A Travellerspoint blog

Last add-on.

A promotion for Puru. My guide who needs not to be forgotten.

sunny 23 °C

Call it an aftertale, a 'with thanks' or whatever you want to call it.

During my sickness in Nepal, I was with Puru, my guide, in the middle of the Annapurna mountains. Surrounded by a beautifull and potentially hostile environment (Drama always works :P).
The environment smiled upon us, stars were sparking in the sky. I had a great talk with an Egyptian guy about the situation in the middle east. He was going to get to Cairo as soon as possible. And..we talked about the neighbours and area of Egypt. According to him, Libia would be the least to be affraid of. Although Khadaffi is a crazy guy, at least he shares the wealth across the people. That thought has been cought up by reality. But no one knew back than what was going to happen. We had a great philosophic night till very late.

That night, later, while trying to sleep, i felt very bad. Later we found out that it was the overaged milk tea. I was puking over the the balcony of this beautifull and cold little cottage in the mighty Annapurna mountain range. Too late, sick again.

An 8 hour trip was in front of us and Mo, the egyptian guy was waiting with his guide for me. He knew i was sick and tried to cheer me up to make the hike. I really appreciated.
Nevertheless, when we walked for over 1,5 hours going up mountain stairs with a heavy backpack, I realised my body was giving up. Every 15 minutes i needed a break and it was just too much.
I decided that I had to get back to a village or town. Pokhara was the best option. So Puru and I said goodbye to Mo and his guide and left. After a while, my body was getting weaker and weaker. Puru took my backpack and was now carrying 20+ kg of luggage over a mountain trail. Believe me, that's a lot.
Finally we made it to a village and were able to take a taxi to Pokhara. There, for about 10 days i was sick with diahrhea and slowly recovered.
During this time, Puru helped me a lot. Even when I had big discussions with the tour operator (never NEVER book with Red Lion in Kathmandu-Pasang who works there). In the end Puru did not get his salary and I gave him money. I paid 750 US dollars for the tour, of which most of this, i never saw back.
After all that happend, Pasang promised me to make a short tour to Chitwan, and would pay for the accomodation in Pokhara + a one day trip to see the mount Everest. Except for Chitwan, i paid everything. I agree it was not his fault. But after we made an arrangment, he backed up.
Puru lost his job at Red Lion. But luckily he has a loto of connections and he is a great tourguide and very, very honest person. Therefore, he luckily got new customers coming in. During all of what happend, he never complained and tried to help me as much as possible.

Here are his contact details. I would more than recommand him.

Trek and tour leader Nepal, Tibet, China, and if you want a good guide, you can ask him to to to Europe/USA, Canada, etc.

Puru
Specialist in English and German
Cell: 00977 9841 438 760
Email: thapaliyapuru (at) gmail.com
MSN: puruguide@hotmail.com

Feel free to contact him.

All the best to everyone.

Have fun!

Ramon

Posted by Aussierala 19.04.2011 10:54 Archived in Nepal Tagged snow hiking mountain trekking guide sick nepal annapurna pokhara tourguide Comments (0)

The last messages of a magnificent trip

finishing the trip of a lifetime.

all seasons in one day 25 °C

While publishing this, I am already back in Holland. With my 3 sweet red cats. I have visited my girlfriend in Geneva and I am waiting for her to arrive tonight. In one month I will be living in Geneva. Emigrating. A new life starts. A new, beautifull adventure.

For now, I have to give my appologies for not having kept my diary up to date. It has been updated until Thailand.

After Thailand, I left to Nepal, where unfortunately, I got another food poisining. Can happen. The people were amazing and despite the sickness, I really appreciate Nepal. The nature is incredible and despite being a very poor country, people are happy.
Because of my sickness; diahrrhea for 10 days, I decided to fly home 2 weeks before the original plan. My body was empty. My mind was full of wonderfull moments. I truly enjoyed this amazing trip. And when I arrived home, I had a feeling of coming home. Holland. My parents waited for me at Schiphol Amsterdam airport. 4.30 AM. Yes, AM. It was very sweet from them to pick me up. With a balloon 'welcome back'.
3 days later, I went to Geneva, where my girlfriend lives. Soon, I will be emigrating to Geneva. When walking in Geneva, I felt happy, at home. Full of peace.
The trip was wonderfull. I had great experiences and met wonderfull people. Memories that will stay forever.

Now, I am getting ready to move to another country. A new adventure. Building a new life with my girlfriend. Looking for a job in the online marketing. Readers: if you have connections for an online marketing job in/ around Geneva, please let me know: ramonlabrie at hotmail dot com.

The end of an amazing trip. The trip of a lifetime. THe start of a beautifull new life. Together with my girl. In a new, beautifull country. I am a traveller yes, and I always said that I am a world civilian, not just a Dutch person. At the end of the trip I realised more and more how Dutch I am and how much I appreciate simple things (potatoes, vegetables and meat), an honest response (yes, we leave in 10 minutes/ we are delayed for 30 minutes)..and cleanliness. Beautifull Amsterdam or Utrecht.
I love traveling and exploring countries. Due to this, I got also a reflection on myself and my roots. I learned, met great people and had bad moments too. All of this will be remembered.
Anyone thinking of doing a world trip, or even a short trip. Be it backpacking, flashpacking, or a bit more upscale. If you really have this dream: do it. There are loads of reasons not to do it (rent, no money, have to give up job, children, difficult, etc). Yes, all is legimate and it's everyone's own choice what to do.
The only thing I'd like to say is: Follow your dream. If you really feel that you want to do something (whether travel, study, emigrating or something else)..do it. You'll find a way. If it takes a lot of effort (giving up job, saving money, investing time and energy), make a plan. Start small. Build it. You will be rewarded.

Here some last scratches of my trip. Not all is included. But it does give an idea of all that happend. See the irony in some of the stories. While writing i try to make things look a bit more dramatic. It just reads more confortable and it's fun to write like that.
I had great moments, I had bad moments. All together they build this great trip. All of them bring perspective to all that happend.

Have fun!
All the best.
Ramon

My last writings..a collection of different places.

Koh Tao to Birma- Darwin was right; only the few survive.

