Sunday, December 28, 2003
First of all THANKS to everyone who helped get us on the road- Marcus, Sarah, Scott, Elle, Barry, Sue and anyone else who's name I havent mentioned (I'd also like to thank god!)
We got to the airport on time and one the plane in one piece and that is where things started to go wrong... Fog over Vienna! The plane wasdelayed by about 2 hours so when we got to Vienna we had missed our connection to Delhi... What an arse!!! We hot footed it to the terminal and got in the queue for the service center.
Actually queue is a little strong- more like mass of angry people- with very little in the understanding of Personal Space...
During this time we met a girl called Zoe who was also supposed to be getting to Delhi. So there we were - in a maul of people- having had no/little sleep - after about 10 minutes no one had moved when I was struck by inspiration.
There must be a booking office in the departures hall of the airport-surely they could rebook our tickets? So after making sure we could get back in to get our bags- and convincing Kate and Zoe that I was not in fact insane we LEFT THE QUEUE.
Sure enough there was no queue in the at the booking office and we were done in a matter of minutes. With- I might add- a certain amout of smugness :-)
So into vienna! First stop was the hotel - only 80 euros (where is the euro key on the keyboard???) and exploring the city. We had vienerschnitsel (spelling?) and soup and that managed to find the Freud museum- I think Kate enjoyed it but after no sleep it was a little much for me...
Back to the hotel and a short sleep we awoke refreshed and ready for more food and beer- so when in Vienna what food/drink do you obviously go for? Sushi and sake obviously.. Still it was cheap and a nice way to finish the day.
Finally a full 8 hours sleep!
Posted at Sunday, December 28, 2003 by allabaster
Monday, December 29, 2003
Made it! God what a scary airport! You get there and are confronted by a sea of people all trying to get you attention and carry your bags for a tip (here's a tip- I can carry my own bloody bag!)... Plus this was the first time I had seen a 'squat' toilet and the dreaded jug... Lets not think about that yet...
Anyway- where was I? Ah yes the airport... Delhi- india- what are you not expecting? Cold temperatures and fog? Bingo! In the taxi we couldnt see beyond about 10 meters- and the air was so poluted it is hard to describe.
We struck up a conversation with the taxi guy and arranged for a tour the next day - a taxi for the whole day for 800 rupees. Thats about 10 quid, I thought that was a good deal, but this was the first of many scams.
There seems to be no taxi tarrif- they look at you and give you a price based on how much of a sucker they thinks you are. Also, if they know you are desperate they will demand more money on route or deliberatley drop you at the wrong terminal.
Scam Rating 5/10
Anyway got to the hotel at 10:30pm ordered room service and crashed- looking forward to a day of discovery tomorrow.
You order room service when it arrives one item is missing, so you call down and explain the problem- they return with said item and are very appologetic. Later when checking out you notice that the item has been charged for twice.
Scam Rating 2/10
More scams to follow!
Posted at Monday, December 29, 2003 by allabaster
Tuesday, December 30, 2003
The taxi showed up and we were introduced to Singh - a very polite chap with a spectacular beard- henna'd to the max. We got in the cab and at last saw delhi by day.. Saw might be a bit much- since it was still foggy. The first stop was a temple- we got out of the cab and instantly were beset by hawkers. One guy was selling a book of postcards- I wasnt interested and walked off.
Steet sellers will try to sell you things for a rediclous price. To illustrate, the postcard book began at 300 rupees and droped in price as I walked off. He got as low as 80 before he gave up...
Scam Rating 1/10
The temple was beautiful- all white marble and statues. It was quite serene- especially compared to the chaos outside. I was walking past a statue of Krishna and this little guy asked me to bend down- he said 'good luck' and put a red spot in the middle of my forehead. Lovely.
Other highlights included the ancient observatory which is basically a huge sun dial that had been turned into a mosque.
We were offered a english speaking guide which would cost 5 dollars. He did a great job- explaining everything and the history, then when I came to pay I only had a 20 dollar bill. He offered to give me my change in rupees- which seemed fine, but Im not so good at maths on the fly so when we actually worked it out he'd TOTALLY short changed us... D'oh!
Scam Rating 2/10 (just plain lazy!)
Any way it was getting towards the end of the day so we diecided to get back to the hotel and recouperate before the evening. We paid off Singh and after an hour or so explored the Connaught Area (equivalent to oxford street in london I think).
Turns out that every restaurant in the Lonley Planet guide book no longer exists and we couldnt find any suitable alternative so we ate dinner in the hotel- not quite the first curry in india experience I'd been hoping for!
Goa Tommorrow!!!! :-)
Posted at Tuesday, December 30, 2003 by allabaster
Wednesday, December 31, 2003
So after all our experiences in Delhi we were eager to get to Goa, the sun, beaches and hopefully more fun.
