Monthly Archives: August 2006

namaste kathmandu!

in my previous diatribes i know that I wrote that I was to fly to nepal. but no, as it turned out there were no direct flights from varanasi to nepal until next month. so, i have just arrived in kathmandu [last night late] after an endurance 22 hour train – bus – bus journey trip.

despite the pain of cramped legs on nepali [ie made for short legged eople] buses, lack of sleep, being groped by a dodgy water seller 10 year old boy [through the bus window, the fucker], and wondering if i would arrive alive as the bus made its way in the pitch black and in the rain along perilous mountain ridges, dodging goods trucks driving on the wrong side of the road in the opposite direction, i made it intact. thank god.

having said all of that, i was so happy to cross the indo-nepalise border and escape indian mayhem. the ride from sunauli [the border] to kathmandu consisted only of landscapes of mountains, gushing rivers, waterfalls and valleys.

now in travller paradise [ie good coffee, fresh croissants, fast internet connections, myriad stores selling rastafarian goods], i am trying to figure out how to get to tibet, hopefully departing this saturday.

as change of country was what i needed after crazy india…

end note: my digital camera fucked up on my last day of india so i have no pictures of my trip. many of you are probably relieved, knowing that you wont be subject to my travel slideshow and blurred shots which could be anything. my digicam contained the vital instructions on indian coooking, so know i will have to use my memory, which i dont think will be of benefit to anyone. bloody technology.

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the end of india

im into my 6th and final week here, and to tell you the truth im a bit over it – the constant hassles from the complete morons that are indian men in general, the constant beeping of traffic horns at all hours of the day and night, and people shitting in the street. but only because i know i have 2 more countries waiting for me. if i were going home soon it would be a different story.

mid travel whinges aside, i saw the taj mahal yesterday, which was pretty impressive. its a huge while marble construction and it looks far more impressive in reality than in the pictures. i just took an over night train to a holy pilgrimage town called varanasi [yes another one of these painful o/n journeys] that i thought was  9 hours but actually took 15. apparently thats normal.

i will fly [i have just ruled out overland travel] to kathmandu in the next few days. cant wait!

i hope you are all fine. x

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a royal experience

ajay singh shekawat, my poorly spoken english “guide” in the shekawati region, known for its stunningly painted old mansions [havelis], was a direct descendant of the royal family. he lived in a fort. it was an ancient and slowly decaying one in a small village surrounded by fields, but was still a fort.

as part of my haveli tour of the region ajay took me there to visit his family and see the life of fort dwellers.

an integral part of every fort is a “waiting room” which faces the main gate, where the maharaja would lounge about and wait for visitors. its usually decorated quite lavishly and with photographs of the importance ancestors. in ajays waiting room i noted that there was a pin up of the latest model of tractor amongst the family portraits [wtf?!].

in ajays village we visited some old and notable havelis, and also tombs of his great grandfathers, which are well regarded for their well preserved ceiling artwork. ajay pointed to the tombs and said to me “I’ll be there one day”. I assumed he meant a long way into the future but from his deadpan expression I was not so sure./p>

As we waited for 2 hours for the non-arriving bus back to Nawalgarth [the village I was staying in] he sent for the fort servant to bring a copper pitcher of water to the bus shelter where we were waiting so he could have a cool drink.

*note that I am trying to scam an invite to his wedding in december or jan, I think that would be very interesting

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bollywood

bloody hell i just wrote a long paragraph about bollywood film and then saved it and now its gone.

im leaving this damn internet cafe.

having now lost any inclination to discuss bollywood film, i just want to say that there is a famous actor in bollywood who has six [6!] fingers. i saw the 6 digits with my own eyes on various promotional posters [for a film called “Krish”]around the place.

freak, huh?!

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billion star hotel

“so where is the billion star hotel?” we asked the brown skinned man dressed in a turban, dhoti trousers and tunic, all white, typical of Jaisalmerian desert camel men.

“my friend”, he said, wobbling his head and pointing to the sky, “my hotel is the desert”.  

we finally got the joke.

….

feeling a bit tender in the arse and tired from being out in the desert for 3 days, i am now in jaisalmer town chilling out before I move to my next destination [the rat temple in bikaneer].

the camel safari my friend and i went on took us away from people and into the sand dunes not so far from the pakistan border. with taro, our awesome guide/camel man, we battled the beating sun during the day, and even fiercer rain on the first night. a bit uncomfortable, yes, but that is all part of the camel/rajisthani desert experience.

here are some of the highlights:

– new friends and easy conversation

– the silence of the desert

– being the only ones at the billion star hotel, going to sleep on the top of a sand dune and waking up to see a golden sunrise.

– desert food [on the first day only, the rice and onions lost their rustic charm on the second]

– a guide with attention to detail who tucked us into bed and woke us up with tea and toast the next day

– riding camels, of course!

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overnight transport

SUCKS

i took an overnight train from jodhpur [the blue city]  to jaisalmer [the camel safari city] and i woke up covered in dust and sweat.

i have since showered and had some coffee so i feel halfway decent…but i am sure that I made a promise never to take overnight transport ever again after a painful bus ride from Nazcar to Cusco in Peru a couple of years ago.

damn my poor memory of the pain of that journey, which i think i just relived.

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shantaram

has anyone read this book?

if not, it is a highly recommended read for anyone who has travelled to india or is thinking of doing it.

it was given to me in two halves of the 900 or so pages [think bible size] by a friendly australian couple, whose names I do not know, and i have since been spreading the love of this book to all who will listen to me. 

at this moment I cant remember the author, but he is an australian guy who escaped from a victorian high security prison and fled to bombay where he worked for the bombay mafia.

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