Wednesday, December 29, 2010


That's the word I'm going to use to describe my travel days from now on. 'Situation Normal: All Fucked Up' is the perfect descriptor. It seems on 95% of the days I'm traveling from one point to another, things go wrong in some way. I'd paid for a combination minibus/ferry from Koh Lanta to Koh Samui. The first minibus brought us to the travel agency in Krabi where we were supposed to be picked up by another minibus heading to Surat Thani to catch the ferry. The bus showed up and everyone started loading up, but it was short by one seat. When the guy checked my ticket and said it was with another bus company and they would come pick me up, I knew things were starting to unravel. After that it was delay after delay, then sitting next to this ultra-dork French kid who kept picking his nose and preventing me from watching a movie on my laptop, all of which are R rated.

Oh well, I'm in Koh Samui now, and accommodation has been found. A cheap dorm room for 200 Baht was definitely fine with me, and it's a pretty decent place. Except for the 30-something man in my room that needs to sleep with the light on. I finally managed to eat some McDonald's last night, and it tasted all the better with a few beers in my stomach too. Maybe now I'll go another four months without eating it. No alcohol tonight too, I need to be ready for the Full Moon Party tomorrow night, mentally as well as psychically.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Go Go Koh Lanta

These past few days have been a nice, relaxing break after the total gong show that was Koh Phi Phi. My liver has thanked me a little, but not a lot. I blame it all on the totally chilled out beach bar here at the resort. They play great music, beer is fairly priced and the staff are cool. One of them is worth mentioning for sure. He's this crazy Swedish guy; nobody really knows what he does, other than walking around entertaining everyone with his pitiful fire tricks, which include deep-throating a candle, running a candle along his forearm, and laying a lit cigarette in his hand and showing everyone that it doesn't burn him. Last night he put on a fire show that was so bad it was good. I doubt that somebody that drops the fire stick as much as he did can wield it safely.

Today I went out on a 4 island speedboat tour, my substitute for not being able stay on them due to the high prices. The first part was snorkeling at Koh Ngai, then to the Emerald Caves at Koh Mook, pictured below. Heading into the caves was pretty cool, at one point it becomes completely pitch black. The lagoon beach inside would have been much cooler had there been much less people. Then we went to Koh Kradan where we hung out on the beach and had lunch. This is where the weather turned to shit. One more stop for snorkeling at an island with a name I can't remember was the best part of it, with tons of colourful fish and jagged coral.

Tomorrow I do a ten hour journey to Koh Samui in hopes of finding some accommodation so I can use it as a base to hit up the crazy New Year's Eve party on Koh Phangan, which is supposed to be attended by thirty to forty thousand people! It's bound to be a gong show.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Happy Boxing Day!

Christmas in Koh Phi Phi has been a blast, to say the least! This tourist trap of an island has afforded me a fun Christmas, and the first time I've ever been drunk on Christmas Eve. I've met a ton of great people here. I was thinking about it last night, laughing to myself that this island is so small and social that just taking a walk down the street on the fourth day here I literally run into twenty to thirty people I know. For Christmas I did a snorkeling tour to Maya Bay, where the Beach was filmed. A great way to spend Christmas day in my books.

As fun as the partying has been, I have to extricate myself from it. I find I get caught up in that party groove, where its party until late in the night, sleep half the day away, nurse my hangover on the beach, eat, then repeat. I don't do much when this happens, nor see the sights I should be seeing. Partying wasn't the objective of this trip, so I shouldn't be letting it become a priority. Some friends have invited me to the New Year's Eve party of Koh Phangan but I'm not completely sure about that yet. My first objective of seeing the small islands in the south is something I really want to do and heading back north would nullify that.

Now I head to Koh Lanta to hopefully get some full nights of non-alcohol fueled sleep.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Hell Day

I'll start by saying the buckets full of alcohol, coke and red bull are the goddam devil. Being the responsible adult I am, I downed too many of them at a party last night in Ton Sai, completely slept through my alarm and missed my 9am boat to Koh Phi Phi that I had already bought a ticket for. I scrambled to the travel agency, hung over as hell, in an effort to find another way to get to Koh Phi Phi. The guy told me I could catch the 2pm boat out of Krabi, which meant I had to spend money to get to Krabi. I packed up all my stuff in a hurry and caught a long tail boat to Ao Nang, where I would catch a bus to Krabi. Halfway to Ao Nang I realized I forgot my passport in the room I had been staying at, so I had to go back to Ton Sai.

