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Ginger terrorist.

(Older Post ie stalling)

Kerala. I have a bit of a beard now, this falls into my subset of goals: To let my beard grow for the entire time I am in India. But this has maybe had an adverse effect on our reception at some of the hotels in Kerala. (Or it could be Douglas’ mustache, which is quite becoming by the way) We stopped at one small town. With only three hotels, the first one said something interesting, we were told that they cant give us a room because they have no running water in the hotel. They were quite friendly and polite so I asked if I could use the toilet, they said yes and I proceeded to wash my hands in their wonderful flowing water. I also asked one of the wait staff if there were any guests and he said there was a few.
The next one said they were full, in the height of the tourist off-season. Finally we had to go to the most expensive hotel,1700 rupees (Thats very expensive kids), which was more than willing to take our potentially ill financed cash. This turned out ot be a very surreal and kind of cool experience as we were basically the only guests in a massive hotel out in the middle of the country.

We got more clues as to our treatment when we made it to our next stop. It was no place special just a way point but it must been a hive of terrorist activity. A nice Indian guy by the name of Kuriakose, who was also a christian and tried to convert Doug, which seemed to be becoming a theme of our trip, the attempted conversion of Doug to Christianity. He helped us find a hotel and during the process I became aware that without him we would not have been able to get the hotel as we needed a local sponsor as well as giving them our passports as security. These apparently were all anti-terrorist measures to combat the present threat, but that wasnt all. When we were chillaxing on the rooftop, the attendent came up and said we were only allowed ten minutes up there and we werent allowed to take any pictures.

I didnt know there were any ginger terrorists at least not in India anyway.

A new beginning.

I have an awesome beard.

Yes. Yes I do.

Pre-trip preparation – My Gear.

Before I set off into the unknown, I thought it might be wise to make sure I was prepared as possible, especially considering I was going solo. I hate the cold and I didn’t want to get caught out.  All up the extra gear I bought ended up costing me  only about a 100 Euro, of course it was all fake brands but as long as it did the job and got through the trip I would be happy.

It was kind of funny, I went to the outdoor store to look for snow jackets and waterproof pants and I was trying on the number of lovely different combinations of colours they had available ranging from 80′s purple to a kind of vomit green. I wanted to go with a bright colour in case I came off a drift somewhere on the side of a mountain and that way I could be spotted, by the efficient and dedicated Indian army sent to rescue me.  I finally settled on a red jacket and green pants, I was looking in the mirror trying to think if it was a bad combination, it wasnt until I got home and tried the gear on again that, with my beard, I looked like Ben, the Christmas Viking. So I returned and finally settled on a grey jacket and cream and black pants. Stylish!

Introducing, My Gear – Some of this was purchased at the beginning of the trip but I thought you might be interested.

Clockwise from left 1) My helmet – It has an Indian safety standard sticker on it that comes off. Confidence!   2) Gloves – I have riding gloves and I bought the winter gloves a bit bigger so I could slide my riding ones inside.   3)  Motorbike Jacket – This was  bought from a company called Cramster in Bangalore, really good stuff, especially for the price. Its got all the protective pads and its designed as a summer jacket so its relatively light. Its my first bike jacket, so I feel the part when I’m wearing it.   4) Knee protection – name kind of says it all, also from Cramster. Only figured out how to wear them properly at this point of the trip, they used to end up being ankle guards.   5) Map   6) My ‘ North Face’ jacket – I bought everything so it could be layered, the inner and outer layer of this jacket both fit over my bike jacket. (This really came in handy later on)   7) Backpack – This contained my first aid kit, important documents and spare tyre tubes, so I wouldnt have to go digging if I got in trouble.   8) Waterproof Pants   9) Standard Issue Indian Army Boots – Picked these up new for about 12 dollars, was told later I had been ripped off.   10) My riding shoes – I bought these in Bangalore, they are full leather and the great thing about India is I can always get them repaired for about 20 cents. They have done me well. 11)  Motorbike Saddle bags – These are also from Cramster and have been great. I can fit everything I need in them and just strap onto the bike. It contained my sleeping bag , toiletries and you can see the foot pump tied on top, up to this point thankfully I hadn’t needed to use it.

