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SILVER Member since Apr 2002


Carpal \'Tunnel
Location: United Kingdom

Total posts: 15414
Posted: C@ntus has been sending out emails to some of the UK Massif' and telling (rather funnily) his and hers adventures .

Thought i would be helpful by Posting them all up in CHRONOLOGICAL order.

Here they be.

1. Erm..I seem to be in India

Ok so i'm here in India. Been here for about.....erm, some hours. Everything is a slightly fuzzy blur as yet. Strange sounds, a weird clash of people from every side and a very peculiar smell.

Have only been hit by one bicycle so far, touched by one beggar (complete with a generous collection of skin diseases) and shouted at by 15,000 street urchins, vagrants, shop vendors, weird beardie men selling badminton rackets and/or chess sets and various sundry other colourful characters.

Oh and a cow mooed at me.... the brazen suede coated devil

Haven't actually slept since before i left England. Hopefully I'll manage to fall asleep at some point - although we seem to be staying in the noisiest hotel in the world (which Ros swears is quiet) so my hopes aren't high.

The flight was fun, we passed over a storm at one point during the night and I saw, what i can only assume was, lightning viewed from above - a bizarre crackle of lights hazing through the cloud below us, like so many twigs on a tree...
then early this morning (english time) the plane chased the rising sun which was also spectacular.

Ok gotta go cos this is costing me money and I think the fluffy one wants to send emails too.

Love and hugs and taxi shaped bruises
Cantus J Fraggle esquire

2. In search of Bims and Gomps....

Am currently in a place called McleodGanj and the Himalayas are just over there ---->.
This is where all the tibetans fled to when the chinese chucked them out. The Dalai Lama's house is over that way <----- Haven't seen him as yet, not sure if he realises i'm in town or else you'd think he'd have popped round to see us by now....

The town is absolutely heaving with monks and it's tricky enough to avoid being hit by motorised rickshaws without this town's added challenge of not touching lepers as well....

I shan't dwell on the lepers as I'm sure you've eaten recently and would prefer not to see your food once again. But suffice to say "eeeekkk!! that mans got a bendy leg and many stumps on his hands instead of fingers....." etc etc etc (every 5 yards or so)

We're staying at a hotel run by tibetans called the Ashoka guest house. It has hot water and a bed (of all things) and a view of a bleeding great mountain replete with monastry and a gazillion little buddhist flaggy things.

Food is good - meals seem to be working out at about a quid (no pound symbol on these keyboards) for a 3 course meal - so adam would be happy.

Have bought 2 nice shirts for myself for around one pound fifty each. So it's lucky i didn't pay 20 quid to have some made back in england....

Josh and Kate are also in town so yesterday we wandered up a mountain near the the next vilaage and had a picnic and a Poi spinning session (everyone else wants to call it PiM - Poi in McLeod - my vote goes with PHUaM - Poi halfway up a mountian). Josh, very cleverly i thought, remembered to brings sticks so i was a happy stick spinning fraggle once again.

Tonight we're going back up and spinning fire at sunset near to a waterfall - which promises to be exciting.

In the name of experimentation i ate something called potato ping for dinner last night. I don't know if you've ever tried chewing a handful of elastic bands but it's not a sensation i would recommend in a foodstuff. Luckily the potatoes were included in the dish or else i'd still be chewing it.

Ros promises to take me to a pretty waterfall near here soon. The other day we went to one waterfall were she spunned my flags until a group of Punjabi boys started throwing stones at us so we stopped.
Anyhoo, it turns out they weren't being malicious they were simply trying to attract my attention to ask permission to come and chat. Which was an interesting approach i thought.
None of this walking down and asking business for them. Oh no. They decide to start off on a good footing by chucking pebbles at us. You have to admire that kind of ingenuity.

Well, apparently my internet cafe experience is drawing to a close once again so I must take my leave of you

Have fun and I'm bound to write to you again soon.
love and hugs
Cantus J Fraggle

3. Rickshaw - only 10 rupees 1 hour.....

Well, contrary to popular disbelief, we haven't in fact disapeared from the face of the planet (and thanks must go to my father and brother for their apparent concerted disinterest in my welfare). We have simply been in an Internet wasteland for a week or so.

When I last emailled you I believe we were still in the mountains. Now we are in the hot,deserty lands of Rajasthan. And much has happened in the meantime.

From McLeod we journeyed down the mountain to a nasty stinky town called Dharmsala (famous for nothing). Then from there via a drafty bus with some Israelis who didn't understand the idea of tying their luggage to the top of the vehicle (and subsequently lost it all). They had to disembark to collect it again. The next bus being the following day, at 5am and they were in the middle of no where. Still could have been worse - it could have happened to us.....

At the end of the bus journey was Amristsar - the Sikh's holy city, 18 million of them and us. Cosy to say the least!
We stayed at the Golden Temple. No mattresses on a hard wooden bed in a noisy, light polluted room that looked like a very tall prison cell. But it was rent free and we could eat 24 hours a day for free also (although they did expect a hefty donation at the end of our stay).

From Amristsar we then took a 12 hour train ride to Agra (where the Taj Mahal lives). Here they run a clever scheme in which to prepay for your rickshaw at a government booth. This is in order to stop the touts and ripoff merchants from....well, ripping you off. It doesn't work, however, as the touts now drive the rickshaws and they still blag you as much as they can.
When we finally got to the Taj Ganj district (where we planned to stay) after a 35 minute arguement with the rickshaw crook over why the hotel run by his brother wasn't the one we paid the nice government man to go to, we were much flustered. This meant that we accepted the 1st room we were shown. I can't say it was roach infested. The carthorse sized wasps having scared all the roaches away. But it wasn't as nice as the price tag suggested.
2 days later we found a cheaper place, with hot and cold running television, comfy matresses and a normal toilet (those of you familiar with the India pit, tap and bucket system will know how nice it is to find a western one occasionally) all for rs150 a night.

We visited the Taj Mahal - as it didn't appear to be bothering to visit us - it was much bigger than it seem on postcards ( i suspect mr perspective has a hand in that but i can't prove it) abd also cold and white. Made of marble (as every indian within the city limits would tell me).
We also went to the Red Fort. which, as it's name suggests is a fort that is red.
The day after took us on a dusty coach to Fatepur Sikri - where muslims tried to con us into buying marble effalumps and guides pestered us to let them show us the sites in accents that didn't bode to well for our ease of understanding.
I bought a present for my brother from one man - mainly because he'd amused me by bartering with himself and eventually selling it to me for one sixth of his original asking price. Bargain.

Back in agra a nice man in a nice cafe sold us bus tickets on a luxury, air-conditioned coach to Jaipur (capital city of rajasthan). He promised a nice 4 hour journey, friendly service and a relaxing time all for a mere rs 220.
He turned out to be a pathological liar.

It was a bus in the loosest sence of the word. It had 4 wheels and about 3 drivers (an indian thing they share the driving and bus conducting between themselves). It was drafty, nasty, full of starey indian men, definitely not luxury and the trip took at least 8 hours. Aside from that it was fine.

So here we are in Jaipur.
Today we visited the royal palace. Which seems to be guarded by all the freaks and uglies from here abouts. They even have their own guard dwarf. I have photos of him to make sure it wasn't a dream.

Tomorrow we head north to Jhunjhunu - it promises painted wells and pretty colours, sand, camels, sand and more odd people. Oh and sand....

So that's it. I must be away. Apologies if this missive is short and/or hard to read but it's hot here, the fans aren't working and a disturbing hindu man with a ropey moustache keeps coming and looking over my shoulder.

Not sure when we'll next get to write to you. Josh and Kate say that net access in rajasthan is good. But as it took us 4 hours to find this place my hopes aren't high....

Anyhoo, til next time
love and bundles of hugs (plus huggles of bunds)
Cantus J Fraggle and 1 Napalm Fairy of the fluffy variety.

4. computerisation is on the anvil....

ok here's the latest plot summary.....we are now in Jaisalmer - home of sand and big suspicious lump-backed horsies (known locally as camels). A local man yesterday looked really surprised when i told him that we don't have camels in england, except in zoos (and for special occasions). This was after I had derrided India for not having very exotic birds, being as we were presently surrounded by a great deal of sparrows, pigeons and a couple of large and menacing looking jackdaws.

by the way if this email reads a little weird it's due, in part, to the fact that a large,obese israeli just sat at the next pc and he makes a disturbing grunting noise every time he presses the return key.

meanwhile back at the email....

ok since I last wrote we've seen (and nearly got trodded on by) real live Indian effalumps. A whole big line of them resplendant in their livery and bedecked by dozens of snap happy and, above all else, too wealthy for their own pockets, western tourists.The effalumps were carrying said tourists up a big slope to an enormous fort near Jaipur.

