Wednesday 19th February
Watching the sunrise over the misty paddy fields was another highlight of our trip, and we became very annoying for the driver with regular photo stops required.
It was interesting to see the tribal people become taller and thinner and they were wearing straw hats – just like the paintings. We took a circuitous route, avoiding roadblocks but unfortunately hit a picket line. The request for the 2 English ladies to catch a plane allowed us to be let through and continue on car free roads (an unusual experience for India!)
We made several stops to ikat weaving villages and they were pleased to receive presents of pens and pencils from us.
Another stay at a Palace was planned. A delightful royal family whose ancestors were involved in setting up the scout movement. The gentleman of the house was out of town and at dinner we were informed that as a young man he had been part of Gandhi’s ministry.
Before dinner we walked through the market of the small town sampling some street food, we looked up to see 100 or so pairs of eyes watching us.
Thursday 20th February
The next day we started with a visit to the Tribal museum (sadly no photographs allowed) there were stitching demonstrations by 3 women from the Bonga tribe, they were dressed in full tribal costume and carefully showed us how they withdrew the threads and replaced them with colourful thread.
Later that day our driver insisted on taking us to see many of the temples in Bhubaneswar. Sadly they all look very similar!
We were invited back to our driver’s home for a meal to meet his wife. (I am sure it was just a ploy to ensure we gave him a good tip) 3 of them live in one tiny room and it was a fabulous meal.
We hadn’t seen another western tourist in all our time in Orissa.
It was a long wait for the overnight train back to Kolkata; we were kept entertained in the waiting room by many people who wanted to practice their English.