I just got back from the local swimming pool in Brisbane. There was a dead lizard at the bottom of the pool. This has absolutely no relation to anything else I am going to write in this blog post, I just thought that I would let you know! But this poses a very interesting question…can lizards swim?! I feel like I can picture a lizard swimming. Don’t lizards have webbed feet? They are clearly MADE for swimming! So maybe it died of a heart attack? Or liver failure? Or maybe it swallowed too much chlorine? Anyway, answers in the post please folks. Back on topic…
So it may seem strange that I quit my job, go travelling around Asia and then decide to blog about it AFTER I have actually left the continent months later. Well get used to it, that’s just how I roll! I ain’t gon’ let nobody tell me how to live my life, ya hear?! *ahem* …so I thought I would just go over some of my most amazing experiences, my thoughts, feelings, some of my filming experiences (and tips) in Asia and also what I got out of it and why I think that you should do the same thing! So I will first start with India as there is too much to cover in just one post for my whole trip! If you are thinking of just upping and leaving, then you are in the right place to hear about someone’s experiences who has already done it… (and I will include lots of pics that I haven’t previously posted on Facebook or Instagram before so look out for those fresh ones!)
Before I left the UK I was extremely excited to be actually doing something new with my life but I’m not gonna lie, it was also a bit nerve racking! I don’t think it actually really hit me fully until I was in the airport at Heathrow saying goodbye to my parents with no idea when I would see them again, and of course there were some tears shed! I think as a grown man that there are certain situations where it is acceptable to cry, and this is one of them, ok!? Yeah good. Glad we got that one sorted. Look, here I am at the airport just before I checked in my backpack.
What a handsome, young (and nervous at this point!) fellow! That backpack weighed exactly 20kg as far as I can remember. I was also carrying one on my front which weighed at least 10kg and an additional sleeping bag…my advice to you? Travel light! When you are carrying heavy bags through hot countries, you will feel it trust me! I didn’t need half of the stuff I took with me. I mean, who on earth needs a mosquito net for their head!?
And here we have the contents of my bags! I actually didn’t take everything you see here as I couldn’t fit it all in. But my most valued possession? Hmmmm, probably my camera! Haha, but I would say that because of my profession!
So passing through security at the airport, I was all of a sudden all alone and the adventure had officially started! Well, actually it almost didn’t get started at all because I got held at security for so long that I almost missed my flight. So destination 1? India! This place right here:
The view from my very first hotel (and pretty much the only ‘hotel’ I stayed in during my trip!) room overlooking Kovalam Beach. Yes I have a GoPro on a pole, get over it people! You know you love it really! I don’t know why I get so much stick (pun intended) over using this thing…I’m sure other ‘pole’ users will agree with me!
It’s funny…I met up with a friend (big yaself up Binil! If you are reading this, thanks for all of your help you are a legend!) at Trivandrum airport in Kerala (south India) and he ended up taking me to a place to stay which was pretty nice. It cost me about £30 per night, which in backpacker terms is ridiculously expensive! But what did I know?…I had just landed and had no idea how much everything cost. I remember thinking “God, this place is a shithole”…hahaha! It turns out that it was probably one of the nicest places I was likely to stay at for the foreseeable future. I guess as you travel that your standards drop and you become way more relaxed, laid back and you care less. You get used to the cockroaches and the bugs, the hard beds, the rot, the damp, the rust, the dust, the mosquito nets with huge holes in them and everything else that slowly you just accept as normal. “Does the place have a bed to sleep in? Is it cheap? Great, I’ll take it!”…that was pretty much my philosophy in the coming months.
Many people also ask me “Did you experience any kind of culture shock after landing in India?”. My answer would be “not really”. What affected me more was suddenly being in a strange country, far away from home with no friends to travel with and absolutely no plan of what I was going to do or where I was going next. I still remember on day 1 walking past a man with completely deformed legs crawling his way down the sidewalk (I seem to have adapted many American sayings since I left the UK, and I now often relate prices to dollars instead of pounds. Funny that) and thinking “oh God, why is everyone just ignoring this guy?”. But there are handicapped and homeless people everywhere, people sleeping in the street and you are exposed to it pretty much from the get go. It seems to be accepted as normal so you quickly get used to it. I’m not sure if that’s a good or a bad thing to be honest…?
