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fluffy napalm fairy
fluffy napalm fairy

Carpal \'Tunnel
Location: Brum / Dorset / Fairy Land
Member Since: 12th Dec 2001
Total posts: 3638
Posted:Seing as UCOF hasn't got round to it yet ( wink ) I thought I'd post my collection of travel adventures in order for anyone who's interested.......



I warn you, there are a lot of words............no, there really are lots and lots of words. And lots.......... You'll see soon enough!



wave



Love to all the people I'm missing lots - you know who you are hug


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fluffy napalm fairy
fluffy napalm fairy

Carpal \'Tunnel
Location: Brum / Dorset / Fairy Land
Member Since: 12th Dec 2001
Total posts: 3638
Posted:********************************

Subject: arrived!
Date: Sat, 06 Sep 2003 12:53:27 +0100

Hi all

arrived here in Delhi safely. Staying in pahar Ganj for 3 nights to settle in before starting to move northwards. Took an overnight flight so we're not jet lagged (a blessing) but subsequently haven't had much sleep! Just wandering about now to find food and thought I'd let you know I'm safe and well.

More coming when there's more to tell!!
Love and hugs,
Fairy x

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fluffy napalm fairy
fluffy napalm fairy

Carpal \'Tunnel
Location: Brum / Dorset / Fairy Land
Member Since: 12th Dec 2001
Total posts: 3638
Posted:***********************************

Subject: Delhi!
Date: Mon, 08 Sep 2003 16:25:15 +0100

Hey
Delhi is not the most comfortable of places to be but at the same time i'm quite enjoying the craziness of it all. There's sweat dripping from my nose as I type - and this is in an internet place with a fan to keep the equipment cool! It's been really muggy and sticky and horrible today, much worse than yesterday. But tomorrow we are catching an early train to the mountains where it should be cooler (an wetter - the monsoon is still there a bit). Not sure if there'll be more email for a few weeks so i thought I'd write now!

I haven't met any effalumps - but there are a lot of sacred cows. They stand about oblivious to the beeping, shouting, hustle and bustle, honking horns and other things that you thought might make cows get out of the way - such as driving taxis at them. But no - they know they're sacred and they stay put. I was scared on the way from the airport - there are no road markings, lanes or rules! People go where they want when they want regardless of what's in their way, and they think beeping their horns gives them some sort of right of way. It's very odd but suprising how quickly I have learned how to negotiate even the most crowded streets (and we are staying in one of the bussiest sections of the city)!

Have been to see the largest mosque in India as well as some tombs and stuff - am not going to Red Fort cos I want to go there with James when he arrives. Seen some amazing architecture and have been invited into a sikh temple and into the tomb of Niza Mudin- Muslim poet. People were crying just to be there - it was incredible. Went to posh business area today to 'browse' around air conditioned shops - or sneakily get cool! Naughty me - but it was so hot! There are some really expensive shops and restaurants and hotels only ten minutes walk from where people are sleeping on sacks in the streets - such a weird environment. It's a complete attack on all my senses too - smells range from making me gag to making me want to put them in a bottle and carry them about with me - sights and sounds d o the same.

Delhi is a serious culture shock - beggars grab hold of you and follow you about - everybody wants to sell you things and you can shout "no no no no no" and they still say "yes please, you come and look inside. no buy i promise, you just look" EEEEPP! it's driving me crazy - but you soon learn to walk on and smile and ignore it. There are enough nice chai places to relax before venturing out again that you can have it in as large or small chunks as you want. Makes it kind of fun.

Anyway - my hour's nearly up.
Will mail again one day - maybe a few weeks.
Take care - love and hugs to all

Ros xxx

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fluffy napalm fairy
fluffy napalm fairy

Carpal \'Tunnel
Location: Brum / Dorset / Fairy Land
Member Since: 12th Dec 2001
Total posts: 3638
Posted:***********************************

Subject: spiti & Kullu
Date: Fri, 26 Sep 2003 13:45:41 +0100

Hey all!
yep - I'm still alive! Currently sat in the comfort of an internet cafe that actually understands the CAFE part of the name and sells tea! mmmmmmm. Have had a busy few weeks....tired out and having a rest here in manali for a few days.

I've been Norht from Delhi to the old british summer capital of Shimla - lush and green and cool and full of naughty monkeys. I watched one steal an ice cream out of a childs hand and climb up a tree to eat it! little beast. But they're very funny form afar. 12 hour bus ride to Kalpa (beautiful orchards and little patchwork fields in the most spectacular mountain scenery. Then up the Sangla valley to a tiny village where there wasn't even a shop! had a lovely room looking out accross the whole valley and stayed there for 3 or 4 days, eating with the family and helping with the harvest. We were even invited to the school! I can't believe how quickly the landscape changes up here......

We took a bus into the Spiti region which is completely arrid int he summer and snowcovered in the winter. Unfortunately there'd been a landslip (two actually) on the road so we had to walk accross them in the scorching sun and wait for bus on the other side. However, as we were waiting another section of the road decided to jump into the gorge leaving us stranded on a 3kn section that couldn't be reached! 4 hours later of so a jeep managed to get through and we all piled into the back (2 germans, 3 indians and a duthch man) and made it as far as the next town. Interesting day. Had another one two days ago before reaching Manali when a river decided to divert itself accross the road, washing it away and closing that route. 12 hours in a bumpy, crowded jeep and that one was sorted too! IF there's one thing I'm learning about india it's never to trust the transport......buses, roads, rickshaws etc they all invariably break down at some point. But I suppose it adds a bit of excitement!

It's good to be back in the green though - I like trees and running water. Nice and relaxing here - taking time to wash well and eat well and generally recouperate after a pretty rough time. We've stayed in the highest permenantly inhabited village in the world too! (and only had a pit for a toilet.....reminds me of Glasto though it smelt more!)

Anyway, I'm having a great time. Got some beautiful earrings today too - shopping is irreststable as it's so cheap! Thouhg I don't ahve a lot of room in my pack so I can't go too crazy. May be able to meet up with Josh and Kate at some point as they're currently in India....we'll see.

Take care (I am) and have fun (I'm doing htat too!)
Much love to all,

Ros xx

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fluffy napalm fairy
fluffy napalm fairy

Carpal \'Tunnel
Location: Brum / Dorset / Fairy Land
Member Since: 12th Dec 2001
Total posts: 3638
Posted:***********************************


Subject: recent adventures
Date: Thu, 09 Oct 2003 08:00:56 +0100

right then - another little account of my adventures to date :-)

I'm currently in a very westernized but characterful and colourful place called McLeod Ganj in Northern india - still in the hills but you can see onto the plains on a sunny day (which it has been since I got here! - I'm red and burned and beetroot like which is most embarrasing....) We're here for a week or so, before I have to get an overnight bus to Delhi on Monday to pic up James from the airport (not long now!) and I've been walking around the hills in the trees and wandering amongst the villages and villagers who are so friendly. This is where the Dalai Lama is in exile from Tibet so there are monks and nuns, all looking identical and of indistinguishable sex with their shaven heads, wandering about all over the place and most of the local population is Tibetan instead of Indian. That coupled with the relatively large number of westerners (mainly Japanese and israeli) creates this weird world that seems a very long way from India as there are next to no Indians and very few rickshaws and cows!

