Thursday, 24 March 2016

Struggle to Leave

India has come and gone. 

Over 3 months I've spent rambling from one magical place to the next. 

The whole time being just as confused and overwhelmed as I was when I first set foot in the sub-continent. Not to mention having no idea what I'm doing, or what lies ahead of me on my path.
The first week or two I second guessed my decision to come to India at least twice a day. 
But then, just as you feel ready to pack it in and book your return flight; you find a spark. 
Nothing much, but just enough to hold you here that little bit longer. 

And then, just like that, through all the sickness; through all the manic situations I've found myself in. Through all the monster long days getting lost and frustrated that I couldn't even ask for the most basic things. 
I land in Nepal. With new adventures ahead of me. 

I've twisted and turned my way throughout the south of India. I've covered a lot of distance, and if time were real here; I would have elapsed a lot. 
I've changed my next destination almost daily. 

I've had such an amazing quest since flying into the madness just after Christmas. To what felt at first like such a mistake, to what I feel now is one of the greatest decisions I've ever made. 
I decided about a month in, that the south of India was like a country in itself, and so that became my goal for the remainder of the time here. 

To discover and immerse myself in all the south has to offer. 
From Goa, to Gokarna, Hampi, Bangalore, Pondicherry and Auroville,  To the beautiful mountain towns of Kodaikkanal and Munnar, followed by Varkala, kochi and to finishing off where I started, Goa. (A 15hour bus ride to and from Mysore because Goa is just that bit too crazy).

So I thought, rather than keep telling you how amazing and wonderful and colorful India is (what you'll read on every blog and guidebook around) I'd tell you about some of the things that have left me gobsmacked since I begun this adventure over 3 months ago.
Or at least one of the many stupidly crazy days riding one Enfield (trust me, there were a lot of them!).

Kumily to Varkala 
(the case of the missing chain)

Nice quick trip was planned for this day. 
After too many 8 + hour days riding around on uneven, and at times super scary roads, I was happy when the GPS gave me 3 hours to do the trip. Perfect. I can stop for a chai somewhere and still be there to meet my friends for lunch in Varkala. The ride started well. Winding down the side of the mountain, passing through 5 shop towns. The whole time, the nice cool mountain air keeping me feeling like I wasn't in a sauna. Great success so far.
About 2.5 hours into the ride. Taking in all the amazing views and people, I totally forgot where I was supposed to be. Checking my gps and realizing I'd ridden 30km downhill past my turn off. Ahhhh shit. Ok, no big deal, time to get my bearings together. Have a quick stretch and head back uphill. At worst, this little detour had only added an extra 20-40minutes. Not too bad with all things considering in India.

Stretched out, a sneaky chai and back on the bike. Full throttle. As I tore up the hill, with a new lease of life, and some cool tunes in my ear, weaving in and out of traffic. Thinking to myself that at this pace; I can do the rest of the ride in an hour. No worries, right?

WRONG! I down geared going up hill, as to handle the sharp hairpin corners ahead. 
Negotiating the corner successfully, I went to give it full power again to rocket up the remainder of the hill. 

Clicked it into third.

Clicked it into third.


"What the fuck is your problem!? Why won't you go into THIRD!?"

Matter of fact, no gears seemed to be engaging. 

Never have ridden a motorbike before, but coming from a family rich in motorbike and mechanical history, I knew the last thing I needed was a fried gearbox.

I pulled over, and in between rage and complete confusion, started to proceed to swear at (and inspect the bike) - the clutch looks ok I guess.… 

Scratching my head, and considering my possibilities from here. 
Do I ditch the bike and walk to where a bus will stop? Hitchhike into town and try to find a mechanic? 

A tuk-tuk driver driving past noticed my anguish and honking his horn, started yelling at me. ("What now man?? No I don't want to get into your tuk tuk and be ripped off right now").
Only, he proceeded to yell at me, then began waving his finger at my bike; then waving his finger in the direction of down the hill; then pointing at my bike again. ( I literally have no idea what you want from me buddy!) 

