Tuesday, 27 November 2007

Photo Links

Still not got the energy to update blog and lost some of my best pics of China, Aus and NZ so probably won't do it now. But here is a link too some of my NZ pics.


Tuesday, 24 July 2007

Week 14 - 16 Pokaraha, Bandipur, Old Delhi, Bangkok


Another visit to Pokarah to pick up my bag after rafting, end up staying longer than I wanted. Pokarah is like a Sunday afternoon. I go fishing with the motel owner, I stayed with him the last time, he tells me many interesting stories on our trip. He tells me of land he has bought for foreign friends and wives that he has found for others, he tells me of his french friend who is very happy with his two wives! Monogamy is now illegal in Nepal. He tells me of his friend who sunk to the lake floor a week ago and has not been found. He tells me of a Buddhist friend he helped build a house but now the Buddhist refuses to be his friend because he catches fish, says he he doesn't want the devil in his house! He tells me of a couple in their 20s who committed joint suicide by tieing a rock round their waist, they were from different castes and one family refused marriage.

I usually head left into town but this day I decide to head left towards the mountain of Serangkot (spelling?) and things turn a little twilight. I pass a German man who is dressed in pyjamas and is off his head speaking to himself. I get offered mushrooms all along the road. A strangely aggressive man tries to sell me mushrooms and weed, when I decline and walk away he tries one last time to sell me something and asks me if I would like a Nepali marriage! No thank you sir, marriage is far from my mind, although by Nepali standards I should have been married for 8 years and have 3 kids by now. Everyone enquires about your marital status, it seams quite popular for people to come to Nepal to find a bride.

Journey from Pokaraha to Bandipur
I get this large Jeep to Bandipur from a nearby town. I am awkwardly on the back shelf, with half my body hanging out the back and one arm pit in some poor chaps face. I think I am slowly killing him as I ditched my deodorant a week before in order to save space in my backpack. I think he is complaining about me, I feel embarrassed, so I brake the ice and motion to them that I smell and everyone on the jeep laughs at me. This seems to open up a discussion with the other passengers about me, they talk in Nepali and look and me and then laugh, I just laugh too!

Incredibly relaxing place, an old town with beautiful architecture situated in the hills.

There is about 8 other tourists in this town, i hang with 5 of them. Alex, a French man living in Malaysia about 35, French, a German man about 40, Marrie, a French girl about 24, Tadeus a Dutch man about 20. It is great to hang out with such a diverse set of people, we just relax outside in the evenings and drink chai.

I do a couple of walks around Bandipur, very atmospheric. I head to Mukundeswari to a Magar shrine with my new friends. The walk goes through some dense forest and it is difficult to make any ground, we soon get split up but we finally make it and the temple looks like a stone shed, quite funny. People have left offerings, all I have is a biscuit, so I throw that in and Alex throws in a cigarette.

We hang with this old lady in the small farming town of Mukundeswari, very entertaining. She gives Alex and French a big bag of potent weed, so they are very happy!

