A Travellerspoint blog

Amman, Jordan

Welcome To The Middle East

sunny 20 °C

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It's hard to believe that we're already posting about the Middle East! Time is just flying by, but we both couldn't be happier to be back in a modern civilization again (sorry India lol), but more importantly to again be travelling somewhere that is completely unique to anything we have seen before. I'm excited to share some stories with you so lets do this thing...

After spending a long restless night in Mumbai's Airport (don't even get me started on what a "bamboozle" that was.... seemed like they checked your boarding pass just to take a piss there) we finally boarded our 6:30AM flight to Amman, Jordan via Kuwait City. The flight was good (actually got a bit of rest), but for whatever reason we touched down in some random airport (not sure even what country we were in) and sat on the tarmac for at least 3 hours. We were told it was because of a sandstorm (the visibility was pretty bad) but who knows... all I know is that we were stuck on a plane with loads of crying babies... serenity now, serenity now lol. Eventually we took off again and made it into Kuwait were again our connecting flight was delayed due to a sandstorm. So we did what any good North Americans would do... went to Chilis to fill our fat faces with Nachos and Burgers lol.

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The food was comforting... the exchange rate was not lol. Traded $100 in Indian Rupees for Kuwait Dinar and lost $25 on the transaction!! How's that for a raping? Oh well what can you do. Eventually we were cleared for takeoff after only another 3 hour delay... good times....

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Here are some pics of us flying over Saudi Arabia:

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Obviously when we made it to Jordan we were feeling like shit as we hadn't really slept in like 2 days. But we made it through Amman's airport, obtained our Visa's and jumped on a bus to head into the city where we quickly found a hotel and some much needed rest. Even though we were tried we still quite excited about the fact of being somewhere completely foreign to us. It's always nice to get those travellers butterflies again. The first thing I immediately noticed and appreciated about Jordan was the roads. All in amazing condition, they drive on the RIGHT side of the road and the people drive sanely and normally... you know... obeying laws and signs and not trying to basically kill you (I DO NOT miss driving in Asia or India!!!).

Our first day in Amman we decided to check out the main sights around the downtown. Amman at one point in history was part of the great Roman Empire and the city was at that point named Philadelphia. That morning we met a follow world traveller named Jamie from Australia, so we teamed up and headed out to see the Roman Theatre which was only several blocks away from our hotel. On the way we passed by a couple of other landmarks...

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King Hussein Mosque

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Remnants of an ancient Roman Fountain

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Pretty marvellous sight. They definitely did some restoration work to it because it was in incredible shape. Our admission also included entry into 2 museums attached to the theatre.

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Okay so I want to take this moment to touch on the people of Jordan. By far the warmest and most friendly people we have met thus far on our journey! Have you ever been anywhere where you're just walking down the street and people will ask, "Where are you from?", we reply and then it's always followed by "Welcome to Jordan". Honestly it is just so nice to experience that Middle Eastern hospitality. Everyone from people in the street, to hotel staff, to taxi drivers are all super friendly and kind, we're honestly not used to it. Maybe it's because you could never do that in Canada... well think about it... I person of Asian decent is walking down the street and you say "Welcome to Canada!", and their like "I'm Canadian asshole" lol. Of course everyone tends to be more interested in Stacey then they are with me (it's that legendary blond hair of hers) which was just the case at the Roman Theatre. At the time we were visiting there were loads of school kids on field trips. Needless to say they were super excited to practice their english with us and of course take a few pictures.

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We also had a great conversation with a member of the Tourist Police. Super friendly guy (helps us with our Arabic lol) who even invited us to his wedding! He ended up showing us to secrets of the Theatre... if I told you they wouldn't be secrets now would they? Climbing to the top of the Theatre gave us a great of of the surrounding city...

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The big hill you see in the background is where we were headed to next. It's an area called the Citadel which was an important site throughout history for both military and religious reasons. We got slightly lost making our way up to the hill which only worked to our advantage because we somehow bypassed the admission gate and just walked right in lol.

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The Temple Of Hercules... well what's left of it.

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Inside one of the buildings was an exhibition of before and after pictures chronicling the restoration work archeologists have done to the site. It's come a long way and they did a very good job for a project on such a massive scale (I still will never forget them piecing the Terracotta Warriors back together piece by painstaking piece). The whole Citadel area is quite large but more impressively is the fact that it's perched on the highest point of the city and therefore offers up some spectacular views.

