Far too many overnight bus trips, train trips, camel trips, rickshaw trips....
We ended up being stuck - voluntarily! - on Paloem Beach for the better part of a week after the New Year. But it was great to sleep in, wander around barefoot, eat out at candlelit restaurants on the sand and do not that much else. All without being hassled - a miracle!! But because of our laziness we had a really busy final week in India, zooming about all over the place.
We had an amusing overnight bus trip from Goa back up North to Mumbai. It was entertaining peeing in a bottle in a cramped up "double" sleeper compartment, especially with all of the potholes! But we survived the ordeal. Needless to say, I had much more trouble than Matt. Oh the joys of being a woman.
We had our first run of bad luck (or lack of brain cells) with trains in Mumbai. We booked tickets to Jaipur, the capital city in Rajasthan, but we went to the wrong train station. The rickshaw driver drove extra slow because he knew we were running late - perhaps he thought we'd need to use
him to get back to town after missing the train? So we ended up wandering around in the middle of the night, stubbornly refusing all of the overpriced taxi trip offers, trying to find a place to crash for the night. Both exhausted from all of the travelling, we fell asleep instantly. I woke up at some ungodly hour (about 4am) sitting outside our room, locked out, not knowing where the hell I was. Someone at the hotel asked what I was doing, to which I replied "I don't know." I'd tried knocking on the door but Matt was out to it so I think I just sat down in the corridor and fell asleep! Luckily it wasn't a dodgy guesthouse!
We had all sorts of fun doing tests on people badgering us for things - when we enquired in the cost of a porter at the train station they stated 60 rupees, when in fact a sign inside clearly read 24.
Overnight train to Jaipur (18 hours)....half a day in Jaipur....overnight train to Jodhpur (about 8 hours)....one night in Jodhpur....then made a mistake with our train to Jaisalmer and accicentally hopped on the wrong train (heading for
Ahmedabad, in the opposite direction!) but we were only told after 1 1/2 hrs....everyone enjoyed taking the piss. Took a local train back to Jodhpur and then hopped on a bus to Jaisalmer. So many hours on buses and trains!
Flying to Bangkok on the 17th, where i'm planning on spending 2 weeks. I'm not sure where yet, but at this stage i'm thinking of down south I Krabi...where "The Beach" was filmed and in a good rock climbing area.
Missing more planes, trains and buses....
After sleeping in to a rather luxurious hour, we had to wait a few hours before picking up the next train to Agra. Our trip there was rushed and entailed only a visit to the Taj Mahal in all its glory. It looked much grayer than last time I was there - due to the cloudy skies I think. Matt had a flight to catch that night, so typically the Indian train systems decided to throw in a punch and make our train leave 45mins late. We could have blamed that as the reason for him missing his plane (or us sleeping in, or leaving the Taj visit to the very last day...but
we prefer to blame the trains!!) Our train slowly pulled into the Old Delhi station at 11.20 and we sprinted out of the station (making lots of grumpy faces as we bumped into everyone) and caught a rickshaw to New Delhi to pick up his bags - a 20min drive!
and then go to the airport (25mins)
He arrived at the airport 15mins before departure and ended up crawling on the ground to get past crowds of people at the airport, sprinting through customs, missing his flight to Bangkok, consequently missing his connecting flights to Zurich and London, and a pre-booked bus journey to Birmingham and onto Kitiminster...
Our last few days in India were sadly very rough! But we mananged to get onto a waitlisted flight to Bangkok, where Matt picked up another waitlisted flight onto Europe, and I jumped on a plane heading to Krabi.
Fun in the sun...back to Thailand
Coming back to Thailand just reminded me how ultra-touristy everything is. It's easy to stay by the beach and never venture more than a few hundred metres from your bedroom, which is what many tourists do. I've been guilty of it myself in the past!
But you can do that in any country. The scenery is simply stunning, but it makes me dream of Uoleva Island in Tonga, an Island paradise that has really been stuck in time. A glimpse into the past of the andamman Islands perhaps? Nevertheless, there's plenty to do, the sun is always shining and the local cuisine is delicious. The street food is fantastic - and cheap - and theres no shortage of crispy fresh watermelon and pineapple to cool down with on a hot day.
I spent my first few days on Tonsai beach, known best for it's fabulous world-class rock climbing, which was, not suprisingly, fantastic. However, apart from making my way up the vertical cliff faces or sitting in a beach bar listening to Bob Marley, there really wasn't all that much to keep me occupied. And my fellow Outdoor freaks (especially you Soph & Nina!) weren't around, so I lacked rope...) So I headed back to Ao Nang in search of more possibilities.
I met a friendly Australian girl who I ended up sharing a room with for 4 days (which I decided on literally 30 seconds after first speaking to her - even
before we knew eachothers names). She didn't turn out to be a psycho, nor did she steal any of my beloved juice cartons. So we're still in touch! We hired scooters together one day and did 170km, discovering isolated beaches, waterfalls deep in the jungle, elephants, small fishing villages and other interesting things.
It seemed weird staying somewhere where there was a star bucks, burger king, mc donalds (open 24 hours) and every second shop was an internet cafe, a massage parlour or a tourist booking agency. Yet the alternative is somewhere so isolated that there's nothing to do! When I turn up at "my" tropical fruit stand they no longer ask what I want, but start making a fresh pineapple shake immediately!
Sadly I dont have many pictures because my camera has finally konked out. It has served me well!!!
Meanwhile Matt was
going to the pub every night in England and stuffing himself silly with Western food, eager to put back on weight.
Are we cursed or what?!
Everything that could possibly have gone wrong seems to have gone wrong, every single day! Matt was on a waitlist for his flight back to Bangkok & didn't
Tup Kaek Beach
Shocked to discover my very own deserted beach!
know whether he'd make the flight to meet me in time until 10mins before departure. Then, in Bangkok, after waiting what seemed like forever in yet another airport que we were told that we'd be deported on arrival if we didn't have a letter saying we'd be allegable for a Vietnam visa...so we had to change our flights and head back into the stinky city for 2 nights. we ended up paying some ridiculous price to get a visa processed quickly.
Observed some interesting
things on Ko San Road in Bangkok....plenty of he-she women. I was even offered "special treatment to get 25 orgasms in a row" Ko San road is WEIRD! Previously a hippy hangout, its somewhat chilled out during the day lined with market stalls, but in the evenings and through the night it really comes alive. There are mini bars lined up all down the street and bars and restaurants have skimpily-clad pretty thai women standing outside trying to lure customers in! There is no shortage of Western men, funny that!
During my first few hours in Vietnam I had 4 fights with locals - all trying to swindle more money out of us!
We had no idea we'd be celebrating
the Chinese New Year while in Vietnam. There was a huge fireworks display at midnight, a carnival area and a street parade. I enjoyed a few too many local cocktails and made an embarassment of myself trying to provide a running commentary of Hoi An on video!
Back to Aoteroa...
I arrived back in Nelson a week ago and am loving the gorgeous sunshine, my old mountain biking tracks and the crispy clean air. I can't believe how fresh the air is here, it's fantastic! It's very novel going to the supermarket, or to any shop for that matter, and just paying what comes up on the till instead of spending 10minutes arguing over what the fair price is! Bring on some NZ adventures....
Till the next overseas adventure...Korea in April!
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