March 4, 2009
I’m kinda bummed out today cause the International Court has just declared Al Bashir, the president of Sudan, a war criminal and issued a warrant for his arrrest, which could very well put the Kybosh on my plans to travel through the Sudan. Maybe even Egypt. Their decision also sucks cause they stopped short of accusing him of genocide, which would mean a number of countries including Britain, Canada and the USA would have to move in to stop it. Of course any coalition like that would mean terrible times for the Sudanese. We fucked up in Somalia, Iraq and everywhere else. And I won’t be that popular in Yemen if the situation gets out of control. I have my doubts that I will get to Pakistan since the Sri Lankan cricket team was just attacked there, and the situation seems to be getting out of control in northern Pakistan.
I’m in Guruvayur at the moment and after wandering about, managed to find the Shiva Temple, which was kinda disappointing cause someone told me it was the largest Shive Temple, but I’m pretty sure it’s the largest for about a mile around. I almost missed it cause there’s a huge steel shed built in fromt of it that completely overwhelms the actual temple, and it doesn’t appear to be more than a hundred or so years old. They had a couple of elephants chained to a wall outside the temple, but I TOOK A WRONG TURN AND COULDN’T FIND THE ELEPHANT SANCTUARY, which is also how I found the temple. Apparently, you can gain favor from a god by donating an elelphant to the Temple, and this one has about fifty or so. I will try again tommorrow and take lotsa picsc, so you can see some photos of elephants. Apparently someone was injured the other day when an elephant wenr on a rampage, and the guys on top of it fell off, and got hurt.
Ok, So I’m writing on the 4th of March, but so you can stay up to date, I have to go back a bit to:
March 1st, 2009
SO, I’m on the beach in Goa. The internet café guy at Royal Touch let me log my computer onto the Internet and I managed to get the journal uploaded. I try to get it uploaded more frequently than once every two months. And so I could get up to date, I spent the day in the Internet café. I had a great chicken dinner after my swim. It was kind of a Goan version of Chicken Kiev, and I can’t remember the actual name they gave it, but its chicken stuffed with vegetables and cream sauce deep fried in bread crumb batter, and then ya dip it in this really scrumptious peanut sauce. It was awesome! But then every meal at Royal Touch was really, really, tasty! And their fresh squeezed orange is delicious enough to order two at a time.
I met a couple of women from Sweden, though Monica was actually from Barcelona, and she was friendly had a sexy Spanish accent. Anyway, they said they were staying at Royal touch for 200 Rupees (Rs.) each (sharing), and I was being charged 600 Rs. For my cabin (same size). They suggested I should try bartering, so the next day I did.
And got kicked out!
Just kidding! They said they had got some postcards, 2 for 14Rs. And 3 for 17Rs. SO I decided I would go and get some postcards, but everyone stood firm at 5Rs. for the postcard and 15Rs. For the stamps. I tried about 5 or 6 places and gave up. When I got back, I found out they actually got them for 2 for 40 and 3 for 70. After a second trip I bought 13 for 260 Rs (about 75 cents each) It seems like every thing I buy is costing me more than everyone else.
I booked a train trip to Thrissur. Actually I’m on:
March 2nd, 2009
And beacause I didn’t want to travel at night again, the trip cost more. And also there was an extra charge for leaving in two days. Apparently, the train to Cochin was booked for the next week. Unless I paid an extra 100Rs. And because I was travelling in the daytime instead of the night, it was double. When I paid for my hotel bill, it was 1800 for three days, which for Monica and her friend was enough to stay 9 days! Of course the single room equivalent for 400 Rs. would be 4 ½ days . After spending most of the day in the Internet café, I decided to get some sun on my last day at the beach and baked myself red! Kinda on the ripe tomato side of boiled lobster! Still it was a pleasant day. Chatted with Monica and her friend and a couple of young Indian guys. I turned in early so I could pack and get up at 5:30 am so I could take a taxi back to Mergau ($800 Rs, apparently that was more than others paid as well) There was no taxi cause the guy I paid at the Internet café for the cab drove me in his own car.
