A Travellerspoint blog

One Potato, Two Potato

sunny 40 °C

These past 2 weeks have been a whirlwind! I haven't had the chance to get to an actual computer since my last post so here I am typing away on a tiny iPod keyboard. Excuse any spelling/grammartical errors. So much has happened recently that I'm going to divide posts up into different entries. I'll finish up with the rest if our trip in the south!

So we ended up doing a cooking class in Fort Kochin at Mrs. Leelu Roy's homestay and were able to meet up with our friend, Rosie, from the UK who met us there. The class had about 10 people at it, from all over the world - Canada, UK, USA, Germany, France. The class was set up that we observed Mrs. Roy preparing the dishes and taking notes as she went, I wished we had the chance to actually prepare the recipes ourselves but obviously not possible in her tiny kitchen. We made 5 dishes - Thoran, chapati, dahl (lentil curry dish), Keralan curry fish, and pumpkin curry (amazing!). We met another girl from Canada (Toronto) who had done the same thing Rosie, Derek and I had done - quit our jobs to travel! We know we did the right thing and don't need convincing but at the same time there's something comforting about meeting like minded people while travelling... After the cooking class we went back to this awesome cafe/restaurant called the Tea Pot (where we had the Keralan speciality, fish moilee - to die for!) and had birthday cake for Rosie and some mint tea. This spot is so neat! Old tea pots hanging everywhere, bright yellow walls with giant ceilings and the tables are made out of old tea crates.

From there we went back to our hotel (which was paid for by my mom for 2 nights as a treat!) and were up at 5:30am the next day to make the 1.5 hour ride to the airport to pick them up! We were SO excited! We waited... and waited... waited some more. Lots of people arrived but no Tracy and Neil. Then panic set in a bit. Check their itinerary and even though they were coming in on a domestic flight from Mumbai, they arrived at the international gate! We ran to the other side of the building where they had been waiting there for us for an hour. Typical way to start our time together. Hah. So here are the 4 of us, so happy we're together! We made the trip back to Fort Kochin, took a ferry to cross to one of the island and back to our hotel to get a few hours of sleep in before heading out for lunch. Poor Tracy and Neil, just in from travelling about 30 hours in total with an 11 hour time difference and we only let them get about 3 hours sleep. We really didn't want jet lag to affect them so had an agreement to tough it out and make the most of their 2 weeks with us. They were incredible the entire time together... troopers is an understatement.

After lunch back at our favorite Tea Pot restaurant, we headed to Cafe Coffee Day for some much needed AC and a cold beverage, then walked to the waterfront where we watched the Chinese fishing nets move into action. Actually, we got to participate! Total touristy thing to do I'm sure but was really neat. These nets are massive and basically looks like a giant mast on a boat that rocks up/down into and out of the water to set the trap. It's a little difficult to explain - definitely google it! We all got a chance to pull the ropes to move the nets back up - caught a tiny fish. Apparently, this way of fishing is being replaced by more efficient means since it takes so much time/energy. I'm not really even sure how much fish they catch... the 3 times they put the nets into the water when we were there, we only saw the tiny fish caught... must be such a difficult way to make money although we talked to a man who sells fish and they get pretty decent prices (by Canadian standards) for their fish. Seems like they were slightly better than what Canadian fishermen get. From the waterfront, we walked along the fish markets and the women selling souvenirs to a little restaurant overlooking the harbour. Alcohol is quite difficult to order in restaurants (generally) around India so even though it's not on the menu, lots of restaurants sell it 'under the table'. The 4 of us sat up on the roof while the waiter poured Kingfisher beer into cups under the table - we couldn't even keep the bottle on the table, had to be under in case police came by. We called it our 'Special Tea'. Hah. That night went to one of the outdoor seafood restaurants and had some calamari (so good!) and fish moilee (much better at the Tea Pot because the fish they used had way too many bones) and headed to bed!

