Wednesday, January 13, 2010

In Kanyakumari, Tamil Nadu, India

I got stuck Vagator for longer than I expected but was a really good time. I actually started this blog a few days ago but did not finish before I had to go because I had plans for my last night in Gos Kwertis left a few days after my last blog so I've been hanging out with Vince and Audrey a lot. We hung out a lot before but we didn't talk much, just knew we enjoyed each others company because of the vibes, so its been nice the last few days to talk and get to know each other better. I traveled south to Kanyakumari on the very southern tip of India because there is a solar eclipse that will be the most visible in the south of India. Vince and I talked about it and we both wanted to go and enjoy each others company so we are going together. Audrey and her mom also decided to come down for the eclipse and they arive tonight or tomorrow morning, but now for the story of the last week.

After playing chess and writing will all day before Audrey, Ruby, and Josh came to the Moon Dance for dinner and we all decided to go to Shiva Valley to party for Kwertis's last night in Goa. The Goan Trance at Shiva Valley that night was actually pretty good, or not bad. We had a great time dancing, I was tired but I pushed it a bit because I wanted to spend time with Kwertis before he left. Music stopped at about midnight so we went bact to Audrey's, which is close to Shiva Valley, but it came back on after a little time so we went back to dance more. We met up with Josh at the party (it was just Kwertis, Vince, Audrey, her mom, and me) and then the music turned off at about 3 so we left.

On the way out we ran into Ruby with a bunch of guy's and we all went to Ruby's place to hang out because no one was tired. At Ruby's it was funny because we all hung out outside and talked for a while and eventually woke up her neighbors. But it is Goa so nobody cared at all. They said it was fine, keep on talking and hanging out, they even joined us. Before the sun came up we all went to get some food at the resturant next door, waking up the family, but again its Goa so they were happy to cook us food. After eating Kwertis and I went back to the guest house and played one more game of chess before going to sleep.

The next day Kwertis left at about 6 pm and I didn't wake up until 2 so we played some final games of chess before he had to leave. After he left Vince had gotten into chess watching us play so we continued to play chess. Audrey came over some time later so we made plans to party that night at Prim Rose which is a club near Vagator that I had not been too and stays open to 6 every night because it is indoors. We stopped at a bar Vince knows on the way and didn't get to the Prim Rose until about 1:30. Soon after Ruby came with another large group of guy's. The music was the same Goan Trance but someone was playing a drum along with it so it had some life.

After a while a large group of us were out in the bar of the Prim Rose instead of the dance floor talking. One nice thing was usually everyone is speaking English but at this time there were more French speakers so that was what was being spoken mostly. I liked it because I felt a bit bad making Audrey and Vince speak English all the time. We stayed at the Prim Rose until after it closed making a bit of a scene but there were so many of us the place did not care or kick us out. In the morning Vince, Audrey and I went to Spagetti Beach which is right next to little Vagator to relax in the morning. The beach was very beautiful and had a big carving of Shiva on one of the rocks on the beach and another of Buddha on the rocks behind the beach. Around noon we decided we were finally tired so we went back to the guest house to sleep.

The next day we woke up late again and decided to go to Anjuna to have dinner with Audrey's mom. We were very hungry and ate at a resturant on the beach next to Curly's. At dinner Audrey and her mom invited Vince and I to a house party in Anjuna at a friend of thiers house that has lived in Anjuna for about 30 years, and we said we would love to go. After eating we all went back to Moon Dance and hung out for many hours together talking. Audrey's mom doesn't speak English so there was a lot of French-English translation but it was fun because French is a very beautiful language. At 4 or so we all decided we were tired so Audrey and her mom went back to Anjuna to sleep and we made plans to meet in Anjuna the next day at 7 to go to the party.

Vince and I bought a fish from our guest house and had them cook it into a fish curry for the house party. We arrived late as usual and then made it to the party by about 8. The party was nice there were a lot of older hippies that have lived in the area for about 30 years or younger people that grew up in Goa. There was a fire outside and people playing music and stuff. One funny thing was we were some of the only people to bring food and we all brought meet dishes (Audrey and her mom brought stuffed peppers and tomatos that were excelent), and there were a lot of veggie people there that didn't bring any food so they started complaining when there weren't any veggie stuffed peppers. A really cool thing that happened was that the owner of the house Gypsy is also a hot springs freak, she even has a website like me, but focuses of spring around the world. We talked for a long time about hot springs in the US, Thailand, and India. When we left Gypsy did not want me to leave and we exchanged e-mails to possibly go to some springs together in the future.

