Friday, November 4, 2011

Hotel Diplomat, Kolkata

 I booked the hotel just a few days before my trip through agoda.com. It was a last minute deal. I wanted a clean budget hotel. Just as I expected, the hotel was a decent one, clean room and clean toilet. Except the entrance to the hotel which was dusty just like any other budget hotels in India. They claimed that was because of the renovation going on. Anyway, I think that was the best hotel for that price.
The location was good too. It's about 45 minutes from the airport if the traffic is smooth. Located at NO. 10 Sudder Street, Hotel Diplomat is closed by to many shopping area. The Metro Station, the new Market, Park Street, Indian Museum, McDonald, KFC and Subway are also within walking distance. There are a lot of restaurants at Park Street. To me, McD, Kfc and Subway are important because that's where I have my daily meal most of the time in Kolkata. 
 I booked the rooms for two days online. I decided not to change room after the two days because of the clean toilet and bed room over here. I wouldn't take any risk of paying higher bill for another hotel because in India, most of the budget hotel rooms are very bad condition. So I extended for another two days. This time I negotiate for a better room rate.
In India, it's better that you book your room is advance. The best way is through online. Because the walk in price is extremely high. I scouted around for room price. Almost all hotels quoted publish price knowing that you need the room badly if you walk-in. Unless you have a big group, you can always negotiate for a better deal. And always ask for a net price because they always twist around. And during all my stay in India, these hotels never issue receipt even though they collect your money in advance. I think they either try to evade tax or they charge us more than the local price.
At Sudder Street. taxis are available the whole day because there are a lot of budget hotels and tourist around. There are a lot of taxi drivers sleeping inside their taxi too during the night time. Also, Sudder Street is the most happening place in town.

You may also want to consider a cheap holidays to turkey.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Kolkata

Kolkata or Calcutta, what's the difference ? One is the new name and the later is the old name. Just like the name, I was expecting to see the two sides of the city. I didn't plan any sight seeing as I do not wish to encounter the same trouble and hustle which I experienced while I was in Delhi. What I mean is the traffic, the horrible attitude of the drivers and the strict securities at every entry point of tourist spot. They are so rude. So my 5d/4n tour is strictly street photography and shopping.  
The moment I step out from the plane, I realize there is no two sides of Kolkata. There won't be any glittering or colorful side for my photography. Everything look so old and run down. The coach which supposed to take us to the airport terminal is so old. I think it's more than 30 years old. We don't even have this kind of bus servicing at our place anymore. These buses can even overtake and honk at each other at the airport runway. I see some passengers decide to walk to the terminal on their own. And the airport building itself is old too.
I bought the taxi ticket from the counter. But as I walk through the departure hall, it was almost dark. There is no sign where to wait for the taxis. There are a lot of plain cloths and untidy men approaching me for taxis. They asked for my tickets. I couldn't identify who is the right person to approach as none of them is wearing uniforms. They past around my ticket and finally I got one. This guy can't speak English at all. I end up having difficulty locating my hotel. I booked my hotel on-line. But somehow I managed by using my phone to call the hotel directly.
I stayed at Sudder Street, the most happening place in the city. For 5 days 4 nights, these are the photos that I would like to share with. Sad but true.

Where human (a rickshaw runner) share with stray dogs sleeping along the street. Rickshaw runners are homeless people too, other than taxi drivers, street sellers, hawkers, beggars, drug addicts etc.
Kolkata - Where city never sleeps. Only the people do.

These are the 3 Ds of Kolkata. Dirt, dusty and dump site. Humankind searching at the dump site near the most crowded Market in the city. Dogs, crows and pigs can be seen too.
Building houses without toilets. People have to queue every morning for their turns to use the public toilets.
These are the brave people of Kolkata. They are construction workers without any safety precaution and wearing 'sarong' climbing up high buildings to do their work.

So much talk about corruption but who take care of these homeless people ? They are everywhere in the city. Dirt, dust, noise and all kind of pollution. They cook, bath and sleep along the road side. They don't even have the 3 basic needs of a human being which is food, clothing and shelter.

There are lots of huge buildings left by the British, but these people have to live outside the buildings make of tents.

Bathing along the walkways on the busy streets are a common sight. Water pumps are installed for the homeless instead of homes.