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And I'm off!

28th Feb 2013

all seasons in one day 27 °C

Well had my breakfast even though I felt kinda ill and anxious. (Peanut butter and banana on bagel - if you must know. In fact all meals from now on will probably be documented!)
Said goodbye to Johnny - which probably was the most upsetting bit - apologies to all humans involved but I know I'll defo see you again! Asked my folks not to go giving him away in a raffle when I was gone or whatever...

Maw & Paw dropped me to the airport where upon check in I was given a middle seat.. arrrrrrrrrrghhh - jaysus. Everyone's pet peeve on long haul trips. I dread being trapped in - I can't even sit in a very middle seat in the cinema if I know I'm going to be trapped in by people! Probably should have considered this whilest picking my holiday destination - India - 1 BILLION people. Even the states only has 260 million - (Ref John Sheehan).
Anywho I like being able to wander around on the plane, and use the loo, especially as I have a very small bladder - about the size of a chocolate orange. (he he) But tough nuggies, I was sandwiched in beside Paul the scientist and Tom and Anne - all lovely people! I tried to tell Paul my friend was a scientist too, who had started out with worms and then moved on to something to do with test tubes.. (Hannah Craig) .. Lol. Some friend I am.. ;) Paul was off to a conference in Hong Kong and seemed to be quite important - I also told him I was reading Bill Bryson - A Short History of Everything and that I was on the sciency part. (LMAO - I was kicking myself as I was saying it). Anywho he read The Times, while I watched Red Dwarf on me inscreen movie yoke!
On th eother side of me was a lovely couple Ann & Tom - who's daughter was teaching in Dubai. I must say, as they listening to their plans and watching the Dubai infomercial had me slightly wishing I was heading for a week in a cabana hut in Dubai.. But I did however get 3 hours to admire their airport.. which is dandy. Also I spotted a direct flight to Chennai which was leaving in an hour.. DOH.
I was pretty roasting and wearing too many clothes, so did a Jack Reacher on it, (Paul Kenny!!) changed my t shirt and dumped the previous t shirt I'd been wearing in the bin! (Along with a pretty dubious chicken sandwich I had bought 8 hours earlier - didn't want to get sick on the way to India by a slightly turning chicken sandwich!) It felt awesome.
A young gent sat beside me in Dubai airport and peered over my shoulder for about 10 mins before striking up conversation. I was trying not to lol.
The flight to Bangalore was only 3 hours.. I watched Hitchcock (more of a love story really) - who knew Hitchcock was such a lil scoffer! Always atin.. I wish I could have slept but couldn't so have now stayed awake for 24 hours without a snooze... I couldn't even do that on a session these days... :D

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Posted by squeakylee 02.03.2013 04:50 Archived in Ireland Tagged planes india journey goodbye Comments (0)

Holy Cow - I'm in India!!

i know that heading has probably been done a million times but anymooooo..

sunny 29 °C

So get into Bangalore airport at 9 am, sun is shining, smarmy man offers me a cab for a trillion rupees... I decide to take the bus - I have plenty of time to kill and I hate making small talk with taxi drivers. 8) So off on the bus with the local lads.. met the guy who was peering over my shoulder again. :D
Oh what sights I saw.. saw a man dressed exactly like a sheriff, a man with a giant teddy bear on the front of his motorcycle, a woman hugging a cow, a man with a very old typewrite on the side of the street, obviously typing very important letters, men weeing up against the wall, people shining tin cans.. a bit of everything! Anything goes!
There were great signs on the walls such as 'anything can happen over a coffee' and ''fancy office boys wanted''. It was pretty awesome.
Got into Bangalore and I was quite the oddity. People stare their heads off at ye.. but it doesn't actually bother me.. if I was at home in Dublin and someone was staring at me, I'd be quite intimidated.. but here, they're just nosy. I dumped my bag in the station and decided to brave the city and go argue with a tuk tuk driver. Got rightly ripped off on my journey to Tipu's palace but to be honest I can't be arsed haggling over 20 c... Basically you can't get anywhere as a foreigner in a tuk tuk for less than 100 rupees. If you do, let me know how it's done.. Down in the South of India, if you say 'eh that's a bit dear' or 'i only have 40 rupees' - they just walk off. :D lol. So I've accepted that all tuk tuk journeys will be 100 rupees. Anywho - I paid that dude 170 - which was pretty dear, but anyone who can drive in such conditions deserves it imo.
There are cows, goats, people on the streets, everyone's turning every which way, everyone's honking, the dust is in your face.. It's pretty mental. Yet strangely cooling.. probably the dusty breeze.....