Since Manali (when I think I wrote the last email) we've been taking it easy as unfortunately one or other of us has been ill on and off. We spent a few days in Bustling Mandi but took a day trip to Rewalsar lake - a beautiful tranquil lake that's sacred to Sikhs, Buddhists and Hindus alike so is surrounded by temples and shrines. The Buddhist temples are always so colourful with reems of bright flags tied all about the trees - it looks really magical. It was a beautiful day too - the sun was up and the lake was so still, and we just watched the fish and talked to the monks and had a really peaceful and refreshing time.

The bus ride from Mandi to Mcleod Ganj (where we are now) was terrible - I am suprised i still have the use of my legs as we were forced to sit with our heavy backpacks on our knees for over 3 hours and I had the added bonus of having a small indian child climbing all over me too - yay! Granted the child was fairly funny - but I wasn't really in the mood! It was hot and bumpy and smelly and although the bus didn't actually break down that was the only way it could have been worse! One of the things i have had to get used to very quickly here is that Indians have absolutely no sense of personal space. If the bus is totally empty except for you, they'll choose the seat right next to you without even considering that you might appreciate a bit of room - it's just their mentality. When buses get crowded it's even odder - with men sitting on each others laps and people climbing all over you to get on and off. After jouirneys like that I find I have to spend at least a morning alone in my room before going out onto the streets again, just enjoying having my own space! It has it's benefits though - as no matter how crowded things get there is no chance of getting turned away because of a full bus or whatever - there's always space for more!

I have also had to learn to sleep through the inevitable nightime performance of packs of dogs debating their territories or shouting goodnight to each other accross the valley or whatever they're up to. Regardless of the size of the town there are bound to be at least 10 or 15 dogs spread out nicely so they have to bark really loud to each other that keep you awake all bloody night - though I seem to be able to kind of phase them out now (after a lot of practice!). Last night I think they were doing some sort of canine version of carol singing as they went all the way along beghind the hotel, round the corner and all the way back, and I lay there listening as they wound their way off through town howling and barking ceaselessly. Interesting habit - I'm not sure it's entirely necessary though.

But for all the noisiness and difficulties and uncomfortabilities I am still having a fantastic time. The sights and views and scenery is breathtaking, up here in the mountains the people are so welcoming and you see the funniest things. We wre in quite a posh restaurant as a treat and as were were eating we noticed these two rats - one big fat one and one tiny one - who came out from behing the skirting board and proceeded to play and tumble and chase each other around between the chairs and everything - it was so surreal. Then they just ambled back to wherever they'd come from - not a care in the world! Very funny - the waiters were so embarrassed.

Anyway - musn't rattle on for too long.
Will write again soon,
take care, love to all

Ros xxx

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fluffy napalm fairy
fluffy napalm fairy

Carpal \'Tunnel
Location: Brum / Dorset / Fairy Land
Member Since: 12th Dec 2001
Total posts: 3638
Posted:*******************************

Subject: camels, big red things and no elephants
Date: Fri, 07 Nov 2003 16:39:55 +0000

Right. Then. *Ahem!* where to start.......

Once upon a time..... No that won't do. Umm.......... A long, long time ago.......No! Still no good.

Far away in place bizaarly named 'India' two people are battling their way accross the country on busses, trains and man-powered contraptions (corruptions of bicycles) hindered by all creatures great and small (great being enormous hairy lumpy camels and small being tennis-ball sized wasps and dog-sized ants) in the name of 'travelling'. Funny occupation you might say, but it has it's perks. I can't really think of any right now, as I'm nursing 30 mosquito bites, trying not to be run over by camels on or rickshaws the rampage and haven't had a decent cup of coffee for over two months, but I'm sure there are some. Oh yes - the 'culture'. Still not convinced...........

Jokes aside i am thankfully alive and in decidedly good health, good humour and good company (sat over there -------->). All is as hectic and chaotic as ever and I wouldn't have it any other way. Well, I'd eliminate the mosquito's for a start, and maybe turn down the temperature a bit, and....Moving on swiftly.

We tore ourselves away from the cool, lush, green, sheltered sanctuary that is McLeod and launched ourselves whole heartedly into the mayhem that is 'real india', starting with a rather easy 20 minute bus ride down te hill into Dharamsla. Which is a dump. But it had a beautiful traditional tibetan crafts place very near where we spent an entire day watching people paint, carve, print, build, sew and create some incredible pieces of art in the same way they have been made for thousands of years. Well worth putting up ith Dharamsala.

The following day we got the worst bus ride I have yet experienced to Amritsar - the Sikh's holiest city in India. arrived dazed and confused, half starved and shaken to death on a relatively good quality road and decided to stay for free in the Golden temple complex. The whole area whas beautiful, a massive contrast to the dirty noisy city around it. We were shown to our cell (sorry, room) which was scarily like a prison cell with bars and the one tiny internal window, grey walls, wooden beds and no other furniture. However, unlike a prison cell it came free with two small green lizards and 3 large Sikhs who peered through the door at every oppertunity. It turned out they were just curious about our colourful array of dreadlocks smile The temple was beautiful and quiet and relaxed set in a massive marble courtyard around a lake. The temple is right in the middle - a truly magical place. With free food - yay!

From amritsar we cought a train that was clean, on time, comfortable and friendly with a neverendin supply of people selling tea and coffee and snacks and small pieces of plastic tat (??!), to Agra. Family members are going to get some exciting presents when we get back...... Unlike British trains it arrived on time and we easily got a rickshaw to the hotel we wanted t stay at, though we had to persuade the drive to take us where we wanted not where he wanted - very odd. The following day we wandered around and did nothing. I think we ate things and drank things and stared at things a bit, but we did very little. it was lovely. While in Agra we went to see the Fort (enormous and red, very imposing and impressive and exciting and hot) and the ancient deserted town of Fatehpur Sikri (enormous and red, very imposing and exciting an hot) and the Taj Mahal (emormous and white (aha!), very beautiful and and exciting and not too hot as we went at dawn to watch the sun rise). We were proper tourists and got our photo's taken at each place...hee hee hee.
Hotel was scary as we had to battle for space in our room with an army of killer wasps, killer mosquito's and killer power surges and power cuts. Oh the fun. So we moved and all was less waspy and more friendly, less expensive and more cofortable, and generally a lot nicer.

