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Entries about trains

From beach life to cosmopolitan insanity

overcast 33 °C

Well, I finally got my passport after more than three weeks… It took so long time that I missed the flight I had booked in advance. I managed to catch a flight one day before I was obliged to get a visa for Sri Lanka. After landing in K.L. yesterday, I went straight to the Swedish embassy this morning to apply for an ordinary passport.

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The woman at the embassy told me that she can’t issue me an ordinary passport for free (what I was told by the embassy in Delhi). I can possibly get a refund back home since it’s a production failure, if I show them the receipt. Now I’m hoping that I will get this new passport before my flight from Singapore on the 9th of December.

So let’s count; 160€ for the temporary passport, 100€ for a new flight and 140€ for an ordinary passport. For that money I’ve managed to get a round trip from Stockholm to Delhi and have money left for shopping. After this experience I’ve bought a passport cover, something I thought only old people use. Better safe than sorry (too bad I had to learn it the hard way).

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I finally spent a month in Hikkaduwa. I guess if you’re not into surfing it gets pretty boring after a while. I was determined to surf everyday it was possible though. I took four lessons and then I just rented a board and went out by myself. You need to understand the basics, after that it’s all up to you how much time you want to spend learning the right moves. I was in the water five hours per day. The first week was terrible, I was really angry at myself that I couldn’t stand up. I fell in the “washing machine” hundreds of times I think. But then there was a real breakthrough after a week. The last days I felt really proud surfing a proper two meter wave from the last line up, all the way to the beach. I gave my underwater camera to a local surfer in order to take some photographs, but they came out very foggy and shaky unfortunately. When I get to Indonesia I plan to buy a surfboard and hopefully get some nice pictures too. For now I will satisfy you with two photos from a river safari I went on.

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In Hikkaduwa I met a really friendly Italian couple. They have been traveling for six years, working in Australia and Italy for the seasons. We hanged out a lot in town. Me and Michele went surfing a couple of times which was cool since he was a more experienced surfer. At nights we often had dinner at a place called Sea View Restaurant. The owner Rohan has been living in Italy for six years and spoke Italian fluently. The food was exquisite, proper Italian food for a bargain. If you’re in town, you have to visit it.

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At the moment I just came back to the hostel. I went to the Petronas towers, when you stand at the ground looking up you kind of loose perspective of how tall they really are. Then it started to rain a lot, so not so much more sightseeing today. K.L. is truly a cosmopolitan city with people from all over the world and outstanding engineering. Where I’m staying, there is another (larger) shopping mall that has an indoor amusement park with roller coasters. They’re open until 10pm, so who knows.

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Peace out
Patrick

Posted by Patrick_K 11:35 Archived in Malaysia Tagged beaches skylines trains Comments (1)

Goodbye India, hello Sri Lanka!

rain 30 °C
View Kickin' it solo in Asia on Patrick_K's travel map.

So much has happened the past few weeks here, that I don’t recall happening during the past few years in Sweden. It’s obviously too much to write about. I’ll just capture the highlights so you don’t get bored.

After leaving for Gokarna the bus stopped 3:30am, 20 km from our destination. I went out from the bus for a leak and said to myself: “Screw this; no way am I getting of here!” So we continued to Goa which was the final destination of the bus. In Goa we saw some amazing places. We rented a bike for a couple of days and did some sightseeing around Goa basically. I bumped into some friends I met in Arambol, just a month earlier. We actually went on a bike trip from Palolem to Arambol, which is across whole of Goa. It was cool seeing the transformation of the little village due to the massive increase of tourist. A lot more shops and restaurants had opened, along with higher prices I suppose. I liked monsoon Goa more, with almost empty beaches. During the season, you still can find deserted beaches. You need a bike though.

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In India everything takes ages to accomplish, hence the expression “shanti shanti” which means “slowly slowly”. To upload pictures for example and to write a blog entry takes three hours, due to frequent power cuts and extremely slow internet connection. If you’re not used to this kind of effectiveness it can be very frustrating. Fortunately, after two months in India I have learned to accept it. I wrote a two page blog entry and the power went off just 2 days ago.

I supposed to be in Sri Lanka now already, a flight I had to postpone since Mila lost all her important documents such as: Passport, ID, flight ticket, credit cards and cash. This happened (how? don’t ask me!) in Hampi the day before her flight.

Over the past few days I have become a social worker here in India. After traveling five weeks together I couldn’t just leave her 2200 km from her embassy with no ID or money. Being Lithuanian citizen though, things became more difficult. The first thing that shocked me was that the embassy didn’t even have a web page. Eventually we found a telephone number and called them. So it began, the journey to Delhi. Since you’re not allowed to fly domestically within India without ID, we had to go by train.

