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Year View| Summary| Highlights| January 2001 (Month View)
01.01.2001 – Monday 1 January – New Year
- • I woke up at lunchtime and had breakfast, after which I went for a five-hour swim in the ocean.
- • Exhausted after my epic swim, I went and watched some Hindi drama at a nearby temple, in celebration of something or other – probably New Year.
02.01.2001 – Tuesday 2 January – Arambol
- • I went for another swim, and had dinner with a few people.
- • $1US = 49.95 PHP; $AUD1 = 27.7146 PHP
03.01.2001 – Wednesday 3 January – Disco Valley
- • I changed $US50 at 46 rupees to the dollar, into 2003 rupees, and then went to the flea market, and then onto the party at “Disco Valley”. Ric came later and we stayed all night. “Disco Valley” is another mind-blowing experience – a small valley that opens onto the ocean at one end, and is closed at the other. Several European DJ’s made a lot of noise – three days non-stop beat, and by non-stop, I mean non-stop. They mixed every song into the next, without skipping a single beat – absolutely amazing. I wonder how many people died or became permanently brain damaged. Halfway around the world, and there’s all us westerners partying under the moon in the middle of India, surrounded by nothing, with the ocean lapping at one end. Lots of Indians brought many mats for us all to sit on, and sold food and drinks. It was amazing.
- • 2K3
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04.01.2001 – Thursday 4 January – Arambol
- • Ric and I got sick of the party and I went to Mapusa, then back to Arambol to relax in the idyllic peacefulness for an ever-decreasing time while the worries of the world seem so far away.
05.01.2001 – Friday 5 January – Anjuna
- • I rode Max’s bike to Anjuna, hired it for two days, and then headed into Mapusa. Some time around now, or perhaps yesterday, I ended my four-day sleepless stint – I can’t really remember how it went, but I know I stayed up for four days, while partying, relaxing, and generally having the time of my life. This is even more outstanding when you realise that even on the nights that I did sleep, I didn’t often get to bed before the sunrise – and often didn’t sleep at all, or perhaps in the evening.
06.01.2001 – Saturday 6 January – Police arrest me
- • I went for a ride to Panaji and booked a train ticket to Bombay. I’m 7th in line for a reservation against cancellation. This is not good, but in these surrounds, who cares? I really don’t mind if I can’t get home. On the way home, I was pulled over at a police roadblock just after Mapusa, fined 500 rupees, and told to appear in court, for riding with no helmet, licence, registration papers, hire papers, speeding, attempting to avoid arrest and anything else they could think of. Fortunately I’ll be out of the country before my court date, and it’s all sort of farcical anyway – the first thing I did when I saw the police was hide most of my money in my shorts so I could claim to have very little on me.
07.01.2001 – Sunday 7 January
- • I went for a five-hour ride, checking out all the beaches along the coastline to Panaji and then gave back the bike and caught a bus home.
08.01.2001 – Monday 8 January – Arambol
- • I changed $US50 traveller’s cheques into 2300 rupees at 46 rupees to the dollar, paid for the room up to and including Wednesday 10 January and then watched some classical Indian dancing followed by Jimi Hendrix. I stayed up to 5 AM
- • 2K3
09.01.2001 – Tuesday 9 January – Lakeside
- • We all watched a Laurel and hardy movie, which ran too slowly, then went to a “party” at Lakeside and watched the lunar eclipse, getting to bed around 4 AM. It was another lovely day.
10.01.2001 – Wednesday 10 January – Arambol
- • I went and watched “Return of the Jedi” with some crazed supporters at the Baywatch café and stayed up until 4:30 AM talking to Neil. I also checked my email at some stage today – I think.
- • ℮?
11.01.2001 – Thursday 11 January – Arambol – Train
- • I packed and paid Reshma and Mannu, said my goodbyes and left. Three hours later, I was at MARGAO (MADGAON), travelling via Mapusa and Panaji. The train arrived at 9 PM rather than 7:30 PM (departs that is). I bought a “Chip” magazine, an Indian equivalent to our computer magazines.
