November 2018 - February 2021
Currently traveling
  • Day61

    An Extra Long Day To Myanmar

    January 18, 2019 in India ⋅ ⛅ 28 °C

    Today is our final day in Chennai and as we hadn't had a real bed in a while and check out at the hotel wasn't till 12pm we made the most of it and just lounged about, got our bags airport ready and then checked out. We had a few hours to kill but hoebstly there isn't anything to see or do in Chennai so we just ate a biryani, went to a juice place where I had a fruit salad and Will had a date and vanilla ice cream shake and we just sat and read for a while until we were falling asleep at our seat. We went to the airport early so that we could just sit there instead. There were various methods we could have taken but we decided to take the 1 year old metro line. Yesterday Imran told us that is still really clean, efficient and new because the locals don't want to take it, instead they all take the slightly cheaper local buses or trains. We didn't quite believe him as let's be honest no transport is actually empty in India... But wow, it actually was. When going down the esculator there was only the two of us until another family arrived a couple of minutes later.

    In half an hour we arrived at Chennai Airport with plenty of hours to spare, so we grabbed something to eat and then checked in. Luckily we ate before as once on the other side the choice was very limited and more expensive than in the UK!

    The flight was fine and we soon arrived in Bangkok at 2:30am where we found some chairs to sleep on before deciding our next move. To be honest I had some of the best sleep in a long time on the chairs. In the evening we have our flight to Yangon so we were contemplating going into town to sightsee but to be honest neither of us enjoyed Bangkok last time enough to go do a 2 hour return journey in,so we read our books ate and rested.

    At about 3pm we got the shuttle bus to DM Airport and it was loooong, but luckily AC'd.

    On arrival we charged our phones, had dinner and waited for the flight. When going to our gate it was absolute carnage. It was sweaty, hot and just a sauna of people with every square of floors and chairs covered with people. Air Asia had a few delayed flights... We went straight back up to the main section and found a seat there until last minute. Due to other delays ours was also delayed but luckly only by 20 mins.

    By the time we were in the air it was time to begin the descent with only an hour and 10 mins flight. And what a change. We had 20 mins to get through immigration, get cash and get to the bus stop for the last bus. Normally we would know it was impossible but we went for it anyway. Within 10 mins we were through!! We asked locals where the bus was and even a taxi driver and within 1 min we were waiting for the local bus. No scamming, nothing, just really smiley helpful people. We then jumped on a really modern bus with aircon and a local pointed put sights along the way. He was so sweet and even told the bus driver where we needed to get off so that he would stop for us. Within the hour we were checked checked in to our hostel and in bed. Absolutely amazing start to Yangon and our journey in Myanmar. Fingers crossed it stays this way, it could be our best month yet!
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  • Day59

    Whistle Stop Tour of Chennai

    January 16, 2019 in India ⋅ ⛅ 29 °C

    In the morning we got up and packed for our final journey in India. We started the day with yummy Egg Dosa and then jumped on our train to Chennai where we met Matty and Anna again! The train was empty the whole way so we were able to take the window seat and chill for the 4 hours.

    When we arrived we went straight to our hotel, had a bit of a back and forth with the owner with regards to the cost of our booking due to added taxes but eventually we paid the amount we set out to pay. All four of us freshened up in our room for a while before heading out for lunch. As always we chose the most busy looking restaurant and just pointed until we got what we wanted 😂

    After dropping Matty and Anna off at their hotel we decided to split up and myself and Will headed on a local bus to Arulmigu Sri Parthasarathy perumal Temple Divyadesam and then to the beach. I must admit after being on the bus and the walk to the beach I was done with Chennai. Of what I had seen so far the city was really dirty, smelly and with huge piles of litter everywhere. Finally we got to the beach and wow it was huge!! It's actually the longest beach in the country with a distance of 3.7 miles and it was packed due to it being the festival of Pongal.

    At about 5:30pm we met up with Imran, a couch surfer host. He picked us up in his car and drove us first to the lighthouse to see the city view of Chennai, Santhome Church and then Usman Road which had the biggest jewellers I had ever seen, some buildings were 10 floors high!

