Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Amritsar

With all of 5 minutes to spare we made it to platform 1, as far as a platform could possibly be from the booking desk, surely i cannot be scorned for feeling even slightly mislead at the time. We had evidently made it around to the backside of the train station en route to Amritsa. So be it, I enjoy a little stressy run about.

THE GOLDEN TEMPLE rules! You thought you saw Sikhs in Delhi well move over Gurdwaras there are enough Kirpans in this town to raise a second, more silver in persuasion, temple in the remaining holy pond area.. Right off the train we were hijacked by a super free bus service that dropped us right to the gates of the beautiful pilgrimage, Golden Temple. We walked into the tourist dorm and were welcomed with open arms and bone crushing embrace by the jovial Santa Clause of all Sikhs who spoke 2 words of English. "Good BOY" He put us in beds and said a great many things in Punjabi and hung about untill we left for the afternoon.

We took a share van out to the famous Amritsar: Pakisthan/India border closing ceremony. Performed every single night, opposing sides try to drown each other out with pop music, ridiculous vocal challenges, commentators and crowd chants and a very physically impressive military dance performed with hat mounted fans and choreographed predominantly of high kicks. Really high kicks.


When we got back to the temple we had another one of those 'cosmic Indian encounters' with a friend from Wellington Alice Mac and here Bo Dan. Goldie marched into their dorm thinking it was ours and muttered profanities at the "Fucker" who'd gone and stolen our beds. Alice if we'd only known it was you we would never have assumed. We tried that Choc Walnut cake in DS you raved about by the way and that shit is GOOD!


We ate dinner with the other pilgrims. It was hearty and delicious and particularly free. The enormous kitchen is open to volunteers at all times and as i understand it most tourist generally pay their food dues in doing duties but i do think most all people start in the dish washing arena WHICH is MENTAL. Indian babes Frisbeeing stainless steel plates into each others heads by accident all the time, some how unavoidable, wildly loud crashes of angry spiritually affirmed volunteers hosing and chucking, dipping and dunking, splishin and a splashin..
I didn't want to join in on that soapy mess.. I feel really bad about it actually.


Breakfast. Indian food. Woah!
One day Amritsar gone the next. We'd gotten off to a good running mountain start. Ha running mountains. Sure.

We took a government bus up Punjab State to Pathankot. In Punjab they drive insane rickshaws converted into sort of squat batmobiles that have wings coming off back and sides for extra passengers to stand on in peak traffic and bird beak nose cones for aerodynamics i guess.

We passed a few of those.

How many Indians can you fit in a Punjabi Auto Rickshaw? Like 35 no shit..

From Pathankot we started the windy hills trail into the mountains. Daram Shala and the Himalayan Mountains. I had tied our bags and the bags of the 6 other tourists on board to the roof. It was a hack job at best and this bus was absolutely off the rails. A young lady had an epileptic seizure due to the strange flashing colored lights in the ceiling and her baby was entrusted to Goldie for the remainder of the journey.

On the bus we met a lovely French couple, Gregory and Lea ( Mon Ange )
We also laid judgements upon an awful American couple that were talking loudly about producing some kind of India wank stop motion movie with lego. It may have actually been their conversation that indirectly caused the seizure.




Delhi Agra

In Delhi Goldie and I stayed with amazing Varun, the brother of my co worker, Rohit, in Wellington. We blasted around 10 world heritage sites in 4 days and i don't mean that we bombed any place we just jogged around form palace to palace posing for photos. The pictures are great..

Varun insisted we hire a taxi to Agra, for a Taj Mahal day trip, one with suspension and air con. One with a meter and a spare tyre. We drove for an hour out of Delhi and into Upi. The tyre burst and was replaced. While we ate parathas at a roadside chow house the driver went off in search of a tyre repair garage and had his burst tyre melted back into 'road-worthy-ness' 3hours later we stood barefoot and punch drunk confronting the worlds most beautiful tomb. No one is technically allowed the privilege of "clicking pics" of the two royal caskets laid side by side in the central hall, the central hall however was alight with the flashes of cameras and smart phones, pic clicking prevailed. Army officials with uzis and hand guns made a half pint effort at holding off hungry lenses by whistling.

It was amazing. Really, the Taj is a spectacle of mammoth mammothian proportions and there was more. We rode on to see the glam over the river Agra Fort from which we could spy the Taj again perched on it's white marble plinth and cornered by awesome Muslim Masjids. The Masjids of the Agra Killa were as beautiful and impressive as the Tajs' and everyone love a massive wall but Agra Killa was a mere 20 minute pace through with good measure of 'Clicked Picks'.



Faithi Puri Sikiri which as of right this moment I have no clue how to spell, was spellbinding. Oh dear. At gorgeous plump sunset we were injected into the deepest tuna pinking maroon sand stone garden. The thickest and most arduously intense of stone jalis, carved stone archways and astrological behemoths. The stars were fat in the blue sky and the horizon sat blind and orange. Muslim architecture in truly incredible. Incredibly loveable.




The spare tyre burst on the motorway maybe only an hour from Agra. We were positively cursed.