After that was all sorted out, I opted for going the Rai Leh way, which takes less time, something I didn't have much of. On the way the boat man reeled in the anchor right into my leg, cutting my foot. I finally got a boat to Krabi and managed to get a ticket for the boat to Koh Phi Phi, which was at 3:00, not 2:00. After all this shit mess I am finally in Koh Phi Phi. It's beautiful here, and I've managed to score a nice 300 Baht dorm, which is pretty cheap for this place. This day will be definitely put behind me and logged into the travel books. Hopefully tomorrow will be sunny so I can get some long overdue beach time.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Another travel lesson learned on this leg of the trip: Don't go out of your way to meet up with people. I broke my rule of no domestic flights in Thailand to meet up with a girl I met in India. The idea was we would travel together and I was invited to hang with her and a friend that was meeting up with her about five days later. She turned out to be a total flake when her friend changed her plans and showed up early and I was basically cast aside. Not a big deal in the books of Kyle, the only pissoff being the extra $50 I forked out and the slight deviation of my original plan.

I can't be too upset about the latter though, it brought me to this kick ass place called Ton Sai! It's totally awesome here, it's a climbers paradise, and there are tons of them. And they are totally chilled out, friendly people. I've met quite a few cool ones, and even took my own rock climbing course today! For less than $30 a guide took another German guy and I across the bay to a wall where we scaled three climbs, roughly about sixty to seventy feet of vertical. I did a lot better than I thought, finishing all three climbs without having to stop to rest. Apparently that's not bad since I've since heard of people not finishing them at all.

The weather here has been overcast and sometimes rainy the past few days so beach time has been a lost cause. I invested my money in a hammock that I strung up on my balcony and have been lately also investing my time in it. The place I'm staying has been great, my semi-outdoor bathroom seems to give me a story every day, whether it be the elf-sized toilet or killing cockroaches the size of the palm of my hand. Today took the cake though; I walked inside to have a post-climb shower. I turned my head to see a three foot Monitor lizard perched on top of the concrete wall about three feet from my face. I said 'oh shit', it said 'fuck this', and we parted ways. For anyone that doesn't know what a monitor lizard is, they basically look like small Komodo Dragons. I had a good laugh about that afterwards.

I'm off to Koh Phi Phi Don tomorrow, right next door to Koh Phi Phi Leh, the beach they filmed 'The Beach'. I'll stay there for Christmas, a few people I met there will be there as well so I'll have some people to hit up the reputable parties with.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Objective: Beach

We ventured out of Krabi today to Ton Sai Beach, about a forty minute boat ride away. The plan was the scope out accommodation there and check the beach out to see if it was worthy of our presence. It was. It's a rock climbers haven due to the limestone cliffs that tower over it. The climbers themselves seem really chilled out, as does the beach. It's probably not going to be the best beach I see in Thailand, the sand is a little rocky, but a cool place to chill out nevertheless.

It's very isolated, the only way to get in is by boat or a treacherous walk through around a limestone cliff. An ankle breaker to say the least, I might stay away from that one after walking it today. I didn't really notice, but decent, cheap internet access there could be hard to find so I might be posting from the next island I visit.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

No Problem

That two word combination that I heard the most in India, second to 'my friend', was the title of the movie I saw in Delhi in an effort to kill time before my flight. I only had enough time to stay for half of it, but for a two hour and forty five minute movie, that was enough time. It was so bad it was good. It's a total combination of rap video, Charlie Chaplin-type slapstick comedy and musical. The movie opens with a dance scene that looks like something out of a rap movie, with tons of bikini clad white women dancing around two ultra-creepy Indian men in Escalades. Then the rest of it is pretty cornball until the musical-like dance scene that looks like Grease on meth. Then the intermission happens. Yes, that's right, intermission! Only football games have half time in North America these days!

I'm now in Thailand after a hard 24 hours of traveling, including a red eye to Bangkok, a flight to Phuket and a bus to Krabi. I met up and am traveling with my friend Katrina, and in T-minus 1 hour we're going to make our way to a beach for some much deserved Thai beach time. Even after I left India it still wouldn't take it's slimy tentacles off me, the fast food I ate in the Delhi airport came up about an hour after I landed in Bangkok, immediately after a ninety Baht muffin at Starbucks. It's definitely a relief to be in a country with some order, and I'm glad I've only heard a couple horns honk in the time I've been here. Oh, and I took a bus here. And it was great. Booyah, India.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Wrapping Up the Indian Experience

Well this is it, my final 24 hours in India. After 2 months in this country there's definitely no lack of words for it. There is, however, one word to describe it: crazy! This country was a huge eye opener, socially and personally. For one, I found patience in myself that I never knew I had. Seeing all the poverty and corruption here definitely makes you appreciate everything we Westerner's have, even the simple things like running water or a piece of bread, because there are a lot of people here without the means for those simple things.

