Friday, 26 August 2011

Hampi (5th Aug-9th Aug 2011)


Unreal and bewitching, the forlorn ruins of Hampi lie scattered over a landscape that leaves you spell bound the moment you cast your eyes on it. It's giant boulders perch on top of each other, scattered over miles of undulated terrain, set against palm groves, banana plantations, paddy fields, roaming monkeys, temples and ancient sites, while the blues sky and shinning sun creates a magical atmosphere.

On top of the world-Hampi

We arrived in Hampi after a very eventful journey from Goa, to Madegon where we caught the train to Hosput, 7KM from Hampi Bazaar, were we planned to stay. We met a family on the train, they were from Cochin, Kerala. They were great and for 5 hours they wanted to know everything about us and we learnt all about them. They were sending the youngest son, Sarath (who reminded me of Carlton-'Fresh Prince') to University. He was very funny and he was begging me to take him to England when he finishes university to meet all the girls (remember their culture only allows them to take a girl out when their married). His mum was a head mistress of a primary school and she invited us to stay in their house, cook us traditional food and take us to her school when we arrive in Cochin.

The Elephant Temple
We stayed in a place called Thilak, run by a family who have traveling close to their heart. The highlight of this place is having a coffee on the roof overlooking some of the most beautiful scenery I have ever seen; The Virupaksha Temple to the west, the Tungabhadra River to the North and scattered boulder formations all around; its awe inspiring.

We rented a bike a explore the ruins which is about 10Km Squared. We headed towards the queens bath, Vittal Temple, The Elephant Stable, The Royal Palace, and climbed to the highest temple on Matanger Hill (its high and you have to scramble up some very dodgy terrain). The best part of the day was meeting an Indian family from Bellary. Me and Laura had just finished some sight seeing, when a couple of young girls asked tentatively for a photograph, as is normally the case. I agreed, made a joke and was just about to take the picture when within seconds the whole family curiously came into shot. That's at least 40 people. Very funny. The family meet up every 6 months or so and invited us for lunch. What an experience. We ate traditional food with our hands sitting down besides an ancient temple. Indain people want to know everything about you, family, work friends, cricket.... I mean everything and they are so inquisitive. Picture me standing up on one side, with all the men surrounding me and Laura on the other side with all the women and girls surrounding her, each person listening intently to us. Every family has a man who is the head of the family. And at the end he welcomed us into his family and even asked us to stay at their home. They are very humble and beautiful people. 
Welcome to the family

Outside the Virupaksha Temple

Me & Laura

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Goa: Baga to Penjim to Old Goa to Palolem: (28th July-05th Aug 2011)

"To dare is to lose ones footing momentarily, to not dare is to lose ones self"

Baga Beach in Goa is a welcome change from the rush of Mumbai; its cheap, layed back has hot great food and has great tropical beaches, however its the rainy season which means its hot, humid and rains all day. So the best thing to do is chill in the Lime Bar watching England destroy India in the 2nd test. Stewart Broad has just took a hat rick of wickets and scored 60 odd runs to put us in pole position. The Indians love their cricket. We are staying in the Travelers Inn for 550 a night which is about 6 pound. Great.
The first day I was walking across the beach, the waves pounding the beach like a storm and I noticed a crowd of Indians. As I approached them I found out why they were congregating there, a poisonous Cobra Sea Snake trying to get into the water against the surf, it was amazing to see.

We traveled to Penjim, a small Portuguese colonial town that has lots of Catholic churches dotted around it. Here during coffee we met a German Couple called Leo and Lina. We had pizza with them and decided to go to Old Goa to see the famous relics of SFX. Old Goa was the capital back in the 16th century, until plague forced everyone to abandon the town and move further west to Penjim. We became good friends and so decided to travel with them to South Goa to Palolem beach.