Journey from Bandipur to Old Delhi
I leave Bandipur Thursday at 10am and arrive in Old Delhi Friday at 6pm. A total of 32 hours spent on 3 buses. I get on a bus in Bandipur, the conductor tells me he is going to the border town and takes my money, half way there he tells me that he is not going there anymore and that I need to transfer onto another bus, after I share a joke with him about being a liar he gets me onto a new bus for free. I finally make it over the border and get some beautiful cheap Indian food and head towards the bus stand, a man outside the bus says that I need to buy a ticket from his office, I sense that I am potentially entering some sort of scam. I try to get on the bus but a man who looks like 50 Cent is blocking my way. I try to ask a guy who was on my Nepal bus whether he paid already but he does not understand me, I also ask the bus driver and he just shrugs. I follow my con man and he trys to make me pay 1000 rupees for the bus ticket, I know this is way too much, I shout at him that this is a commission scam but as I am doing this the bus starts to pull away and he tells me that I won't be getting on the bus at all. I manage to get him down to 500 rupees and board the bus. 50 cent boards the bus and takes my fake ticket and swaps it for a real ticket, with a cost of 350 rupees written on it. I Didn't lose too much in the end and under the circumstances I did well to get on the bus at all! When the guy from my Nepal bus understands what happened and that I have not much money left, he buys me food all along the way, I say no but he insists, he feels bad that I got ripped off. I trust this guy, so I accept him buying me food, after 9 weeks of travel in India, I can instantly tell who is good and who to avoid. He also travels all the way to Delhi and even gets me a good deal with the little money I have left on a rickshaw to Old Delhi. My journey on the bus travelled through some of the poorest parts of India. Every time the bus stopped I would get attacked by mosquito's, but thankfully they disappeared when the bus moved and air was flowing through. The whole journey was surprisingly not that bad, I drifted in and out of sleep and had about 10 different people sit next to me. If you had one of those speeded up videos, I would be in the same spot for 24 hours, while people all around the bus would be whizzing on and off.

Old Delhi
Arriving in Delhi was my most nervous experience, just because of all the horror stories I had heard. Two friends from Nepal told me to go to Old Delhi away from the tourist area and I never regretted it for a moment. I arrive at the Jama Masjid, a Muslim temple, designed by the same architect that designed the Taj Mahal. It is a large square surrounded by 4 storey buildings housing hotels, shops and restaurants, there are little alleyways spurring from the square, selling the most delicious cheap food that I have found in India. This is the most vibrant place I have been to ever! On my arrival at night, my eyes are wide open with all the life this place contains, there are pig heads and kebabs being cooked on large flames and just a mass of people everywhere. I find a hotel, take off my shoes and my feat are badly swollen from the travel, it takes 2 days for the swelling to go down. I wake up early and look out onto the square, two men are throwing old meat into the air and a group of eagles swoop down to collect it. all around the square people are walking up from a night of sleeping on the street. After staying here for 3 days I realise these are workers who have no homes, they have most likely come from surrounding areas. The people sleep rough but in a good, non threatening, non drunk/drugged up way, just a thing they have to do to get by before they start another day of work the next morning.

My whole stay in Old Delhi is based around food, it is all I think about, it is the best way I can become part of this place, even for a short while. The food here is so cheap but absolutely amazing, the restaurants are mainly for the poor workers who sleep around them, but they accept me when I eat with them, they make sure I pay the right sum of money, that I get a free top up of food if I am entitled and they order the waiters around for me! The owners dislike me, but I don't care as the customers make me feel at ease and welcome. My favourite place is a chai shop, like a Muslim version of a pub, I go there twice a day and start to get to know the regulars and the young waiters smile on my return, I can't communicate at all, I get friendly with an old Muslim man, he is maybe 70 and I feel frustrated that I cannot understand him, he could tell me so many fantastic story's from his time in India, he also gets frustrated at not being able to communicate. We communicate through gestures, he buys me chai and offers me a beadie (small cigar type thing), I buy him chai. Learning a language is key, I want to learn Hindi so much. My typical breakfast is big, I eat poori (puffed pastry/bread) with pea and potatoe curry, masala chai, sweet banana's, lassi (a beautiful yogurt type drink). I am stuffed and content. Meals typically cost me 12rs, that is 15p (30cents).

I do leave Old Delhi occasionally and get the underground, I head to a bar with an American to New Delhi. The underground tannoy tells me, among other things, not to make friends with strangers, I find this baffling, is this just while using the underground? or is it everywhere? I feel I need more information on this statement, how am I supposed to get along if I don't make friends with strangers, all friends start out as strangers.