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Off to the edge of the hill we met some Jordanian children flying kites...

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One kid must of had his kite strung out a good kilometre, or at least to the point where it had become a flight hazard. That night we enjoyed an exceptional meal at a restaurant called Jafra. It's nice to eat again and not worry about getting sick!

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After two nights we decided to switch hotels (found a better deal and the staff at the second hotel were SO friendly).

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It may not look like much but satellite TV and a fridge makes a big difference in the eyes of a backpacker! You have no idea how nice it is to have ice in our drinks again!! Life's all about the little things lol. Views from our new hotel...

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We did a little bit more touring around in the following days but we also decided to do some shopping also and Amman has some pretty good malls. Honestly it was a nice change of pace to just grab a coffee and stroll around without sweating your bag off all the time lol. Oh ya... the weather! It's perfect. Never too hot or too cold. The sun can be a bit much in the peak of the day but other then that it's my ideal weather. A much welcome change from India which was just too damn hot! That concludes Amman... even though we are still staying here as I write this. We used Amman as our home base to do day trips to the surrounding area. So stay tuned for us floating in the Dead Sea and touring more accent ruins in Jerash. Bye.

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Posted by ttbwarren 22:25 Archived in Jordan Comments (0)

Kerala

The Final India Chapter

sunny 34 °C

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Quick Update: After a very long 2 days of travel we finally made it to Amman Jordan safe and sound. I'll write it about it in the next post, but the journey includes 3 flights, sleeping in Mumbai's airport and being stuck in a sandstorm in Kuwait.

Kerala... the final India chapter in our journey to the great sub-continent. We last left off in Ooty in the Tamil Nigril Province where if you remember we were deathly ill. Well after being stuck in Ooty for about a week or so we finally had enough strength to make a break for it and move on. You see this required ALOT of courage... why?... well for starters there are no tourist buses that leave Ooty because it is so isolated in the Ghats (a tourist bus meaning a big coach with proper suspension, A/C, or even windows lol). This meant that we would be faced with the task of of boarding a regular local bus for about 4 hours, transferring in another city, and then travelling another 4-6 hours on another local bus. Normally this wouldn't/shouldn't be too painful but remember we had both just gotten over being ill and that's a long time to be travelling on a rickety old rust bucket with no toilet, no A/C and no end in sight. The trip started off okay (the weather in Ooty was always quite nice hovering at around 10-20 C most days) that is of course until we got a flat tire and were trapped on the roadside for an extra hour. Once we got going again and got out of the mountains, the sweltering Indian heat set in and I knew that this was going to be the most painful journey of my life. We made the decision that morning to not eat for the day just incase we got sick... which began to happen again in a hurry. In India I think their driving formula works like this: Gas, Brake, Honk, Repeat... I'm not joking. They drive like absolute idiots there!!! Most roads are single lane so combine that with the fact that no one has any patience and thinks that they're race car drivers and your left with people driving directly into head on traffic, wailing on their horns attempting to pass the vehicle in front of them. This in turn means that the driver in the other lane has to either A) swerve onto the shoulder or ditch or B) slam on the brakes Hence the formula: Gas, Brake, Honk, Repeat SO... picture me, on the verge of shitting my pants for 10 straight hours (not figuratively, literally because my sickness set in again) getting thrown around on a crappy old bus that's swelteringly hot. Not gonna lie, THIS WAS MY FIRST BREAKING POINT ON THIS WHOLE TRIP! Honestly I couldn't take it and had a complete meltdown. All I wanted was to be at home in bed and where life makes sense lol. Thankfully I had Stacey with me to calm me down and to maintain our Team's composure lol... I wouldn't have made it through without her :) So after the bus ride from hell we finally arrived in Kochi, checked into a nice hotel, and proceeded to be sick all over again for the next couple of days :( When I reached the point where I just couldn't take it anymore we decided to enlist the help of a doctor... we found one but he was an ayurvedic doctor.

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Nice looking medicine! I basically was given a horrific brown paste to eat before a meal, and then a putrid vinegar-esque like drink to wash my meal down with afterwards. Long story short: tasted terrible but it worked and after three days of using it I felt completely mended.