After a week in Delhi we were metro pros and were tossing around rupees like we owned the cycle rickshaws. We had to leave. We booked a beautiful FAST train to Amritsar.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Jaipur Delhi

Jaipur is a small big city and the hype it gets makes it all together a dissapointment for me. We stayed in a ruddy backpackers some 5 K from the walled city sandwiched between the private bus stands and railway station. We enjoied smashing clay pots on the ground at lassi shops. Tony's guest house, be it a ruddy one, was choclate cake packed with character, charm, charms and boyish potential. The owner, Tony, is an 80 year old BOY. When we visit jaipur again we have squaters rights and must meet his Guru.
After the jaipur there was sweet dusty paralizing Delhi. We stayed one night in the construced tourist 'you're still in dirty spiritual India' sanctum of the main Bazzar for one night. We met some charming English folk, namely Jay and whatshisname and an exellent if sleasy Goan waiter named Alex who expetly proceeded to get us horribly drunk. The hangover made it well past mid day and skewed our haggling powers notably. Goldie payed 1000Rupees for some henna hands and I let some goofy rikshaw baba toat us to an expensive handi craft store where we went mad and never reached our final agreed toat destination of Preet Vihar on the opposite side of the river in East Delhi. East Delhi is where my good friend Rohit's brother currently presides upon and resides within the Malhan family appartment. We reached the appartment in the gated community 'Gagan Vihar' at approximately 11pm dusty and embarrassed. Delhi was from this point on meraculous.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Jodhpur - Jaisalmer - DESERT


Jodhpur. We arrived on camels from beautiful holy Pushkar. Jodhpur was incredible. We stayed at Discovery guesthouse in a room with a Fort View surrounded by great blue houses and bizarre electrical work. There were two power cuts daily.

We visited the Merengarth Fort and did the amazing audio tour and trawled the markets for trinkets for Bella, it took forever to buy what ever, i ended up with a pink turban and an antique sikkim dagger. I got up early in the morning to take photos of the sun rise and met an excellent pakora walla who made me a mix batch of potato, onion and paneer pakoras slathered in green jalapeno chuttney scrunched up in some old news paper. I was his first customer and i was very proud. That day for lunch we went to the EGG MAN. A man famous for dealing only in eggs and egg omelette we found that he sneakily runs a small supermarket and a travel agencey out of the same hole in the wall. Hardly only an eggs income but the figures were still impressive, he told us he sells between 2 and 4 thousand egg omelette per deim and has owned his store since the 70s. We moved onto Jaisalmer after some excellent Kashmiri curries at the hotel restaurant which was situated 5 feet from our hotel room. We also shared a300 rupee garlic naan at a fancy rooftop bar and drank some fancy King Fisher out of beer glasses in Jodhpur. The bar was stunning, overlooking the city and lit up romantically in the shadow of the looming Merengarth, we nibbled our naan bread and complementary pappad.

Jaisalmer was ages away and we reached it by bus with a weirdo guide named Mr Love (Prem) early in the morning and crashed out in a hotel room at Padam Niwas Guest House. All the while prem who naturally turned out to be the hotel manager sat in the parking lot revving his 500CC Enfield and shouting out for us to come for a ride with his crazy ass. Goldie went once or twice over the few days we were in Jaisalmer.

The main point of Jaisalmer was to see sand dunes and do awesome stunts off them. This was semi easily done. For 3000 rupee we hired a camel team for a night and two days. Quite expensive, to take us into the great Tsar Dessert surrounding Jaisalmer and make camp in the dunes under the stars. Our camel guides were terribly young but so good. We shared three camels one for gold ( Lucky) one for me ( camel Robert) and one for the two young guides( I forget the name of the last camel. awful) . The dunes are so amazing and massive and ridiculous and being on camels again was very good. Ali at Fort View hotel, who sold us on a second camel safari is a real bro and we took him out for dinner the night after our trek to thank him. We ate at a famous unlimited talhi house just outside the old city walls, his choice, it was cheap, it was boss.

We explored the Golden city's old sand stone buildings and ate momos on a gorgeous rooftop overlooking all of Jaisalmer from the very top of the Fort walls. It was an insane place to be, the entrance was small and bare except for a sign that said something like 'tibet momos cooking', it was difficult to find any service as the way to the rooftop was speckled with small apartments where all the staff had retired for rest as it was dead quiet at 4pm, but we made it up the dark steps to the beautiful rooftop and patted our own backs as the Goan waiter, who looked Tibetan, wrote down something like 'momos, momos, more momos'. The food was good, the view was breathtaking.

Jaisalmer is a beautiful, small city. The buildings are all made out of the same yellow sandstone from out in the desert which we went to see still being excavated in masses of uneven bricks. There is mental stone work and carving everywhere just on ordinary houses that have become ancient. Stone jalis both here and in Jodhpur at the Merengath Fort were mind blowing but here in Jaisalmer they're just everywhere in the Fort, which is by the way still totally occupied and alive, and outside the Fort in the old walled city.

Jaisalmer Fort + Goldie Foot


and then we caught the crazy Jaipur train.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Jaipur

We caught a train second class from Jaisalmer to Jaipur. half an hour into the 12-14 hour ride a friendly man started giving out snacks to the whole booth. He was a bit drunk and was showing me the bottle of white rum he had hidden under his bag. Apparently he was trying to give it to me. He stood up next to the carridge door and was watching the countryside flying by for a while and then we saw him fall out. There was panic through the carriage for all of 5 minutes. Someone pulled the emergency stop chain and all the Indians piled out of the carriage to see the body. It was decided that the man had committed suicide and we found out after that he knew no one on the train. the train started up again about 2 minutes after it stopped. Not important and the body was left on the tracks. At the next station someone gave his belongings to the station master. The train was packed thick with Indians. The Isles were lined with sleeping men and the booths and the loft. We had a seat between us really and my arse was on fire. Sitting on those trains really takes it out of me after only about 6 hours. Every kind of Indian transport really sucks so it's not worth paying more for private services or AC or first class, not that we could afford it. The internet cafe i'm in has an automatic generator. Amazing. i'm in the dark typing.

