Wednesday, June 29, 2011


This is by far the most beautiful and tourist centric place we have been! Took a quick 4 hour bus and were solicited for a hotel room right on the bus. We go, there's a pool, AC and it's the cheapest room yet. And there are other foreigners at our hotel! Asa.

This is a beautiful little holy city completely covered in temples. It is totally religious (read no booze) and colorful and get this, full of camels!! Tonight we downgraded our room as we don't need AC and it's costing 200 Rs. That's < $5. And the food!! We've had pizza, hummus, olives. Ahhhh things we've missed. I <3 Indian food, but the oil was wearing on me.

Tomorrow at 4pm we head out for an overnight camel trek. We camel ride through the desert for 3 hours to Kaju's house where his mom teaches us to cook Indian food, he plays guitar, we camp on his roof or in the dessert, then in the AM have tea and milk a goat! Could this be anymore fun! We met some cool foreigners today who were going o nthe same trek and we tried to get in, but alas, not enough camels. So tomorrow it's just the two of us. Can't wait!

Ice cream time.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Jaipur, Rajasthan

Like most of India, Jaipur is a juxtaposition between absolutely beauty and squalor; unrelentless begging, and totally selfless help. It's known as the pink city and the walls are literally lined with pink buildings and gates. Its really beautiful, and you can tell really unmaintained. You know if it were in America it would look like Disney.

Upon arrival we had a super helpful taxi who led us to a really nice, although a bit out of our budget, hotel. He clearly got a commission for bringing us there, but it was clean and had AC. He also gave me his number (Call me Jay for Jaipur) and said if we ever needed anything, he's our man. That truely is the Indian way. We swicthed to a slightly cheaper(with wifi!) room for the next two nights.

It's desert hot here!! Day one we went into the old city and walked around. It's clearly a tourist sight and the vendors won't let you forget it. They are on your tail the entire time. "Peacock feathers? Chess game? Taxi?" It doesn't end. As you walk through the city it's bustling with activity. People running shops, selling stuff on the streets, shoe cleaners, begging children (theyre vicious) and elephants horse and camels just pulling stuff down the street. You get the feeling you're in Aladdin. We saw Old City and took a bus up to the Amber Fort. It was definitely the most breath-taking, coolesst thing we saw here. You hike up stairs to this massive fortress and climb through the secret pathways. There were no shortage of people, but it was kind of refreshing to see it in it's natural state. You can tell no one came in and repainted in the past 300 years. And there were snake charmers and elephant rides. haha Go India.

Day 2 was pretty rainy in the am, but cleared in the afternoon. We took an autorickshaw to Monkey Temple. Its a run down temple (read stone box) with thousands of monkeys. Th monkeys know the tourists all have peanuts in their pockets so they swarm you. It was pretty ridiculous. Then these little (maybe 8 eyars old?) kids come and say they'll be your "monkey protector." ha anything to make a buck. It's really sad to see how many children are put to work on their starving families behalves, but there's just so many, and once you pay one they literally swarm and pull and poke at you. So you just have to ignore it. Post Temple we were a little touristed out, so we went to the theater in town for a Bollywood show. They have 4 showings a day, all of the same movie. And man is this the place to be!! It's a Monday afternoon at 3:30 and theater was packed! Teh movie was absolutely amazing. Ready was all in Hindi, but Paul and I think we got the gist of it. And every hour or so they break out into the crazy Bollywood dance scenes. Paul and I have been dancing ever since.

Today's another overcast day. Were going to bus it over to Puskar, South West of here. They have an annual camel festival in March, but were going for the lake. Hopefully swimming will be involved!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Mumbai and Beyond

Mumbai was a blast. This trip keeps getting better and better. Goa was nice and quiet, but Mumbai was an absolute party. We got in in the evening and wandered the streets looking for a hotel. Everything was full so we pulled out our trusty Lonely Planet and found the closest hotel to us....without reading the description. (sidenote: how did people ever travel before LP? We'd be lost without a clue). We walk into this beautiful, new, modern lobby and inquire about rooms. Find out that they have one, but it's expensive; roughly $30 a night. This is by far the most expensive room we've had. Then we get to see it. WOW. It's not even on a floor. It's on a sub floor between the first and ground, eloquently referred to as the "mezzanine." This 5'x5' box has 1 tiny bed on eachside, you can't stand without hitting your head on the ceiling, and the ac is shared with the room through your wall; which isn't really a wall as much as a peice of plywood. No windows, no priavcy, oh and a shared toilet and shower. The shower you can see from one into the other. Nice-uh.