Once we felt better we hopped on the local ferry and went to the Fort Kochin area of town (a colonial island and the main tourist area of Kochi). Beautiful little area with great hotels, restaurants and coffee shops... just what we needed to lift our spirits and regain our strength.

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We managed to do a little bit of touring around town, but mainly we just enjoyed our rest and recovery. The Fort Kochin area had a pretty cool water front though which featured massive traditional Chinese fishing nets (I believe they are Chinese... google it).

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Good ol' India.... always plenty of garbage kickin' around even in the tourist areas. Still overall we both really liked Kochi.

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From Kochi we took another bus (I HATE INDIA LOCAL BUSES)... this one was supposed to be only around 4 hours to Varkala but ended being much longer so we said screw it and got off in Kollam (about an hour away from Varkala) and spent the night there. There's only so much a guy can take lol. The next morning we decided to just say no to India buses and instead caught a rickshaw that took us directly to Varkala Beach.... where we breathed a big sigh of relief... serenity.

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As you can see Varkala Cliffs (I think that's what the area was referred to as) was this great little village that stretched along ocean cliffs and has this massive beach that sits down at the bottom. We were very impressed with the atmosphere and instantly new that we would thoroughly enjoy our time there. Straightaway we met a fellow Canadian named Max who showed us to a great guesthouse in town. Max has been in India for quite some time now and is a filmmaker who is currently working on a television show about travel. He has travelled all over the world extensively and it was great to pick his brain about some of the countries that we're off to soon.

View from our room...

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Views from the main walking path along the village (most restaurants, bars and shops line the cliffs).

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Classic India... where there is a cliff (even in the most beautiful place like this) there's bound to be garbage dumped over it...

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Thankfully it didn't reach the beach... because it was amazing!

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Quoting Stacey "probably the most scenic, unique beach I've ever seen", and she's bang on. The cliffs overlooking the beach gave the place such a great vibe. It didn't hurt either that the village was packed with super great people from all over the world each on their own journey in India, whether it be for adventure or spiritual reasons.

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We spent our first few days in Varkala just enjoying the beach and all the great food in the restaurants lining the cliff.

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After a few days our friend Max, who I like to think of as the Canadian ambassador of Varkala lol (one of the friendliest people we've met travelling) invited us out with a bunch of other people to head into town to partake in a massive local festival. I'm not sure why exactly people were celebrating (seems like there was a different festival each week we were in India) but who cares! A party's a party right? And it was quite the event.

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Is that a Christmas tree on your head or are you just happy to see me?

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Man or woman?

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Ahhhh... man... lol

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That poor guy was suspended there for like 4-5 hours with no pee break... I'd be calling my Union representation lol.

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Seen this and found it quite ironic...

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On our trip through town we decided to hit up a local watering hole for a beer...

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Like Max said, "Definitely one of my Top 5 Shady Drinking Establishments I've ever drank at"... I think it made my Top 3... Asquith Bar still holds the #1 spot lol...

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I don't know if it was because of the festival or the beers but we were all feeling a little bit Indian and decided that 8 of us could fit into one rickshaw...

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...pulled it off lol.

The next day we again hit up the beach to work on our tans and to catch up on some reading.

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This is where I made one of my biggest mistakes of the trip. You see all over India there are loads of stray mangey dogs kicking' around. Of course I'm a sucker for dogs and made friends with one and pet him that day on the beach. What's the problem with that? More on this in a bit...

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The following day we participated in a local cooking class... I mostly participated in the eating part... what? It was too damn hot to be cooking lol.

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Ok... so I pet a stray dog... well the following day I felt this weird burning sensation on my mouth and face and it was all red and inflamed. By the time the cooking course was finished and we were back in the hotel my face was a full blown puss ridden open sore! Needless to say I was f@%king scared! What the hell was on my face? To make matters worse, it was spreading (I won't mention to where).

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Thankfully the owner's wife of our hotel was a nurse for a dermatologist at a Thiruvananthapuram hospital. So off we went on a hour and half cab ride to see the derm. Thankfully he said it was nothing too serious and was a bacterial skin infection called Impetigo (google image search it). Apparently it's highly contagious and spreads via scratching and itchy and guess who are carriers?? Yep... dogs. Thankfully after a few days of antibiotics the infection started to clear up and my life got back to normal. Not gonna lie I was pretty worried and hit a pretty low point in our travels. Imagine being in a foreign country with a massive weeping lesion on your face. Gross!

