Monday, December 12, 2005

India: An Experimental backpacking to the North & Goa

Part 12 (Ending, very bad ending, boring one)

Goa, 1st day

It was a Palorem beach and it was my second time. The first time was exactly 6 month ago. My objective and mission was clear, to have a good life and on that day of my arrival, I started my good life.

The palm trees, the golden sand on the beach, the coco huts, the volatile level waves, the swaying of trees, the beach dogs and everything made me felt like I was there yesterday. After a round of searching for good hut, I settle in on a hut, lay on the front of the beach. A hut that enable me to view the beach and the morning sun and straight up to heaven with a block of any matter. First sign on good life.

Second sign of good life was when I invited myself a good Goan lunch at Kates café. My lunch was prawn curry rice and a cold beer. I was reading the fascinating book and story was about the struggle surviving cancer by Louis Armstrong. It was a very inspirational and emotional book.

Another famous thing in Goa was the full body massage. That’s what I did after lunch. It was a full body massage. Yes it was only my first half day and I was already having the dream life of any man working on the street or in the office, people who have money and cars but didn’t have sufficient time to live youthful life. I was the opposite.

Song: Your winter by Sister Hazel & Yesterday’s gone by Lenny Kravitz

And without I realize it my first day was gone. I was alone and I had a good life. I only spent 30 minutes on the beach.

My all time top 5 Actors

1. Al Pacino
2. Denzel Washington
3. Johnny Depp
4. Leonardo DeCaprio
5. Kevin Spacey

Goa, 2nd day

So the morning has broken. I woke up like usual with the sun still a little shy away from the sky, blues sky, colored by the whitening clouds. I went to the nearest café or hut by the beach to feed myself a health breakfast and had myself a serenity of the morning Goa.

In the café I met a very strong and healthy old man from Israel. We had a very interesting conversation. At one point of our conversation, he was recalled of his bitter youth of the then shaky and war thorn between Israel and Egypt, back in 1973. While his friends attending Woodstock and foreign universities, he was in a tank or sometime on feet fighting with the Egyptians army. It was a tragic memory or sometime a poignant one especially when he think of how his close friends killed in the battlefields. He almost came to tears but somehow he managed to hold back.

Then came along one beautiful girl. She was alone and was wearing sunshade. She walked in the café and seating by herself, watching and enjoying the serenity of the beach and sky. The Israelis left me to rejoin with his fellow friends and so I was alone. I told myself it’s time to hook up with the beautiful girl and so I brave myself to talk to her. I took a last sip of black tea and walked to her table and without even a slight of hesitation I said hi and asked her if I may join her. And not much of her surprise, she said yes and there it goes, I had her acquaintance until the last day of her in Goa.

Her name is Arielle. She is from Vancouver, Canada but working in Cannes, Australia. She was traveling alone. I invited her to a dinner with me which of course she could never deny since I was quite charming at it.

I read Lance Armstrong’s autobiography few more chapters and later in the evening I joined some local kids and some travelers to play beach soccer.

We had a dinner at Sameer café, serving one of the finest steaks, seafood and western varieties in Palorem. I ordered myself chicken steak sizzle and she ordered fish steak. It was a candlelight dinner by the beach. It was a memorable and somewhat romantic night. We shared lot in common especially in music, books and movies. Talking about movies, she was once actively act as an extra in various Hollywood movies. Among them with Ben Affleck in Paycheck, Luke Perry in some TV series and Courtney Love.

Her all time top 5 actors/actress

1. Al Pacino
2. Edward Norton
3. Meg Ryan
4. Renee Zelwegar
5. Nicholas Cage

3rd Day, Goa.

Arielle and I met up in the morning for breakfast. It was also good to have someone around to acquaintance with especially in Goa but without any string attached. We just meet up whenever we both want and have a nice time together engaged in a very interesting conversation. And when either of us want to do something alone, we just split and met up again at promised time.

So after a very delicious breakfast, I rented a bike and so together with her, we cruise the village and outskirt of Goa. It was really nice. We went to a 5 star hotel and suntanned on the beach. The beach was empty and it was only the two of us and the ocean and its lovely waves. It was as only the two of us in the universe. Occasionally we batched in the deep ocean and splashing crazily at each other. I was done with Lance Armstrong and started to read “The Kingfisher” which was also a motion picture starring Robbie William and Jeff Bridges.