Our next day we had some breakfast, Tracy was still tired so Neil, Derek and I grabbed a tuk-tuk to Jew Town (it's really called that), a really neat outdoor laundry place where everything is handwashed in these stone stalls and then hung to dry in a huge area for hospitals, schools, etc. and then the Dutch Palace (like a museum). It started getting incredibly hot so we headed back to get Trace, bunkered down at the Garden Restaurant and had some delicious curries! Our days started to become familiar... after we ate we went back to the cafe and were there probably 4 hours! We just talked and caught up, it was so nice. Ok... actually we stayed that long because they have AC and we were dying in the 40 degree weather. When the heat went down to a cool 30 degrees, we went to get Tracy and Neil some new clothes as they quickly realized, like us, that clothing bought in Canada can't do much for you here. After a really rough day of sleeping, eating, cafes and shopping, we had dinner at a nearby hotel and then of course NEEDED gelato (which was amazing) before calling it quits. We were just exhausted. I don't know how socialites do it! Hah.

The next morning we packed our bags up and headed to the train station to start our trip down the coast to Varkala. Derek told us the train was 1.5 hours and it turned out to be 4 hours... Haha. We sure let Derek have it! No, I'm kidding, it turned out to be great and also Tracy and Neil's first intro to train travel in India which I think they enjoyed! We were in sleeper class which means no AC but the breeze was enough to keep us cool. We had booked the night in these private huts (Vadanta Wake Up Hostel) and they had a fan, AC, bathroom, hot water - perfect. After checking in just after lunch, we decided to walk down to the beach and had lunch overlooking the shore. Varkala is built on these giant cliffs with a gorgeous beach but Tracy and I knew we probably wouldn't feel comfortable in our bathing suits so we opted to hang in our clothes on a towel while the boys went swimming. Apparently that does not deter gross, creeping men. Tons of 'foreign' women were in bikinis but it still didn't make it normal. Tracy and I look up and there is a local man standing in front of us, eating cashews out of a bag. We stand up and ask him if he needs something, he doesn't say anything and instead, DISGUSTINGLY keeps looking us up and down, still while eating cashews. The boys come back from the water and try to stand between the man and us but he just walks around them. Finally we get him to leave and we watch him walk up the beach, stop where women are in bikinis (they had no idea he was there as they were lying on towels) and eating his cashews, does a circle around each woman and just gawks. GROSS GROSS GROSS. That was our first really repulsive experience of how some men act here. You feel so violated without being physically touched!

So our time at the beach was great with the exception of that man. Ew. We took a walk up the beach as the sun set, there were people meditating, doing yoga (which is apparently huge there) and grabbed an appetizer at a beach front restaurant and tried Momo's for the first time (a delicious Tibetan wonton like snack) then back to our hostel where we booked our drive for the next day to Alleppey. We had dinner at this fantastic German bakery (which sounds deceiving because the menu was mostly Indian curries) and off to bed it was! As we were all falling asleep... we hear a scratching on the outside of our hut... all over it. Cockroaches? Birds? Squirrels? We didn't chance it... mosquito net went up!

I feel like this post is getting so long! I'm going to sign off here and pick up again soon with the next week of our travels.

Laurie

Posted by lcmichael 03:43 Archived in India Comments (0)

No Touching!

Hampi to Mysore to Ooty to Kochin.

sunny 32 °C

It was 35 degrees in Mysore when I started this blog entry hence our escape to an internet cafe although it was probably 30 degrees inside. There seems to be a trend here... me starting a new blog entry with a report on the temperature. Really, I'm not complaining (well kind of - but don't we all even when it's weather we dream about?). The reason for the title of this entry is because it's so hot, if Derek and I touch at all, it creates instant sweat so our line is 'no touching!'. We'll be sitting on a bus or train and his leg will touch mine briefly and the tag line is delivered. We are gross. Constantly.

We took the overnight bus from Hampi to Mysore, it turned out to be 10 hours, not 12 like I originally thought. The AC bus we thought were going to be taking did not exist, so non AC it was. The bus however, was pretty cool. MUCH better than the one in Vietnam we took. This one actually had beds! We were right at the front and had a double bed with curtains and had 2 windows which opened and were incredibly necessary. After another medication induced sleep (gravol and Benedryl don't cause dependency, right?) we still barely slept with the starting, stopping, bumps and lots of honking and noises outside all through the night. During a few points we thought we were on logging road and when I saw up to check out the window I was just thrown around our little space so lying down it was.

