A Travellerspoint blog

Early mornings :(

sunny

Day 43 – Tuesday 6th March
Had a pretty ###### day today, started off awfully as I just couldn’t sleep and I hate to get up at 7. And I went through all this to arrive at the dive centre and wait around for 2 hours for my instructor to turn up. Today I was doing my first aid course, something you have to renew every 2 years, so I knew all the #### and only really needed a quick refresher to get signed off and be on my way. But when my instructor eventually did turn up she didn’t really get that and I had to go through all the bullshit that I know already. And even though she turned up so late, she still took the piss when she got there, every 20 minutes she had something else to do and was like take a 30 minute ‘break’ yeah cheers for that because sitting around waiting was tiring enough! So what should only take 2-3 hours took me 9 (from 8 until 5) so the entire day was wasted for nothing. I managed to speak to another guy doing his divemaster course, and he said all the stuff they were telling me was bullshit and it’s not actually so bad, and most importantly I don’t have to be there all day as I first thought, although you do have to start at 6:30 every day. Looking forward to just getting in the water and getting started tomorrow to see what it’s all like. So I’m up at 6 tomorrow and everyday after that for at least a couple weeks, it’s unlikely, but I hope my mood picks up.

Day 44
It’s only 9pm and here I am sitting in bed, missing out on all the fun parts of a holiday, and just hearing everyone else outside having a good time. I did have a pretty good day today though, in the morning I had to take a girl on a ‘discover scuba diving’ course, which involves carrying someone around a really shallow divesite to give them a taste of it all. It’s funny because you get a lot of Indians turn up who can’t even swim but still want to dive, ridiculous. It doesn’t really matter though, as you literally hold on to them the whole time and drag them through it. The first girl I took really loved it though, and it’s nice when people are so happy and so grateful when they come out of the water, shame I really don’t feel that excited about every dive anymore. I’m also treated as if I’m an instructor, so people all give you a lot of respect, and really appreciate your knowledge and skill, and it’s nice to sort of pass a bit of that on. My instructor for the course is also a really nice, chilled out guy which helps a lot. Had my 3rd dive today which involved me pretending to be an instructor and teaching my instructor all the skills step by step. It’s quite hard as everything is second nature and I need to teach him as if he’s a retard, rather than just showing him I can do all this ####. It’s hard to get use to but it’s part of it I guess, but when I have actual students I’m sure it will be a lot easier to treat them as idiots and tell them everything over and over very slowly. Got back, and spent the evening sorting out all the decorations for tomorrow (which is Holi) pretty excited about it as it should be a pretty insane day, hopefully I finish earlier than I did today (5pm).

Day 45
It was Holi today! Such a nuts festival, I’d recommend people to google it to sort of get an understanding of what it’s all about. But basically people just throw this colourful powder and water at you constantly, so everyone’s just walking around with their clothes, hair, face and arms, and just about everything covered in a ton of different colours. It’s impossible to walk down the road without getting pelted, and when I got back from my dives, everyone was just sitting there and waiting to attack. Got to the dive centre for 6:30 and my first group had cancelled so I spent 4 hours waiting for the next dive, so annoying that I couldn’t go to the main market to really experience the insanity of Holi. Loving that feeling when you finish a dive and your student is in awe of it all, even though it’s literally the worst dive you can do (only 8ish metres deep and a stone’s throw from the shore). But as I say they absolutely love you and even though these people are middle aged they completely respect a 19 year old and are so interested in all the places I’ve been and the crazy #### I’ve seen. Managed to get finished at 1 today, so I had a chance to get back and get drunk before the big Holi party at a place 5 minutes from here on the beach. It was really cool, our decorations really made the place look nice and there were proper speakers with Djs and a big fire and stuff. And all of this on a crystal white beach. Unfortunately it got to about half 7 and I was just too tired from these early wake ups, so I got back and tried to get all the colour off me, unsuccessfully, then went to bed nice and early ready for my long day tomoz. I won’t finish until around 7 as I have a night dive to do as well as the usual day dives.