That night we hung out at Audrey's place for a while and then Audrey came back to our guest house to hang out. We just drank a bit and went to a bar nearby that Vince knows the owner. We made plans to go to Chapora beach the next day for sunset but ended up staying up too late and didn't actually do that. Vince and I also made plans to go to Kanyakumari to see the eclipse.

The next day we woke up way too late and Audrey had to go back to Anjuna to do some stuff. Vince and I just hung out and made plans to go to Kanyakumari. We decided to leave on Monday morning and take the express to Trivandrum and then take another train to Kanyakumari. If everything worked, which it did, then the timing would be almost perfect. There were no reservations left so we decided to get the general admission which opens one hour before the train departs. All this planning to a little bit of talking so we just went to little Vagator to see the sunset.

We were going to go to Anjuna to have dinner with Audrey that night but didn't. We were running late as usual and then when we were about to leave the guy at our guest house asked us where we were going. When we said Anjuna he said not to go there that night because there were many police, and many tourist getting in trouble. So we took his warning to heart and just hung out for the night and the guy from the guest house joined us for a while and we talked. We went to Anjuna the next afternoon to see Audrey and tell her what happened and when we did she told us it was good for us not to come. Curly's got shut down at 8:30 and a bunch of people got arrested. It was even in the newspapers all over India the next day. Apparently it was a large bust they had been planning for a while and no one could bribe there way out of trouble, which is strange for India.

We made plans to go to one last party at Hilltop because that was where the party was that night and I had not been yet. That is when I tried to write a blog but had to leave to Hilltop before I could finish it. Hilltop was nice, with florecent trees all over the place and good speakers, and a very good croud that night. It is funny because when you spend some time in northern Goa you get to know all the faces. By this time I knew a lot of the crowd and they knew me. We could all dance together and when the music ended it was all about where to go next to dance more. Because Hilltop is more of an established club it ended promptly at 10 and we decided not to party more so we could sleep and catch the train the next day. We actually did four people on Audrey's scooter back to Moon Dance becuase Vince and I walked, that was really funny. We hung out for a while made plans to meet Audrey and her mom in Kanyakumari and went to sleep.

The next day Vince and I were up and packed in time to catch a taxi we had set up to Madgaon to catch the express to Trivandrum. The train was a little late, which is normal, and everything went smoothly. We were on an AC sleeper and it had good meals too. Also you could go to the area with toilets and the doors to get out and open the doors and look out. It was really cool to feel the wind and look out at India as it passes you by. All in all it was a great first India train experience. At Trivandrum we got there at 6 am and had to wait four hours for the train to Kanyakumari. We had some tea in the town, walked around a bit and then had breakfast in the train station. Again the train was fine to Kanyakumari and we got there at about one in the afternoon.

We walked into town to find a hotel. There are many many Indian men here in black clothing, wearing a longi, with a colored scarf, and a red dot on there forhead. At first I thought maybe these were some Hindi group only in Kanyakumari but they are pilgram Hindi's, or tourist Hindi's. In Hindi they are required to go on pilgramage around India for at least one year of there life. They usually go to all the spiritual sites in India and this is one of the oldest places for pilgramage. There is a temple right on the tip of India that has been there before white people came here and is a place where men come to devote there lives to Hindi and a life of celebacy. That is why most, if not all the pilgrams here are men (also it does tend to be a sexist culture where men can do more than women, especially within the Hindi religion).

Anyway, we walded into town and found a nice guest house, where we are on the top floor and have a good view, and it is a good price. After settling down in the room we went for a walk around town. At first we walked through a neighborhood that was all locals, some old ladies were playing some board games I don't know, and fishermen were walking into the area with fish from the days catch. When we got to the ocean you could see the ferry dock that takes you out to this island that has a temple honoring a Hindi teacher that was built in 1970 and large sculpture of a poet from Tamil Nadu (the state) on the next island over that is very big.

After looking at this for a while we walked through the center of town and it is very touristy with Indian tourists (that is when I realised they are not a local Hindi group but pilgrams). There are tons of little shops like a market but is all kinds of crap, and they are everywhere, like the whole center of town is a market of crap. I don't know if its always like this or if its just for the eclipse. Maybe there are a lot of pilgrams because of the eclipse, but I can tell you there are not that many white people. Also many of the men in the black cloths are driving packed into these decorated jeeps with orange flags and large Hindi shrins on the front. We walked away from all this to find a place to eat and got some Indian food from a little place. Then we went to look for some Indian insence for Vince and it was hard to find. Eventually an Inidan woman that is an engineering professor at a nearby university took us to the shop that would have insence.

