lately it’s so quiet

upon returning I was so proud to have maintained my blog throughout my trip, writing every few days and adding photos as I went…now I’ve been back 3 weeks and I haven’t made a single post!
I must explain that my internet has not been working, and it seems I had a better internet connection in India (wherever I was) than my wireless here which just won’t work! I am one phone call short of murdering someone at TPG but until then, my photos are still way behind!

my first 10 days or so back were pretty hard…I felt bored and totally restless…I had nothing to do and everyone has a job! this is a part of coming back after travelling (even such a short trip) and I kind of expected it..also I think I’ve never had so little to do! I slept alot and overcame being bored by getting into action and back to work and of course catching up with friends and getting back into the swing of things!

I’ve had a busy 2 weeks and have lots to write about and many photos to load, but of course, that will have to wait until this connection is sorted! for now, I am attempting to upload the rest of my India photos so that is done and I can start putting up some Melbourne photos for really, summer has just begun here and I’m so happy to be here to experience it all! between Australia day, the Australian open, summer festivals and gigs and 40 degree days it’s just the start of an exciting Melbourne summer…late as usual!

I’m also excited to announce that I will be doing some photography for the St Kilda Live & Local festival this year (which starts this weekend) so i’ll be busy with that and hopefully will get some great shots up here too! this week I also start a bit of a health kick…I’m starting a one week hot yoga intensive…should be good…and pretty intense too I’m sure!

so here’s to starting 2011 on the right foot, with many exciting projects and a positive outlook for the year ahead! now it’s about making it all happen…

Palolem to Mumbai…and everything in between…this is the end

for those who didn’t know, Palolem is actually in Goa, in the south…and Goa is a tiny state (one of the smallest I’m sure) but in true Indian fashion (the inefficient way) it took us 5 buses to make the massive 90km trip down the coast…nuts…but normal…for here anyway…

so Palolem was quite nice really, the beach was beautiful (much better than any in north Goa, but didn’t really compare to Gokarna – best so far) and we got ourselves a cheap crappy little bungalow on the beach…after the long ride down all I wanted was a swim, so I was insanely happy to be at the beach and swimming, and even met a Dutch couple in the sea (you really meet travellers everywhere) whom we later discovered had seen me rescuing a puppy a couple of weeks before at Gokarna train station – how random…and we spent 2 days hanging out together, lying in the sun, swimming and eating – tough life we have here…really, don’t know how it’s done, but someone has to do it!!

now after 5 weeks of never thinking of the lack of sanitation in crappy restaurants, knowing and ignoring the reality of the situation and being not too badly off for it…i made the huge mistake of going into the kitchen…

so at first it was pretty cool…the kitchen..is on the beach…the floor is sand! but the longer I spent in there (and i took photos…they’ll be up eventually) the more red flags were going off everywhere (i study hospitality management and after months of hygiene and workplace health and safety, not to mention actually working in hospitality and having a pretty high standard of cleanliness…it was awwwwwwwwwwful) i mean, the food was good. but jesus these guys have never heard of cross contamination.
without going too much into details ill briefly mention raw fish being prepared next to a big bowl of raw chicken, some enchiladas being prepared ON THE BENCH…then another guy walks in and slaps a raw fish onto that same bench…

anyway…it was bad. real bad. (the food was actually quite good, but how do you get those images out of your head?) and when you’re getting banana lassis that taste like onion, or fruit salad that’s just not right…you know it’s not cool.

if anyone’s been to India or even anywhere in Asia you may know that almost every menu (and they’re huge) have at least one unidentifiable item on them…and what’s more fun than trying the random dessert or main that you’ve never heard of? well, probably a few things, but really it keeps me amused at least to force others to try nasty things such as avocado shakes (Chris took that one for the team)…we all tried…i was super curious as to what an avocado shake would taste like…being a huge fan of avos myself – usually in a sandwich or with eggs though…in case you’re wondering it’s a mix between avocado (no surprise there) and…vanilla. yep. delish? not quite.