The bus ride was worth it. We were a little hesitant about going to Mysore because it just seemed like 'another big city' but in fact, was a really cool place. According to our travel book (compliments of my grandmother, Sittie), 'if you haven't been to Mysore, you haven't been to South India'. I totally understand that statement after being there. The MASSIVE palace was completely lit up at night for holiday celebrations, gorgeous public gardens, an amazing market with everything you can imagine - antiques, kitchen appliances/utensils, handmade perfumes sans alcohol and incense, fruit, grains, meat, incredible colored powders for making the 'Hindu' mark on your forehead to spices that electrify and make your tastebuds tingle just at the sight of them, raw sugar in colors I never knew existed (like dark auburn, brownish - and it was delicious!). Just goes to show that our highly processed world of food and all things material come at a cost which excludes any connection with the people who actually produce or process. I love markets! They make you feel like you are connected to the world including the ever so important social side of being a consumer. Talking to the people who work so hard to make ends meet gives you a sense that you are actually supporting local economy. That's what the Western world is missing as many of you are already aware - the human connection. We stroll down grocery store isles and blindly dump foods into our carts without even a sense of where it comes from. There's something about meeting the producers that ignites passion for food, cooking, nutrition and overall good health with a huge focus on bringing people together around meals instead of around the tv (no wonder I became an RD).

Sometimes I wonder why I did though... become an RD that is. I really do like all areas of nutrition but I'm realizing more every day that it's always been the social side of food that has triggered my passion for the profession. Along with my continued desire to learn about people, cultures and societal norms and I'm destined for a career that is not traditional in the RD sense... I'm excited and nervous at the same time for what's to come as I feel I am somewhat shifting into a totally new gear. Working over the past years in all types of dietetic fields has made me realize I love working with vulnerable populations (i.e. seniors, low income, women, immigrants, Aboriginal people, those with disabilities either mental or physical, etc.). Having the opportunities to travel to various developing and developed countries over the past few years has confirmed this - seeing first hand the worst situations that exist for these groups and the hopelessness that exists is frustrating but at the same time gives me hope for a better future for those people.

I pinch myself sometimes... I have the best family and friends anyone could ask for. The mutual support and unconditional love over the years has only made these positive relationships stronger and I don't know how I got so lucky. Obviously it takes work to keep a relationship going and any of my close friends will tell you that I probably keep in touch (too) often but I just can't help it! They know me too well and are stuck with me.

Ok. I warned you that I'd go on these self reflections over the course of this trip. Haha.

ANYWAY. India. Yes. That's where I am right now.

So we were in Mysore for 2 nights and met a girl from the UK on the night bus coming from Hampi who is just great! She's our age and has been travelling for 7 months all over the world - South America, South East Asia and finishing in India. She'll be gone for a total of 8 months by the time she goes back to the UK and she's just loving every minute of it. It's just incredible to meet some other travellers and hear their stories and how long they have been travelling for. Some are going on 1 year, 2 years and more!

From Mysore, we took a bus to Ooty which is a hill station and about 2200 meters above sea level. They are known for their tea and chocolate making. HEAVEN. We get there and didn't have a place booked to stay so grabbed a rickshaw from where we were dropped off and started walking around. We just happened to come across this brand new hotel called Astoria and stayed 2 nights there. We were not roughing it, not one bit. It was the nicest hotel room I've ever stayed in with the most beautiful view of the town built up into the mountains. Only $30/night which in backpacker terms is quite expensive but Derek and I are still living off max $50/day here even with food, accommodations and travel so we feel ok about it. Hah.

Our first day in Ooty, we walked to the train/bus station to find out how to get to Kochin (where we are now) and it was such an amazing walk. People watching is the best. The kids were all getting dropped off by buses from school and they were so cute! They wear uniforms at school so watching them walk down the cobbled streets to their homes with the background of the mountains was pretty surreal. They love seeing foreigners too - they always wave, try to high five you and say hello. Adorable.