To my surprise, he gets out of his ride, and pulls what looks to be a massive oily chain from the floor of the tuk tuk. ( he rides around with a spare chain? That's pretty nuts, I wonder how many people need a new chain in India?… ohhhhh wait, that's the chain from my bike… no wonder it wasn't engaging into gear…)

The remainder of the afternoon was spent by me:

1) Pushing the bike 2 kilometers to the closest town to find a mechanic.
2) Discovering the first mechanic was closed and pushing the bike a further 500 meters. 
3) Discovering the mechanic COULD fix the problem, but didn't have the correct part. 
4) Riding into town on the back of the crazy mechanics scooter to find the part, only to realize every parts shop was closed for lunch. 
5) Eating lunch and drinking whisky with the mechanic (while we waited of course). 
6) Understanding less then 5% of what the mechanic was saying.
7) Finally attaining said part (link for an Enfield chain)  and proceeded to let the drunk mechanic take me back to his workshop. Where I tried to help, he napped, and he had a 13 year old boy fix the chain. 
8) Paid the mechanic for all the labour and parts (grand total : 100ruppess / $2AUD)

Just like that; my day turned from a cruisy 3-4 hour day, into another 12 hour day. 
Exhausted, and dealing with a late afternoon hangover, I got as close as I could to Varkela and called it a day. Where I spent the following 10hours in a complete dive of a room/sauna box in Kollam. Where I swore as soon as the sun rose, I'd ride out of there quicker than anyone ever has…

All in all just another day on a motorcycle in India…


1) Hampi
I just couldn't look past Hampi as my absolute favorite place I was lucky enough to visit. 
The Kilometers of ruins and temples of royal families from centuries prior. 
The golden-orange sunsets over the temples and the bazar on the other side of the river. 
The lush green of the rice fields in amongst the red rocks that are never ending. 
Hanuman temple a top all those stairs.
Or perhaps it was the countless days spent climbing and exploring (and starting motorbike clubs) with so many other like minded people. 
Everything about the mystical place will warm your heart. 

Sure. At times it didn't feel like real India, where the hecklers were few and far between, and the guy trying to clean your ears became a friend, rather than a daily annoyance. 
Food wasn't the cheapest either (as far as India goes), but if climbing in a desert of the morning and evening, and headed to the lake or a temple through the day seems like as big as a deal to you as it does me, then this the place you've been meaning to visit.

2) Kodaikkanal (and the surrounding hill towns of Tamil)

Coming in at a verrrrry close second, has to be Kodaikkanal. 
The crisp, cool night air is the first thing that hits you as you've wound up the side of the mountain for the previous hour and a half. 
Escaping the heat of southern India; Kodaik has incredible views and a very different cultural mixture than any other place in the south. 
(A lot of Tibetans made their way all the way down when they escaped from the Chinese takeover of Tibet just after WW2. Creating a vast mix of culture an cuisine). 
The surrounding lakes and nature walks are nice but would be so much better with less plastic and rubbish floating down stream.
More than anything, was the quietness of Kodiakanal.
In most directions were treks to be done and your own piece of nature to lay back on and enjoy sunset.

3) Mysore 

Again, this choice was a very hard one.
This was actually a place many told me to avoid because "it's just another big polluted city". 
To me, Mysore was such a cool experience to finish India on. It's a city, sure. But with no buildings more than two or three stories high, it had more of a town feel. 
The colors, the chaos, the unlimited backstreets to get lost down. And the devine street food wherever you move your eyes.

Seeing the great divide between the rich and poor was evident no matter where I visited in India.
But, watching Mysore an outsiders perspective and eating with the locals, you get the feeling that no matter your social standing, religion or background, Mysore accepted everyone. And it worked so well because of this. 

Really, there are so many other places I visited and would have them in the top 5. 
AurroVille and Gokarna, had so much spirit and energy, that they are places you can find yourself for months. 
On the contrary, Goa doesn't feel like India. But it does have an amazing vibe for aspiring musicians.


It hasn't been all fun and games here.

Unfortunately; India still has a dark side. Not as evil as western media portrays, but still alarming. 

Since being in India, I've noticed some of the most horrific homelessness and poverty I had ever imagined. With a middle class of something like 90 million people; it makes you wonder where the rest of the population sits. 