It happens to be FA cup night, didn't even know it was on or that the new Wembley was finally complete, the bar had some drunk English people it it, it felt wrong, all the Indian people where staring at the leery English! Wanted to be back at my chai shop! I buy Time Out and try to do other things in New Delhi, but seam to fail each time. I try to see a famous Indian musician but it is sold out, I chat to some rich Indian ladies outside, they make me laugh, they are so snobby. I try to go to a free painting class but I arrive late, I try to go to the modern art museum but it is closed on Tuesdays, ahh well! When I am away from Old Delhi, I just constantly think of its food, each time my new adventure in New Delhi fails I scurry back to the safety of Old Delhi. I spend a Sunday at the Old Red Fort (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Red_Fort), get a little board so head to a Sikh Temple, spend the afternoon listening to awesome tabla music, there is food and the floor is comfy, before I know it, the day is over.

I want to stay in Old Delhi much longer, it is a short romance, but like short romances it ends on a high.

That's it for India. Wooops, I forgot to go to the Taj Mahal!!


Bangkok is much better than I thought it would be, it's great being in a modern place again. Finally buy a charger for my MP3 player and a new camera and some DEET mozzie spray, finally!. Hang with some english and danish people and watch some covers band, skoot round town with them in this noisy tuk tuk thing. My room is the size of two single beds and has no windows but I love it and it's cheap.

It feels like a mid trip re-charge, I spend a lot of time at malls and do most of the tourist sights and watch some kick boxing, outdoor markets and eat crab for breakfast at a floating market.

Saturday, 12 May 2007

Week 10-14 - Jomson Treck, Karnali Rafting and Bardia

Arrive in Pokarah, fealing sh*te from the previous night, its 2pm, I have a 7am flight the next day to start my treck, my brain is not functioning, I have too much to do. Arrive at my rafting agency at 6pm, they send me into a panic, I have no trecking permit, walking shoes or guide. They convince me to get a guide, only $US10 a day and sort me out to pick up a permit at 6am the next day before my flight. Its 6pm, I still need boots, pack a small bag for the treck and I need to change my flight to Bangkok which departs while I am on my treck. I decide to get my Mum to sort the flight for me, I can't function enough to make a phone call. I have 5 hours sleep, then get up at 4am to pack my bag.

Day 1 - Jomson Village to Kagbeni
Turns out to be my loneliest day since being away. We head to the nearest village, after one hour I have blisters and by bag hurts from my rucksack, I start to sing Lemonheads 'I lied about being the outdoor type' to myself. Arrive at 11am at a quiet town where I will spend the rest of the day, wonder around, then head to hotel. There is a squabling english family and a group of French girls, the girls seem the best option, my 'bonjour' hangs in the air like an unwanted fart so I sit alone, drink masala tea and go to bed at 2pm. I sleep right through to the morning and get a lovely 15 hours in bed.

Day 2 - Kagbeni - Muktinath
I feal much better the next day, the french girls are more friendly and the english family have stopped squabling. The days walk is fantastic. My guide takes me to a guest house where I am the only guest, there is a lively young place up the road but I have no money to get a beer. I adjust to my solitary life, for entertainment I sit on a wall and watch an old lady throw stones at some escaped chickens. I ring my mum, she can't change the flight for me, I'm screwed. I have little cash and the phone calls on the treck cost a bomb. People say there are no cash points on the treck, but maybe there is one when we loop back to Jomson. I have 2 plans. I estimate the phone call will take 20 minutes, which means if I sleep rough under the stars and only eat one plate of boiled rice a day and drink boiled water I will be OK to carry on with the walk. The rain doesn't figure in this plan. The other plan is to fly back to Pokaraha, abort the walk and make my phone call. I like the thought of option one and surving real basic, it will be a test.

Day 3 Muktinath - Martha via Lubrah and Jomson
My favourite days walking on the trip, 7 hours total. It is a side route not manny people take to the Tibeten settlement, Lubrah. My guide says these settlements existed for ages before the Nepelease goverment found them. I enjoy the walk and try forget about the flight till I get to Jomson.

I get to Jomson, the sight of the ATM is the best thing I have seen on my entire trip, better than any temple. Things will be OK! I can make my phone call, drink beer and eat well.