We worked our way thru Delhi domestic airport (played the tallness card again and got an exit row!!) and made it to Goa via Mumbai for about 3pm. With a transfer we were in the hotel and ready to leave for about 7.30ish.
Remember Zoe? She got to Goa the day before and we'd arranged to meet up for this meal- consisting of the biggest tiger prawns you've ever seen. I ordered soft shell crabs and what i actually got was hard shell crabs (four of them). I had a little trouble with them ( you know my problem with bones/fish and all that) so I made do with the prawns and chessy mash (which is big out here for some reason).
About 11pm we got down the the beach and the drinking began in earnest- at midnight bonfires sprang up all over the beach and fireworks went off. Cant really describe what it was like - Magical is probably the best I can come up with.
After this we got in some cabs with a bar owner we had met thru Zoe and went off to a 'Trance Rave'. Sounded good. Took us about an hour in a cab to get there and we needed tourches to find the place after that.
My first impression was that it was predominantly male, then predominantly indian. My second was that it was ALL male and ALL indian. Needless to say Kate got ALOT of attention. Basically there were ten guys- in military precision. 2 would distract me.. 'happy new year!', 'fancy a smoke?' etc whilst the others were pouncing on kate- and I mean pounce!.
Anyway at some point we decided that it wasnt really for us and went back to the beach- the taxi guys decided to inflate all their prices by a factor of 10 and much argument ensued- anyway we woke up the next day on our beds- covered in sand and with the hangovers from hell!!
Heared about a new scam...
You are walking thru a market when a guy comes up to you and appears to look in your ear. This happens about 4 or five times. On the last time he reaches into you ear and pulls out a stone (which he put there during one of the previous 'looks). He then requests a tip for his efforts
Scam Rating 8/10 (my favourite so far!)
Posted at Wednesday, December 31, 2003 by allabaster
Thursday, January 01, 2004
Title says it all.. :-(
Posted at Thursday, January 01, 2004 by allabaster
Friday, January 02, 2004
We had two tasks today. First, find a new place to stay- as our original booking ended after tonight. Second, meet up with Chris and Rea and go clubbing.
To accomplish the first task we hopped in a cab to Anjuna. Famed for its hippie commnunity and cheap prices we thought it would be an excellent spot to spend afew days. On arrival we found a great little restaurant over looking the cliffs and ocean and finally managed to get an authenic indian curry (less than 3 quid for all we could eat/drink, we liked that).
We looked around afew guest houses- from the downright scary to less scary. Its amazing how your standards shift as you see how bad it could be. So we found this place, haggled them down to 500 rupees per night and left with a job well done.
A NOTE ON THE GUEST HOUSE- double bed, which we would share with thousands of other occupants (thank god for the silk bed liners kate bought us), an en suite bathroom with flushing toilet, and a set of walls that didnt quite meet the ceiling, which by the way was hanging with cobwebs... From four star luxury to this... Well, in for a penny...
Back to Calangute (where we were staying) and getting ready for Chris/Rea. We met them in the worst restaurant we had been to (2 and a half hours to get served and also seperatley!) purely because it was the best/only landmark we could think of. Incidentally called the Midas Touch, steeped in gold and indian country & western singers (not kidding!!!).
So the big meeting. It went very well- conversation flowed freely as did the alcohol. Chris had hired a taxi for us all night and we headed back into Anjuna to check out the night life. First club was 'Club Cubana', cover price 700 for men and 500 for women (hate that!) but all drinks were free once inside and they had a pool, gardens, many dance floors and moroccan chill out areas.
We stayed for a couple of hours which was long enough for me to meet this sweedish guy who knew more about the premiership than I did! What is it about our football that has the rest of the world so facinated?
Next club- Paradiso. Kate and Chris had been here before and raved about it. It's built into a cliff face in caves- and it's on three levels. The music is Goan Trance and everything is UV- so dandruff is out.
The evening ended about 4am and a very tired taxi guy dropped us back home.
Posted at Friday, January 02, 2004 by allabaster
Saturday, January 03, 2004
Hectic day today. We were politley reminded we had to leave the hotel when they called to ask if we needed help with our bags at 12pm. Manic packing- over slept- why does it not all fit back in the bag- I havent bought anything and the bag hasnt shrunk!
Finally got out and argued the bill.
Charging for phone calls that we hadnt made. This is where I realised that we have started arguing over sums that back home equate to about 40p. Anyway we hadnt made a local call so why should we pay for it?
Scam Rating 4/10
The hotel looked after our bags and we tried to scout out some lunch. On the way back this guy on a motorbike stopped us and asked if we'd be interested in a FREE PRIZE DRAW.