Anywho off I went to Tipu's palace in this tuk tuk.. Tipu was a great guy, loved his people, abolished police bribes, tried to make things better for his people. He loved tigers and had tiger print on all his stuff.. He hated the English. He invented small rockets that could travel 2.4 kilometres before exploding! Anywho I don't remember any of the boring stuff.. at this stage my brain was starting to melt and I really needed some kip, but he did have a harmonica in the shape of a tiger mauling an English soldier. You turned the tiger's tail and then music started to come out of the holes in his body. AWEEESOMEEEE.
Decided to have a quiet sit in the garden of the palace but every 2 mins people kept asking me to take their photo with the temple! I should have started charging! Then two local lads - about 19 or so - asked me to take their photo. I didn't realise they each wanted a photo with me shaking their hand.. ahhhahhahahahhaha. Like they'd won a prize and i was awarding them a cheque. Anywho, we chatted away, one of them didn't have any English, the other had some English and we decided we were all going to the railway station. They haggled with the tuk tuk driver and got him down to 50 rupees for the journey back!! I'd never get that... Foreigner tax and all that..
So off we went, they bought me a coffee in the station and then sat and waited for me til I got on my train and then waved me off. hahhahahahaha. We swapped numbers OBV - and I'm definitely going to call him. :D Actually I got a text from an Indian number later in th eday and thought it was them already.. but it was just Telecom India or some such.. He had shown me some pictures of other blonde, white women he had in his phone meeting his mam.. :D hahah

Off I went to Chennai on the train - may I say, this is now the LONGEST day ever in my life. I kept falling asleep on the train, only to be woken up every 2 mins by someone selling something... chai tea, coffee, pancakes something or other, fried stuff, water. etc. I had some fried stuff and potatoe in pancakes which was nom. Finally got to Chennai about 9 and got a hot shower and a good night's kip. Amazeballs. 8)

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Posted by squeakylee 02.03.2013 05:03 Archived in India Tagged india train bangalore chennai Comments (0)

Chennai

No white people anywhere

sunny 35 °C

Got my breakfast of cornflakes and eggs.. (had to turn down the curry for breakfast - I'm not quite there yet) and met Clara , this lovely Canadian who is also on the trip. Then met another English fellow called George who was just checking in. George has been teaching in Goa for the past month, so we will get some top tips from him..
The three of us decided to head out and see the Fort.. I'm not sure there was even a Fort, if there was, we didn't find it.. We walked round and round Chennai in circles, taking in the sights, smells (ahem - the smell would knock the hairs out of your nostrils) and people everywhere doing odd things. there was a guy with a typewriter typing out letters on the side of the road! I wonder who he was writing to...
Anywho after an hour or two, we caved and got a tuk tuk to the beach.

The beach itself was very long and a humoungous distance down to the sea. All the way down to the sea, there were stalls of jewellery, full fish, balloon popping stalls, get-your-pic-taken-with-a-hollywood-star stalls, sea shells stalls and lots more. We couldn't make it 10 metres without lads wanting to get a photo with us. Some dudes offered us some freshly squeezed sugar cane juice i return for photos with us. We gladly accepted! cept for it was mega sweet - mad for the sugar the Asians are so they are. i didn't really drink it as it was a bit too sweet for me plus I reckoned this was one of the things people probably warned ye not to drink...

We also acquired a man called Sam, who was of Indian descent, but lived in London. He was dressed in slippers and a tracksuit!! In what must have been 35 degrees. He was also a diabetic and didn't like spicy food. You're in the wrong place pal! :D
he told us his wife had died and he was over to see his children in India. Anywho he had hours to kill before his bus so he tagged along with us.
We soon discovered he didn't like paying out money for anything and went on and on about how people were trying to rip ye off all the time. I mean really - you live in feckin London you tight wad. He gave out to me for buying a photo on the beach - ''when I could print it out myself at home''. He was also going on about how we could be kidnapped for large ransoms... sheesh man - you live in LONDON! ;)