Jaipur was hot and crowded and we had an awesome sweet lassi in a terracotta cup at a local fry shop. We stayed at a beautiful garden rooftop hotel called TONY'S and we met TONY the owner who was really odd and prolific and awesome. He had started the guest house only a year before and it was crazy packed with decorations and trees and cacti. I made him a card with a tree on it and he freaked out:) Jaipur was an impressive walled city with sprawling markets but overall it was just loud, crowded and dirty and we moved on after 2 days.

One really cool walla in Jaipur had an old box camera from the 1800s that was his grandfathers apparently and stood on the street taking 'old photos' of tourists. I'll put up a photo of our old photos.

We did see the Jaipur Jantar Mantar which was mind warping and impressive. Massive stone astrological dials and stair cases and tall poles wrapped with barbed wire that some magical how measure the altitude of heavenly bodies and track the zodiac all built in the 1700s. Crazy stuff.

There were many more things to see in Jaipur. We spied Tiger Fort up on the hill behind the old city and saw the out side of the amazing palace of the winds but we had to move on.

Goldie Michael at Jiasalmer






These are photos from Jaisalmer. The Fort here is incredibly incredible. Even more so than the beautifully well preserved Mehrengeh Fort at Jodhpur. People still live in this Fort that MUST be why. I loves it.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Udaipur and backward

In a first rate palace of a guest house in the lake city of Udaipur, Rajisthan, a city itself litterally littered with impressive palaces. We've run aground here and we're digging in our heels hard. Udaipur is stunning and marvelously chill. The monsoon has the temperature at a cool 25 degree average and we've been having some georgeous sun. I watched the most dazzling sun set this evening from the monsoon palace high up in the Aravalli Hills above the city. Suposedly they shot some scenes in Octopussy at the monsoon palace, at the gate entry which is actually the entry to a wild life sanctuary not a monsoon palace there is a sign post indicating the standard fee for shooting a feature film per day 40 thousand rupees just over 1000 new zealand dollars.

Today marks four days in Udaipur and tomorrow will be five and doubtfully the last. Gold has been ill since yesterday evening but is coming right now. I have a tailored suit to pickup tomorrow at 1pm in the city centre from a man named Raj who has also offered to let me have a cruise around for the day on his scooter. Very cool guy raj.

day one in udaipur we arrived south of the centre at 4 in the morning and rested awake with our packs till morning light at 6 sheltered from the rain in a plush and well lit alley with a hand chai wallah awake and cooking at 5 am. Surprising since things start very slowly in the mornings in India. 8-10am seams the usuall retail laze introduction. We haggled a 40 rupee rickshaw to our beautiful and enormous hotel room where we slept. The mosoon apparentlt flooded the town centre on this day but we really were dead to the world. We met four travellers 2 from New Zealand both DAN and two who had lived in New Zealand for over a year Carolina French girl I think and Ian a very tall English man from Essex, emblazened on his baseball cap in black letter type. and three more Palmer, Palmer and Rick, with Ian complete the intimidating gang of Four Essex boys only after mentioned on account of their non New Zealandhood.

Day two in Udaipur was wet but we manuvered throuought the city. Saw the breath taking lake from multi angles and perspectives and ate on rooftops that sort of deal. Met a very handsom Indian man name of NARU who sold me his CD excellent
trawled the tourist area foe cooking clases and ended up booking one two days in advance. a commitment to udaipur in itself.
brought a fair amount of drugs = that night we went a bit far. I had far to much of something and went to bed very early with a wide pitt of death swirlling in my head. Gold found the bed at around 5 am and we didn'tleave the hotel at all the following day.

Day three the weather was disappointingly fine and the skies taunted us from our rooftop but we just sat and ordered cold drinks and lassis all day instead and wrote things down about our selves.
The gang dindled from 9 to 6. Double Dan and Carolina moved into the centre of town when they discover the first night we all arrived we had miss a giant Ganesha drowning festival the final day of the ten day Ganesha bananza that had been following us around since Mumbai.
Rick is sick in hospital with the mysterious Indian Gastro Flu.

Day 4 we rickshawed to town for our cooking class. Spent four hour there and were horribly full of food we had to catch another rickshaw and sleep it off

Day 5 Gold is sick in bed and Mac is out buying suits and taking 3 hour bicycle rides up mountains.

Day 6 Gold is ripping it back to health and colour and michael is up another mountain taking in magnificent sunset

Day 7 suit day and potential dinner with Chris and Ian. Palmer (Adam) and Rick are headed homewards.

dinner was fly

Days 8&9 in Udi were spent running around buying loads of drugs for Gold's stomache

Day 10 rode another bicycle about town to see if i wanted to buy it but it was a junker and i needed to get to Delhi first anyway so we left on the night bus to lake city Pushkar. Crazy bus living hell bus i can not explain bus!



Working back ward we were in ....AHMEDABAD
1 night in expensive squallor underneath a dirty Indian restaurant GOODNIGHT HOTEL, we were staying in the basement of the GOODNIGHT HOTEL 'residential'. FABULOUS dinner at the HOTEL MG's 'casual dinning' restaurant the GREEN HOUSE we spent an out of character 1000rupees on a dinner that for the most part we had to take home wrapped in bananna leaves along with our 100rupee loyalty certificate.Three more nights we spent at the EXCELLENT value for money HOTEL CADELAC on Advance Cinema Rd. We scored a tripple room for 4oors with the extra bed as a pack shelf and needless to say we got messy.