Emma got let off pretty easy with a dessert named Bebice…what is this you may ask? it was described to me as a jelly-pie… speciality of Goa…well in that case! it was ok…Emma actually preferred the ‘Hello to the Queen’ (this is a firm staple on Indian menus…not quite sure why…it’s biscuits, banana, and ice cream..and in this case, cornflakes…original)

what nasty thing did i try? well another Goan speciality…Coconut Fenny. the name alone suggests some awful thoughts i know…it’s a locally brewed spirit that smells quite like pure ethanol. not sure where the coconut comes in (there’s a cashew one too) but it appears you can ferment and brew it all here…it was nasty…

needless to say we didn’t have a great food experience in Palolem, and today (5 days later) my stomach is still not quite right…i must add that I cannot wait to be through with stomach and intestine troubles…the daily diarrhea diaries are well and truly over as of tomorrow when I leave Mumbai for Kuala Lumpur on the long trip home.

so dirty food aside, Palolem was cool, and after 2 days we took our 5 buses back and made it in time to shower, change and head straight to the Prem Joshua concert at hilltop (oh, and celebrate my birthday). the gig was awesome and out of this world. these guys are nuts (i can’t really remember where they’re all from but he’s German and one guy is Japanese) but really amazing mix of music and so much fun.

i may have mentioned our American friend Chris before..we met him (and quite a few others) in Varkala and ran into him a few weeks later in Anjuna…we all went down to Palolem together and over dinner one night we discussed the differences for single guys and girls travelling alone.

now the perks and perils of women travelling alone have been talked about for hours (at our tables anyway) the one perk being that women don’t queue – hello straight to the front of a massive arse line…love it…
but little did i know that men don’t have it so easy either…or at least, that Chris has had some rather interesting, confronting and let’s not forget down right hilarious encounters over his 3 months in India alone…
it seems that Chris is getting more sexual attention off the guys than women here…and in one awesome line I absolutely must quote…he was walking down the road in Sikkim one random day when a guy comes up and say “I WANT TO FUCK YOU”.
talk about a welcome. now i won’t write about the rest of them, needless to say he’s been put in some awkward positions (no pun intended there Chris) with guys coming onto him a few times…must be sending some signals out there mate…

the night of my birthday i was to travel to Mumbai by train, however I tried booking at was wait listed – meaning it’s full…taking a chance (and not really having much choice as it’s full for another 2 weeks apparently) I bought a “space” at the station and got onto the women’s carriage (no reservation) finding myself a hard wooden bed.
as a no reservation carriage, it kind of means you have to share the tiny space you have with anyone…so with some potato cakes for dinner i attempted to sleep, sharing my tiny, super hard bed with another person.

she apparently took a liking to me and though she spoke no english, woke me up to have a chat (lovely) it appears i was quite a hit on the ladies carriage, and everyone wanted to know more about my husband and job (you do get sick of these questions pretty quickly…it’s been 6 weeks now…) but i really had such a great time chatting away with translators and with about 3 terrible hours of attempted sleep, i was woken early by the chai walla yelling…yea now there’s chai everywhere at 3.30am, but when you want it, there’s none to be found…with about 6 invitations in Mumbai (i had to tell them i was flying that same day – not quite true) i was off and navigating my way around Victoria Terminus to find a taxi to my guesthouse.

after being told it was closed, under renovation, and full, i walked up 4 flights of stairs to my guest house (it was 6.30am) woke up the guy, and left my bag there to go for a walk in search of food.

Mumbai is so fresh and cool in the morning, a lovely change from Goa, and the sunrise over the harbour in front of the Taj hotel was stunning. it was difficult to find a place open so early for breakfast (8am? seriously? people are up, don’t they eat??) but eventually ended up having milk coffee and a disgusting omelette sandwich (seriously, how do you mess that up? it was foul) with 3 new zealanders who’d just arrived here 2 days ago.

the people on the street are so friendly, greeting you as you walk past with a cheery Good Morning, hash? what a good morning indeed if you’re starting with hash..not subtle (that’s really not a strong point here as we’ve established) but still far less suss than those muttering “pashmina shawl” so dodgy you’d think it was a drug…

you really can buy everything here, and indeed they sell it all on the street with welcoming sales pitches such as “Yes, watch?”…enticing hey…

but more seriously after only a day (and a deliriously exhausted one at that) here in Mumbai i really really like it. it’s got a vibrant feel to it, the European gothic architecture is stunning, and the wide boulevards in this area make me think i could be in Europe…or Vietnam…either way it doesn’t feel so Indian…then you see the clearly defined (by the smell) urinal street and you remember that yes, you are in fact in a country where people will shit where they eat.

i managed to run the last of my errands here, and treated myself to an amazing massage for my birthday (after torturing myself last night) due to being still sick i’ve barely eaten in the city renowned for the best food – this is a crime in my books…but after one last night in yet another crappy guest house (my single room, is the size of a single bed..it’s awesome) I’m off tomorrow morning to Kuala Lumpur (where i spend a night, then another in the plane) and i’ll finally reach Melbourne 2 days later!

i can’t believe this trip is already over, i have mixed feelings about going home as it feels like it’s just flown by…at the same time i can’t wait for that bacon & avo sandwich….red meat…mmmm laaaaaaaaamb! and being back in my beloved Melbourne, in my bed, around my friends…