    For dinner he took us to Murugan Idli shop where we tried Idli, Onion Oothappam Ghee Masala and finally filtered coffee. It was the best Idli we had in India! Super yummy.

    We then went on a little drive and listened to Tamil and Hindi music, including a tamil rock song! We drove to 10 Downing Street for a drink, but it was closed! I was gutted as Imran said it was free drinks for ladies on a Wed! Then we tried Bike and Barrel, which was also closed. We then realised there was a ban on alcohol for the festival. 😯 Ah well, instead we went to try Sweet Pan which is a local digestive and mouth freshener before he dropped us back at the hotel.

    I wish I'd known more about Couch Surfing before we came out, it's such a great way of meeting locals!!!
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  • Day59

    A wander, sight seeing n lots of treats

    January 16, 2019 in India ⋅ ☁️ 22 °C

    After a couple of days of western food I'm in need of a change so I'm going to risk it again... Dosa, puri and Pudi Appam for breakfast? Sure! Yummy!!!

    Just as we were eating breakfast we both received confirmation of our visa so off we go in search of a printer to get our final admin bit sorted. We then went wandering, sat in a park to read about the dos and don't of Myanmar, saw a Hindu Temple, had a coconut and then it was time to indulge some more!

    First stop a chocolate shop. Now these specialist chocolates actually have pretty nasty tasting chocolate. They taste like the cheap advent calendar chocolate, but their cakes, we had the mocha cake, are pretty good and I went crazy and tried the hot chocolate which was equally scrummy!

    Next we went in search of some proper lunch and found another bakery. To be honest everything was over priced and not great looking so I just got a croissant to tide me over and Will got a Vanilla Éclair.

    For lunch we decided to head back to our breakfast place for biryani but it wasn't serving anymore so we ended up in an artsy cafe and had ratatouille baguette and overly peppered pesto pasta where we sat and planning Myanmar. Pretty excited for it now!

    Stuffed and high off sugar we needed to walk it off so we wandered along the beachfront, saw the French Monument, the old lighthouse and the famous Ghandi statue. Pondicherry reminded me a bit of Southport. It was very windy this afternoon and my flowy pants were just going crazy so we took cover in an Italian Gallery. No idea why it was in Italian or what the exhibition was about but hey ho it took us our the wind.

    We were both getting tired now and it was only 5:30pm so we began walking back, via gelato and decided to just have a small dinner of corn on the cob and channa puri. Hopefully my tummy is OK in the morning...
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  • Day57


    January 14, 2019 in India ⋅ ☀️ 28 °C

    Although very small, Pondicherry was the largest French colony in India.

    As we arrived just after 4am we had plenty of time to kill before we could begin looking for accomodation so we decided to walk from the bus station to the White Town. Seriously, yes, the western area is called the White Town and the Indian area the Black Town. When getting off the bus the smog in the air was ridiculous. Along the way we saw hundreds of piles of rubbish being burned. I'm not sure if it was to keep people warm or to get rid of it but it wasn't at all pleasant.

    When we finally arrived at the beach we pitched up a spot and Will went for a lie down while I sat and read keeping an eye on the luggage. It was a long long long morning... Eventually it was 7am so we checked at a recommended guesthouse for availability and they said come back at 8am. We did but they were full. Luckily he recommended another guesthouse just down the road and we were able to get a room there. Finally a bed!! As it was peak morning to be honest it wasn't at all peaceful so we both just napped on and off until it got too frustrating to sleep anymore. When we woke Will was in a lot of pain under his arms and he had huge red spots. They had appeared the other day but they were nowhere near as bad. Today is going to be a bit of an admin day first do our washing, then doctors, pharmacy to top up on our supplies and get a photo for our Myanmar Visa.

    It was 2pm by the time we were out and we were dying of hunger and "When in France", so we went out for a luxury Chicken Mayo Baguette and a Mushroom, Spring Onion Grilled Toastie at Cafe des Arts. Bread heaven!!!

    Cafe des Arts recommended to go to Clinic Nallam, to which we did and Will had all his medicine within the hour. Pretty good service I'd say.

