Saturday, 30 August 2008


The flight from sweaty Varanasi was short but sweet. It was a case of climb up to 35000 feet count to 30 and then descend. Taxing to a standstill the pilot informed the self loading luggage that it was 28oc outside. Now, that’s as hot as London usually gets but for me it was nice and cool.
Getting the visa was the most enjoyable visa getting experience I’ve ever had. Usually when you get a visa (on arrival or before departure) there is always the thought at the back of your mind that they will say no. Plus you always get looked at like they’re the headmaster and you’ve been a very naughty 10 year old. At Kathmandu airport the lady looked a little surprised when I asked what the longest visa available was.
“90 days” was the answer “but it will cost you $100” she said.
“Sweet” was my reply as I slapped down a crisp $100 bill onto the counter.
I get the feeling that most people don’t plan on staying that long.

I got a free taxi to the hotel (always haggle with a smile on your face and lie about wanting to go some place else) and for NR400 I’ve got a nice quiet room on the 1st floor at the Hotel Encounter Nepal (this works out to be £3.20). They have even put a couple of pigeons near my open window to remind me of my life back in London, now that’s what I call attention to detail!

In the evening, finally over the illness that would of left a lesser man at death’s door I had a couple of Everest beers and some damn fine pasta with a proper cheese sauce!!!!


Adjacent to the hotel is a small Tibetan temple. At around 06:30 cymbals and drums were crashed and banged in that distinctly Tibetan way. I couldn’t decide which was a better way to wake up, this, or hearing an Imam calling the faithful to prayer.
Following a super hot shower (it’s been a while since I had one of those) I took my legs of the leash and went for a bimble. After about half an hour of walking I came to the following conclusions about Kathmandu:

1. Its cleaner than anywhere I’ve been in India
2. People don’t loudly clear their throats and then gob the results onto the pavement
3. It doesn’t have the smell of an open sewer
4. The drug dealers are pussies

I’m staying in the Thamel area of the city, it’s the main gringo hangout, full of cheap hotels, souvenir shops, travel and trekking agencies, shops selling all the trekking gear you would need, restaurants and bars. Now the city of Kathmandu lies in the Kathmandu valley and as with most valleys it’s surrounded by mountains. That means that there is pretty much no where for the air pollution to go. Still I’ve walked in worse, LA, Mexico City and Beijing spring to mind. Being a smoker my lungs are used to dealing with airborne
carcinogenic particles, so gave it no further thought.

My room has cable tv; this meant that I was able to watch the Moto GP, most of Everton v Portsmouth and all of Chelsea v Tottenham. I think you can work out where I spent the afternoon and early evening.

I am still uming and erring about doing a multi day trek. Part of me (90%) would love to spend 7 to 21 days wandering in the Himalayas miles from the nearest road. The depressingly sensible part of me (10%) keeps reminding me that its been 2 years since my hip last popped out and the next time is well overdue…and don’t even get me started on my knees!

Things that I have learnt on my travels number 184: a Momo, which is a Nepalese dumpling isn’t what I expected.

As it’s my 1st night in the city I went on a mini pub crawl. I started in the “Irish pub” which as everyone knows is always crap! (Sorry Elaine) After a beer and some momos I crossed the road and entered Sam’s bar. I’ve finally come to the conclusion that on some base level I scare white people. (Just ask my parents: why did they that day cross the road to avoid walking past me?) As I walked in, the flickering candles illuminated intrigue on the faces of the locals and with the westerners…well, you know when you are watching a nature program about lions and you see the look on a wildebeest’s face when it finally realises that from among the herd it’s the “one” the lions are going after…

Leaving the bar and heading back to the hotel down the dimly lit streets a drug pusher came up to me selling his wares. I used the old favourite of “third times the charm”.