The Indians in Agra are the most persistant I have met yet - the rickshaw drivers will chase you down the street trying to convince you that you desperately need a funny motorised three wheeled contraption powered by a lawnmower engine to take you the 10 yards from your hotel to the restaurant you have chosen for breakfast. And that you must pay them to wait outside while you eat so that they can drive you the 10 yards back again when you have finished. The tat-sellers will literally stalk you for hours trying to persuade you to purchase whatever colourful plastic device they have tied to a piece of string that day for 600 odd rupees, and with every step you take the price drops by 100 rupees before they are offering you 5 for 10 rupees! I am sometimes torn between tearing my hair out and collapsing in a fit of giggles - neither of wi\hich would help matters. Instead I keep a straight-ish face and move on, hounded relentlessly and after a lot of practice, pretty much oblivious to it all. I do feel sorry for the obviously newly-arrived tourist that is spotted, tracked and cornered by the evil men and is trapped ito buying handfuls of junk at rip-off prices, but then they have to learn don't they?

We escaped the clutches of the quides, rickshaw-wallahs and tat-sellers and clambered onto a bus headed to the capital of Rajasthan yesterday. We found a good hotel for a good rate, a good place to eat and lots of mechanics. Which we don't really need - but it's good to know that if we did need them they'd be there. Here in Jaipur it's much hotter, on the edge of the desert region, and full of camels. in car parks, at traffic lights, outside restaurants, hanging about on street corners - it's a very odd place. You never kow what you're going to meet around the next corner. I was in fact standing by a corner yesterday and unknow to me a lizard was legging along the wall around the corner, hurtling in my direction. It came round the edge just inches from my nose and I, startled, jumped back, slipped on the marble floor and slid/fell/scrambled and sprawled onto the floor in front of all the hotel cleaner people. Unhurt 9except for my pride) I have been ridiculed ever since......oops! Very embarrassing.....

Tomorrow we are going to see many lovely things, Palace of the Winds, The Water Palace, a big red imposing hot exciting fort and some temples before getting a bus to more remote regions where there are lots of painted houses. I am still to meet an elephant but i will keep you up to date on elephanty developments.

Love to all, I hope you are well and having as much fun as I am
And they all lived happily ev........no. That won't do.

bye! *wave*

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fluffy napalm fairy
fluffy napalm fairy

Carpal \'Tunnel
Location: Brum / Dorset / Fairy Land
Member Since: 12th Dec 2001
Total posts: 3638
Posted:****************************************

Subject: humpety humpety pad pad *spit*
Date: Mon, 17 Nov 2003 07:35:24 +0000

Hello again.......

Strangely enough I'm currently sat in an internet cafe overlooked by a big castly-fort (this time big and yellow, not red). It's strange because this time tomorrow I will be sat on a big hairy camel, and this time the following day i will also be sat on a big hairy camel, and this time the day after that.....and the one after that......and the one after that......and then the one after that I will be sat in here again (or hovering above the chair with a very sore behind) recounting tales of our mystery camel treck. Strange......

Since I last wrote we've been shifting a bit more rapidly (though only a 'bit'.....to be honest an elephant could probably move faster on one leg with it's trunk tied behind it's ears.....). Our excuse being it takes time to enjoy things properly! On our last day in Jaipur we went to visit Amber Fort - the most impressive fort we've seen so far. Following the tradition it was big and red and imposing and hot and exciting, though far more exciting than any of the others owing to the fact we got completely and utterly lost. While exploring a particularly dark and mysterious looking passageway we suddenly realised we were totally alone. Not so much as an echo of the reems of tourists that flooded the fort could be heard and soon we emerged in a deserted courtyard full of spiders webs and dust in almost complete silence. So, of course, we continued to explore. We wound up and down spiral stone staircases, in and out or ancient chambers and through the scariest, darkest corridoors I've ever seen. We found ourselves on the roof, in towers, at the top of old fort walls and somehow even managed to get into the cellers. When we finally rejoined reality we overheard a guide telling his enthralled party "we don't take people down there....they'll never get out" Hee hee hee....... The courtyards were full of elephants dressed in pretty red rugs taking the tourists for walks and the tat-sellers mobbed us on the way back down the steep stone steps to the valley but it was the coolest adventure. The heat really hit us when we got out too, as the cool stone and meter thick walls had pretended that it wasn't actually that hot - an unfair trick to play on us i think!
We also went to a big armoury museum in the city palace and to a palace built in the middle of a lake (???) and to a big mausoleum where there were no other people at all except a small indian child trying to sell us water, before getting the bus into more remote regions.

A bumpy but brief bus ride brought us to Jhunjhunu, a weird and frankly unfriendly town in the middle of the semi-arid shekhawati region. We stayed two nights in a horrid hotel but, on the plus side, got to explore the ruins of a palace with two little children as our guides which was great fun......It was a complete building with archways and alcoves and stairways and even some of the original paintings from when it was built - and the children have it as their playground! not fair! We got to run about and play hide and seek and everything.

From Jhunjhunu we decided on another small town, Mandawa, famous for it's beautiful painted houses. All around the town are old mansions built by rich traders and intricately painted and carved. We stayed in a really nice guest house where they gave us discounts on all the food (possibly cos we looked scruffy and they took pity on us.....possibly cos one of the men fancied james) and before we left we were given the gift of two beautiful bamboo staffs. Yippeeee. The painted houses were amazing but in truth they are all almost the same, so once you've seen a few there's not a lot of reason to go around and see more and more and more. The locals in Mandawa were so friendly that you couldn't walk down the street without stopping and talking to every single one, and the strange thing was they didn't even seem to want to sell us anything. Just give us chai and talk to us in their limited 13 words of English, the same conversation every day every morning and every evening..... eeeeep! I was going mental, unable to hold another inane demi-conversation with another madly grinning Idnian out in the sweltering heat so we decided to move on. That and the fact that the needy, desperate and lonely man at the hotel was moping about, following us around and demanding our attention every waking moment which we put up with for the discount and the staffs but couldn't cope with much longer without going stark staring mad. So on we went...

We got to ride in the front of the bus with the driver all the way to Bikaner (6 hours). They have big comfy sofa-type benches and a fan and the best views and we spotted lots of sand and lots of camels and lots of sand and one or two people and lots of sand. Eye spy was pretty much out of the question: "I spy with my little eye something beginning with 's'"........"sand?"......."yep"......."I spy with my little eye something beginning with 's'"..... and so it goes on. So we played spot the camel instead which was slightly (though only very slightly) more exciting. We arrived in Bikaner in the middle of nowhere and got an apparently deaf rickshaw driver to take us to evergreen hotel. Every time we said evergreen he said yes and nodded vigerously, though continued driving round the city to every guest house he could think of that sounded like evergreen without actually making the mental connection. Either that or he was simply an idiot. Both are pretty likely.