Relaxing in Penjim

The south east monsoom hits the coast and release its rain with power gathered out from the Arabian Sea, which means it rains so hard all day and all night. However it has one of best beaches I have ever seen. Its a horse shoe shaped tropical beach and its great to just sit back and watch the big waves crash into the beach over a cold Kingfisher. There is not much to do here, its so layed back as it is out of season but is very cheap. We have become good friends with Leo and Lina and have went out together for drinks and tea a sharing stories from our home towns. On Monday I asked the chef of a restaurant we were eating at to pick me and Leo up a fresh shark from the fish market. On the Tuesday he brought to the table a big shark, we ate the shark char grilled with spices and its was lovely, one of the best I have had. We met that night another german brother and sister from munich. He is a staunch Bayern Munich fan and he wants to see a Bayern champions league match and visit Anfield to hear 'You'll Never Walk Alone'.  I have also been learing some german....well how to order a beer.

"Ich Mochte Ein Bier"

We go to Hapi tomorrow (Friday 5th July) this was once a mighty Hindu empire now lying in ruins amid an enigmatic boulder strewn landscape is one of the wonders of India.

Baga Beach

Me, Laura, Leo and Lina outside our Tuck-Tuck

Monday, 22 August 2011

Mumbai, Monsoom, Madness

Mumbai hit me like a big fat cultural slap in the face. I wasn't prepared for this experience; in fact there is no way a sane person can possibly prepare themselves for a city that has a population of 20 million inhabitants crammed into it. That is the equivalent of half of England or the entire country of Sir Lanka squashed into it already swelling borders . You have to try and imagine the madness, the rush, the horns, the pushing, the pulling, the smell, oh the smell, the dogs, the heat and a mid this the sight of lone cow roaming the streets without a care in the world. Its madness. Its crazy, its Mumbai.

Me and my girlfriend Laura arrived in Mumbai late into the night following 10 hours of travel. We were tired and wanted to sleep and rejuvenate ourselves. We got our bags and headed out of the airport. It was hot and humid, but it reminded me very much like a Bollywood set, red carpet and many people waiting to pick there guests up holding cards aloft with names on. Out of the crowd I spot our name as easy as that. There is method in the madness in this city. We went straight to our Hotel - Anjali Inn. Its was dark as we traveled through the dark crammed lanes, and I am sure I saw a big naked women a sleep in the gutter. I tried to erase this image out of my head, it was hard, but tomorrow was another day. I was optimistic. We woke up ready to explore and that's when the Mumbai madness corrupted our senses.   

Mumbai is an awful place, the worst place I have ever been. Its basically a massive slum, a ghetto, I have not seen anything like this; you have such a contrast. The rich are rich and the poor are below under class. I have never in all my life seen such abject poverty. You see business men driving top of the range cars and kids on the streets with no clothes on standing in filth living in shelters on the side of the street or the polluted river. It is an experience that makes you appreciate the good things in life. The poorest people in Kirkby are living in paradise compared to most of these people. What I found striking was the transport. First the roads are jammed, grid locked with horns blasting, everyone jostling for position. Its a free for all. We would travel to the train station in a Rickshaw or commonly known as a 'Tuck Tuck' a three wheeled bumper car and its an experience that scares the crap out of yer. Because at any moment you are waiting to plowed in by a truck. Its survival of the fittest. Then there is the most popular form of transport, the train. As soon as the train pulls in (still going a speeds of 10-15 Km) people are jumping off and people are jumping on holding onto sides of doors, windows and in one case an old mans head. Crazy!!!

The gates of India-Mumbai

It is said that it takes time to acclimatise to Mumbai's rhythm, that there is method in the madness, but I don't think I could ever dance to their tune, its to crazy.  We need calm and some beaches-Goa here we come.

Thursday, 4 August 2011

The Start of an Adventure-Into the Wild (25th July 2011)

'To dare is to lose ones footing momentarily; to not dare, is to lose ones self'

I have been given a once in a life time opportunity to take a career break and travel the world. I will have the opportunity to experience so many new and varied cultures, taste some exotic foods, create and build lasting relationships with people from around the world. Whats more exciting than being an 'aesthetic Voyager' an adventurer for a year. Every relationship I make has the opportunity to be an adventure. By initiating a relationship with someone, who knows what adventure lies in store. I look foreword to the ride.

"The very basic core of a man's living spirit is his passion for adventure. The joy of life comes from our encounters with new experiences, and hence there is no greater joy than to have an endlessly changing horizon, for each day to have a new and different sun."
                                                                                           -Christoper McCandless