“Hey man, would you like some hash?” he asked
“No thanks” was my reply.
After about 15 seconds he came back
“How about some brown sugar man! It’s really sweet; you know what I’m saying”
“Sorry but I don’t do drugs so I am really not interested” I responded.
Another small pause followed and he came up to me a third time. Before he could even speak I said
“If you ever speak to me again I’m going to punch you in the face, drag you from your rickshaw and stomp on your head till I get bored. Now…f**k off”

As I said…3rd times the charm!


Following another cool night (you have no idea how nice that feels) I was up, eager and almost keen. I went for a walk to the locally named monkey temple. Its official name is the Swayambhunath Temple but because of all the monkeys around the locals call it that instead. They could quite easily of called it the pigeon temple but if they had, would anybody go there?
The temple is perched on a small rocky outcrop a few kilometres from the hotel. I could have walked along the road but went through the houses instead. I definitely surprised a few locals along the way.

To get to the temple you have to climb 365 steps. The closer to the top you get the steeper and narrower the steps became. At the top you are met by a large pair of eyes painted upon a column which is mounted on top of a large stupa. Walking around the stupa in a clockwise direction (which you should always do) there are small shrines attached to it with prayer wheels covering the rest of the circumference. Various other temples fill the area along with several houses, most of which have shops on the ground floor. As I walked around the constant flapping of the myriad of prayer flags in the wind was oddly soothing. Like most days in Nepal there was a festival today and nearby a small group of people were off to one side preparing and cooking the faithful lunch. Group onion peeling is a bizarre spectator sport but as beach volleyball is on TV it doesn’t seem that weird after all.


Q: what’s better than getting out of bed out 08:30 in Kathmandu?

A: 09:30 of course!

Today, there was another festival in Kathmandu and it was taking place in Durbar square. The guy who runs the hotel’s travel desk offered to drive me there in his taxi. This is the same guy who last night was trying to sell me a 21 day trek to Everest base camp. So when I said that I would rather walk to the square I really couldn’t understand the disbelief that spread across his face.

The festival today was all about the ladies. It seemed that everyone was in the square. They come here to give offerings at a certain temple for the wellbeing and health of their husbands, lucky men! They were all in their best red saris, dressed up to the nines and dripping in gold. It’s at times like this that I know I’m going to end up a “dirty old man”.
An hour later I just had to leave because I was trying to find “the crossroads” and make a deal with the devil himself…self control be damned!

Walking back towards my hotel in the Thamel area I spied a massage centre. Now as my back, knees, hip (only one this time) and various other parts of my body were feeling worn out I splashed NR1400 on the counter and for the next 90 minutes succumbed to the pleasure of a shiatsu massage. The person doing the massage was clicking more of their bones than mine…is this supposed to happen?

Walking a little more lightly and maybe slightly taller I ended up in the oasis that is the hotel garden. Now was the time to get serious! About two hours later I had the plan for my travels around Nepal. I’m mostly going to be travelling around the middle bit of it for 40 or 50 days before returning to Kathmandu. Once back in the city I will know if my body is able to go on a 2 to 3 week trek, possibly to Everest base camp. Most other outdoor trips and activities are run from Kathmandu so I will be able to do it all from here.

I found out today that I have been left £10,000 in my gran’s will. Instead of using the money sensibly I will instead be wasting it on mountain flights, helicopter rides, live aboard dive boats, the occasional 5 star hotel and possibly riding a Harley from Chicago to LA along Route 66. I will of course need to get a bike license at some point, am I able to get a fake one in Bangkok?

(Getting picky: this evening I went to the famous Rum doodles bar, no I have never heard of it either. I ordered a mixed green salad and macaroni cheese. The last time I checked, carrots are orange, tomatoes are red and penne isn’t macaroni! Still it was a mighty fine feast that I only just about finished. I’m not one for leaving a cheese based product uneaten)


I’ve sorted out the bus times for the 1st instalment of travelling around Nepal, which I‘ll be doing on Friday or Saturday. Worryingly, the guide book recommends that you try and avoid the buses because they keep rolling down the sides of mountains and bursting into flames. Oh well, can’t be helped!