March 3rd, 2009
The ride was pretty good even though it was in the dark and we stopped at a small truck stop gas station and at a roadside shrine to Lord Ganesh. It was actually a tree with a brnch that looked like an elephant trunk. The train was late, and I was so depressed when I got in it. The windows were so dirty, you couldn’t see out of them. It was even worse cause every window was cracked and the warm outside air touching the inner glass cooled by air conditioning created condensation between the two layers of glass. There’s a picture you can see in my photos, but the actual glare from the sun was worse than the picture shows. That I had paid way extra so I could watch the scenery go by depressed me, not to mention getting up early had tired me out and I fell asleep.
I could have used my laptop on the train as they have charging plugs for cellphones and laptops in each compartment. Unfortunately, the one in my compartment was broken and didn’t work.
The day improved when I found you could open the carriage door and hang out there if you wanted and the conductors really didn’t have any rules about not doing that. I had to share the little platform with an occasional smoker, but I chatted with a few guys. I was actually the only foreigner on the train, and since I got off the train and all the way on the bus to Guruvayur, I’ve been the only foreigner I’ve seen. Which could explain why prices for stuff have been cheaper here. The Shiva temple is only a tourist attraction for Hindus, I think. I got a large stature of Ganesha (copper I think, but it could be a cheap brass) and it was 150 Rs. $30 USD. The Rupee is dropping against the dollar but it isn’t really doing me any good, cause I already got a few grand in Mumbai. So technically the money I’m spending is an old exchange rate (about 5Rs, to the dollar difference between when I got here and now.
I got into Thrissur around 23:00 Hours, and there were no hotel rooms. I tried about 5 and they were all reasonable prices around 200Rs. Course they were all full. I finally found one in a higher end hotel for 490Rs ($10 US $15 CDN) It was called the Regency, same as the one I wouldn’t recommend in Mumbai. Nice place, and as a bonus the price was for a 24 hour stay, so no early checkout. I ate at the restaurant there around noon, but the food wasn’y too tasty. One thing when I turned on the light in the room, a small lizard disappeared behind the curtains and there were bugs campering on the toilet seat when I opened it. As I had seen a cockroach (a fairly big one!) in the bathroom at Royal Touch, I’m in the habit of leaving the light on in the bathroom so the creepy crawlies don’t gather in the dark. So far for my trip, there have been only a few and not any more than I would encounter at home.
Which brings me to this hotel (also called the regency) and the date is again:
March 4th, 2009
Same situation as at Thrissur. All the cheap hotels were full. I was directed to a luxury place, but it was 759 Rs. I decided to keep looking and found another one even nicer for 1600 Rs. Also here, they charge tax. This one here is one the same street as the Shiva Temple (It took me three hours of walking to find it (the Temple I mean; the hotel took about 45 minutes.) It’s only 1 block from here. SO they had rooms for 390 Rs. but they had none of those left so I took one for 450 (495 with tax) It seems like a lot, but its only $10USD (actually less since the Rupee has dropped this week).
How do you like my Ganesh statue? It was 1650 Rs. About $40 CDN I think. It’s too big to carry around, but it might be kinda funny to carry the huge thing around with me for the rest of the trip. The Indian people on the train were really impressed that I was headed for the Shiva Temple in Guruvayur. I actually came to see the elephant sanctuary, but I had some really cool conversations with some pilgrims on the train. Apparently there is a mountain in Tibet called Kailash that is reputed to be the home of Shiva. I won’t have time to go there as it’s a 15 day walk or a 5 day trip by land rover, but I hope to be able to get to Katmandu in Nepal this trip.
But at least the bus from Thrissur to Guruvayur was a good deal. 14 Rupees. That's like 2 cents a kilometer. I think I might check out the bus to Cochin. I'm hoping I can find the Cathedral of St. Thomas there. But that's down the road. Tomorrow I'm tracking elephants! And also mailing Ganesh home. So that’s all for today I guess.