Hola bonita, just some nice words before i go to Birma. The monster ride. In the meantime i will be starting to write the blog again :).
You just enjoy our perfect soft and warm bed, while i sleep in hopefully a bed bug free boat, clodging left to right, up and down. In a dark place with hundreds of other people. Coughing, farting, and playing loud music. Seasick, ill, sharks all around.. Maybe the fishes will have a delicious cashewnuts with rice and vegetable shake. Delicately thrown up from the back of the boat.. after get ready for a bumpy bus ride for 2,5 hours. Trough the ancient tropical jungle. Braving the elements, spiders, snakes, and mosquitos. And what else? God knows..
Arriving just after sunrise. In a strange and hostile? territory, Birma. A country where democracy is just an illusion, but on paper, it is...

But all is worth it. The reward? A little stamp in the passport, for 10 US dollar. Yes, i will have a stamp, from golden ink, as a proof for this odyssee.
Ramon Loco Gonzalez, hereby proved to have braved all the hostile elements, in order to get our rewardfull stamp. BIRMA, it will say, with big, firm, and proud letters. Only the bravest of all will receive it. Many will not make it. Either fleeing Thailand by bus to Malaysia, Cambodia, or taking the simple escape by plane.
But not the 'lucky' few. The BIRMA-journey..a journey of extremes.
Sit back, relax and enjoy the ride.

Sleep well, sleep tight and don't let the bed bugs bite.

Kisses my love. Bonito will think of you. and if i don't come back (joke), just know that i love you and Gato is with me.

Nepal Elephant ride.

Elephant trekking trough Chitwen National Park.
My last week in Nepal. Because i am sick for already 8 days, diahrhea all the time, i decided to rebook my flight.
Chitwen is now my last stop before going to Kathmandu and flying home.

Elephant trekking..
An experience so intense that i will never forget it. To my surprise, my body was able to sit on the elephant for 1,5 hours, without any problem. Probably it is mental. This experience is one of the best ever.
The elephant ride itself was normal. But the place we were was magical. Chitwen national park.
First, some deer. Wow! Beautifull surrounded by stunning nature. Early morning, sun rays gently touching the forest. Some more deer. There, a kingfisher. The blue bird with magnificant shiny fethers and a long red beek. The elephant walks on. Me and a few others on top. Overlooking the jungle. Monkeys, yes, monkeys! Running as acrobats trough the forest. Sometimes throwing a nut or stick around. Magical. The sun is getting warmer. The sunrays still beautifully enlighten and encharm the forest. Gently going from left to right, Elephant walks on. More deer. Another kingfisher flies by.
THen, a peacock let himself be heard. WHahahahaha hahahaa. Silence again. Left, right, gently thought. Left, right. Strong steps from the mighty elephant. The biggest land-living animal of our planet.
Then..the ranger hears from other rangers..they found it. What? Yes, the cherry on the cake. THe animal that we are so eager for to see.
A little quicker. A little less gently. Left, right, left, right. Shake, shake. Surprisingly my body can still deal with it.
Then..trumpet..PEEEEEPPPPP PPEEEEEEPP!!! THe elephant becomes excited. WOw, what's happening? Is he going wild, go and run? All on top (except for the ranger), get a bit scared. On top of a 3 metres high elehant that is shaking left to right, showing off to..what?
THere...RHINO. yes, a rhino. Wow, it's gigantic. He walks on. Slowly. just a little bit impressed by the elephant. Elephant..rhino. Elehant..4 times bigger than rhino..

WOw, magical moment. A real rhino in the wild. Yes, wild, because this is a national park. Pictures are being taken. Magical memories are remembered.
After some minutes we leave the rhino alone. A bit of privacy and not to disturb it.

Our brave elephant walks on. And there, 3 other elephants..with tourist on top, yes. And..what we see? Another rhino! Wow! And there.. close to the tree line, a baby rhino! YES! 8 months old baby rhino. Probably 200 kilo or more. Not being disturbed by the, now, 4 elephants surrounding her.
Surprisingly, mother rhino doesn't mind, even though the baby is sitting also in the grass, close to the elephants.
WHat a magical moment. We hang around here for 20 minutes? No idea. I didn't have time and i just enjoyed this wonderfull moment. A lot of pictures. Beautifull pictures, and some movies. Rhino, wow!
And there we go..off to the start of our trek. Goodbye elephant. Thank you! What an intense last stop before going back to home. Thanks Nepal! Despite making me sick for so long, i intensely enjoyed this last try of impressing me. The mountains and nature did already. The people are very kind. The food; you cannot trust. But this last rhino stop made it extremely enjoyable. I am happy. Happy to have seen this and also..happy to go home (and get better :) ).
Soon..hola my lovely bonita :) Do you know what i have seen in Nepal?

Some interesting writings about Nepal.
Mountain Man Trekkers Fuel
Developed to supply the need for nutritious and delicious foods to the growing number of adventurers taking to the high paths of the mighty Himalayan mountains. The strenious exercise necessary to negotiate these rugged routes quickly depletes nutrients which supply your body with energy. Our products have been developed to replenish those nutrients-giving you the edge you need for sustained energy troughout many days of rigorous trekking.

This product is scientificaly formulated by a sports nutritionist to provide maximum energy and meet your bodys nutritional needs while trekking.

And to give the buyer some reassurance:
Every Best Quality Food product is manufactured under American supervision in hygenic conditions using American technology.

Just read in the Richard Branson book, when they Launched V Festival and had Virgin Coke. On the toilet paper it said: Poopsie and Cack. A very nice joke towards Pepsi and Coke.

Posted by Aussierala 04.03.2011 06:37 Archived in Nepal Tagged view trekking sick trip nepal kathmandu pokhara finishing beautifull Comments (0)

Thailand-bed bugs in paradise..