When I saw some wheat crops swaying and swirling round a group of apple tree's, I instantly thought of Van Gough's paintings. It was better than seeing the ATM! My next town I stay at is real social, the rest of the treck becomes a lot more fun after the initial bad start.

Day 3 - 9 - The Rest of The Treck
The rest of the treck consists of about 7 hour days of walking but is incredibly fun, at times we hike up for ages only to walk back down the other side, makes the previous days efforst feal undone.

The lead donkeys wear this big tasstle thing. The naughty donkeys that veer off track are at the back where they seem to get constantly whacked.

My mountain pictures turned out a bit naff, they were beutifull.

My base for walking and rafting trips, my guest house was fantastic, CBB MoMo. The owner took me fishing and played ping pong with me. Hung out with an english chap who took my bus from Kathmandu. My days basically consisted of: brakefast, walk/fish/cycle, read, lunch, siesta, read, ping pong, beer, dinner, beer, pool and then sleep to repeat the next day! Nice and relaxing. Feal a bit guilty when I hang in the chill out places, feal I should be out experiencing things.

Hindu wending in Pokaraha.

I wait for the rafting team in a town called Mugling and chat to an Old Gurka, the nicest person I have met in Nepal. He wears a Never Ending Peace And Love (NEPAL) t-shirt. The bus rolls up, it reminds me of the Scooby Doo bus, 8 young Nepelease kids fall out of the bus, that must be the team! There is also and Aussi, Scott and a Canadian, Kynan. As dusk falls, 2 of the nepealease lads sing and it starts to feal like Cliff Richards summer holiday bus, I start to get excited like a school kid going on an excursion. When night approach's the plastic shiva god at the front of the bus automatically flashes and insense sticks are burnt and 2 of the lads start to pray. I am a little confused but then figure it is to protect us on the roads at night as they are extrememely dangerous.

Half the dyas are spent chilling on secluded beaches, just as good as the rafting.

My, Scotts and Kynans tent. It feals like Ray Mears, I absoultly love it, we also catch a fish.

Buy chickens from a local village and strap 'em to the boat. Sorry vegetarians.

It is surprising that something so chilled and perfect for tourists is so void of tourists. Good for us but the hotel owners desperately need people. Most likely due to Moaist activity in the area and Lonely Planet doesn't do it any justice by sugesting that it is a ghost town. The town life and people within the park is a great attraction in itself. Everyone is happy and peacefull, the village tour we did of the Nehru villages highlighted this.

Me and Kynan go on a Tiger Safari on foot! We only had large sticks as protection and one guide. We enter the national park and I am extremely scared but excited, I ask our guide if I should hit the tiger with my stick if it starts attacking him, he says, 'yes, please try!' My heart races, we head to a likely spot and wait, I soon calm down when I realise that the tigers are located across a river. We head to a large high up platform, on the way we walk through a mob of monkeys, one makes a noise that I thought was a tiger, which scared me massively, I ran to the guide for protection and realised my error as he laughed at me! When I arrive at the high platform I suddenly feal realy sleepy from all the previous fear, my legs are pretty weak after that and I just want to sleep, a few other people laugh at me for being so sleepy and mellow!

The baby orphan elephant that wanted to play. He was a strong bugger! He got washed down the river away from his parents.

I spend a lot of time cycling round the park on a bicycle and chat to a lot of the local people. I chat to a hotel owner who has had no customers for 10 days, he blames the army base oposite his hotel, would rather it be on the outskirts where it would provide more protection to the park and the tigers that get poached. I chat to an owner of a restaurant, he says he only has one daughter and no son, so his daughter does the work of both a son and a daughter!