That night we went out to call Audrey and have some dinner before stuff closed. Everything was good with Audrey and we ate at a veg place. There are actually more all veg places here than meat places. The culture here is very geared towards no animal products. After dinner we had some tea at one of the tea stall that are all over the place on the streets and went to sleep.

Today we just walked around town again and had some breakfast. We walked right by the old temple and there were men in black cloths everywhere. This place is very strange. An old fishing town in some places and completely filled with pilgrams in others. Anyway, thats how I've been doing and what I have been doing, and what I have seen in the few places I've been. The eclipse is on Friday, the day after tomorrow and I don't know what I'm doing after that. Just pray that there are no clouds on Friday and I get to see this thing, because it could be another amazing thing I did not expect to see while I'm in India. Peace and Love to All.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Through New Years in Vagator

I've made it to the next year here in Vagator, Goa and I would like to appologize that it took me this long to get on the computer but it has been quite an eventful week. I've gone to some parties made some really good friends and even spent a night in the jungle. It has really been an amazing experience for me to be here to celebrate the new year. So, I'll start from the beginning and try not to make this too long.

When I last left off I was headed to the Sunburn festival on a beach down south, I think it was Candolim. That is exactly what I did. I met up with Kevin at the Chill Out bar and a couple people from London named Joe and Lucy. The festival was fun but very expensive. Since I drove all the way down there I payed anyway. The last DJ is well kown I guess for house music and his name was Roger Sanchez. It ended at 10 o'clock so we heatded back to Vagator to bring Kevin home, then met up with other friends, two more London guy's from the same group named Timmy and Tillo, and a guy from Jersey (a small island and independent country between France and England) named Kwertis (I have become very good friends with him).

We went to some parties at around 11:30 that were in Anjuna. The first one was at Bamboo Forest which was a crazy drive and hard to find. Eventually we saw an Israli guy on a scooter who showed us the way. The music was bad Israli trance and the police came and shut down the party at around 1:30, but I had a good time talking to Kwertis about philosophy. The setting was really cool too in a bamboo grove outside. Next we went to Curly's and Shiva Vally (which are right next to each other and on Anjuna beach) and continued the conversation over the bad Goan Trance. Curly's was cool too with the florecent trees good vibe. Curly's ended at around 4:30 and we lost the London group so Kwertis and I went back to his place at Moon Dance and talked for a little while longer before I went back to my guest house to sleep.

The whole next day I slept, watched Soprano's and recovered from the late night partying. On the 30th I headed out of my guest house to see the sunset and met up with people to figure out what was going on for new years. I found out that there was a party right on Little Vagator in Disco Valley, which is a place that used to be the place for Goan trance parties but this was the first party in 5 years. Then I went to visit with Kwertis at the Moon Dance and arrange to meet him the next day to party for new years.

On new years I had a great time. I met up with Kwertis at about 3 o'clock, and a couple French people named Audrey and Vince (which have also become good friends). We started the night out early and it was ton's of fun. We got impatient for Disco Valley to start so we went to Shiva Valley but nothing was going on so we went to Audrey's place which is right there. We hung out for a little bit with Audrey's mom and another guy named Jeremy and the pet crow they had been raising for a couple weeks. At around 10:30 we went back to Moon Dance and lost Kwertis on the way back, so Jeremy, Vince, Audrey and I walked down to Disco Valley. The water was really high and was hitting the shacks on the beach so it was strange walking across the beach to Disco Valley. We waited outside the venue to see the fireworks on the beach and then went in.

Disco Valley was really an amazing spot. Its a sandy valley with palm trees on the sides and you can almost see the beach. The music was dark Goan trance that was not very well mixed but all the people were good and the vibe was really nice. The moon was also full on new years eve and there was a luner eclipse at about 1 o'clock with I saw. So the night was really special. We found Kwertis at Disco Valley and the group from London. It was nice because everyone was doing there own thing and every time I found myself alone I could look around and see someone I know and move over to dance near them. I went up on the hill with the London group and the music ended at about 4:30 because there was a wave of police that came and shut the party down (I guess they weren't payed enough or they are just ass holes).