Back alone again, still in paradise.. with bed bugs..ouch!

sunny 32 °C

The day after, I went to Paradise Island, Koh Tao. A long ride brought me there. I wanted to go back here to do some more diving, learn freediving and hopefully, see a whaleshark. Upon arrival, it turned out that the 2nd of Jan (I arrive the 3th in the morning), a whaleshark had been spotted! And, the third, people also saw a whaleshark. News spread around the island. I booked 2 dives for the 4th of january and I checked in to Prick Tai, the place where I stayed in October. The woman working there recognised me and was happy I came back. I walked 30 minutes from the pier with backpack to get here.
The next morning I got up at 6 and was ready at 6.20. Ready for 2 dives! We went down and I have to say, the first dive was not the easiest. At first I had difficulties with equalising my ears. It took a few minutes. The woman from our group needed some time to relax, because she had a 'panic breath' as she called it. And my Hungarian 'buddy' was swimming everywhere around, making pictures with his underwater camera. Very annoying. I had to swim after him all the time. Buddies stay together in case something happens. But he kept on swimming away from the rest of the group.
We did see a lot of interesting stuff. Also, 2 manta rays. Amazing! But unfortunately no whaleshark.
The second dive went a lot better and everyone stayed a lot closer to his/her buddy.

I had 2 more dives another day. This time with Paul as the divemaster. I like his attitude. So this promised to be a better dive. I was buddies with a guy that was training at Seashell Divers, to become a divemaster. Looks like a good buddy, right? No..again not. And I am very surprised for this. This guy also swam off all the time. And at moments, I was like 'fuck it', I stay closed to the rest of the group and our divemaster Paul. I am not going to follow you all the time. He kept on swimming off, and me, as a buddy, should stay close. Or..but apparently, he didn't think of that, she should stay close to me. Surprisingly, he is going to be a divemaster soon and a teacher later.
There was another couple from Germany. I was jealous of the way they did the dive. They were buddied up and stayed about 2 metres next to each other all the dive. Same level, and next to each other. Relaxed, always knowing where the buddy is. In case there is an emergency, you need 2 seconds to notice. They kept giving signals and pointed fish at each other. My buddy was 10 metres away from me, 5 metres below, or higher. Sometimes I didn't even know where he was. Imagine, if something goes wrong. I made hand signals, but even when he swam next to me, 80% of the times, he didn't even notice. Well, Paul was there too, so I just stayed close to Paul.
The second dive was the best. Shark Island. But no, here, no sharks. But..a lot of current. Very interesting to dive with some current. We saw the common, but beautifull fishes again.Paul was even attacked by a Trigger fish. But no worries, he knew how to respond.
The first dive, about 10 minutes of the dive were magical. We passed along a cliff and a enormous school of fishes were hanging around--!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!(which species). All 5 of us went to this school and we were surrounded by thousands of fishes. What a magical moment. In a swarm of all yellow. Sometimes I looked at one individual fish, sometimes at part of the group. You see them all around, but as soon as you start making a movement, they move just out of reach. They stay on about 30 centimetres.
Leo was at another Island. He replaced a teacher that was on holiday. I only saw him a few times, but I didn't dive with him.

During my first 3 nights on Koh Tao, I was having a lot of bad luck. After the first night, I went staight to Seashell Divers. When I came back, I noticed there were some blood stains on the bed. I thought that maybe they didn't change the sheets, so I asked to change. Very strange.
The next morning, I woke up, and had to scratch a lot. And then I realised I had bed bugs in the bed and in the room. These fucking animals suck your blood and make very annoying bites. It itches even more than mosquito bites. I checked and realised half my back, part of my arms and legs were covered with red bites. And now, it started to itch more and more. I told the woman of the resort and showed her a picture of the bed bug. She ordered someone to spray the room. But after I showed the picture, and explained what happened, her attitude changed completely. Before, she was always friendly, smiling, making jokes with me. Now, no more eye contact, super 'official'. But not really offering a solution. There was no other free room. Again, this fucking 'losing face'. Kind of what I had in Kuala Lumpur. I didn't insult, I just said, even with a smile, what happened and I came with a solution. Spraying the room, or changing room. But, apparently, because of the picture, the proof, she felt insulted, or was ashamed. I gave it one more change. One more night. I knew that it was highs season and it was difficult finding a decently priced room. And..i wanted to stay on Koh Tao. This evening, before I went to bed, I sprayed a lot of corners, gaps in the wood and more with anti-mosquito spray. I was pretty sure that all the bed bugs were gone. I went for a shower and when I came back, I noticed over 50 bed bugs crawling everywhere. One by one, I sprayed them and burned them with a lighter. The mosquito spray makes a great fuel for fire. They pop like popcorn.
I made a circle of mosquito spray around my bed. But unfortunately, the bed was only a matrass. So everything touched the ground. At some places, in the cracks of the wood, the mosquito spray dried up. So this part couldn't protect me. I took in total about 2 hours to annihilate as much of these creepers as I couldn't. But with limited success, as it turned out. In the middle of the night, I woke up and felt itchy. Just when I opened my eyes, I noticed one of these creepers sucking my blood from my arm. I brushed him off my arm and knew next early morning I would check out here.
In the middle of the night I sent an email to my girlfriend. Since I didn't want to sleep due to the bed bugs, she got an email at 4 in the morning. I checked for alternative places and looked for general info on Koh Tao. Around 5 am I went back to my room. I sprayed everywhere again, put on the light (the bed bugs don't like light) and went to 'sleep'. The next morning I checked out. I didn't say anything about the fuckers (bed bugs). I didn't want to have this whole circus of the stupid 'losing face' again. It's very sad. People here are extremely friendly and nice. And we, Europeans, can learn a lot from there friendliness and hospitality (not to mention the cooking). But when it comes to, even politely, pointing out a problem, it's 'losing face' and they feel so ashamed that there is absolutely nothing they will do. They probably just hope you leave and never come back.
And so I did.
I left and looked for a decent place. No romantic wooden beach bungalow anymore for me. I looked for a place made out of concrete. No gaps, no cracks for potential bed bugs, mosquito or other creeps. I ended up in a nice Chinese hotel. Just next to the main road, but silent in my room. I checked in and slept for 12 hours and woke up in the early evening. All with all, I lost about 4 days to the bed bugs. Most of the days, I slept in the day, light on. This, to catch up with the sleep I didn't have during the night.
This hotel was clean, no holes, cracks or other hiding places. Fan, cold water. 500 bath, 12,50 euro. I was happy.
I had dinner in a place opposite the hotel and asked for the internet code. This gave me access to the internet. And the days after, I ate in the other restaurants around the hotel. Only the restaurants with WI-FI. So I gained access to all the passwords for internet, and could still talk to my Bonita.
Internet is 1 bath a minute (1,50 euro per hour) or sometimes even 2 bath a minute. So this was my way of using the internet. From the public balcony of the hotel I had a lot of conversations with my girl at night. Sometimes I went down to the entrance of the hotel, not to disturb if there were people in the rooms next to the balcony. After all, there is a 6 hour time difference. So usually, when it's 19.00 in Switzerland, it's 1.00 in Thailand. A lot of late nights, or even sleeping, waking up to talk, and then, sleeping again. But I was happy to stay in touch with my sweet bonita.

