A Travellerspoint blog

By this Author: dinofile

Bountiful Bangkok

Thailand - Day #1-4 - Bangkok

rain 30 °C

Bangkok greeted us with a brand new spiffy and huge airport. Pushing past the limo drivers offering exhorborant rates to get into the city, we got a regular taxi. If you can call a hot pink mazda regular @_@

Most people have been to Bangkok so I'll spare the details. But the basic packpacker routine is to head for Khao San road, get a nasty hotel, shop, party and sweat till you can't take anymore, then leave for either jungles or beaches in the rest of Thailand.

We lasted about 4 days before it all got rather repetitive. The only site we bothered seeing was the Royal Palace. I managed to buy a new camera, same as before, but quite a bit cheaper even.

Scotto's really had his heart only set on seeing India and is not really your palm tree dwelling chill master type, so he decided to move his return ticket way forward. Which left him about 4 days to do something before leaving.

I hadn't been to Phuket Island and that is easy and cheap to get to, so we decided to head down there. We booked a ticket on OneTwoGo airlines which you may remember had a nasty crash about a month ago on landing in Phuket. Also we planned to initially stay in Patong Beach on the Andaman Sea side of Phuket island, which was quite hard hit by the tsunami back in 2004. So though there was nothing to worry about statistically, in the back of your (well mine anyway) mind the what-if's can start to gather.

We got on our plane and sat in our first row allocated seats. Mmmm the crumple zone. We finally landed with a healthy bump in Phuket International airport. It was quite late and pouring with rain. People were standing around waiting for taxi's to the beach locations. Its about 1 hour drive to Patong Beach. No official taxi's were coming, so I negotiated with some freelancer and got on the road.

We had thought it would be a relatively straight forward taxi ride but after only a kilometer or two he pulled off the road without a word and drove slowly up to a building and stopped outside in the rain. We asked what was going on and got no reply. He mozzied out of the car up to a semi lit unit with glass front wall, while leaving some lady in the front seat with us. We could see him talk to some other guy in a singlet, then he headed to the back of the unit and helped himself to something in the frigde. By this stage, we were getting mighty pissed off and a little worried. The girl in the front seat just remained silent. Eventually Mr singlet man plods over to Scotto's door, opens it, leans in and starts asking us where we are going and what hotel we have booked. Annoyance started to vastly overtake any fear we might have been harbouring and we defended our initial plans. It took quite some time just to get our driver back and simply head to the main street of Patong Beach.

We finally made it to Patong Beach and just wanted to be dropped at the hotel we asked. Either he really had no idea where it was or he had another cunning plan in his head, cause he took us through some dodgy streets to some other hotel. We got out and after painful discussions with the staff were told "You know this is the gay area". We forced the driver to take us closer to the main area. He took us to a hotel called Aloha Villa where the rooms were modern and fine for 1000 baht a night (around AU$30).

After freshing up we found the closest restaurant, gorged 2 crabs and other assorted seafood and headed down the main street for a look see.

Posted by dinofile 05:08 Archived in Thailand Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

Buzzards circling a napping holy man

India - Day #15 - DELHI

sunny 32 °C

(To anyone out there actually reading my blog - sorry about the huge lag - I am in fact alive)

We went back to our old buddies MerryGoTravels to eject ourselves from India and onto Thailand. By the way I can highly recommend them for taking care of any bookings or tours you require in India. Their attention to detail is great and they wont issue you any ticket until they have fully confirmed it. Not to mention they are a friendly, likeable bunch that speak excellent English also.

Anyway continuing the fast paced travel trend of our trip so far, we accepted a flight early tomorrow morning to Bangkok, Thailand. We did some last minute souvenir shopping in Pararganj bazaar. Then it was off to a cool touristy cafe called Metropolis for our final dinner. We'd had a breaky there before. Top italian coffee.

As we walked to a free table I noticed a man kind of slumped over at the adjacent table. He seemed to be asleep or worse ! I lent down to have a closer look at his face and to our surprise it was Graham. He was out cold and seemed to be breathing so I thought we'd better at least sit next to him and make sure he made it through the night.

The waiters we scornfully eyeing him off, all twitching with the urge to toss him out. So I thought I'd better wake him up so I coughed his name a few times under my breath then a final louder muffled shout jolted him out of his slumber. He awoke dazed and confused, obviously not daring to focus on all the faces staring at him. As we smiled at him, he finally did a double-take and said "Heyyyyyyyyyy the two aussie lads ! Yeah ! Crackin !". Then he truely came back to his dynamic self and pulled his chair over to our table. The foot tapping waiters slowly retreated back into the shadows and let him be.

He said he was hoping he'd run into us cause he had brought his little photo album with him. On our previous encounter with him he was telling us how he almost got married to this 20 year old Indian girl, last trip ! Her whole family was initially ok with it though they thought it was only a 30 year age difference. But the father finally pulled the plug on it after they found out Graham was another 9 years older still. Nice try man !! :)

I think we'd previously taken a bag of salt with that story, but the photos were quite extraordinary. She was basically a model and he was in fact trying to get her contacts to walk the catwalks in New York. Her professional model shots were stunning and her about the house look pretty fine too. The funniest thing was he was still trying to visit her this time around. Man, I thought I was persistent !!!