I've also noticed a great divide between the sexes. 
Woman are treated in many places with little to no respect.
And as a part of marriage here, even ones who have an education end up as house wives.
Many of the very "lower class" of woman work in hard labor. And it's not uncommon to see them working 20x harder than their husbands and male counterparts.

And a great inequality between classes.
Those who say the cast system doesn't play a big factor any more are just blinded and naive.

Even traveling between cities and towns can prove extremely expensive and almost eliminate the concept for the "lower" class.
Eating a street meal in most small towns is around 50 rupees (a decent amount when your wages are extremely low).

The airport (Mumbai) although said to be one of the best airports in the world; is controlled by "big franchise" chains and can be upward of 500 rupees for a meal. (A very tasteless, unimaginative meal at that).

The longer I spent in the sub-continent, the more I wanted to see change and build ideas with locals of how change can be made.

India is changing, somewhat for the better, but extremely slowly. This is the second biggest population in the world. And with that, comes a "masala" (mixed spices) of different people from all walks of life. Religion and race.

Not scratching the surface deep enough, I don't know the inner workings as well as I think. 
But to have Muslims, Hindi's, Christians, and many other cultures and beliefs living and interacting (mostly peacefully) within a close vicinity of one another is extremely positive, and many countries can stand back and take notes.
(Especially back home in Australia, where many migrate to escape war torn countries and end up trying to find and intergrate into a mainly Christian background).
We are all just people at the end of the day.

Pollution, over population, lack of drinkable water and massive amounts of corruption are also very present in many cities of India.
Some may ask why go? Why return? Why would you want to immerse yourself in a country that has so many negatives??

Because it's beautiful. 
People are extremely friendly. Food is cooked with love and passion. People believe in and represent a more spiritual way of living(There is an elephant for a god!!)
 Not to mention, what family and friends mean to these people. 
In a country that's so poor, families stick strong, and bring one another more happiness than money could ever buy.
They have festivals every other day. People dance in the streets. Know their neighbors and are more aware of themselves than any of their consumer driven western counterparts.

India has infused itself as part of my soul. It has changed the way I view the world and people. 
And every part of me wants to run away and get lost there forever. 
No matter where my journey takes me in the future, I'll return to India to first blind me of the western world and then recharge my batteries in a way no other place could. 
I want to be part of the change there.  

I should point out that I'm not wishing to bag those out who can't afford or are not in a position to make these changes; but more the system for allowing it to continue. 
Many of those I speak about are in a position where things may never change during their time here (or even their children's generation). But I wish to see that change and be at least a small part of it. 
I hope by me writing about my experiences, no matter how negative they may seem, that it flashes a spark in (if only one person) and begins a change that will see the sub-continent more equal for all parties who call it home. No matter their background, education level, sex or religion. 

Stay tuned for more adventures!!

Sunday, 7 February 2016


How does one sum up over 4 weeks of adventures? Where do I begin and how much will I forget? There have been so many memorable experiences. Both ends of the spectrum. Times I've never doubted my decision to be here absolutely loving everything, and other days I've hated every second…

It begins with the age old question of "where am I going?"

"Is this bus to Hampi? yes? and this bus? Yes? So they both go to Hampi? Oh, you're not sure? Ok… So neither bus goes to Hampi?"

Blindly boarding a 6am bus is one thing, let alone with a cracked windscreen and no writing on it for my western eyes to indicate a trip to go 10 hours inland… I think to myself, there's every chance this bus goes to Hampi, and there's high chances I could end up in Mumbai just as easily. 
Staying up until midnight smoking charas and eating dessert probably wasn't the best idea. In my sleep deprived, boarding bus phase, it was definitely a mistake. 

But then, isn't anything that happens to me in India a mistake? When you have no real direction apart from forward, you could call it a calculated mistake? 
Regardless, I'm on the road to somewhere. 
In the end, I'm happy where ever I end up. (More happy if it's climbing times in Hampi).