And the fort itself was fantastic. My father and brother will be so jealous. We have many photos of the place. We spent many hours exploring the labyrinthine passages hat the guides wouldn't take their parties down for fear of losing them. We figured if the guides didn't go down them then they must be good. We were right).

Whilst in Jaipur, we aslo went to the city palace that housed the largest collection of arms and armour that I've yet seen any where. Photography was strictly forbidden on pain of camera death but the fluffy one sneakily risked one shot of a two giant rifles either side of the entrance way.

Leaving Jaipur by bus we travelled to Jhunjhunu - the unhappiest place on earth. Our first experience of which was a taxi driver who laughed in my face when i paid him 10 rupees to take us from the bus stand to our chosen hotel, then sped off intpo the night. Funny chap.

Our "chosen hotel" turned out not to be, as it was over priced and we couldn't understand the man in reception. We wandered across the road to and got a cheap deal on a room in the local flea-pit guest house where the man in reception couldn't understand us.

After a few days in hell....i mean Jhunjhunu we decided to cut our losses and move further into the Shekawati region (Northern Rajasthan) to a town called Mandawa. Where we stamped up and down the main street in the searing midday heat looking for a hotel which turns out not to exist (thanks Lonely Planet guide for Places to stay in Rajasthan for that little gem). Then we were found by 2 very helpful, friendly, well spoken and, as it turns out,money hungry and theiving young men. Who helped us to find an english speaker who gave us free chai and let us sit in his air conditioned shop for a while before sending us off to the Hotel Shekawati.
There they showed us a wonderful room, spacious and inviting with a large en suite bathroom (which actually had a bath in it!!)
The only trouble was it was way out of our budget.

Then they showed us their cheapest room. Which was scary. So we asked to see their mid priced one. Did a bit of bargaining and got it for about 75% of their asking price.

Very friendly staff and only slightly poisonous food (giving me an opportunity to quadruple check exactly how many tiles there were on the bathroom walls). Plus were befriended by a local guide whose name we think was either Ghyrder or Gopal - he didn't really help us on that front - but was generally called Lucky by every one so that made it easier.

To say that he was sad and lonely would be an understatemnt. He spent most our the chats we had with him bemoaning the fact that he didn't have a girlfriend or sulking because he thought we didn't like him.

He did, however, make us a matched pair of bamboo twirling sticks. Big thick stems of locally grown bamboo trees not the thin weedy stuff that we grown beans up at home (in case you were wondering).

We spent the days wandering the streets, looking at Havelis (painted masion houses) and getting angry with some of the stupidest and rudest Indian men we have met so far). We spent the nights sitting on the hotel roof looking at the stars and listening to the discordant row produced by Indians celebrating unknown events that was preventing us from sleeping and forcing us to sit on hotel rooftops.....

From Mandawa a 4 hour bus ride took us to Bikaner and some of the strangest rickshaw drivers in the world. Here they are cut throat and will all stand round under bidding each other for you fare. Which is quite refreshing after the rest of india were they seem to all be in league with each othewr in an effort to rip you off..

We found a nice hotel which would let us stay in a veritable suite for a mere rs 300 a night. Huge room, massive comfy bed, sofa, 2 chairs, colour tv with sattelite tv (including BBC news - yay - now I know that the uk has been hit by storns and that England beat france in the rugby (my family have been somewhat remiss in their regular news update emails of late or in fact ever....)
En suite bathroom with actual bona fide hot water.

And a massive roof to spin on!!!

We spent a few lazy days there, pausing briefly to be ripped off paying the entry fee to the wankest fort in india (and attached rubbish craft museum) and visiting the rat temple at Deshnok. Where the rat is venerated to the point that thay are every-bloody-where. running around fighting playing eating at drinking oblivious of the people who are living with (and sometimes under) them.

Then we journeyed 7 hours to come here. But that news must wait til my next email as I fear that my net time is up once again.

So until the next missive 1001 hugs and kisses to many of you and 554 hugs and a shiny pebble to the rest
Cantus J fraggle and 1 fluffy napalm fairyette.

5. camels are less exciting than you'd think....

Hello. Not written for a few days due to unforseen circumstances. We've both been ill. I was very sick and the fluffy one decided that she had to go one better and get extremely sick. it was very scary for a while but we have some medicine (i get 6 tablets a day and ros has to take so many she rattles when she walks) and we are both recoving nicely now.
Today is our first day out of the hotel in a while. Ros decided she was well enough to go out for a walk. So here we are - emailing.

When i last wrote to you we were in Jaisalmer. this email finds us still in Jaisalmer. Don't know if I mentioned it earlier but we've both been ill.... I can see from your faces that you know it already so I'll move on.

Since we last spoke we've been on a camel safari. We were setting off a day late as i'd got sick the night before we were meant to leave. We thought i was getting better so we set off anyhoo.
So we breakfasted, checked out of the hotel, took a jeep driven by a madman out into the desert and waited on a dusty road for the camels to arrive.

Luckily we weren't bored as some local children, idling on their way to school, and an elderly goat herder arrived to try and poison us with berries from a nearby bush. Ros palmed hers and only pretened to eat it. I wasn't so smart. It tasted like a very under-ripe cherry. Shan't be eating one of those again in a hurry.

Finally the camels arrived, accompanied by an enormous band of french canadians. Luckily the canadians were at the end of their safari and we escaped with only having to talk to one of them.

Getting on a camel is really easy. You simply climb on it and sit still. Staying on the stupid beast is wholly different affair. They're lumpy, awkward, they move in bizarre directions and they stand up in stages - jerk, lurch, jolt, jolt , jerk. You must lean back or plummety doom and a mouthful of desert awaits you!
Luckily i was leaning back when mine "leapt" up.

So we got up and we set off (not pausing to say goodbye to the canadians who were still resolutelty insisting on being both french and canadian in the same sentence). We walked - or rather the camels juddered - to a watering hole where some local women pissed themselves laughing at the westerners (that's us) and and tried to get ros (that's ros) to carrying some water for them.

Then we led the camels to the nearby village where some very bored looking locals let us look at their houses and take pictures of them. A baby cried. It obviously knew that our safari wasn'ty going to get much better.....

So back onto the camels. Juddery jolt for an hour or so to a clearing where we stopped for lunch. It was here that i realised i still wasn't well. A point several forays off into the desert, to did little holes, confirmed for me. I was, it turns out,doing better than the fluffy one who had started to look a little green.....

Soon after we set off again. Ros had come to an understanding with her camel. She would give it instructions and it would flatly ignore them and drag her through bushes. My camel (who i decided to call Julian - as i couldn't remember the name the guide had made up) had taken to stopping randomly so that the camel behind walked into his bottom. No one knows why.....

more plodding, interspersed with dung beetles, random straw structures, a crop circle and trying to convince julian that left was rubbish and he should actually go right like all the rest of the camels, and we reached a big sand dune. this is where we to set up camp. It was also, it turns out where we to cut short our trip.

Night fell quickly. Fluffy fell ill. Very very ill. The guide very helpfully decided she was scared of the dark and ignored her plight. The guide tucked us up in blankets and left to have fun with the other guides from all the other parties that were staying in various places on the dune. Racked with pain and constant sickness ros tried to sleep.

She managed about 1 hour all night. In the morning after several very odd conversations I finally persuaded the guide that he should go for help.
He left.
Without telling us.

Leaving us alone on the dune. Whilst ros tried to sleep in the shade of a spiky-death tree I busied myself with exploring the dune. It was big and sandy. Much as you'd epect.

It was then I hit on the ultimate entertainment. I decided to bury a wild dog that was sleeping nearby in sand. After some initial consternation from said animal it agreed to lie there and be buried. In total I managed to cover about one fifth of the beast. I think if there were a world championships I would be worthy of at least a bronze medal for that little effort.

eventually, after 3 hours the guide came back and said that the jeep was coming to collect us. So he sulkily loaded up the rest of his camels. The jeep duly arrived and we rode our camels the 200 yds to where it was parked (partially so that we can say that we both began and ended our safari on camel-back, but mainly because the fluffy one couldn't walk 5 paces unaided, let alone down the sheer slippy side of a big sandy dune).