Kwertis, Audry, Vince and I went back to Moon Dance when the party ended and hung out for a while. When the sun was up Audry and Vince went to sleep and Kwertis and I went to play some chess on the beach after eating some food. That was fun playing chess in the morning on the beach, the locals were just going about there work and we played while watching the day get brighter. The only bad part was there was a really drunk guy from Cali that I know from the Chill Out and he was making a complete fool of himself. I guess after we left at about 10 in the morning he even broke some chairs and a table.

The next day was another day of recovery and finishing the last of the Soprano's. I actually have no pictures of anything I just described becuase when I went to Sunburn there were no camera's allowed and Keola didn't want to pay so I gave him my camera to watch. We kept seeing each other and the camera was safe but I didn't get it back until the 2nd. On the 2nd and I had to leave my guest house (which was too much money anyway) and move over to little Vagator, where I spend most of my time. I went to Moon Dance because that is where I know the most people and the vibe is mellow but they were full. Kwertis was very nice and let me sleep on his floor.

I spent the day playing chess with Kwertis and hanging out with Vince, Audry and a couple of their friends from London who knew Kwertis also. The day was fun just hanging out and talking and I really had a wonderful time. I meant to go to the internet that day but I got caught up hanging out. Kwertis, Vince, Audry and I planned to leave the next day and spend a night in Arombol in the Jungle where Kwertis had lived for a week or so a year ago. I was up for it because it sounded like another special experience to take advantage of while in Goa, and it was.

The four of us left Moon Dance at about 11:00 in the morning and made it to the jungle in Arombol by 12:30. This place was a very special majical place. We camped up a valley from Arombol beach (the one furthest north if you walk around the rocks). There is a Bodhi tree that is a place for pilgramage for Hindi's in this jungle and people live there year round, also it seems to be in some guidebooks because there we a lot of tourists going there during the day. We didn't camp at the Bodhi tree but at another one down the valley a little bit.

After setting up camp we went down to the beach to swim and Vince went to buy some fish for us to eat. The beach is really nice with the ocean obviously and there was a fresh water lake behind it where the river came to the beach. Also beyond the lake there is some yellow clay in the river that is good for the skin so people were completely covered in the clay and looked like strange yellow people. We swam in the ocean, then the lake, and then decided to go back into the Jungle just before the sun set, thinking Vince was taking a really long time and must be back at camp. When we got to camp there was no Vince but we had to start collecting wood for the fire before it got too dark.

We hung out in the Jungle until maybe 10 when we decide to go to the beach to see the stars and ocean, and see if Vince was there. He wasn't so we hung out for a while and went back into the Jungle. The Jungle at night was crazy. You could here sounds everywhere and it almost felt like I was part of the Jungle sleeping under that tree. In the morning we went up to the big Bodhi tree and it was a very majical place. People were sitting around in a circle and reading books about Hindi and you could feel the energy in the place. The only bad thing was all the tourists coming up there and taking pictures like it was some sort of spectical. For me it was even more special because I had never heard of this place until I was there.

After visiting the tree we packed out, got some food at the beach and went back to the scooters. At the scooters we ran into Vince and he had had a crazy night getting lost finding fish, then getting to the beach too late, then getting lost in the jungle at night with no torch. It ended good for him though because he found nice people and a good place to hang out in Arombol. After getting back to the Moon Dance Audry went home to go to sleep and Kwertis and I played chess until Vince got home, then we all played chess. There was also a room open at the Moon Dance so I have my own room now.

Today I have just been hanging out with Kwertis and Vince playing chess and writing this. I'm ready to move on but I also don't want to leave before I'm ready. I think tomorrow I'll book a bus to south Goa and then move on from there. This last few days here have been really special to me. I have not been thinking about my trip at all but about why I am here. What did I come all the way over to India to see? It has been really nice just to think like this before I move on to the rest of India. I am ready to fully get into the culture here and see what I can learn. Thats all for now, peace and love to all!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

In Vagator, Northern Goa, India

Goa is not really India, its Goa, one of these tourist/traveler created beach paradise places. I am in northern Goa which is known as the more touristy/party area, which is why I'm here before New Year, and it is the right place for that. I have met so many heads that come here every year, or have been here for many months, and many of them live very similar life styles to mine. But there is that element of fakeness with all these foreigners that have come here to create their own paradise. All in all, its a pleasant place to be and many people consider this a version of paradise, so I've been able to get to know a good group of people and get into my comfort zone.