Posted by travellingjoe 22:58 Archived in India Comments (2)

The calm before the Divemaster storm

Day 40 – Saturday 3rd March
Ah God, another bloody brilliant day today, I absolutely love this place! Got up, and spent the afternoon chilling with the rest of our little crew. Although we all hang out with everyone all the time, with have our little group of regulars which consists of about 5 or 6 of us and can grow to about 20. Anyway so I was sitting having breakfast with everyone and the bloody German couple I saw a lot in Palolem just happened to walk past! I remember trying to sell the Andamans to them because they hadn’t really heard of it before, but I wasn’t sure they were coming let alone staying in the guest house next door. This seems to always happen when you’re travelling it seems. The three of us then went out for dinner in the main market place of Havelock, where I had fish for the first time since Goa. I had a huge red snapper, and unsurprisingly it was bloody tasty (and comparatively fish has to be the cheapest thing on this island). By the time I got back, most people were In bed so I sat up for a few hours with Murphy (Irish guy) who is an absolute legend, reminds me a lot of Harry, not just because he can handle his drink!

Day 41
Can’t wipe this bloody smile off my face, this place is too nice! Got up a bit earlier than usual today which meant I had time to sunbathe on the beach before the sun went down. Due to the fact that the Andamans are far enough away from India to be at least 1 hour ahead, the sun goes down at 5ish, and as I’m on the East side of island it’s even earlier here. I mean by 2 it’s hard to find a spot on the beach which is still in the sun, which explains why everyone gets up at like 7 everyday here. For the Divemaster course, I have a 400m timed swimming test, so I had a little practice today and I’ve been out the game too long, my fitness as well as my general swimming quality is pathetic! In the evening, we went to go and organize a party somewhere for Holi festival (festival of light on the 8th March) and it seems like that’s pretty much sorted which I’m really excited about as it’s the biggest festival in the Hindi calendar. Got back from that and had fish again for dinner, not too sure what it was tonight, but once again it was lovely and very cheap considering the size of it. After that, I suggested we make a fire on the beach, which took us about 10 seconds to start as all the wood here is bone dry. We then spent the next 4ish hours just sitting there chatting and listening to a bit of music. Really nice that everyone stayed up late for once as well. Can’t emphasise how well we are all getting on here, with about 20 people with an average age of 23-24 it’s easy to have really interesting conversations with people from the 4 corners of the world.

Day 42
Didn’t even make it down to the sea today, I was far too busy. Granted I was lounging around playing cards and eating, but it still counts as preoccupied I guess. In the evening, Murphy and I drove into town to pick up some supplies. I got a bottle of gin, sleeping pills and chocolate biscuits (a very healthy shop if you ask me!) We forgot to look for some special flea shampoo for the puppies. If I haven’t mentioned them already, there are these 3 absolutely tiny puppies living here which spend the day bouncing around with their silly floppy ears. The problem is that they’re way too adorable not too touch, but they’re covered in fleas and they itch themselves so much that they’re starting to cut themselves. Tomorrow is the start of the diving, got to get up at 7 (eugh) to do my first aid course, and then the day after is when I start the training properly, so the next 2 weeks should be pretty tough going. I will be uploading pictures once I’m back on the mainland, as I’ve mentioned the internet is far too slow here and an absolute rip off.

Posted by travellingjoe 02:11 Archived in India Comments (4)

The Andaman Islands

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Day 37 – Wednesday 29th February
Finally on my way to the Andamans (sort of), sitting here in Chennai airport, I’ve got a 7 hour wait here until my flight. Got my checkout extended to 7pm for my room, so I haven’t had to sit around waiting all day, at least I’ve had somewhere to keep my stuff and have a shower and things, and most importantly I got a lie in. I went out to town in the afternoon, to get my last taste of internet before I go away, and then came back to pack all my stuff and get ready to go. I left the guest house and walked to the bus stop (not the best idea with my massive bag, especially when I can’t change out of my sweaty clothes for a while!). Met a few other people who had the same idea as me of staying in the airport for the night, cheap bastards! I’m so excited that I’ll be in paradise in not too long, I think I’ll get a ferry straight to little Andaman when I arrive, it’s the furthest island from the main island, and I just want to get the journey out the way. I’ve also heard it’s by far the nicest island that you can go to.