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On our way back form the hospital.

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That night we spotted this little critter in our hotel...

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Unfortunately due to my infection I had to stay out of the sun and stay cool for a few days (thought at first it was heat rash on my face), so that meant that we had to cancel our backwater boat trip :( Still a bit sad about that one... but what can you do... oh India... thanks for the wonderful plethora of diseases lol.

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So we finished off our time in India staying in Varkala (absolutely nothing wrong with that... loved it there). On April 9th we took our last Indian train from Varkala to Kochi International Airport.

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Here's another fun little interesting India fact: Train toilets DO NOT have holding tanks. Yep all that shit hits the tracks! So just imagine what the train stations look and smell like. Oh wait you don't have to... I got pics...

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Wow!! Pretty nasty. And you wonder why tourists get sick!

So that concludes our India adventure. In the almost 5 weeks we spent there we both seen and experienced a lot... some good and some bad. It's hard for me to articulate how we feel about it... perhaps we don't fit so neatly into either category of A) Love It or B) Hate It ... because honestly we experienced a lot of both. The highs were high and the lows were low. Let me break it down this way:

Top 5 Positive India Experiences:

1) Completely Unique Environment and Landscape - both urban and countryside
2) How Spiritual The Whole Country Is
3) Cost - by far the cheapest place we've travelled to
4) Beaches - besides Cowpatty Beach in Mumbai of course lol
5) The Food - even though we got sick once we rarely were dissatisfied with our meals

Top 5 Negative India Experiences:

1) Garbage & Pollution
2) Cleanliness & Hygiene (I consider this separate from #1) - restaurants, hotels, buses, trains, public spaces etc.
3) Public Transportation - train bookings difficult, and local buses a nightmare
4) Hassle From Touts - someone's always selling something
5) Lack Of Modernization - WIFI rare, no ice (anywhere), no grocery stores, electricity 60% of the day etc.

It's funny though, because looking back now at our time there I realize that it is both the good and the bad that make a trip memorable... we shall not be forgetting India any time soon. On one hand I felt like the entire time I carried around this underlying stress or unease just from being there and when we arrived in Jordan it was like this massive weight lifted off me, BUT on the other hand it is nice at times to feel something. It's hard to explain what "something" is... sometimes being out of your comfort zone, or near danger etc, can make you feel alive. I'll give India that... other than perhaps a long bus ride where you purposely try to numb myself out, travelling throughout India I always felt very conscious and alive. SO if someone were to ask me the proverbial question: "What did you think of India?" There's only one way I could answer... with an iconic India head bobble (head bobbed side to side - means yes and no... google it).

Map Of Our India Adventure:

Posted by ttbwarren 23:34 Archived in India Comments (0)

Southern India

Mysore & Ooty

semi-overcast 18 °C

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What an insane past couple of weeks!! India... oh the highs and lows. For instance, we've recently been staying in Varkala which is a fantastic sunny beach town perched up on the cliffs overlooking the ocean. A very welcome and refreshing change from being landlocked and in a big city. The beach has kind of become our home away from home.... always relaxing and consistent. This part of India... positive. And for the negative part... not only have I recently developed eczema on my hands most likely due to my constant sweating, but I have also developed some sort of extreme heat rash or infection on my face. Yep, looks horrific, have to now stay out of the sun, delay our boat trip, and had to waste time and money travelling almost 2 hours south by taxi to a dermatologist in Thiruvananthapuram (try saying that one 3x fast lol). The good news was that the doctor was actually really good plus we only waited like 15 minutes to see a specialist and pay only $3 + medication ($4). Therefore I am currently holed up in our new hotel room (had to upgrade to a AC room to help dry out my skin) so I might as well write about our past trails and tribulations. Who knew that sweating would become my Kryptonite?