We ended up outside two places reccommended in the book so checked out the rooms. The first was small and dirty and had some poor excuse for a bathroom and he wanted 350 for it. The second was enormous, had a massive bed, a three piece suite, a big table and rug, a massive tv, a huge bathroom, hot water and.......wait for it......a BATH! for 300!!!! So we lived a life of lazy luxury for a few days, venturing out of our room to visit a small uninteresting fort and to use the internet. We also took a bus to a temple devoted to rats....yes, RATS. they were everywhere, on the doors, in the walls, all over the floor, climbing on the raillings and here's the best bit - you're not allowed in with shoes. It was initially scary but so much fun. Needless to say we washed our feet very thoroughly when we got back as I can't count the number of times the rats used us as an obstacle course. Sophie you would have died!! hee hee.

From Bikaner we went to Jaisalmer where we are now in a haveli (mansion) style hotel with cushions all over the roof where you can sit and watch the stars, play cards and chill out. It's in a quiet part of the small city, most of which is inside the massive fort I mentioned at the start. We haven't explored properly yet as we only arrived yesterday, and tomorrow we're off on out camelly adventure into the wilderness.

So far I have mixed feeling about Rajasthan. The scenery is beautiful, many of the people friendly and there's plenty to see and do. The women are covered in the heaviest most uncomfortable but absolutely stunning jewellery imaginable and clothed in colours that stun, shock and amuse - the brightest most beautiful fabrics you can imagine. however, it also seems to be full of the rudest and most hostile men in the world and james is constantly having to protect me which makes life very tricky. In most places we put up with the bit of curiosity and rudeness but here it's really extreme with men shouting and hassling me (and James to some extent) with every step we take and it's taking it's toll. The camel trip's going to be a nice break then I think we're going to have to find somewhere to rest up for a while and take it easy.

Love to all of you and I'm sure you'll hear from me soon, providing my camel is nice and doesn't a)deposit me in a sand dune or b) run off into the desert with me and get lost.
hmmmmm......

Ros xxxx

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fluffy napalm fairy
fluffy napalm fairy

Carpal \'Tunnel
Location: Brum / Dorset / Fairy Land
Member Since: 12th Dec 2001
Total posts: 3638
Posted:*****************************

Subject: camelly ummm...fun?
Date: Mon, 24 Nov 2003 07:22:47 +0000

hmmmm..........here we go again.

Now I know I promised some exciting tales and stories of adventure and mystery and mischief when I returned from the whole camel escapade but unfortunately things did not go as planned.
We managed to find a really good safari - some go to all the tourist spots and you never get a moment to yourself, or even a camel to yourself in many cases.

Our safari was going to be different. We got a big discount on the best safari - good food, endless supply of chai and water (some make you take your own water!? - for 5 days ?!) and a camel driver who had at least a basic grasp of English. All set to leave the following morning we decided to celebrate and have a beer and enjoy our last night of comfort for a while. Ten minutes later, james was throwing his guts up all over the hotel balcony.....not good. So much for our celebration. We spent the whole night worried sick (literally) as he alternated between the floor, the loo and a large bucket conveniently placed by the bed. By morning symptoms were milder and he stayed in bed and rested while I re-arranged the safari. I also spent hours trying to convince the hotel men (suffering from the usual mix of stupidity, confusion and poor grasp of monosyllabic english words) that no, it wasn't the glass of beer he had drunk, it was in fact a severe sickness and could they please give us a bit of peace.

The next day he's feeling better so we decide to safari. Taken in a jeep and deposited in the middle of nowhere with a bag of fruit, 20 bottles on mineral water, a bag of veg and rice and noodles and pasta and two bright orange turbans. And no camels. hmmmmmmmm............. Found the camels and soon set off at an uncomfortably 'gentle' amble - about as gentle as sitting on three large bulldogs mid way through a territorial dispute. Nice. All went well - we went to a water place (i think the modern term is 'well') where a small child tried to steal my pen, then my earrings, then my necklace, then my camel - indian children are a bit weird if you ask me. We then looked around the village, looked in some houses and at some indians, and I had a pee behind the spikiest bush I think has ever been invented. It was a character building moment I can tell you.......

We rode happily along to a shady spot to have some lunch and rest our aching behinds. Camels are funny things - they are steered by reins attatched to a spike in thir noses, however the reins are both attatched to the same side of the spike. For those who have riding experience you will realize that this means whichever rein you pull the camel will always turn the same way. Camels can actually turn their heads right around and look you defiantly in the face as they carry on walking straight forwards towards the spikey death that you're trying desperately to avoid with this nasty, knowing smirk. I could be reading too much into this but I am sure my camel was trying to injur me. We finally reached an understanding....I give the commands, she understands them, she ignores them, I get carted through a spikey bush and the guiide laughs hysterically at me. And the bushes were spikey - they generally follow the same pattern: they have lots of branches, and the branches have lots of big spikes, and the big spikes have lots of little spikes. Either you get caught by the little spikes and scratched and torn and prickled until there's nothing left to destroy or you get stabbed brutally with the big spikes and the little spikes rip the insides out of the gaping wounds. You would have thought it hurt the camel too but no......they're quite content playing their evil little games.

And we were wearing bright orange turbans - that was the most exciting thing.

James's camel was less malicious. While mine was shooting death stares at me at every oppertunity his was merely making odd noises - possibly affectionate ones, that involved a lot of grunting and snorting. His camel had a different problem = it was 'right retarded'. This is a camel doctors term for camels that will not turn to the right, ever. The guide spent all his time shouting 'no left no left' and Julian (james's camel) spent all his time going left. We finally reached a large sand dune in the middle of nowhere which was to be our camp for the night.

It was big and sandy and big and sandy and there were big black beetles busy burrying themselves and running in circles. On the top of the highest dune as the sun set were four ominous looking vultures and running about in the sand were three mangey looking dogs, surviving on the scraps the camel drivers leave behind. As the sun set I got very ill. I won't go into details as it was messy and rather unpleasant but I was unable to stand, speak, eat or move. I was vomiting and had diarrhoea and a fever and we were stuck in the middle of nowhere. The night went very slowly. The camel guide seemed to think I was writhing on the floor because I was scared of the camels of scared of the dark. Neither of us seemed able to convince him that I was actually sick. Not the brightest spark one might say.That night was the worst pain I think I have ever been in. The stars were beautiful and as I lay on my back I was forced to focus on them to take my mind of the pain.....it was actually pretty serious. Morning came and the guide still seemed to be in no hurry to sort anything out. Eventually we managed to convince him that I wasn't getting any better and he set off (without thinking to let us know he was abandoning us or when,if ever, he might be back) on a camel to the nearest village - over 2 hours away. Shivvering and sweating, trying to hide from the scorching desert sun and totally alone in the desert except for our camels while I was getting worse and worse was very scary. I hid under a blanket and bullied defenceless beetles. James sat in the shade and burried defenceless dogs. Eventually the guide came back - he had arranged for me to be picked up by a jeep and taken back to our hotel where I could get some proper help.
The jeep ride was agony and just when we thought our adventure couldn't get any worse it decided helpfully to brake down about 40km from safety. Fortunately another jeep passed soon and was able to take me back. Unbelievably, the jeep drivers looked at me and seemed to think I was better - Indians are mad sometimes.