We made it through one night there- gotta love Discovery Channel, then met Carl (friend from high school) the next day for lunch. He took up to Leopold's. If you've read Shantaram you know what I'm talking about. If you havent, you should! Carl was suffering through a breakup, so it turned into a boozy lunch, followed by a boozy walking tour of downtown, followed by a boozy evening at Carl's apartment 40km outside the city. Beautiful apartment, with Turkish roommmates who cooked us dinner (with cheese!!), and best yet, a free place to crash for 2 nights! No more 1/2 floors for these kids!

We had such a blast with Carl. The next day he decided to go to work, so Paul and I took a boat to Elephanta Island. You leave from the Gateway to India, boat for an hour, then arrive at this little island (7km of coastline) to look at some ancient Buddhist/Hindu caves. After the Batu caves in KL, this looked like a pile of rocks. Not so interesting. The highlightwas definitly watching a monkey grab a water out of this guys hands, unscrew it, and drink it, all the while the guy just looks at his empty hands in disbelief. The boat was fun too.

That evening we met up with Carl's friends and went out on the town. Decided town was not in our backpacker budget, so we hit the wine shop and drank in the street, then hit the club, then went back to Carl's friend' Jay's apartment, where we made 3am sandwiches and chatted until 5. I havent been up that late in months! It was ana amzing time and Carl was so sweet to post up our poor asses for 2 nights!

The next day we said goodbye and flew to Jaipur, capital of Rajasthan....

Ground Covered So Far

1 day Bangalore (sucks)
1 day Kerala (beautiful but rainy/flooded)
7 days Goa (fun but dirty and quiet)
3 days Mumbai (total blast/wonderful city!)
So far 2 days in Jaipur, Rajasthan, The Pink City (lots to see! and lots of animals)

It's only getting better!

We've ridden planes, trains, automobiles, auto-rickshaws, motorcycles, boats, buses, and hopefully camels and elephants soon!

This is One Week Stale....

and the recent update will come tomorrow.

Two weeks in and we already look and smell like backpackers.

Of course the day we are leaving Kerala (Kochi), it is absolutely sunny and warm. Not a rain cloud in the sky. We got booted from out hotel at 6am, so we had some chai and breakfast at our favorite (read: only place we ate at) restaurant and walked around town. It was so beautiful, and had we been less impulsive, would have stayed longer. But we had a monsoon to beat. Since we hastily bought tickets for the train, we got general class. We didn't know what this meant, but we had sleeper the time before, and that was kind of roughing it. We couldn't find a "general" section so we just sat in sleeper, would wait a stop or 2 when someone would come claim their seat and kick us out, and find new seats. This went on for 4 or so hours when we thought we had a winner. Two men across from us got up and left for quite some time. After walking the train several times, I can tell you, there's no where to go. There's a toilet and there's train cars. That's it. When they finally came back they were clearly out of their minds messed up. On what? Who knows. One kept passing out and mumbling to Paul, "Where are you from?" and the other just sat there all mean looking. Then they started whispering to eachother and looking and pointing at Paul and I. Hmmm. I'm not one to be paranoid, but i'm pretty sure they were plotting our murders. Or perhaps just rob us, but so as not to take a chance we wandered on. Only this time there are no seats to be had. Im talking people hanging out of the rafters. We even tried to upgrade our ticket only to be told no, and the train conducter pointed forward.

So now we have train conductors and 2 scheming killers after us and 11 hours to go. We sat in the vestibule for a while, then saw one open seat. I asked to sit and the man graciously obliged and when he saw that Paul had no seat shared his tiny seat with him! This man was clearly educated, I think he said he was heading to Dehli (24 hour ride, ouch!) to attend law school. He was super sweet and chatted us up until the next stop when we were booted again.