On Christmas eve night I met a nice Norwegian guy at the internet cafe that was also traveling alone so we hung out for the evening to celebrate together. We just went to a small hole in the wall bar and drank some. Then we found some street food around midnight that was in front of the church garden square. That was cool becuase there were lots of dressed up Christians going to the midnight mass and the church and garden had tons of lights. After food we just went back to the guest house and hung out a bit before going to bed.

I woke up early on Christmas day because check out was a 9 am, so I packed and got a taxi to Vagator. I paid for the taxi because I really didn't feel like dealing with the public bus that involved a transfer in Mapsa. It only took an hour to get here and I was checked into a pretty nice guest house by 10. The guest house is actually more than I'd want to pay but its new years so the prices are higher and now that I've found some cheaper places I can't be bothered to move, plus they are all full.

After a nap I made my way down to little Vagator beach. It is a very nice small beach with rock outcrops on either side. Up on the hill is 9 bar which used to be the hip spot but now is just an empty bar that plays really loud Goan trance trying to relive the old days. On the beach there are a bunch of women selling stuff that are very pushy and anoying but after a few hours they all knew my face and left me alone. I went into a beach bar called the Boom Shankar that was playing loud mellower music that drowned out the 9 bar. I actually really like that place and have met several people through hanging out in that bar.

On Christmas night I hung out with a nice Irish guy I met at the Boom Shankar and two Indian guys, it was a pleasant evening of good conversation and a couple games of chess. The next day I spent most of the day hanging out at the Boom Shankar. I had been moving for three days straight and needed to relax, plus the Boom Shankar is my kind of place so I could pleasantly spend my day there reading my book and talking to other travelers. I became friends with a guy raised in Eugene but lived in Holland for 20 years and is much more European than American, named Keola (which is a Hawaiian name). Later the Irish guy came back and we relaxed while watching the sun set. I called it an early night and just went to my guest house, had some dinner, read, and went to sleep.

Yesterday I got out and walked around the area a bit trying to get the know the layout of the Vagator/Chapora area. I walked the long way to little Vagator so I could see where some of the clubs people talked about are located. At little Vagator I ran into Keola and he took me over to Chapora because he had told me about it the day before and offered me a ride. Chapora is actually about as far from my guest house as little Vagator so I can walk there easily. Chapora is an amazing little town, it is definitely the shakedown street of this area. There is a juice shop that is packed and a tree outside in the center of town that is always just full of people. Everyone is relaxing, talking, and smoking chillums in such a open and free way. It makes me wonder, because police are everywhere else enforcing the law but not in Chapora and everyone knows the mellow place is Chapora.

After a couple hours drinking juice I headed back to my guest house for lunch and to read my book. I actually read through sunset and then went to the Boom Shankar at the beach but there wasn't anyone I knew, so I headed up the hill to the Chill Out Bar where I ran into a friend of Keola's and I hung out all evening talking to different people. I talked mostly to a guy named Kevin who was a wealth of information and a fun guy to talk to. Today I am going to meet Kevin at the Chill Out later and go to a big festival a bit further south of here for the day. Everyone seemed to know a handful of the DJ's that are going to be at this festival and talked very highly of them so I figure I'll check it out, plus I got a group of friends to go with.

Some thoughts I've had while being here are that I come to the same realizations every time I travel (well basically the same as last year). Like that I like my life in the States and have developed a life that I fully enjoy. I like my good friends better than most of the people I meet, sometimes I'm lucky but not all the time. I'm not traveling out here for all this touristy stuff. I'm here and am going to do my best to enjoy myself but I party at home I don't need to find it on the other side of the world, plus I like my parties better. But for some reason I always feel obligated to see the places everyone goes and talks about just so I know I'm not missing something. I'm here to experience culture and see new and different things. So basically I'm going to do new years, then go to southern goa to see that, and then move on to hopefully more cultural and exciting things.

Insights into Goa are strange. Like I already said it is a place created by foreigners but also each state in India is actually more similar do different countries in the EU than states in the US. The laws are so different and the boarders have real check points (in this way more intense than the EU). So Goans really do consider themselves different than the rest of Indians and treat other Indians as immigrants. As a result most Goans are well off and the majority of the Indians are immigrants. Another thing is because of the parties and all the foreigners the police get tons of money in bribes. This made it so the police station is actually the biggest nicest building in the whole area. Also Indians are fighting to get into the Goan police force so they can get their cut. There is a four year waiting list and they usually are only allowed to be here for about two years until they have to go back to where they came from. That makes it so the police that are here try to get as much as they can while they are here. All this makes it feel very much like a police state (similar to Jamaica), and has made it so I'm not renting a motorbike because I don't have an international license. People say its no problem but you have to bribe the cops a couple hundred ruppies every time you go through a check point. I don't feel like dealing with this so I'm trying my best to walk everywhere or hitch rides with people.