We left Hampi at around 10pm via another night bus (how come I keep ending up on these damned things lol). The trip was fine and we arrived in Bangalore, the IT capital of the world apparently (more like the call centre capital of the world... ever called Bell Express Vu before?), where we had planned to stay for a day or two. Well when we arrived at our hotel we realized that we had made a mistake in our booking and had actually booked a room for the previous night (when you don't have jobs or a normal life this is surprisingly very easy... if it wasn't for my watch I would never known what day of the week it is). We kindly asked if they would correct our mistake and give us the room for the following night. Long story short, they wouldn't help us and were very rude, so we told them what we thought (very politely of course lol) and left to catch another bus onward to Mysore about 5 hours further away (screw Bangalore we thought... read it was nice and it was honestly just another big dirty Indian city). To top off our morning we figured out that Bangalore had like three different bus stations and we ended up making it to all three before we finally found the right bus to Mysore (got a string of just terrible directions and advice lol). SO... after a gruelling long night/day we finally arrived in Mysore, tired and cranky... Indian is not an easy place to travel!

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That was our Mysore hotel room... what a beauty!! That night we booked all our flights for the rest of our journey around the world (used a company called AirTreks) and planned out our next day ahead which included a trip to the much hyped Mysore Palace.

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Admission to the Palace was actually quite pricey for what you got, which was a walkthrough of the Palace where you weren't even allowed to take pictures. The best part was that we first toured around the outside so we could get a few pics, when a bunch of security guards approached us and said that we were in the wrong area (we weren't by the way). They then escorted us back to the entrance into the Palace where they then told us that since they helped us out that we should pay them a bunch of rupees. Really?? Do I look like that big of a retarded tourist? We obviously refused, but that didn't stop 'em from being persistent, following us around or trying to intimidate us. Some people... it's little shit like this that can really get you down about a place... but we brushed it off and continued our day.

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To be honest the Palace was nothing to write home about. Yes the architecture was stunning inside but what's up with the light bulbs and shitty electrical work covering the whole outside? I don't know... maybe we've been spoiled on this trip with all the amazing things we've seen. Mysore's not going to be making any highlight reel of mine anytime soon that's for sure. But there actually were quite a few impressive looking buildings around town though...

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We left Mysore the same day as we toured the Palace, this time again heading south-west but deeper into the Western Ghats to a little hillside station called Ooty (which sits on the Western edge of the Tamil Nadu Province). This is where we got sick... REALLY SICK. There is a gape in pictures that spans about 3-4 days. This picture is of our first night in our hotel room after we just ate the infamous chicken.

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The following morning was the start of three days of pure hell... sick and stuck in a crumby hotel that smells like mould, has no shower or hot water (only a bucket shower), no TV or internet and power that's on only around 50% of the day/night. Needless to say it was a long miserable couple of days, but we managed to regain a bit of strength and switch hotels to mix it up by day 4.

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It actually had a pretty nice view... and decent home cooked food.

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By about the fifth or sixth day we were close to fully recovered. We had met another couple, Jake and Jemimah (Australia & Canada) and decided to shake of the sickness by going hiking (which was what we came to Ooty to do). Ooty is actually quite a scenic place. The town itself is nothing special, but the surrounding hills and the countryside is really quite different. We decided to head to the highest point in town, Doddabetta (2633M).

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That looks tasty...

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Only in India...

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Quite the buffet royal... this is why you don't eat Indian beef lol... or horse...

After about a hours walk we had made it out of town and into the tea fields.

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There was a small makeshift trail leading up the mountainside which was quite steep. The weather was perfect and the air was clean but I just didn't have my lungs or legs and was still sweatin' it out pretty good the whole way up. The coolest part was that there were eucalyptus trees everywhere so the air was super crisp and easy on our sickly lungs.

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But we made it to the top and were treated to a not surprisingly spectacular view...

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On the way back down I met a few more friends.

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Unfortunately at the time there was no one harvesting any tea. Now that I've seen the plant and can't even begin to imagine how much work it takes to harvest it, although I've heard they use some pretty cool machines now to make the process more efficient. We basically came to Ooty with the intention of doing loads of hiking and exploring, and what we wound up with was a week long puking retreat in the countryside. I suppose we salvaged a good day or two of it but I still can't stress enough how painful of an experience our illness was. But we survived it... together. No matter what this trip throws at us we can take it.... except for of course more rotten chicken...