We chilled out in Ahmedabad. Went to Ghandi's paper factory and purchased some authentic Ghandi paper!!! that i started painting on imediately and a Ghandi budget ledger which i transfered all our acounting into that night aswell. Brought so awesome ladus and temple junks got lost, visited a heritage fort the usuall.

before that we were in quaint and filthy JALGAON a one nighter in the magical hotel Plaza, magical as in clean and the manager had real manners that wavered somewhat over Gold's generally harsh and constant pigeon English. I refused to ride a general train ticket overnight after the already strenuous journey from Aurangabad that's the only reason we stayed and we left bright and early the next morning.

We stayed in Aurangabad and did nothing spesh but we had DAY TRIP FABBBBBNESS at ELLORA CAVES we started too late as usual due to Golds need to sleep till 1pm but we saw a good deal of the fantastic Elora heritage caves and the brilliant excavated temple at the center of the cave network. We should have spent more time, it was all over way too fast and it was naturally a beautiful day. On the way you can see the Aurangabad Fort which sits cool on a fat paired mountain surrounded by stone outposts down on the overgrown monsooney plain very awesome.


before these were two awful places MUMBAI and CHENNIA too big too polluted we left Chennia as soon as we got there but
in Mumbai we invested 4 days trying to get out to Elephanta Island which we never did because of monsoon rains. Thinking back on it we could have paid some one to take us there but no bother. We spent our time walking long distances to kill days. We visited an absolutely breathtaking Hindu Brahmin Tank. Absolutely Mumbai's saving grace. The 'centre of the earth' they say is at the very centre of the beautiful cool peaceful tiny, massive expanse of water and is marked by a wooded pole. Hindu celebrations were in session when we visited dazed after a 15K walk through the city from our hotel. We were in total awe. It was intensely beautiful. In Mumbai we stayed in separate and sickeningly expensive dorm rooms but it was here that we found the pamphlet about Mewar Inn at Udaipur so fair good. In my dorm I had one budding English/Chinese Bollywood actor who was shooting adds and television series episodes every day and another quite depraved Englishman who is probably quite famous amongst tourists who stay at the Red Shield in Mumbai by now, old Mick who was stuck in Mumbai for three years on drug charges and sort of threw his weight around the whole hostel and was mates with all the staff like it was his very own mansion and he was there under house arrest. We met Mick on supposedly his last week in Mumbai. Congratulations Mick!
before Mumbai and before a GIAGANTIC 26hour train expedition was PONDY Pondicherry.

One of the charming things about Pondy was how easy it was to get there, from Madurai and Dil Se we were droped on motorcycles (packs and all) basically directly onto the appropriate bus and were on the road all to quickly to say Bob's your uncle. We earned our selves a practicall personal bus guide. He told us all the long stops, which is worth more than you'd think. you never know about the big breaks unti it's too late and the ticket dude or the driver never bother to tell you. They just want to piss and eat some sugar. That is also exactly what i want to do. He told us we had to transfer buses and where and when we arrived in Pondy it was light still which is always helpful.

PONDY was gorgeous pastel blue skies every day and deep open ocean as far as the eye could see from the foot of our own personal balcony at the incredible Sri Aurobundo Ashram/ Park Guest House. We rented bicycles on the 3rd day or so and rode all the way to Auroville an awful little communist settlement of foreigners 15-20K add confused circles, from Pondy. They don't mingle or provide for 'outsiders' but no mind.

and that is what went on

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

DIL SE

From Madurai city we traveled 20 K to a small village named Oomachikulum and stayed 4 days with a beautiful family of adopted children in an ashram call DIL SE. It was beautiful. We were fed traditional south Indian three times daily. It was a treat the village was beautiful. No all consuming rubbish piles, healthy looking dogs, blue skies devoid of the city smog, cute dirt trails and concrete and tree Kohlis. The children were adorable and called us brother and sister and ANTIE! horrendously i can't remember all there names but those that come to mind are the cheeky boys who took hundreds of photos of themselves daily with our camera, Yogesh, Angu Swami and Saravanan. The new kid Viramani was an insane little guy who on occation really lost his head, when we had a spotaneous dance party one night. He let loose like a true Indian dancing the limbo under some impossible invissible pole with his tiny eyes searching the wall behind him. Vera was sweet. Viccy was the married sister staying still at Dil Se boysterous and strong and her husband who drove a dirty great Indian sports bike. Dirty great Indian sports bikes are great. There are five odd children i've missed including the beautiful older sister who sand lovely songs and prayers on Chandra Bose's (dad's) whim and to her brothers and sisters to entertain them. The others were the four or perhaps more beautiful girls who were more reserved than the boys and had many chores throughout the day time and of course school to attend. The eldest brother at home was Karthik Bose who was ultra sweet. On medical camp day, which occurs once a month Karthick was in charge of stiring the great pot that feed 300 hungry villagers that day a georgous rice biriyani, Gold and I got to cut vegies with standing knive that you would hold down with one leg and pulse tomatos with our palms. Karthik drove us around in the Dil Se Ricksaw and guided us around madurai city and through the splendid Meenakshi Temple Comple and the Ghandi ji Museum. Very appropriate as the Dil Se is a totally GHANDIAN affair. Ghandian is a beautifully concept of all religeons are one. There is no conflict there is no hate, that sort of jive.

Confussingly enough other children came and went during the days (the Dil Se kids are quite popular) The neigbours kids four boys strong and an multipul girls who hid behind there Kohli when i arrived roped me into a cricket match in the feild next to Dil Se. I played a spendid game with some stunnng wickets and catches naturally. The children were ver impressed and i heard nothing but cricket from them for the next few days 'SIR when will you come play cricket?' and 'very good our cricket friend'.

During the mass cook that day my brothers had me drawing their portraits and soon eough the cricket team insisted also. Indians are very nice about my scetch books. They grasp them tightly and say 'OHHHHH SUPER!' and 'very nice' and take my hand to shake it.