So, after catching up with sleep, I wanted to do other things. Honestly, the reason to get to Koh Tao was diving, but I didn't dive a lot. But there was one thing I really wanted to learn here: Freediving.
That's diving with no oxyen on your back. Just one big breath and then, descent. And of course, ascent, if you want to live :).
The course took one day and I learned a lot. My best dive was one minute and 11 metres deep (and back). I was surprised that I was able to do this. You need a special-Yoga breath for this. A guy from Switzerland even made 21 metres on one breath. And the world champion goes down just over 200 metres on one breath, and no special equipment. With special equipment like a weight belt and a balloon to get back up, the world record is around 270 metres deep if I remember well. Insane indeed!
But I was very happy to make 11 metres. A very intense, but satisfying day. And I believe it really complements diving very well. It makes me feel more at ease. I now know that my body can do much more than I imagined.

After the diving and freediving, I wanted to enjoy the island in a different manner and thus, I took a walk. A walk to Shark Bay. After a dive in Shark island, where there are actually no sharks, I heard that in Shark Bay, opposite of Shark Island, you can see... yes..sharks. Black tipped reef sharks. About 1,5 to 2 metres big. Not dangerous for people. Unless, of course, provoked. Like any animal.

The walk was very nice, but very difficult. The rains of november last year had washed away most of the road. So I walked in the mud. There were huge gaps in the sand. So I watched out not to fall. Some of them were almost 2 metres deep. By now, I had my own mask and snorkle. Since I like watching the fish so much, I figured it was good to have my own equipment.
After about 1,5 hours, I reached the sea. There was a hotel, completely abandoned. During my walk of 1,5 hours, I only met a group of 5 older French people. It shows how remote this part is. Considering that Sairee beach is crowded with people.
I was wondering what was the story behind this abandoned hotel. It seemed like the owners had left in a hurry. Books were still open. Beer on the table. Some of the rooms were unlocked. So I could have a look inside. A lot of stuff on the ground. Personal belongings. Very strange. Somewhere in the back of my mind, I was expecting to see a dead body in one of the rooms. No, I didn't find one.
After having my look around, still wondering what this place was about, I checked the map. I had the feeling that this wasn't Shark Bay. But somehow, I didn't really figure out where I was. I decided to have a look in the underwater world. By snorkeling there was a lot to see. Angelfish, bannerfish, parrotfish. Just a few metres of the shore. I was happy.
Then, I noticed a girl walking up. After a while I went to her and asked her whether she knew what this place was. She thought it was Leam Thiam. But somehow the map didn't seem to be correct.

Posted by Aussierala 04.03.2011 06:34 Archived in Thailand Tagged diving thailand bed paradise koh tao bugs. Comments (0)

Thailand-back in paradise.

leaving India behind. Returning to paradise.

sunny 32 °C

So finally, we managed to escape from India. We both lost 3 kilo. Our physical and mental limits were pushed. We were annoyed, hungry and lost too much weight. But..we were back in Paradise. And we celebrated!

We checked in in the CLEAN Thara house. 12 euro. Warm water, clean, airco, internet in the room. 12 euro in a second world country. A country that is not super developed, but far from underdeveloped. I was surprised to see how developed this part of Thailand is. No more India, sickness, overpriced dirty hotels and sagas for food.
Actually, on the airport in Mumbai, I had one of the few decent meals. I guess it was my 5th proper meal in a week. Delicious. We talked to a local doctor who said: Have you lost weight? (Yes, it's obvious). And he also told us that locals are VERY careful with where they eat.

We had a food frenzy. Eat eat eat. Finally Bonito was happy. And I think Bonita was also happy. We decided to go to Kanchanaburi, somewhere north of Bangkok. Kanchaburi is famous for the river Kwai bridge. Or actually the fights that had been there (see also earlier in the blog). There was beautifull nature and a waterfall around.
So we went. I forgot which day. A 6 hour busride brought us to the place and we checked in in a place were other people of the bus already pre-booked a room. We were delighted with this place. A beautifull place with a very nice garden. Obviously, very newly build. The girl of the other couple came back to her boyfriend and told him, it was ok. We were a bit surprised.
Good food and drinks were waiting for us.
During our time in Kanchaburi we had a very nice kayak trip. Trough the beautifull surrounding nature. During the kayaking, we saw birds, flying over the water, eyeing the fishes. And then..falling like a torpedo in the water. Coming out with the fish. A very interesting sight.
Another day we decided to take a trip to the famous waterfall. This waterfall consists of 7 levels. It turned out to be magnificent. Every level brought something new. The art of nature. Truly amazing. Sometimes one big stream of water, sometime 3. Sometimes a big curtain of water. Sometimes long, and falling in different layers, sometimes very small. All were a treasure for the eye. And in one..i went in. And..enjoyed being cleaned by the cleaner fishes :) Fish massage. Bonita also went in. and it was very funny to see that she jumped like a cat, with so much balance, two feet at the same time, on a rock. She stayed there, afraid of the fishes. Fishes as small as your finger. Bonita was waiting on the rock. I went in and let my legs and arms be cleaned by the cleaner fishes.

On our way back, we got the bonus. Monkeys were around. A very interesting sight. They really behave like people. During our walk, we met a lot of Russians. Russians are exploring the world. But a lot of them like Thailand.

After Kanchaburi, we went to Koh Chang, translated as Elephant Island. We had one night in Bangkok, before we went for the 6 hour bus and boatride to Koh Chang. Koh Chang was another pearl of an island. We went to White sand beach. A beach where the sand is..white indeed. How did you guess?