The scenery on this train was amazing. We left at 11am, so we could see everything on this beautiful sunny day. It went from country-side with rice paddies and cows to jungle! I even saw an elephant in the woods! The first and only so far. Then right at dusk we got to the coast where you could see the Indian ocean breaking on the beaches. Aside from moving ever hour, Paul and I rarely even talked on the ride as we were too mesmerized by the sights. Paul even got a nice little sun burn on his right arm.

Back to moving. Literally 5 or 6 hours into this and someone kindly asked to help us. I guess we were looking pretty desperate at this point, and she told us, after NO ONE else had told us, that the first car of the train is general class. To avoid our potential killers and being harrassed by the train conductors, we ran up to the first car at the next stop. You can't even get to this car from the main train, you have to get off and get in it. No joke it was like walking into an animal cage. Talk about people hanging from the rafters. When we got on there were 6-7 people per 4 person bench, people sitting in the luggage racks and people standing in the aisles (as were Paul and I). After a short while someone offered me a seat, then Paul, and then we got the 2 money seats at the window. So for the next 9-10 hours we sat. We didn't want to get up to pee because we didn't want the other person to watch all of the stuff, so we didn't . For 10 hours. Or eat. Or do anything but read our books in the dark. Most people in the car were workers. They all got on with big bags of coconuts and promtly fell asleep. I wish I had a picture of how many people were able to sleep in the car. Fact from Lonely Planet: During rush hour in Mumbai a 1400person train holds 7,000. Yeah, so it was kind of like that. But, as with most of our experiences here, the people were so out of the way generous and polite and helpful; something y9ou would never encounter in NYC.

Wearily (up at 5:30 am) we arrived in Goa at 2am. All in all an interesting trip, but definitely no more general class for these kids. We got an awesome hotel in Colva and passed out only to be awoken by what? The monsoon! It found us all the way up in Goa. The entire, Im talking entire, next day was spent on our balcony sipping cocktails, watching the pond in the back turn into a lake. It was really peaceful and relaxing though. The next morning we bused it up to Candolim (<1 hour). During high season these beaches must be amazing, during monsoon, roughly 90% of everything is closed. We did get some great deals on rooms (~$10/night) but there was little to do at night, so we'd buy our Kingfisher Strongs and watch HBO in the room. It was safe, non threatening, and peaceful. And the beers be strong!

We stayed in Candolim 2 nights then moved up in Calagute (much more happening) for 3 nights. We spent the days walking the beaches, going to resort pools, and eating copious amounts of curries and breads! My favorite meal so far has been mixed veg. jal frizy. Yum! I thought India would make me skinny, tis quite the opposite my friend. Oils and fried stuff at every meal!

Beaches in Goa are interesting. The current is so strong you can't swim, so people literally just roll around in the sand at the water's edge. It was all Indians because it's off season, so if women went in the water, it was in their full outfit. I was able to get away with shorts, but Paul and I finally found Fabindia and both bought some tunics. The beaches during high season are littered with shacks, not trash like they are not. We could see the shacks roofs, but the actual shack, obsayeo. This is where everyone gets great cheap food and drinks. During low season, you go to the wine store or little restaurant and try to fend off flies. I would love to go back and see it in it's full glory. We totally lucked out on weather once there. We had beautiful sunny days the entire time with just 20 min bouts of rain. We even got some sweet tshirt tans!

Way too many other stories to include, but this is getting long. Since it's been raining so hard, the train tracks up to Mumbai have been washed out, so we bought cheap plane tickets. We are currently sitting at the Goa airport awaiting our flight. I'm so exicted to see monkeys, temples, and elephants in Mumbai!!!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Coming Soon....

A real post about India.

Now just a quick note. We're in beautiful, hot Mumbai and totally loving it. Its not at all the dirty clust-f we thought it would be! Although it is a lot more expensive. We stayed in a box last night. It was the most expensive hotel yet, with shaared bathroom, and half ceilings. We couldn't stand up int he room without hitting our heads on the ceiling and the AC in the room was shared with the room next to us!!