We separated for a while for the whole afternoon and we met up again for dinner. This time we went to Marita café. It was a nice little café which allowed you to play your own choice of Cds.

It was also a few tables, lighted with a candle and facing the ocean. Instead of both of us seating facing each other, we were seating side by side facing the ocean, occasionally producing the little waves that hitting the shore and hence producing the Mexican waves. I ordered a prawn curry rice and Goan fry chilly chicken while she was ordering veg. Pakoda and fish steak sizzle.

I then started to play my own set of CD. To accompany the most romantic dinner, I first put Nina Simone’s hits and classical jazz.

The night was long and beautiful. She left the day after that. In Goa I also met up with a very interesting person, a Gary chap from England. He stayed in the hut next to me. We hung out quite a lot especially the time when me and Arielle separated to do our own thing. Most time, we were just seating and hanging out in his hut, smoking hash non stop, listening to good music and had lot of coffee. It was so funny that we were smoking hash for a continuous 6 hours, non stop, one after another. Interesting conversation hold us up together. A lot of thing I did learned from this Gary guy. Like always be nice and to people and be humble, don’t show off.

Gary came from a broken family. And through his youth, he had been to many countries, some with hard life like Greece, South Africa, Germany and etc. He speak Spanish, German and Hindi. He has a knack for language. He used to play in a same team with Ryan Giggs during his prime for Manchester United under 16.

The 4 days in Goa sign off this tiring journal and also my story through my experimental traveling through North of India, Pune and Goa. Honestly I am very tired and bored and who the hell is reading this crap anyway?? With that I say goodbye. (to myself)

Peter Ooi.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

India: An Experimental backpacking to the North & Goa

Part 11
The infamous Golden Temple
Song: Don’t go away by Oasis

The journey to Amritsar after a week in paradise (McLeod) is like Beetleby & Loki, the angels in Kevin Smith’s “Dogma” that being cast away from heaven to earth for all life and eternity. The road gradually returning to normal and typical Indian road. Pollution and traffic jam were back in operation. The journey took me about 6 hours.

I arrived in Pathankot at 7.30 pm and the sky was already dark. There was no bus to Amritsar until tomorrow morning. And the earliest train was schedule to arrive 6 hours after that. I had no choice but to hung out with my friend, the 15 kilo bag pack, on the floor by the entrance of the railway station. I was already drain out and tired.

Song: Mellon Collie & the infinite sadness by Smashing Pumpkins

I brought the cheapest ticket or the lowest class. I didn’t know it was suppose to be first come first basis. And when the train arrived, I didn’t manage to find myself a seat so I ended up on the smelly dirty floor by the side of the door and the miserable toilet was like less than 10 meter away. I took out a paper and spread it on the floor, hugging my bag pack and fall asleep. I was awaken by a train manager and he was kind enough to alert me of possible thievery if I would to sleep openly like thin with my bag pack. I think it must had been his first time to see a foreign traveler sleeping on the train floor. Because of his generosity, I was being offer a sleeper class until I reached Amritsar.

Song: How you remind me by Nickelback

I arrived at Amritsar dead early in the morning. I was tired from the train ride and lack of sleep. And my bag pack was killing me with its weight. I went straight to the golden temple. Amritsar didn’t really impress me. In facts I hate it so much I wish the day would be over soon. The only consolation on Amritsar which is also one of the best thing was the golden temple.

Golden temple is the most important sacred shrine for the Sikhs, who travel from all parts of the world to enjoy the blissful environments and offer their thanks by giving prayers.

I went to one of the lodging and took a nap on its bench. It was a brief nap but it sure felt like I had been sleeping forever. At around I visited the golden temple. The temple open 24 hours and we the visitors and the pilgrimages had to cover our head with scarf and wash our feet clean before enter to the holy place. Inside, it was huge. I was overwhelmed at its majestic view and awesome architecture. It was the same amazement I had when I first saw the Taj Mahal last year. The time was around 5.30 in the morning and trust me, it was the most suitable time to visit the temple. The sun was barely seen but its light was slightly felt by the sky. So I walked in peace around the temple until I reached the golden temple, which located and floating in the middle of the lake.