Here we found a beautiful place on a cliff. Very well priced, 500 bath a day. In the morning, when we woke up and opened the door, we had a stunning view over the sea from our cliff. And..our friendly lizard friends were everywhere.
On Koh Chang we stayed for 11 days. Very long. But we were happy to have found a relaxing place. After about one week we did get a bit bored and moved to another beach. To quickly find out that it was better to get back to White sand beach again.

During our stay my Bonita learned how to drive a motorbike. And she really enjoyed. Together we went for a tour on the island. With one route having very steep hills and extreme turns. A beautiful scenery. Monkeys were also natives on the island :)
Christmas eve we celebrated on the beach. There was decent (not the best) food, a great atmosphere and a band. It was very funny to see that the place gave wizzard hats to everyone. So it made some funny pictures. An evening that was absolutely great.
Also, we went for as snorkeling trip and yes, there were a lot of fish. I was happy to be in the water spotting them again. On the way back, we fed the monkeys that were on an island. Some of them swam into the sea to take their lunch.
And..not to forget; we took a cooking class. This was one of the best days we had together. It was so much fun to cook some very nice meals together surrounded by stunning nature and on walking distance from the beach.

After those 11 wonderfull days, it was time to get back to Bangkok. A long ride back again. Actually, this ride seemed to be longer than the way to get to Koh Chang. We celebrated the 31st of december; old years eve and also my birthday, in Bangkok. In the evening, we wanted to do something special. We went to Calypso. A two hours show. Not a normal show, but a ladyboy show. If you ever spend some time in Bangkok, go here. This show is great. Quality, great costumes and a lot of laughter. We made some great pictures and movies. Imagine, the Wonder Girls ( a girls band from South Korea, I found out later) with 'nobody but you'. See that song and the choreography. Now, imagine 5 ladyboys with extremely good choreography dancing on this song. Halfway, trough the back door, some ladyboys, dressed as schoolboys come trough the theatre, running to stage, throwing away their school suitcases and running like children on the stage, scaring of the lady-ladyboys and then, taking their places. Wow, a 5 star laughter. Also, there was an amazing, kind of 'scarface' part.
Some guy-ladyboys, dressed in suits, James Bond style, were on stage. One lady-ladyboy was very femininely dressed and behaved very sexy. The 'cool guys' didn't show any response. They looked like kind of bodyguards. They gave her her new dress, her shoes etc. All this was done with great music and very good acting. Then, it became a bit darker. A male-ladyboy came on stage. The 'cool dude'. Light on and off. Kind of a tango dance. They approached and got away from each other. All people on stage were walking, or dancing with extreme precision. Still the James Bond-Casino Royale- Scarface style. Then suddenly the lady-ladyboy got a gun and points it at the guy. The whole scene changes. Very quickly. It seemed like her 'husband' cheated on her. Paf. Light off. Lights on again. The lady-ladyboy dressed like Maria. The cheating 'cool guy' next to her, as if going to the altar to get married. So they walk trought the audience to the backdoor. Light out..

Difficult to describe all. But it was like seeing a movie. Extreme precision. During the 2 hours, every 10 minutes there were new scatches and new groups. Dance, comedy, theatre, a lot of different styles came by.

Just before 0.00 we walked along the river, looking for a place to see the fireworks. But unfortunately, the park was closed. No good views. We went to our hotel and could see the fireworks from the rooftop, all over the city, and a view over the Royal Palace.

The first of january, my bonita left. We went to the airport, and it was very difficult to say goodbye. After spending one month together, it pained me a lot. The next day I did nothing. Just stayed in bed and reflected on the last amazing month.

Posted by Aussierala 04.03.2011 06:09 Archived in Thailand Tagged nature thailand river bridge chang snorkling motorbike koh kanchanaburi kwai paradise. Comments (0)

Indiaaaa..incredible (dirty) India..

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sunny 32 °C

The next day it was time to go to Mumbai, India. Tomorrow I will meet my girlfriend :) Yes! So I thought..
Arriving in Mumbai airport is crazy. Literally thousands of people go to the customs and when you finally get out of the airport, there is a sea of people waiting. I stayed very quiet and I was very proud of myself for that.
Taking some time to acclimatise, I decided to walk out of the airport to find a place to stay. During the way there was a women, begging. And guess what, she almost had Gato out of the side of my backpack! Luckily, Gato hold on, and I was able to prevent this.
After some more walk, I realised that it would be madness. I had no idea how this city was build. I took a tuktuk and asked for a cheap hotel. He brought me to a hotel that indeed, looked very cheap. It turned out to be 40 euro. Way too much. The owner dropped the price to 28 euro. But still, this is madness. India, developing country. In the end, I ended up in a place with a 10 dorm, with my own bed together with 9 others. My bed was smaller than me and my backpack was in my bed. The bed was incovenient and mosquitos were buzzing around. The airco was straight in my face. 15 euro. Indeed,15 euro for a bed in a 10 dorm. Insane. Already I was getting worried about the next weeks in India.
My girlfriend was going to India and I would meet her there. I was looking forward to that and was very excited. My mobile was on. Then I got a call. The plane from Geneva to London was delayed and therefore, she wasn't able to get the flight from London to Mumbai. A very painfull moment. My bonita was crying and I was trying to stay calm. Not really knowing what I could do or when we would meet now. It has been 4,5 months by now.
After the call, I took all my matrass and sleeping stuff outside on the rooftop and tried to sleep. It didn't work. I just couldn't sleep. Not knowing when to see my bonita, and even more mosquitos around, made it a very annoying time. Then, my eyes started to get an allergic response on the blankets. I went inside again, because the mosquitos were bugging me too much. So, with my head in the airco, my bonita not arriving and my eyes painfull due to the blankets, I tried to sleep, which didn't work.
The next morning my eyes were swollen. I decided to go to the luxury hotel I booked for the first 2 nights to surprise my girlfriend. A 4 star hotel.
I took a tuktuk and upon arrival, I was a bit dssapointed. The hotel didn't look as good as on the internet and the hotel was being renovated. So dust and noise everywhere. I wanted to check my mail to see whether my Bonita was still going to make it. The connection was not too well. I wrote an email to my girl to temper her expectations a little. Luckily, it was almost certain British Airways would be able to get her on the next flight, 13 hours later then the original. After, I checked out the room. To my surprise, luckily, the room was absolutely beautiful. And.. an amazing shower and the bed was soft, very soft. There was a beautiful mirror and luxurious interior. Immediately I fell asleep. After wake up, I got a message that bonita was going to arrive in the night around 1 am. I went to the fitness of the hotel, and since they were renovating, I was entitled to go to the fitness in the nearby 5 star hotel. Beautiful. What a service. After, I spent some time in the sauna.
Then it was time to have some roomservice food and enjoy this to the max. A little bit of sleep and I woke up to get my bonita from the airport.
Mumbai airport was still as crazy as during the day. The plane had landed, but no bonita. After a while, still no bonita. I started to call. Where was bonita? In the end, it took almost 2 hours. There was my bonita. Without backpack. What a great moment. Finally, we could hug each other again after 4,5 month.
We went to the hotel, smiling from ear to ear.
It turned out BA had not brought the backpack of Bonita to Mumbai. They didn't know where it was, but they supposed it was still in Mumbai. For us, though, it was time to finally enjoy being together. A lot of things that would have the label 'adults only'. So that part keeps being for us :)
We arrived in the hotel around 3 am.

