Friday 18th April
Woke up with no idea as to what to do….decided to book myself into the Radisson Blu for a bit of an easter treat. Hopped in a minibus and whizzed from my 2 star to 5 star hotel! Spent the day napping, ordering room service and skyping/facetiming friends and family. Booked my flight to Goa and watched some films.
9pm Ankur arrived with rum and we had a drink and watched the cricket, about midnight he decided he was hungry so we popped out to a 24/7 and bought some snacks and then watched a film whilst he consumed Aloo Paratha and I had some chocolate popcorn.
Saturday 19th April
Had a lie in, breakfast and used the spa. Watched Slumdog Millionaire and napped!
At 8pm Ankur picked me up and we went to a huge shopping and entertainment mall in Delhi and had a drink in a bowlplex before hitting KFC for a paneer burger and chips! After our non-chicken KFC we went to the cinema and watched Captain America in 3D. We got back to my hotel at 1am and then finished the rest of the previous nights rum and watched VH1 and chatted until 5.15am when I pretty much fell asleep and kicked Ankur out!
Sunday 20th April
Up at 9.30am, checked out at 11am and headed over to the domestic terminal at Delhi airport, hopped on plane bound for Goa. Had a whole row of seats to myself which was handy as I was tired and a bit worse for wear after the rum! The bumpy take off and smell of in flight curry wasn’t helping either!
After 2.5 hours I landed in Goa and jumped in cab to Palolem where Kirsty and Chendu (Kirsty’s holiday romance!) were waiting. They were staying in a really cheesey named hotel called ‘My Soulmate’. I took the only room left which was a single room at £4 a night! There was a bed, a hook on the wall, lightbulb and basic bathroom! Oh and a fan (no AC) which circulated the very hot air around! It was on a par with places I stayed in Kerala in the early days but a real come down from the Radisson I had just come from!
I freshened up and met Kirsty and Chendu for drinks and dinner on the beach. A whole world away from the noise of Delhi!
Monday 21st April
Had a well-earned lie in, did some washing and then met Kirsty and Chendu for breakfast. Afterwards we jumped in a tuktuk and headed to the nearest ATM for cash! Then Kirsty and I went clothes shopping and bolstered my wardrobe in my rucksack as most of my clothes had gone in the bin somewhere between rajasthan and delhi! After our exhausting shopping we napped and met again at 4ish. Chendu had bought us both back an ice cream which was immense after my nap in the oven! We then sat on the communal balcony playing cards until Tinu arrived. We all freshened up or de-sweated and then hit the beach for dinner followed by Baskin Robbins for ice cream!
Tuesday 22nd April
Met Kirsty and Chendu at 10ish and went to beach for breakfast, then Kirsty and I hit the sunbeds for a few hours whilst the boys drank at the bar and went swimming. Libin, Tinu’s old school friend arrived so we left all 3 of them drinking and us girls had a quick power nap and shower and met them back in the bar at 6pm for drinks and dinner on the beach.
At 9pm we jumped in a tuktuk and Tinu jumped on Libin’s motorbike and we headed to Chowdy to get the night bus to Hampi. Libin left us as he had work the next day and the 4 of us boarded the bus which had been advertised as an air con comfy way to travel! Not sure their advertising was correct! We had beds at the back of the bus! Tinu and I had to squash into a hot small berth which was a) supposed to be air-conditioned and b) big enough for 2 people to sleep comfortably! NOT
Managed to sleep briefly and rolled into Hampi at 6am, jumped in a tuktuk and headed to the town to find a hotel.
Wednesday 23rd April
Had a quick sleep before being picked up by tuktuk driving child at 9am, he took us around hampi and took us to see some of the temples and natural boulder arrangements. We only did 3 hours in the morning then headed back to the air-conditioned hotel room as it was 41 degrees! We had lunch and a quick siesta and then back in the tuktuk at 4pm to see a couple more temples and the sunset.
The scenery is amazingly beautiful, as far as the eye can see there are temples, ruins or boulders. Too much to see in 3 days!
In the evening we showered, had dinner and played cards before hitting the sack early as we were up in the middle of the night (again) for the sunrise!
Thursday 24th April
Up at 4am, bloody stupid time to get up if you ask me! Lol. Chendu was ill and decided to stay behind and sleep, seemed he had the right idea!
Jumped in a tuktuk and got dropped off in the pitch black at the riverbank. We had to walk for a few minutes in total darkness on slippery, uneven stone paths! There were steps that we couldn’t see and a huge millipede thing lurking around! Thing improved when we got to the river and our mode of transport was pointed out. All I can say is large, wicker fruit bowl! I was promised a boat and what I got was a circular bamboo and wicker fruit bowl that was waterproofed very badly with plastic and tar! Still in we climbed (Kirsty, Tinu, Mr Bean and I….now I must just point out Mr Bean is in fact a really socially awkward russian guy called Sergei) and our 15-year-old captain took us down the river in pitch back. At one point we had to disembark the fruit bowl so that he could negotiate some rapids without drowning us.
We had to climb out of the fruit bowl and through thick, high foliage that disguised lethal slippery and uneven rocks. After almost breaking an ankle or slipping and bashing our head in on rocks we climbed back into the fruit bowl and continued our journey to where we needed to disembark for sunrise. The 15 year old rowing child announced we had arrived, when I looked it was another thick, high foliaged, disguised lethal slippery rocked area! We had to climb over rocks and up banks to get to the road where we walked along for 5 minutes to the bottom of a mountain where we embarked on a hike up, apparently 670 steps, to the monkey temple at the top for sunrise.