I was done with Amritsar once I done with the golden temple. It was around 8 in the morning. I knew that my time is up and something deep inside me had call for me to return to Pune. So immediately I responded to that gut, that voice, the same voice that made me traveling in the beginning. But it was not until 9.30 pm can I board the train to Bombay, which is another 12 hours. Honestly, this was the city made in hell, with all due respect to the beautiful and majestic golden temple. I couldn’t even stand more than an hour, let alone 12 hours. The weather was hot and humid, the place was dusty and chaotic and somehow I felt like the people here were less friendly and more fiercely. I had no choice but to find something to kill time. So after couldn’t figure out what better thing to do, I went to a free guest house, established by the golden temple committee, to take a nap and a round of shower.

In the evening, I went to the border of Pakistan-India to witness the border closing ceremony, which celebrated everyday. It was a fully emotional and charge up performance and march by military of both side. What enlighten me was the powerful march of Indian military. Both seating place was separated by a gate that mark the separation of boundary. The crowds were cheering and shouting in common spirit. The ceremony witnessed a patriotic march by the armies and positive powerful response from both crowds. It also witnessed the lowering of both nation’s flag and the opening of border gate. The whole ceremony took about an hour.

I boarded the train from Amritsar to Bombay at around 9.30 pm. By then, approximately 25 days was already passed since the day I left Pune. I was still in the same trouser, the khakis, the only different was it was much dirtier, brownish and more ripped, on the knee part and on my back as well. My goatie beard was already long and unorganized. My hair looks like circus crown. The shirt I was wearing that day was already stinking and couldn’t get more worst. And so there it goes, 36 hours train ride, through many different places, day and night, rain and shine, all the way to Bombay.

The only highlight I want to put it here was when it was unexpectedly spot check by the local police on us the passengers. Of all my train experience in India I never had such experience and never knew such thing practice. Of course if I wasn’t guilty of any sort, then I shouldn’t be afraid. The problem was I had few grams of hash and another few grams of Marijuana left in my bag and if I were caught, I will either sent to jail and being work over or ripped off financially which either case wouldn’t do me any good. And to make matter worse, they started with my compartment.

The passengers are not suppose to keep illegal substance in the train mainly alcoholic drink but if they got you with drugs, matter could get even worse.

At that time I was seating with few senior citizens on their compartment, which opposite mine and my bag pack was on my compartment. After searching the locals, they were staring at my bag and I was already freaking out as my heartbeat pounding so hard I could hear them cry like a lion. Time stood still as I turn pale and scared of many ugly possibilities. And one of the officer point his baton to my bag pack and asked one of the Indian with his body sign saying, who’s bag?

And all hell broke loose when they pointed it at me. I don’t know why but they just gave me a cursory look and they passed me. No question asked. Probably I was a foreigner and these scumbag police couldn’t speak English and they wouldn’t want to trouble themselves struggling with me over Alien’s language. But still, it scare the hell out of me. I immediately took it and flush it down the toilet.

I felt like I had been gone for many days. The feeling of being back to my base was really something. I felt the connection and sentimental again. The house was messy and there was some new faces but nevertheless, I was home. I clean myself up, shave my head and my bearded goatie and dress myself in completely clean pair of new attires.

I spent a few days in Pune before I embarked on my last stop of 40 days traveling; Goa. And again I embarked on my last destination without anyone tag along with me and I was fine. I will go anyway with or without anybody.

Part 11

Song: Surrounded by Dream Theatre

Somehow I was reluctant to leave Pune after I connected with her for few memorable and eventful days but at the same time I was also determine as hell to finish what I had started, the traveling. Plus, I had quite some money left and thus the objective of my last destination was to spent it all there and to have a good life.

I met a guy who was in India for business in the bus. While we were having dinner, we were joint by a very attractive girl, who also happen to be traveling alone. She looks like a hair stylist or something. Her name was Luca and she was from Holland. We found something in common and the common thing was smoking weed.

She invited me to her compartment and together we darkened ourselves and open up the windows and smoke the night away. It was a weed from Morocco.