I had thought that I wouldn’t be adding anything more to the blog of Kathmandu. That all I would be doing is just chilling out and relaxing for two days…nah!

I had tea and toast for breakfast today, I’m not sure but I think that it was the 1st time that I have ever had that combination(obviously this is of no real interest to anyone but I thought I would mention it anyway).

Today I decided to go to the Bodha stupa, I could have left it till my next time in this city but felt that there was no time like the present.

It’s about a 6 km walk from the hotel by the most direct route, so I’ll say it was about 8 or 9 km’s instead. You all should by now know how I walk around! Why people take taxis is beyond me, you miss out on so much. I stumbled (literally, the roads aren’t the best here) into a local market, imagine Tesco but outside based around a square with no refrigeration. Mind you at least you know your chicken is fresh.

The approach to the stupa is via a noisy, busy and pollution filled main road. It’s almost hidden from view as there is only a smallish entrance. The stupa itself is about 10 times larger than the one at the monkey temple and sits proudly in a circular courtyard full of shops, cafes, hotels and temples. It’s a little bit of Tibet in Nepal…nice! Around the time of the new or full moon (I’ve forgotten which) it becomes full of believers of the Buddhist faith performing a ritual. Every time they walk around the stupa they build up credit in the karma section of life. I had a chat with a local monk and he mentioned to do it 108 times was a very good thing indeed. Not having all day, or being a Buddhist I gave it a miss. I think walking around it 3 times was enough for one already as blessed as me!

Upon leaving the stupa I decided to walk back to the hotel by a different route. This was fairly easy to do as I had no real idea of the route I took to the stupa. I was walking a while along narrow unpaved back streets that twisted and turned around the houses when the need for a cool drink and a rest felt like a good idea. For the following half an hour or so I was interrogated by a gang of kids, ranging from 3 to 11 years of age. Once again tattoos are a big source of interest as was my ying yang bell, all the while a couple parents looked on, mostly laughing. The questions children ask sometimes leave me at a loss on how to reply!

By the time I got back to the hotel I had the answer to “the question”. No way will I be able to go on a multi day trek! After an hour chilling out I was just about able to get of the bed. The ligaments and tendons that help hold my right hip in place do so but only just.

I have argued my limitations and they are indeed mine.

Come the evening…I was relaxing in a cool open air roof top bar when it started to rain quite heavily. Thankfully the bar has a sliding roof which meant my beer didn’t get watered down. However I would be stuck in here till the rain stopped or the bar closed…more tea vicar!

Tuesday, 26 August 2008

down by the river

Arriving at midday I had already decided on a hotel and was thus able to ignore the touts. Whilst having “the fag” outside the train station a head strong bull found its way to the bin blocked by my bags and me. Needless to say, I got out of his way! The rickshaw ride was long, not because of the distance (which was about a mile) but more to do with the traffic levels and the conditions of what passed for a road.

At the hotel I got me an A/C room for less than a tenner, which is expensive in India. I could have slummed for £2.25 a night but why would I do that here. The location is in the middle of town about a kilometre away from the holy Ganges River. I didn’t feel like staying in the old part of town as there ain’t no bars there. You can take the man out of the pub but not for too long!

Before a long siesta I went for a little bimble around the neighbourhood. For the 1st time in months no one tried to sell me drugs. I did get “followed” by a few cycle rickshaw drivers every hundred yards or so. You can cross over the road to escape them but then one coming in the other direction takes over. They are good natured if somewhat determined. Going healthy for a change (this is a lie because everyone knows that fags are packed full of vitamins and minerals which is why I smoke so many everyday) I ended up buying some oranges…all the way from the USA. This did strike me as odd and somewhat expensive!

So now it’s the evening and yep I am in a bar but it does serve food so you call it a restaurant if you like. After the shock of paying R200 for a beer in Gaya, I was happy to be here because Varanasi is in another state so it’s only R80.


