Not in India
Not sure what to tell you...I am bloody tired...think it’s the heat. Oh ya Edwin bought me coffee and took me shopping...anyway...
Just walked along the beach past 3 towns. Earlier today I went to Vagator beach and yesterday the famous Anjuna...where GOA Trance comes from...I looked at it and turned around...it’s got cows on it. You must be tripping off your head to enjoy that....It’s got nothing to our SA beaches. I stay further south. Much more open and calm. Not as many stalls trying to sell you everything. Think the popularity has gotten to it. Apparently even further south to Palolem "THE" in beach now. But if me as tourist going there aids in turning that into another Anjuna I want nothing to do with it. It would be great for a hectic party, but that one can’t really do when you are here on your own and definitely know we know how to do it better.
As I got out of the taxi Julia walks up to me. Starts complimenting, earrings, looks, how white I am for a South African etc as we talked all the way down the stairs to the beach....And then...tries to sell me a pair of pants :). I say no thank you. Eventually NO! And then I end up telling her off for how crap she has just made my holiday in India and how I would tell everyone I know never to go to Vagator beach cause you will just be harnessed by Julia. At least let me go and take a look where the hell I am before you comes with your selfish needs...she let me go...I go wander on three beaches that Vagator consist of. Climb the hill to the Fort wall and head back... and ....Who is sitting there on the steps waiting for me?....Julia: "Now will you give me price for these pants" in her American accent. Didn't quite know whether the strangle her or kiss her...Needles to say I now own a pair of funny pants AND an ill matching shirt.
Am staying at Banyan Tree Courtyard...Inacio dropped me there on his motorcycle after my 14 hour train ride from Cochin. A bit expensive for Goa out of season but when I got here and the place I had in mind had closed down, I just wanted a shower, food and a bed. The train ride was very comfy...almost better than my flight ( which was perfect ) On the train you get a full bed size bunk to sleep on. Good since the ride here was longer than my flight from Joburg. You kind of feel content when you wake up as the sun starts rising and the other 6 people sharing your bunk, and you do not understand, are also waking. But so after all that and then the most stupid thing I have done..back of a motorcycle without a helmet for 40 km at about 80km per hour...I just took what I got and am pretty glad I got it. The cleaning guy makes flowers and animals with my fresh towels every morning...lol
On my walk along the beach you notice that people are starting to get ready for season...the beach is being cleaned and the numerous beach shacks ( restaurants ) which are now still closed are being renovated...In all, Goa is definitely a place you would have to stay a few months to enjoy ( like Raj is doing...will tell you about him next time ) ...Guess that is the one thing the hippies had right here...stay for at least 6 months at a time...And of course my Nigerian friends are making a killing here at the moment...And they don't hide their business either.
I have wondered what the big spiritual and special meaning is that is put to India. There are so many shrines and churches and religions it’s all as confusing as the streets and language. Like asking for chocolate cake and getting a chicken sandwich..what he said sounded like chocolate for sure....The Kama Sutra I figure is cause you are so sweaty they had to invent strange positions to keep the smelly parts away from ones partner. Guess it’s like me or you going to the bar after work, movie nights, boys nights, girls nights out, sports, gym, church, religion etc...we all do this to keep some sort of routine and make things look normal... Here it is needed so much more... Everything is over the top...Chaos!! And the Beauty!!! So don't get me wrong...This place has a sensuality and romance when the sun goes down...The morning you watch eagles and dragon flies outside your door. A cow that just simply stops traffic and tiny frog in your fancy hotel room. You have a 3 course meal, drinks, tip included for under R100..What more do you want?! ... Do miss home though...friends to just simply chat about a day of work...my routine...and think that is what I have lost here and come to find...The best moments I have had here are the ones when you forget you are in India.
Ok No.. I didn't come to India for a purpose...It was a holiday and the flights here were cheap..that is the only reason...but you do start battling with the elements at times and are forced to ask yourself lots of questions and think that is what the special spiritual India is all about...and not what you see or experience here...Its what you take from it or what it gives you without costing having to bargain for a price. ( And bargaining end up with funny looking pants...)
My holiday is not over yet, but will recommend India as a destination...But be warned...if you are coming to find something it will not be in India.
Till soon and looks like pictures will have to wait...seems my card reader has given up.
