Day 189: Country #20.1
Ahmedabad is the capital of Gujarat state, one of India’s westernmost states, bordering the Middle East with a dry arid climate to match. I’m always curious about geographic borders because of the way they distort the cultures on both sides.
The overnight bus arrived in the morning, but the driver insisted that he could not go into the city due to a city ordinance during commuting hours, so they dropped us off in the middle of a road where a group of their tuktuk friends were waiting.
I absolutely refused to be price gouged and even though I knew I was far from the city center, I kept walking with my bag away from the bus. Eventually, after one of them followed me all the way down the road, I negotiated the price down to something reasonable, albeit higher than a local price (I knew that). However, once I got in, the guy drives me down to the next corner and farms me off to another guy, handing him about half of what I gave him! Good example of the premiums you can earn for knowing a little English and salesmanship.
The city was chaotic as bikes shared the road with cars, elephants and camels. I was glad that my hotel was hidden away in the middle of a small street where there was a little less noise.
After getting orientated, I headed to what looked like a tourism office, located on the other side of the Sabarmati River. It was somewhat of a walk, especially in the sun with hardly any trees in sight, and the office wasn’t exactly where the map indicated, but I found some signs pointing the way. The staff didn’t seem prepared for a foreigner to show up, but I managed to learn a few things and could only hope they were reliable.
Then I continued west, through the nearby Gujarat University, a sprawling campus, full of way more colleges than I could count, before reaching Vastrapur Lake Park, which someone told me was the center of new developments in Ahmedabad.
The sun continued to beat down so there weren’t that many people around. I decided I needed I break as well, so I stopped by the Ahmedabad One Mall, which turned out to be a super modern American style mall filled with American brands and shops.
Unsure about the bus system, I set off to walk all the way back to the river, then down the promenade, across Nehru bridge and relaxed in air conditioning.
Cities actually do have ordinances to restrict bus traffic in certain areas during different times of day. It’s a good idea to ask where the buses drop off, but don’t fully trust the person who sells you the ticket. They will willingly say “yes” to wherever you want to be dropped off. Also, it’s ok to get off early if a stop appears closer to where you want to go.