Random thoughts, comments, observations and general fluff from a random bint who left London at the end of September 2004 to embark on a new life and new adventures in Tokyo, land of the cute.... and is leaving mid-June 2010 - and counting!

Wednesday, December 31, 2008


Well, I've already decided to come back next year and take off where I leave off here.

My Madikeri veggie hunt wasn't. I finally found somewhere that had salad - well, slices of tomato, cucumber, onion and carrot, and doused it in cucumber raita. I saw veggies in the streets - but the veg restaurants weren't using them. A mystery!

Anyway, decided I had to fly down to south of Kerala yesterday. Let's just say the flight actually cost me three times what I'd been expecting to pay for it, but the taxi ride from Madikeri to Mangalore airport (about half the time it would have taken by bus apparently) was spectacular as we weaved through the Coorg mountains with beauty that just stunned me in places.

Mangalore airport was pretty much chaos. I imagine that's pretty normal for here! My sodding credit card was blocked but luckily they had a working ATM that took my Japanese card.

I phoned around for a hotel. There was a room available - not so cheap - at the YWCA in Trivandrum - and as I was arriving late I took it. The Lonely Planet guide made it sound quite nice.

The women of Kerala scare me! I've seen lots of scary Kerala women - donno why! Anyway, the woman running the reception of the YWCA was particularly scary. The room was okay - big, clean, big bathroom - but there was a CURFEW. I was stunned. A 10pm curfew at a bloody hotel. Insane. Needless to say, I got up early today and pounded the streets around the bus station area - much nicer - and after about 20+ places told me they had nothing, I found a new place. It's just for tonight and then I'm off again tomorrow.

Today was a big running around day. Lots of sightseeing - museums, temples, gardens, markets, etc. There's a really nice restaurant mentioned in the guide book, but I can't find it! I'm knackered anyway, so it's probably gonna be a very early new year's eve for me - plus I'm still downing the antibiotics.

Kerala is much hotter that Karnataka was. It's a shame I've so little time here but at least I've figured out where I'm coming next year!

Happy New Year to you all. May your celebrations be fun and stress free and may 2009 give you all you desire and more.

Love you!


Monday, December 29, 2008

I'm alive and I'm out of hospital

I am craving something green. Brocolli. Cabbage. Cauliflower. Green. Green. Green. Feels like since forever since I had something to eat that felt totally healthy. I'm actually having fantasies about green veg at the moment. Sad, innit?!

So, I survived three days and two nights of being in the hospital in Bylakkuppai on the Tibetan settlement. Illegally. You need a permit to stay there but I guess I was being exempted. The settlement is huge. I think most tourists probably just see the spectacular Golden Temple but I got to see a whole lot more and the size astonished me. There's about 3,000 Tibetans living there and an extra 3,000 kids who board at a school on the settlement. The main income is from agriculture and the people are all so so lovely and chatty and told me all there stories and all about the settlement. I feel very privileged to have experienced this. In a weird kind of way, and despite my pee smelling fowl after three days of eating momo (kind of like gyoza or dumplings) and being injected with strong antibiotics.

I rested a lot. I read a lot. I talked a lot and I made friends with people around me and a lovely dog! And I rabbitted away in my diary like there was no tomorrow. Maybe I'll update some of the stuff onto here, sooner or later.

I'm taking this for what it is. It was another experience. It would be easy to get frustrated or annoyed that I 'lost' three days of my holiday nearly - but I'm not going to do that. Plus, the food I ate was cheap, the hotel - er hospital - charged me about one pound for the two nights and three days and about twelve quid total for a heap of drugs used while I was there and that I had to take away.

And it was my first hospital admittance EVER!

I got back to Madikeri - the bus didn't break down - and bless them, the hotel had been good to their word (we phoned them from the hospital) and hadn't charged me the two nights I wasn't there and had packaged up all my stuff as requested and stored it safely. The manager insisted I checked everything was okay and they gave me my room back - with a little discount. They made me pay a charge for having to break into the room (I had the key with me and they'd lost the spare) - but the charge was just 40 rupees (just over 50 pence).

I decided to take on board the hospitals advice to take it easy for another day or two and not walk too much and so am going to skip out of Karnataka - as much as I like it - and fly down to Kerala tomorrow, into Thiruvnanthapuram and then onto Varkala to chill for a couple of days and recover fully.