Today I had a cunning plan:

• Get rickshaw to the gnats: this was easy to do

• Walk along the river bank from gnat to gnat: for this I would need scuba gear. As it is towards the end of the monsoon season the river is in full flood and therefore all the lower steps which run for several kilometres along the bank are underwater.

• Get completely lost: how easy was that!

So two out of three ain’t bad!

Jumping out of the cycle rickshaw at one of the more popular gnats I made my way down the steps towards the water’s edge. I didn’t get all the way as a middle aged man grabbed my arm and started to massage it. Now as a decent massage was on my list of things to do today I laid myself down on his cloth covered massage table for the next 50 minutes or so whilst he and his young apprentice went to work. Probing, pulling, squeezing and popping all took place. When he came to “click” my neck I thought….um…NO! I was lying on my stomach with half my arse on display to the world (as he prepared to work on my lower back) and it was with some reassurance that when I heard the words “nice arse” it wasn’t sarcastic and by the sound of the voice it was a kiwi chick, so that was fine with me.

In Varanasi old town the widest lane don’t accommodate an auto rickshaw, which is why they are banished from the area. The lanes and alleyways twist and turn and within minutes I wasn’t able to tell which way the river lay…fantastic. The buildings (numbering many maharaja palaces on the waterfront) are all close together and tend to be 3 levels high. So that makes line of sight navigation difficult. Another problem of walking around this place are the cows. Sometimes they chew the cud standing across the lane blocking it, or if it’s a wide lane you have an 18 inch gap to squeeze pass. It’s always the cows behind to have to pass and they know how to kick like a mule, and then there are the street dogs…

Despite the risks I spent hours walking around the place. A non goal orientated walk is what a bimble is and this bimble was a biggy. I didn’t bother carrying a map because I had no plan of going anywhere specific. Approaching lunchtime I spied a sign for the “brown bread company” café. It’s a gringo hangout but on the plus side they sold cheeses. Yes that’s right cheeses, i.e. more than one type. Upstairs in the café, legs crossed on the daybed my eyes were feasting on the menu. Cheddar, Edam, Gouda, local chesses made by people who know what they are doing, cheese with bits of onion, garlic or basil in them. I was amazed at my self control and limited myself to only 3 cheeses. What are the chances I’ll be back here tomorrow…100% if I can find it again.

After the long overdue cheese fix it was back to getting lost. Minutes later, mission accomplished. Sheltering from the rain with 50 Hindu men was interesting. They were all “freshly washed” in the holy Ganges River and felt moved by the experience. Shouting chants with hands in the air they were too busy to stare at the lone white guy…nice! Heading downstream following the river for once I came near the main burning gnat. In case you didn’t know the best place for a Hindu to die is here and afterwards for their body to be cremated and the ashes cast into the river. Personally I can’t understand why tourists come here to look. I mean if a bunch of Indians had turned up at my gram’s funeral I wouldn’t have been best pleased. Besides, it might put me off ever having a barbeque again.

By now my sense of direction had gone completely and I ended up at the northern bridge, which was a surprise for me as I had thought I was heading south! Turns out it was for the good because I got some great views from the middle of the bridge. Coming off the bridge I ended up in the Muslim quarter where behind half opened doors looms clacked in time with each other. By now seven hours of walking had passed and it was time to get back to the hotel and chill out. Just my luck to get the only map illiterate rickshaw driver in town.

My 1st full day here was definitely interesting. Although I did get severely castigated by a local family who I chatted to for 30 minutes for not being able to speak any Hindu.


Sitting in the Café Cheese for lunch again I came to the decision of where I am going to from Varanasi. It’s Kathmandu! I could spend 20 hours or so on a “luxury bus” or for ten times the amount of money I can fly. I think you’ll be able to guess which option I’m going for.