Day 38
Wow! This place is absolutely awesome, it’s so bloody beautiful the beaches are genuinely white as snow, and the water is the most amazing blue and crystal clear. So I got off the plane around 8 this morning, then went straight to the port to try and book a ferry onwards. After about a 2 hour wait I eventually got to the front of the queue and due to there being no ferry to little Andaman until tomorrow I decided to get a ticket to Havelock island, rather than waiting around Port Blair for the day and having to find somewhere to stay etc. Havelock is one of the most popular islands in the Andamans due to the fact that it’s relatively close to Port Blair (where the airport is) and good diving as well as awesome beaches and jungle scenery. Got here around 4ish, and got a rickshaw driver to show me all the cheap places which still have rooms left and after a few places I arrived here (not sure what it’s called) but it’s right on the beach and the huts are really nice. Luckily they had 1 hut left (number 13) which was the same when I was in Palolem, it seems no one wants to stay there, I guess it’s my lucky number. Put my bag down and literally ran to the sea for a refreshing dip, only to find the water is absolutely boiling here (pretty much bath temperature) which isn’t a bad thing it was just a shock. After getting some clean clothes on and eating for the first time in about 24 hours, I spent the evening, and night, and early morning, just chilling out with all the people staying here. We sat drinking and playing some cards and shooting the ####. I managed to win a 3 hour epic game of Yanev (some Israeli card game) which won me a solid 600 rupees. This is one of the first places I’ve been where pretty much everyone is young (still met no one my age) which is nice, it also means people are staying up as late as me and I’m not lost for things to do past like 11.

Day 39
Had an epiphany today whilst lying in a hammock on the beach. The easiest way for me to travel around the world forever would be to get a job, and one thing that you can do anywhere in the world in nice places is diving. So I decided that I might as well do my Divemaster course while I’m here, not a bad place for it. So I got up and walked to a few dive centres to enquire a bit, it should only take me a couple of weeks, due to the fact that I’m already bloody experienced with over 80 dives (he smiles smugly). It does mean that I will have to stay in the Andamans for longer than I planned (hard life) and probably miss out the North of India and fly straight to China once I’m done here. I’d already decided I was gonna come back to India anyway because I love this country, so that doesn’t change too much. The course won’t be particularly fun, but it will give me an insight into what it would belike to work in a dive centre, and I have to do it if I eventually want to do my instructor course. It involves working in the dive centre from about 6am to 7pm, carrying around tanks and setting up equipment etc. Doesn’t sound like you actually do a lot of diving, except for shadowing instructors on beginner dives.I start on the 7th and although it sounds quite horrible, at least I’m in an amazing place doing it and more than anything it should be a good experience. I need to cancel my flight back to India and reschedule it for a couple of weeks later, as well as booking my flight to China. Spent the evening doing much the same as the night before, there’s a really good group of people here and it’s easy to sit around playing cards and #### till the early hours. Unfortunately I lost money today unlike my great win yesterday. The internet here is very slow and expensive so I won’t be uploading pictures for now, so just imagine paradise and that’s what it looks like.

Posted by travellingjoe 05:35 Archived in India Comments (2)

Finished with the mainland (for now)

sunny

Day 34 - Sunday 26th February

Still finding it hard to adjust to the amount of Westerners in and around Mallalpuram, it's so weird to see so many everywhere after seeing absolutely none in Kerala, but the Andamans will be like this, so I have to integrate myself with tourists again at some point. It just feels like you're in another country and not in the real country. I am staying in a family run place just outside the hustle bustle, which is nice, despite the fact that the guy who runs it has to be the most money hungry con artist indian I've met so far, and I've met a fucking lot of them! Unfortunately I have no internet here, I have to walk into town to sit in a cafe, and I won't have it for 2 whole weeks in the Andamans, which I don't mind so much. Just saying I won't be updating this for a couple of weeks from the 2nd or 3rd and I'll be completely out of contact. Went into town this afternoon, to use the internet cafe and on the walk back took a stroll through the park and around to see some of the monuments and temples. If you wanna see the good shit it costs 250rps (around £4) which doesn't sound like much, but when they charge Indians only 10rps that takes the piss!! So I'm not going to see the main temples here, as a matter of principle more than money, either way once you've seen a couple temples in India you've seen them all. The temples here are also very similair to the stuff at Hampi, just a bit worse. Mallalapuram - the poor man's Hampi, for people who want to spend a lot of money to see worse temples. Either way, this is really just a stop off for me before the Andamans so I'm not too fussed. I spent the evening searching around everywhere for a bar to watch the match, but found nothing, which was very suprising considering how touristy this place is. So I just had dinner in town then came back here and hung out with some people from this place on the roof. Met another French girl called Aurore, it's such a rare name, and I meet two girls in one week! Cockroaches absolutely everywhere in this room, you just hear them scuttling around when you're trying to sleep, and there's a squeeky mouse who lives in the roof.