Anyway, that's all for now, I have to get ready to go to this festival and see what the day brings me. Pictures aren't uploading correctly, maybe at the next place. Peace and Love to All!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Arriving in Mumbai India, to Panjim Goa

The flights and transport from Orion's flat to the airport went well. Actually the transport to the airport went better than expected and I left an hour early and arrived at the airport an hour earlier than expected. The plane ride was good and I sat next to a really nice British woman that is moving to Goa permanently. She was really kind and told me all about Goa and invited me to go to Christmas dinner with her in Vigator and possibly see her Portuguese Villa that her and her husband bought.

I got into Mumbai at around one in the morning. I got a taxi from the pre-pay booth which I guess is the most reliable way but the guy didn't know the hotel I booked over the internet. We drove to the area and kept asking other taxi's and rickshaw's (same as tuk tuk's in SE Asia) until we ended up at the right place. Then the rooms were being worked on so they took me to another hotel owned by the same people. It was actually a very nice and fancy hotel but in the middle of some slums in Mumbai which isn't too hard since a huge portion of the city are slums.

the view from my window in Mumbai

In the morning I talked to the receptionist about getting a night bus to Panjim and then ate my complimentary crappy breakfast. After arranging the bus I decided to walk around the area of the hotel to get some sort of feel of what Mumbai is like. I didn't realize how poor the area was until I was walking around. For one I was the only foreigner I saw in about 2.5 hours of walking up to a couple Km from my hotel. The main street was crazy so I ducked into a ally/street, it felt safe because of how many people were walking there (and it was pretty much).

I wish I could describe what it was like in these slums accurately. I was never more than a meter away from anyone to give you an idea of how many people were in this area. All the buildings were constructed and built very close to each other occasionally with very small alleys between them (which I never walked into). Almost every building had a store front and they were small establishments that did nearly everything, with a mettle workshop, next to seamstress, next to a tea shop, next to a clinic, next to a cell phone spot, next to a shoe fixing place, ext. There were even goats and chickens around, and some area's with Buffalo's in a corral thing. Random unofficial markets were all around, I turned one corner and saw a vegetable market in a slightly wider part of the walkway. Personally I've never seen a place with such obvious poverty without any begging.

After walking around a bit someone offered me some tea and I stopped and drank some tea with him and and his friends. Even with the poverty he would not let me pay, which left me with a good feeling, but then the next person that talked to me tried to sell me drugs. A police guy told me I should be careful of pick pockets, and another 3 guy's tried to sell me drugs (I guess that's the only reason a foreigner usually walks around there). Finally I decided to go back to the hotel when someone asked me what I was doing and I said walking around and he responded “you want to see poor people?”, I said “No, living people”. But that made me think twice about walking around anymore. I did not take any pictures of the slums because I did not want to walk around a bunch of poor people with an expensive camera.

Next I ate some lunch in the hotel and the receptionist took me to the bus station to help me find it because he was off his shift and it was on his way home. He was really nice and it took us over an hour to get to the bus station because of traffic. I got an idea of how extensive the slums are and we drove through the Mumbai National Park because there was less traffic that way. He helped me get into the bus then I was off on a 16 hour journey to Panjim, 3 of which were just getting out of Mumbai. That has to be the biggest poorest city I have ever seen. One cool thing I saw was in one neighborhood a lot of kids were playing with those Chinese fighter kites which I know my dad would have thought was cool.

Now I'm in the capital of Goa Panjim in a very cheap place (which would be cheaper is it wasn't right before Christmas). This is a cool city that's small enough I can walk everywhere, and it has a lot of Portuguese architecture because Goa used to be Portuguese. I had some lunch which is funny because I still don't know what most of the food is so I choose something and order it without knowing whats going to come. So far everything I've ordered has been good.

my guest house my room is the right grate on the very top, not a balcony

a walking bridge from where I am over to the buses

some cool statues in town

Now I'm in my room after taking a nap. Its cool having this netbook because I can write this in my room without paying for internet and then just copy it in the internet cafe. That's all for now, and I have been gradually getting my traveling feet back. Meeting all these people that love India, especially Goa helps, but it also feels good being in a third world country. India definitely has all the smells, sounds, and colors associated with a third world country and is more intense in these ways than anything I've ever seen, in a good way!