Actually, Derek was told that he 'sticks out like a sore thumb' in the crowds. Haha. Luckily for me I can pass for pretty much any nationality - Italian, Spanish, SE Asian, Indian, Mediterranean, you name it! But poor Derek... he is the complete opposite in looks to anyone here. White. Blue eyes. Blond hair. Tall. And he wears shorts (none of the locals wear shorts - only pants or these 'skirt' wraps). That being said, I get lots of stares too and both of us have had our pictures taken awkwardly when we're just standing there waiting to cross a street or stopped to figure out where we are. I usually get out my camera and take a picture of the person snapping our photo and the person always smiles and asks to take my picture in return. It's not that they're being rude at all, they just do not see foreigners very often. Our guide book says not to stare back at locals but I always do and when I smile at them, I usually get a smile back! For some reason, I feel when that exchange happens, we both realize we're not that different from each other, regardless of skin color, clothing, etc. Being friendly to everyone just makes us feel much more comfortable in any country we've been to. Gives you common ground and understanding to the locals that you're not the 'elite white traveller' who is there to only 'check' things off their list and ignore the local people (because those tourists definitely exist).

That evening, we felt it was necessary to have a solid meal so instead of getting our usual curry, rice and naan, we opted for the healthier combination of chocolate and tea. No judging.

So along our travels, we always tend to find a cafe that we like, grab a book and go have a coffee/tea for an afternoon. Well, we found one! It's called Cafe Coffee Day and it's a chain but a glorious chain it is. They employ local youth and encourage creativity within their company. Plus there's AC. That's all I really care about anyway... like I said. It's really hot. But not in Ooty! We're so high up in the hills that it's a nice temperature, about 20-25 degrees and nighttime is even cold!

The second day we were there, I woke up to a call from Tracy and Neil at 7am to talk about our upcoming reunion which then turned into more great phone conversations with some of my best pals - Maria, MC and Dave, Ben and Jemima and Sophie! And my mom! Perfect way to start the day. Then, we took a walk around and ended up hiring a car to take us to the peak which is 3000 meters above sea level. I apparently had forgotten about my horrible motion sickness that I inherited from my father (thanks dad). Gravol was not within reach as I was within minutes of vomiting. Going up these hills on tiny roads with constant curves and bumps did not go well for me. I complained constantly from the moment we were out of the car to go see the (stupid) view from the top (but it wasn't stupid at all, it was breathtaking!) to the trip down to see the tea/chocolate factory. All in all, my personal perception of extreme nausea was worth it. Thank goodness for Derek!

After that, I went back to the room to lie down and stream a show online... totally intelligent... cough cough. Or it could've been Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. No... definitely something more intelligent. Derek headed to the cafe to read and then we walked to get an ice cream and we basically crashed we were so tired and I still didn't feel great from the day of car sickness. We ordered room service (like I said, not roughing it at all these 2 nights) and watched some old movies on tv.

That brings me to today. We were up at around 7:30am for our taxi to pick us up and drive us 3 hours to the train station in order to get a train to Kochin. Bring on the car sickness again, but this time I was prepared and popped some Gravol which thankfully knocked me out for most of the ride. We got to the train station in Coimbatore and were just in time to jump on the 11:15am train to Kochin. We were in non AC sleeper class again and it was hot, but fantastic. It only took about 3 hours to get to Kochin and we grabbed a rickshaw to Fort Kochin where we are now. This is a really cool city, we're so excited to check it out! It's a mix between an Indian and European city which we love. They have Cafe Coffee Day so we're happy.

That was another long post. Apparently I have more to say as I go! Surprise, surprise.

Until next time,

Laurie

P.S. I am getting all the comments left and I love them!

Posted by lcmichael 06:00 Archived in India Comments (2)

Legs on a Train.

Benaulim to Hampi

We made it. And here we sit in the sweltering 40+ degree heat of Hampi.