Then we were rushed back to our hotel. Or at least that was the plan. Unfortunately they'd sent a jeep driver who couldn't actually drive a jeep. Which to makes me think he was in the wrong line of work and perhaps his job title should be changed to something more fitting like "bloke with moustache".
Luckily he was able to flag down a passing vehicle and get them to ferry us back to our hotel, where we were met with friendly, if a little panicky, faces, our own room from the day before (replete with a shiny new tv set) and big fluffy duvets.

We didn't sleep at all that night. Ros was very ill and waht seemed like every indian and his brother had gathered outside our room for an all night shouting contest. Well they had to shout as their tv was so bloody loud they needed to yell to be heard. So it was fair enough really.

Next morning I asked for a quiter room. I was shown an equally noisy one. I asked for a quieter room. Eventually I convinced the manager that the quiter room upstairs would be quiter as it was further away from the source of the noise. He didn't look convinced but said that we could move upstairs after the boys had finished cleaning the room.

We moved. There was no tv. We stared at the walls for a few hours. The monotony happily broken by mad dashes to the toilet and feeling sorry for ourselves. I went and asked for a tv.
A 3 man comedy team turned up with a tv and a table. Much hilarity ensued. To tell a long story more succinctlier the power cable on the tv was too short to reach the power outlet. 3 indian brains did battle with logic trying to work out how to plug it in. Logic won. A new tv was fetched and all was right with the world.

I felt much better but ros' health was rapidly deteriating. We were both really scared. A doctor was summoned and prescribed half a pharmacy for her. She rapidly improved.

So now, here we are. Out and about. Emailling with gay abandon. One more day of pills left. Both on the mend. Didn't get to finish the camel safari but like I said camels are less exciting than you'd think. So we don't mind all that much.

Anyhoo another email session has wend it's way to a close. I'll write again soon (hopefully with less near death experiences in the next one)

Bye for now, stay healthy
love and hugs
1 not so sickly Cantus J Fraggle and his much less green looking Fluffy napalm fairy

and thats all of them.


Delete Topic

Doc Lightning
GOLD Member since May 2001

Doc Lightning

HOP Mad Doctor
Location: San Francisco, CA, USA

Total posts: 13922
Posted:Aww, I miss our fraggle. So glad to hear they're having fun and that they both survived their bout with tourista.

That's one reason I try to avoid third-world countries. I've done my share of traveling through them (especially South America) and I seem to have a knack for getting sick. I figure that if I'm going on vacation, I want to enjoy myself, not spend half the day on the toilet rubbing my bum raw with single-ply toilet paper.

I now restrict my travels to places where I can drink the water. Although soon the wanderlust will hit me again and I'll need to go gavalanting off into some new and yet unvisited hive of infection. rolleyes

-Mike )'(
Certified Mad Doctor and HoP High Priest of Nutella

"A buckuht 'n a hooze!" -Valura


Kinudin (Soul Fyre)

Location: San Diego, California, USA

Total posts: 1325
Posted:From what I read, it didn't seem like they were having fun ... glad they're okay (well better) and safe is more like it.

Glad to hear from you guys! biggrin


SILVER Member since Apr 2002


Carpal \'Tunnel
Location: United Kingdom

Total posts: 15414
Posted:Latest email has arrived (sorry its a bit late)

So here we are in peaceful Pushkar (permanant population 34,000 + 2000 Hindu pilgrims, several hundred western tourists and the entire youth of Israel). Internet is cheap, are mere rs 10 per hour. So i don't really mind having to type the entire bloomin' message again.
Our room is very reasonably priced - although we had a minor upset today when we could of slept in a veritable palace if we'd been a tad more patient. But still nay mind. Or room is compact, bijou and tastefully decorated (and all those other phrases that estate agents use to say that the room is small, slightly gaudy and was decorated by a half-blind loony with a wall hanging fixation).
Cheap though. And the rooftop eatery is handy for monkeys to chat to/sit with/draw/feed/etc - so I'm happy.

Pushkar lake is one of the Hindus holiest places and as the title suggests is sited around a big lake. Swimming is prohibited in the "holy land" but paddling/bathing near the edges is allowed for the devout. And devout you would need to be judging by the size of the turtles, snakes and stinking great fish that live in the waters....
You can't go near the edge with shoes on - you must remove them 40ft from the water. Although there is some debate amongst the locals as to how far 40 feet actually is.

As the afternoon comes to it's end and the sun begins to slip over the horizon anybody who is anybody (plus all the Israelis you could ever hope to meet, several you'd wish you hadn't and their annoying mate with a guitar) gather at the Sunset Cafe to watch, well, the sunset obviously.

We've also found that it's a good place to piss off a local entrepaneur who is teaching Poi for 100 ruppes per hour. Ros has been teaching people for free. He has paid her back by pinching some of her moves. Silly man thinks this is a bad thing to do. Indians are a funny bunch....

we've found a staff maker who has made us a nice 5ft long staff from bamboo. then we took him the matched sticks we got from Mandawa and got him to put grips and faux wicks on the ends.
Then, when we went back to pay him for his service (and drink the obligatory free chai that shopkeepers give you in the name of hospitality), he presented us - mainly Ros - with a beautiful pair of short black twirling staves. they have hand wound grips and gold inlays. They are perfect for spinning and must have taken him days. we are well chuffed. Ros takes them everywhere with her....she lets me look at them occasionally though...

We've been here for a little over a week now. Getting lazy, watching the world go by (and the sun set) and tomorrow is time for us to leave once again. We are muchly sad. We've have loads of fun here (and i got to sit with langur monkeys and feed them etc. ros has many photos. We will force you to see them some time). Annoyingly we also found a new english friend yesterday. If only he had turned up a week earlier and given us someone other than all the israelis to talk to (i am currnetly flanked by two of them. one of whom is writing on the keyboard in red marker pen so that all the english keys are surplanted with hebrew).
I'm sure they're lovely people but i wouldn't let my brother marry one....although they travel in packs, so he'd have to marry 8 of them. Which would be very crowded. but i digress....

erm where was I?

Oh yes, tomorrow we leave and head south to Udaipur, then across some mountains to Mount Abu. Short stay then we go south again for several very long bus and train journeys til we reach Gokarna (4hrs south of Goa) where we stay for xmas and new year.

We've finally got all our train tickets sorted so we can just relax into travelling (although relax is the wrong word when you're talking about 20 hour train journeys but you know what i mean).

Anyhoo, my internet session is at an end again so I'll take my leave of you.
love to all who want it, ducks and balloons to all who want those and a radish some where painful to the rest of you

hugs and banjo players (very bad indeed)
Cantus J Fraggle, an israeli girl with a marker pen and a fluffy napalm fairy, near a holy snake infest lake, some where in Rajasthan.


SILVER Member since Aug 2003


Location: nottingham, england. cornwall ...

Total posts: 469
im stunned, it all sounds amazing, especially to me who has never been travelling.
im off in march latest with me and my stffing mate jordan, dont think we are going quite as far afeild (i take on board the bottom and 1 ply toilet tissue advice) so mainly round europe.
damn those pesky camels.
i eagerly await the next installment of the saga.

my original signature was tooo long.
this one is shorter



Location: Crawley

Total posts: 80
Posted:Wow. i find these stories fascinating. They are so lucky being free enough to go travelling.
Do you no how long they are in india for. Are they going further a field. When will they be back etc


SILVER Member since Apr 2002


Carpal \'Tunnel
Location: United Kingdom

Total posts: 15414
Posted:As the title of the email suggests there are in fact crows in paradise. I know that cos I'm currently there (should that be here?) Or at least in the next best place. Gokarna, West coast of India, 4hrs south of Goa.

Miles and miles of sun kissed, palm-fringed beaches. replete with coconuts, cheap drinks and more spinners than you shake a stick at.
So far we've met a girl called Phoenix who claims to be on COL2, an melbournite boy called craig who says he's seen Bender spin at parties (although he described him as "that crazy kid with the cats eyes" it sounded enough like Mr Bender for me), a german HoPper who claims to never have heard of me - i plan to drown him at the next available opportunity - and various other spinners most of whom Ros is regularly teaching Poi.