Monday, December 21, 2009

The Beginning of Another Adventure

I'm off on another winter of traveling. I actually left Seattle 5 days ago and flew to London to see a very close friend named Orion from college that lives in London now. The plan this year is to travel for four months with three and a half months in India and a week in London hanging out with Orion on either end of the trip. It was actually the same price for the plane tickets straight to Mumbai and with stopping in London and it had been way too long without seeing Orion. It was been a great few days hanging out with Orion and meeting some of his friends and sharing stories from the last four years.

The first night I was here which was Thursday I relaxed at Orion's flat with him and his girlfriend Julia. It was a really nice and relaxing and I was tired from all the traveling. It snowed that first day and the next morning there was a light layer of snow on the ground. Orion and I went on a little walk in the morning to get some fresh air and see what the snow did to the city. Then we didn't do much all day but talk but there was a lot of catching up to do.

That night we went out drinking on Londship Lane in Duliich with a bunch of Irish rugby fans because one of them is Orion's fiddle instructor and we were invited out. We didn't get out until about 10 and actually got turned away from the bar when we got there. Orion's friend was able to get us in but I guess we weren't dressed up enough for that neighborhood. We only went to that first pub and then one more and went home before they closed but Orion and I remember coming home but not getting into bed but we both woke up in our respective beds.

So the next day we both felt like crap all day, it really doesn't make much sense because we didn't drink that much. Anyway, we were invited to a party that night in a penthouse with a great bunch of people and pulled ourselves together by around 10 again and headed to the party. It was an amazing little party up on a penthouse condo with a DJ, jamming in another room, about 20-30 people and an amazing view. Orion says its the best view of London he has seen and I can believe it. We ended up staying up very late, the party didn't start winding down until about 5. I have always been impressed with the kind and nice friends that Orion meets and this party showed his ability to meet good people.

That party basically destroyed the possibility of doing anything the next day since we woke up at 2 in the afternoon. We just recovered and cleaned up the flat making some curry for dinner and going to bed early.

Today I woke up early with Orion because he had to work and walked to the train station with him. Then I went back to the flat, ate and hung out until mid day when I headed into the center of the city to meet Orion for lunch. He works in a very busy area in the center of town but we met up fine and went to a pub for lunch. After that I walked around the city and saw Trafalgar Square, and the Parliament Buildings but went back to the flat quickly because it was pissing down rain.

Right when I got back to the flat the rain turned to snow and the city started having problems. The buses even stopped running. I actually leave pretty early tomorrow and I hope everything works out. Its not that big of a deal though because its one flight so it can be delayed and I'll still be fine. Well I'm off a friend of Orion's that he lived with in Edinburgh when I visited him for a month, so we've had a nice dinner all catching up and its about time for sleep to prepare for some more traveling tomorrow. Sorry about the absence of pictures but I haven't pulled out the camera at all.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Back in Seattle

I'm back in Seattle and jumped right into my life at home. Its funny how happy I am to be home but also how quickly I miss Southeast Asia. When I first came back it was a beautiful day and you could see all the mountains. People kept asking if SE Asia was more beautiful than home but I just said it was different and where we live is very beautiful in its own way. Well, I'll finish the story of my trip and the first couple days back home.

The night after my last blog I met up with Dharma for lunch and then hung around Khao San. We walked around and said hi to all the people Dharma has become friends with while there. It was really fun because he has met a lot more people on the road than me, we even ran into Shy who had missed his plane twice. Then at night we met up with Moo and had some drinks with some of Dharma's friends and some of Moo's friends that work in a travel agency on Khao San.

That night was really fun and I ended up becomeing really good friends with one of Moo's friends named Natt. We drank on Khao San then went to a club to dance. Moo left at about 1, and then I stayed dancing. At the end of the night it was just me and Natt. Meeting Natt changed the end of my trip because the next night I also hung out with her, and Moo, Dharma (it was his last night), and a couple of his friends. Some of us met up at 8 in front of Dharma's guest house.

At dinner I ran into a British friend of mine from Don Det who hung out with us for the night, and then while drinking at Chart on Khao San I ran into Clause from Cambodia. It was really fun to catch up with Clause at the end of our trip. Moo met up with Natt and Su (another friend from the travel agency) and then met us at 10:30 or so after closing the store. That night we all drank buckets because it was Dharma's last night and we all wanted to party. Moo got very drunk so Natt and I helped her back to her condo at the end of the night.

