Posted by Cool Your Jets IV on September 21, 2011
Andrea, whom we met whilst aboard the Grande Francia continues his journey around the World (do look for two intrepid travellers in the video…)
It seems like a long time since we were aboard the ship, though we’re still talking about it – people we meet are always amazed when they hear about our leaving London aboard a cargo ship and our voyage to South America, following the coasts of France, Spain, Africa and Brazil – an awesome experience that still lives long in our memories. But alas, all good things come to an end and we’ve had a truly awesome time, met some wonderful people and experienced many highs and great times.
The whole adventure had been really special and we both feel very lucky to have had the opportunity to see the World – pretty much on our own terms, having no plan whatsoever, only to arrive in Buenos Aires and go with the flow. Argentina was superb, we wish we’d met our tango instructor sooner though know we’ll take it up when we eventually settle back in the UK. The friends we met whilst learning Spanish will remain good friends – some of whom are already planning to visit London later this year.
Machu Picchu was everything and more than we expected – at one stage we had no plans to see it, so very glad we decided to get to Lima and onto Cuzco – it was mind-blowing. Having no plan saw us leave South America to meet up with friends in SE Asia, Jamie and Lisa in Vietnam, our little holiday within our trip – Vietnam was such a beautiful country and travelling by train, north to south we pretty much saw all of it and so want to go back.
Whilst Phnom Phen wasn’t for us, the rest of Cambodia was – seeing the small river town of Kampot was a highlight with many drunken nights spent in the Rusty Keyhole, drinking cold beers and enjoying great food to meeting up with our friends Dave and Katie, en route to London having been to a wedding in Australia. Seeing Angkor Wat with them both – we couldn’t have hoped for two better intrepid explorers!
Thailand was everything we though it wasn’t – we were both expecting Bangkok to be a little bit like Old Delhi, ramshackle and broken, dirty and not really for us so imagine our surprise to see multiple high-rise office blocks on a par with New York – an incredible metropolis though it the places outside of Bangkok we truly enjoyed – visiting the Islands and being able to climb in Krabi, a longish term ambition of mine. To visiting the north, making friends in Chiang Mai and our nights inside Pinkys – a fine watering hole with some great characters though none more than Fon and Graeme – unfortunately the photo I have of Graeme is long deleted though the image has been burned into my memory!
Then there was India and our being spoilt rotten by Ram Mama and Madhu Mami, both of whom gave up their bed and fed us plenty of home cooked food, which after being on the road for so long was very welcome. Rather than visit the same places we opted to see more of the north and the foothills of the Himalayas. Having now been to Leh I can categorically say that this is my favourite place in India – riding our Enfield in the mountains, riding over the first and third highest motorable passes was a real highlight. Seeing Goa in a monsoon (and meeting our friend Tony from Chiang Mai, randomly paying for something in a supermarket) and for me bathing in Ganga Mata in Varanasi, for no other reason than, why not!
We’re now in Greece, have been for about two or so weeks – relaxing before we head back to London and finding somewhere to live, rebuilding our careers and planning the next stage of our lives with memories of this year shaping our future. It’s been a wonderful adventure and I couldn’t have had a better person to travel with, be with and to share all these wonderful times with than my wife and co-pilot Shelley, none of this would have been possible nor as much fun with out her – it’s been a blast babes x
Posted in Brazil, Buenos Aires, Cambodia, Delhi, Greece, India, London, Peru, South East Asia, Tango, Thailand, Vietnam | Tagged: angkor wat, Argentina, cambodia, Cargo Ship, chaing mai, goa, Grande Francia, greece, india, kampot, ladakh, leh, machu picchu, moto guzzi, peru, pinkys, rusty keyhole, shelleytravel, stelvio2stelvio, thailand, vietnam | 16 Comments »
Posted by Cool Your Jets IV on September 3, 2011
Varanasi, one of the places I’ve always wanted to visit is a twelve-hour train journey from New Delhi Railway Station – twelve hours pah, having just been to Goa and back, a combined journey time of 60 hours with a full-scale monsoon meeting you the other end, with rain the size of a lake hitting you, twelve hours was going to be a breeze.