Day 35

Had a very lazy day today, Got out of bed eventually after just lying there for ages staring at the view out the window. After finally having a shower and getting dressed, I started reading and listened to some music. I went out at about 7pm to get some food and catch up on current events. Went to an internet cafe to find out Arsenal won 5-2 yesterday, can't believe I missed that 2-0 down as well! Not really much else to check on the internet after that, I need to go online at 11ish to catch people when they get back from work, but the dogs around here are so bloody aggressive at night so I don't like to walk back past 9, so it's not worth the risk. I don't want no rabies! Had dinner at this place where they just have a big wok sitting there out the front and you ask the chef to make whatever you want, and it arrives 1 minute later. You can also get it in a takeaway bag, so there's a big cue of indians on their mopeds waiting for a bag of rice. Indian style drive-thru. Came back to here, and spoke to a few more people, met a guy who's just come back from the andmans god I'm so excited about going. Still unsure which island I'm going to go to, but I'll work it out when I get there. Everyone goes to bed around 10 though, and due to my very late wake ups I'm not tired at that time, so I sat and watched 'This is England' (the film) which was really nice, I watch barely any TV and it's not a bad thing to do when everyone's in bed and I'm still gonna be up for ages. Think I might buy a USB DVD player cos you can buy pirate DVDs here of the latest films for like 50p. Even though I'm in a stopover mindframe about this place, it's still not a bad place to be at all. sure is a hell of a lot better than working in London, that always puts a massive smile on my face! :)

Day 36

Had another very relaxing day today, the area I'm staying in is a really calm and nice place, so it's a good place to spend the day reading and talking to people. I eventually went out to town at around 7ish, where I spent ages asking every shop if they had a plug in DVD player for my laptop, but that was unsuccessful, so I went on the internet to catch up, and then went out for dinner with a couple of people from the hostel. It was probably the best meal I've had so far in India, one of the people I met when I arrived here recommended it so I thought I'd finally try it out, and it was worth it. After this, we found out that the alcohol shop just out of town closes in 5 minutes, so me and a German guy quickly got in a rickshaw and told him to put his foot down (proper movie style) and as they drive like lunatics anyway here, he was happy to oblige. A small bottle of whisky costs about half the price of a bottle of beer in a restaurant, I wonder why they don't put the booze shop in the middle of town! Instead you have to go to some dodgy little shop about 5 minutes away. After this, we all came back to the guest house, and sat on the rooftop for the rest of the night. Here in Malallapuram, the power is switched off seemingly all the time, and at night it means you can really see the stars, it's amazing. It's so awesome that my nights are just spent in India on rooftops, drinking and meeting just the most diverse people, literally all walks of life and all ages everyday. Better still, I'm off to the andamans tomorrow, feels like I've been waiting to go for ages, I can't wait to get to the amazing beaches. I'm also really looking forward to doing a bit of diving, it's a bit pricey so I might only do a couple dives, but it should be fun as I haven't been for a while. Just saw my first proper big spider in India, walking on my bed, it looked like a tarantula but just a bit smaller the way they walk is fucking horrible. I just let it have a little wander around because I'm not getting near it to pick it up and chuck it out the room. Definately seen the most wildlife in my room here, so many cockroaches every night and way more geckos than other places. I've heard there is some limited internet on the island I'm going to go to, which costs a fortune, but I might go on a couple of times to update the blog, if not there probably won't be an update for a couple of weeks now.