As it turns out, I was on the correct bus (310Ruppes / 9 hour trip on the timetable) but as all things in India go. There's nothing like a good detour to derail your trip. 
7 hours down and the bus engine blows up. 
Another bus was on its way in 30mins (2 hours later…) 

Looks like it's one of those mega bus trips I here so much about (x
… in total it turned into a 16 hour day from door to door. But… I got to Hampi (:

Hampi (Karnataka) 
Arrived in Hampi at night fall, so it wasn't until the next morning that I could appreciate it in all of its glory.
As sunrise lifted over the main temple, the morning prayer music, mixed with sounds of frogs and crickets chirping in the nearby rice fields only added to the amazing ambience of this magnificently massive place.

The glow of the sunrise over the temples demands a huge amount of respect for how these incredible parts of history have stood the test of time. 
I Climbed (and grated my way down) some of the most amazing boulders I have ever seen. Climbing was endless and was fueled by many poached eggs, hash browns, chai tea, doobs and some of the coolest folk I've met.
Like Gokarna, the vibe and people here are amazing. 
Think burning man. A bunch of hippies, scattered from all over and gathered together in the middle of a desert, where you're all up at sunrise to climb early morning, and then when the rocks heat up too much, you're back down chilling and starting to map out the late afternoon climbs you'll get up to.

Watching the sunset from hilltop, and spending all night dancing on top of giant boulders, drinking beers and listening to nothingness while laying back, watching the stars do there thang.

Hampi also the has the amazing feeling of being a child all over again.
It's just one massive playground. Everyday, no matter where you look, there's endless opportunities to climb on rocks, jump off nearby waterfalls, run through the endless amount of shrubs, play cricket in the street with the locals, have massive jam sessions in local restaurants, swim in the river, and the whole time being both confused and super inspired by the endlessness of the land. Just getting yourself lost on a motorbike for the day has its magical moments.

The people I met there are what made my experience so memorable. Endless laughter and so much talk of rocks, climbing, and more climbing on other rocks. 
Shamula (lady who runs the guesthouse) even joked with me one morning saying "you bloody climbers, you're all in bed by 10pm. You never party and all you ever talk about is climbing; look at all these beautiful woman here, and all you talk about is climbing". A real joker with a huge personality. She runs the guesthouse with a smile always on her face. Just don't cross to her bad side.

I stayed on the roof of "the Goan Corner" (200ruppes/$4aud a night) an awesome guesthouse, with amazing food, and an incredible location. 
Tucked in behind the small village, amongst a bunch of rice paddies and palm trees. 

I rented bikes, visited temples and jumped into near by lakes and waterholes (apparently crocodile territory).
I even bought a royal Enfield and co-found our first motor cycle club (:

Days passed by in the blink of an eye. My original plan of staying no more than two weeks, stretched out into nearly 4 weeks. And it easily could have been a lot longer. Even leaving the surrounds of the island proved difficult.

Adventures to nearby towns, and temples had to be done early enough for the heat to not play a factor. 
In the end, I tell myself I stayed so long because that's how long it took to get to see all the surrounding temples of Hampi.

The last few nights stayed in Hampi were by far my favorite. Firstly, the fever that had consumed my body and resulted in me being in hospital had passed. 
I was able to fully eat and socialize for more than 4 minutes without having to run off to the bathroom.

This led me to enjoy the possibility of climbing and exploring the rocks at night, when the heat had disappeared but spirits were still high.
Feet and hands were raw by this stage, but that didn't dampen spirits.

Also, I had two of the most amazing meals of my trip to that point.
The first, was Amit's 13th birthday (The guesthouse owners (Shamula's son). 

As the family were originally from Goa 20years before moving to Hampi. 
They put on a massive banana leaf/ talli Goan style meal; where the guys who worked there kept coming around with all sorts of delicious curries, rices, lentil dishes, sweet rices and breads.

The second amazing meal came on my final night. (Shamula had been teasing for weeks that she would cook a Goan style curry the night after I left).
To my surprise, a succulent chicken vindaloo curry was made, and left one hell of an impression. Spicy but sweet (and vinegary?) all at the same time. 
I'd wait until the next visit to India just to experience it again. 

Finally, as I pack to leave this golden landscape, we got the chance for a sneaky sunset cruise on our bikes, where we rode to the river towards the setting sun, and play witness as nature does its thing. 
Watching the sunset over Hampi is the ultimate experience, sitting there watching the birds return from their days journies. 

