Myles Harrington

Archive for the ‘India’ Category

One Night in Bangalore With The Bond Girls

In India on July 8, 2010 at 6:01 pm

My solo adventures with the Bond girls (Florence and Harriet Bond) began when David left us in Hospet, the transit town from Hampi. We arrived there stupidly early for the night bus so had to spend six hours coffee shop hopping.

Time to burn in a luxurious restaurant

We also made a crucial error by booking the last three seats on the 10.30pm bus. They were the ones at the back, the ones that don’t lean back.

The government bus back row

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The Night I Nearly Died and Other Cool Adventures

In India on July 3, 2010 at 5:10 pm

Whenever I explain to people I got a loan out to go travelling I always make the same joke about if I die while I’m away I’ll never have to pay it back. Last Tuesday night it nearly happened. I had moved in to a room with a bloke called David, one of the Brits I’d met on the beach in Palolem. After a couple of beers and some World Cup action it was time for bed. I never normally use mosquito coils, mainly because I’m not that bothered about the bites but David picked one up from the girls on the way home. He hung it on a nail on the wall and we went off to sleep. At 6am I got woken up by David shouting “something’s wrong”. I looked around the room and it was full of thick smoke and his bag that was strategically placed under the coil was alight. Another few minutes and it could have been a very different story. Luckily he sensed something was wrong.

The Seagull Guest House massive

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Plans Change in Palolem

In India on June 29, 2010 at 2:18 pm

It was midnight by the time I arrived at Karmali station in Goa and I needed to get to the state capital, Panjim (Panaji). I thought it would be fine, easy and cheap, as is normal in India to get to the town. I expected lots of touts vying for my hotel business and offering me free rickshaws in to the town 9km away. How wrong I was. There were three taxi drivers in a cartel which forced me to pay 260 Rs (£3.70) on a taxi and they didn’t even know the name of one guesthouse between them. After getting extremely frustrated I got out of the cab in the pouring rain, not just normal rain, bucket down monsoon rain, and grabbed the two nearest westerners I could find to get myself a bed for the night. Their place was full, so were the other five places I knocked on. Eventually I found an inviting stairwell up to an empty reception. After calling around the corridor for a while I realised the owner was probably down the pub so I set up camp in one of the empty rooms and the next thing I knew it was 7am. “I could get away with this” I thought, a free night’s lodgings. I picked up my bag, kept my head down and walked straight out the front door past the receptionist on the stairs. At least that partly made up for the extortionate taxi rate.

Panjim's lovely Portuguese cathedral

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I’m a Bombay Badboy Extra

In India on June 27, 2010 at 3:26 pm
Sometimes when you arrive somewhere you can get an instantly good feeling for a place. For example when I got to Agra I knew it was rubbish, when I got to Manali I knew I’d enjoy it and when I cruised in to Mumbai at 6am last Monday morning I got a rush of excitement. I was back in a big city I’d heard mixed reviews of. Some loved the western style apartment complexes and AC cinemas, others hated the non-Indianness of the place and the street hassle. I thought it would be a combination of the hecticness of Delhi and the coolness of Kolkata.

The Gateway of India welcomes you to Mumbai

I checked into Lonely Planet’s cheapest recommendation, the Salvation Army Red Shield House, which for a dorm room was very expensive compared to the rest of India. As soon as I arrived I met a fellow English Indian explorer named Ollie and we were asked if we wanted to be Bollywood extras that afternoon. Who could refuse such an offer? Read the rest of this entry »

Gone Caving

In India on June 24, 2010 at 8:46 pm

One of India’s most exquisite anthropogenic sites is based 60km from a crappy town called Jalgaon in Maharashtra state. This was a good 16 hour train ride from Agra and on the way south where I need to be heading for my July 8th departure out of India. It seemed like a logical stepping stone on the tourist trail and a way of escaping the hustlers of Agra.

The entrance to the Ajanta Caves

After an average train sleep on the top bunk, I stepped off in the one street town of Jalgaon pretty weary. After surveying the scene I decided not to stay a night but checked in to a dorm anyway so I could use the facilities for the day and catch up on some sleep in the afternoon. I bought my bus ticket out of there for that evening to Mumbai, had a cold water bucket shower and started the mission to get to the Ajanta caves. A rickshaw, a local bus for an hour and a half and then after walking through a crappy tourist shopping complex, another bus for the last 4km.