Time is on my side.

Just letting you know, that I’m going to spend as little time as possible on the net over the next two weeks. Im in the North in the Himalaya’s and just want to make the most of the time I have available. Don’t worry, there will be many crazy adventure stories (with pictures) coming your way soon.  Till then, here is some crap stuff I wrote earlier. Enjoy!

Fear and Loathing.

Fear. I’m finding that, and I’m not the first to do so, that this is the one thing that impacts my life on a regular basis. On any given situation fear has the opportunity to rear its ugly head. Sometimes this is a good thing, like don’t put that battery in you mouth, I’m not sure eating that kebab is a good idea etc but a lot of the time its killing you. Its killing who you really are and who you possibly could be.

Recently I have found myself looking at some of the ways of doing things, and as we get older these ways become more established and they make us feel comfortable, hence not afraid in any given situation but what I want to do and what I’m asking you to consider, is to examine your daily behaviors decide what is the motivation here. If it is a known fear that holds you back from changing your life for the better, then change it but especially if it is a fear of mediocrity, examine that fear, understand why you are afraid and be free of what is holding you back.

I find that in a situation (enter relevant setting here), we have a few ways of responding, one we do the behavior that makes us feel comfortable allows to walk away at the end and say I’m ok, Ive got it sorted (this ties in with that creating our reality that I mentioned earlier) , or two we act upon our fear and become agitated and nervous we recognise there is an issue but we let the fear dictate and we lose ourselves or three we recognise that we are afraid and we objectively act upon our behavior and change it. In all honesty the first few times we try to change it will be hard, we may embarrass ourselves and more than likely we will slip back into the first option of being comfortable. But fight, keep going, because change never occurs without action. Thought and action are on a positive feedback loop and one cant change without the other.

So stop being afraid and just …. do.

Most people are prepared to except you as you believe yourself to be.

Cheers
Ben.

Would you like finger chips with that?

Sometimes in India when ordering food from a menu, you get the impression that some of your choices are incorrectly matched. For instance one day we ordered a mix of North and South Indian food. Once our choices arrived, over the next fifteen minutes the waiter, without being asked, brought different extras to our table and until we were supplied with a full South Indian meal. I think this was the staffs way of politely expressing that we had made the wrong choice.

Other times though, this is not what is happening and just another example of the strange communication that can occur in India. Here is one instance:

We were staying at one place and everyday I went in there and ordered rice with my meal, usually Dhal. This time I went in with Doug.

(Doug has already ordered a dish with Parota)
Waiter: You want Parota?
Me: No, rice please.
Waiter: Parota?
Me:No, rice.
Waiter: Parota
Me: Rice.
Waiter: Parota.
Me: Rice, rice please.
Waiter: Not Parota?
Me :No rice, rice.
(Waiter departs with puzzled look.)
Keep in mind that this is the same waiter I ordered from the last two days.
(Waiter then returns with puzzled look, Doug’s meal, my meal and Parota….for me. I then say rice one more time after ten minutes he returns with some rice for me. By this time Doug has finished his Parota and would like another.
Doug: Another parota please.
Waiter: Rice?
Doug: No Parota.
Waiter: Ok.
(Waiter scurrys off)
The waiter then returns with a plate of rice for Doug

I have something to confess.

Im not proud of it but last I slept with some mice. It was dirty. No kidding, I woke up this morning and cleared my sheets to find mouse droppings down near my feet, a lot of them. Just before I went to sleep I had been watching the mice run from one side to the other, I thought my room was some kind of pathway, looks like they were just waiting for the lights to go out then  they were getting cosy while I was sleeping. Don’t blame them though its been bloody cold, do feel kind of used though. They just left me with their crap to clean up.

Malaise in Manali

In Manali, to be honest just bored, waiting for the road to open. I was worried that I had spent too much time in Mcleod but looks like it was just the right time, things  work out. Doesn’t interest me at all here though. Want to get away from the tourists, and just explore the roads. Not unhappy but just impatient. Indians in tourist areas get on my nerves as well, can’t help thinking they are shady. I always feel like they want something and when you have met Indians off the tourist trek. Its a world of difference.

Finally! A new camera.

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