12.01.2001 – Friday 12 January – Mumbai
- • It was a ten-hour trip to Mumbai (Bombay), and then a local train ride to Mumbai CST reservation office – but no vacancy. A bus ride to the Western Railway reservation office at Churchgate, and I secured what was probably the last ticket out of Mumbai – it is semi-miraculous I even got one. I read my “Chip” magazine and my Bible for a while, and then rode around the city on their city trains, ticket less, for something to do. I went to the Maidan and got hit by a cricket ball – which, fortunately for me, was a tennis ball, and had a look at a few of Bombay’s sights. I then got caught on a horrifically crowded city train, which took me several stations to work my way from my seat to the exit before I could get off, and rush and catch another train back to the central train station to catch my train.
- • My train left and I slept well. I really like sleeping in trains, there’s something nice about the movement, noise of the tracks and the knowledge that I’m traversing one of the most amazing and religious countries on earth, carefree, and I’ll be somewhere else when I wake up.
13.01.2001 – Saturday 13 January – Train – Delhi
- • I dozed, slept and lazed all day while my twenty-two hour trip took me to New Delhi Station, and Delhi – back where it all began.
- • Lots of police boarded the train and searched everyone, including me, looking for narcotics and explosives. This was scary – these were not the normal SLR rifle carrying police that I was used to; these had small fold-up anti-terrorist looking fibre-stock machine guns and shotguns. I could tell something was wrong – this wasn’t the same Delhi I had left a few months before.
- Pahar Ganj
- • Well, here I am back in Pahar Ganj, where it all began. I have a 60-rupee room at the optimistically named “Hotel Bright”, where I have paid for tonight. I went straight to the Madaan for food, which is cheap after Goa.
- • I changed $US50 traveller’s cheques into 2300 rupees at 46 rupees to the American dollar, and checked my email.
- • 2K3
14.01.2001 – Sunday 14 January – Delhi
- • I ventured out of my room and went to Connaught Place and the milk bar for one of their veggie burgers and milkshakes. Anyone in Delhi – I highly recommend them, having had them recommended to me by Joneses, who had them recommended to them by Ric, who has been going there for several years.
- Malaysian Airlines
- • After a search, I found the Malaysian Airlines office, so I can get there early tomorrow morning. I bought a 3-litre and 1½-litre Apollo stainless steel pressure cookers for 1000 rupees, which is an absolute bargain as the listed price on the 3 litre was RS 925 and Rs 725 on the smaller one. Pretty well all Indian products have listed prices on them, which are sort of the opposite of what we have in Australia. In India, they’re a maximum price, whereas in Australia they’re more like a minimum price. I also bought ten 10-rupee spare valves and a new 15-rupee gel pen, having lost my old one.
- • While wandering around I came across India’s only Bose shop, and got to see a demonstration, which was impressive. I then headed back to Pahar Ganj and sorted out my email address book and emailed Ric and Neil, now that I’m in internet heaven again. The internet café’s here are likely to have upwards of 200 computers in a room – they are huge, very cheap, and numerous, although sometimes horribly slow.
- • $AU travellers cheques offered at Rs 25.45. I paid 60/– for my room.
15.01.2001 – Monday 15 January – Connaught Place
- • I walked to Connaught Place. It’s misty and cold. I headed up to the Malaysian Airlines office on the 10th floor, Ashoka Estate, 24 Barakhamba Rd: Phone (91) 11 3359711 18, 3313448 49. I am waitlisted for the 17th and 21st.
- Palika Market
- • I bought two 64 CD cases for 125 rupees each, one 200 rupee battery charger, a leather wallet, and a s/glasses holder, and then went and saw Malaysian Airlines again.
- • Paid 60/– for room, and emailed everyone.
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16.01.2001 – Tuesday 16 January – Stuck
- • I am stuck in India! I paid for my room, emailed, and went to Malaysian Airlines twice. There’s nothing to be done – in typical Indian style, all flights out of India are triple and double booked for the foreseeable future. You can’t even bribe your way out. Apparently, Indian travel agents confirm people’s tickets regardless of whether there’s seats available or not, and it’s a bit of a crisis right now while everyone sorts it out. Flights out of India are at maximum capacity and still there’s months of backlog – they’re flying people out in the airhostesses seats, and many people are being forced to fly via Pakistan or overland through Asia.