Anyway it was good to see him again. A few too many beers coupled with a dose of jetlag had made him sleep long enough in that restaurant for us to run into him again and see the evidence. He was sarcastically disappointed in us for not venturing up north to dip in the Ganges again, but he was very keen to head there himself in the morning. Hopefully he'll take a bus rather than leg it this time :)

It was a somewhat bizarre and fitting end to India.

Posted by dinofile 04:04 Archived in India Tagged tourist_sites Comments (0)

The holy man, Graham

India - Day #14 - Delhi

Strangely this second visit Delhi feels different. I am not sure if its the veneer of local wisdom we have picked up or just that there are more tourists in town this time, but we are hassled immeasurably less.

We went to a local drinking hole called De Gem near the train station end of the Main Bazaar at Pararganj. It was very cosey indeed. In fact so much so that the waiter plonked us down to share a tiny table with two other dudes who didn't appear to know each other anyway. We immediately struck up a conversation with this guy wearing Indian style clothing. He turned out to be a 59 year old ex-pat from Jersey UK, named Graham.

The more we spoke to Graham, the more our mouths dropped open with disbelief. At the age of 28 he had dropped out of society and come to India to walk the land. Quite literally. He spent 7 years just cruising around India by foot. He never paid for anything, nor stayed in any hotel or ate from a restaurant. The local villagers would squabble with each other over who would feed and shelter him. Sometime he would just sleep in caves.

Graham had just arrived from a cold and dreary London, where he was working as a painter decorator. He certainly was over his job and he comes to India whenever possible, usually each year. He was very keen to head up north to a town made famous by a visit by the Beetles, 6 hrs from Delhi where the Ganges river is clean and clear (how that is possible downstream from Varanassi I'll never know), to cleanse himself of Western society's contamination as he put it.

He certainly painted quite a different picture of India than what we had experienced. Probably because he gave all of himself to India. He had many more stories about girlfriends, wifes, family and the friendly south of India. It was just a mind boggling experience talking to this man of the earth from Jersey.

Though he was quite inspirational, he still didn't manage to change our minds about leaving India. Today we are going to check out tickets to Thailand. Maybe I can reset my karma there :)

Posted by dinofile 01:37 Archived in India Tagged tourist_sites Comments (0)

How to find Travel Map and Photos

India - photos - wot I have of them :(

Though I am in mourning of my lost photos, I have finally figured out how to put direct links to my photos and travel map permanently on the blog page.

On the right column strip of this blog page, down near the bottom is a "FAVOURITE LINKS" section. You'll see links to photos and map there, as well as to Scotto's blog. He'll be adding similar links, so you can see his photo gallery aswell. The map is very handy, cause if you click on locations, the photos taken in that place will appear at the bottom of the page.

Incidentally, Scotto and I don't really read each other's blog. We probably don't want to contaminate our styles. But Scotto showed me his entry for when I went a little loco after the virus caused the loss of my photos. His writeup of it is pretty damn funny. You can see the text of this just after the first photos. Naturally his entire blog is great, but this in particular was too funny.

Posted by dinofile 04:57 Archived in India Tagged photography Comments (1)

The sea was angry that day my friends !

India - Day #13 - Khajuraho

sunny 34 °C

Well we got up without fuss, had our complementary breakfast and hopped in our car to head for Jansi. A few hundred meters down the road, I felt the urge to check for my camera. I could not find it in my day pack. We stopped the car, and I began to frantically toss clothes out of my bag onto the footpath. An audience of colourful passersby including a cow or two watched this crazed muttering tourist reach the unthinkable conclusion that his camera was gone.

We made some fruitless backtracking to the hotel, Zen restaurant, Shiva's place and Fat Alberts, but it was all over. My pixel warrior was in the hands of some toute or one of the four stomaches of some dopey cow.

I am starting to think that perhaps I should have tried to not squash so many bugs the other night, because I think I have accumulated too much bad karma. Two times now I have been in an internet cafe and the only PC not to have a PSU (battery backup) was mine, causing my blog edits to be l - losing my work. I copped the virus, which resulted in the deletion of all my Rahjastan photos and videos (chance I can still recover those yet I hope). Now not only lost the camera, but my 4GB SD card with the rest of the trip's photos. I was in the process of backing up everything when the virus stuff occured, so I gave up that night.

The sea was angry that day my friends !

What I believed happened was that on the bumpy mad autorickshaw ride back to the hotel from Shiva's, the bag must have been slightly open and the camera simply popped out on a pothole bump or something. Anyway it was gone and I just numbly accepted it. Luckily Scotto and I take similar shots and he still has his and has uploaded his.

So again you can see Scott's blog (with interspersed photos) or his photo gallery here.

Well it was a long and hot 4 hour drive to Jansi, with the usual heart stopping moments. At least for once we could actually find the seat belts in this car. What a treat.

Then we boarded our 7 hour day time air-conditioned seats for Delhi. We got in very late to a frenzy of taxi toutes and took a punt on a hotel called the Rak International in Paharganj area which turned out to have a twin room for 450 rupees (about AU$14) for the night. We settled in to watch 20 channels of snowy advertising on our matchbox TV. Life was good.

Posted by dinofile 02:39 Archived in India Tagged train_travel Comments (1)

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