    Next stop was to find a passport photo shop. We tried to find quite a few on Google and none of them existed so eventually we just asked around and found one straight away. It took quite a while to make her understand that we don't need anything printed and that we need an electronic copy on our phones for the evisa. Eventually we got there and it was all sorted. We have 4 days to get our visa approved... Eek!

    Now famished we were in search of something scrummy. We were wandering down the street and huge crowds were round Takka Pizza, well we couldn't say no could we. Initially it felt just like a Indian version of Pizza Hut, but actually the pizza wasn't too bad!

    Far too tired and full to handle anything else we wandered home via the beach in need of a good sleep.
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  • Day56

    Cafe Day

    January 13, 2019 in India ⋅ ☁️ 23 °C

    Today we had grand plans to go on an adventurous hitch hike and hike that Sonny told us about last night. But for once it was me that didn't want to get out of bed in the morning. Hats off to Will though, he got up and out for Sunrise! I'm a bit gutted I didn't now as for the days we have been here we've not had a very good view of the valley but he did this morning.

    As soon as he left I did get up and got ready thinking he would come back soon but he wanted to give me a lie in so stayed out. I wish we had 2 sims! I was inside our icebox waiting for hours. Ah well he had a nice morning hehe

    The rest of the day was spent eating and chilling in a cafe. The last picture is of a kid that got a mega paper dosa, zoom in, its huge!!

    We are both utterly exhausted now and the thought of coming home is now very high on our agenda. We can't wait to have a real bed, not feel constantly exhausted, not have a dicky tummy or the constant feeling of a cold. We probably sound like such ungrateful gits but let's just say travelling is not easy!

    At 6pm we picked up our bags and after 45 mins of not having a clue where the bus picks us up we eventually jumped on the bus and straight into our beds. Again we splashed out on the slightly more upmarket ones so we could get a good night sleep. Each bed had a TV and speakers and this time someone was actually using them to watch a crazy action packed bollywood film in the birth behind so that wasn't ideal for sleeping... It's now 3am and we all got woken up and kicked off onto a seated bus! 😭 Can someone let me sleep please...

    Tomorrow is going to be difficult.
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  • Day55

    Let's see where we can get to!

    January 12, 2019 in India ⋅ ⛅ 23 °C

    Umm maybe we should have found somewhere new to stay... Last night I swear I slept in a freezer. No matter how many layers I wore or how little I moved I could not get warm. But... at least we have a warm shower! So no we didn't move...

    Today we decided to go to the bakery in the morning as I was still not risking Indian food. So I had a very healthy breakfast of a pizza slice, chutney sandwich and muffin 😊 We met some travellers outside and soon got nattering and lost track of time. When realising the time we got up and decided to see how far we could get today as I was feeling much better. We walked for a while and then was able to hitch hike to the next town along. We then walked to all the various view points along the way. Wow it was busy!!! When we arrived at Green Valley it was hilariously foggy again. You couldn't see past the metal fence! Two minutes back onto the road and it's glorious sunshine but in the valley it was freezing and foggy. It was quite the sight. As we had no particular aim in mind we carried on walking past Pillar Rock, Gunan Cave and finally to Pine Forest where we sat and chilled for a while munching on snacks.

    In the evening we had planned to meet a couch surfing host for a drink so just before 3pm we decided to begin the journey back in case we couldn't hitch a lift. If we had to walk back it would have taken about 2 hours, so we were quite keen to hitch a lift if possible. We got onto the road and within 1 minute we were picked up by a family from Chennai who were so sweet and took us the whole way back to Kodaikanal. We were back by 3:15pm! We had a few hours to kill so we went to the cafe with a fire, had a hot chocolate and some chips and sat chatting to some guys from Watford who had just started their travels. They were definitely lads lads haha it was good fun.

    At 5pm we went to meet Rudy at his house. When we got there we were greeted by his wife as Rudy was still out on a run. He actually didn't get back till very very late, he ended up running nearly 100km! Instead Sonny and his wife kept us company and we had a good old chat about our travels, their travels and how they ended up in Kodaikanal. People are so fascinating! Rudy and his wife were both travelling separately and met in India. Since then they have never returned to Switzerland and have a beautiful semi detached cottage with Sonny as their neighbours. I'm so overwhelmed by everyone's openness and hospitality to strangers.
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  • Day54

    Ahh Crap...