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17.01.2001 – Wednesday 17 January – Indira Gandhi Airport
- • I once again went to Malaysian Airlines (twice). I bought Shan the Casio Solar Watch that he wanted, for 1495 rupees, and bought 600 rupees of antibiotics for use back in Australia – you can’t get them without a prescription back there, and even then, they cost a fortune.
- • I went and waited at the airport bus. Eventually the drive turned up and collected my money. I only had a 100-rupee note, so he went for change – and that was the last I saw of him and my 100 rupees, of course. Shortly after, the real driver turned up and I paid him 50 rupees to get to the airport.
- • I arrived at the airport. The large amount of other people waiting doesn’t look good, but I’m optimistic.
- • The check in desk opens. Apparently, this flight had 40 people overbooked. That’s 40 more people with valid confirmed tickets than can physically fit on the airplane. All the other airlines are the same.
- • We are told that the last flight has left and there are no seats available. There are quite a lot of us here waiting. I catch another 50-rupee bus back to the Ajmeri Gate side of the New Delhi Railway Station, and walk back to my room. I have to argue with the night watchman before he’ll let me in, as I had previously checked out, thinking I might be flying home. In the end, I insist I have made prior arrangements with the boss, so he lets me stay. At 1 AM, I just need a bed. I don’t care what it costs.
- • I changed $US50 into 2290 rupees at Rs 45.95/$, rounded 8 rupees down.
- • 2290
18.01.2001 – Thursday 18 January – Pahar Ganj
- • I went to Malaysian Airlines again, and am now waitlisted for Sunday and Wednesday, and still optimistic. Besides, one of the women there is really cute. I then did some washing (in ice-cold water) and even washed me, which was even colder. I bought a copy of “Trains at a Glance”, the comprehensive guide to all trains across India, and managed to book a ticket to and from Allahabad – which is a pretty mean feat considering that they’re having the world’s largest gathering of people there. It cost me 480 rupees. I emailed Ric, Sarah and Joneses.
- • I headed down to New Delhi Station.
- • The train should have arrived.
- • The train did arrive, and we headed off for Allahabad.
- • ℮
19.01.2001 – Friday 19 January – Allahabad and the Kumbh Mela
- • I arrived in ALLAHABAD, after a farcical train trip, which kept getting later and later. I was supposed to arrive at 11:15 AM, but didn’t. Still, I can’t complain too much considering they’re probably moving more people than anyone ever has before.
- • A five rupee, half hour Tempo ride gets me to the KUMBH MELA – the largest gathering of people in one place ever. It is amazingly big, and amazingly clean. There are millions of lights and lots of smoke and very little air. Breathing is not good, oxygen would be handy. The army has built an entire city out of Hessian and bamboo on a flat sand plain between two rivers. It is unreal. I stayed two hours, which was quite long enough. I’m happy that I got to be part of, and see, the world’s largest gathering – something I’d have missed had I flown home when I was supposed to. I have to hand it to the Indians – no one else could even begin to manage the logistics they deal with every day.
- • The train that was supposed to leave at 1:15 AM arrived and I headed back to Delhi, with two addresses to write to.
20.01.2001 – Saturday 20 January – New Delhi
- • I arrive in New Delhi and go straight to Malaysian Airlines. I’m still waitlisted so I get some ice cream from Keventers, and went to bed early, back at Hotel Bright for 60 rupees a night.
21.01.2001 – Sunday 21 January – New Delhi
- • I bought a leather horse, elephant and camel for Sarah, Jade and Ella, for 425 rupees, quoted Rs 180 × 2 and Rs 120. I also bought 360 rupees worth of antibiotics and another lock, emailed Silas, Ric and others and caught a 50-rupee bus to the airport, which only went to the domestic terminal so I had to catch a 30-rupee rickshaw to the international airport. There’s 35 people waitlisted tonight, so no chance, although I did wait from 7 PM to 11 PM just to be sure. I then caught a 50-rupee bus with a 20-rupee luggage charge back to a 100-rupee room at “Mahesh Guesthouse”, number 302, one of the few places open at 2 AM. I paid for 24 hours.