Our 8 hour (non AC) train ride was unprecedented for us. We had some sort of an idea of what to expect but you really have to experience it on your own. We get to the station by rickshaw from Benaulim and amongst the hundreds of people, are herded over to our platform. Derek's in his swim shorts (which are shorter compared to regular men's shorts) so he was the one getting the looks from the locals. It was pretty funny. We get on our train and walk through the aisle to get to our seat. Picture a train compartment with 2 seats by the window on the left and then to the right is 2 bench seats which have 3 assigned seats to each. We were with 4 others on the right side and luckily at the window. All the seats turn into 'sleeper beds' and there are also 'bunks' above each bench seat. We are so excited at this point! The man across from us is so sweet and we chat with him for a while, he was going to visit his grown children at a city just before Hampi. Beside him were 2 girls from Greece who were travelling for 5 months with a yoga retreat in between, they are also great cabin buddies!

The countryside was incredible. The activity within the train was something else too - women coming through the cars singing, constant flow of people selling food such as samosas, soups, curries, chai tea and I'm sure a lot of things that I would not be able to recognize. So here we are - Derek with his long, exposed legs and both of us just taking in the present reality. We were both able to sleep up in the bunks for a bit during our train ride which helped pass the time although didn't make us less tired when we got in. At one point, Derek's reading and he feels something on the back of his calf, looks down and sees a 3 inch cockroach on his leg. He quietly gets it off his leg as he is cringing in the process. But hey, all part of the experience, right?

Overall, the train ride was great. When we made stops at stations along the way it did get difficult as children would come to your window begging for money and we also had some people on the train doing the same. That's when you feel the guilt setting in about how lucky we really are to be from Canada. Obviously poverty exists but it's not as obvious as it is here and other similar countries. Although I find sometimes wondering if in a way, it is worse in Canada how poverty issues are swept under the rug and the appropriate attention isn't given. With the systems we have in place, we should have no poverty or food security issues. But we do so we've failed.

Anyway, back to the train ride! As we are rolling into Hampi, Derek's looking out over the gorgeous rice fields, watching the locals work, the children playing... he's taking it all in... and he turns to me and says, "I just saw a man pooping in a field". AND we're back to reality.

We got to Hampi and took a rickshaw to Hampi Bazaar which is the more touristy area, we jumped on a small speed boat to take us about 50 meters across this river we probably could have walked across if we needed to. We ended up renting a room from a place called Sunny's Guesthouses. We have our own little 'smurf-like' cabin, it's circular in shape and has a thatch roof. The scene is pretty cool. It backs right onto this amazing rice field with palm trees dotting the edges and behind that is this huge hill of boulders. Google 'Hampi, India' and look at the images - difficult to explain but it's breathtaking.

There is a huge Isreali backpacking scene here so the menus have lots of hummus, falafels, etc. along with regular Indian cuisine and it is all delicious. The restaurant right outside of our hut is so neat - the tables are all low with these huge colorful pillows you sit on while you eat. The first night we lay low and hardly slept. There was a dog fight outside in the middle of the night which woke us up and then about 5am there was a pig making these noises nearby. Obviously this would happen. I think we got about 4 hours of sleep total but we were still ready to go for the day!

We rented a motorbike for the day (sorry dad!) and drove around this side of Hampi for about 5 hours. It was the most amazing day we may have had yet in our travels. The most gorgeous scenery (if you have me on facebook check out the photos!) but we paid for our fantastic day with a hefty burn on our arms, thighs, shoulders, face and ears. Ugh. Hurting today. Thank god for the meds!

After a medication induced sleep coma last night (Benedryl is our hero right now) we slept the whole night without any interruptions. Who knew we could drown out the sound of dog fights or whiny farm animals? Now we are experiencing probably the hottest day either of us have had to date. We are sweating in the same clothes over and over with no laundry facilities available. So you know what that means, we are not the cleanest we've ever been. That's putting it lightly. I feel badly for Tracy and Neil for the situation they are going to come into - hopefully by then we can have a decent shower and wash our clothes. Otherwise, we apologize for the bodies we are inhabiting right now. We bought some flowy pants today though which means another item to ruin with the dirt and sweat... perfect.