Ok a brief summary of travels to date - we left Pushkar (possibly on the right day. I can't remember. Ask ros for details of stuff like that - she's in charge of planning and generally knowing what's happening. I'm in charge of pointing at things and saying "ooh!!")
We then travelled to Udaipur, which is a big, pretty, hilly city with some lakes and palaces and things. It's where the filmed the James Bond film Octopussy (well the indian bits anyhoo. The german bits where filmed in Germany and Pinewood Studios I expect). If you ever visist Udaipur you will be told about Octopussy approximately 34 times a day so you don't really need to remember the fact.
I spent a lot of my time pretending not to have actually heard of the film, or indeed James Bond. Much mirth.

We plaaned to stay slightly longer there but the hotel was run by nutters who made our stay unpleasant, forcing us to move out.

From there we journeyed to Mount Abu. India's favourite honeymoon destination. Filled tro overflowing with young Indian couples looking dreamily at each other and trying to pretend that the girl that they've been forced to marry is much nicer than the girl from the cake shop, they've moping about for 3 years......

Don't have much time left (due to stupidly slow connection on this pc). So I'll briefly say: mountain, pretty lake (with crocodile) Israeli boy swimming in lake, walk dowmn maountain. beautiful Jain Temple spoilt by horrid Indian tourists/guides. Repeat of Jaisalmer illness, then 36 hour bus and train journey south.
And let you fill in your own details. Try not to make your version too funny or i shall feel inadequate in the hilarity stakes. Thanks.

Anyhoo, we got here to Gokarna. Spent a day or so in the town. I realised I was sick and couldn't go anywhere but the hotel room. Ros decided she wanted to move to the beach.

We walked across the stupidly hot headland to the beach and scouted out hotels - or rather ros scouted whilst I lay collapsed on a rock in the shade, feeling decidedly shitty.
Ros found a room and agreed that we would move in the next day.
Later we went to the doctor who said I was too sick to go anywhere and immediately put me on an IV to replace my lost body fluids and fill me with antibiotics.
After 3 days of tests and more IV lines he said that I "probably" was cured of my amoebic and bacterial dysentry and was free to leave. So we left.

eeek, only 4 mins left. Erm I'm fine now. Can eat anything. we swim in the sea every afternoon, and spin on the beach every evening. Ros is teaching everyone Poi. One of her students is teaching her yoga. We broke our alarm clock and so are relying on my body clock to get us up every day (luckily my bladder wakes me up every day at 7am). sand is everywhere, in and on everything. It's sunny and warm and we've been invited for christmas pasta with 2 hippies on xmas day (I plan to eat chicken, as there's no turkey here, before we go).

I've bought xmas pressies for dad, adam and catherine, but due to the postal service you won't get them til about march.

Messy christmas to everyone, be they tubby, beardie, stick or Poi obsessed, ashen, ANAL or Orange.

I'll try and write another missive before new years day.
love to everyone
Cantus J Fraggle


SILVER Member since Apr 2002


Carpal \'Tunnel
Location: United Kingdom

Total posts: 15414
Posted:next installment now:

And so as another christmas passes us by and the last days of the year ebb away once again, a young fraggle's thoughts naturally turn to......the fact that it's my birthday in a little over 2 weeks. I plan to be 3 years old this time.

Anyhoo, as I told you all in the last email we're in paradise. We live right by the sea on a beach called Kudle. There are many crows (I think I told you that), white sands, palm trees, thousands of crabs, pretty shells - there are a few left but ros has collected most of the others - sunbathers, lots of spinners, jugglers and devil stickers. every morning and evening the beach is thick with nutters doing yoga - I stay out of the way, busying myself with odd things like sleep and breakfasting (in the mornings), swimming and not laughing at the nutters (in the evening). There are also alarming numbers of birds of prey. Yesterday when we were having a PoB (Poi on the Beach) a rather large osprey swooped down and picked up a twig. We think he may have been trying to join in the stick spinning fun.....

Recently Ros decided - despite my protestations - that I should try growing a beard. This I (eventually) thought was ok as our guesthouse seems to be completely devoid of mirrors, and indeed, reflective surfaces, leading me to believe that the hoteliers are trying to encourage vampires to frequent the place. After 2 weeks of beradage she came to the conclusion that I do (as I said from the start) just look like my dad and, quite frankly, altogether too beardie to be at all healthy.
So we shaved it off.

Our hotel is something of an international love nest. next door to us is a middle aged couple made up of a german woman and her italian boyfriend, next to them is an italian girl and her cockney boyfriend. On the next level up there is a very odd german girl and her italian heroine addled boyfriend. even the slovenly English boy up there has found himself a mediterranean love - although she does bring new meaning to the phrase face like a bulldog licking piss off a nettle....
A french boy (who doesn't appear to own a single shirt or anything to cover his chest in any way) is flirting himself round the entire beach. An Indian girl moved in with her obviously german husband, but swears that he's just a very pale-skinned Indian.....
oh and the Indian boys that run the place will try their luck with any westerner that is even vaguely feminine.
Love is in the air etc.....

I came back from town the other day (Christmas eve) to discover that i was locked out of my room. This was due to one extremely enthusuiastic napalm fairy, steeped in Christmassy spirit, gaily decorating the place with paper streamers and installing a xmas tree (that looks suspiciously like a gaudy, multicoloured paper cone. But I'm assured is a real, genuine and completely bona fide christmas tree from a real forest!)

Christmas day was fun. I'm not sure how you spent yours and can only assume it was pretty much like mine. Getting up earlyish - though not too early as ebenezer Scrooge had allowed her a day off from yoga to celebrate christmas (bah humbug) - having breakfast, sitting cross legged on a straw mat in the bright sun shine opening your presents.....sound familiar?
Then in the afternoon, sun bathing, swimming in the sea and building the occasionaly sand castle.
Christmas dinner (of course) was pizzas, beer and chocolate pancakes. Just like in every other household all across the world....

Ros got me loads of cool jewellery for xmas. like this bracelet *holds up left arm* it was more purplier when I got it but I swummed in the sea and it got a bit washed. And I got this bracelet *holds up right arm* again the purpley bits were darker but as I think I mentioned there was some sea n stuff.
And I got this necklace *tries to hold up neck but only suceeds in strangling himself* it is very similar to the one that I got for Ros. Well you know what they say about great minds and their thinking alike? It seems that they do - and not so great minds do too I'm sure (so if any of you lesser minded people were feeling left out, you can feel better about yourselves).

Ooh and she bought me some sweeties and some paint brushes. Luckily she also bought me some paints. So now I have something to dip the aforementioned paintbrushes in.

The day before yesterday we walked across the stupidly hot headland to Om Beach - so named because it looks slightly like an Om (but only if you're hovering over it at a height of approximately 1000ft).
Om Beach is described in the guidebook as picturesque, friendly and a haven. I don't think they've been there recently. I found it litter-strewn, noisy, mildly intimidating, prone to plummeting cricket balls and with a bloody dangerous rip tide. Fun for all the family.

Recently Ros and I have been amusing ourselves on Kudle Beach by constructing elaborate sand sculptures - mostly of dragons - but we decided to hang up our sand carving hats when we saw the enormous sand fortress that a man was building on a spit on land at Om. It was about 20ft across and had crenellations, moats, baileys, bridges, imposing towers, battlements and everything else you could possibly imagine. Where are sand-castle-kicking bullies when you need them?

also whilst were were there we went to a cafe called Dolphin Bay. There were no dolphins to be seen. I think perhaps it was their day off.

Last night we had a big games night. We, several friends and 1 severely depressed Turk sat round a big table in a nearby cafe and played an overly complicated dice game called 10,000. And then numerous hands of a poker game which I believe is called Texas Hold 'em. If the aim of the game is to lose everything you have at least 3 times over, then I am the undiputed champion.

We were playing for marbels - an indian sweet somewhat akin to Skittles, only in slightly more horrid flavours - so it was ok. But I still owe several packets to many of the other players.

Anyhoo, another internet session has come to an end.
Hope you're all having fun and fluffy xmastimes, and will enjoy news years as much as we plan to.

Love and hugs to you and yours
Cantus J Fraggle esq and a bedreadled Fluffy napalam fairy



False Eyelash
Location: New York City

Total posts: 346
Posted:Wow. Sounds like an amazing trip. Tell the Dalai Lama what up for me. wink

Have fun. Be safe.

All the freaky people make the beauty of the world.


