An update…

As you can see below I have finally updated the blog…  I’m still behind but I have some free time in the next couple of days as my yoga course doesn’t start until the 3rd Dec – so I will plonk my arse in an internet café and finish updating it!   In the meantime you can read about my travels around Rajasthan.

I’ve been pretty crook in the last week as my cold turned into a chest infection – thank goodness I packed antibiotics and have discovered the Herbal Himalaya range… so I am throwing western meds with the traditional stuff and am hoping for a speedy recovery!   I guess this is my body adjusting from constant sunshine to constant greyness and humidity (sigh).

In fact I was feeling so rotton earlier this week I was pondering leaving India asap, flagging the yoga course and spending more time in Thailand… however when I was trying to make a decision terrorists were shooting up Mumbai and protesters had closed the airports in Bangkok.   Given my flight is from Mumbai to Bangkok I figured this is a sign I should stay in India for the month and do the yoga course!    So that is the plan!   I have arrived in Mysore where I will stay for a whole month studying yoga for 3 hours a day and chanting for 1 hour a day (I am not sure about this chanting thing).   The yoga school has organised accommodation for the month (a small apartment) and I am looking forward to a break from travelling.

Seriously though – it’s a scary world we live in… Im really concerned about India being such a threat for terrorism, not for myself (I feel really safe here) but for the sake of the country.   I also am hoping that Thailand can sort out its political problems peacefully… Its looking like it could get very messy, I really really really hope it doesn’t. 

Ok – that’s it from me…  Missing everyone lots and lots and am really looking forward to my permanent return to New Zealand!   : )

Xxxx   Julia

Getting ready for YOGA

I went to meet my yoga teacher and checked out the school.  I decided to delay the start of my yoga course by a few days so I could get better and dosed myself with drugs (started a course of antibiotics to sort out the chest infection).

On the 1st Dec I moved into my new little apartment.  I love it, so much better than what I had hoped for.   For 4000rupees ($125nzd) for a whole month I’ve got a cute little room with a single bed, a tiny kitchenette and a bathroom with hot water.   The shower is pretty crap so I have bucket showers but I don’t care because the water is hot!     My room is light and airy and I have a huge balcony which I share with Gia my next door neighbour.  I got to spend a few days settling in before starting the yoga course.

The looooong trip to Mysore

After nearly a week of really crappy weather at an awesome beach town – I decided it was time to make the move to Mysore for the yoga course.     Feeling rather sick (a cold has been brewing over the last few days) I packed up my gear and hit the road.   Shaz and I shared a tuk tuk to the train station to find we had missed the train by a few minutes… instead of waiting for a few hours we decided to go halves in a taxi to the Travandrum bus station.  

I got to the bus station just in time to get a bus to Banglore.  So I said bye to Shaz and boarded a very posh air-conditioned bus for the 19-hour bus trip to Banglore.   Luckily I had 2 seats to myself and an airline blanket (thanks again Qantas) to keep me warm.

I arrived in Banglore and then got a 2nd bus to Mysore.  This trip was only 3 hours but by the time I arrived I was feeling rather ill and extremely tired.     I looked at a few rough hotels (noisy, damp and cold) and then decided to treat myself to a poshish room for $30nzd a night.   Just as well I did – my plans of checking out Mysore went out the window… I spent the next few days fighting a fever, sleeping and coughing my lungs out.

Varkarla

I arrived in Varkala on the 21st and ended up staying 6 days.   To my disappointment the weather was really really crappy – but Varkarla was cool… so it nearly made up for it!    

On arrival in Varkarla I met a cool ozzie woman Shaz who recommended I stay at the Thriuvathira Beach Resort.   Wow, what a good hint… for 300 rupees I had a balcony, hot water AND a window… the guys running the place were pretty cool too, very helpful.

Varkarla has a much better vibe than Kovalam.   There is a huge cliff top where all the shops, restaurants and guesthouses are, then below there is the beach…   There are heaps of westerners on the main beach sunning themselves in bikinis/togs and the occasional group of local/tourist men going for walks (clearly to have a perve at the western girls).   It bothered me for about 2 mins but then I got over it and thought it was rather amusing – I guess I felt safe due to the number of people on the beach.   

In amongst the greyness I managed to find a couple of days when the weather wasn’t too bad for some beach time.   Most of the time in Varkarla I spend the days wandering around, browsing in shops, sitting in cafes reading my book, listening to live bands at the pub and eating wonderful seafood.   Oh the seafood was SOOO good…  fresh from the sea and a nice change to the vegetarian curries I have been eating over the last couple of months.

Heading to Kerela… first stop Kovalam

After the 2nd most crappiest night sleep (I had a coffee at one of the real cafes yesterday and it kept me up till 4am, then I was woken up by a power cut which turned my fan off and made my room VERY hot) I did some last minute touristy stuff.    I’m starting to become the most pathetic tourist ever, I seem to have lost interest over the last week or so.  Anyway, I went for a walk to the beach, checked out the ‘Shore Temple’ from the outside to avoid buying a ticket, got lost and had to cut through someone’s garden to get back onto the main road (ooops) then headed towards some ruins.   I didn’t make it to the ruins but did see the lighthouse and visit another ‘Rock Temple’ for free…  there I was photographed with this Indian group  and had a few shots taken with small children on my knee.   I was starting to feel like Santa Clause so decided to leave and pack for the airport.