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Posted by ttbwarren 10:33 Archived in India Comments (0)

Hampi

The Land Before Time

sunny 35 °C

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I told ya I'd be back on here soon! Feeling much much better and really appreciating the benefits of good health... the things us young folk take for granted. My herbal medicine seems to have done the trick, so today we will be off again on another bus (only 3 hrs this time round) heading south again, this time to another beach-like area. But right now I want to share about Hampi with you. Hampi... so many great things to say about it so lets get started.

From Goa we took a night bus (yep another one) the whole way into Hampi which was about a 10-12 hr journey. The bus was great as we booked a double A/C sleeper bed which was basically a double bed pod with a curtain giving us the illusion of our own little room. We both slept well and arrived in town rested. We quickly found ourselves a decent hotel with A/C, satellite TV and a few other luxuries, and settled in. Hampi is quite a small town and probably only survives due to both local and foreign tourism. As you'll see there are just heaps of ancient ruins here. But besides that the landscape is just surreal. I never expected anywhere in India to look quite like Hampi.... it felt like we were in the Flintstones or something lol.

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That was the view from our rooftop chill-out area in our hotel. After unpacking we immediately set off to explore the town and surrounding area.

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As you can see there is a river that runs adjacent to the village which makes everything surrounding it green and lush, while the rest of the surrounding area is rocky, parched and hot... man was it ever hot there! Following our guidebooks advice we set off out of town, through a banana plantation to where there is a gigantic Mango tree and a delicious restaurant with the same name.

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Our first day in Hampi was also special for another reason.... IT WAS STACEY'S 29TH BIRTHDAY!! After dinner we walked back the way we came but stopped to feed and visit a few friends.

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Monkey VS Dog... who won??

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Monkey(s) lol. The monkey's here were so spoiled that they were hardly interested in taking your bananas... makes sense seeing as how they lived in a banana plantation I guess. They liked the coconuts I bought though. So here I was thinking I'm all smart with a backpack full of bananas and intent on making friends and the only ones interested in them were the street cows lol. Cows love bananas! I couldn't stop laughing when they would come after me sticking out their tongues for them.

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To celebrate Stacey's birthday we brought with us from Goa two local bottles of wine and had our own private little rooftop celebratory party.

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For the following day our plan was more or less the same as the previous day minus the wine of course (most places in India alcohol is banned... Hampi was one of these places). Hampi was just so extraordinary because there were so many places to explore... and because it was like nothing either of us has ever seen before.

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The only problem is that the heat can be unbearable and it completely slows you down. The sun is so bright that you have to cover up or you'll burn, but then because your covered up you just sweat! You'd think we'd be used to the sweating and the heat by now but we're not. Remember my little running theme: India - Love it or Hate it ?? A) Hampi - Love it B) Excrement in public - Hate it lol You see we were told by people before we came to India that sanitation was a huge problem throughout the country but you really have to see it with your own eyes. I'm not talking smells either. You see, we're used to that rotten garbage smell that I'm quick to associate with Asia, but in India it's different. It's a hybrid mix of rotten garbage and barn. At first I kind of enjoyed the barn aspect of it because it reminded me of home lol, but when you start to realize that the barn smell is based more on human then animal.... ya well you get the idea. Garbage has been a common sight so far everywhere in India with the exception of Palolem Beach, but with that garbage also comes dirty gutter water and shit... everywhere. Part of the shit problem can clearly be attributed to the cows roaming the streets, or the stray dogs I suppose... but lots you see clearly has not come from either of the first two suspects. In Hampi this problem seemed amplified because in the rocky areas there was no vegetation to cover up "the piles" lol which seemed to overwhelmingly dot all across the landscape. Just another one of those strange little things about India. It might deter some people but remember a little shit never hurt anyone.

That afternoon we had to jump in a rickshaw and head into the next nearby town to get some more money (everywhere we travel there has always been ATM's where we usually withdraw $200-400 at a time depending on the country's maximum withdrawal limit. Have had quite a few problems with TD Bank shutting down our card though - they claim it's been flagged for fraud each time cause it's being used in a foreign country, even though we have told them numerous times we are TRAVELLING THE WORLD and this is WHY we have the account in the first place... Canadian Banks... bunch of crooks), so we got to take in some more of Hampi's unique countryside.