BRONZE Member since Mar 2003


Carpal \'Tunnel
Location: Perth, Australia

Total posts: 5814
Posted:Lordy..that was wonderful......thanks for sharing UCOF

Is it the Truth?
Is it Fair to all concerned?
Will it build Goodwill and Better Friendships?
Will it be Beneficial to all concerned?

Im in a lonely battle with the world with a fish to match the chip on my shoulder. Gnu in Binnu in a cnu




Location: london,uk

Total posts: 313


SILVER Member since Apr 2002


Carpal \'Tunnel
Location: United Kingdom

Total posts: 15414
Posted:i can only tell you what they tell me...

unless you want me to make some up with aleins, free lovin' aarvarks and teaspoons?


SILVER Member since Aug 2002


Sweet talented nutter
Location: Brisbane Oz, Australia

Total posts: 2615
Posted:Im really looking forward to meeting this lovely couple ubblove

that shrewd and knavish sprite

Called Robin Good Fellow ; are you not he that is frighten of the maidens of the villagery - fairy

I am the merry wander of the night -puk



Location: UK

Total posts: 206
Posted:Where did those fraggles get to??????

Poi... it's an obsession.


SILVER Member since Aug 2002


big and good and broken
Location: lunn dunn, yoo kay, United Kin...

Total posts: 7330
Posted:full fairy-fraggle update

for the absent hop angels: kiss and hug

you can decide between you who gets what wink

"i see you at 'dis cafe.
i come to 'dis cafe quite a lot myself.
they do porridge."
- tim westwood


SILVER Member since Jul 2001


Tantamount to fatuity
Location: Down the road, United Kingdom

Total posts: 15965
Posted:So long India and thanks for all the chapatis:

Sun, 15 Feb 2004

Hey there. My apologies for not writing sooner but I was most likely sleeping.

So whats happened since I last wrote? Erm well January for one thing.

Lets see. New years eve Ros and I got drunk with Robert and Sonya (new characters in the story, an American and an Australian who think yoga is real) and their pocket Israeli, Akil. We stayed up till daylight on new years day. Robert and Sonya sloped off to bed at around 3ish. Whilst Akil went off around midnight complaining that the hotel wasnt playing proper music and anyway it was just noise and stuff (mutter, mutter, mutter).

Erm beach and sunshine and swimming in the sea for a few days, then, despite the best advice of the Alabama 3 (in a song entitled Aint Goin to Goa) we went to Goa. Pausing briefly on the way to post some xmas prezzies home via sea mail (so they should arrive in Marchish).

In Goa we went to Anjuna flea market but all the fleas were ludicrously priced so we settled for a cheap wall hanging with Lord Ganesha on it.

that evening, after dumping our bags with the long suffering Robert and Sonia, we stamped about the Goan countryside looking for a Full Moon party that some random English stall holders/rip-off merchants had told us about.

Luckily whilst we were wandering we happened to bump into a wandering omlette seller (only in India!!) who was on his way to the aforementioned party to ply his trade and, after he promised he wouldn't expect money for the service, he showed us the way.

We were a teensy bit early for the party - a mere 45 mins - so we hung about getting bitten by killer ants, blinded by the UV lights, deafened by the sound checks and mistaken for Russian DJs.

After a while we settled down for chai at one of the innumerable chai stalls that lined one edge of the venue field and waited for other people to turn up.

the party was really amazing. The music was really good hard trance (except for the period between 3 and 4 am when it was decidedly shite). The party organizers had hired a weird girl to dance on a podium (or woody hillock in reality). They had also hired a random, and extremely effeminate, guy to vaguely wave a stick round in the name of Staff Spinning. Ros wouldnt let me show him how it should be done - on the grounds that he looked like he might have a hissy fit and storm off.....

Musical highlight was a tune that was suddenly cut short at around 6am and a voice came over the speaker system saying that the police were closing the party.....then a brief pause for people to look confused/angry/turn to leave etc before the pounding trance kicked back in. Fun for all the family.

To cut a short story even shorter we didn't sleep for about 2 days til we eventually got back to Kudle (pausing briefly in Gokarna for ice cream with Robert and Sonya.

Erm then there was more days of sunshine and swimming etc. then came my birfday - and thanks to the those responsible for the deluge of 2 birthday wishes that poured into my inbox (not forgetting a sneak attack from Malcolm using the fluffy napalm route) - for which Ros organized a special treat.

We wented on a boat ride!!! we - she, me, Robert, Sonya and the belated-due-to-the-late-arrival-of-his-breakfast Akil all leapt into a boat and were whisked off to our semi private (if you don't count the other tourists) beach paradise. Where we played frisbee, swummed in the sea - me wearing my new swimming goggles so I could sea all the sea creatures - got slightly sun burnt and ate our sumptuous picnic (courtesy of the boys in the kitchen at our guesthouse and Sonya's fruit buying escapade).

We took lots of photos and Akil argued over the price with the boat man until the guy relented and stopped trying to rob us. Oodles of fun. You should all come next time - we'll try to send out the invitations earlier in future so you'll have no excuses....

A few days later we finally left our beach side home, - sniff - said our goodbyes to all our lovely friends - double sniff - and journeyed to Aurangabad - erm don't sniff cos it's a bit whiffy....

We went via Mumbai which isn't as bad as everyone makes out. It's just a big crowded city. We had 10 hours to waste whilst we were waiting for our train connection so we whiled them wandering through central Mumbai. We went online for next to nothing, window shopped ate in a chic cafe place in a district that I could of sworn was someplace in Paris (if it wasn't for all the Indians speaking Hindi everywhere).

then eventually we got our train and journeyed over night to Aurangabad. We stayed in a hotel that the rickshaw driver swore was:

the cheapest availableclose to the railway stationa nicefriendlyfamily run place

he was lying on every point. But were tired and couldn't be arsed to argue. We moved out as soon as we could into a:

friendly hotel
close to the railway station
that allegedly didn't exist the night before (if you believed the rickshaw driver)

If you're ever in Aurangabad (it could happen) don't eat at Food Lovers. Just don't. My time is limited so I can't rant about them but suffice to say I renamed them Fish Haters due to the conditions of the poor fishies they had in aquariums dotted around the place. The food was crap and over priced too.....

Do, on the other hand, eat at The Kitchen. And have the thali. Wonderful food and different every night. Oh and a very friendly man who will chat to you and make you laugh - whether you want to or not.

From Aurangabad we visited Ellora and Ajanta caves. These are ancient cave systems carved out of the living rock by countless Buddhist monks, Hindu erm worshipers and Jain.....ists...

I highly recommend them to every one. Expect to be bored by the photos we took at some point in the future...

On another day we went to Daulatabad fort. This has to be the most amazing fort in India. If not the entire world. It has an incredible set of defenses and war-elephant proofnesses that confounded every enemy and yet was beaten by the simplest of ploys....somebody bribed the gateman!

Then we went back to Mumbai to fly out.

Only by the time we got there we hadnt got any money. And it's expensive.

We checked into the cheapest hotel we could find - with a sumptuous view of a car park and easy access to the foyer (being as it was situated behind the managers desk and adjacent to his 15 strong family's bedroom) and set about living as cheaply as possible.

then, whilst we were breakfasting at the Salvation Army, an opportunity to make some cash dropped into our laps. Somebody confused us for some other westerners and asked us to work as extras in an Indian Soap Opera!!!

So we spent the day pretending to be rich westerners in the background of an extremely expensive (and above all else real) Mumbai hotel whilst the stars pouted, argued and lip-trembled around in front of the cameras.

Ros got to have a speaking role. She played a receptionist and had to ask the starlet if she had lost anything and if she could sign for it at reception.

I was looking a bit scruffy on account my thinking I was going to breakfast not off filming for the day and hadn't bothered to shave/wash/change out of the clothes I'd traveled from Aurangabad on an overnight train in.... so I didn't get asked to speak - or stay in front of the camera for very long at all.

My habit of walking into the other extras cos I wasn't paying much attention also seemed to annoy the director - funny chap.

So that was rs500 each for a day of doing sod all. Not bad really.

We ate weird food from a street side eatery that night to celebrate. then went online and checked our emails. I started writing the group email. It was late. We were tired. We left, planning to return in the morning to finish up where we left off....

I left my sketchbook behind - with 4 months worth of drawings and notes/ideas/etc in it - but never mind we'll be back in the morning its ok. It'll still be there. Everything's fine.....