My second domestic flight in India was also uneventful (thankfully) and I arrived in Travandrum via Trichy early in the afternoon.   The woman I met in Mallapalarum (Sandra) had recommended a guesthouse which I found after wandering up and down the beach with my big bag.   Apart from not having any signage the guesthouse was perfect…  it was the cleanest, friendliest place I’ve stayed at yet.   The woman running it was very friendly and the rooms were large, airy and clean….  AND…. They had hot water!  Not bad for 300 rupees (about $10 nzd).

The beach in Kovalam is much nicer than Mallapalarum but is rather touristy.   Most of the tourists seem to be a lot older and there doesn’t seem to be many single travellers.    Having said that, I did meet some really cool people.      

One day while in an internet café I ended up chatting to this girl from Miami (Sasha)…  Sasha is doing teachers training at an Ashram and on her free day decided to go to Kovalam…  talking to her made me realise I made the right decision not to do an Ashram stay… its to farty farty fairy for me… not really what I am want from a yoga course at this stage.   Sasha and I got on really well and ended up spending the whole day checking out the shops and wandering along the beachfront.  We had a wonderful feed at a little shack at the end of the beach and at the end of the day we said good bye as if we had known each other for years!

Kovalam was ok, not really my cup of tea though – so I decided to head north to Varkarla to check out another beach.

Seeing the OCEAN for the first time in months

On arrival to Mallapalaparum I found somewhere to stay, dumped my bags, had an actual HOT shower (blissssss) and then headed straight for the beach.    I walked right up to the see, put my toes in the water and promptly burst into tears!    Who would have known the ocean would bring on such a powerful wave of homesickness.   Oh it was so nice to see it after a couple of months of being landlocked.  I learnt today that the ocean has a strong association for me with my poppa, nanna and Whiritoa!   [Whiritoa is an amazing little beach on the Coramandle in New Zealand where I spent every Christmas holiday as a kid].   

So I sat for a while; took in the view and reflected.    My first beach experience in India was pretty weird…   there was lots of pretty fishing boats, a few people walking, lots of cows, a man trying to sell me jewellery and an odd smell.   This isn’t the type of beach that you can put down a towel and sunbathe… but it was still a fairly nice beach.

The town in Mallapalarum is tiny, there is a little tourist area with internet cafes, a real café and some restaurants.   Then there is the main town centre which looks more Indian and has some more shops, a bus station and train ticket office.  

I spent the next few days wandering around town, eating delicious seafood and chilling on the side of a pool at a flash resort (where I was not staying) working on my tan and pondering my future.    I met Sandra, a British woman based in Spain in India for a few months on a ‘healing’ trip.   It was interesting to hear about her advadic treatments and yoga sessions.

I tried to book a train ticket for the next leg of my trip (where I plan to make a bee line to Kerela before starting the yoga course in Mysore)… well…  that was a bit traumatic.  I turned up at the train ticket office to find a small dark smelly room fill of lots of men (who have not yet discovered deodorant) pushing and shoving…  as I had expected the train was fully booked.    Damn… time to move to plan B.

I went to a travel agent and looked into buses…  it would take a couple of days to get there by bus and to be honest I don’t have the energy or the time…. So I made the call to get a cheap flight from Chennai to Travandrum, then a bus to Kovalam.

Heading South for some SUN!

The driver thought it was a good idea to leave at 5am to make sure I got to the airport in time for my 2.50pm flight.  WELL… that was a little bit too early – I was at the Amnebad Airport by 9.30am!   So I splashed out and hung out at the airport restaurant most of the morning trying to see how long I could make a brownie and diet coke last! 

The flight was quite nice… nothing eventful happened (which is a good thing).  We stopped off at Hyberbad for 20-30mins and I arrived in Chennai about 6pm.   This is where the day started to turn to crap.   My gut instinct was to fork out the 1000 rupees (about $30nzd) and get a taxi straight to Mallapallarum a little beach town south of Chennai.  But, the backpacker in me (there is some backpacker left in me) decided that I would stay overnight in Chennai and then get the bus in the morning.   I headed into the city which took over an hour and tried to find somewhere to sleep.   WELL…. All the good places recommended by the lonely planet were full, I found one place that looked ok but was too expensive and wasn’t value for money.    I started going from hotel to hotel and it just felt ikk….  Lots of men wearing singlets hanging around, damp smelly rooms….  It just didn’t feel safe.     A tuk tuk said he would take me to a place he knows for a 10rupee tuk tuk ride… normally I don’t bother with touts but I was getting pretty desperate so headed 15mins from where I was and found a reasonably priced room (still pricey by Indian standards) and crashed.

I had the CRAPPIEST night sleep ever…  my weary body provided a feast for a large family of mosquitos, the room was hot and stuffy (no windows) and the bathroom was the size of a tiny toilet room (but had a toilet and a shower in there).   In the morning I was so hot and sticky I was almost looking forward to a shower – however, I went loo first and when I flushed the loo water came gushing out of the big pipe…. ewww.  

So, I packed up as quickly as I could, had a baby wipe wash and got outta there!   I couldn’t be asked doing the public transport thing so hired the taxi I should have got last night and headed to Mallapalarum.