The time that we had left in the hotel we spent at the swimming pool, sauna, fitness and enjoying the perfect shower and amazing bed, in more ways.

Then it was time to move. Up to Goa. A 12 hour bus ride. I was not looking forward to this. The bus was from Hell 'God is busy. Can I help you?'.
Music louder than a 200 decibel disco. Piercing your ears with the most annoying Bollywood movies. The guy in front of us learned that he could put his chair down to the point that he would almost be horizontally and didn't care about us. Time for me to annoy him, since he seemed not to understand he was going to far. We call this respect in most countries. Interestingly, only 2 seats in the whole bus went horizontally down. Why only two? Because all the other people showed respect to the persons behind them, that would be cramped. So every now and then, he got a kick from behind on the chair. If I cannot sleep, he cannot sleep. Simple as that.
After the bus from hell, we arrived in Goa. We went on a shopping spree for Bonita. Since she only had her hand luggage, we had to buy some stuff. British Airways (BA), would send the backpack to Goa.
After the shopping, we went to the sea and found a nice appartment there. Not cheap, not expensive. But more expensive than in Asia or most of the Arabs. In the evening we had dinner at Benny's beach shag. The food was good. Well, it tasted good. Later, we found something else..

We had a nice walk back over the peacefull beach to our cosy bungalow. On the way, some dogs passed by and since my dog attack, I became more afraid of dogs. With that I feeded a paranoia for both myself and bonita. Luckily, most dogs were very nice. Some though, looked a bit too wild. Nothing happened. After a nice walk, we arrived home.
This was the start of the night of hell.

I woke up in the night, having a bit of stomach pain. Not too bad at first. But more and more, I went to the toilet in the middle of the night. No big deal. I had diahrrea more often. Actually, after leaving from Dubai, all was more juicy all the time..so no worries...so I thought.
Then, somewhere in the morning I woke up. The pain in the stomach continued and I started to get a bit of a headache. I told bonita. But she didn't pay too much attention to it. After all, it was just a bit of headache and stomach pain. But then, during the morning it started to increase. The pain became more and more and my head was exploding. At the same time I went to the toilet every 15 minutes and my energy level went down more and more. My head was burning and I was sweating. At a certain point we decided I had to go to a doctor and bonita wanted to arrange a taxi. I just wanted to have a short break to regain strenghts to get to the taxi. After a while, it was time to find a taxi. But by now, my energy level was even lower and my head was really exploding. Bonita already went to a shop close to the bungalow and borrowed a thermometer. Almost 40 degrees fever. I urgently needed to get to a doctor.
I was unable to even drink. My bonita hold my head and put the water in my mouth. I was unable to do this myself. I just wanted to lay down and shouted and made strange noises because of the pain.

In the end, we had a doctor coming to our place. By now I was really feeling terrible. Sweating like crazy and an exploding head plus stomach that was totally empty. A few throw ups had followed.
The doctor just felt my forehead and within 30 seconds after arriving, he knew enough. Food poisining. What else? This is India after all. The country that is famous for food poisinings. He gave me a medical shot in the ass and after about 15 minutes, I started sweating like crazy. More and more. Also, he gave a lot of pills. Actually, most of this, I don't even remember, because by then I was already hallucinating? Or at least in a state of low awareness.
After about 2 hours, I woke up again. I remembered my bonita saying that she was going to the pharmacy (I forgot what for). I also remembered that she said it was 15.34 when she left. That was the only thing I remembered. After, I fell in a deep sleep, only to wake up two hours later. Surprisingly, I felt a lot better, and was able to walk, and think clearly. By now, the sun was almost setting, which meant it was past 17.00. I was getting worried, because my bonita was still not back. So, I started to ask people that worked in the bungalows. But few of them spoke english, and I didn't know much of what happened. Half the night and day had been a black-out.
So I waited impatiently and after a while, Bonita came back, as always with a big smile. Now that I write this, I think she went to the pharmacy, but I don't remember exactly. I am writing this part now the 10th of Jan 2011. About 1 month later.
Bonita explained to me that I was not allowed to eat food for three days. Except for toast and tea. What a 'happy' foresight. Being sick, just coming from South-East Asia, with delicious food, knowing that in India for at least the next 3 days I cannot eat proper food. And, Indian food is my favourite food.

The next few days were hell. My body got weaker and weaker and obviously I started to loose weight. And although I was really tempted to eat, I was not allowed. Just fucking toast and tea. My mood got worse and worse. My bonita took great care of me and we tried to enjoy the moments. But with an empty stomach and eating about 10 pills a day, loosing 3 kilo in 3 days, it's difficult to enjoy. We had some food at Little Tiger. Since a tiger means a lot to us as a couple, this was a great moment. Unfortunately, it was toast and tea.
For my bonita it was also very difficult. She took great care of me, but had also problems herself. Since she has some food allergies, she always has to take care. Unfortunately, in India, it is difficult to decide what you want to have in your meal. So, on the food part, also for her it was a hard time.