    January 11, 2019 in India ⋅ ☀️ 23 °C

    By wearing all our clothes and not moving I was actually able to stay warm last night but wowzer was it cold in the morning in the room. Inside our room we wore all our layers, but as soon as we got outside we had to take it all off as it was actually warm outside. We went for breakfast at the same restaurant and just as we ordered my stomach went crazy. I had to run back to the hotel and it was not a good sight. Let's just say I had to also use a bucket when on the loo. If the room wasn't so cold I would have just got in bed and never got out. I was feeling so sorry for myself. I felt unbelievably drained, homesick and so sick of feeling ill. As I'd left Will at the restaurant and didn't have data I plucked up the courage to go back and I got so upset. Then when I asked for the bill the guy had put a few things that we didn't ask for on it. This can be quite common and they think that tourists will just pay. It was so stupid because we liked the food and would have been willing to come back everyday for breakfast but now he'd lost our trust. So I paid for what we actually had and walked out.

    I wasn't having a good day at all and I honestly just wished I was home. To top it off I was feeling so guilty because I was now ruining Will's day because I was so ill. He was amazing though and we just went back to the local bakery and he sat me there for a while. As I hadn't eaten he bought me some cookies water and some coca cola for my stomach. We sat for a while chatting and I slowly ate the food and got rehydrated again. At about 11am I was feeling a bit better so we decided to go on a little gander. We saw a church, a waterfall and then headed towards Mountain View. We stopped for lunch just before the hike down the valley and I had Smileys. Haha by this point the clouds in the valley had crept in and the view was absolutely covered in fog. We descended to the first view point and couldn't see a thing so sat for a while before deciding to abandon ship. We walked an alternative way back taking in a few more sights along the way and taking a lot of rests. After a while I started getting tired so we decided to try and hitchhike back. Hitch hiking seems to be pretty easy! I wish we'd done more of it. We soon got picked up by 3 teachers who brought us all the way back to town.

    For dinner Will had found a restaurant that had a fire so took me there for a mini and well needed date. I decided I was off Indian food for a couple of days and so I had a veggie burger with a runny egg and chips. I was in absolute heaven. A fire, a burger and my boy. What more could I have asked for. In the cafe they had a few books and I'd heard really good things about Who Moved My Cheese. As it was a short read we read it and as I'm attempting to get prepped for the real world again it was a fun insight back into the working world. I'd definitely recommend it. So even though the morning started off quite rough I'm glad I persevered and ended up having a really lovely day.
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  • Day53

    Kodaikanal - The "Lake"

    January 10, 2019 in India ⋅ ☀️ 23 °C

    We arrived at Kodaikanal at 7am and as I was woken to a guy yelling last stop I was very discombobulated when I got off. He kept hassling us for our hotel to which we didn't have one and then he kept saying oh I'll take you to one etc. I snapped... And said "I've literally just woken up, I don't even know where the hell we are and we need a couple of minutes to pack and get off the bus. Indians do not know how to leave you alone when they can see dollar signs in their eyes!! After a couple of minutes we were able to orientate ourselves and feel a bit more normal. We let the guy show us a hotel but we had to wait for a while to see the room. Huge crowds started pouring in and he said we should see a few other hotels, come back and then choose. So we did. We saw a few places but they were all pretty crap for the same price so we told the guy we would just go with the first one as it looked like a proper hotel. We filled in the guest form and when I said the agreed price was Rs 700 the owner said a flat no. He realised he could get a lot more customers for more expensive so he wasn't willing to bargain. Bear in mind we had been wandering round with our backpacks for about an hour now so I was not at all pleased. I found the guy who had supposedly negotiated this price and gave him a piece of my mind. It was an absolute waste of time so we walked off in search for ourselves. The guy kept following us and I as calmly and politely as I could told him to get lost haha He just wanted to gain commission and wasn't even showing us places within our given budget.