Have not updated for a few days so will most likely jump backwards and forwards a bit...you know my mind...hope I paint the right picture though...
Am using internet at the little Inn, called Vintage, where I am staying at in Fort Cochin at the moment . Its a small little town, old streets and old buildings. I am staying 1 min walk from Santa Cruz Basilica. It has an old Dutch Palace and the St Francis Church where Vasco Da Gama was originally buried. Have not been there yet...but have seen everything else...LOL (had to go take a nap)...you will get the story behind that one later.
I have just come back from dinner at Dhal Roti. I had a vegetable Kati roll. The owner a tall dark man with grey hair and grey beard wearing his long white shirt was the entertainment. Running his ever so popular little restaurant. Busy with foreign tourists and north Indian tourist. If I am right the Indian holiday is almost over so there will probably be less tourist from north India here in Kerela next week or so. Cochin is one of the biggest attraction points of Kerela, the province I have been in from the start. It is apparently nothing like the rest of India...The signs post all have a little extra sign on them here in Fort Cochin, or spelled Kochin, God's Own Country. So the Kati roll. Every bite you take is different. You taste a different vegetable and a different spice with every bite. Spice is Kerela's strong point...In Munnar someone would use 3 spoons of spice, in Kerela 1 spoon. The kati roll tasted a bit like a massive vegetable atchar roll. This also reminds me of the vegetable Briyani I had in Kovalam, the first town I stayed in. Also had that quality. The every bite is different quality. You burn from a chili and then you seem to bite on a cinnamon stick which takes the burn away.
I am only now starting to recognise and take in the smaller detail.. Has been quite a journey getting here but I had to do that to experience the back waters of Kerala and arrive here from where my trip should be more relaxed...hahahaha...Cant seem to fond a flight out of here :) don’t believe the travel agent...will look online myself...have gone through that before...will try to explain if I have enough time...
So how did I get here to Fort Cochin:
After my 10 hours in Mumbai airport I flew down to Trivandrum and stayed 2 nights in Kovalam to recover and acclimatise...best thing I could have decided to do. And glad that I didn't stay in Mumbai the first few days...I would probably have been back in SA by the second day. Have met a Swedish couple on the bus here yesterday and they are thinking of flying home from here and avoid Mumbai all together cause they just don’t see themselves being able to cope there….I can understand...am ignoring those thoughts at the moment.
From Kovalam I took a rickshaw to Trivandrum. From Trivandrum a train to Kollam...Stayed there the night at a horrible hotel...the one with the dingy bar. It had aircon, tv, room service etc...I didn't wash!!!!..... Didn't want to use the bathroom. 3 star! twee star! s!@%t star! Asked the reception to book me a boat ride for the next morning to Alleppey. The guy they phoned told me there are no boats going out till the next day...Not enough people...Thats when I freaked out....Another day here! This was my first city experience. The noise does not stop...Really, the hooting goes on all the time 24/7... And the dirt! Even in this gorgeous little town where I am now and all along the backwaters...Its something you just do not understand...You simply drop your rubbish anywhere. Now that I a little more experienced...I will say that India feels like one huge dirty camp ground….At night the fires start burning more and you hear people and cars all the time. Everyone is walking about and doing his or her thing. Throughout the night. So its safe to wonder late at night...Even the darkest alleys, but if you don’t know that gosh...Like the walking from Lemon dew Guest house in Alleppey:
After I got to Alleppey after a 8 hour boat ride through the most beautiful scenery ( and rubbish behind it) and backwaters...( oh ya, went to the jetty and simply bought a ticket for the next day. Its a government run boat which runs every day, thank to the info in the Rough Guide to India...) Rs 300, 80 km at +/- 10km per hour.