What I liked: The people. Despite the bad things I will mention in the next paragraph, the people here can be extremely friendly. You can be taking a walk down the street, and some random guy on a bike will give you a friendly hello and a big smile. I found Goan's to be the friendliest people I came across in India, especially the bar staff at the Opinal Beach Shack. I thoroughly enjoyed the diversity of India, every region holds a new type of architecture and a new type of mentality among the people. While it's always India, every place feels so different. The amount of colour here is staggering, my camera has never been put to work like it has here. The roads here are always a good laugh. Imagine a two lane road (what's a lane in India?) jam packed with trucks, buses, cycle rickshaws, auto rickshaws, cows, push carts, cars, people, and the occasional street dog and you'll have a view of the roads in India. Or seeing three people on a little motorbike, carrying sheets of plywood or whatever, always made me laugh. I never had a bad experience with the trains, so I must note this as the way to go in India. I'll also make mention of the food. The curries and samosas here are amazing, but I do have to say after two months of it I'm done for a while. The weather was great here, I enjoyed sunny skies and warm/hot weather %90 of the time. Definitely in my highlight list are the Camel Safar in Jaislamer, eating in the mess hall of the Golden Temple in Amritsar, the views of Udaipur from Sunset Point, chilling on the beach in Goa.

What I didn't like: The buses! BURN IN HELL, INDIAN BUSES! The pollution. It seemed like every street was lined with every kind of garbage imaginable, and whatever wasn't lying around was being burnt, plastics included. The air pollution gave me a cough that never left me the whole two months, save for a few days in Goa. The amount of shit and piss everywhere (not an understatement). The touts here are a pain in the ass, they can be incredibly persistent, and almost always try to rip you off. I'll die a happy man if I never have to hear a car horn again in my life. Or a guy trying to sell me hash! Seeing the diseased and disfigured people was never fun for me, I don't particularly enjoy seeing Human suffering, especially in that form. The efficiency of everything here is appalling. I'll use a restaurant as an example: for a ten table restaurant, there will be literally six people serving them. While I might say this is a bad thing, maybe it's good, because their laziness and ineptitude keeps everyone employed. Getting food poisoning and the shits sucked too, and the latter is not an uncommon problem.

Despite all the bad things I've mentioned, I did enjoy my time in this country and do not regret it one bit. Will I come back? It's a question I'm not sure if I can answer yet. Definitely not North India, I feel I've experienced that enough. While it's not high on my priority list at the moment, I would like to check out South India in the future. After two months here enduring everything that India can throw at me, I am ready to leave. Next stop is Thailand. I'm glad to be returning to a country with some hint of order, but leaving here I can confidently say traveling in India has left me a grizzled veteran traveler, ready to take on anything Southeast Asia can throw at me.

Days spent in India: 60
Money spent (minus gifts, books, etc.): Roughly $1465
Daily Budget: Roughly $24 per day

I could have done India cheaper. I was traveling alone for most of the time so that doesn't help things, and I never really cheaped out on accommodation. Food in Mumbai and drinking in Goa are what really blew my budget apart. A budget of $20 a day is very doable if you're willing to sacrifice a little bit of comfort.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Yes, It's December

Coming back to Delhi has made me realize how spoiled I've been the past couple months with the nice weather. I got off the AC car, where I had to wear a hoodie, onto the platform of the Delhi Train Station and I still had to keep the hoodie on. The constant 20 - 30 degrees C I've been used to has made me forget there's such a thing as seasons. It's only about 12 degrees C here during the day, which sucks because there's no heaters in any of the hotel rooms. I'm Canadian though, I can tough it out.

The train ride up here wasn't too bad considering the amount of mice that were constantly running around and over the feet of everyone in my compartment. When I got to my hotel I was happy to discover the only thing that made a home in my backpack during the trip was a giant cockroach. That was the last mistake it ever made. Now I'm back in limbo again, this time in Delhi waiting for my flight to Thailand on the 14th. I'm hoping to get caught up again on my picture uploading, but the wifi at my hotel is pretty spotty thus far. I'm seriously itching to get to Thailand, I've had my head in my computer for the past few hours looking up stuff about Thailand in an effort to make a plan with a friend that's already there. With a little bit of luck, and a bunch of Baht, I'll be on the white sand beaches of Thailand within a week.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Aurangabad Special

I'm all sighted up on Aurangabad. Did an 8 hour tour of every major sight in and around the city. We started with the fort (I can't remember the name), which was pretty cool considering all forts had become boring to me. The elaborate defensive network in it was what kept me interested, which included a dark labrynth designed to confuse invaders and lead them to chutes that fall into the moat. The next place was the Ellora Caves, the highlight of the tour. These caves are ancient Buddhist temples carved into the face of a mountain. Their sheer size and number were really impressive. Unfortunately we only had time to see four of them, but that number was enough for me to leave happy. The next places were somewhat of a drag. We went to the Baby Taj, a replica of the real thing. I'm going to call it the Knockoff Taj, because that's what it looked like. Then to some kind of flour mill thing, which was a total waste of time. The Ellora Caves were awesome though, and that's what counts.