The hotel men were pretty worried when we arrived back. I think they thought they'd poisoned us. Which was quite possible. To ease their guilt they had provided our previously spartan room with a telly and some big fluffy duvets, and immediately supplied free coke for james and free lemon soda for me - supposedly a miracle cure for bad stomachs. The night passed slowly again.......(mainly due to the totally inconsiderate indians and their inability to sleep, stop shouting or turn their tv down). I had a temperature of about 103 but by the following morning it had dropped considerably and we decided not to call the doctor as I was decidedly less green, had stopped being sick and even wanted to eat stuff. James managed to move us to a quieter room. They eventually brought us a telly to keep us happy and all was going much better.

That night I got much worse than before and totally unexpected. We called a doctor at 6.30am - I couldn't wait any longer. By the time he arrived the hotel people had finally accepted that I wasn't getting better without help. He gave me a nice coctail of pretty coloured tablets to take - one's like an orange submarine, one is yellow and green and the others are not so exciting so I won't mention them. I have to take some with food which is tricky cos food's not so appealing. James has some too as he hasn't fully recovered either. But I'm happily on the mend. The medicine was really effective - I went out and sat in the sun that afternoon and had some rice and some water. Today is better still - I felt like getting some fresh air so we've come into town. Internet is a good option as it lets me sit and rest a bit but still get out and about and do stuff.

Pretty scary but we're looking much better now. Going to rest a few more days before heading off to the sacred lake town of pushkar where we can rest some more. Camels were really cool but I doubt I would have been able to walk after 5 days on one! It was amazing being out in the desert but scary if anything goes wrong. I saw literally tens of shooting stars and wished on every one of them. The dunes looked so magical at sunrise and sunset and, scrunched up on the ground I had the perfect bettle's-eye-view! I wish I could have enjoyed it more - our guide was funny if totally insane and the camels were nice - we had a family unit - a mother (my one) a father (Julian) and a ropey hairy humpy spindly-legged thing that followed us about everywhere that I assume was a baby camel. The quides camel was my ones sister and seemed of a slightly more pleasant temprement though it's hard to tell with big hairy lumpy things.

Right then, now that I'm feeling more perky I'm going for a nice walk. There's such a cool market here.....

I'll write again soon,
Love to all,

Ros xxx

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fluffy napalm fairy
fluffy napalm fairy

Carpal \'Tunnel
Location: Brum / Dorset / Fairy Land
Member Since: 12th Dec 2001
Total posts: 3638
Posted:******************************

Subject: Shouting, squeeling and making noise
Date: Sat, 06 Dec 2003 09:25:46 +0000

Since our little incident on the sand dunes we have both recovered fully and have just completed a week of doing absolutely nothing. We practised long and hard and eventually found that with very little effort we could get up at 11, have breakfast/lunch at 2, wander about until sunset, befriend and be befriended until we got hungry again, eat and yes, sleep, thus completing the cycle of utter laziness, recouperation and rest. It has been blissfull.

But there's much more to tell than that. I shall start, quite traditionally I think, where the last email ended: Jaisalmer.

We spent a further three or four days in Jaisalmer, eating a bit and mooching about a lot and taking lots of brightly coloured little pills. We even managed to get some of our money back from the safari, an almost impossible feat considering there was a large sign above the reception saying that under no circumstances did they give refunds. With a bit of emotional blackmail and their fear of us warning other travellers off we actually managed to get a very satisfactory ammount. Suffice it to say the hotel men were mildly grumpy about the whole incident.

During the rest of our stay we saw some camels, saw a film being made, found a cannon, ate some proper food (as opposed to oh-so-appertising plain rice), found a replica of tellytubby land built out of mud, and got kidnapped by a mad politician who wanted to give us chai. We were just 2 doors from our hotel when he sprung out and blocked our path, making it impossible for us to escape as he frantically ushered us inside. What he neglected to tell us was that he didn't actually have any milk or any sugar, and had possibly run out of tea too, and we had to sit around looking at album after album of the same photos while his children managed to take what seemed like hours going to the shop to get the missing ingredients. All his photo's were of him giving certificates to school children and underling politicians and stuff, but unfortunately he thought the word for 'certificate' was 'suprise' so every photo was accompanied by a proud, excited explaination along the lines of 'me giving suprises to volleyball team' or 'when the boys do well at school I like to suprise them - see!'. Every time he said it we both creased up and once or twice I had to turn away as chai exploded through my nose.

We got a bus from Jaisalmer to Jodhpur (unsuprisingly, jodhpur is where those popular riding trousers 'Jodhpurs' originated.....clever hey?). After being chucked off the bus at a petrol station we eventually made our way into the old city where we wanted to stay and left our bags at the first hotel we came to in order to scout out the rest (a cunning little scheme that means you don't have to lug your bags around every guest house that looks half decent. They will treat your bags like royalty if they think you might come back and stay, though if you do find somewhere better, it's wise to go and eat at the other place at least once so as not to cause offence). After 5 or 6 places of the same miserable standard for rediculous prices we stumbled upon a tiny place with lovely big rooms, friendly family, garden of sorts and all for less than any of the other prospective accommodation. Great. Unfortunately we only stayed a few days, lobng enough to go to the fort, play with the 'audio guide' contraption thing and wander about a lot.

Jodhpur has some amazing bazaars that streatch for miles and twist and turn in all directions. The fruit and veg market full of unidentifyable fares quickly becomes the bustling, nose-blowing spice market with noise levels maxing out as vendors compete to offer rediculously low prices for vast quantities of every spice under the sun. Continuing through the mayhem you find yourself in what I affectionately call the random tat district, with shops selling plastic 'things' in all the garish colours under the sun, rope, clocks, biscutis, bits of dismantled machines, lumps of wax, sugar and anything else you can make into a lump and pretty much anything you could possibly need. Many of the shops in this slightly mad area are decorated, very bizaarly, with little bags of radioactive yellow vaseline being frantically snatched up by indian men women and children of all shapes and sizes and vaseline-requiring needs. Onwards and alongwards lies the tailors district with little tiny shops stuffed full of the most vibrant, varied and unimaginably bright fabrics under the sun as well as managing to fit every indian woman and her grandmother inside haggling and discussing and rooting through huge piles of the stuff. We wandered for a long time, until we got hungry again, and headed back to our hotel via the wooden pole district (?!?).

