Page 4 of Me in the Monsoons Travel Blog Posts

Asia » India » Uttar Pradesh » Varanasi July 16th 2007

Today, we met a Dutch couple sitting at a little tucked away restaurant overlooking the Ganges. They were staying in the same hostel as we were, and thus, familiar looks provided an introduction to conversation. She suggested we try the stuffed aubergine or the coconut lassi. He spoke of their plans to head north to Nepal the day after next. “How do you like Varanasi?” Though it had been unbearably hot, I expected to see a twinkle in their eyes, a twitch of excitement. Instead, both shrugged a little. “Yeah, it's... not quite what we expected.” We asked them to explain. “Well, we thought it would be more mystical, more holy.” I was, once again, slightly flabbergasted. Varanasi? Not holy? Not mystical? Gordon and I had come across some of the craziest things either of us ... read more

Asia » India » Uttar Pradesh » Varanasi July 15th 2007

This morning, bright and early out of bed, thoughts of breakfast running through my head, barely dressed, I packed away, getting ready for the day. Out of the darkness came a light, through the door in my eyes shun bright, who rides here on the sunshine's rays, is it Ganesh to bring me praise? Alas, my eyes look further down, there sits a monkey, and what a frown! he pushes further open the door, I gasp for air, he'll come in for sure! The bolt I lock last minute quick, but the monkey pulls another trick: around he jumps to the other door, laughing screetching pushing more! Alas, another door I lock, and fall onto the bed in my frock, the first adventure of the day, and many more to come my way. x ... read more

Asia » India » Uttar Pradesh » Agra July 12th 2007

(Apologies... First one was double!) As we emmerge out of the busy railway station, we are confronted with a sea of offers to buy, ride, see, eat, you name it, we were offered it. In his good Australian manners, Gordon began politely refusing the rounds, his left hand beside him stretched out to signal decline. “No thanks mate, no thanks mate.” As we snaked our way along, one of the old men turned to me and said, “Why your friend call me Ismail?”, referring to a name common in the Muslim culture. I looked at him curiously, at first not understanding. Then, listening to Gordon's chorus ahead of me, I realised what the old man was referring to; he, along with surely quite a few other Hindu men, were under the impression that the slurred phrase ... read more

Asia » India » Uttar Pradesh » Agra July 12th 2007

The flat plains draw past slowly, then fast, slowly again. I watch the slow awakening of the day outside in the already sweltering heat. People crouched in squat position, pulling stray grass out of their little plots of land. The rivers are full, but the paddocks look barren and dry. A young boy sits in the shade of a beautiful big tree, waving his dangling legs around as he peers over the earthen recess on which he sits. A little further are his herd of goats, fleetingly picking at the grass and moving on faster than the boy can dream. One minute, Eucalypts, planted here for some reason or another but now cursed for their unquenching greed for the precious water of the villages. The next minute, fields of palm trees, some standing taller and prouder ... read more

Asia » India » National Capital Territory » New Delhi July 10th 2007

I sit in the quiet solitude of a room; outside, the Tibetan freedom flags wave as furiously as the fan twirling above me. It is the first moment I have found in which to simple find calm and reflect. India... A single word to describe a place full of so much contrast and clash, love and fear, I am sure. It is not even a lengthy word - merely five letter of which one is doubled up leaving only I N D and A. Perhaps one could piece together the extreme diversities between North and South, East and West, with each one letter. But then one would nevertheless be left with all those places in between North and South, East and West, unaccounted for. Where to place Delhi, for example, the political hub and capital of ... read more

Asia » India » National Capital Territory » New Delhi July 9th 2007

Last night, I arrived in India, though India has not yet arrived in me. ------------------------------ As I boarded the plane in Singapore for the final leg, it dawned on me that I knew absolutely nothing about India. Sure, I had heard and read that it was one of the most populous countries in the world, one of the fastest growing aside China, and the biggest democracy in the world with Hindis, Muslims and Buddhists all under the one roof. I knew the facts, the figures, the broad political situation, but beyond that, I realised I was clueless. I sat staring out at the Christmas tree array of lights scattered on the ground in what was shaping up to be Delhi. Even minutes before hitting the tarmac, I was still struggling to make out whether the mayhem ... read more

North America » United States » California » Los Angeles February 1st 2007

On my travels towards the smoggy skies over LA, California, I came across this interesting little tale... In light of the so-important climate and environmental issues at hand, I thought it would provide seat-gripping reading! Haha. Anyway, let me know what you think... True or false? IN the late '80s to mid '90s, Californians emitted some of the worst air pollution in the world. Highways were clogged with fuel-guzzling cars producing huge amounts of CO2 and other greenhouse gases. Pressure mounted on the Government to do something - not only because of environmental damage, but also due to the sharply rising health disturbances Californians were suffering. As through a call of faith, General Motors announced the breakthrough results of their design team's latest project - the electric vehicle. Not only was GM able to produce a ... read more

Asia » Cambodia » South » Phnom Penh June 22nd 2006

What a shit of a day I have had, I think, as the unusually rude parking attendant rushes me along, wanting my bike out at this very instance. Don't push it, buddy, my patience is wearing rather thin today. I had been to visit an organistion, whose director had proceeded to offer our centre coordinator, Nika, a job, whilst his assistant distracted me at the other end of the room. The cheek! The rudeness! I mean, I was at the stage where I was strongly starting to believe that the world of development had more corporate, capitalist pigs in it than the one I had come from. One has to excuse me for having had the naive idea that people actually chose development, first and foremost, because they were GOOD people who wanted to help others, ... read more

Asia » Cambodia » South » Phnom Penh June 20th 2006

As I am peddling down the waterlogged, potholed back streets leading from my house to the Happy School, I must have an approachable look on my face, as a young Khmer man speeds up to putt beside me, exclaiming in laughing giggles that Water! Yes, water. After a quiet weekend away at an expat residence in Kampot, the ocean-inlet town to the South of Phnom Penh, I am back on my loaned mountain bike, making my way to a little coffee shop I had spotted last week. The motodop’s comments sum up the activity that happened in the city whilst I was away - it rained, actually it flooded into my little rooftop apartment, thankfully leaving a dry puddle around the powerboard I had left laying thoughtlessly on the tiles. My potted flowers had started to ... read more

Asia » Cambodia » South » Phnom Penh June 20th 2006

The house at which we were guests for the weekend was located smack-bang on the river running past the township of Kampot, one of the few that reached all the way to the water’s edge, complete with timber wharf and Khmer-style riverfront hut. Though we had been in for a quick swim on the previous days, today was the first time that we found ourselves free of Germans and Americans, housekeepers and guards. It was just the three Happy School ladies, hanging out for a laugh after the numerous Asahi cans we had ridden of their contents. Zeni dived in first, I followed suit, and Nika decided it would be safer to enter the water by way of ladder. She had made a deal with me to swim to the other side of the river and ... read more

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