Kovalam Beach in Kerala.
So I never really told anyone this but for my first 5 days or so I felt quite alone, trying hard to adjust to this new life. I didn’t meet any other backpackers and I was just one English man in an unfamiliar land full of people who don’t speak my language (well actually the Indians are very good at English!). So I guess in that sense I did have a bit of a culture shock. I made my way from Kovalam next down to the southernmost point of India…the tip! A place called Kanyakumari.
It seems like half of India turned up to watch the sunset at Kanyakumari!
No longer in Kerala, I was now in a state called Tamil Nadu. The language spoken there (Tamil) is different to what is spoken in Kerala (Malayalam). I met a couple of Israeli girls there who were also travelling throughout India. They asked me if I wanted to watched the sunset (and sunrise the next morning) with them and I remember feeling grateful to have some other travellers to hang out with! God, I’m such a loser, haha. Funny how much I changed over the coming months though, asking people I had just met if they wanted to share a room. You need to learn how to make friends fast when you travel if you want to keep costs down! Sharing rooms is a must and you can’t be afraid to ask, especially if you are a solo traveller like myself. In one place I shared one bed with two other people. When we split the cost it came to like £1.40 each per night…bargain!
So the first person I met and travelled together with properly was a super nice Aussie dude (nuff respect Kiya!) that I met at the train station. He was also a solo traveller and we agreed to share a room in our next destination as we were headed the same way…hurrah, I made a friend mum! Hahaha. And this was the view from our balcony…compare this with the previous balcony pic. Nice place huh? Yeah, this cost me £2.50 per night…bit of a change from £30!
There I go with my pole again. Oh and my hammock that a friend from London bought me (thanks Gianni!). This was taken in Varkala (I spent far too long here, as I came back again later in my trip and stayed for 3 weeks!).
So I could go on and on for a very loooong time about each specific part of my journey in India. But for now I will just post up a few more pictures, and in the next post I will post up my highlights and tips for the best places to visit and things to do and see in the south of India. And then I will have to dedicate another post to some of the funniest things that happened whilst I was there…I bet you lot are on the edge of your seats right now! Here is some eye candy for y’all in the meantime (in no particular order):
A shop owner in Varkala.
Jimee and Lucie with their new family members! Haha! These kids would just not leave us alone and followed us around for ages whilst we took photos asking for money. This was on our way to the Matrimandir meditation dome in Pondicherry.
Outside our guesthouse in Alleppey, Kerala…the same place where a millipede made its way into my trousers and a cockroach decided to make a new home in my shoe!
The best biscuits in all of India!
This was a bit weird…on the backwaters in Kerala at a lunch stop a bird of prey is thrust upon us. So we took photos of it. The end.
The Alleppey crew! (minus Jimee, I think he was chilling in a temple or something…!?)
The pinkest house in all of India! In Kerala.
Kirsten and the goat…can you tell which one is which? I can’t. Hahaha, you know I love you really Kirsten!!
A kid just caught a frog. He ran home after this picture was taken. Most likely to cook and eat little Mr. Froggy!
Kirsten and Jimee cruising through the backwaters.
Splashing around on the backwaters of Kerala in Alleppey. This was on Lucie’s 21st birthday! Happy birthday Lucie!!! That’s her ass on the right of the photo…a birthday ass! Haha!
Dom busting out his handstand skills on a beach somewhere in India.
Dom riding the sleeper train through India!
Dom and me trying to get inside the barrels in Varkala. Shortly after (or before actually I can’t remember) this photo was taken I did manage to body surf a wave inside the barrel which was pretty amazing until it dumped me face first into the sea bed, smashing my face and giving me a lovely cut up face and nosebleed!
Jimee and Jimmy (yes, there are two of them!) getting ready for a bit of boating action in some town, somewhere in India.