That old chestnut TIMESHARE. We opened our prize scratch cards and sure enough Kate had won the top prize- a holiday for two! (I won 2 t-shirts - arse). To claim we had to get in a cab- which the guy had paid for and go to this resort hotel on Baga Beach. If something is to good to be... (How does that go?). So we arrived at the resort and sure enough we had won the two week accomodation, but first we had to sit thru at least 60 mins of promotional guff. We checked the time and got on with it. As a result we have a voucher for 2 weeks 5 star accomodation in goa, bali, thailand or australia, and severley pissed off the resort rep.
Incidenatlly they had run out of t-shirts so we got a free dolphin trip instead (result!).
Finally on checking the terms and conditions we will have to pay $80 and sit thru another sales presentation when we arrive...
Scam Rating 3/10
We reckon we'll take the free accomodation in Oz on the Gold coast - yippeeee!!
Our new accomodation beckoned and on arrival was all we remembered.
Saturday night is famous in Goa for the night Bazaar in Anjuna. It runs from sundown to sun up. We thought it sounded cool, but couldnt figure a good way to get there and back..
Turns out our lovely accomodation also rented scooters, so screwing our courage to the sticking place we bravely ventured forth. The task was made doubly difficult as neither of us had ever been on one, and we'd be riding pillion (ie kate was on the back). Coupled with the fact we didnt really know where we were going and the lights didnt really work and driving out here is insane to say the least- it's a miracle we got there in one piece. But arrive we did- took about 10 minutes to dry off (fear sweat) and headed in.
What a place! Bigger that a football field and filled with stalls selling all the wonders of india, all vieing for attention. Kate went for some Reiki, we had new age energy drinks, popcorn and sushi (again!). At the end of the night Kate was ecstatic to find a culinary delight we haven seen since leaving england (in the land of spice)- a baked potato with cheese.
We didnt really buy anything (since our bags are already full!) so we soaked up the atmosphere and headed home.
Quite a day.
Posted at Saturday, January 03, 2004 by allabaster
Sunday, January 04, 2004
Spent the day on the beach soaking up the sun/beer after seeing the dolphins jump.
Posted at Sunday, January 04, 2004 by allabaster
Monday, January 05, 2004
We had heard from many a traveller that the most picturesque place in Goa was Palolim Beach. Eager to leave our current abode behind we decided to book a cab and head south. Alistair had to say good bye to his moped which i am sure will please his mum no end!
After a 3 hour journey through mountains and paddy fields we finally arrived at what i can only describe as the most beautiful place i have ever seen. The guide book says that Palolim beach is the place that people dream of coming to when they have saved enough money to pack up and chill out - and i can see what they mean it has everything you could ever wish for.
Palolim is a kilometer long bay lined with palm trees, cocohuts (bamboo huts on stilts) and chilled out bars. The place is also beutiful because of the people and the culture it promotes- it has a community feel and is frequented by indian as well as foriegn travelers.
Alistair loves the indigenous crabs that cover the beach and i am more of a fan of the fresh seafood (150-180 rupees for a King Fish/Pomfrit/Red snappers etc. etc. as long as my finger to my elbow - thats a couple of pounds for a meal for one!). However, i did manage to get him to eat a lobster actually out of the shell!!!! - wish i had tried him on something cheaper first as i think he is hooked.
We also ran into Zoe (who we met in Vienna) and her friend Lisa (here for a two week stay) -who introduced us to another now dear friend - dark rum and coke
Incidently we are staying in one of the cocohuts with a sea view and a balcony for 300 ruppes a night (under 4 pounds between us). Not that I get to spend any time on the balcony as Alistair has bagsied it as his prime game boy position!
Posted at Monday, January 05, 2004 by allabaster
Tuesday, January 06, 2004
Well I know I've been talking about it for months, but today it actually happened. Ive gone down to a grade 2 all over my head and I have to say I dont know what I was worried about. Kate says it makes me look younger too. The unforseen problem is now that I seem to be getting sun burn on my scalp... Are you supposed to put sun cream on it? I just dont know.
Anyway- I also took the opportunity to go for a proper shave. They dont actually use proper cut throats here any more, they have blades that look like cut throats but they actually take razor blades- hygene I guess... So on with the shave.. It's a whole process involving face massage, hot towels, and about three going overs with the razor. At the end your skin is feeling quite sore so they have a bar of menthol/oil stuff that cools it down. My skin was really red so the guy went to fridge and came back with a red bull- i went to take it thinking that I could do with a drink when he started rubbing it all over my face. I think it was actually frozen- the upshot was that it got rid of the sore skin, but I had the worst case of brain freeze of my life.
The shave itself was so close i didnt need to shave for 2 days... Must do that again.
So after the success of the short hair- Im now considering a grade one. (Kate is also thinking about it!! :-S )
Back to the beach!!
Posted at Tuesday, January 06, 2004 by allabaster