India I’ll definitely be back soon!

the remainder of my photos will definitely be loaded online when I’m back, it’s hard to describe the insanely slow rate these computers and “super fast adsl internet” work at, and why it takes hours to load not many photos…i can’t understand it myself…I have managed to update photos to Gokarna…so the start of the beach photos are there…you’ll just have to wait for the rest of them.

goan crazy

well i’ve managed to find a decent computer and am currently in the (extremely slow) process of loading photos again…may be updated today, we’ll see how we go…

my plans have changed again..i’ve decided to head south to Palolem with Emma and an american we met in Varkala (and ran into here again) for 2 days then back here for my birthday (because really, i’d rather be on a beach…who wouldn’t) and then meander through Maharashtra up to Mumbai for 2 days before going hooooooooome (via KL) that way i can also make up for missing new years and catch Prem Joshua play live at hilltop..should be cool.

i can’t quite wrap my head around the fact ill be home soon…it’s pretty awesome (I’m hanging for a damn good coffee…) and to see friends and be in my bed, but i feel like i’ve missed out on so much travel time being sick (damn being sick!) though what a place to be “stuck” really…i can’t complain..ill be back i know for sure…and probably in not that long, as i’m itching to travel more, and to see places i haven’t been or had to reroute (bloody Tamil Nadu..teasing me with your western ghats – Ooty)

i shall return! guess that’s all i can say for now.

im getting too comfortable driving here…my blue beast is serving me well, and i’m being tested daily (in patience, arm strength and ability) today we ran out of petrol (the little gage doesn’t work ok) so i was going round a bend and the car just stopped…nice…luckily i was able to pull over right away (there was just enough space) and just happened to be in front of a shop that sold petrol…by the litre…in plastic bottles (as they do here) thank god!

there was also a mechanic across the road (what amazing placement for a breakdown!) though he was in town for the day…so no help to us…

after purchasing a few litres of petrol, pouring them in and waiting, the car still wouldn’t start…i thought the battery had gone, but apparently the motor was so dry it just wouldn’t start…so in a moment of Indian genius, 2 guys (who appeared out of nowhere) decided to help me by pushing the car (with emma – it was hilarious, wish i could have grabbed a photo of that) up a mini hill and back down so i could start the car…it worked!

if everything i’ve dealt with on the roads here is not a testament to the fact that i deserve my license, i don’t know what is….
i’m driving a car from the 50s with NO power steering (obviously) on the crazy Indian roads (they’re crap) with crazy Indians on the road (they’re crazy – they overtake someone who’s overtaking someone else on a blind bend…all the time…they leave their high beam on….) there are cows EVERYWHERE…what else can i say? ah yes, they stay in the middle of the road, lingering to get a better look at the car…there are no words to explain what it truly is to drive here…its nuts…i’m nuts…but in one piece and tougher for it….god knows how i’ll adapt to driving in Australia…won’t exactly go down well if i’m beeping away constantly…yelling at people and swerving around the cows…oh yea..there are no cows on the road…you’d think it’d be much easier there..we’ll see…either way i should be handed my full license and a certificate of bravery upon arrival in Australia…oh and perhaps a fine for driving without a license…nah ill just pass a few hundred rupees over…that’d do it.

lets hope for good karma and pray that these photos load up…not sure how long i can sit here for but perhaps update at least to Gokarna…if not to Goa…

irony at it’s best

for the very loud person i am, i found myself at home on NYE with a throat infection…what an unexpected way to end the year…such an unexpected year it was…seems fitting really in some ways…

obviously it would have been nicer without the crazy infection and antibiotics…but at least i wasn’t glued to the toilets right…

i think that the crazy pace of the start of the trip may have had something to do with it too…21 places in 11 days…that’s alot of moving around, and alot of crowded transport (which is where you pick up the viral infections…lovely…)

so after a super quiet new years and a complete lack of partying (so sad) i slept more than i’ve slept in years (actually since last time i was in india and sick…im seeing a pattern…) and im almost well enough to get back on the road..thank god!

the insane slow-pace of this computer is preventing me from loading the photos i’d like to load…hopefully tomorrow i’ll have a chance to get that done before heading off..

i’ve reassessed my itinerary again, and it seems that Tamil Nadu will just have to wait till my next trip…don’t reckon im up for a 24 hour train ride just yet..so i’m heading north, meandering up the konkan coast in maharashtra…through Pune (where ill probably celebrate my birthday) and up to Mumbai for a day or 2 before flying home (via KL)…yea ill be home in just over a week now…that is absolutely nuts…