recommendations will be taken on board and actioned at the next board meeting. My hunch is verified, as after smiling and nodding politely, the owner simply says: "200 rupees, please".
As you can imagine, Dean doesn't leave in the best of moods, and pretty soon we're accosted by a tout who saunters up to us and confidently asks: "You want taxi? Tuk-Tuk? Yes? Now listen to me...You want tuk-tuk...?".
Dean simply looks at him, lays a hand on his shoulder, pulls a recently purchased lighter/torch out of his pocket, and proceeds to switch the torch on and off in the touts face, in time to the words...."NO... WE... DON'T... WANT... A... TAXI... OK?" (said in a high-pitched alien-like voice)
We normally get a lot more resistance as we wander off, but all we get from this guy is a lost, bewildered look!
Dinner was a lack-lustre pizza at the Hotel Zen. Back at the hotel I fall asleep while watching Al-Jazeera on cable. Some people say that this is the voice of the Arab world, but it looks just like CNN to me!
(As an aside, we were approached by a lady at breakfast the next morning who noticed Dean playing with his new lighter/torch. She said "I thought you should know, but I bought a lighter just like that and it exploded in my face! Be careful!" The Gods don't seem to be smiling upon Dean - more bad luck is to follow...stay tuned!)