Anyways, back to the beach - every Tom, Dick and Ravi wanted their photo with us so it took us yonks to get to the sea part - plus it was actually miles down from the road. Eventually we got to the bottom and saw the sugar cane juice lads messin around in the ocean with a man on a horse.. :D yum!
We went to dip our toes in the Indian Ocean and it was delightful. We were quite enjoying it, til we saw the fishmonger dude emptying his fish heads back into the sea.. EWWW. And the circle of life continues..... The locals didn't seem to mind though and had a right auld splish splash.
As we posed for more photos, i noticed the horse getting antsy and starting to kick back so decided a kick in the head on the first day of the trip wasn't the best idea, so legged it back up the beach.

After all this shenanigans, we decided we had earned a beer. There is bog all beer in India. We set off on a quest, and after Sam asked nearly everyone of the locals on the street, this mad yoke decided he would lead us to a hotel with beer...so off we went... :D
The bar was downstairs in a basement under a local hotel. The room was really dark - so everyone who was drinking, couldn't see anyone else who was drinking - but it was air conditioned and had giant bottles of 6% kingfisher beer. It was the most delicious beer of my life. Dunno if I mentioned this but India is HOT and SWEATY. As in 2 mins in the sun and your clothes are soakin. I'm getting used to it, but it can be very uncomfortable.. especially as we must stay covered up most of the time.

So anyways, our ''friend'' who had delivered us to the bar was still standing there afer we had given him a few rupees, so we were all like.. eh.. thank you.. bye bye.. but he replied with ''me - beer - you''. So under the frowning gaze of the management we bought this mad yoke a beer and he sat at the table beside us, overjoyed and laughing away to himself, slapping his thigh. Now we all only had 1 beer each, but the bill came back saying 6 beers (This happens frequently or you don't get your change, or you may get your change in candy. Upon questioning the bill, the waiter said yer man had had 2 beers!! 2 beers! At these prices!!! lol. We never saw him getting another one so either he was some drunken evil beer-sneaking genius, or the lads at the bar were making it up. I reckon it was the latter, but we paid the bill anyways.. and yer man still there lolling away to himself and wanting a shot of our sunglasses and photos with us.. lmao..

After this adventure (we hadn't even met the rest of the trip yet) we headed back to the hotel, but poor George got stuck dropping Sam to the train station. Sam got out and refused to pay.. telling George to come looking for him in London if he wants some money.. LOL - we think he was annoyed cos he lost his tracksuit top on the beer quest earlier. Either that or that 1 kingfisher went to his head.

So met the rest of the gang back at the hotel at 4pm. 12 of us in total. Kay fro Bromley, works as a hospital physio, John from Letterkenny who lives 10 mins up the road from me in Santry, Bill - also from Letterkenny - didn't come with John but their Dads lived together in the 50s. . Bill - ex British army - loves to curse, lives in Bromley - down the road from Kay. Emily from Canada - geological engineer, Corey from Canada, Dave - casino card dealer from Oz, Evelyn - Swiss medic, Lia - loves all things Bollywood and hung out last night with a Bollywood Prince til all hours, and Charles our leader - nice funny guy, lkes a drink.
Had our intro meeting and some chai tea (tea with hot milk and sugar - delicious) and went off for a stroll. Later Charles brought us for dinner where i had PUri something something - 3 large puffballs and a green dip and a red dip. :D Had a beer in the tropical bar after - 5er for a beer!! Feels like home..... ;)

Click this link to see my pictures of Chennai.. (no descriptions as they take ages)
lisas pics of chennai

Posted by squeakylee 03.03.2013 03:12 Archived in India Tagged india trip chennai Comments (0)

Mana Mana - de dehh de de deh

Mamallapuram

sunny 35 °C

So we got the heck out of Chennai first thing this morning. Jumped in our bus and took a nice detour down by Marina beach (where we were yesterday - this beach got pretty devastated in the 2004 Tsunami and a lot of children were killed.) Got mega sun burn on my neck yesterday, despite factor 50 so was all wrapped up today and roasting alive. ;D

We drove on down through the fish market and annoyed the locals byhanging out the window and getting pictures of them at work. They were displeased at us getting in the way of their business.
We stopped at St Thomas' Church for a bit of an auld pray. Apparently St Thomas ( one of Jesus' apostles) is buried under the church! Carol tell Nana I was here please (brownie points for going to mass on holidays) ;) ) We went in and i was surprised to see that jesus was still a white guy with a beard down here. And the priest had a rich glorious voice.