So, after four months in India I feel that if I stayed any longer I would start to get frustrated by the place. That said after a couple of months in Nepal I can always come back into India for a while. I’ve still yet to see the Taj Mahal or ride on a camel in the desert.

Before lunch I went on a boat trip up and down the River Ganges. Most people and brochures recommend waking up early and getting on the water as the eastern sun rises over the horizon to bathe Varanasi n the golden mythical light of dawn. I on the other hand decided that 10am was the best time of the day. The main reasons were:

• I wasn’t getting out of bed that early
• The sky is overcast in the mornings right now
• If I want a picture of Varanasi at dawn I can easily find one on the internet
• I’ve got imaging software that can replicate the effect if I really wanted to, which I don’t

That all said, this time of year isn’t the best for a boat ride. The fast flowing river makes the poor boatmen work hard on the oars when going upstream and they manage to find underwater obstacles to get stuck on as they hug the bank trying to row in the slightly slower moving waters. Also as most of the steps are underwater you only get to see half of it. After about 10 minutes of rowing upstream the can of coke I was drinking from was empty. I placed it next to my bag for disposal at a later date. Within seconds it was picked up and tossed overboard. “Holy water” was the reply to my bemused look.

As I was watching the coke can sink out of sight into the murky brown water a person floated past, face down in the water. It was alright as the person, who was wrapped in white cloth, was dead before they hit the water. I guess that some families can’t afford a cremation.

And lastly…how the hell did I wake up this morning with a cold!!!


It was my last full day in India so I thought I would go and do some shopping for nik naks and the like. Waking up in the early morning with a deep need to hug the toilet bowl put paid to that. I managed to get to the travel agent to book a flight to Kathmandu for the following day and the rest of the time was spent lying on bed, coughing, sneezing and generally feeling weak. I Think I have bird flu!

Saturday, 23 August 2008

It's all about a tree

Arriving at the town of Gaya at 05:30 in the morning after a night-time train ride left me feeling knackered! Outside, having my traditional fag, I was surrounded by at least 9 rickshaw drivers all touting for the early morning trade. I would hate to see what it would be like here in the high season!

Anyway, after the fag it was a 13km ride passing paddy fields, army barracks, small villages and the occasional cow to the village of Bodhgaya. This is the place where Prince Siddhartha Gautama sat underneath a tree and meditated on what it is to be human till he received the “gift of enlightenment” and became the Buddha.

The rickshaw took me to a hotel, where after a bit of haggling a price was agreed, and I could crash out on the bed with the fan whizzing around a full speed.

Later on in the morning it was time for an experience….

There are two ways of viewing this large village. You can either see it as a place where something wonderful happened a long time ago that changed the course of humanity and its history or you can view it as a tourist trap full of people ready to fleece as much money as they can out of you! To be fair it’s a bit of both, the temple areas are peaceful, undisturbed and tranquil but outside the temple gates the people wait…as I found out!

Walking from my hotel to the centre of the village a young man started chatting to me, wanting to improve his English….several hours later he was still following me around like a lost dog looking for his master. Now contrary to most people’s perception I am in fact quite polite but after having him watch me eat lunch, then hanging around outside the internet café for 45 minutes whilst I was online I had just had enough! Finally…he understood that I had had enough of his “company”. It was at this point that he started doing his tourist travel tour agent spiel about all the places he could organise for me to visit in the surrounding area on the following days. After pointing out the amount of time he could have saved himself by telling me this at the start of the day, followed by the words “not interested” he left me alone. (Harsh but fair I feel)

There are many temples here in the village, it seems that every country with a large Buddhist population has one but I was only interested in visiting one of them. The world heritage listed Mahabodhi Temple. The temple is built on the spot where Buddha became enlightened and a cutting of the original Bodhi tree which he meditated under is growing in the very spot of the 1st tree. The main temple is a huge 50 metre pyramidal spire surrounded by stone railings. The rest of the area is divided into quarters and each one is filled with small temple thingies and several trees. Nearby is a small pond or tank where once the Buddha sheltered. The thing that amazed me was that there were fish living in the waters because the colour of the water was the most vivid green I’ve seen in a while!