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All in all a 40 hour ride which was quite cool actually, we traveled with this polish guy Maciek and had a lot of time to get to know each other. It’s always interesting to hear someone else’s story when you’re sick of telling your own. After reaching Delhi, we had a fare well party with Maciek since he was leaving for Poland 12 hours later. We stay in Majnu Ka Tilla, which is a Tibetan neighborhood in the outskirts of Delhi. Tibetan people are really nice, nobody rips you off here. The food is good and there is plenty of Tibetan monks drinking Chai (tea) in the narrow streets.

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Dealing with the Lithuanian embassy went really fast when we actually found the place. She got a temporary passport. However, in order to fly back to the UK for her studies she needs to fly to Lithuania so she can get an ordinary passport. If she hadn’t lost her ID, she probably could get one here in India. Dealing with the Indian authorities to get her Indian visa (you need one to exit the country) turned out to be a real bitch. The past three days she’s been sent from one office to another. People working in government institutions here are somehow from a different planet! Are you rude? Is your patience minimal or none existing? Do you hate helping people out? Do you enjoy minimal of work? If you’re Indian and you can answer yes to these questions, the Indian immigration office will be happy to employ you.

Two days ago, when in the Internet café, I got a Trojan horse in my pen drive. This evil virus of course spread itself to my laptop, external hard drive and my memory card. I basically saw all my files and pictures being replaced by executable files you don’t want to open. Fortunately I found a computer guy that could help me destroy the virus and recover my pictures. Thank you!

Yesterday, I start to feel sick. Really sick. After spending a day in downtown Delhi, we went back to the hotel. I almost passed out before seeing a doctor in Majnu Ka Tilla. He fixed me up and gave me some medicine along with tips what to eat. I had become a victim of food poisoning after two months in India. No wonder there actually is an expression called Delhi belly. With these two encounters, I can say without any remorse what’s so ever, Delhi is a filthy place. Don’t argue with me on this one! There are parks that are actually clean though. The strange thing is that almost nobody seems to walk there.

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I wish everything turns out well for Mila so she can fly home as soon as possible, she missed out a lot in university and her parents are worried of course. She needs to fill in some final papers today. Hopefully she meets a cooperative person that can speed up the bullshit.

Tomorrow I fly to Sri Lanka with an overnight stopover in Chennai, I’m really looking forward to it. Palm trees, white sand beaches, elephants and surfing!

Posted by Patrick_K 17:55 Archived in India Tagged landscapes beaches people trains air_travel Comments (4)

Freezing in the Ghats

sunny 30 °C
View Kickin' it solo in Asia on Patrick_K's travel map.

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As usual a lot has happened in a week. After leaving Arambol, I met four guys on the train. George (the English bloke), with two Russian ladies (Carina & Mila) and this polish girl Marta. So after hangin' out on the train, we decided to rent a place in Varkala together. And man what a place we found! Two small flats connected to each other, totally about 70sqm. A fridge and a porch outside. In the garden they had this giant swing connected to two palm trees. For this we payed like rs200 each (3 euro). Unfortunately Carina and Marta left after two nights, heading for new adventures. Varkala had some really stunning views, basically all the restaurants lie on this huge cliff by the ocean. The beaches in front of the cliffs are really clean and beautiful with powerful waves.

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So me, George and Mila continued together to Kanyakumari. This small town is at the most southern tip of India, a place were the Arabian Sea, the Bay of Bengal and the Indian Ocean meet. It is considered as a great tourist attraction for Indians, especially due to the Gandhi memorial witch is located there. Apart from the touristic parts, there was an entirely different world in the neighborhood around the docks. People were doing everyday stuff and didn't have time to give you attention. This is rarely the case in India. Normally people come in groups of ten wanting to take picture of you with their mobile cameras. And they even call you things like "master" and "boss", when they don't use the frase "sir" of course. If you want to feel like a rock star, it can easily be done. Just catch the next flight to India.

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After doing the extreme south we headed up to the Western Ghats, which is the second highest mountain region in India (after the Himalayas). Apparently it contains world's top 34 hotspots of biological diversity. In order to go to Kodaikanal, the village up in the Ghats, we had to make a short over night stop in Madurai. When we got there, it felt like being back in Delhi. An awful stench of piss and petrol, beggars, dodgy rickshaw drivers trying to rip you off. After seeing like ten different hotels that were full of cock roaches, had broken toilets and smelled awful, we finally found the least dirty place for a reasonable price. Actually we didn't know anything of Madurai until we went up the roof and saw these huge temples that had resemblance to the Maya ones, but a lot more colorful. These pictures will come up shortly, stay tuned!

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After Madurai, we took the bus to Kodaikanal yesterday. The place we're staying at is truly brilliant. For being Indian standards, it's amazing. In our mountain cottage(!?) we have 24h hot water (very unusual in India), open fire place (yes, it's freezing cold at night), cable TV and a nice little garden. It's rs500 each per night including wood, which is a bargain. George has had a lot of issues with his stomach, which is the reason of him leaving India earlier than the 30th. He's flying back to London from Bangalore on the 22nd. After that it's just me and Mila.

//Patrick

Posted by Patrick_K 13:51 Archived in India Tagged me mountains trains train_travel Comments (1)

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