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Ample Time in Agra

In India on June 22, 2010 at 11:20 am

Travelling while the World Cup is on is tough business. It adds and extra layer of thought to where you have to be at certain times. No way was I going to be on an overnight train while England had a crucial match. I cleverly took photos of the schedule while I was in Darjeeling from the guesthouse wall so it’s always on my camera and in the back of my mind, when I unfortunately am on a bus for 12 hours.

Never miss a match with a digital schedule

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A Couple of Days in Khajuraho

In India on June 18, 2010 at 4:56 pm

I left Varanasi with three new British companions who I’d met at the guesthouse and were heading the same way out of town. Biddy and Cam are a couple from Bath who’ve been travelling all over Asia and Columba is a bloke from a small village near Oxford who has been in India for the last five months. These experienced travellers were to acpcomany me to the iconic and unmissable sexy temples of Khajuraho.

Evidence of the architectural genius of the Chandela dynasty

For once, the train was relatively empty and we all managed to get a few decent hours sleep before the standard bombardment upon arrival by the swarms of desperate touts. We went with one of them to a generic guesthouse that was falling apart. We went with him because of the promise of 100 Rs cold beers in the spacious garden. Is it wrong that the price of beer was the decider at 7am?

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The Burning Bodies of Varanasi

In India on June 13, 2010 at 10:47 am

While ze German chilled out on the rooftop of a jazz cafe smoking blunts and the Brits saw all the temples of the city, I, for my first two days in Varanasi, was in bed. Of the first 48 hours in India’s holiest city, I was asleep for 40 of them, interspersed with multiple trips to the hole in the floor for a quick hover and an indian style wipe. If you hadn’t yet guessed it, I had a bad case of diarrhea.

When I finally did get out of bed to see the sights of the city I was hit by the stench of cow shit. There are probably more cows here per square mile than on the average South American cattle ranch. They’re everywhere, even more than in Delhi! I’ve even seen them lounging in someones front room. Yesterday I was stood behind a man while we waited to walk past a cow as it pissed and he just proceeded to walk straight through it after, barefoot.

The view from the guesthouse rooftop restaurant

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An Illegal Border Crossing and a Wild Snow Leopard

In India on June 7, 2010 at 2:32 pm

Sadly, of the two most exciting things to happen in the last 72 hours I have a picture of neither. I do have lots of lovely photos of flowers though because we (we being me, the German bloke and the British guys I met on Thursday night) went on a two day trek.

The beautiful flowers of the Darjeeling hillside

The crazy bloke we booked the trip with seemed to be on cocaine for the whole time we were with him. hespokelikethissobloodyquicklyitwashardtoworkoutwhathewassaying. Although he showed us his new swanky office in the centre of town I am half unsure whether he’d arranged a trip before. We arrived on Saturday morning and took over this poor native family’s house, don’t have a clue where they slept considering we took all their beds. On the car journey there we stopped off and picked up a chicken for lunch. It was still alive and it kept flapping under Barney’s seat. The two fellow tour guides that came along for the ride had a great laugh at the scared westerner. From the smell that filled the car shortly afterwards I think it shit itself too, poor thing.

Lunch - Nepalese style

After a couple of Darjeeling chais we set off on the main attraction of the trek, a walk down an extremely steep hill, via a non-existent village to a tea plantation we were not allowed to visit. We hung around the river at the bottom for half an hour taking more picture of flowers and the occasional snap of the stream and trekked back up the hill for more chai and the poor chicken’s insides cooked to a traditional Nepalese style. boiled in its own juices with rough amounts of chili, garlic and random brown spices. I think the coke head boss kept the breast for himself.

A post dal lunch nap ensued and we were so desperate for coke (not the boss’ favourite type) and chocolate upon awakening we managed to persuade one of the Nepalese blokes hanging around he should drive us to the nearest village so we could stock up on some supplies to see us through the night. After buying Red Bull, Coke and various types of cheap Indian chocolate we were shown to the border point the town was based on by our guide. It was just across the otherside of the street under some unguarded barriers, the type that are normally at level crossings, so we tentatively took a stroll towards them and ducked under into Nepal. Our guide was a bit worried to say the least and kept muttering “this is very illegal” “this is not allowed” but we survived without a bullet in the head so that was good enough for me. Then the journey home got even more exciting as half way back on one of the numerous bends, a grey and white animal, roughly the size of a big fox, sprinted lowly across the tarmac in front of us. Our guide informed us it was a snow leopard. It looked much happier than the one we saw at the zoo on Friday. The guide didn’t get my sarcastic remark about going back to the house to get the gun.