-Definitely had to be the climbing. World class bouldering even for someone who digs more trad than bouldering.
-The 'cake man'. Although the cakes were rubbish, the whole idea of the cake man peddling sweets to climbers made me chuckle. (Not to be mistaken for the 'weed man', same concept, but you know…

So again, onward I march; sadly saying farewell to all of my new amigos, making loose plans to cross paths again.
I jump on Ilene (purple rain) and head further south. Stupidly, believing Indian times, and venture for Bangalore (supposedly 6.5 hours away- total ride time, closer to 11 hours).
Although memories of my granddads' motorbikes journeys mixed with one million icecreams kept spirits high. 

Bangalore (Karnataka)

Madness. Total mayhem.

First 'real' Indian city I've visited. With a population of over 10million, it's very easy to get flustered and overwhelmed. 
On the surface it's crude. 
The Silicon Valley equivalent of India, office workers and IT crowd scattered throughout. Rude and rambunctious taxi drivers and people everywhere. Big city vibes- that's just on the surface.

After a day or two, it starts to look a little differently. Finding a strange underground vibe, with a city rich in monuments and history. 
Fancy tree lined neighborhoods tucked in amongst the madness. 

I wouldn't like to live here, or stay for too long, with prices more like capital cities around the world. 
Staying at "Mass Residency" was an absolute pleasure. With clean, cool rooms, and breakfast included (800 Ruppees a night). With friendly staff and an up stairs dinning area over looking the roofs of the surrounding neighborhood.

But as you discover the city, you start to discover it has some cheap eateries (20-100ruppess) and some charm to match. 

Unlike the other food you'll find- franchise chains including McDonald's and subways (first ones I've seen in India). You actually get a proper home cooked meal (but fast food style).

-In a sea of neon lights and chaotic traffic, the age old temples and history of Bangalore was up the top. 

In my downtime, I get the chance to ponder how life is going by elsewhere.
Mainly for family. What has changed since I've gone? what will change in a month? In a year?
I hate the feeling of returning home and seeing that everybody is the same. Same dramas, same jobs, same unhappy partnerships, but most of all the same journeys. 
I love talking to strangers along the road, and hearing how much their lives have changed, and what they've learned. 
How they've fallen in love, with a country or a kindred spirit. 
And then I think of "home" and it makes me cringe. 
Will I ever be happy to settle? Or will I be anxious for every second that I'm not moving. 

Sometimes I feel like a ghost. A unanimous being. Just floating, and realizing how small we all truly are in this world. We are happiest when moving, floating, twirling, like grains of sand, we are all so insignificant. 

Moving from Bangalore is enevitable, as I've never been a fan of the rush rush of the big smoke. 

Time to take to the road for more shenanigans and meeting new faces.

Next stop, the much hyped Poducherri…

Much love for now homies…


Saturday, 16 January 2016


Time, or lack thereof. 

This has been the story of India so far. 
Days have melted together, hours pass within the blink of an eye. But yet, I feel like its dragged by as well. I can't decide how im supposed to fit into the puzzle that is life here, if I'm supposed to at all. I question my every action, daily.

I feel like india isn't as hard to deal with as most people suggest, as long as you can adopt the "shanti shanti" vibe. And as long as you expect nothing to work the same way that most societies do. 

Time, like roadsigns, is a suggestion here.
Nothing really adheres to it, but in saying that,  don't plan on it not being a factor. For example, if the train timetable says the train you want will leave the station at 3pm, and the journey will last 6 hours then it is merely a suggestion. In reality, said train, could leave said station at 2pm, or 5pm, and the journey could last anywhere from 4 - 12 hours. 

It can drive some to shear frustration within days, some plan to stay in India for months and struggle to last weeks, and some plan to stay a month and years later, still find themselves drawn to the appeal of life here. 

Everyday is an eye opening experience, whether it's having breakfast in a cafe and having a cow waltz through the restaurant, or just crossing the street and praying to whatever one of their gods is watching you that you don't get clipped by a crazed man on a scooter. 

