LEFT: Experiencing the elephant ride in Jaipur. RIGHT: Attractions are numerous in India. - Contributed photos
Avia Collinder, Outlook Writer
Dwayne Forbes, a 32-year-old legal assistant from Kingston, poured all his savings in December 2006 to January 2007 into the vacation of his dreams, packing his bags for London, England, and New Delhi, Jaipur and Aggra in India.
Dwayne, an avid BBC listener, said he got the idea he said from listening to the BBC radio feature 'Incredible India'.
Used to spending his Christmas holidays in London, Dwayne made some calls and added a flight to New Delhi to his holiday itinerary.
"I found you do not pay for a visa to India because of reciprocal visa status to Jamaica."
He knew nothing about India, he admits, apart from what he had heard on the BBC, but he was all ready for a new experience. Leaving Jamaica on his birthday, December 20, Forbes spent seven days visiting North York and London in the United Kingdom. We will allow him to tell you about the rest of his trip:
" In London, I went to see Phantom of the Opera (again) and Rocky - horror shows both. They were lovely and horrible. Then on the second of January I left Heathrow Airport on a British Airways flight ( I love them - they feed you!! Unlike others who don't!) to New Delhi.
"The flight was soooo long. It lasted nine hours and 45 minutes.
Jamaica early days
"The place reminded me of Jamaica in the earlier days. There were higglers at the airport, then lots of dust, from construction, highway construction on the airport road. There was lots of traffic. I saw about two dozen passengers in Rolls Royces.
"New Delhi was cold. My friend had said that the area would be Blue Mountain cold. I thought a T-shirt would do but it was really cold. It went to my bones.
I stayed three days in New Delhi with Micky and her family but I must say that hotels there are really cheap - like US$50 a night.
"In New Delhi, the first stop was the Murans tomb which is centuries old, allegedly a place built for Muran by her husband. It was magnificent. It blows the mind to know that, centuries ago, architecture like this could be done and done completely manually.
They (Micky and family) got a car and driver for me and we set off for Jaipur. Along the way we passed many Hindu and other temples.
Jaipur is also known as Orange City because of the colour of the buildings. It is like downtown Kingston with dilapidated buildings.
"In Jaipur, I booked into a real palace which has been turned into a private hotel. It was really palatial with humungous rooms. It was really too big for me. The palace itself was ancient. If you are into antiquities, this is the place to be. Apparently, Prince Henry and other kings and queens of England stayed here. You will also see ancient Indian weapons. Fantastic.
"I did not bother to eat anything Western. I opted for everything Indian. The vegetarian dishes were out of this world. I had a few meat dishes but they weren't great. India is a place for vegetarians. I spent two day in Jaipur and five days were gone out of my nine-day trip in India.
I took the elephant ride to Amber Fort on a hill in Jaipuir. This animal was 200 times my size and I thought it could kill me with one of its legs. But, the elephant guide encouraged us to sit safely.
"We rode up. An elephant ride is not like a horse ride. It is much slower and the smell of elephant doo is strong. If you are in for an adventure, this is it.
"In Jaipur, I also went to a Hindu temple which was only opened twice a day for only five minutes and you are not allowed to take pictures. I crossed my feet and did the whole ritual with rosary around my neck and dot on my forehead.
"My guide, who happened to be Hindu as well, was with me. He spoke Hindi which was useful. I find that the English of the Indians, however, is better than many places I have been in Europe, including France. They are very comfortable with English.
"Next was Ranthambhor palace which is to die for in terms of its architecture and food. Oh God! And the scenery! I went from the temple and travelled through an area like downtown Kingston to Rambat where the scenery and the garden are out of this world. Indian gardens are like the medieval gardens of England.
It was then on to Rasjasthan where I attended the famous festival and we where we are greeted with food. I did not know what I was eating . It was fascinating.
"On my way to Aggra, I stopped by India's world-famous bird sanctuary which I would recommend for anyone who loves birdwatching.
"In Aggra, I also visited the Taj Mahal. There was a very long line at 5:00 p.m. in the evening. I was supposed to leave the next morning back to the U.K. I was unable to go in. From the outside its like an temple - it's a Moslem temple that's all.
"We drove back to New Delhi. On the way back I stopped to buy gifts and artefacts for friends and family. There were domesticated tourist prices. I kept telling them (the vendors) that was Indian but it did not work. I mentioned cricket and that worked better. They knew Chris Gayle and Brian Lara. I bought a couple bottles of Old Monk for my uncle. It must admit it's the best rum I have ever tasted."
Dwayne overnighted in London where he saw Porgy and Bess and them came back to Jamaica. The Kingstonian says: "Next I am thinking of the Mediterranean - a cruise which I happened to see on the Travel Channel. Or Egypt. I am not sure."