Another bus ride brought us to Pushkar, one of the holiest sites in India. It has the only Brahma temple in India and is full of Holy men, temples and israelis. It's like a summer camp - far worse than Mcleod. And the worst thing is - they're all trying to spin POI!!!!! NOOOOO! On the bvus we had a interesting encounter with a drunken Indian man who was convinced he lived in Mexico, was an exporter and could read palms. He shouted 'who is god' a lot at James and they had exciting conversations about Banjo Players while I hid in the corner. We found a nice compact little room (slightly smaller than the bed that is in it) in a nice compact little hotel just off the main bazaar where we hae been hibernating for the last week, eating well, sleeping a rediculous amount and geting well and truly better.

The other day we were lucky enough to experience a live performance of what could loosly be described as music. It was at a wicked layed back restaurant with sofas and candles, yummy food and happy people. We got a nice spot close to the fire and had a chat with the people around us until the noise started. Music is not the right word. There was an egomaniac drummer who kept maliciously changing the pace and rythm so that he was always in control, and he kept going off into mental spasmic solos that sent the dogs into barking fits and forced the other two 'musicians' to stop. Member two of the trio was a flute/pipe/wooden tube player who appeared to be deaf. He knew no tunes, had no sense of rythm (not helped by the megalomaniac drummer) and he kept trying to get one up on the mad-ego-drummy-man by going into neverending squeeling, ear splitting convulsions on the highest notes he could find in an attempt to drown everything else out. Unfortunately, the drummer would respond by hitting his drum louder and more randomly. The unlucky third member was a nice litle guitarist who tried to play with the others and make the noise bearable but with the battle of the egos raging he quickly gave up and went and sat in the the corner. Eventually and irate neighbour complained and we were spared further torment. For a sacred place pushkar is incredibly noisy.

I'm sure other exciting things have happened while we've been here but i can't remember any of them. Oooo, got one: Yesterday I noticed an English man in our hotel was wearing some trousers that I own (well, not the same ones but the same ones if you know what I mean) and it scarily turns out he bought them in the same shop as me and lives not 5 miles (or possily about 5 miles) from my house. But that's about it.

We have been spending most evenings at the Sunset Cafe, watching the sunset and avoiding many threatening things such as indian musicians with badly made, badly tuned string things, israelis, indian children who play stones on their heads, and scary husband and wife musical duos whose screaching can actually burst your ear drums if you stray within a few yards. We have had a big staff made (for contact), had our double bamboo sticks made into proper staffs, bought and customised some poi, and been given the most beautiful pair of hand make black and gold and green twirling sticks in the whole wide world everywhere. James is not allowed to touch them.

We have monkeys on the roof who come and eat biscuits and oranges with us and a pair of english people called Barry and Helena who come and steal pens from us. Life couldn't be better.
We're heading off tomorrow and will be in touch at some point to let you know of anything else interesting that might happen to us. If anyone would like to get in touch about interesting things in their lives the number to call is...... (well, you get the idea). It'd be nice to hear you're still alive etc.....

Take care and cushions in case the place you choose to sit is not as comfortable as it initially seems,
Ros xx

*************************


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fluffy napalm fairy
fluffy napalm fairy

Carpal \'Tunnel
Location: Brum / Dorset / Fairy Land
Member Since: 12th Dec 2001
Total posts: 3638
Posted:*************************

Subject: dancing fleas
Date: Mon, 12 Jan 2004 07:42:35 +0000

Right, I have 12 minutes to write this mail so forgive me if it seems badly spelled or muddled or jumbled or in any way unreadable, for this is the way I think.......

Today found us back at the doctor's with James being a pin cushion again - Gokarna has not been as good for his insides as it has been for our suntans. Hmmm......All is better now though after some hefty rehydration and rest etc..... and we've managed to flog our mildly tatty copy of the Hitch Hikers Guide to the Galaxy to the doctor too......hee hee.

A few days ago we ventured out into the big wide world and after an exciting game of 'lets jump on random buses and see where we end up' we found ourselves in Anjuna, Goa, for the weekly flea market. Which was, as it's name would suggest, full of fleas. I still have the multitude of little red dots in irritatingly neat lines along my arms and legs to prove it. We bought a few bits and bobs and our friends bought a rediculous hat which resembles a very stoned, multicoloured and somewhat squashed jellyfish, and we had the bestest tuna sandwiches I have ever tasted. In truth they were just tuna and bread, but for some reason the Indians had neglected to cover the bread in sugar and the tuna in masala paste and salt (in the usual indian stylee) so it actually tasted like tuna and bread rather than curry. mmmmmmmm. The beach was noisy and smelly and full of drunken westerners so we voided that.

From the market we found our way to a full moon party, guided by a friendly omlette seller (?!) and danced the night away amidst uv orange trees and bouncing happy people. I think they should introduce chai stalls to Western free parties - a good steaming hot cup of sweet, spiced chai really hits the spot when you're up all night and having so much fun. When we left at 8am people were still arriving - apparently the full moon parties go on for an average of three pounding days - eeep!
Too much for a fragile fairy...

More bus and train hopping brought us back to the sunny, sandy beach we call home, happy and exhausted and not at all ready for the great big angry spider we interrupted doing laps of the room. Oh well, I can only assume it had taken on the role of 'Guard Spider' in our absence and thought we were burglers. It seems to have skulked off to hide somewhere now that we're back in residence. We have lots of new neighbours including two members of 'Hanson' (that blonde teenage boy band who got famous for putting random noises such as 'mmmm bop' to music and prancing around like girls) have moved in right next door and an old drunken hippy lunatic has taken up residence at the end and insists on wandering about in a scarily skimpy bit of string that can no more pass for pants as a camel can pass for a solid, reliable and comfy mode of transport. There's the usual mix of young eager single travellers (desperately following about other young eager single travellers in search of some exciting young single traveller action), aged, scruffy and permenanlty stoned hippies (still searching for themselves and convinced that they can be found in each and every joint that's lit upwind of them) and randomly slung together families (all suitably dysfunctional and twisted in their own warped way).

Gokarna is a very strange place and we have begun to realize that time doesn't move in the same way it should. The moon follows a zigzag path of its own at constantly varying speeds, the tides throw themselves about with no pattern or reason or logic and every now and again whole buildings move, build themselves and often disappear altogether. We often wonder whether it's a portal into alternate realities, all almost the same but with one or two faults or differences, or maybe one or maybe a slight glitch that laeves us a few days out of sync. I lost our door key on the beach the other day and we were opn the verge of destroying our pet padlock when a very crafty Indian managed to quide a stick through the bars in the windows and flick our spare key under the door. It was a miracle. What is even stranger is that the next day someone who we'd never spoken to before came and gave us our lost key. As I said - a place of very strange occurences.

Anyway, must get on. I've flown past the predesignated 12 minutes and will therefore have to pay lots more for the privelage of communicating via this poor excuse for a computer...oh joy.

Hope everyone is well and recovered after the festive season and merrily breaking all those totally unachievable resolutions you set yourselves...