On departing Bardia, me and Kynan ride the bus on the roof, good fun although I feal I may get decapitated by the low telephone cables, some are proped higher with long bamboo poles, I duck to make sure I keep my head! In the evening we head inside the bus, the back of the bus makes me feal sick due to the bad suspension, so I try to sleep on a buffet in the isle, but it cuts my circulation and I keep jumping up with cramp. A kid on the bus rabbits on at me as I try to sleep, everytime I tell strangers that I am 27 and single, they think I am some sort of Huge Hefner, he asks me if it is true that love is free in england! wtf! On a more serious note, the bus seams to double up as an ambulance. There is an incredably sick lady at the front of the bus, she ends up coming near to Pokaraha to a hospital, after spending around 15 hours on that bus. There is also a malnurished baby to my left which is very upsetting, I'm not sure what hospital the baby went to, if at all.


Check out www.secretgardenparty.com and the 2006 photos, see if you can spot me dressed as Hunter S Thompson. Gonna miss the festivals. It takes me bloody ages to do this blog, so leave a comment so I know people are reading it.


Friday, 11 May 2007

Blog Update


Not been purposefully lame in updating the blog, net has been too slow to update pics and with the walking and rafting not had time. Will update with pics and videos verry soon when I get to India or I may try here again.

check out these from people I met rafting:

www.wimenpeetzerereet.nl - Holland couple cycling round the world

www.horizonsunlimited.com/forwood - an aussie couple been on the road for 10 years!

Flying cockroach's, i'm outta here!

Hope all is well.

Thursday, 12 April 2007

Week 9 - Nepal - Kathmandu, Bhakatapur, Thimi


I like Nepal, a lot. It's the Nepalese New Year tonight, so I will be seeing in 2064 with my Aussi mate Paul, I won't be 84 till I see 2064 again! Should be a good night, as loads of young people kicking about here.

On my first day in Kathmandu I get lost. I have some food in a small room with a low ceiling, the food is laid out like a buffet, I point at a few dishes and get some great tasting chewy meat and spicy veg, I love it. I wonder further down the street and walk past a big steaming pot with what looks like an upside down dog inside it, I tell myself it is being de-fleed. I walk further and after getting directions, head back on myself. I pass the steaming pot again, the dog now has no fur and I can see it has had its head chopped off. I now realise that it is being cooked. I start to think of the chewy meat I ate just 500m up the road! I have asked a lot of people about what I saw and most say it cannot of been a dog, some say it is illegal, some say it is legal but not done, I am not sure what animal it was, but it was gross!

Bhakatapur Festival
Paul had a good effect on me in a bad way. I was scared of motorbikes and foreign roads but we both decide to explore the valley on bikes. Was my first time on a scooter and first time on crazy foreign roads. We head off to the main road after a brief tuition, our plan is to stop occasionally in order to make sure the other is still around. At the first junction I turn right, for some reason Paul heads straight. I do a few loops and can't see him, I start to think we should have had a better plan. We have no hotel booked and the only directions I have is when Paul pointed the general way to our next town. I decide to head to Bhakatapur alone and try meet Paul there. On the way I sh*t it loads, but soon learn it is safer to go fast as the buses don't hogg your ass that way. I ask for directions and pick up one guy going to the same town but the bike wobbles like crazy with the extra weight and he gets off. I hit the Arnko Highway and finally get there, somehow. I fealt bad getting a bike, as my Grandad always told me never to ride one, as his brother Charlie died on one.

I arrive for a Chariot pulling festival, it is a competition between the West and East of town, the side to pull the chariot to their part of town wins and gets good luck for the crop season.