We played snap
We danced
We cooked
We certainly ate
We relaxed
We washed clothes and they were dry again in minutes
We painted a mural on the classroom/bedroom wall for the kids featuring Dil Se rickshaw, Tiger (the dog) and Daisy ( the cow)
We preyed for Krishnas birthday
We wished Chandra Bose and Mama Ji happy anniversary
and we finally said our goodbyes in a great big family circle.
We must go back and see our brothers and sisters regularly. I miss them now and i miss the peace in the village.

Sigh


I have photos to add to this but it will be much later as my laptop has died forever and i need to extract his HD

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Indian art woiks







GANESHA







Sunny









Vishnu






Rick










GOLD









Leopold Cafe Mumbai











Veiw at Ahmedabad. Brilliant people watching balcony. I have videos. STAY AT THE CADELAC HOTEL IN AHMEDABAD! NO TUKTUK COMMISSIONS!!








The Red Shield Mumbai, dining hall








The Boring Museum Chochin








Saturday, September 17, 2011


video



Ernakulum to Madurai

NAMASTE BITCHES

So we went to Ernakulum, it was comfortable and relativelt Indian. The regular city buzz and honk HONK loud 'yesssssss sir!' 'havealoook veryhappy price' we stayed at Jhon's residency which was beautiful and clean and deep yellow. There was a chia wallah outside the front door making breakfast effortless and cheap and deidedly upright every morning. Late night chia also a big plus.

Government bus Ernakulum KL to Madurai City Tamil Nadu State. We to the late night to save on a hotel room and got about 20 minutes sleep colectively on the 10 hour drive. LOUDEST BUS EVER!. Government busses overnight is probably just a shit idea. So uncomfortable. You really would be better off standing that is until you collapse in the alsie. Thank GOD for the earplugs we brought in Ernakulum from one of the hardware stores. I couldhave litteraly died from the noise. It's that bad.

We were welcomed to Madurai by swarms of tuktuk drivers at 4 in the morning so we faught with them and proceeded to walk to the city centre were we watched the sunrise over a strange dusty old western looking town full of tired Indians and over the tops of the delecately carved, harshly sun damaged and ancient wooded buildings, with swinging prlour bar doorways and all you could see the peeks of the enormos towers of the Meenakshi Temple at the geographic centre of the city.

We walked around the bahemouth temple at sun down drinking 7up and reveling in the government enforced silence ( not technically silence, not silence at all just no rickshaws or scooters honking at one another and a surprising lack of wallahs)

We stayed at an awful hotel the Gengai. There is little to no difference between at least the anemnities or cleanliness of the hotels we stay in. We have been I think for our budget extremely lucky with our accomodations and still i'm sure i only ever rate either AMAZING or SHIT HOLE. There is no middle ground for me. if a place has no character it can't be amazing it is a default shit hole. The Gengai was a depressing shit hole and no one should stay there. Madurai is alright and the temple is fantastical but I would suggest you stay out of the city where there is real oxygen and healthy, non rabid animals. India is beautiful outside the big cities.

We left Madurai City the next morning.

Friday, August 26, 2011

gefjwe

I'll put up some pictures pretty soon:)

Ju. We saw a gypsy truck with JUMANU painted on the front of it on our first day in India land. Cool eh.

TV2

The room at the Karma Tourist Centre Trivandrum was adequate if uninspired and expensive. It didn't help our chances in finding a room in TV that it was Indian Independence Day. There weren't any fire works. Go Figure. The saving grace of Trivandrum was the local Indian Coffee house ( a chain restaurant as common as Denny's is in America but with out bottomless coffee or any kind of super deal which what and you are most certainly allowed to attend on no shoes days without shoes) If you ever go to Trivandrum, for onward travel or longer term whateveryoulikes go to the coffee house. It's boss. The building was out of this world. A dark brown terra-cotta over solid concrete spiral dotted with small breathing holes in a beautiful spiral pattern to the top, it looked like a giant sunken wedding cake with a green fire inside. There is a kitchen and a reception a the bottom and turning left into the building the spiral starts at a remarkable angle for food service you climb the spiral past dozens of Indians eating and drinking at 30 odd tables. Other punters are slowly trickling down in you direction wiping there brows and holding their satisfied belly's signaling that there are tables free up top and waiters HISSS at you from all directions as they bus complex Indian dishes with a plethora of sides and drinks or dozens of dirty dishes and bills invoiced and remitted back to the kitchen and reception for squaring and cleaning. Cheap eats 2011, this was budget bliss. We ate and drank at perhaps 30Rupee a head. (sometimes at expensive bus stand shoppes you end up paying that for a bag of crisps) We ate across from a lovely Indian family (dazed and confused excited to be eating with tourists). We payed the bill with the agile waiter and returned to the uninspiring Karma for sleeping and TV watching via the best art supply store you ever did see in big busty India. I brought indian inks, lined stationary and cello-tape (the store manager had us sign the guest ledger, there were only two other names in the whole book).

TV


Rickshaw driver from the Helipad to the train station tried to talk us into a rickshaw odyssey all the way to Trivandrum ( probably 5 hours by auto rickshaw only 50 Kilometers) "Next train 1.30pm" "I drive Trivandrum every day" Bull Farts is what I said. We met some scary Muslims on the platform who grilled us about our marital status. "Goldie, my wife, a non muslim, is a very nice girl. She is from the Hutt and her parents are cool as"
The next train to Tvan is to leave at 2pm make that 2.30pm Indian transport time. Without fail every mode of transport in India in at least half an hour late. Buffer time in key. We sat baking under the corrugated steel platform shade from around 9am till 2.45pm. Impressive I think. There were rubbish bins in the train station, maybe a hundred of them lining the perimeter of the platform, impressive also.