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22.01.2001 – Monday 22 January – Pahar Ganj
- • I went to Malaysian Airlines again, where I’m still waitlisted. They said it might be possible to get a flight out in about two weeks. I bought a 150-rupee immersion water heater and two smaller 25-rupee ones, as well as two 2 plug-socket thingos to go with them, which cost 10 rupees.
- Air FM
- • Heard on AIR FM today: “Heaven is when you have an American salary, British home, Chinese food and Indian wife. Hell is when you have an American wife, British food, Chinese home and Indian salary”
- • I emailed Ric, Joneses, Sarah and Silas and bought some more water heaters, Rs 130, Rs 100, Rs 25 and Rs 20. They’re cool things and cost a fortune in Australia.
- • I withdrew 1000 rupees from Citibank and paid 100 rupees for my room.
- • 1K
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23.01.2001 – Tuesday 23 January – Pahar Ganj
- • I wake up to find there’s no power and it has rained a bit last night.
- • Paid 100 rupees for my room and went to Malaysian Airlines, where I’m still waitlisted. I withdrew 500 rupees and emailed ^lulu. Just before 9 PM, three police came to my hotel room and checked my passport.
- • 500
24.01.2001 – Wednesday 24 January – Pahar Ganj
- • I went to Malaysian Airlines, their computer is down but they said I’m still waitlisted and tomorrow is half-day business due to Republic Day on Friday.
- • I bought an 80-rupee bag and caught a 50-rupee luxury coach to the airport. Typical Indians, every bus to the airport costs 50 rupees, including the dirty old city bus that charges extra for luggage or the luxury coach. By this time I had realised that this airport situation was hopeless, there’s still tons of people who have confirmed tickets and can’t get seats and I don’t even have a confirmed ticket – I’m just on a waitlist. Nevertheless, I had to get home, so I went and saw the big boss man at the airport.
- • I head back and find a 110-rupee room with an attached bath at the same hotel I was in before, room number 304 this time, checking in at 1:20 AM. I have the name of Malaysian Airlines North Indian Sales Manager now (thanks to the airport manager), Henry Moses – so I’m going to go hunt him down tomorrow.
25.01.2001 – Thursday 25 January – Pahar Ganj
- • I went and saw Henry Moses, at Malaysian Airlines. It’s amazing where being nice can get you sometimes. As usual, there was the collection of very annoyed and angry tourists screaming and yelling at the poor women behind the counter, none of who were able to get to see anyone “higher up”. But when I demanded, politely, that I see the manager, I was quietly told to wait until he finished a meeting, and then taken to see him. I now have a confirmed ticket from Delhi to Madras on Sahara Airlines, then Madras to KL and KL to Cairns, for Sunday – including a luxury hotel in KL, all costs paid, while the rest are still screaming and threatening the women behind the counter.
- • I withdrew 1500 rupees from Citibank. My new balance is now 67,437 rupees. I emailed everyone and paid 110 rupees for my room. There are more than 55,000 of those scary looking soldier/security/policemen in Delhi for Republic Day.
- • The police again checked my room, and AIR FM says, “Girls deserve to be made fun of because they do such funny things”.
- • 1K5
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26.01.2001 – Friday 26 January – 52nd Republic Day
- • Chinese New Year. Earthquake. Emailed everyone to let him or her know I was alive and not killed by earthquake or bombings or Chinese. Watched some of the parades on TV. All buildings higher than three storeys are closed due to terrorist threats. Some shops are still open. Being a foreigner outside seems like a recipe to be murdered or jailed for life, so I keep a low profile. There are many people everywhere.
27.01.2001 – Saturday 27 January – Pahar Ganj
- • I went to Malaysian Airlines, collected my hotel voucher, requested veg meals, something Indians are very good at, and bought “Driver”, “Age of Empires Collection”, “Unreal Tournament”, “Tiberian Sun, Firestorm 2” for 90 rupees each. I also bought another five pressure cooker valves for 10 rupees each and a 12 rupee shaver now that I’m heading back into depressing civilization where people are too worldly and narrow minded to look further than appearances. I showered, shaved, and washed my clothes.