Only I was going on my own as Shelley pulled the NRI card having insitsted on staying in Delhi to catch up with friends and family, all of whom were questioning me as to why I’d want to go and visit such a place, moreso during Monsoon – the Ganges would be full to bursting the narrow alleyways full of cow shit and the general filthyness of the place. It has all of this in spades – like a pigeon taking a dump on you is deemed good luck in the UK, here the same is true of cow-shit. Luckily for me, I’ve managed to tread in it several times…
As for coming here, well for one, it’s one of India’s oldest cities and is situated on the banks of the holy Ganga, or River Ganges – it’s all the place all Hindus go to bathe – absolving them of all previous sin. Also many old people come to die here as it’s the main highway to nirvana – you see them sitting there, praying to die with their wife in the background telling them to jump straight in – some look ready to go!
It’s also a place where they carry out cremations next to the river and should you unfortuantely be poor then you’re tossed straight in – there’s many horror stories of floating corpses, mostly headless with eels emerging from the neck though, so far I’m yet to see one!
We did however stumble across a cremation, two in fact – the first one was looking a tad small and we actually passed it by not realising that particular pyre had been underway for several hours and all that was left was a torso (we were told that the male torso is usually the last thing to burn and for women, the hips.) Bumping into a guy ‘…I want no money from you, honest guv…’ he gave us the grand tour and in actual fact turned out to be the owner of the ‘burning-business’ at this particular ghat. It was quite interesting, as mentioned above – if you’ve money, you’re burned, if not, you’re chucked in!
Apparently babies, pregnant woman and holy men are not cremated either, being as they’re pure…
Luckily for us they had one pyre ready to go, a whole bunch of logs with a body covered in a sheet laying across. The head of the family, in this case a young man with his head shaved circled the pyre with fire five times before setting it alight. We watched a while and once the smoke became too much, we were taken above for a grand-stand seat…
Being unable to take photos (though I did snap one before the fire started) we sat and watched as the fire took hold with the body quickly appearing from beneath the burning cloth. To be honest it was all a little surreal – the family don’t actually watch the cremation so there we were, directly above watching it all take place, us, the owner, couple of kids and a cow.
It didn’t take long and before too long the owner commented about a charity around the corner selling silk with some of the profit going towards wood for the poor fold… To be polite we went to look but none of it really appealed so we made our excuses and left, much to the dismay of the guy looking to make some commission.
Later today, along with Luis, a guy I met on the train – an American whose family are Mexican, are heading out to take a dip in the Ganges – not that I’m religious or anything like that but should I choose to get all religious at some point in my life, at least I’ve been in…
Posted in India | Tagged: benaras, benares, cow shit, cows, cremation, floating bodies, funeral pyre, ganga, ganges, ghats, goa, hindu, mexican, monsoon, nri, pilgrim, religious, river ganges, sin, varanasi | 2 Comments »
Posted by Cool Your Jets IV on August 27, 2011
We’re now in Palolem, southern Goa which is bang in the middle of Monsoon…
Whereas I thought it would be raining for an hour or two a day, it’s properly honking it down – when it rains you go from dry to drenched in the space of a nano-second – theres the very real chance you might drown (from the head down) whilst trying to find a shelter which if truth be told, is a total and utter waste of time.
When it rains it pours – it does not matter how close to shelter you are, you’re immediately drenched.
This is happening four times a day and we’re thinking it’s time to start heading back…
So what next? If truth be told, we were planning to spend a good few weeks here in Goa though having arrived and experienced the monsoon and with everything shut we’re thinking of heading west. The whole trip has been awesome, in fact the best thing I’ve ever done in my life though there comes a time where you become travelled out; too many hotels, restaurant food taking its toll, taking trains from a to b and having no control over your life – not being able to enjoy the food you want (cooking your own food) and dare I say it, missing friends – well, not in my case but we’re ready to return…
Having no plans, our next plan is to take a flight to Athens, jump on a ferry and spend a good few weeks enjoying the Cyclades, starting off in Sifnos before exploring further – London/Bristol beckons and we’re heading back…
Posted in India | Tagged: athens, bristol, cyclades, end of trip, europe, ferry, goa, greek islands, india, london, monsoon, Palolem, sifnos | 2 Comments »