Tonight we are going by sleeper bus (AC this time!) overnight from here to Mysore in the south. It leaves at 8:30pm and gets in at around 8:00am tomorrow morning. The only other sleeper bus we've taken was in Vietnam and we're hoping this is a better experience. Fingers crossed I don't have a woman sleeping in the aisle beside me like last time who flings her arm around me in the middle of the night and tries to put all of her bags in my compartment at my feet. No thank you.

Off for now!

Laurie

Posted by lcmichael 01:27 Comments (3)

Our Russian Vacation

sunny 30 °C

There are so many Russians here. I'm not saying that in an entirely bad way and I really don't want to generalize a group of people but it's been difficult to do anything else. Let's just say that the Russian tourists with time/money who travel to places like this tend to be rude and lack any sort of social grace. I realize they just started travelling internationally in the past 10 years and have a tense history of suppression so these skills we assume are 'normal' such as saying please, thank you, being gracious to people in general just haven't formed yet with them. Like I said... there are SO many Russians here, they don't try to speak English or the local languages and the locals try to cater to them because they basically give them jobs. It's so strange... I spoke with a woman from Russia who was very friendly and she said they do these tours for a couple weeks where they go direct from Russia to Goa and just stay on the beach the entire time. The locals tell us they have no interest in local culture or way of life (well most don't anyway). Seems to be a trend in other countries we've visited as well... but I'm not saying that all people from Russia are like this!

This brings me to our last few days. Yesterday we booked a car to go to the Dudgsagar Falls about an hour drive from here. Our taxi gets to this little town near the entrance of the National Park where the falls are and it was a ridiculous site we were not expecting. Approximately 100 foreign tourists getting out of taxis and herded into jeeps. Our jeep had us and 4 people from Russia (2 couples) plus our driver. We sat up front with the driver and were subjected to hacking and coughing from the tourists in the back from their chain smoking before we go in the jeep. We're driving through the national park about 9kms to get to the falls which took about 30 minutes on a very rocky road. While we're driving, I had my window down because it's incredibly hot out and one of the Russian tourists tells me to rudely shut the window because apparently the dust from the road caused her to cough... RIGHT. It's not the cigarettes that she is inhaling at a horrendous pace. No, no, it MUST be the dust from the road.

On the way to the falls, we stop on this road with about 40 other jeeps and there are all these monkeys around for the tourists to feed and take pictures with. Derek and I realized very quickly this is not what we are in India to do. Get carted around in tour buses for photo ops. We hung back until we were back in the jeep and continued on to the falls. Ok so we get there... this is when things go over the top. About 200-300 people are getting out of jeeps and we basically have to wait in line to 'hike' to the falls about 5 minutes further. Then we get there - don't get me wrong, they are beautiful, but it's overshadowed by WAY too many tourists, garbage they are throwing on the ground, and locals selling pop/beer/chips and other snacks on the rocks of the falls. I realize that the falls are popular for a reason but it was too much.

We only stayed at the falls for about 1/2 hour which gave Derek the chance to go swimming, dry off and we headed back to the jeep to wait for the other 4 people. We ended up talking to another driver who said that the locals don't feel this amount of tourists in the park is a good thing but their jobs depend on it. He said Goan men are making the best salaries they have in years, about 15,000 Rupees(~$300) per month. He mentioned locals have concerns for the environment with the amount of garbage that's generated by tourists and he's not sure what the future holds...

We finally get back to the town and met up with our taxi driver, Peter, who takes us to a spice farm. We almost didn't go because of our experience with the falls but he said it was really nice and not as touristy. He was right! It was a great experience, we learned so much about spices and other plants - for example, did you know that a pineapple plant produces only 1 pineapple and it takes 1 year to grow? I will never complain about the price of pineapple again! Or that a cinnamon tree has to grow for 15 years before the bark can be harvested and dried to make cinnamon sticks? Or that bananas don't grow on trees, they grow on the second tallest 'grasses' in the world (bamboo is the tallest). Also, cashews are the only nut to grow outside of the fruit! So interesting.