- • Encyclopædia Britannica for sale, recently married, wife knows everything – BBC Quote/Unquote
28.01.2001 – Sunday 28 January – Madras
- • I caught a bus to the domestic terminal. The flight was delayed half an hour, so I didn’t leave until 6:23 PM. They confiscated some batteries I had. I’m in seat 8F, which is a window seat. There’s six seats across in this Boeing 737-700, three either side of the aisle. There is no one else in my three seats. I had two very nice meals, having asked for a second meal – something I doubt you can do in Australia, not that you’d want to with the mush they serve over there.
- • I arrive in Madras after a two hour thirty-six minute flight. I get my batteries back and check-in for my next flight. I actually get a boarding pass! This is stressful; I can see all the overbooked and waitlisted people waiting.
- • The flight should have left, but it didn’t.
- • The flight leaves. I am on it. We fly for three and a half hours, and put our clocks forward two and a half hours, arriving at 9:10 AM in KL.
29.01.2001 – Monday 29 January – Kuala Lumpur
- • I wait for a long time for a bus to the “Hotel Equatorial Bangi”, a 4-star hotel in the middle of a golf course. It seems it’s not normal to put airline passengers here – this is something special that was arranged because I was stuck in India. I have a nice lunch, The curled New Zealand butter is something I’ve not had since being in India – and the lovely little bread rolls, yum. I can eat my fill just on bread rolls and butter. I then have a nice shower – wow, not only is the water hot but the shower is clean, this is amazing. Dinner is also nice. I then catch a bus to KL International, where I have an unusual joint flight between KLM, Lauda Air and MH. Flight STD 22:35, ETD 10:40 and duration 4h45 up to Darwin, arriving 4:55 AM, and it’s amazingly good to see Aussie staff – how funny they look.
30.01.2001 – Tuesday 30 January – Darwin – Cairns
- • I leave Darwin after an hour and five minutes. Nearly everyone got off at Darwin, goodness knows why, so the plane is nearly empty. The take off is very steep – literally a 45° climb, which is pretty cool, I guess because the plane is empty. We cruise along at 3700 feet, doing 850 kilometres an hour. The few passengers on the plane, and me, can sit wherever we want and talk to the hostesses – it’s nice.
- • After eight hours and thirteen minutes, including Darwin, I’m back in Cairns. The nice little sniffer dogs come and sniff us all, and Australian Immigration are their usual embarrassingly horrible selves – not letting the people in front of me into the country because they hadn’t booked a hotel to stay at. How are you supposed to have a hotel to stay in when you haven’t got into the country to find one yet? We’ve the worst immigration, bar Israel, that there is – so travellers tell me. On the positive side, despite all the big things saying that under no circumstances could I bring leather horses, elephants or camels into the country, the guy at quarantine said he’d let me – even though I showed him them.
- • I caught the bus into Cairns. It’s weird being back. It’s hot too. The first thing that strikes me is how fat, ugly and unhealthy everyone is. There are all these girls with pimples, blotches, overweight and shocking dress sense walking around. Indian women are, generally speaking, beautiful, with well-formed figures and don’t seem to suffer from acne, blotches, pink bike pants and such, and Indian men are always very neat, fit, and mostly wear suits.
- • Silas comes and picks me up, and I head out to his place. He goes back to work and I go online on his computer and catch up with my friends from chat.
- • The holiday is over, and it has been, without a doubt, the best time of my life. All my stress, worry and anxiety, of which I had a lot, simply ceased to exist while I was in India. Despite what everyone said, I did not get sick, I was not appalled by the poverty, and I only got pick pocketed once. The food, as soon as I got away from the tourist places and ate what the Indians ate, was consistently the best I’ve ever had and far above anything I’ve had in Australia, apart from some of Mum’s cooking, and very cheap. The whole place is remarkably cheap. I had a three and a half month overseas holiday for less than $3000 Australian, including all my airfares and travel insurance.
31.01.2001 – Wednesday 31 January – Silas’s
- • Rested at Silas’ place in Cairns. Relaxed. Went on Chat and caught up with lulu and my other chat friends again. Marvelled at the amount of obese people, and realised how few I had seen while in India. Ate Australian food. Went to a supermarket and bought normal things with Australian dollars. Bought some ice cream, some cream, and some custard. Relaxed more.