    We then sat on a step looked on line for a couple of options and decided to just go in and see if we could bargain. We went to a hotel called Jayaraj, we got the price down to 500 and then went to check out the room. It was freezing and very run down but meh. Just as I was about to say OK Will spotted mice droppings on the bed! So we quickly declined. He then showed us another room which was in a separate building. I must admit the room was knackered looking, but it didn't smell like damp like most of them, it wasn't really clean and it was even more of an icebox than the last, but it did have a hot water tank. We ummed and ahhed for ages and eventually just agreed as we were tired and in need of a shower.

    After a good freshen up and a few internal screams due to feeling so cold in the ice room we got out in search for breakfast. We had Pooris and lots of cải tổ warm us up while planning the day. The plan for the day is to attempt to find scooter hire for the next 2 days and just get our bearings around the lake.

    We went down to the lake and wow what a mess. Now to be fair Kodaikanal had been hit by a cyclone in November so it was very clear that they were still doing a lot of work to clear up the destruction, but our expectations of the "Lake" soon decreased. Sure it was a lake but it had tatty stalls all the way round, you couldn't actually sit down and enjoy the scenery because there was a huge fence around the lake. To be honest it was an absolute let down. We started walking around laughing at the situation when Will decided to turn it into even more of a comedy, by hiring a tandom bike. The tandom was definitely for kids and was hilarious. First Will was on the front and it went quite well. Then half way round we switched and I just couldn't steer properly. Will was so heavy on the bike and everytime he cycled he would bump his knee into my bum as he was too tall. I haven't laughed so hard in such a long time. All the locals were laughing at us along the way. It was great half an hour of fun.

    In the afternoon we went exploring up towards upper lake view and we sat drinking tea. We were having no luck with regards to getting a scooter and found out that the taxi union opposed scooter rental so once again the taxi mafia were able to do and charge what they like to tourists. We had quite a long walk back and decided to try hitch hiking. It worked! Some uni students in a jeep picked us up and brought us all the way back to town.

    We walked past the local bakery and it seemed super busy so we went in to see what was happening. Outside everyone was eating ice cream so obviously we had to try it too. The owners were soo sweet. They gave us overly generous tries of all the flavours, I must have had 2 scoops worth of tries, before I settled with a really yummy Pear ice cream. When paying they gave us a veg pastry on the house too. I'm obviously coming back tomorrow 😋

    We then went for dinner at a small cafe and had veggie burgers with nachos. To be honest it wasn't great but worth a try!
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  • Day52

    Whistle Stop Tour of Bangalore

    January 9, 2019 in India ⋅ ☀️ 26 °C

    😭😭😭😭😭😭 I did not sleep a wink. The entire carriage was full of fog horn snorers. Even Will decided to join in!! I felt like I'd been in a car crash when we arrived in Bangalore but I was determined to get on with it.

    We arrived at the station at 6.15am - still dark. We had no idea of what our plan was. Do we stay in Bangalore or do we make a move to the mountains in the south for a short stay. We stumbled off train and sat down with Anna and Mattay to gather our thoughts and drink chai while the cleaners cleaned up around us and constantly asked us to move. Eventually we came up with a plan. We were going to spend the day in Bangalore and get the night bus, our first night bus in India, to Kodaikanal which is in the Western Ghats. We also decided to make the most of being in Bangalore and set up a public hangout on Couch Surfing in hope of meeting a local and we soon organised a late lunch with a local family man.

    We had a morning to kill before meeting up with Mohsin so the four of us started walking across the city towards Cubbon Park, we didn't make it very far when Anna was feeling very very ill. I think she had what I had 😔 So we made it to Freedom Park and chilled out with them till about 1pm, when myself and Will decided to begin walking to MG Road to meet Mohsin.

    Along the way Will got talking to a nut job. Will was initially oblivious to his crazyness until he said he was 90 years old and looked 60 because he had never taken public transport in his life, he was British and that his name was Einstein Hyde and descended from the Hydes that made Hyde Park. Will finally realised he was crazy. Oh Will! After departing from the company of Einstein Hyde we saw the High Courts which was hidden within Cubbon Park. I wish Anna had been well enough to walk a tiny bit further as chilling in Cubbon Park would have been much nicer for her!