on we went down the East Coast road, which was parallel to the coast. Apparently if you want to buy a gaf on this street, you'll be paying LA Prices! We arrived at our basic (clean and had a fan and a toilet) at about midday and off we went with Charles to look at some temples and a giant boulder that everyone was pretending to hold up for their facebook pictures. The Indians are mad into their photos so they are. Everyone has phones and cameras.. There was some ace stone carvings and we got a good few pics. Then off we went for lunch at moonrakers, where Bill tried to scare me with a giant live crab. I nearly had a hooly. My lunch was a vegetable coconut curry with rice. it was nom.

After lunch we all rented bicycles and cycled off to the next two sights - the 5 Raithas and Shore Temple. The bikes were totally awesome. they had bells and were proper oldskool. we hit the streets with a vengence like 12 eejits, getting our revenge on the honkers of India, by dingalinging our way through the streets! i'd say the locals were laughing their chops off at the state of us. This bike ride was the highlight of my trip so far. it was great craic.

The 5 Raithas were pretty cool. Apparently all 5 monuments were carved out of the one giant stone. Impressive! Pics will follow when I get a bit more time. Clara doubted the originality and authenticy of this structure and we had to call in the geological expert who said they were indeed 'the real deal'.

Back on the bikes and off to the Shore Temple, which surprisingly was beside the shore. The waves were crashing down, the heat was abating, the temple was pretty cool and we had a generally awesome evening.

For dinner we ate in a restaurant across the road from the one we had lunch in. Lollingly, it was not the competition as it was teh same menu and the same waiter was running too and fro across the road taking orders. he he. So I had an egg curry with some layered bread and we were pretty much all in bed by 10. 30. LAME!

ta ra for now. i will try get some photos up soon. xx

mamallapuram pics

Posted by squeakylee 04.03.2013 05:22 Archived in India Tagged india bike mamallapuram Comments (1)

Madurai

Beach town..

sunny 32 °C

So today we had an 8 hour train ride to Madurai. This train had the sleeper top bunk set up so got to see the set up for the great 4 sleepovers on this trip.

It was alright - the beds look a bit like prison bunks or some type of bondage set up from 50 Shades of Grey (or so I've heard) ;)
The train ride was grand - had a bit of a snooze on the top bunk for a bit. Hung out of the door taking a video of the Indian countryside whizzing by. As I was videoing the road and countryside, 3 lads on a motor bike caught up with me and started waving at me. I waved back. As the train sped up, they went out of sight, then zoomed up again to get back in the video all the while waving. hahahahaha. The Indians - a great bunch of lads.

Had a bit of a disaster with my bank card - doesn't seem to work anywhere unfortunately. :( boo. Charles and myself went out searching for a few more atms but to no avail. I was hot, sticky, tired, hungry and getting a bit flustered. Decided to try the auld credit card, which didn't work in the first atm either. arrghh. Feckin AIB! Luckily it worked in the next one, or I would have had a bit of a moment.
It was Lia's birthday so we went a bit fancier for dinner. Headed to a lovely breezy rooftop restaurant in Hotel Residence. For some reason in India, there seems to be a shortage of menus. We only ever seem to get 3 menus between the 13 of us! But not tonight! Oh no! a menu each!! I usually have Charles' vegetarian recommendations every night for dinner as it saves me the bother of reading the tonnes of things on menus, and I kinda like not having to make any decisions! :D God help me when I have to hit the road solo. ;)
Had a delicious potato something or other with a roti (wrap) and a beer.
Some of the lads were going back to Charle's room to drink rum and coke but I was knackered and there's no such thing as diet coke here so far so headed off to bed.