I've done some spice shopping and got very excited to find a homeopathic clinic to stock up on a few bits including arnica tablets to push on the recovery of this damn infection.

And that's me kind of up to date!

At some later date, I'll add more notes to all this India posts (in a different colour, of course!) so keep tuned.


Sunday, December 28, 2008

Bylakkuppe - a Tibetan refugee settlement - and not what I expected

Soooo, I set off for Bylakkuppe, planning to see the Golden Temple, do a bit of shopping and return to Madikeri.

The bus broke down on the way. I should have taken that as a warning that things weren't going to pan out exactly as expected.

As mentioned, I've been worried about the lack of effect the antiobiotics have had on the skin infection so as the rickshaw passed a hospital just before the temple, I thought it would be prudent to get another doctor to look at it. I popped in and got directed to go to another hospital after lunch where I could see a doctor.

The Golden Temple was awesome. Absolutely stunning. Very new. Fresh bright colours.... Lovely. And so touristy. I've never seen a Buddhist Temple full of people taking photos before.

And the Tibetan monks wear red and orange robes. Other countries I've only seen them in orange robes. It's the Tibetan way.

Anyway. Came up to the hospital after that. Didn't realise how huge the settlement was - and probably wouldn't have if I'd not made the trip. Neither would I have had the chance to talk with so many people living here. See, trying to find a silver lining to a teeny little cloud. That cloud being, saw the doctor who said I had to be admitted for three days/two nights to be observed and to have antibiotic injections and lots of other stuff.

The consultation cost 10 rupees. That's roughly half a pence. The HEAP of medical stuff I had to buy was about 735 rupees - about ten pounds. And the nightly stay is costing me about 70 rupees a day I think (about one pound) - cheaper than my budget 300 rupee (about four quid) hotel room in Madikeri (who have agreed to pack my stuff and store it and not charge me).

The hospital is spotless and the nurses are so so lovely. I'm the only person in the ward but the nurses kept popping in to chat with me. They're all Tibetan, although some were born on the compound. And a local teenager had me helping her with her English homework. I was happy to do it. Helped pass the time.

I've been scribbling away in my notebook since I got there but should get back to the hospital before they get angry with me as I should be resting my legs!

I have half a long good novel left to read with me and an almost fully charged iPod I'm allowing myself short bursts with. And a notebook and pen - to keep me amused for the next 29 hours.

Wish I had my sudoku book, my Japanese to study, a back up book and iPod charger (in case), and some clean clothes, but hey!

Will hopefully get back onto a computer again tomorrow.

Hope you all had a good xmas.


Friday, December 26, 2008

All's well again

I don't know why Mysore didn't gel with me, but anyway I left this morning and took a local bus on a three-hour trip to Madikeri, in Coorg. I liked the place instantly, although I don't know why. Just a feeling.

Anyway, I went and watched a heap of Indians looking at a waterfall. The waterfall was quite nice too actually, checked out a couple of tombs and came back to the town. I'm knackered to be honest so an early night calls...

and an early morning start tomorrow to find a local bus that goes to Bylakuppe, the second largest Tibetan settlement outside of Tibet. Apparantly. Am looking forward to it anyway... and still waiting for my leg to stop it's random oozing. ick!

Feeling Sore in Mysore

The antibiotics I got for my skin infection are doing really icky things - like making my leg ooze... I guess that's meant to be a good thing, isn't it?

Anyway, Mysore. I'm not sure I get it. I mean I've heard really great things about it but just can't figure this place out. The palace was spectacular. The market was fun. The walk down the hill (whose name I need to check) was refreshing. But I just can't figure anything else about this place. The hawkers are quite irritating and persistant. The beggars are almost non-existant. The shops are all clustered together in rows - a row of fabric shops, a row of electric shops, etc. The food places all seem the same. I have no idea if it's even possible to find a beer around here...

Actually, yesterday was the first time I'd had any booze since getting to India (well, discounting a glass of sherry given me by Sanchia's dad) - and I gave up smoking the day before coming and have managed to resist for the last nine days. With a bit of difficulty at times.

Anyway, I came to Mysore on an overnight sleeper bus (yes, that means the bus had beds) from Hospet (after staying in Hampi) The bus stopped in Bangalore and a few of us travelled together to Mysore on a local bus. Two of the girls had decided to splash out on a very expensive luxery resort hotel for two nights over xmas and they invited us to join them last night for drinks.