The train was mental. Sleeper class 3 was totally packed with indians. Indians on the floor, packed into the booths, sprawled on the luggage racks and packed at elbows through the cabin corridor and entrance way. There were, as is usual, Indians hanging off the sides of the train as well and every so often a Chai or biscuit men would roll through the cabin balancing pots and bags on his head as he trod on sleeping Indians. Gold and i said a quick goodbye to our useless packs as they were hoisted up into the lofty sleeper class luggage/beds and we waited and squeezed and sweated as the vast variety of Keralan smells wafted in and the countryside rolled by.

Trivandrum was a disappointing flop. It was muggy and bustling. It was already getting dark and our packs were weighing a half a tonne each. The hotel we ended our search at(Karma Tourist Centre) gave us a bizarrely mosquito infested room to stay in, claiming no other rooms were available. Lies. Gold had a shout at the two halfwit management goons and they quickly offered up a nicer room when we said the we would be leaving.

Goldie's elephant pants are awesome

There is a TV in our hotel room.

VARKALA BEACH

GEKKOS are everywhere
mind you Mosquitos more so are everywhere. Sandflies and other such nasties also. But Gekkos eat the mozzies and the sandals and the others so it should all even out really in the end, only it certainly does not.
My body is positively burning. I've rubbed tiger balm into around 40 mosquito related wounds on my upper and lower back. I'm the hot new taste the Keralan insect population is raving about. I can't say i'm really much for it.

3 hour bus, enter Varkalan sunset. Beautiful cliff side residencies and violent animated waves on muddy brown beach views. Sajit was the man who caught us. Lugging luggage's along the side promenade. Offered us a beautiful room with a balcony facing the sea at a WOW 300 Rupee. Unbelievable really. We stayed for 4 nights.

A shmowzow kind of dinner the likes of Dhal Roti in the Fort on a rooftop in Varkala. The restaurant Little Tibet with a predominately Tibetan Menu (impressive for the tourist shakes of India, they usually stick with Indian or go wildly international) Goldie had the MOMO soup a kind of Vegetable dumpling in broth deal, I had Paang which i flippantly ordered in a rush ( i hate keeping waiters waiting or waiting on waiters to wait for that matter) which turned out to be exactly what i wanted. A beautiful tasty poached chicken broth with chunky vegetables served with a warm layered tibetan bread roll. Think of the outer glaze of a Chinese pork bun layered into the very centre with the same shine and gluten consistency. Broth perfect bread out of this world. We returned the next morning for our last breakfast in Varkala.

It was a funny breakfast mind. All the tourists who had arrived with us on the bus it seemed were there. Like everyone by their 4th morning had likewise discovered the best place to eat on the cliff. Funny like that not really haha.

So far it's been such a holiday. A glorious but not noneducational introduction to India and traveling. The beach was cool, relaxing, Meals and small purchases at tourist giftoramas and superettes weren't breaking the bank (though from the backwater tour we were now a cool 6000rupee over budget, but stll money easily saved back in time) but we had to drag ourselves unwilling out of easy Varkala to get on with real ride. Saying our goodbyes to Sam and the Emma too was sweet. We are en route to Trivandrum, about 4 hour South by train.

This morning an Aruvedic doctor rubbed some non desrcript yellow oil on my 'spider lumps' (my own terminology) an the urge to itch just like that is gone. The healer did my back as a morning favor. Mornings are a high time for favors. Our first train in India. Varkala to Trivandrum will be a ball no doubt.

A NOTE ABOUT JAM. Jam and juice in Asia has proved thus for to be a flop. A picter of fruits on a jam jar or fruitjuice box generally means that the colour of the product may match the fruit depicted but will taste absolutely nothing like it. Sugar syrup and food colouring .

Alleppey and house boat!!!


Dahl Roti was excellent. Quite challenging to locate but as i've expressed so far Goldie and I have almost always been lost. Very simple and pleasingly clean restaurant with loads of seating. The host was a very charismatic Indian man 50s 60s maybe who knew his menu inside out and had patience for all of India who held our hands while we fumbled our way through complex indian and traditional Keralan dishes we had never heard of, many equip with their own 5 or so side dishes. It was a full house and the mood was still ultra chill and relaxed. Gold and Emma got straight down to business catching up and reminiscing of old times and both Emma and Sam opened up as deep wells of knowledge on traveling through the crazy country that is India. We realy had hit a gold mine stumbling upon these two in the boring museum.

We ate a traditional fish Kati, a kind of awesome chapati wrap and a vegetarian tali, curry with these brilliant cottage cheese cubes and a selection of cooling chutneys, rice, dahl and chapati. Beautiful. Over chia and food comma Emma explained that her and Sam were heading to Alleppey the next morning to join another two traveling ladies on a two day house boat cruise on the back waters and that we were welcome to come fill up the last room on the boat. SHOWZOW.

That night I finally met BENSON. He was a lovely man with a lovely son. We chatted at length about the Wellington hotel scene, long distance walking and cricket. I told him we would be moving on to Alleppey the next morning for a few nights on the water. He offered to pay me back for the room I'd paid for, one more night in advance but i said he should keep it and have an account for us in credit in case we hit Cochin again. Moronic really, when in the hell would I be coming back to Fort Kochi? He drew me some diagrams of how to get to Toppompuddy the next morning to catch a bus with the girls. Very helpful. His information saved us a good 2 hour run around in and out of Ernakulum and probably a good 30 Rupee each.


