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....

Sunday, 4 March 2007

2nd/3rd Week - Gokarna, Udupi, Fort Cochin


Went onto Gokarna from South Goa. Loved this place, should have stayed longer. my shack was 50 rupees a night (60p), great atmosphere, loads of people just chilling and chatting, mainly English and Israeli's (spell?). It was run by this wicked guy called shanka and he had this old worker who danced to techno and slept in the corridor. There were some strange characters, one Indian bum who gets stoned all time, has one front tooth missing and the other wobbles as he speaks. He really annoys people and speaks a lot of crap but watching him is highly entertaining. The town of Gokarna was a nice escape from the beach with nice local people and temples.

Forgot to get a pic of gokarna beach, this is south goa. left ohm beach(gokarna) with a drum i traded for 100 rupees and my towel, good deal, gonna try get a drum lesson today.

my favourite place so far, only saw 2 other tourists the 4 days I was here, a little lonely in that respect. Got recommended it by Pablo, an old aussy who was on ohm beach. There was no info in my guidebook other than a small paragraph, so the first time I did not have the rough guide holding my hand. Due to minimal tourism i was not bothered at all, as they are not dependent on tourist money, a lovely change. Saw a traditional Indian play with dancing, Hindu festivals, Indian art and some classical Indian music from famous Indian musicians, bought the cd of Ali Akbar Khan the previous day, who played. Amazing concert in the grounds of Monipal University. All these events were free. Going away from tourist areas certainly in this case has been what I was looking for, real Indian as people tell me.

This is Varanga, east of Udupi, chose it from a local guide book, hired a local guide and we got buses to the temple as I was to tight to hire a car. This has been the best temple so far, there were two, both as beautiful as each other. I liked this the most due to the tranquil setting and the surrounding area, temples that attract tourists are hard to enjoy due to the people and the scruffy surrounding area. The keeper of the temple said I was the first tourist in a year to visit, all other visitors have been Jain Hindu. The bus journey on the way back scared me as much as Rorys driving, even the beautiful Indian girls on the tv could not help, gripped the seat in front for the 40 minute journey, when I eventually arrived at my destination, I removed my hand and my fingers would not straighten, they ached bad, think i must have starved them of blood, my hand eventually came back to life.

This was a Krishna Festival, so lively and void of any health and safety regulations, fireworks going off all over the place, with sparks flying onto people, the big Gargantuan chariot is pulled round the square, it nearly took out a local market stall, with the people frantically trying to get it back on track, there was an elephant leading and clearing the way for the chariot. The previous night some young Krishna's studying dentistry tried to get me to go to thier place to study the religion, they were a little to religious for me, so I showed them my two gold teeth and that seemed to disturb them and they soon left!

At first I thought this was a town with no tourist purpose, there was no obvious things to do and see. i took the advice of the local guide book and went to the port, this was the only photo I took. There were so many great photo opportunities but everyone on the port was staring at me, i wanted to find a corner where i could hide and take photo's, some people smiled and laughed at me, supposed it is not a typical tourist spot. There were about 50 birds of prey in the air all looking for scrap, some big, some small, not sure the type.

Fort Cochin

Typical tourist photo. In Fort Cochin, had a mixed start here but determined to enjoy it today, gonna hop on my bicycle and see some art. Too many people trying to extract my cash, feels fake compared to Udupi. The journey down here was hard, thought this place was closer to my last town, so just got a local train rather than express, left my hotel at 4am and got to Fort Cochin at 8pm. The seats on local trains are hard and my skinny bony ass suffered. There are 6 people squashed on a 4 person seat with some people sitting on the luggage racks. It was pure endurance, the SAS would do well to use this in their training, everyone looked to be suffering. I gave up my seat and stood, every so often a blind man or a little girl singing would pass through trying to earn money. It was my intention to get off the train 4 stops b4 but i couldn't leave, i needed an easier town, i was drained. Gonna head back.

Take care.