Now I know how the other half lives. The bathroom was about the size of my bedroom at home (inside and outside showers). Actually the massive bed was about the size of my bedroom at home. And their room had a front AND back patio to go out in. The grounds, naturally were impeccable - water features, swimming pool, giant chess set, the works. Swoon. And then I returned to my budget hovel...

I've spent the two days here hanging out with a Canadian girl and, as lovely as she is, I've realised I do actually prefer being a bit of a lone wolf on holiday sometimes. I like travelling alone. I like not having to make joint decisions on everything....

Anyway, I walked down 1000 steps from a temple on a hill today, as well as lots of wandering around and taking a ridiculously long bus ride - and getting stuck in traffic - to enter a very crowded park to see a mildly entertaining light and music fountain display - and then travel back again standing all the way with about 700 other people on the same bus.

My mood could be better. I'm off to have a shower and de-dusty myself a tad now!
Tomorrow I'm moving onto my next place... (and as long as I can find a computer with decent internet access I'll keep on updating as often as I can).

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

An Indian Medical Adventure - the only part. Hopefully.

Last post I mentioned my hobbling and pain. Nay, agony. Well, having two weeks to go I figured being sensible was probably the best thing to do... so I went and saw a doctor in the next town (Hospet).

I have a new hero.

Yesterday I popped into an Ayurvedic practitioner for a quick bit of acupressure and asked his advice on the inflamation... Long story short, he said he'd sort it out for me. And I don't think there is any way I could have done this by myself. What with my utter lack of Hindi, for one thing!

He called the hospital this morning at 6.15am to get a ticket. The lines opened at 6am - but already 21 people had gotten through. I met him in his therapy room at 11.30 to head off at 12 for the possibly 1pm appointment. He got us a VERY good price on a rickshaw, whose driver waited for us and brought us back.

We got to the hospital. Chaos. Well, actually in was very well organised but to my foreign eyes it looked like chaos. He barged through the crowd of people gathered around the 'reception' area and picked up my ticket. We then waited and waited and waited and he kept popping back in to check whether it was my turn yet. This hospital was pretty low-tech and so there was no announcement system. Of any kind. People just kept asking and asking and asking...

Eventually it was my turn. He barged my through the crowd to get weighed and asked my age. I then had to pay for my appointment. Except the payment desk was unmanned. When someone turned up to take charge, the receipt printer broke down, so everything came to a standstill again. He grabbed my receipt and pushed it forward to the woman who registered me properly and charged me.... 70 rupees to see the doctor. That's very roughly a pound.

I then got herded to another area and waited to have my blood pressure taken before finally getting in to see the doctor. Actually, the weigh, pay, blood pressure happened really quickly. The lovely doctor spoke English, was extremely sweet, confirmed it was a bad skin infection and gave me a shopping list of drugs to pick up from the pharmacy... which came to a total of about two quid.

And then we got back in the rickshaw and returned to Hampi.

When I met him in the morning I, naturally, asked him why he was doing it (ie did he intend to charge me a heap of money for the priviledge) and he said because he was concerned and wanted to help. And he was true to his word.

I went to him later and paid for a wonderful back, head and shoulder massage by way of thanks.

It's nice to know there are genuinly nice people around, isn't it?


The rest of the day - before and after the appointment - which took up about four hours with travel and waiting - was spent wandering around ruins, streets and shopping. And reading. HOW MUCH am I loving having time to just chill out and read read read.

People come to Hampi for one day. Arriving in the morning, leaving the same night. They are really missing out on this place. And I'm glad I ignored advice to stay in Hospet. This place is ... something else.

An Indian Adventure: Part One

Apologies if you've already seen this post on Facebook. I'm saving time but I will elaborate on this post when I get home:

Am now a week into my three week trip and am having a great time. Well, apart from an infection on my leg (maybe an insect bite, that's got me hobbling around a bit).

The first few days were spent in Mumbai and felt like a holiday as I was with Sanchia and was able to enjoy being shown around and taking in the complete assault to my senses without worrying about communication difficulties (well, I understood Sanchia most of the time, but I actually mean other people!) or where to go next, what to do, etc. The sky was blue, the sun was hot, the food was great and the city wonderful although slightly mad! I was surprised at the lack of beggars compared to what I'd expected and the city surprised me in being so similar to many south-east asian cities i've seen - but a bit more colonial! and i loved the architecture. had a heap of clothes made too while i was there.