    Eventually we got to MG Road which is quite a hipster area. Mohsin told us that a Bangalore resident went to erurope and loved the European feel and decided to design the MG Road area in the same feel and style. Mohsin took us for lunch and we ate Paratha, kerela style chicken and Chicken Virnela. It was super tasty!! We all instantly got along and it was like we had known each other for years. After lunch we wandered around the area for a while and then headed for some local Indian sweets and then a coffee. Let's just say I was absolutely stuffed and on quite a low from the sugar, coffee and no sleep. Its incredible how much common ground you can find with absolute strangers. We must have been talking for hours. Eventually Mohsin had to leave to pick up his daughter and as Bangalore is so famous for its brewing we decided to go to Arbor where we ordered a taster tray of all the ales on tap. The original plan was to then go to MTR which is now a famous chain of Indian restaurants with the original one in Bangalore but we enjoyed Arbor so much that we just stayed and ordered surf and turf nachos! Heaven!!

    Finally it was time to jump into a taxi and catch our night bus. We had to wait around a lot and change buses, but eventually we were on the bus and it was surprisingly comfy, roomy, with bedding and even had a TV! Luxury.

    At about 2am I was dying for a wee. Unfortunately Will had taken a sleeping tablet, we were on the upper berth and I was on the window side so let's just say getting out of the bed was nearly impossible. Eventually I got down and headed towards the driver to ask him to stop. Just as I opened the cabin door his out on his break and I went flying into the door. I smashed my head, my left side and cut my toe open. After going to the toilet I had quite a big cry and passed out from the pain I think. Next thing I new it was morning...
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  • Day51

    Human Again - It's Scooter Time!

    January 8, 2019 in India ⋅ ☀️ 27 °C

    Finally I woke up clicking my heels ready for a day out! But.. Guess what, Will had a crazy fever last night so let's say it wasn't a great night sleep. The plan for the day is actually a tad busier than I would have wanted as we are leaving Hampi, but we have to leave at some point so today is the day. We have pretty much the whole day to enjoy Hampi before catching our sleeper train to Bangalore so we first went for breakfast with Sam and Tes and I was sooo excited to eat. I ordered veg and egg dosa and Will ordered veg pakoda and masala dosa. Then Will insisted he wanted to try driving a manual bike before he goes home, so we rented one. At first I must admit I was pretty scared but I soon realised it was just like being on a normal scooter, albeit a bit clunky with Will getting used to gear changes.

    We basically went the same route as the other day around the local little town, along the rice fields to the lake and then back. We saw some huge white bodied and black headed birds called Blackheaded Ibis, plenty of kingfishers, Bee-eaters, Egrets and much much more.

    Unfortunately we then had to get some late lunch before heading back to the campsite. As we got to the campsite we realised that everyone was sick! They had all been at the campsite all day being ill. I felt so bad for them and fully understood their pain.

    We quickly packed up, jumped on the bike and headed to the ferry terminal. As always travel can't go exactly as planned... There is a public transport strike so the buses aren't running. Obviously the rickshaw mafia became even more irritating as we got off the boat informing us of this and that they have now doubled the rate. Luckily for us we had left plenty of time to allow for such problems and there were 7 of us so there was plenty of time and room for bargaining. I just made sure that everyone was happy to go for some dinner first so we could let the rickshaw drivers sweat it out. They had openly told us that they were taking advantage of tourists in need to get a train and so we would just have to pay. I don't think any of them know me very well. We had swarms of tuk tuk drivers walk along with us each of them telling us there's no buses and that we must take their offer. I calmly said no thank you we are going for dinner and then we will go. This made them so irrate (to be honest I don't really know why...). So we did exactly that. We went for dinner at the bus stand amongst all the rickshaw vultures. Each time they tried to negotiate pricing I strictly asked them to go away and that we were eating, they soon realised they would get zero business if they carried on. Just as we finished one guy walked past me and matched the offer I asked for so we got up and went 😊 Oh the power of time.

    We arrived at the station with plenty of time to spare and said our goodbyes to Sam and Tes. Mattay and Anna were catching the same train as me so we all just chilled and eventually got on our train where I jumped straight into bed.
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