And so it was, we were up at the crack of the crack of dawn to meet Sammy and Emma just past the junction on KB Jacob Rd were we caught an auto to Tuppumboddy, about a 5 minute drive, and caught the bus to Alleppey on it's way out of Ernakulum. Nice work BENSON.

3 hours on the bus, Goldie a couple of rows behind me sleeping face into her day bag. ALLAPUZAH Alleppey. We catch another Rickshaw first to the Sonar Guest House as a frustrating Hinglish mis communication, then to the liquor store where we picked up a bottle of blue label GIN and some strange Indian Vodka, then to a cool store for some pop and snacks and finally back to the Sonar Guest House. Our new friends Kavita and Hannah were staying a few 100 meters up the road.

The owner of the house boat came to "pick up" 6 people on a scooter. In the end we caught a rickshaw with 4 girls in the back seat 4 packs and day packs in the hatch and two more on the driver and under his seat. Goldie and myself opted scooter and rode triple back with the owner for perhaps a Kilometer before we reached the canal and the small sun shade motor boat that would take us to the backwaters and our aqua hotel for the next two nights.

The boat is a blur. I wrote nothing just relaxed and attracted mosquitos with my gorgeous blood. We paid the owner some extravagant sum and proceeded to drink Kingfisher's, sweet lime, Chai and Gins on the deck. The crew were outstanding the chef brilliant and much much more could be dredged up from memory but I only need to say that in the time we spent on that boat all of us became closer. I was floored by Sammy and Emma. Picking their brains about this beautiful country was invaluable. Hannah and Big V, the two loud mouth English chicks mixed killer cocktails (killer like halfies skullies) and played wicked charades and 500 and getting to know the crew was really sweet.

And then the dream was over. We were thrown out into the heat and the noise two days later with packs and boots. After the meal after meal and chai service after chia service and 'get Sajit to jump off onto a strange boat into town to pick up TP and more milk for our simply insane chia consumption' days this was all a shock. We had to walk all of 400 meters, over a bypass mind you, to the bus stand where the bus to sunny beachy Varkala was waiting for us an hour or so into the future.










Fort Kochi

I slip and fall down one morning as the manager is showing us her animals, animals all soon to be sacrificed to the dinner table, I fell hard but got up with just a scratch. That evening when we returned to the guest house the manager had covered the driveway and the stairs with a thick layer of powdered white chalk. I felt very assured. Special also. That night Goldie and i dined out on a rooftop not 200 meters from our guest house. Gold and I both dressed up smart. I like the way Indians treat you if your wearing a shirt. They respect you all of a sudden some even complement you on your manner. A little cotton goes a long way. The restaurant was gorgeous dimly lit up in the darkness of 7.30pm. Strange Italian name I forget, the menu predictably international. We ate a very ordinary chinese take out style meal and talked about the fascinating spider which was living in the plant next to our table. The restaurant was clearly the Fort 'overs' dinner joint. We shared the roof top with 6 or so other touring couples all 40, 50+years. We felt youthful for sure.

During the days we tried to get our bearings in the town by walking out into uncharted territory where we found ourselves hopelessly lost on a number of occasions. One time in particular we were searching for a Peter Celli St for so long we thought we would follow the coastline to the tip of Fort Kochi where the tourist sanctuary sort of begins and ended up walking the complete opposite direction for about half an hour at which point we decided to head back into the center of Kochi to find a main road to follow back to tourist town. The result was a mess. The streets were tight and busy and full of motor cycles, kids, dogs and other sorts of Indian stuff. It was dirty and slummy and we were thumbs in it. It was hot and there were these dis orientating canals flowing through the whole deal, but we got our bearings and had a nice walk out. Kids were following us around asking "one pen? You give me one pen?" and "You take one photograph?". Very cute. Quite tiresome maybe.

These kids were boss!


After two nights at the ** inn (annex to the Karma) we uprooted and moved down the road.. a few roads.. bigish ones, to Costa Gamma Inn were through a ma named BENSON we had booked two nights accomodation. We had been emailing BENSON, the manager intimately for weeks now, had even walked over to meet him the day before the move but he was away on business. His landlord Trevor showed us how business was to go down. We moved in that morning with out a BENSON in sight and paid two nights in cash upfront 720 Rupees. The room had more character than the last and matching facilities (less a safe or two. Who needs em) plus some brilliant concrete shelving set into the walls excellent for packs. We set out to explore.


The streets away from the tourist area are a lot different. Very dirty bustling and louder maybe. We walked for half an hour through a colorful rundown 'local' district of Fort Kochi to get to Manicherry, another popular tourist centre where we planned to see Manicherry Palace or the 'Dutch Palace' the Jewish Synagogue on Jew Street, the local Spice Market and reportedly a great many happy swastikas. All of the sights bar the swastikas were their own degree of disappointing. Manicherry Palace Museum was an exceptionally boring museum. Goldie was told to stop drawing pictures by a security man and had a great flip out at him. After a fair amount of battling and harassment the manger had to give us permission to sketch which was by that point a fair amount less inspiring.


We ran into two New Zealanders Goldie already new, insane. Emma and Sammy, the boring museum takes a little win. We knew they were in the country and a few days before we had an email saying they were traveling South to Kerala soon But this was still an uncanny surprise. We experienced the Spice Market with them, underwhelming ( sounds mean but it was just another dolled up tourist heavy street were low season locals sort of beg you to buy stuff you don't need) and walked down Jew St to find the Synagogue was closed for a few days. With that we made a dinner date at famous Dahl Roti with the girls and proceeded to get lost in the tight windy local slums for a few hours before emerging back in the tourist area again with a little time to get changed for our date with Kiwis.


india kerala


AIRPORT
3 hours to NINDIA
They don't tell you duration of flights on Air asia Boarding Passes or Itineraries so working it out before hand would have been ideal, What they do tell you is eta in local time. For those none so gifted in the art of math this is quite difficult to figure out

We arrive in Cochin at 4.30ish catch the local bus end of the line Fort Kochi where we have booked accommodation
2 or 3 hours on the bus it was dark when we arrived at Fort the monsoon was upon us and we had no idea where we were.