The next day I packed and then spent the last hours with Natt before I left for the airport. The flight was long but I slept most of the way due to the sleeping pills. There was a 10 hour lay over in South Korea and I just slept that whole time also. After the flight I was happy to be home but it was an amazing last few days and deffinately left me want to come back to Thailand sooner rather than later.

When arriving home somehow my Dad and I missed each other in the airport and then my Mom showed up randomly so I left with Mom. We tried calling Dad but he left his phone in the truck so Dad ended up waiting in the airport for 3 hours, leaving after he heard a page that I did for him in the bagage claim area. It was a strange way to come home but after all the confusion was over everything was great.

I found out that the very next day there was a barbeque and basket ball game at my old elementary school Summit. Then the next day there was a final performance in the theater in the school. This year is the last year of my elementary and middle school, I could have gone there for high school but I left. The Seattle School District closed the school this last year, so the 09 year is the last. I even went to the city hall meeting to try to keep the school open but we failed.

It was really fun to go to the school events and see all the old faces but I am still jet lagged so after the gatherings I would fall asleep until early in the morning. After the basket ball games I went to meet a close friend and ended up falling asleep at his friends house then went to his house and slept until 5 the next morning. Then I had more events for school to go to and a big reunion after the event that night.

Yesterday I recovered some more and began a garden project in the back yard with my parents. I'm beginning to get over the jet lag but am already leaving tomorrow for California for a music festival. A close friend of mine from College (Adam) is in a band and playing in a small festival in southern Cali. So another close friend (August) and I are going down there and going to see hot springs on the way down and back up. Adam may even come with August and I to a few hot springs after the festival and shows that we will go to with him.

Anyway, I'm hitting the ground running and living my life here and already beginning the fun of traveling in the western US. This will be my last blog until I leave on my next trip. I could continue to write about my life here in the US but I feel like that is my personal life. I have this blog to document my travels, keep my close friend and family informed about what I'm doing, and share my experiences and impressions of other countries and cultures. Now that I'm back home the main purpose of this blog is done but I will continue it next winter on this same website. I think I'll go to India and/or Nepal, probably leaving in December. Until then, peace and love to all!

Sunday, May 24, 2009

In Bangkok and have Ticket home

The trip to Bangkok from Don Det went well. I caught a boat at 11 and then went to Pakse from the dock, then went on a bus through the boarder to Ubon, and finnaly had a overnight bus to Bangkok getting into the city at about 5:30. All in all I actually slept on the bus and got to Bangkok relatively rested. In the morning I just had some coffee waiting for things to open.

When places opened I checked out a bunch of places but nothing was cheaper than what I had found on the internet so I just bought the ticket from the internet. So now I have the ticket and get into Seattle at about 12:30 pm on Thursday. Its funny because Dharma gets back just one day before me on the exact same flight, if I had just bought the ticket originally from the internet then we would be on the same flight home.

After dealing with the ticket thing I figured out that Dharma was getting into Bangkok today, and then called Moo to hang out. We met up here at Khao San and had some food, and then went to the big shopping mall to go see a movie. I don't have much energy so that sounded perfect. The theaters are different too because you choose your seet, not first come first served, and the seats are almost like recliners. We saw Angels and Demons and it was pretty good.

Then after the movie we went to JJ market to see Moo's artist friend that works there because it was Sunday (JJ market is only on the weekends). That was really fun. We just hung out with the artists and drank a bunch of beers. Then people wanted to go to this one neighborhood that is very well known as the gay area of the city. I said I go if Moo was there with me. So we went and it was interesting. Of course because we were with artists the one place we went to was an art gallary/bar. Then we just had some noodle soup before going back to Moo's place.

This morning Moo had to work so I got up with her but then relaxed for a few hours for the trafic to die down in the city. When it was 10:30 or so I got a taxi back to the Khao San area. When I got here I took care of some stuff and then saw Dharma was on the internet so we connected and I went over the the internet cafe he was hanging out in. We caught up a little but he had to check into his guest house still and shower so I'm going to meet him in a few minutes for some lunch and who knows from there. I know Moo wants to hang out again and meet Dharma so thats probably going to be what happens.

I have been really surprized how comfortable I am in Thailand. I know what food is good. I know more words than any of the other places I've been, and the roads and stuff are practically as good as home. Its nice that I feel comfortable here. Thailand is a really nice country with an interesting mix of western and eastern cultures. Anyway, thats all for now and my next and last blog might be from my house in Seattle. Peace and love to all!