At 9.00 I am shattered so head off to my hotel, there is still no sign of Paul, there is a mob of kids ahead of me and a buzz in the air, not sure what is going on. The youths all start charging in my direction, I hide behind a temple wall to avoid the stampede and I somehow end up in the middle of a rock throwing riot. There are four Nepalese fella's perched by the temple wall with me and they all look as petrified as I am. Some youths with corrugated iron shields launch rocks over our heads to the east side of town behind us, there are also some shielded youths to the right, rocks started landing around us, I shout at them to chill! A squeaky voiced Nepalese guy helps me and we head down behind the protection of the shields. My heart is pounding like crazy. We watch for a while and decide to head off, I go down dark alleys with the squeaky dude, there are enough people about so I follow, all the ways to my hotel are closed off by the rioters, he invites me to stay at his house with his parents, I don't trust no one when travelling so I decide I will head back to the safety of town, where the old folk are chilling away from the riot. I wait for the riot to die down but then I get bored, so I walk about, taking safer looks at the rock throwing and run when everyone else does. I get worried about my bike getting damaged as I signed a waver that stated the bike is not insured and I would have to pay for any damage. I hang with another Nepalese guy, who helps me move the bike to a safe place. We walk past riot police after trying to find a way to my hotel, there are about 100 of them just north of my hotel, they have cleared a route and I get back to my hotel about 11 after two hours wondering about this crazy old town. I fealt safe in this town even with this strange festival going on and it sure did get the andrenalin going again, after having my first dose of the day on the moped!

The next day I have an email from Paul saying he went back to Kathmandu to try find me and would be heading to Bhakatapur the night I arrived. We finally meet up and swap story's of the crazy riot (Check out Paul's site linked at the right). Paul got a little injured as did my Nepalese friend who helped me move the bike.

We head off on the bikes the next morning to what is one of my favourite things I have done on my trip, we ride past army bases, paddy fields and do a big circle on dirt and tarmac roads, brilliant having the freedom of the bike.

A polish chick told me she also went to Bhakatapur for a festival, which consisted of all people, children to old men, slaughtering goats and chickens for the gods. She said the streets were awash with blood. Good old Nepalease festivals!

New Years Day - Kathmandu / Thimi
On my own again, Paul headed to Delhi. The worst hangover I have ever had, combat it with a trip to the Monkey Temple (forgot its proper name). The place heals me.

Had a good vibe, everyone was there to celebrate the New Year, there was a soundsystem and people were dancing and singing to 'By the River of Babylon' among other greats. Buy loads of fake outdoor gear from Kathmandu, which is slowly falling to piece's.

Thimi Bisket Jatra Festival
Head to Thimi for New Years Day evening for another strange but wonderfull festival. The Nepalease men are drunk on a potent homebrew called roxy, they are charging round town carrying a Khat (Palaquin), being pushed away by the surrounding croud.

I head back to Kathmandu and get drawn into a local bar by a covers band, turns out to be a bad mistake, get drunk, have 2 hours sleep, pack my bag and leave hotel at 6am for bus to Pokaraha.


Sunday, 8 April 2007

Week 9 (I think) - Bye India - Varanasi


What to say. I lay on my bed after the first day exhausted, thinking "what the f*ck!". The people here are intense, really spoilt my karma, there were good bits but I could only take one day of harassment before leaving early for Nepal.

Watching the morning pilgrims was excellent, but I fealt I was intruding on something very important to them, there were a mass of tourist boats watching the Indian pilgrims wash away their sins in the River Ganges.

I get dropped off at the Burning Ghat and get greeted by a guide, he takes me into the thick of a cremation ceremony, I don't look at anything, just the guide, I feel like I should not be here, a family is carrying a body to a fresh pale of wood, the guide says "look, a burning foot". No woman are allowed at the Ghat as if there is any crying then this will effect the spirit achieving nirvana. The guide also rips me off, this is the first time in my ten week stay. He is a nice chap and takes me upstairs to a building by the Ghat to see some old folk, he tells me that they stay here until they die and cannot afford to pay for their cremation, so he asks for a donation, I am emotional from seeing the cremations and even though I question it in my head I decide to give him the benefit of the doubt. I find out later that this man has been doing this for ages and bribes the police. Pretty low. I walk past him later and he comes after me asking to talk, I call him a "lier" and he says "that is what he wanted to talk to me about", I repeat "liar", he eventualy goes away. Later a holy man trys to con me, really persistent in me going with him. I hate Varanasi and I hate India at this point.