The ticket clipper was amazing
he called our guest house to come pick us up and waited with us till they arrived
we ended up catching a small auto rickshaw only for a couple of blocks for 20Rs in the
the guest house we booked "Good Karma Inn" was full so we were put up in there annex next door which was nice enough. The manager there was a feisty Indian lady with a gaggle of kids and some loud arse chickens, a rooster and a turkey. The room housed an impressive three safes for valuables, two standard single beds pushed together to make one, aircon, ceiling fan, bathroom with all the customary accompaniments and a desk and chair. A stunner at only 400 rupees.

On the first day we budgeted. It was exhilarating. We also taught our selves to do long subtraction again.
Very difficult:) One day we'll need to do divison. Fucks. On the first day we also woke up to a mental roster starting a new crowing session every 20 minutes past 5am so that was good. That morning we ate his ladies eggs for breakfast.

Good Karma Inn, even though we never stayed there was good to us. They invited us down to breakfast in the mornings which was a light scrambled egg (a la garden chooks) on small buttery indian toast, fresh plantains and tea coffee as you like. We would sit in the small living room with the other touring couple of the morning as the manager and his brother ran around asking 'more toast?' 'tea coffee?' and cooking and cleaning.

There was a nice marmalade too. Which should not be taken for granted.



We played 500.




Friday, August 12, 2011

Air Asia Is awesome KL Malaysia




The airport was under construction but even still looks a sure sight better than Wellington. Darryn picked our lazy bones up at the airport and drove us back to his Domo for our first sleep away from Wellington. One degree in the shaky city. We picked his flatmates ears about air asia as two of them had recently flown to Veitnam via KL and learnt a few things more subconsciously than not.Sleep was what we wanted and we got it with tea and toast.

Authentic student wood fire spa of ingenious design and two seater niffty50 chopper under construction.

A beer and a cheese burger payoff. We caught a bus back to international CHCH and by 12 noon the friendly folk at Air Asia had our packs 12 and 16Kg on a conveyer belt. We boarded the 11 hour flight that we had told all our friends was only 4-5 hours at 3pm and as sure as I am I can say that we slept.

(AIR ASIA X) uninspiring inflight meals, nill entertainment and no free water. This is true BUT the cost of tickets is mind blowingly low. Goldie Michael flew from CHCH to KL and KL to COK india for a cool $350 NZ each. For that I'll buy a bottle of water on the plane for 6Rm. Air Asia seems to have built there very own LOW COST INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT in Kuala Lumpur. We saw only one or two other airline planes on the tar mac and Air Asia slathered absolutely everywhere. It was a beautiful affirmation of the budget travel experience. Our boarding passes were nothing more than take out receipts. Awesome.




Kuala Lumpur was Insane. Stepping out of the air port was like stepping into a sauna. That much was to be expected i guess. Hot stickey and humid we caught the Areo bus to Sentral Station KL Sentral. The bus was an air conditioned mansion on wheels, I didn't want to get off after the 1 and a half hour ride into town. Fair enogh even that it was now about half past midnight pilling onto the very unfamiliar streets of Kuala Lumpur. We flagged down a taxi and had him drop us at the guest house we had booked, there was a tense few moments when the driver couldn't find our guest house but he happily got out and asked locals if they knew where we wanted to go and we got there in the end.

The cab driver dropped us at the entrance and took our 25 Ringgits and we proceeded to ring unashamedly on the night bell panicking in the dark filthy alley we had been dropped in until the owner came down and let us in. Later we found that the bell rings through the entire guest house and everone hears it. No need to panic at all.

Tarrif at Palmmer Guest House was a reasonable 15Rm each in a dorm per night about $7.50 NZ AC a must

We had a lovely room mate Huang who added us on facebook the second night and another Japanese boy who I forget. The city was bustling all day all night with markets and food vendors. Malaysians drive like they're on speed (thats not racist by the way. Several Malaysians told us it was a bad idea to walk around on the streets because the locals drive so erratically) and walking from place to place seams perilous only it's not all that.

We took the monorail into the center of town to see the mammoth malls, ten stories and just truly massive. Is this what a strip mall is? I always imagined that a strip mall would just stretch way out in front of you and you could just walk through shops for hours with out turning. We brought a not so cheep camera at the Plaza Low Yat on Bukit Bintang with which to record our journey from then on 699Rm Panasonic LUMIX and dubbed thee Cammy.

We ate in a cute little covered street food court made up of street carts equipped with stoves and oil vatts on the second night and walked around through the markets. Every stall desperately wants the attention of the english travelers breezing through the stalls and shout things like 'good price good price' and 'value please don't forget my store'.

also
central market
Manager @ Palmmer Guest house KL nicest dude ever!
Se7en elevens still exist in KL


And then we flew.



Christchurch NZ

Sunday, June 26, 2011

www.wix.com/michaelmcgaveston/illustration

Thursday, June 9, 2011

FACTORY


Playing with illustrator and watching samurai jack

Monday, June 6, 2011

Adventure Quest

www.sketchswap.com Only saying

Thursday, June 2, 2011


Deary
John Travolta in a sock with a big ass tounge.
GOLD
GOLDIE

Creeeeeeeseeee

Check owt this gay raver http://witchghetto.blogspot.com/

I'm scanning things from my wallet today. This is boss