Posted by travellingjoe 03:16 Archived in India Comments (1)

Going East

sunny

Day 31 - Thursday 23rd February

The other two went off today, Aurore going North and Mike going south. I've decided to stay one extra day mainly because I didn't have time to get a train ticket today, but also because I do really like this place and it might be nice to have a day to myself. Big drama last night, around 2:30am I was chatting to Mike saying goodbye and shit when he asked if I was flying with Kingfisher to the Andamans, and then went on to tell me that they've gone down the pan and for the last week or so most flights have been cancelled. I quickly rushed online to cancel my ticket and rebook it with another company (Air India) I'm now leaving at 5am on the 1st March, so I'll probably just go to the airport around 10-11 and wait it out rather than pay an extra night somewhere. So luckily it wasn't too hard to change, and it only cost me about £15 in cancellation fees etc. Back to Alleppey, so I went to the train station to book my ticket to Chennai, where I'll get a bus to Mallalapuram, just South of Chennai. I decided to walk, and I stopped to ask directions from this guy who then procceded to follow me to check I'd gone the right way, and eventually just came on his motorbike and gave me a free lift. It was brilliant, that has to be the thing above everything else that has made me love Kerala, the people are unbelievably friendly and I think genuinely proud of their country, and they want you to like it too so they're happy to lend a hand. I think also being a man of the british empire, they have to give me some sort of respect as we built their country! So I got my ticket from the station, despite a 100+ waiting list, if you pay a small extra fee of about a pound you can get yourself a seat quite easily. The train leaves at 4pm and arrives in Chennai at 6am (14 hours).

Day 32

Here on the train on my way to Chennai, been on for about 7 hours so I'm half way down, and despite the fact that I know I won't be able to sleep I forgot to buy valium. Each time I go on any form of transport I always regret not buying Valium (sleeping pills), ah well, hopefully next time I will remember to buy some before I get on. I also didn't bring enough water, and have just run out, and it's late so all the shops at the stations will be closed on the way, I seem to not prepare very well for these journeys! Today was my last day in Alleppey, and I woke up about 1 and had to leave around half 3 so I completely wasted it, depending on which way you look at it. I will miss Alleppey though, as I've mentioned, for the people more than anything. It was also a shame not to be able to get a houseboat due to the fact that I'm not a millionaire, so I didn't really get to see the backwaters. The trains in India seem to be full of fucking creepy gay Indian men, who stand as fucking close to you as possible when you're standing between carriages and always seem to stroke your arm or just get any physical contact they can. Every time I get up to go the toilet there's some man waiting to have a chat 'where you from, what's your name?' the usual. And then as I say, they literally stand on top of you, and it's a case of just sorta pushing them out the way and walking off. I guess that's bound to happen when you have a train about 3 miles in length full of people, there's gonna be some creepy guys lurking. Hopefully I don't wake up with some guy standing over my bed my wanking later!

Day 33

Managed to get some water in the end last night, the train stopped at a station around midnight and there was a little man selling his box of water on the side, luckily. So I arrived in Chennai early this morning and got my first man-powered rickshaw (guy on a bicycle) which I've been trying to avoid due to their slow speed and not any price difference to the engine powered ones. It was bloody slow, and at points the old man riding the bike looked like he was about to pass out from the strain of it all, but after a steady speed which must've been slower than walking, I made it to the bus station. I then got on my 2 hour bus to Mallalapuram, and it was the first time I've ever been on any form of transport which wasn't completely packed, I was the only one on the bus! Got off, and got greeted by one of the tourist information people who asked what sort of accomadation I was looking for and quickly whisked me off to this family run place, which is a bit off the tourist trail, and run by a really nice man (for the last 25 years). The huts are very similar to the place I stayed at in Hampi (see pics) but there isn't such a nice general seating area to hang out in the evening. I went out to the main town for dinner with a few people from the hostel, and then we got back and spent the rest of the night chilling out here. Unfortunately, like Kerala, alcohol is not easy to get your hands on here. There aren't any shops that sell it, and in the restaurants one bottle costs more than a meal!

Posted by travellingjoe 01:41 Archived in India Comments (2)

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