A pilgrim (alive)

The best bit of the whole town was using the crazy cycle rickshaw drivers, I had one old dude who had a red stained smile from all the chewing tobacco, I instantly like this comical fella. The old fella nearly takes out a cyclist who veers into our path, the rickshaw driver abuses him while laughing for extra effect, I join in with the laughter at the cyclist, the cyclist gets pretty angry which makes us laugh more. All the way home the driver sings and cackles as he cycles, he turns around occasionally to speak to be in Hindi, I only mutter "acha". My favourite person in India in my least favorite place in India.

Goodbye India
India has been fun, messed up, tiring, spiritual, enlightening, annoying, beautiful, ugly. It has had the most friendly people I have ever met but also some of the worst people I have ever met. India is contradictory but I have loved all places even Varanasi in parts. India has had a really good effect on me, especially the people, culture and religions.

Wednesday, 28 March 2007

Week 4 - 8 Indore, Guruyavor Festival, Kollam Backwaters, KodaiKannal, Hampi, Hyderabad, Ajanta, Ellora, Kandwar, Maheshwar

Headed back north for a festival. Elephants, dancing, music and chanting, was a great town too, no tourists so no hastle. The photo's of the festival didn't come out, but this is at the elephant sanctuary, where they keep all the temple elephants for the area. At the festival I met a police man, he started asking me loads of questions, do you work? no. Are you married? no. Are you here with family? no. Are you here with friends? no. The more questions he asked, I sware the more he thought I was the devil!

Had the hottest food of my trip here, with the first one for breakfast, really gave the day a kick start, so much better than caffeine. I nibbled on a chili which was with my thali at lunch, thought it was mild, so ate it whole, I lost vision for a while, I fealt my eyes dilate and lost myself for a couple of seconds!

Got on a bus to the next town. Two minutes into my 8 hour journey and I got the same fealing I get when I decide to ride a rollercoaster, I really wanna get off! Somehow the big lime green bus is faster than everything on the road, the driver doesn't seem to care that he can't see round a corner when overtaking. He bulldozes his way through the crowded road, I notice that there is a sign at the front of the bus that states 'Super Fast', no shit! In future I will pass on the super fast lime green slugs. We pass other buses that only have fast written on them, they seem the better option. The fat man next to me falls asleep on my shoulder, not sure how he can. We start to make ground on another Super Fast green slug, I get excited and start to enjoy the chase, we lose him and the driver seems upset, but we approach a fast looking saloon. We soon pass the saloon as the saloon uses his brakes, my bus driver does not, he only uses a horn that is permanently being pressed. I hope the horn will wake the fat man as my shoulder hurts. I got used to the bus journeys but nothing has been as fast as the first, little disappointing!

Headed here for a boat trip, good little trip and met some really nice people, was sad to say goodbye. Travelling is strange, everything is fleeting, nothing is final.

Wanted to leave Kollam ASAP, so got the next train to Madurai. Due to language problems I never get the full details of my transport trips, I am happy just to get a ticket with the correct destination on. I thought it would just be a 4 hour journey east by doing rule of thumb on the map, but the train heads all the way to the tip of India and back up to my stop in a big U shape, so I end up being on my wooden chair from 5pm to 6am, not sure why it was not a sleeper train, ended up being a fun trip trying to communicate with the local travellers, would love to find out their storeys.

I hated this town, like some others to begin with, but places grow on you and you leanr to deal with the new environment. But I end up loving the place. It is famous for its beautifull architecture. Language here is a big problem, all the hindi food words I learnt are no use, not sure what language is spoken here.

There are very few street lights, so the walkways are lit by flourescent lights from shops, which makes you feal like you are walking through a Bollywood film set, makes the twon feal warm and exciting.