I would like to say the pilgrimage filled me with some kind of spiritual achievement but really I walked up each step swearing, sweating and being attacked by flies! Upon arrival at the top I learned that Kirsty had made the fatal mistake of putting her water bottle down on the wall for 2 seconds only to see it snatched up by a monkey who then ran off and took the lid off and poured it all over the floor! A little furry f*cker tried to steal mine too but I beat him to it. He hissed at me and pulled an angry face so I threw some water at him which appeared to p*ss him off even more and he went to leap at me! I was grateful at that point for my rabies injection! Lol
We walked back down the mountain and stopped for a drink and rest in a shop at the bottom, before walking back to the fruit bowl which was sadly still where we had left it. I was hoping it had been stolen or had sunk so we could get a tuktuk back! Lol
Still we got back in, fruit bowl punted back down the river taking in countless temples and rows of columns perched precariously on the cliff edges. We had to disembark again and traipse through foliage and climb over fallen granite column whilst the boating child physically picked up the fruit bowl and carried over the fallen columns and slapped it back in the water the other side of the land area! We then punted back to the riverbank where we got out with wet arses and jumped back in tuktuk to hotel. We got breakfast, showered and slept for a while. The rest of the day we lounged around watching tv, playing cards and eating and drinking mango juice. Too bliming hot to do anything else and after the fruit bowl mountain climb debacle I was happy to rest! Lol
Friday 25th April
Up at 7am, showered, packed and checked out of the air con room and dumped our bags in a non air con room. Had breakfast and then we left at 8am in the tuktuk to see some more temples and Hampi landscape.
We got back to the hotel at lunchtime and chilled under a fan playing cards before having a quick nap.
At 6.30pm we said goodbye to Tinu who was getting a late bus to Banglalore before flying to Kochi. Kirsty, Chendu and I then jumped in a tuktuk and headed to Hospet to get the night us back to Palolem. This time I had a bed to myself right at the front of the bus, again the supposed air conditioning never materialised! Managed to fall asleep listening to progressive goan trance!
Saturday 26th April
I was rudely awoken by Kirsty shaking me shouting we were at Palolem and we needed to get off the bus! Speedily gathered up my ipad, bag, shoes and toilet roll pillow (an excellent idea by me, squash a toilet roll flat and it makes a wonderfully soft and comfortable pillow!) and jumped off the bus at 4am! We found a tuktuk and headed back to ‘My Soulmate’ where the owner had left the key in the door of the oven. I crashed out for a few hours whilst Kirsty and Chendu made beds on the communal balcony using chair cushions! At 8am we went for breakfast on the beach and then came back and slept until lunch! We then did some more shopping before drinks and food on the beach.
We then showered and headed back to the beach for drinks, dinner and a couple of games of pool. Early night as I was off back to Delhi the next day!
Sunday 27th April
I was rudely awoken this morning by some noisy bastards who thought it appropriate to slam doors, shout at each other and bash on doors like someones life depended on it! So up at 7am, packed bag and then met Kirsty and Chendu for final breakfast on beach.
I got a cab at 12.30 to Goa airport and sat bored waiting for my plane which was delayed by 90 mins.
Arrived in Delhi at 9pm and was picked up by Ankur, we went to an amazing restaurant under the Dwarka Sector 10 metro station. Proper funky gaff! Had a mojito and shared a pizza and red thai curry. We then went to visit one of his best friends and had a drink with him debating the conscious and unconscious until 3am! Ankur then dropped me back at the airport and waved me off.
Monday 28th April
Early morning flight to Egypt…5.30am! Was planning on catching up on sleep during the 6 hour flight but had a screaming child next to me for the whole duration, eventually arriving at Amman, Jordan. I had 3 hours to potter around the Queen Alia International Airport so I wandered around duty-free and then got a quiche and chocolate milkshake in a cafe! Finally boarded my plane to Cairo and just over an hour later I was haggling with a man over a cab from the airport! He wanted a tip for helping me sort a cab, all I had to offer was a chocolate muffin from the airplane meal or a honey & nut cereal bar! Luckily he accepted the cereal bar and left me with the muffin! Lol
The taxi took about an hour in the awful traffic to get to the hotel! The driver assumed the role of tour guide during the ride and was pointing out points of interest along the way!
I met the tour guide, Whaleed, in the evening who informed me that I was the only person on the tour but there was a parallel tour running which was going to join Tuesday so I will meet them then.
After the meeting with Whaleed I grabbed some dinner and then got a well deserved early night!
So, here I am in a new country, about to go out to Memphis and Saqqara this morning and meet the rest of the group. Hoping this tour will prove as entertaining as the others have been! So after nearly 3 months it is time to say goodbye to India for a while. My journey is to continue in the land of the Pharaohs!
India has been immense….thanks to all the people who have made the journey a hilarious and memorable one! Shirley, Sathish, Bonny, Ted, Shiv, Robin, Bronte, Indra, Zoe my poppet, Krissy, Kirsty, Anna, Miriam, Ankur, Chendu and Tinu.
Just some of the highlights over the last 3 months have been…..kathakali shows, being chased by an elephant in the Mudumalai Wildlife sanctuary, spotting a leopard, sipping rum around the bonfire, Mysore palace, cycling around Mamallapuram, spreading the love from a rickshaw in Madurai, Holi in Pondicherry, Auroville, Martial arts show in Thekkady, games of rummy, dancing on rooftops, playing countless card games and drinking games, Boris the camel, visiting the rat temple, sunsets, sunrises, Rajasthani forts, rajasthani palaces, rajasthani rooftop restaurants, Bollywood movies, temples, monkeys, henna tattoos, miniature nail art, cows, tuktuks, pujas, taj mahal, dancing pizza hut waiters, swimming in the Ganges in rishikesh, chilling on the beach in goa and wandering around the amazing landscape in hampi! And loads more stuff that I have forgotten!