By now it was the middle of the afternoon and damn it was hot. I was sweating like a pig in a butchers shop….so it was time for a siesta.

In the evening after an amazingly good Thai green curry and two huge spring rolls I went back to the temple for some night time ambience and hopefully to get some atmospheric pictures (I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again I could really use a tripod sometimes). It was quiet and the heavy humid air was stirred only by the beating of a bat’s wing as they swept and swirled around the temple feeding well on into the night.

Walking back towards the hotel the beggars followed…..

The next day, after being informed that my laundry wouldn’t be ready till the late afternoon I was down to my last piece of clean cloth. It was a T shirt; still it could have been worse, it could have been just a pair of socks. Looking clean but feeling oh so dirty I wandered around the area of the village where most of the temples from other countries are to found. China, Thailand, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Tibet, Japan and Nepal all have their temples here and each one was reflecting their cultural and architectural differences.

Sitting down in the restaurant for lunch looking at the menu my heart did a little jump of joy…peanut butter on toast!!!! It’s the little things that sometimes bring the biggest smiles.

Later, walking along the mean streets of downtown Bodhgaya, I ended up by the river and saw the strangest site! On a small sand bar yards from the bank in the shallow Falgu River was a football pitch, complete with permanent goal posts…

Leaving the village of Bodhgaya after two nights was the right decision. Coming from southern India I found the people in the tourist trap too pushy. In fact, I remember chatting to a man in Trichy who warned that people in the north weren’t that friendly and he himself didn’t like to travel in that part of India.
The people are friendly but sometimes when walking down the street you end up feeling that all you are is a dollar sign. Lucky for me that I am blessed with the gift of (or talent for) complete indifference.

So now I am back in the nearby town of Gaya. I’ve a cheap and welcoming hotel near the train station with a small courtyard and an attempt at a sunken garden. Walking around the town I slowly realised that I’m being stared at more here than most place I’ve bimbled around. I know I am not the 1st white guy they have seen, so what’s the attraction?

During the rickshaw ride here I was joined by 8 other people. One was a young mother with her small child. The look on the kids face flickered between fear and awe and shortly I felt the now familiar feeling of a finger touching one of my tattoos and tracing the outline. Looking down at the kid I smiled, which as everyone knows scares them something silly! One day a child might smile back as opposed to tucking its head into the safety of its mother’s arms. At least the kid didn’t start to whimper or cry which is the normal course of events…guess I am just not that paternal!

I am not sure of the length of time I will be spending in India. The idea is tomorrow morning catch an early train to the town of Varanasi and after that head of to Darjeeling and then Nepal. However, I can fly (or bus) from Varanasi straight to Kathmandu. Is four months in India enough? Maybe it’s my desire for a cheese and ham sandwich complete with pork pie and a bottle of cider that’s clouding my thoughts or it could be that after 15 months of travelling not having a place “to belong too” is taking its mental toll?

Anyway back to today, after chilling out in the hotel courtyard reading a few chapters of Mahatma Gandhi’s autobiography I felt the need for a cold Monday afternoon beer. Turns out back in England it is august bank holiday Monday, which took me a while to work out. Popping to the local “wine” shop on the corner it turned out they only sold whiskey…damn. However, the café next door could serve me a beer although it wasn’t the most salubrious of surroundings. Its once white painted walls were covered in at least 30 years of smoke, grease and grim, I loved it!

Come the evening…

Beer and food were the order of the night, having a mostly one sided conversation with a drunk Indian who kept asking me

“Do you know who I am?” or “I know everything about you!”