One night was really terrible. I don't know whether it was the atmosphere, the medicines or something else, but I got amazingly scary dreams. By now, one month later, I don't remember all, but I am trying to write as much as I can.
Bonita made a remark in the night about the sea that was so loud and high (tide). I just didn't pay too much attention. It's high tide after all.
In the night, a lot of strange dreams started to happen to me. Sea, high tide. Airplanes (crashing?) I saw my grandfather who is in a place where they take care of older people. More and more strange things I noticed in my dreams. I woke up and decided to wake up bonita. She, as always after sleeping (so cute), was very sleepy and unaware. I started to tell her the story and two minutes later, the lighs outside just suddenly went out. Complete darkness. Dogs from the beach started barking and we heard two, minimum two coming towards our bungalow. They were very close, and barking. The light came back for a while, and went out again. Complete darkness again. When I told the story, I started shivering. All was very, very spooky. And I think I never had an experience this extreme with a dream.
Then, just after I finished my story, clouds broke, thunder started and it started raining heavily. Sometimes the light went on and off. Obviously, we were not able to sleep anymore this night.

The next day, to my relieve, we left Goa, 'beach paradise' of India..nothing compared to Paradise Island Koh Tao, or Cat Ba island..we were going to Coimbatore, via Bangalore.
My stomach was still completely empty Very obviously I was loosing weight. My temper got really bad. No food, no joy. I was very pissed of to be hungry, being in fucking India, loosing the weight that for me takes ages to gain.
When we arrived via Goa to Bangalore, we both collapsed. My bonita finally had her luggage back, in Goa, but at that moment, I didn't even care. I made a picture of her, being happy with the bag. But all I could think of was proper food. We bought some overpriced crackers, and the harder my sweet bonita tried to make it fun and deal with it, the more annoyed I got. I just don't like crackers. As a snack, fine, but not for breakfast, lunch, dinner and second dinner. Come on. I had sweet dreams of the mango shakes, and green curry with chicken in Bangkok. Oh..i adore that place. I needed decent, proper food.

Once we arrived in Bangalore airport, we collapsed. I was very tense and hungry and bonita started to cry. An Indian couple took us under their wings and gave us positive energy. Bonita told me that if I wanted to leave India, now was a good moment. Bangalore is an international airport. I decided to stay. After all, we had the bag back and soon, I would be able to eat proper food again. So we went. From Bangalore, we flew to Coimbatore. This was with a propellor airplane. The pilot was Duke! Duke? The Dukes of Hazzard? Duke, with an extreme American accent. I just had a picture of a guy from Texas that loves flying in prop airplanes. His enthousiasm was enormous. Duke would fly us safely to Coimbatore in a plane that nearly had 50 seats. The flight from Goa to Bangalore brought us a delicious, clean and proper meal. Which my bonita was able to keep away from me for the whole flight. I understood, but my stomach didn't. She tried so hard. It was very sweet to see. During the Bangalore-Coimbatore flight, I just couldn't hold it anymore. They served a delicious sandwich, a little spicy, but just perfect. In a moment of desperation, I took the sandwich and savored this moment. What a delicious sandwich. After two days of no food finally something that kept my stomach full. Bonita knew that, although she tried with all her might to keep me away from food, this moment had been too much. Delicious food was served all around me. The guy next to me was happily eating the sandwich. I couldn't hold it anymore. Proper food and 'a proper restauarnt' are sayings that I will always relate to India.
All was fine. My stomach was able to cope with it. What a delicious start of a life with normal food again.

We arrived in Coimbatore in the early evening. After Duke, our super enthousiastic pilot, had safely put us and the propellor plane on the ground. It was unbelievable (for me), to have such a small airplane landing on a huge landing stip. And then..rolling on for another two minutes.
We got ourselves a taxi to the center and found a decent place to sleep for an ok price. Now it was time to look for food. A proper restaurant. Nowhere. Not again he? Un-fucking-believable. Everything is dirty. No restaurants that look decent. And we are not high class. My favourite restaurant in Bangkok is a street restaurant, that is build around a tree, in which at least 3 rats have their house. Happy rats :). So no, clean means just that there is an amount of bacteria that is just below the limit that my stomach can handle. But here in India, unbelievable. Not so strange that so many people die each year, or die very young.