After Mumbai, the holiday ended and the adventure started...From Bombay, took an overnight train to Hyderabad, which was a bit of an adventure in itself with people wanting my birth as it was better than theirs and various other misunderstandings.

Got to Hyderabad pretty early the next day and went off to visit some ruins where they happened to be filming a Bollywood movie... Had a great time wandering around and enjoying the early morning lack of crowds and the sun, of course.

The next 1.5 days were spent wandering around enjoying Hyderabad - which was a different kind of crazy to Mumbai - seeing various bits and bobs and talking to (being talked to) by heaps of people. In the first day I saw no other foreign tourists, and the second not many.

It was all good fun anyway.

Next part of the adventure was an overnight bus ride to Hampi, which is where I am now. Yesterday was spent running around seeing lots of rocks - er, I mean, ruins and being dragged into random photos by Indians, who also kept rushing up to me and shaking me hand, sending there kids over to say 'what country you from', or just coming over to me to chat. it was very funny. although it did make it a little hard to relax too much there!

Hampi is also a little crazy. Yesterday was the final day of a 12-day festival that happens every 12 years and where an estimated 50 million people come to visit and bathe in the river here. it was mobbed and crazy anyway and an utter explosion of colourful saris. the rocks took on a rusty coloured hue and the piles of dye being sold are in every colour....

It's very laid back here, although rather a lot of cows are wandering around the streets. The area where I'm staying is surrounded by old temples and ruins, and is really quite something to see.

I'm giving myself a day off today - which is why I've popped onto the computer - just wandering around locally, taking photos and enjoying the atmosphere. Tomorrow I'm doing more sightseeing around Hampi and then I'm busing down to Mysore for the next part of the adventure!

Happy Christmas / holidays if I don't get on to blog again before. Enjoy!

Friday, December 05, 2008

Too bloody cold

Apparantly I feel the cold more than other people, but whatever. It's just too bloomin' cold for me.


However, I adore the heat pads in Japan - ones you stick to your back and ones you bung in your pockets.

And, I'm off to the south of India in NINE days, where it won't be cold. Better not be anyway.

And please don't mention it's gonna get colder here. I know :(

Monday, December 01, 2008

A Lovely Weekend

All in all, rather random, but fun...

After work on Friday met up briefly with the lovely Deanne - to return a hoop I'd borrowed in April and really not used as often as I should have done. It was lovely having a quick - albeit very hurried - catch up... and having the hoop sitting in the school all day had got a few curious glances... and a couple of receptionists demonstrating their hoop skills to me!

Friday nights have slipped into a bit of a Footnik's in Ebisu tradition with Kate - mainly out of convenience for where we're both working. Got very very drunk of Friday (not a good move as I have to work early on a Saturday) thanks to the very amusing company of some English and Aussie lads we met in there.

I love my Japanese and foreign friends, but sometimes it's just so nice to not have to worry about the speed you speak, or the language you use or to have to be sensitive to someone maybe not understanding you. Do you know what I mean?

Anyway, staggered home on the last train and survived Saturday in tact.

Saturday night was a nice quiet one watching some episodes of Friends and drinking with a housemate. It's been years since I've watched any Friends - I'd forgotten how funny they are.

Sunday was taken up with eating and drinking... firstly I went to a house warming party in Tanashi where we were overfed and the alcohol was bottomless - oh this was at lunchtime, by the way. Caught up with some old friends, had a lovely time and scored some more free dental treatment and an invite to share a private box with some friends - for free - at the horse races in February. Am VERY excited as I've never been to the horses before. Did go to the dogs a few years ago - with people from work - and we had an awesome time.

After that, Akane and I and our bloated bellies, moved onto Shinjuku for a surprise birthday party for Sue and Yuko in a really nice izakaya were we cooked our own food at out tables - I gave myself the day off from not eating meat as I figured it'd be too difficult to survive both locations without doing so. Of course, it would have been easy to avoid - but whatever....!

The 15 of us then went out into the street - to take lots of group photos and eat cake. Yes, of course we got some weird looks - but more people just ignored us!

A quick hour of karaoke later - and we all went off home!

Today's been pretty lazy. I had an interview for the diploma course - more a formality than anything else as I was down to do it anyway (I think!) - I was expecting a nice friendly 'chat' - but it was quite a bit more hardcore than that... and I could sense a list of questions being ploughed through.

And now? Now it's time to get my act together and go and pick up my India visa. Yay :D