5am - that chap that always gets sick gets sick (sic) - exorcist sick! he wakes up the fluffy one. Eventually daylight comes. We have to fly out tonight. We can't fly if I'm sick. Luckily Singapore Airlines offices-cum-palace-thing is just round the corner so Ros went off to see what they have to say on the matter.

I stayed in and watched the Discovery Channel.

She came back and said that we could postpone our flight until the next day if I wasn't healthier by the evening. But we really didn't want to do that. So I had to get unsick.

We went looking for a chemist. We found a doctor. he gave me a check up, a prescription and a ludicrously expensive bill. Even with our TV money we couldn't afford it - not if we didn't want to walk to the airport that night - so we haggled somewhat and they agreed to our reasonable price.

I took the medicine and started feeling better. Ros went out and bought souvenirs.

Eventually it was time to go to the airport. So we set out across the city. Using the metro system and relying helpful commuters to point us in the right direction. An overly long rickshaw ride and having to strip down our staff bag for the extremely anal airport security team later and we finally check in and relax into the stupidly expensive departures lounge.

I don't know if many of you know this but I suffer from a certain amount of anxiety when about to fly. Usually ending when Ive been in the air for about three quarters of the trip. Good news though. I've found a cure for it. It's called Singapore Airlines. They're really friendly, smiley, good food - ask for the bland meal, it's much nicer than the regular one, tell them you're a bit sick and you can't handle strong flavours (try it. Honestly you won't regret it) - they give you loads of free stuff and you can watch really cool films and play much better games than you can on Virgin Atlantic....I guess what Im trying to say is I don't feel anxious any more. I'm really looking forward to flying with them again. Ros and I are thinking about bringing our flight out forward so we spend less time in the Philippines - I really hope we do cos I want to play tetras again soon.....

So we're now in the Philippines. A land where we can't change any of our Pound Sterling travelers cheques. They only accept US dollars - despite the fact that the US exchange rate is shite and you get a better rate with Disney Dollars or trading goods and services for pretty things you find on the beach.

add to that the fact that my bank card doesn't seem to work in any of the ATMs here. So money has been a slight issue so far. But we have come up with some schemes to get over it.....

Anyhoo, I've been writing for ages. I must stop cos this is really costing me a fortune in pretty shells...

I'll seriously try to write again soon.

Have fun, Cantus J Fraggle

"I'll carry this....It's harder to spill a hat" - Chellybean
" a rabbit caught in a lighthouse?" - Chellybean


SILVER Member since Jul 2001


Tantamount to fatuity
Location: Down the road, United Kingdom

Total posts: 15965
Posted:Just a brief note
Wed 3rd March 2004

Just thought I'd write (in case anyone was worried/bothered/whatever) to say that we're still here travelling the world. Did anyone forget? Come on admit it.....

We've decided that the Philipines isn't for us. So we're off tomorrow to Borneo, malaysia,thailand and just about anyplace far away from here....

I don't have much time to write now so I'll have to give you all a report about this weird (with a capital WE) group of islands another time.

Hugs and stuff for now though. Hope you're all warm and happy and keeping your gardens nice and tidy.

having fun in the sun
C@ntus J Fraggle

"I'll carry this....It's harder to spill a hat" - Chellybean
" a rabbit caught in a lighthouse?" - Chellybean


SILVER Member since Jul 2001


Tantamount to fatuity
Location: Down the road, United Kingdom

Total posts: 15965
Posted:Gay Hungarian Cannibals
Sun, 07 Mar 2004
ok so we left the philippines and we're in a whole different country. But i did promise you a report (I also promised some of you postcards but who's counting?)

Right brief history lesson. The philippines were invaded and ruled by Spain - bizarrely from Mexico rather than Spain like you might expect - for about 500 years. This means that a quite a lot of the language has a spanish feel ( but because they were ruled by America for a while too they spell everything phonetically/idiot fashion). Despite this and having a variety of their own languages they, for some reason, insist on using english numbers. This can be clearly seen when they conspire with each other as to how to over charge you thinking that beacuse all the other words are in Tagalog that you won't recognise you're own numeral system....funny people.

They national pastimes are also curiously odd ones:
cock-fighting - the real thing with razor blades on the legs n everything. Thankfully we were never privvy to a fight, but we wandered through China town in Manila just prior to an impromtu cock fight.
It seems that the cock fighting tradition stems back to tribal times when they would have a cock fight before they did battle with another tribe to see if they would be victorious. They kept up the tradition, however, because they're nasty, viscious and bloody thirsty little bastards.
Kareoke - I need not tell you of the true horror of kareoke (the japanese word for singing without talent). But let me say that unless you've been in a place where they have coin-op kareoke machines in every fast food/eating establishment, outside peoples houses, on street corners and at the top of mountains, then you've been let off very lightly my friend.
Kareoke faves are Kenny Rogers tunes, selected Bon Jovi hits (and misses), Winds of Change by The Skorpions, My Way by Frank Sinatra and Hello by Lionel Richie. All sung in the wrong key, sometimes at the wrong tempo and always. always, always too bloody loud!
basketball - odd thing for a race of people collectively shorter than 5ft to aspire to play a game where everyone is about 7ft tall.

They believe that their ancestors are very wise people. So much so that they keep doing things simply because that's how it's always been done even though it could be acheived much simpler another way. Some of it's stuff fairly cool stuff like the way they treat the dead in Mountain Province, North Luzon;

leaving the corpse outside their house for a few days to make sure that the spirit has left. A guy sits with it in vigil watching it and trying to ease the passage to the other side as best as possible. That way it can't get grumpy being trapped in a coffin and hang around getting pissy with people for all time.
If a person is murdered however they leave it sat in a death chair but no one looks after it and it is often ridiculed and shunned. All in an effort to get the spirit all riled up so it can take revenge on it's killer. Quite clever I thought.

But stuff like walking 2 miles out of your way up a mountain because that's the way your dad did it seems a bit bloody daft to me.

There was actually only ever one Phillipino who had an original thought. His name was Joseph Rizal. He wrote some books explaining how philppinos should strive to think for themselves, not follow leaders and seek to be educated.

The Spanish shot him.

It's a primarily carniverous country. So they eat meat. tons of it. Not much vegetation. Just meat. Usually killed in a cruel and unusual way. For instance they will beat a chicken to death very slowly, with a hammer, so that the meat is more tender.

Another culinary treat to be avoided is partially-formed duck feotuses, or, if you'e very lucky, partially formed crocodile foetus. Apparently they're very good for you're knees. I didn't find out how....

I didn't get sick once in the entire time i was in the philippines - thus proving that it was the all vegetable diet in India that was bad for me.
If you're a vegetarian planning to visit the islands then you might starve (or at least get very sick of plain rice) as even the vegetable dishes are cooked using animal fats. So watch out.

anyhoo, we arrived in manila at the end of January to discover that no-one wanted to buy our travellers cheques from us and that our bank cards didn't work in any ATM's at the airport. A nice man from the tourist board place arranged a taxi for us at the extremely unreasonable rate of 400 piso (1 pound = 100 piso approx) from the airport to find us someplace to get some cash.
Cue a mad dash round Metro Manila failing to find working ATMs and being turned away by the seediest black marketeers. Until,at last, we found an even seedier black market place where they would give us a really shite exchange rate. So that was good.

Oh and i forgot to mention that it was hot.

damn hot.

And it looked like down town america. The streets were thick with fast food outlets, 7-elevens and elderly american men with their teenage philipino wives.

we found a guesthouse that was a small impersonal place run by an alcholic guy and his 5 stroppy daughters.
We hated Manila.
We left as soon as possible.

Next we went to 100 islands. Of which there are 123. And the're more like rocky lumps with a weedy strip of beach, than the lush desert island paradise you might be picturing.
But neverthless, we were able to charter a boat which took us out to what was to be our own private island for the day.
So we spent the day snorkelling, swimming, spinning sticks, getting stung by invisible jellyfish (Ros) and getting sunburnt (me).
Brief weirdness when a rich american and his philippino bride misunderstood the private island thing and landed on our beach for a few hours of splashing in the shallows, ignoring the 2 fraggles and eating their picnic (which consisted entirely of bananas and beer). They left again but not before completely failing to offer us any of their food/drink or even acknowledge our presence.

From 100 islands we went north into Mountain Province and had a week or so having fun in the mountains stamping about on rice terraces, caving, looking for (and failing to find) headhunting tribes - they're out there. Although Christianity is doing it's best to destroy them - and swimming in icy-cold waterfalls.