Shared a room with the lovely Emily from Canada, she's a geology engineer and is superbly knowledgeable on all types of rocks and landscapes and what not. We were up and atom early again next day to head off to the temple of Sri Meenakshi. Basically Sri was a girl who was born with three boobs, and a wise man told her father that when she met ''the one'', the superflous boob would melt away. So later in life, she met Shiva (the destroyer - one of the main Hindu gods) and her boob melted away, so they shacked up together. They liked to have dance offs and one time, in order to win, Shiva had to pull out a whopper of a Michael Jackson move and whip his leg up nearly over his head.
Anywho this temple was amazing. There are 4 main towers that are covered in statuettes of gods, other people, elephants, snakes and loads of bits and bobs. The colours were amazing and my pictures do not do it justice. It was really incredible and very impressive. We had to get frisked and questioned by some pohleece before we went inside as it is being considered as a new World Wonder and there were no cameras or bags or shoes or anything allowed inside.
Once we got inside though, all the local lads had the mobiles out and were taking pictures and what not. Seemed a bit unfair but it was actually quite pleasant to not have a camera and to just look at things and try to save the images in the head. One group of mad lads all had their mobiles out and were sneakily taking pictures of us lot instead of the tower. Hilarious. :D
Inside there are 4 more smaller towers and then an inner temple with loads of statues of gods, Shiva, Sri, experimental type animals with the head of a crocodile, body of a horse, tail of a bull and feet of a lion, priests handning out blessings (for 10 rupees!!! inner peace costs money ye know! ) and lots more mad stuff. It was very impressive altogether. It's apparently one of, if not the best temple in southern India.

So after our templing, we were brought to another carpet shop (these lads had been minding our bags and cameras). We saw a fellow at work making a rug - twas very impressive and apparently takes him 9 months to do one. We knew it was a pain in the arse listening to these fellows when we had no intentions of buying a rug, particularly as a few of us don't even have a gaf, but it was lashing rain and we got a free honey tea so was grand. The rain had started earlier and it was soooo delicious and refreshing. The day was a bit cooler after it and it was quite pleasant. One of the girl's flip flops broke though and she had to walk back to the hotel without a shoe, through the puddles and shite. errrrrgh.

Lunch was a Paneer masala (delicious) and a naan. Then we went off to Gandhi's gaf. After haggling with a tuk tuk, when we got there he goes ''museum closed - wait half hour''. Lol - think he would have let us know before hand. Would he feck! :D
We waited for half an hour, there was an interesting dinosaur in the garden surrounded by other stone relics from previous centuries. odd as bod. The guy who had the key to the door was just sitting beside us playing Angry BIrds on his phone. :D

When the door opened, suddenly two bus loads of Indian lads swarmed in in front of us and went in around the museum, shuffling along behind each other. The queue was never ending, so I just walked along behind them. Unfortunately though I couldn't read any of the Gandhi stuff/history as the lads kept asking me questions.. ''What country?'' ''Student?'' ''Welcome to India?'' etc All very pleasant and smiling their heads off at us, but made reading the yoke kinda difficult. John ran ahead to see the artifacts in peace saying he'd look the info up on Wikipedia when he got home. :D . Kay gave me a brief synopsis of what the history was in a few succinct lines, but by this stage I'd acquired an Indian fan and I lost interest in Gandhi's history. We got to see the jocks he was wearing when he got shot. (original bloodstained dhoti) and then had a yap to a lovely Indian lady on the door who said Ireland was a great friend of Gandhi's when he was in London. Outside we were mobbed by the lads for photos and some head wobbles.
The Indians have a habit of wobbling their heads anytime you're talking to them. It's like those little wobbly dogs that you see in the front of cars. It's very funny and cute. It's just kinda like acknowledging that they are listening to you. We've all started to head wobble a bit lately!

After Gandhi, we went to pack our stuff and headed off to have a rooftop beer in the hotel. Alas the hotel was closed so we followed a sign that said ''rooftop bar'' across the road from our hotel. It was exactly what it said on the tin. a rooftop, that a man sold beers on. It had a tin roof though and as the rain started to come down again, it was quite nice sitting, sipping beer, chatting and listening to the rain on the roof.

Dinner was in a local joint - I had chapati roll (wrap stuffed with potato and onion and then fried) and some noodles.

Then we headed off to embark on our first sleeper train of the trip. I was dreadinng this as we were told it would be non ac. The train the other day in the non ac section was redonkulously hot so I didn't think we'd get much sleep. But , the fans were on and I got a top bunk. I got 6 hours kip on and off - the longest sleep I've had since I got here. Result.

Madurai pics

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Posted by squeakylee 06.03.2013 21:57 Archived in India Tagged india madurai Comments (0)

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