The big moustache running the boat came to chat to me...then you know they want to sell you something. So after a while it comes out his friend runs a guesthouse with about 4 little houses and he gets them people and his friend get people for the boat rides...Fare trade no secrets about it. I say I will go take a look. When we get there me and the Israeli pot smoking gang ( they were on the boat with me) also came to look at the place. It wasn't clean, but at a quarter of the price I paid the day before and the bathroom looked shower able and the toilet was clean...so why not! I go sit outside for a while...Go inside to get a book and the La Cockarachi is looking at me...I walk out. My Israeli neighbour looks at me and I say...I don’t know about this place.. .He kills the huge animal. And says dont tell my girlfriend...she will freak out...Story does get out and we laugh a while about there previous place which had spider problems...So move on...Out here I am sure a cockroach can move trough every now and then...But then the spider...That’s it I am out of here and looking for another place...The guys running the place where really cool and I really wanted to go out on the town with them and hang...They killed the spider and I say ok...Its very late no point running around in a strange very dark part of the city looking for a place to stay....I go and find a restaurant...Sanil the owner gave me a ride closer to town on his bike...there were three of us on the bike...not an uncommon scene...have seen a whole family of 4 on a two wheeler before. I get back, I kill another spider...Now I am getting pissed off and then in the clean bathroom ....Cockroach has moved in with his whole family...A passing through roach doesn't know where to hide when you turn on the light...The one that have moved in., scatter immediately to a hiding spot...I saw 5 running....I packed my bag and walked to a 3 star ( a real 3 star ) hotel I saw on my way to eat dinner...
Next morning I get a rickshaw outside the hotel and ask him to take me to the boat jetty...Got recommended by a clerk at the local university who was traveling the 8 hour boat journey as well with his family. For Rs 10 I get a ride to Kotayam and from there bus or train to Cochin...Saves me more then Rs 1000 per taxi and get a journey out of it...This side we actually t see the rice fields and no dirt next to the back waters...much nicer then the previous day...well maybe not nicer, just very different.
Rickshaw driver with one funny eye drives the wrong direction...I say no, boat jetty not bus jetty...he goes yes yes yes...ok well maybe he is taking a different route....I was late and the boat was leaving in 15 min. We passed a elephant along the way, (felt like the amazing race) but that went so fast I could not take a picture....was one of those: Oh wow look elephant walking down the road moments...I really feel we are going to wrong way. I take out my map and show him boat jetty...he looks very confused and doesn’t understand the map…and keeps going....finally stops and point s to a shop...I say what?! Wild Cherry....No dude Boat Jetty...He drives to other rickshaw drivers I explain to them they explain to him...he still doesn't get it...eventually they say boat jetty and he goes Oh! WTF! They laugh at him and yea I paid him more...sucker...his acting was really good or he really didn't know what I was on about. I jump on the boat as it leaves the dock...must say they are really good about time here.. Even the guy that made my shirt in Kovalam came to look for me on the dot at 19h00 as promised.
All along the way when you travel you get smells…mostly diesel and smoke….all the time. Then suddenly you smell spice and coffee and a few minutes later you see a sign…spice shop or coffee…I wonder if the food smells this strong because you only smell smoke or diesel all the time and you have lost your smell and tastes buds already...
From Kotayam it was a bus ride to Cochin...Have you ever been in a bus doing an emergency stop because there was another bus in the way and no one even flinches...Seems the government busses get priority on the road...they just hoot and pass and everyone gets out the way...difference obviously if you have two of them heading for each other...and then we got a flat tire...That’s when I saw and met the Swedish couple also on the bus. We had to find another one to Cochin and then again another...I opted the last stretch for a rickshaw. They had someone picking them up.
As we arrive in Cochin I already get spotted and a biker starts chatting to the rickshaw driver while looking for Vintage...they have a sales/force pitch that make you come look at there guesthouse just in case you don’t like the other...This one really looked good but I don’t want to walk into someone house all the time....Vintage has 11 rooms and its purely rooms with ensuite and not a homestay which is big business here.
Last night I was going through my photos and when I got back all the way to the beginning to Cape Town airport....I looked up and jumped back to reality...I am in India!!!!
This morning I went to get a typical western breakfast...its very tourist orientated here in Cochin. After I walked out to go take a look at the St Francis church... Edwin offers a trip around town...names spots not on the tour books and for only Rs 100. OK why not...He took me to all the interesting spots...He really was the perfect tour guide until.... St Francis we left for last cause that is 5 min walk from my place. So we go to this up market art importers...I tell him I am not going to buy anything today....He says you don’t have to just look...Man I got dragged around this shop. Up the stairs, another room this room...look at this, maybe you want to buy that or this...then we went to the ginger factory and another art warehouse...I said NO! I don want to see another... He says its his neighbour and a lot cheaper (0 ok the stuff was good) still way to much. These guys import things for you to your own country if you want to.. The neighbour had honey dripping from his mouth...It took my every inch of self control to not buy something or punch him...I got out of there though...Tonight at Kathakali show a met a guy from Mauritius who spend over Rs 6000 because of the same thing in another town...The Indian sales pitch is incredible. Nothing like it...WOW really...