We had lots of fun. It reminded me a lot of Wales. As it was very hilly and it kept pissing down for no discernable reason.

then we went south to Manila. Remember Manila? We hated it....

Not this time. Firstly I figured out how to get money from the ATMs using a process of stalking them throughout an afternoon. So we had no more money issues then....

we found a magical place.
A respite from the outside world and all the horrors and kareoke that that entails. A place called the Robinson's Mall. We ate @ BK and window shopped to our heart's content.

From Manila we went to the port and caught a ferry to Cebu. The journey took 24 hours and allowed us to make friends with some Cebuites who advised us that the the guesthouse we were going to stay at was in a really nasty area and we would hate it and/or get killed there.

We ignored them and had a really cool time.

we wandered about in the downtown area - which has the rather unfortunate name of Colon - well into the night, visited the cinema, watched a chess tournament, avoided the transexuals (who wanted to play with Ros' dreads and erm I don't know what they had planned for me....) and generally didn't get killed or robbed.

From Cebu we got another ferry (this one was a superfast catamaran) to the island of Bohol. On the way we watched The Last Castle on DVD but as the ferry was super fast we only got to see half it.....

In Bohol we stayed in a place Called Nuts Huts near a town called Loboc. We stayed in a cabin on stilts above (and slightly to the left of) the river. We spent our days swimming up the river, swimming back down the river again, visiting Chocolate Hills (which aren't made of chocolate) and visiting the tarsier sanctuary - teeny little monkeys, big eyes, tiny brains. A sort of primate version of Natalie Imbruglia.
we spent our nights lying awake wondering what the hell that noise was and trying to decide if it was big enough to eat us. Jungles eh? Noisy bloody places.....

After that we went to the divers' paradise of Panglau. A tiny island just off Bohol. Now the problem with a diver's paradise is that it's chock full of divers. And they're horrible people. Worse than isrealis. loud, arrogant, obnoxious and often drunk....

So we found a quiter beach and had some snorkelling fun before travelling back to Cebu city for a few more mugging free days and death free nights.

then we spent a few nights on the isalnd of Malapasqua (which roughly translates as Shitty Christmas). Where we were annoyed by more divers and a welsh bloke promised us free beer all night if ros spunned fire. so she spunned and we got drunk. Then there were some cocktails and a few arguments with a different welsh bloke, a fall, some nasty cuts that got infected, a flight to manila and then a flight to singapore.

Quite a lot really.

So here I am in Singapore. and my net time is at an end.
Bye for now. not sure when i get to talk to you again.

hugs n stuff

"I'll carry this....It's harder to spill a hat" - Chellybean
" a rabbit caught in a lighthouse?" - Chellybean


SILVER Member since Jul 2001


Tantamount to fatuity
Location: Down the road, United Kingdom

Total posts: 15965
Posted:Cubist Pitcher plants and the wonders of tiger balm

Sun, 21 Mar 2004

hi. did you miss me? Anyone? I know you're out there I can hear you breathing......

So yet another travelogue email wends it's merry way across the world to your pc screen. And this particular missive finds our hero (that's me, obviously) in Sabah, Northern Borneo.

When i last wrote we were languishing in the shopper's paradise known as Singapore - an entire island state that has gradually formed itself into one giant amorphous shopping mall, all linked by the most amazing and efficient underground rail system it's ever been my pleasure to travel upon. In a city where chewing gum, spitting in public, urinating in elevators (?) and generally being naughty in a public place are all outlaweded and/or carry heavy fines, I found it to be an extremely pleasant and enjoyable place to be indeed.

I just wish they could do something about the weather cos it was too bloody humid for too bloody much of the time.

From there we travelled North across a small causeway into the southern tip of Peninsula Malaysia, then a short flight North-east to Kota Kinabalu in Sabah.

KK - as it's known locally - is a fairly new city, mainly because the Allies decided to bomb it back to the stone-age in the name of liberation in 1945. Then the sneaky Japanese decided to burn whatever was left standing to the ground so that there was nothing left to liberate. So the conquerers/liberators/slightly confused looking chaps standing in the ashes decided that the best option would be to rebuild the whole town from scratch.

So here it is that there are many historic monuments, representing hundreds of years of civilisation, and not one of them over 50 years old.

No actually I tell a lie. There is one landmark that predates WWII. It's a clock tower built by the parents of some English statesman that worked, and died of malaria, here. So to commemerate his life (and possibly to say "thanks for letting the nasty insects bite my son") they built the teeniest clock tower imaginable.

It says in the guide book that it used to serve as a beacon for ships til the buildings grew too large for it to be seen from the sea.

The question is, how tall were the ships that could see it in the first place?

We've decided to stop taking the advice of the guide book. Especially as it recommended that we stay at a guesthouse called Uncle Tan's. It was described as "huts in a jungle pardise". Where you can enjoy traditional village life and get eaten by leeches and water snakes. wonderful, we thought.

What we actually got was a chance to stay in a modern concrete block type affair of a house with a huge, noisy fish-tank and be completely ignored by some sullen teenagers and a sleepy old chinese woman.

But, it was a good place to use as a base to visit the our main reason for coming to Borneo. The Sepilok Orangutan Sanctuary. A palce where they rescue orphaned orangutans and help them learn to fend for themselves in the wild before eventually releasing them.

So there we went and, along with another 40 or so eager camera carrying individuals, stood waiting on huge wooden platforms in the steamy jungle for about 45 mins. Then from the undergrowth, emerged a little man in a blue boiler suit, carrying a bucket of something liquidy and a huge pile of bananas.

Then the orangutans began to arrive. Swinging from ropes handily slung between the trees (by some thoughtful rope slinging fellow).

2 youngsters came at first. They then proceeded to do battle with various types of monkey that had also turned up for the free food.

The jungle was then filled with the sound of snap-happy tourists all jostling for the best pictures of these slow moving arboreal denizens. The whir of camera lenses, the ooh's and ah's of many impressed people and soft under-the-breath swearing of people realising that they hadn't brought spare batteries for their video cameras was all that could be heard for several minutes.

Then, just as people were beginning to tire of taking the same pics of the same group of monkeys stealing all the food from two slightly dazed (yet unfazed) looking orangutan youths, a large male orang swung into view. Sensing his power - and the fact that he could pull all their limbs off without even thinking about it - the monkey's all backed off leaving him to feast alone.

And feast he did.

More snapping, whirring, oohing, ahhing, clicking, jostling and subtle swearing for many minutes more until the food ran out, the boiler suited man departed and the rains came down.

The crowds left and eventually we dejectedly tore ourselves away from our ape watching and amde our way back to the visitors centre. Where we were told that the centre was closing at 11.30am for no discernable reason and we would have to vacate the premises on pain of something undisclosed - but no doubt horrible - but would open again at 2.30pm.

Not wishing to stand round for 3 hours we, along with 2 random geordies we happened across in the steamy jungle paths of the park, decided to head into "nearby" Sandakan to find an hotel and chill out for a while before returning to the park in the afternoon to try one of the suggested nature walks.

After a lengthy bus ride showed us that Sandakan was further away than we thought, and wandering through the sweltering streets of the town showed us that they hadn't considered the idea of giving tourists a place to stay when they billed the place as a "tourist town". We checked into a only-just-in-our-budget-if-we-eat-rice-for-a-week hotel which offered hot showers (yay), air-con (double yay) and TV (more yay's than you can shake a stick at).

Ok so the aircon wouldn't switch off and the reception staff kept random remotely changing the tv channels which can be a touch annoying when you've just spent an hour watching a movie....

but hey, you can't expect miracles.

The next day we decided to visit Gomantong caves, far famed for the swift nests that hang in the entrance, which are regularly harvested and sold to restaurants for the famous "bird's nest soup". The guide book (damn it to heck and back) promised us buses leaving regularly from the central bus terminal.

So it seems there aren't any such buses, or indeed a central bus terminal. Nay mind. We're told there are regular boats and they're very cheap. So we went to the boat leaving place and indeed there are boats. They leave regularly. They are cheap. We can get one in about an hour or so. Great we thought. When can we come back?



Or you can hire a speedboat back for a rediculously exhorbitant fee.

we went back to the hotel to enjoy snippets of major hit films that change channel to ESPN live basketball whenever they got to the good bits.

We'd booked tickets on a bus leaving early the next morning so I asked the bell-hop for a wake up call.