Once back at the wooden house the camp fire was in full swing, so we sat around sipping the home brew wine, whiskey and coke and chewing on yet more burnt chicken for dinner.

The next day we took a trip to a small village monastery, that the guide eventually found. It was built on a beautiful spot and the drive was quite cool. The locals loved seeing us too and they made some great postcard style photos. Back to the house for yet more chicken.

Feiste inder (Max came up with this caption)

Darjeeling Unlimited

In India on June 4, 2010 at 10:51 am

I am once again donning Tom’s cardi, my stretched blue jumper, thick purple socks and the grey woolly hat that I have not worn since Manali. I am now in Darjeeling, which I think at the moment has weather that’s probably comparable to Siberia. The mist that clings to the steep hillside and drifts casually throughout the treacherous paths of the town reduces the visibility to anything between five and 20 metres. I arrived here two days ago and the fog has not lifted since.

The Hindu and Buddhist temple on top of the hill

I have met so many people on my tea stop wanders. Yesterday I met a gay couple who lived in a council house near Tower Bridge. Followed by a German girl from Hamburg who was here for six months studying Tibetan. A South Korean bloke who was travelling around the world trying to learn English before he will set up his lecture streaming business in India (once the internet speeds here make it viable).

Inspired by the gay couple I met over a tasty porridge breakfast I decided to walk to Ghoom, which is the nearest town to Darjeeling on the route here from Siliguri. It was an easy 8km stroll and I decided somewhere along the congested road that I would try and get the next train back on the infamous Toy Train with its 2ft wide tracks. I didn’t fancy going the whole way back to Siliguri by the unreliable locomotive because it takes anywhere between six to eight hours; when the shared jeep I took only took two and a half. I arrived in Ghoom or Ghum (no one seems to know the correct spelling) at 1pm and was informed by the station manager I had a four hour wait before the next normal train. They do ‘joy rides’ by steam on the Darjeeling-Ghoom route for a rip-off 240Rs.

So as the rain was closing in nicely and all my photos were being ruined by the misty glaze, I decided to have some lunch. I stumbled upon a one table shack restaurant overhanging the cliff and had the most delicious feast of double momo plate, thali and tea and I was sat with the owner’s children while they ate lunch too. I found out the eatery was a new venture and they’d only been open for two months. They didn’t even have a name yet, so I suggested as I was the first westerner to venture in, they should name it after me. They laughed but the boy seemed to think Restaurant Myles had a ring to it, so you never know. All of this for 52Rs (75p!), plus, when I left they handed me about 200g of Darjeeling’s finest, freshest tea tips. Amazing!

My luncheon buddies

Restaurant Myles, Cafe Myles or Myles Cafe? Harri's Hillside Hangout?

I still had two hours to wait at this point so it was on to a tea stall opposite the world’s second highest railway station where I had four brews and helped the delightfully happy husband and wife proprietors create the next batch of momos using the skills I picked up in McLeod Ganj.

Co-worker in the tea love shack

Once the train arrived, after skidding on the tracks for most of the journey up hill I discovered that the plump station manager had lied. All of the 2nd class seats were taken so I couldn’t travel. At that point I just hopped on in the guard’s compartment and told him I could only pay 20Rs and he had to find me a seat. For that I got a first class recliner for the 45 minute up hill slog. I’m so glad I didn’t go all the way on that thing, as the carriage door didn’t even shut.

Travelling in 1st class style, hanging out of the door that didn't shut

In the evening I bumped into yet more people. This time it was over a crappy veg burger dinner in one of the most lacklustre establishments in the whole of India and they were three Brits (brother, sister and cousin) and a German bloke they’d picked up earlier in the day. Being hardened drinkers as we all are from the west, straight after dinner beer was suggested as a matter of course, so we headed for the nearest bar.

The Brits head straight to the bar