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Our rickshaw driver was a really great guy and we got to talking about some of the lesser seen sights in and around Hampi. We really wanted to do something different, something that not many other tourists get to do... and we had just the idea. COBRAS... KING COBRAS... Now as some of you are aware I AM NOT A SNAKE GUY!!! I hate snakes, not sure why, but I hate 'em. To be honest they scare me for many reasons... I mainly don't like how they move among other things. BUT I decided that this trip is as much about conquering fears as it is about experiences. You only live once right? What better way to feel alive then to go see a snake charmer in India right? Right?

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Crazy... couldn't believe I was witnessing it. The funny thing about snake charming is, is that snakes are deaf, so the whole flute nonsense is merely for show. The only thing keeping the snakes attention is the guy waving the flute in front of its face. Believe it or not the guy got bit loads of times. Our driver explained to us though that when the snakes are caught that their teeth are removed hence making them non-venomous. Still... can't imagine getting bit! The village we were at was apparently home to not just one snake charmer but two. How lucky were we :( This other charmer was super excited to show us his snakes too, but we had to go into his hut. Perfect... now I'm essentially trapped in a hut with a bunch of pissed off king cobras!

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Can you believe this girl? Scared of heights but she'll do shit like this!!

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HEY STACEY... Just in case your unaware... THAT'S A KING F@%KING COBRA AROUND YOUR NECK!! Crazy girl. Not gonna see me doing that... but I touched it.

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As I'm writing this I'm still in disbelief that we even saw this. Definitely a unique and memorable India experience. They are magnificent creatures and I have great respect for them... but I still don't like them and could never imagine having one in a straw basket in my house... let alone under my bed (that's where this guy kept them!!)

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For our final day in Hampi we decided to stay clear of snakes and instead stick to ruins... which there was plenty of to see.

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We had only planned on spending a day or two in Hampi and in the end we almost spent a week exploring the area. The only negative thing I could say about it was that it was too hot for my taste. The heat made trekking twice as hard... but we're troopers so we packed our sweat rags and soldiered on.

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Those ladies were collecting cow shit in their straw baskets (which I believe they burn or use as fuel). And this guy was enjoying a straight razor shave...

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Not a bad view. At the end of our final day we came across a area filled with impressive ruins (not sure of the name) and spent the rest of the afternoon just snooping around the area.

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And that concludes our time in Hampi. This one contained a lot of pictures I know but I really felt that they told a good story about this unique place and about India in general. For anyone travelling to India, Hampi is a must do! By far our most memorable stop in India and by far one of the more different and exciting places we have travelled to thus far. Our guidebook DID NOT do a good enough job hyping it up. If you ever plan on venturing to Hampi make sure to give yourself at least 3 extra days on top of what you've allotted yourself. And don't forget to bring some bananas... for the cows of course.

Posted by ttbwarren 00:17 Archived in India Comments (0)

Goa

Churches, Sun & Sand

sunny 34 °C

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Finally... A internet connection where I can do this thing!! Remember me complaining about the internet in Asia? Well I would trade that in a heartbeat for the crap they pass off as high speed here lol. For some reason I thought India was going to be great for WIFI and instead we're finding that it's almost near impossible to even find an internet cafe. If we could go back in time we would have bought a data stick when we arrived here as they're only $20 + about another $10 for 10G of data and they advertise that they're pretty fast... oh well... should have listened to the guide book.

The other main reason for the lapse in posts is because we have both been deathly ill. I'm not talking a little bout of travellers diarrhoea either... that I have dealt with a many of times before lol... I'm talking violently vomiting up water for 3 days. We arrived in this little isolated hillside town called Ooty and our first night in town we eat some tandoori chicken.... from there it all went wrong. You see we were basically trapped in our crappy hotel room (rock hard bed, electricity 60% of the day, no shower/hot water) for 3 days trying to battle whatever it was that we caught... our guess is Salmonella poisoning. Needless to say that not eating for 3 days straight has taken a poll on my physique and overall health. After basically being landlocked in this small little village we decided to make a break for it and head south to a bigger city in Kerala, however this meant 10 hours of travel via a non A/C bus with no toilet. Regardless of amenities, we made the decision to go ahead with it and made it out alive... but in terrible shape. The bus ride was one of the most excruciating experiences of my life (swelteringly hot, bumpy, loud, with the adding effect of feeling like your gonna crap your pants for 10 hours). But we made it, spent another 2 days again terribly ill, but went to see a doctor. We are now taking some Ayurveda herbal remedy and it actually appears to be working as we're slowly starting to feel much better! OH THE HIGHS AND LOWS OF INDIA!!