I found out the Ajanta Caves are actually three hours one way from here, so I'm going to scrap my plan of visiting that, given my track record with Indian buses and the prospect of a six hour round trip. I found a movie theatre I might go catch a flick at tomorrow though. I'll probably stick to my room and the tv most of the day though, I've found Aurangabad really isn't that great of a city. It's kind of an anomaly actually, the service here is the worst I've had anywhere in India. I don't get it, but it actually is amusing how pitiful it really is.

I'll post an Ellora picture when I get to my hotel in Delhi, where I'll have wifi access.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Limbo Day In Aurangabad

I had planned to try to use my old railway career to my advantage and try to sweet talk my way into getting in the locomotive for my trip for Mumbai to Aurangabad, but the platforms at the Mumbai station are way too insane to spend any amount of time on. You just want to run for cover and hide. They hoard the second class people into revolving lines to keep order, but when they open the doors for the second class cars it's every man for himself, and everything degenerates into mayhem. I was quick to get into my 3AC car and out of the chaos. In terms of luxury, 3 AC class is definitely better than sleeper class by leaps and bounds! The windows are sealed so it's quiet, there's no beggers, everyone has a seat and bunk, and you even get your own sheets provided! I'm definitely glad that I got a 3 AC ticket for my 23 hour trip to Delhi on the 10th.

Aurangabad seems like a typical Indian city so far. I'm in limbo today since I booked a tour to the Ellora Caves tomorrow that includes all the sights in Aurangabad too, so today I'm just going to wander around and hang in my hotel. Speaking of my hotel, I seem to have stumbled upon a gem. It's relatively cheap, just under $10, but very not bad by Indian Standards. It even has a modernish gym! I'll definitely put that to use in the few days I'm here, and try to get the bod back in shape.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

T-9 Days

The plans are complete. I booked my tickets for my journey to Aurangabad to see the Ajanta and Ellora caves, then onward to Delhi, all by train. I'm extremely happy to say that my saga with Indian buses has finally come to an end, all further travel will be train only.

Speaking of which, my last train ride from Goa to Mumbai convinced me that I should note the effeciency of the rail system in this country. My train was scheduled to depart the station in Goa at 10:40. It was a single track line, and both trains pulled into the station at almost exactly the same time, a completely perfect meet. And we departed at exactly 10:40. I must say I am impressed on how timely things have been on my train travels. Hopefully this doesn't jinx me.

I finally managed to shake my food poisoning ailment, but still have to yet recover my full appetite. It's been a decent couple days in Mumbai. Two girls I met in Goa (one American, one Canadian) happened to be here too, staying right across the hall in the same guest house, so I've been hanging out with them. Today we went to the Hanging Gardens in Chowpatty. I'm not sure why they call it the Hanging Gardens, nothing was really hanging, just laying. It was nothing spectacular, but was something to do outside on a nice day.

I'm definitely happy to be making my last hurrah through India. Getting food poisoning definitely made me feel like it's time to leave India. Hopefully my last 9 days in India go smoothly and leave me with a smile.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Goodbye Goa

The past week and a half here was definitely a great way to get a much needed chill out after dealing with the rigors of North India. I've booked my flight out of Delhi to Bangkok on the 14th, so tomorrow I catch a train to Mumbai to start my journey north to Delhi. Unfortunately I feel completely out of it for my last day in Goa due to the bad case of food poisoning I got last night. I would have recommended the restaurant Double Dutch to anyone, but not after that nasty bout of sickness.

The last few days have been good times, hanging out with a friend from Brazil, getting drunk and attempting to chase women in the lame nightlife that is Arambol. I took a hike in the jungle with some German people to see the Smoking Baba, a holy man that sits under a big tree and just gets stoned all day. I guess being religious in this country has it's benefits.

I'm very anxious to head to Thailand, it's something I've been waiting for for a long time. Hopefully I'll be able to fill the next two weeks with some sightseeing, as I definitely do not want to spend a large amount of time in Delhi.