Hello To The Queen….without doubt the greatest desert in all of India. Thanks to Bar for introducing it to me! You will only find it in touristy places, but if you ever see it on any menu out there, order it! This one wasn’t actually the best one I tried. The best one was in a place called ‘Little Tibet’, which is a restaurant in Varkala on the cliff. Apparently it was invented by some stoned Israeli’s in India many years ago who then presented it to their English friend and so called it Hello To The Queen. Random.
A portrait of yours truly in the sand, expertly crafted by Mr. Dominik Rohrer! Well done, it’s almost like I am looking in a mirror!
This photo just makes me laugh thinking back to when I took it. We met this guy next to a temple on the top of some big rock, somewhere in India and he was totally loving the camera, busting poses left, right and centre. He didn’t really speak much English and it was all rather bizarre. As we were leaving, he followed us and just jumped on the back of Jimee’s bike without any of us knowing why or where he wanted us to take him! We were just like “ok, I guess you’re coming with us then!”…hahaha. He eventually told us to stop as we passed by what must have been his house…free taxi service from Jimee Clarke, he’ll take you wherever you want with no questions asked! Haha.
Bar as a mermaid…isn’t he beautiful!?
The tea plantations in Munnar, India. Some of the most amazing scenery here, I highly recommend visiting!
The crew in Hampi….the greatest place in all of India!
Léna with the pole this time! In Hampi, India on our way to go tubing, woohooo!!!!
Hampi, at one of the many temples there. The red mark on my forehead was given to me at a temple as a blessing, applied in that spot as it is thought to be the most holy point on the body (the third eye/sixth chakra).
Oi monkey, you are so close to the camera that you have gone out of focus!
The Hampi crew! (before Jimee turned up)
Near the peak at a mountain in Kollur called Kodachadri. Funny story – when I reached the top I had to persuade some guy to let me stay in his house (there were like three people living up there!), because he doesn’t usually let solo travellers stay there…the reason? Solo travellers apparently visit the mountain to jump off and kill themselves. So there I am having to try and persuade some guy who doesn’t really speak English that I am not going to kill myself. Just another day in India! Oh and just to add to this, in the town at the bottom of the mountain (Kollur), I visited the only temple in all of my travels where you actually have to take off your clothes to enter! All males had to go in topless. Usually you have to dress up and cover up, but no, not there…what can I say? This is India!
My 30th birthday! I spent this with my friend and his family in Mangalore. Thanks for the cake!!! Also, all of you CSC peeps will notice the t-shirt. Reppin’ Kix! Haha
I don’t think this one really needs any comment…
…maybe the guy had been eating too many of these biscuits….!?
Gokarna town! This place did the best gobi manchuri on the local’s beach front. Basically fried cauliflower. Delicious! Go check it out if you are in the town.
Getting tattoo’d in a ‘studio’ at Om Beach. Love Kiya’s face in this one!
Om Beach…where the cows go on holiday.
Look, here I am with all of my bags on a train track! Let’s hope there isn’t a train approaching. And as many of my friends know, I am known for my sweating, ummmmm, abilities…!? Yeah, well this day just took it to a whole new level…waterfalls galore!
Just chillin’ with Léna, Kiya and our new rickshaw buddies!
On a train in India!
….inside a (rather packed) train in India. We actually had to board this train as it was moving, and it was crazy busy inside as you can see, so not an easy task!
Doggy beach life! The guy on the left behind the dog was an American guy who had been travelling for years…at this point he was telling us how he was shot at during a drive-by shooting in Hawaii. Crazy!
A dog. In a bin. This is India.
A girl performing in the street in Pondicherry (the place where Life of Pi was set!)
Shame, I had a few good ones lined up.
The coolest dog in all of India! This dog was named after a kung fu legend ‘Wong Fei-hung’, who is also the most portrayed character in all of film history. Random fact for you there.
A martial arts show in Thekkady.
Upside down photography in Hampi! Bet you didn’t even realise it was upside down did ya!?
So anyway, that’s all for now. I know in my last blog post that I promised you the story about what happens when you are up a mountain and someone shouts “AVALANCHE!”, but unfortunately it will have to wait! Maybe next time….or maybe when I make it to Nepal! If you have made it this far down the page, well done I congratulate you for reading all of my ramblings!