Predating our illness we were in Hampi, and before that the province of Goa. From Mumbai we took our first Indian train, night train, south to a Goa train station. We were able to secure ourselves a 3 class AC ticket on the train, so we didn't know what to expect (trains are SUPER busy and booked).

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It was actually a pretty comfy trip... slept well and arrived in Goa the next morning.

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From the train station we caught a rickshaw into Panaji which lays in the heart of Goa. Beautiful little colonial city.

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We found ourselves a decent little guesthouse, settled in, had a rest, got bedbugs again, switched rooms, reminded ourselves to stay positive and headed out to have a beer lol.

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We've gotten pretty good at just brushing stuff off and not letting it get to us. It's all part of the experience and life isn't perfect. Don't get me wrong we're still human and have our low moments and breaking points (mine was the bus ride I mentioned earlier), but we bought a really good book that has helped us out called, "Don't Sweat The Small Stuff" which we carry with us always. Panaji was a pretty great little town so we spent the day exploring what it had to offer.

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Still always great food to be had in India...

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That's called Thalis and it's a common lunch item... super delicious.

Gotta love electrical infrastructure...

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Slightly dangerous, but hey, why lock up something that could kill someone?

The next day we went to the bus station and boarded a bus to take us to Old Goa. The city was constructed by the Bijapur Sultanate in the 15th century, and served as capital of Portuguese India from the 16th century until its abandonment in the 18th century due to plague. During the 16th century it had a population of roughly 200,000 people which was around the same as London at that time. Now all that is left is churches... big, beautiful churches in the middle of the countryside.

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The heat was pretty incredible that day but we soldiered through and took in each and every church. I can't really remember which church was which, but one was the biggest in all of Asia (if you consider India part of Asia). Very impressive stuff.

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We spent the full day touring Old Goa before catching the bus back to Panaji. On our way back I spotted this and couldn't help but think of my old job and safety...

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If any electricians are still reading this blog I honestly got a dozen other good pics just like this... we truly have one of the most dangerous jobs in the world! Just not in Canada where we actually value life lol.

The following day we jumped on another local bus and set off for the southern Goa(n) coast. We arrived in the beach town of Palolem and were completely blown away that we were still in India! Everything was just so clean lol, even the water! We instantly fell in love with the place (sun, sand and cheap beer... what's not to love?) and booked into a beach hut for the next couple of days.

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We both really cherish our beach time lol. Nice to just get away from the chaos and to be honest it's been the closest thing to home that we've had this trip. I mean it's consistent, comforting and nice to get into a relaxing routine with your day. Lots of dogs on the beach here though, and very territorial too. We both thoroughly enjoyed watching the them fight (never violently of course), or the packs chasing the other packs away from their beach turf.

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That guy just loved playing soccer with the locals but he had such bad hips you could tell he was sore afterwards... I sure miss having dogs around!

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We always had one sleeping under our beach chair!

Another thing that you normally don't associate the beach with is cows.... but India's got loads of them too... watch out for beach patties...

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But it's not just the beach, as cows are everywhere here. I kind of like it. It's funny to watch 'em piss off the locals by wandering into their shops and restaurants, or literally eating their products or jewellery lol and then seeing the shopkeepers getting upset and beating them away with plastic water bottles or something of the sort.

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The beaches also had loads of crabs. Not big ones of course but it sure made the sand look cool.

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On our final day in Goa we booked ourselves on a boat to go Dolphin watching ($4 each), where they guaranteed that we would spot Dolphins...

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They were hard to spot even with our zoom lens, but we saw them nonetheless. Hard to get a good view of them which I guess we should have expected, but a worth while experience all in all. This was what our boat looked liked...

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Stacey got a few cool pics of the eagles fishing too...

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Well that concludes Goa everyone! I promise to post again very soon. Thank you for your patience in waiting for posts and I do hope that you enjoy reading them as much as I do writing them... so please... stay tuned

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Posted by ttbwarren 21:09 Archived in India Comments (0)

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