Much love,

Ros xx

***********************************


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fluffy napalm fairy
fluffy napalm fairy

Carpal \'Tunnel
Location: Brum / Dorset / Fairy Land
Member Since: 12th Dec 2001
Total posts: 3638
Posted:***********************************

Subject: jhellyfish and jeepneys
Date: Tue, 03 Feb 2004 09:41:37 +0000

Right then, after two short flights, delicious airline food, the blissful taste of real french wine and some rather scary money problems we are just about settled in the Philippines. But I'll go into that a bit later.......

Our last week in india was a very exciting one to say the least........ From gokarna we went north on an overnight train to mumbai where we spent the day hiding from the heat and humidity in air conditioned shops, waiting for our connecting train later that evening to Aurangabad. We stayed in Aurangabad for 4 nights and spent our days getting the cramped, bumpy Indian busses that we love (and now even miss) to and from some very famous cave temples. There's an extortionate charge on the Ajanta caves, an ancient Buddhist cave complex carved into the cliffs of a hairpin bend valley, but the caves temselves are spectacular (though not entirely worth the entrance fee if you're on a tight budget.) Oh well. Day 2 found us at the Ellora caves - miles and miles of caves stretching all along a cliff, some buddhist, some hindu and some jain temples. They were mind blowing in detail and proportion, huge caverns with intricately carved pillars and idols. We had an amazing time exploring them and playing with the bats and laughing at the people on guided tours.
Day three was the most exciting. We went to an ancient fort at a town called daulatabad - the fort is perched high on a scary hill and to get to it you have to climb through a maze of walls and defenses, past spiked doors and throught tunnels. At one point you have to go up a pitch black spiral tunnel up through the hillside with nothing but a few hundred bats far too close for comfort as company. Nice! We found a deserted cave near the top where we had lunch before winding our way back down in the scorching sun to get a bus back again.

An overnight train brought us back to Mumbai to rest a day and send some stuff home before flying out to Manila. Mumbai is rediculously expensive and it was hell finding a hotel room. What we thought was more than enough money to get us by was not even enough for the first day, even with eating at the red cross and staying in the cheapest, dingiest place we could find. As luck would have it we stumbled accross an indian soap producer wanting extras for an episode, so we spent the whole day filming and got paid 1000rs for the pleasure of sitting about all day, getting fed for free and only having to say three lines - yay! And so it was that we were able to finally make our way to the airport and after some hassle trying to explain what our staff and poi were we managed to get our flight.

Aeroplanes are soooo much fun. We got to play tetris, drink wine and watch the matrix revolutions all in the short time it took us to get to singapore, then more tetris and cartoons and music saw us through to manila.

On reaching Manila we had some small, or rather enormous problems. Nobody at the airport would change pounds, or mastercard travellers cheques (the only ones we have dollars left in) and neither James' nor my bankcard would work. We were stuck with no money, tired and jet lagged and extremely hot, totally unable to think, miles from anywhere to stay and with no way of sorting it out. We managed to get a taxi into town who drove round looking for money changers and atm's and we eventually managed to change enough to pay him and to see us through. The taxi guy was great and took us to a cheap guest house (run by a very old and jolly alcoholic filipino man and his 25 yr old wife) where we managed to rest enough to think a little more clearly. Prety desperate and on the verge of going to the embassy to see what they could do I managed to find a machine that accepted my card.....eventually........so the panic was quelled for a while.

The following day we set out to follow the routine procedure of visa extension. we got a jeepney (ex-us jeeps with elongated chasseys, chromed-up and painted mad colours) to the immigration office where we were informed we would have to come back at 1.30. We wandered round the docks, narrowly avoiding a cock fight and dutifully returned to find an extortionate bill waiting for us and the instructions to come again at 5pm. So we went sightseeing, to the smallest most miserable excuse for a fort we have yet encountered. Having not eaten all day with the temperature well above 30 and the humidity almost unbearable we were not so very happy, bu we eventually got it sorted and vowed to leave manila as soon as possible.................which was much easier said than done.

Filipinos are mad. They are absolutely bonkers. And they do strange things to animals before they eat them such as beating them to death slowly with hammers to make the meat more tender. And they think intestines is a delicasy. Not nice. Anyway, as I was saying, the transport is completely mad too. There are hundreds of bus companies, all impossible to get hold of and all with such incredibly varied prices and quality that it's totally hit and miss what you get or where you go. We made it out in the end but payed way too much for it. Oh well.

We went to 100 Islands national park where we got a boat out to an island of our choice and spent the day snorkeling and sunbathing. Unfortunately, out of 123 islands some other people stupidly chose the same one so we had to spend a few hours sharing our little piece of paradise, but it wasn't too much of a sacrafice. I got mildly stung by a totally invisable jellyfish and james got bitten by a bit of coral, but the snorkeling was amazing and the fish were really friendly. Loads of fun. Shared a boat with some strange korean boys who spent their day on another island which was full of children. You'd have thought that if they wanted a quiet day they wouldn't have chosen one called 'children's island' though wouldn't you?

From Hundred Islands we came here to baguio, up in the mountains and much cooler. I was sweating and sticky at 8am and it's blissful to be cold again! However, nowhere in this confounded place changes travellers cheques and we are having problems figuring out what we're going to do. Plan at the moment is to see some of the north, a few of the central islands and try and get our flight brough forward two weeks so we stay just a month. It's like being in america with shopping malls and hotdog stands everywhere muddled with smelly fish markets and busy bazaars.

Hmm..........lots of fun but a lot of hard work too. Not yet able to relax, though I'm sure we'll sort it out soon.

Lots of love to everyone,
Will keep you updated,

Ros xxx

*****************************************


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fluffy napalm fairy
fluffy napalm fairy

Carpal \'Tunnel
Location: Brum / Dorset / Fairy Land
Member Since: 12th Dec 2001
Total posts: 3638
Posted:*****************************************

Subject: Uphill, Ube, and down to evil cheese
Date: Sun, 15th Feb 2004

Here we are again, back where we started, in Manila. Though this time it's a lot less hot, less crowded and altogether less bewildering. We're in the same room in the same guest house and they don't even recognize us! It's only been two weeks! hmph - told you filipino's are mad.

I shall start from when we left Baguio, where I believe I last updated this little online collection of adventures......

A beautiful, bumpy and altogether blissful 6 hour bus ride brought us higher and higher into the mountain province to a mysterious little mountain village, famous for it's strange burial practices! We wound our way along narrow tracks perched precariously on steep mountain sides, past amazing green forested valleys falling away almost directly below, through small villages, over makeshift bridges where the roads had washed away and eventually arrived in the centre of Sagada. Here, instead of burrying or even cremating their dead, they curl them up into foetal positions, put them in handmade wooden coffins and stack them in a series of caves that run through the hillsides above and around the village. As you would expect, naturally. There are coffins that are hundreds of years old, some of which are simply left perched on rocky outcrops out of the reach of animals and nickmaned 'hanging coffins' as there seems no way of getting them up there, which they seem to think is normal. hmmmmm...