Another event which I cringe at writing about... Derek went to have a shower the other day and we have this squeegee thing (like what you use to clean a windshield) in our shower to move water towards the drain after you finish showering. Anyway, Derek goes to move the squeegee and a GIANT spider is under it. I mean GIANT. Derek said it was the biggest spider he's ever seen - about 10-12cms across. The only reason I know there was a spider is because after he showered, I went int and noticed this huge black thing in the drain with these massive legs. I freaked out and asked what it was and he told me how he saw it and came to get his shoe to kill it. He said he was so surprised that he had to take 3 deep breaths to not freak out and that it 'ran really quickly. AHHHH! Let's just say we've locked the door to the shower and haven't gone in since. Yes that means neither of us have showered for a few days... doesn't swimming in the ocean count?

This is our last day in Benaulim and we're ready to get back into backpacker mode. Heading to Hampi on an 8 hour non-air conditioned train. Should be interesting. And very sweaty. We hear Hampi is really cool though with tons of massive boulders and these historic ruins so we'll probably spend a couple days there before figuring out where we want to go next.

Signing off for now! Gotta hit the beach for another strenuous day (I'm totally rubbing it in, you Canadians, you! haha)

Laurie

Posted by lcmichael 20:35 Archived in India Comments (2)

Freedom 27

Our week in Benaulim, Goa, India

sunny 35 °C

Apparently we have retired. No really - we are staying in apartments behind a retirement community. The average age has to be 60 (at least). Talk about wild nights! (sorry mom - but you know you're always in bed by 8pm). Actually, it's been fantastic other than feeling like an all-inclusive beach resort which is strange when you're backpacking and know no one else. BUT. The food seems to be even better if that's possible! When we got here, we had originally booked at a place called Castello's beach resort - we got there are although it was inexpensive (~$4/night), it was gross. We walked into our 'hut' by this guy who never said a word to us and saw a disgusting bed and the walls had cracks in them. The bathroom door looked like if you opened it, it would reveal a gross dungeon of things I don't want to imagine. So we left and went across the road to the Lotus Hotel which has apartments in back. It's perfect.

Our routine consists of:
-Wake up (whenever, we have no schedule so could be 7am or 10am).
-Save the dollar we would spend on breakfast and have a small package of Ritz like crackers (because we have to save money, you know? hah)
-Walk into the small town... get 'breakfast' for the next day... check email, etc.
-Walk back to our apartment (which is awesome by the way)
-Get ready for a long day of beach... sun... sand... amazing food... ughhhhh our lives.
-Because we're SO hot and exhausted from time in the waves and sweating it out under umbrellas, we go 'cool off' in the retirement pool at our apartment.
-Then we nap... well Derek mostly. Hah.
-We drag ourselves to dinner looking out over the beach and are in bed by 11pm.
-So... yes.

It's pretty ridiculous actually. The realities of our life at home hit hard when you come to realize how easy we really have it. We don't even really know what 'hard work' is because in our reality, we don't need to work to the extent we do to meet our basic needs. We work the way we do to strive for much more than that and most likely make a lot more money than we really need. The more vulnerable people in India (like other 2nd and 3rd world countries we've been to work hard if they are able - and can hardly meet their basic needs. Of course we all have challenges in Canada but we are usually able to get through those difficult times in life (that are inevitable) because we have good family/friend supports, community/provincial/federal support systems and programs and have access to amazing health care which lifts us above and beyond the thought of not meeting our basic needs (shelter, food, healthcare, social supports, etc). We don't even think twice about it. So I keep thinking how difficult it must be to go through the same challenges we face in a developed country WITHOUT any of those fundamental things. Impossible.

Our time on the beach has been just what we need to recharge for the next several legs of our travels but it's given us much needed time to reflect on our lives and what is really important. Derek and I find travel is incredible for that, the more you see of other cultures and their challenges/successes, the more it strengthens in you the life you want to lead and never take for granted those things we always do.

Also, it's been nice but definitely time for a change of scenery and get back into backpacker mode!

On a lighter note, tomorrow we are heading to see the second highest waterfalls in India and also to check out a spice farm. Then it's off to Hampi which is more inland - taking our first train and so excited! Will be about an 8 hour train ride leaving early in the morning.

Posted by lcmichael 22:47 Archived in India Comments (2)

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