Edwin noticed I was upset and stop long the road later...said sorry...he gets Rs50 if he takes a foreigner to a shop...He really was a nice guy...So we hit another art shop,. I play the interested foreigner looking for gifts....I did the same for another rickshaw driver later...He asked me straight up...let me drive you to this shop, you walk in look around and I get 1liter of petrol...( this was a new government art shop that just opened). It there way of promoting themselves...Edwin should pick me up tomorrow to go to the local market where things are cheaper…where the local Cochin people do their shopping.
I was so tired after all that that I went to take a nap....Tonight I went to Kathakali...absolutely fantastic. The drumming session were 3 guys creating live trance music...No trance DJ will stand up to these guys...
Think it about time I take break...have to leave something for next time.
Ciao and till soon.
ps...its 23h00 and no permission to upload....will have to wait again for pictures :(
When you hear I give you nice price...I have not trusted it yet.
Food you start eating bit by bit...cause you really are enjoying every bite or you are burning like hell. Also learn to eat while people watch.
Travel...travel like the locals and save huge amounts of money BUT...stay calm!
The heat and the stupid little rich kids that get people to move way are not accepted by the locals either.
The train ride...no I didn't see any chickens on it. Have a few pics but am not able to upload at this internet cafe...or should I say: bishopdarramnagga... I am quite sure that is not how you spell it but that is how the 2 locals at the bar earlier explained me how I should ask for one up the road. And also there is people's privacy that is difficult not invading when you pick up a camera and point.
I walked into the bar from the heat and obviously started feeling a bit woozy. I was sure that my beer was drugged and that the two that came in just after me where responsible...The life of a paranoid freak like me. They were the nicest two guys I have met so far. Bar dingy of course this town is dingy. And Muslims drinking...what did I expect.
The hotel obviously has a deal with the boat rides. I am taking an 8 hour boat ride to my next town in the morning. They phoned for me but apparently no boat going tomorrow. Thanks to the Rough Guide I got into a rickshaw went to the jetty and got my own ticket for the morning. The only reason tourist come to this city is to depart on the Kerala Backwater Cruises...Google it :)
You have no idea what this country is like. There are old buildings falling apart all over the show. One can see that once they were these great majestic buildings. Not today. There is chaos everywhere and yet it is calm and you actually feel at ease walking down one of the busiest streets I have ever seen...
There are so many things I could still tell you but that will have to wait. Things to see and places to experience!
Biggest lesson of how to live and experience India until now...trust yourself and trust India.
PS: have figured out why people pick their noses and think I have spotted about 4 different head bobbles. Funny that my first town was Muizenberg compared to this...don’t get me wrong there still is a beauty in the dirt which I just cannot explain...
At my first destination
Not sure if it was because I was still in a daze after my 30 hour journey but thought the taxi ride here was hilarious. He did things and passed cars on the road that should not be possible. Think the rule is hoot and overtake. Doesn't really matter about oncoming traffic or not. Everyone does it, you just get out the way.
I got out of the taxi and thought someone just poured a bucket of water over me. That lasted quite a while. Am still sweating but not that much. A bit cooler down here at the beach. Have a room right on the beach front.
Strange little place. Am already sick of all the people trying to sell you things. Everyone is extremely friendly...also desperate for money. This was a buzzing little place back in the days, but now this a tourist waste land. You find the odd wrinkly British couples here and then the lesbian hippies and then the German odds.
Food has been fantastic so far...hot and sweet! Extreme for both but very tasty.
Think I am only now relaxing after my night at Mumbai airport and enjoying Kingfisher beer. They have an airline called after them. Then there also is. IndiGo and Spice Jet ( which has the cutest staff )
Anyway...2 nights here is too much...It’s a sleeping town...Just what I need now and then I am moving on. This internet shack :) is too hot...getting out of here.
Must say travelling alone you always stay alert, am starting to trust my environment a bit more...maybe it was the beer.