So, bonita without food, and me with the last part of the sandwich, went to bed. The next morning we went to find FOOD. Finally, some decent, proper, clean food. So we ate in a 5 star hotels' restaurant. It's absolutely insane, stupid, unnescessary. We made the best of it though. Still, I cannot understand how in a country like that, with so many people, and a middle class of 300 million, yes 300 million potential customers, there is barely any restaurant that is CLEAN. Dirtyness all around. But the strange thing is..all the people look super clean. Dressed in nice, washed and ironed clothing. Nicely shaves, hair done. Where do they come from? Where do they eat? Later we found out that the local middle class mostly eats at home, clean, or goes to the 5 star hotel restaurants. I see a huge business opportunity to start a chain of clean restaurants. Simple, affordable, Indian food, for the middle class. But I think I will be the last one to return to this country. And everyone,everyone seems to be happy. Noise, dirt, smog. It doesn't bother them. They look all happy and clean. Everyone is very polite, speaks good or average English. Wow, respect. This country has a huge potential.
Time to get to Mettapalayam. From here, the next day, we were supposed to get the train to Ooty. Ooty is a beautifull mountain village. So, we took a bus to Ooty. The surrounding noise of the traffic, although less than in Vietnam, still hardly bearable. After this ride, we arrived in the most dirty place I have ever seen. In Morocco we have had dirty places, and dealt with it (yes, we always flooded the toilet). But this Mettapalayam. Unbelievable. As you are living on the garbage belt. Plastic, cow shit, empty bottles, banana shells, people spitting on the street, smog (the road goes straight trough the village) and an amazing amount of noise. And yet, the people, happily having painted the third eye on there forehead, happy, (most of them) clean, and in peace.
Time to find a place to sleep. We checked around. First round. 20 euro. Come on, this is India. So we looked further. Heavy backpack with us. We found a place. 4 euro. Sounds good. Let's check it out. The guy that showed our room. Probably he had never seen white people. Very Indian look. Super dark skinn, piercing black eyes and dark hair. Barefooted. Not saying a word. Not flashing his eyes. This intense look for minutes. Not moving one muscle in the face. It was a bit scary. The room was dirty as shit. The bed was still doable. The rest..no name for it. But, we decided to stay. After all, it was just 8 hours before we got the train to Ooty.
The owner / manager was now at the room too and asked me to come with the passport. But the other guy didn't leave. No way I was going to leave bonita here alone with that guy. So we waited until they left. Bonita needed to go to the toilet. And after she came back, she said 'we go'. The toilet was incredible dirty. Imagine, a smell of old piss (luckily in those moments, my nose is very bad), a layer of water and mud on the dark floor. There is a big bin with water, from which you take water with a small cup into the toilet to flush. But even this water was dark and fat. No idea what it was. Probably, by touching something, you could be in danger of getting some mutated hepatitis X virus ( a yet unknown severe virus). So we left and checked in in the place of 20 euro. Still, a shithole. Dirty as shit also. But a little bit less. By now, I really hated India. I came from this beautifull south east Asia, where you get good food, clean hotels and friendly people. Good transportation and everything cheap. People say India is cheap. But later, I talked to more people and found that when they say this, they are talking about the North. Also, the North has a broader range of decent restaurants and hotels.
Anyway, we checked in. Now, time for some food. We checked for 2 hours. Yes, 2 hours. And we asked even to a pharmacist. No one knew a restaurant in this shithole. No one! We looked just for plain white rice. Nothing more. Just rice, boiled in water. That's all. India, the rice chamber of the world. Number 1 or 2 of the largest producers of rice. You know? Indian Basmati rice? Unbelievable. Nothing. The pharmacist even asked to someone passing by. If that happens, you know you are not on planet earth anymore. What a joke.
In the end, we found a supermarket, where we bought some overpriced stuff. We must have been the best customers around. Most people bought 2 things, we bought two bags full of noodles, cookies, crackers and drinks.
We went back to the hotel and asked for hot water. The guy treated us with disrespect. And..no he didn't know where to get hot, boiled water. Insane..
So after a seach of another 30 minutes, we finally found a place that looked proper. Also, families with children were eating here. And...everyone ate with their hands. Dirty hands, not washed. Bonita later remarked 'that's why they all get sick'.
We asked for hot, boiled water for the noodles. And I brought an empty bottle. A woman filled the bottle. Yes, it looked a professional boiling machine. In retrospect, how lucky we were that the manager of the place had a look and asked what we were looking for. He explained that, yes, it was hot water, but not boiled. Imagine what would have happened if I used that for my noodles. An even more severe decease. We got, good, proper hot water for free from him. And, later he said. 'You look sick'. He quickly changed subject. But, we realised how bad we were doing by now.
Next morning, waking up in our shithole. Getting quickly ready to check out. Don't touch anything. The toilet: dirty as shit. And what does it say on the toilet? Anti baccil. Yes, but, stupid, that does not mean that it cleans itself. It means that, if cleaned PROPERLY, there is a less likelyhood of baccils. Unbelievable. 20 euro wasted. I look back to Vietnam, Cat Ba paradise Island. 5 US dollar, 3,5 euro a room in a very clean hotel. Hot water, sea view, internet, airco. Luxury. Wow, amazing. This shithole was about 8 times as much in 'developing country', poor, dirty, India. Huuuuuhhhuuuuuu...Indiaaaa.....Incredible Indiaaaa ( MOVIE).

We got ready for the train. When we arrived at the train station, it took a while to find the ticket box. After some time, someone finally, after first telling us that we had to go somewhere else to get the tickets, and then get back (which didn't make sense to us)..told us that we could get the tickets here. I was already hyper frustrated. Although trying to make the best of it and laughing at those moments, looking back, I think I did better on those moments than ever before. But I had more and more savoring dreams of fresh mango juice, shakes, rice with vegetables and chicken. Delicious green curry and more food.
'The train is full' was the bland answer. At the same time Bonita and I said 'Ok, we go to Thailand'.
Goodbye India.
We took the bus back to Coimbatore. Not before we got heaps of offers from taxi drivers to bring us to Ooty. We didnt give a shit about Ooty. But the 7 hour train rides was one of the most stunning rides (apparently). But I prefer proper food anyway.
So, after a bumpy ride back to Coimbatore, we checked in in our previous hotel, that, luckily, was clean. In an internet café we had one of the quickest and most efficient decision making moments we ever had together.
We had a list of options:
Bangkok
Singapore
Kuala Lumpur
Kathmandu
Hong Kong? I am not sure whether we had this one too.

Quickly we went trough several websites. Airi India, Airasia, Indian Airlines, Kingfisher, Edreams. More and more. Within 90 minutes we found a very good price, and were able to fly the same evening to Bangkok! I was able to honestly, deep from my heart smile of happiness. Not anymore because of this silly situation, but because, hip hip hurray, we went to a place with great food, clean places and cheap cheap :)
We spent some hours in our hotel and then left to the airport. Just before an important politician would arrive in the city. And.. what a joke, when we arrived in this place, it was hyper clean. Strange huh? I remember when I worked for the supermarket. Just before the country manager would arrive, the evening before we had extra people and cleaned everything, literally everything. And the country manager would know that all was fine and he could happily sleep with a good feeling.
The same happens in India. So Coimbatore, clean, clean. Mettapalayam; shithole.
Mango shakes, green curry: here we come! :) YES. Food food food. A lot of clean, tasty, healty and clean (again), clean, reliable well cooked, food. No bacteria, no 2 hours odyssee, no overpriced, time consumer searches for food. No, just delicious food everywhere. Welcome to Thailand. Thailand, you should know that I need to regain 3 kilo. And my bonita also lost about the same in one week. We looked sick. Our faces were going inside, like anorexia patients. Fuck it, the suffering is over. Food, food, here we come :). I was so happy.
So we flew back. Coimbatore, Mumbai, Mumbai-Bangkok. I forgot which airline. So after one week and spending 600 euro on tickets alone plus 70 euro for a fucking visa for India (calculate how many mango shakes that is), I was happy to, having spent one week in India, be back in Bangkok. FOOD FOOOOOD. The first green curry was like having your first orgasm ever..delicious :)

Posted by Aussierala 04.03.2011 06:01 Archived in India Tagged india bus ride bangalore goa sick dirty expensive doctor bacteria coimbatore mumbai. Comments (0)

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