We had no internet connection (or wifi all day whilst out) so decided to throw in the towel and venture out for the day. We decided to take Zahra to the Bangalore Safari park and Zoo.
Today is a national holiday in India – Ghandi Jayanti – so school was on holiday as were a lot of people in the tech park – it was very quiet as we drove through it.
It took us an hour and half drive across Bangalore to get to the Bannerghatta Botanical Safari Park and Zoo. It was busy when we arrived – but everywhere is busy in Bangalore so I don’t know if this was because it was a National holiday or if it is like this all the time.
We bought a jeep safari combo ticket for £35 which got us into the zoo, butterfly house, and a jeep tour of the safari park (instead of the bus). We were so glad we did – the queue for the bus was massive – think of a big queue in the UK and double it. There were loads of crowded buses leaving regularly taking people around the safari park too.
We went around the zoo first. It was interesting as it is not like a zoo in the UK at all. There are derelict buildings next to building sites for new exhibits. The ground is uneven – some places there are foot paths and others there are simply mud tracks. There is no map – so you have no idea what is in there and where to look – you simply have to wander around and find things yourself.
The only animals not enclosed were the monkeys – one of which gave Zahra a fright after it growled at her. The spiders in the trees were also and added exhibit.
The only sad sight was the elephants. They were chained up and unable to move. The trainers were in the enclosure with them and had poles with hooks and spikes on – to clearly keep the elephants inline. It was a depressing sight. Especially when we saw the same in the safari park – all the other animals were able to roam freely yet the elephants were heavily chained and unable to move with handlers nearby.
We had a look around the zoo museum which consisted of stuffed lions, tigers and bears (oh my!).We did think it was ironic that a zoo had an exhibit of stuffed animals.
We then took our safari jeep tour. Now those of you who know me know I like a good single track road to put my foot down in my MX5 and corner it like it’s on rails. Well the driver of the jeep was the same. Zahra was flung out of her seat (no seatbelts here) on several occasions. The Safari park was a jungle so the driver had to take us to where each of the animals were – or as close as he could get to them. We got very close to the tigers – a bit too close with the window wound down if you ask me – but hey – this is India after all. There were herbivores (deer,elephants), the bear enclosure, the white tiger enclosure and the lion enclosure. not extensive – but it was worth it to see the white tigers and the other tigers so very close. One of the bears jumped onto the back of the jeep in front of us and hitched a ride to the gate. It eventually got down and wandered off.
The double gate system between enclosures were all physically manned – the men at the tiger enclosure were the only ones we saw with great big machetes. Everyone else had to have their wits about them! Some were behind cages but others were not.
The final thing was the butterfly house – which was lovely. In the UK such things are green houses – here it is mesh sides to let the breeze in to cool it down. We were given a guided tour by an opportunistic local (for a small tip). He was very good.
My gosh – the public loos were an eye opener. It cost us 12 rupees (12p) for a squat toilet and a tap with a bucket to flush it. No hand washing facilities and no loo roll.Good job I came prepared with wet wipes, tissues and sanitiser gel. It was properly grim.
The one thing we did notice was everyone staring at us. (We only saw one other white man the entire time we were there.) One family asked for their daughter to have a picture with Zahra. I noticed it was the older people who seemed to stare longer – the younger ones looked but quickly turned away when you smiled at them. The older generation continued to stare. At one point a much older man stared at me, stopped in front of me staring, then walked around me like I was an exhibit. It was quite amusing.
We went to a Persian restaurant for dinner. We saw it the other day when we were school uniform shopping. The food was delicious. Drinks, starter and 3 main courses (2 x chello kebab and zereshk pollo) for £16. Bargain. We’ll be eating there again. Especially as it was opposite Starbucks and Krispy Kreme Doughnuts shops!
I got hassled by a boy begging as we came out of the restaurant. Aggressive, in your face and personal space begging. He was clearly hungry and desperate though. 10 rupees (10p) and he was delighted. I need to be prepared in future and have cash in my hand as I come out. Lesson learned.
Overall, today was a good day (away from this ‘apartment’). Now I have to see if I can actually post this with the flaky wifi.