The room I rented here, was probably the worst I have ever been in. If you were to eat marzipan for two weeks solid and then if at the end of the two weeks you were to have a shit, that is what my room smelt like!
I went to open the window, but this opened onto a small area bound by other hotel rooms/windows, in this small area, 3 floors down, was a mass of rubbish and a mass of mosquito's. I slept with the window closed. The saving grace was a balacony, where met other travellers and had a drink with them, at times India can be lonely for a single traveller, so this was a nice change.

The hindu face paint is a lot more dramatic here than in other towns, I like the style, some have triangles, some flag like rectangles and the bets is four stripes smeared with the fingers, again I didn't take photographs. I would become religous, just so I could dress like this.

My favourite place so far, wicked nature and loads of chilling, spent a week here, was really cold at night and all the Indian people wore retro jumpers and bobbles hats. There were so many retro clothes here, better than Camden, was like a little clothes gold mine on this Indian hill, was sad I did not buy more than a jumper and cardigan, forgot to get a Yamaha anorak thing

Nice chill out place and nice old things! Some good signs of civil engineering to, always nice to see!

Liking this place, the bits I love the most about India but also the bits I hate most. Hung with a lass from Denmark here and then onto Ajanta with her, was good to have company for the big towns.

Jannes photo of me sharing a joke with the traffic police!

Jannes photo of some young lads at Makkah Masjid Mosque. Unfortunately there was a bomb here just 10 weeks after I left killing 5.

Great places, temples cut into rocks, my photo's were naff though.

I stop in Kandwar for the night on the way to Maheshwar. Kandwar is not in my guidebook but is in bold on my map so I decide it should be ok. Arrive quite late, when I depart from the train there is a cow waiting on the platoform, I love the urban cows, they are so chilled. I get the cheapest room in a local hotel, a shoe box size room with no external windows, but I have about 12 mosquitto's for company. I put up my mozzie net using the room door, it takes me a long time and a lot of gaffer tape to get the net into a semi-decent state. I start to drift off, at midnight there is a knocking at my door, I open the door, the mozzie net collapses and a fat cop with a tash greats me. The cop and the hotel manager enter my room, they ask a lot of questions, make a phone call, look at my passport. Then there is a powecut, so a fat cop, the hotel manager and me occupy this shoe box room in the pitch black. I am confused. They finally seem satisfied and leave. The only explanation I get is "safety". I don't sleep well that night!

I get my train ticket to Barwaha the next day, which is halfway to Maheshwar, there is a heavy armed police presence on the streets, after a few enquiries I find out that there is a Muslim festival on and last year there was a fight with the Hindu's and Muslim's. This year things seem good though and there is no trouble, I get a few smiles and waves. I chat to a hotel worker, he is working at the hotel and teaching himself to pass a degree, he pays for his books, a copy of syllabus and the exams, lots of respect for that, he teache's me a lot about indian hoistory and the segregation of india in 1947 into India and Pakistan when the Brits left. He says the cop was extra cautious with me due to the trouble last year. Note the green Pakistan flags in the march.


My new favourite place, so chilled and weird, ate at a small house each day, which had converted it's patio into an eating area, the best food I have had so far, probably because it was home cooking. Spent a lot of time chilling in the patio area with the family.

The main focus of the town is a big fort with loads of temples and house's within it.

There are a lot of Indian people here for a pilgrimage to the River Narmada, as I head up the river the atmosphere change's, smoking chillums seems to be the main focus of the day. Thier eyes are so cloudy, there is no pupil or iris just mist!

This guy was ace, lived in this little space in the fort's walls by the River. Cosy little place, offered me some Lassi.

In the evening there was a festival for Hanaman's birthday, it was a full moon and the festival was just a load of teanagers going a bit crazy. I got dragged into the mob, got water and red paint dust thrown at me and was made to dance, a circle formed aroud me, eventualy escaped. Kinda fun!

IndoreJust arrived in Indore, had to look at my bus ticket to remember! starving, so will keep it short, a little tired so may be dull. things going well, got a little bored in south India but as I headed north I started to enjoy myself again. Indore is just a stop over but cool place.

bye, email!

and a sign....