In the more remote tribal villages they do something even weirder. If a person dies of natural causes they put them in a 'death chair' where they are cleaned, propped up and watched over by a keeper and there they are left, often for weeks, until the spirit has had enough time to escape. If on the other hand the person is murdered (as still happens with alarming regularity in the tribal areas) then the body is propped up on a bit of wood and ignored, even ridiculed by the village to upset it's spirit so much that it seeks revenge on whoever murdered it's body. Clever hey? Needless to say, when you're stumbling down a rocky, muddy mountain path at dusk and turn the corner to find a death chair in front of you it's not the most pleasent experience - even if the one we stumbled accross was luckily empty.

Sagada's other attraction is that, for a small fee, the 'guides' (or random farmers who have the day off - very reassuring) will take you down some of the deeper caves for a little adventuring. We went, as most people do, down Sumaging cave. Im not sure how to describe it except that it was at the same time it fantastic and petrifying and very wet. After scrambling for what seemed like hours down a near-vertical slippery, crumbling cliff face we eventually came to a series of water-cut rock terraces, far underground, where the tricky bit began. With one guide, an antique-looking oil lamp, a rather enormous german mother and her 5 yr old child, and a lot of squeeky bats overhead we set off down the 'secret tunnel', a hole about 3ft square with water running through it into a pitch black tunnel. It was soo much fun! I want to go again...... We followed the underground river and it's tunel deeper and deeper into the hills, usually waist-deep in water and plunged into darkness by the abnormally big shadow the of woman in front (great!). We went up and down and in and out of the water, we went along ropes and under overhangs and through the tiniest cracks and eventually we emerged in the same cave we had started in. I can't even describe how amazing it was - we were underground in the tunnel for over an hour and you have no sense of up or down, direction or bearing and as the guide had next to no english we didn't even know when (if ever) we would get out. Oh the joy! It was really hard work and I was more than a little worried when behind me James slid off a rock and into a huge pool, thankfully with a rope in one hand - god knows how deep it was if he'd let go! We're still alive though......

....Just

And all this time the guide carried the 5yr old in one hand and the lamp in the other and still made it all look easy - grrrr!

From Sagada we also took a leisurely walk down amongst the rice terraces to a nearby waterfall with two nutty Filipino girls that we met at dinner the night before. The guide, after telling us the water was lovely, dipped his toes in it for about 4 minutes then wimped off into a corner while the rest of us swam in the stupidly cold but picturesque pool under a beautiful cascade of water. No idea what was beneath us as it got very deep very quickly but I think I'd rather not know, especially as we just found out that there is a large snake living in Sumaging cave. Nice that they let us know the risks before we went hey?

The walk back up was not so leisurely. After the first flight of steps I thought I was going to die. After the second i really was sure I was on my way out, and by the fifteenth I can be most accurately described as a bright red, sweaty, jibbering wreck, incapable of intelligable interaction or simple movements. I have no idea how I made it to the top, but I suspect pixies.....

From Sagada we went to Bontoc where it rained and there was nothing to do. It was possible to hike up into the hills to meet the headhunter tribes but the guides were missing - methinks their heads got a bit too close and got somewhat hunted. So we moved on to Banaue - a little town in the heart of the rice terraces. Unfortunately it was considerable wetter than it should be in february. (according to an old lady the weather changed because there was a house fire in Bontoc, so we considered burning another house to make it change again but decided it wasn't such a great idea......) We went for a long walk down out of Banaue to a little wooden village where it started to pour with rain and we scrabbled up through the rice terraces getting covered in mud, laughed at by the locals and I even managed to Rip an enormous hole in the bottom of my jeans in the process. We got back to the hotel very soggy and decided that the most sensible thing would be to go on another walk tomorrow. (?!?)

So we walked to the little village of Batad, 9km from the nearest road, most of that being up a big mountain. Yay! we dragged ourselves up it as rich westerners breezed past in their hired offf-road vehicles on the rocky track, waving happily as we were sweating our brains out. However, we had a lot of fun running down the other side and flying past them effortlessly as they, being lazy and rich and unfit, were having the greatest difficulty in the simple task of walking down a hill. Hee hee.

Batad was quiet and sleepy, full of pigs and chickens and children. And Rice. The mountainside opposite is just a huge wall of 2000yr old rice terraces, lovingly farmed but gnomish, stooped creatures called 'villagers'. I swear they're from a fairytale - most of them look 90, are about 3ft tall and have baskets bigger than them on their backs. I was a strange and magical place. We spent two nights there, and the day in between we walked to a waterfall which was big and wet and far too cold to even think of swimming in, though it didn't stop two happy Israeli boys from stripping off and dashing in with gay abandon to the exclaimation of 'they are real men!' from a local boy. hmmmm..... I did a drawing of some hills and then it started to rain - again. Even in the rain the hike back up was unbearably hot with far too many steps (as seems to be the current fashion in the mountains)

The following day presented a small problem. we had pretty much run out of money so had to return to a town at some point, but to get out of the village we had to negotiate a rather large and tiring hill. So we did what we had to do and........yes..........walked some more. I really don't understand hikers - they must be mad! All that exercise....voluntarily? eeep! It rained all the way and was very hard and very tiring but we enjoyed every minute of it.........well, not the uphill parts........and I suppose about half of it was uphill............so maybe we enjoyed about half of it......

Anyway. We got the bus to Manila where we are endevouring to sort out some money, to change our flights, to get a ferry to Cebu 9further south for lots of beachy fun) and possibly, at some point, to eat something. We didn't realize it was the weekend so we have to wait til tomorrow to put any plans in action, though all is not lost for we have found an amazing shopping mall and have spent the day amusing ourselves imagining what we would buy if we were rich.......

Other than that, all I can say is that the Ube is very purple and yet to be tested but stay clear of the cheese at all costs - they put it on doughnuts you know?!?

Lots of love to all and I hope, as always, that you are well,
Ros xxx

******************************************


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Glåss
Glåss

The Ministry of Manipulation
Location: Bristol
Member Since: 8th Nov 2001
Total posts: 2523
Posted:wave hug biggrin ubbrollsmile
hope you're well, its gonna take me a week to read all these
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UCOF
UCOF

Carpal \'Tunnel

Member Since: 17th Apr 2002
Total posts: 15414
Posted:sorry sorry sorry sorry but ive been bogged down doinbg coursework at uni and have literally been my fingers a full workout typing on keyboards.

hug

My bad.


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Cantus
Cantus

Tantamount to fatuity
Location: Down the road
Member Since: 30th Jul 2001
Total posts: 15965
Posted:and you still failed Jon? shame on you biggrin

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

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