Luckily I was awake at the time we weren't receiving the wake-up that morning or we would've slept right through. That's the 3rd hotel that has failed to bother waking us in time for a bus or other similar appointment out of the 3 that we have requested the service.

Yay for the efficiency of my body clock!

The early bus took us to the site of our next adventure - Mount Kinabalu National Park.

the park itself covers a staggering 754 sq km (291 sq miles). Which is bigger than the entire of Singapore. Established as a state park in 1964, this "botanical paradise is blessed with an astonishing variety of flora (that's plants to you) and fauna (that's animals) that range over 4 climate zones, from the rich lowland dipterocarp forest through the montane oak (do you think they mean "mountain"?), rhododendron and coniferous forests to the alpine meadow plants and stunted bushes of the summit zone"

It's billed as a "popular getaway from the hustle and bustle of city life. Where vistors can enjoy the cool invigorating air. Or, for the more intrepid to explore hte forest trails or conquer Mount Kinabalu itself"

We decided to attepmt the latter. And, after very much being pissed about by idiot beurocrats and brainless secretary type women, we undertook what we both agree is most definitely the most challenging experience of our lives......

Ros climbed it partly for the sense of achievement that doing it would bring and partly because her dad (alledgedly) climbed to the top of it in 1971 and she wished to follow in his footsteps. I climbed it partly mainly because i thought i would get lonely hanging round at the base camp waiting for ros to come down.

Starting from the base point (at a mere 1563m above sea level) we, along with a random, bald wanker called Mick Walker - who we later vowed we must beat to the top of the mountain at all costs - and 4 wandering doctors (who were all very nice, if a little middle aged, thank you very much) shared a mini-bus the 4.5 km to the starting point at Timpohon Gate and began the gruelling climb.

The guide book (curse it's ears and whiskers) said that the climb would take between 3 and 5 hours depending on hte level of fitness. It also described it as a leisurely climb. we plan to sue...

The mountain was first climbed in 1851 by Sir Hugh Low after he had made a pact with the local tribes people stating that he would in no way interfere with their sacred mountain or upset their gods. He also pointed out it would be a good idea to start charging admission and that a couple of overpriced restaurants and gift shops wouldn't go amiss either.

Oh and that he would sacrifice a white cockerel and 7 eggs half way up the mountain too.

The locals duly agreed and set about building guesthouses and finding the least efficient staff to work in them, and also got a box that makes a pinging noise and said that it was the computer system but "it's not working right now..."

They were mildly confused by the cockerel sacrificing thing. But decided it must be some quaint english tradition and continue to do it every year on the same spot that Lowe did all those years ago.

Lowe also discribed it as an easy climb but then he was unusually cruel to poultry so he can't be trusted.....

It took us about 6 hours to climb the 6km upto the 3,500m mark. Along the way, stunning examples of pitcher plants, nepenthes (don't ask me), 80 species of fig trees (!), dozens of animals and squawky birds and loads of different types of rare(ish) orchids were passed unnoticed as I puffed and panted my way up the bloody steps.

I did however see some amazing views, a couple of slightly crazed looking squirrel type things and a shrew type creature that alledgedly had a different nose (i have no idea). Oh and I saw what, I'm reliably informed is called, a Grey Drongo and a long-tailed Malaysian Treepee. Which is nice. They both said "tweet" - only with more of an accent.

So we got to the staging post 6km from where we started and a mere 2km higher up and, needless to say, we were a bit tired. Luckily the hotel staff had decided to house us in the 2nd highest dorm room on the mountain and we had another 10min climb to reach our beds.

That night after a slightly weird buffet dinner and going back to the dorm to discover that the people we were sharing it with had nicked our blankets we went to bed at around 8pm!

This stupidly early time was because we had to get up at 2.30am the next morning in order to get to the summit (2km away, 595m up). And so in the darkness, with a rented torch we left with no breakfst inside us and staggered up the steep hill. The hill became rocks. the rocks became bigger rocks. the path became steeper and steeper until we had to use ropes to rappel ourselves up. Finally, after much slipping and sliding, puffing, panting, losing the feeling in our fingers, dragging ourselves up rocks, occasionally losing the rope and wandering off the path towards staggeringly big cliffs and stuff, we reached the very summit. And boy was it cold.

Ros was the 1st girl that day to reach the summit. She was also the 10th person. But the first non-malaysian.

I was 13th.

We both beat Mick (yay) but only by a few minutes.

Then we sat there, shivering, as gradually more and more people staggered up and tried to find places to perch around the summit, til the sun came up. And rise it did. Spilling it's light all across the country. We were above the clouds and could see snippets and snatches of Borneo spreading out all around us for miles and miles.

then it was time to make our way back down again. We comtemplated running down just so we could say we did, but the middle aged doctors brought out the middle aged fraggles in us and we walked down to the dorms at a safe and easy pace.

After a hearty breakfast of stuff and things (with extra eggs) we set off back down to base camp again, promising to take more notice of flora and fauna on the way down but managing only to find one type of pitcher plant, some more freaky looking squirrels and a sort of shrew thing with, i swear, the same nose....

We didn't see Mick again. We can only assume that he made it down the mountain or else the guides would've looked more panicky. But we don't like him so we don't mind not setting eyes on him at all.....

We've spent the last 5 days or so recuperating. first at a place called Poring Hot Springs. Where you can treat yourselves (and we did) to Japanese style hot sulpherous baths in the open air. And secondly back here in the friendly world that is KK with it's teeny clock towers.

We've been soaking away our pains ands those that wouldn't soak away were numbed with aid of tiger balm - miracle stuff, try it if you haven't already - and we are beginning to feel much, much better for it.

Tomorrow we set off for the next leg of our adventure when we fly back to the mainland and head north into the rest of Malaysia. But that's another story and you'll need to tune in next time to see what happens.

Ok bye bye for now

say hello to a local bridge for me, love hugs and stuff

Cantus J Fraggle esq

"I'll carry this....It's harder to spill a hat" - Chellybean
" a rabbit caught in a lighthouse?" - Chellybean


SILVER Member since Jul 2001


Tantamount to fatuity
Location: Down the road, United Kingdom

Total posts: 15965
Posted:OK that seems to be all the messages I wrote. Whilst we were away.

I went to more countries and stuff but no one seemed to notice that i wasn't emailing any more so I took that to mean that they didn't care about hearing of our adventures.

If people were interested surely they would say so. Right?

"I'll carry this....It's harder to spill a hat" - Chellybean
" a rabbit caught in a lighthouse?" - Chellybean


GOLD Member since Aug 2004


Pirate Pixie Crew Captain
Location: Wales

Total posts: 8428
Posted:After being told by C@ntus there wasn't going to be a talking book version of this thread I guessed I'd just have to sit my butt down with a pot of Chai and read my way through it all. I hope to be done by sometime to the middle or end of next week. If anyone needs me between then and now send carrier pigeons. Remember a pigeon can carry a mini mars on its leg that isn't taken up with the message ring. Mmmmmmmmmmmmmm chocolate.........

Feed me Chocolate!!! Feed me NOW!


SILVER Member since Jul 2001


Tantamount to fatuity
Location: Down the road, United Kingdom

Total posts: 15965
Posted:I thought i'd better bump this cos otherwise mistress duggery wont be able to keep reading it, now will she?

"I'll carry this....It's harder to spill a hat" - Chellybean
" a rabbit caught in a lighthouse?" - Chellybean


GOLD Member since Aug 2004


Pirate Pixie Crew Captain
Location: Wales

Total posts: 8428
Posted:I've read it all, but thanks for thinking of my reading comfort (wow how amreican did that statement sound!)

Feed me Chocolate!!! Feed me NOW!


SILVER Member since Jul 2001


Tantamount to fatuity
Location: Down the road, United Kingdom

Total posts: 15965
Posted:well as you didn't attempt to sue anyone in the middle of it, then not overly.

"I'll carry this....It's harder to spill a hat" - Chellybean
" a rabbit caught in a lighthouse?" - Chellybean




The Fairy Of Things That Go Bump In The Night ;)
Location: Manchester UK

Total posts: 188
Posted:Wow totally amazing you are so lucky to have visited such beautifal places! and the picture of the beach you showed me was so beautifal and serene.... Mwah it just looks so perfect and dreamy ubblove Mwa h kisses n stuff byes xx

oOo Look At The Pretty Fire.. oOo Touch The Pretty Fire oO.. OWW THE PRETTY FIRE BURNT ME!


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