Followed by me interjecting the sentence “I’m eating” wasn’t on the menu when I entered the restaurant. Have to say it was fun, especially when his less drunk mate at the bar kept pulling him away from my table only for him to race or more realistically stagger back to my table to continue the same three sentence conversation.

One thing that I have come to realise about myself is that I now smell different! Walking around all day under a hot sun makes me sweat. Triking under a hot sun this time last year all day made me sweat. The resulting smell is definitely different!!!

Monday, 18 August 2008

there are holes and it's black but only at night

I hate flying!

Why you ask…well the reason is that somehow due to all the various wars on terror you ain’t even allowed to have a lighter in the bag that’s going into the hold, or matches come to that! Come on!!!! The 1st thing a smoker wants to do is a have a fag outside the exit of the airport they’ve just flown into. (and they don’t sell matches at the airport either) …and another thing, as my bag was 5kg over their weight limit they were going to charge me an excess baggage fee. When I pointed out that the plane was flying with about a 10% capacity level followed by a “look” they relented.

Anyway, in Kolkata the taxi driver smoked so I was able to borrow his matches for my nicotine fix. After spending 3 weeks in the Andaman Islands coming back to the mainland was a slight shock. Kolkata is busy, dirty, polluted, congested, smelly and crowded. So pretty much like the rest of India I thought to myself as I arrived outside my hotel. For the 1st time in three months I have an A/C room. It’s expensive at R940 a night but the mattress is firm, the TV has cable and the a/c unit goes all the way down to 16oc.
During the night I woke up feeling cold and I had to decide to either:

• Get the blanket on the bed
• Turn the a/c off

Send your answers on a postcard to….

The hotel is located just off Sudder Street, which is the main gringo hangout in Kolkata. It’s near the museums, the maiden, shops and the nearest bar is only 58.5 metres from my bed. On a sadder note, after my early afternoon siesta I felt the need for some sustenance. Twelve minutes later I was walking into K.F.C with a fixation on a zinger burger meal.

Finally after almost 15 months of near continuous use my Merrel trainers are nearing the end. This is a great shame because they are a bloody great pair of shoes. So after much walking around the shops I am now the proud owner of a pair of Woodlands. No I haven’t heard of them of either but they look and feel well made and at R2450 they should do.

During my stay in the city there was another all day strike. I love them because during the day you can walk around the town without worrying too much about traffic. You don’t get hassled every minute by shop owners, hawkers, drug dealers, pimps or even beggars. On the downside all the attractions are shut as well! I even got interviewed by a journalist from the local Telegraph newspaper who was doing a story about how the strike was affecting tourists. Sadly I didn’t appear in print the following day.

On Thursday morning (ie today) I picked up my train tickets from the travel agent and was pissed off straight away. The train leaves tomorrow at 20:30 which isn’t in the morning like what I asked for. As check out is midday I hope the train station is interesting. (On the upside I’ll be able to stay up late and watch the England match!)

I’m not a big fan of night time train travel because:

• It’s dark outside and you can’t see the scenery
• When you fall asleep someone might nick all your stuff

but I am looking forward to my next destination because it is a place I have wanted to visit since I was 15 years old. The reason for going there is all because of a tree……...

End note:

My blog of India is now a featured one on this website. Now this means that either my writing style is entertaining and well written or there’s not much quality…I’ll let you choose.

Checking out of my nice A/C room at midday left me with 8.5 hours to fill before the train left the station. I was able to leave my bag at the hotel whilst I wasted time.

I just wanted to chill out with a little peace and quiet. However in a city of a million souls and 13 million other people it was proving kind of hard. The best place to do that wasn’t outside the “new market”. I did however get a lesson in “kids grow up to fast these days”. I was chatting to a local man in his mid twenties when this young girl of about 8 or 9 years of age came up and stood in front of me. After a few minutes she leaned in towards me and whispered

“He is a bad man, all he wants to do is take you home and f**k you up the arse”

She then warned me to be careful!

And another thing it really wasn’t worth staying up for the football!