Anjuna (Goa)

Got off my 5am flight into Goa, and made a bee-line for the taxi stand where i got a cab from Goa Airport to my Hostel in Anjuna (1400 Ruppes / 45min-1hour drive depending on how much of a mad man your driver is). 
Stepped out of the cab and bam! Traffic going everywhere, honking cars and scooters, cows, goats and dogs all over the roads, piles of shit and rubish, delicious spice and cooking smells mixed in the air with the smell of exaust...  Welcome to India!

Checked into my hostel and had a rendezvous with 2 of my oldest and dearest friends. We then spent
 the morning walking around Anjuna, talking crap, reminiscing, being brought up to date with their adventures so far and taking in all the sights and sounds of what I'd just gotten myself into.
How amazing it is to share you initial jet lagged hours with two people that make your spirit completely at peace.

I spent the next few days wondering aimlessly throughout the town, discovering its history and imersing myself in the natural beauty that surrounds it. 
I discovered dusty old forts, and fishing villages. All of this while avoiding pot holes and hawkers. 

We spent New Years afternoon together, discovering waterfalls and some amazingly secluded waterholes, where we swam, and let our previous years worries and regrets leave our bodies and float away.


We also got completely lost and separated for the New Years countdown; where walking the streets at 4am, will always stay in my mind as the creepiest NewYears to date, but one hell of an experience no less.

Highlights: *The Portuguese influence of buildings (brigthly colored, tiled and open style of house / villas built in amongst the trees, also very present in and around old Goa). *The day I rented a scooter and had the freedom to truly discover around the Area and be at one with the sheer craziness that is Indian traffic. 

My experience of Anjuna felt relatively fast, but I feel like it was a lovely introduction to India, and an overdue catch up with my friends, and meeting some amazing spirits who made those few nights super enjoyable and those adventures through surrounding towns every bit hilarious.
The hardest moment was having to say goodbye and watching everyone go their separate ways, despite loving travelling alone, goodbyes are always the hardest, and so in turn, I said my fairwell to Anjuna… for now

Gokarna (Karnataka)

Decided that I'd had enough of the tourist crazy times of Anjuna and looking at heading to Hampi, I seen Gokarna wasn't too far away from either, so I packed my bags and made tracks to the train station via another crazy cab driver,  who despite trying to overtake everyone and cutting people off, didn't kill me or anyone else which was pleasant. 
Only recently falling ill to what was most likely food poisoning. I found the train ride to Gokarna less than pleasant, but still a fun experience meeting some guys from Israel and spending the remainder of the train ride playing harmonica and singing random songs. 

We arrived to Om beach to find that all the accommodation had been booked out for the night, so in true nomad style, we went with the flow and camped out on the beach under the stars. 

Met some really cool Indian guys on Kudle beach the next night who then proceeded to show me around Gokanra town and the best secret local places to eat. 
Hanging out with them really gave me a different perspective of how they live and love. What religion and family mean to them, and the difference in marriage compared to the east and west. 
Also, just the way they look at the world in such a different way. 

Likes:  *Lively beach with a cool hippie vibe, yoga and hammock times of a day and drum circles around bon fires of a night. *Good cheap food and pretty cheap acomodation both within a minute of the beachfront (eating 3 good meals and staying in a hut for around 1000 Ruppes / $21 AUD a day, have even had a few days of just over 600 Ruppes). *Surrounding beaches are even more superb and are a nice days hike / bush bash to get to. *Pollution on and around the beaches are pretty low.

Gokarna is super chill, although maybe a little too much like a resort kind of feel. Laying around in your hammock all day and reading is all you really need to do . 
Although when you decide that all this relaxation is enough, there are beautiful beaches and nature walks to be discovered. 

Paradise beach is one of those secret gems, a good hour walk from Kudle beach, where you weave your way through bush, past little beaches, and over rocks to find this near secluded beaches, where the only people there are  people who've set up a tent city, and goats…

I find my days here are numbered as I feel more adventure stirring in my body. The chill days of hanging in drum circles, juggling, and tightroping are coming to a close.
Gokarna has if anything, been a really good place to get my thoughts straight before traveling further.
I've found I've really just had the time to reconnect with my mind here. 

Travel, but India more so, makes you feel minuscule, like you're living in a massive ant farm. The constant rush of people, the colors, the lights and the sounds all become one big beautiful spiral in your head. 

Stay real peeps! 
My thoughts and love with you all.