Pictures soon! Just booked Rajasthan for Saturday- time to meet a high school friend for lunch and go see some monkeys!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011


We arrived at a hotel we found in Lonely Planet after a death defying cab ride from the Bangalore airport. The hotel was nice enough, more than we wanted to pay ($20!), and as we checked in the receptionist guy told us "great night life. Down the street to the left. 10 minutes." At this point it was dark, and we're in India!!, but not to be deterred decided to take the walk. It's totally dark, loud (you don't drive without beeping 3 times a second), dirty, and empty. We passed a few people, but nothing, I mean nothing was open. This is 7:30 pm. We go back to the hotel, decide Bangalore sucks, and we're bailing the next day. Had a lovely dinner at the hotel, watched National Geographic and called it a day.

Day 2 India. We start walking thinking we'll explore a little and hit the train station later on to find out about leaving. After a 15 minute walk decide we don't want to give Bangalore another 2 seconds thought and tuk tuked it to the station. (Maria- how did you do it for 5 weeks!??) Indian train stations are fun. There are 8 million people running around all trying to get to the front of the "line." More of a cluster around the window. We finally push in, are told to go upstairs, go upstairs to get the train #. go downstairs to ticket window 14 labeled "Seniors and Foreigners." Old Indian men are a lot like old Korean men. They feel entitled and they push. We patiently wait and get a ticket for that evening to Kerala (South Western Indian Coast. Supposed to be less touristy than Goa) via sleeper car. Sleeper car to Paul and I sounds fancy. It's not. We meet 2 super sweet Indian dudes, both under 20, who chat us up and help us find out train. And thank god becasue we would have had trouble with that! We get there and words can't describe the spartan condition. Each cube, as I will call it, consists of 8 beds. 3 on one wall, 3 on the opposing wall, and two across the aisle perpendicular to the other 6. Somehow our cube sat no less than 12 for the first hour. I went to the bathroom at one point (literally ahole onto the tracks) and can't help but notice we have the most popular cube in our car.

It's all men except me and the girl across from me. She starts chatting me up, I have a really difficult time undertsanding her, not only is her accent thick, but the windows of the cars are just bars, so the whooshing of the Indian countryside is quite defeaning. Anyway, she asks about Paul and I, and I tell her all about our marriage on June 3rd (Mom not really, this is just our story), and how this is our honeymoon. Then I start talking to Paul and i guess we kissed or held hands or something because she beckons me over and whispers, "Sister, you cannot kiss you husband. You're in front of Indians." Oops!! All PDA is officially off. Then she asks more about us and finds out that Paul is a year younger than me. This is shocking ot her as only high leaders in India can marry an older woman. Ghandi married a woman 13 years his senior. She suggests next time we get 1st class (hey we thought we did), notes how strange my life is compared to hers, then kisses me on both cheeks and she and her posse depart.

Paul and I had the 6 beds then to ourselves and I managed to sleep ~6 of the 11 hour ride. I totally love Indian trains, I thnk Paul is less enthusiastic, but at least we got to use our locks!

We arrive in Kerala at 4:15 am and wander the streets looking for a hotel. Find one and sleep only to be awoken by banging on tin. WHy, what could that be in June in Southern India? MONSOON!! You hear about it, and read about it, but without seeing it, you can't quite grasp what monsoon season in India is truely like. We go out this morning to find the streets completely flooded, even the path to our hotel is submerged and we have to wade our way out. After a brief convo with the desk man we decide this ain't stoppin anytime soon so we best head out. Go to the train station and book a 16 hour general class (not even sleeper, oh my!) ticket for Goa tomorrow am. Hopefully the monsoon hasn't hit there.

I must say, Paul and I way prefer Kerala in the monsoon to Bangalore anytime (the weather there was awesome, high 20s and cool in the evenings).

Killing time at a ghetto Internet Cafe after havng an amazing lunch. Indian food is amaaaaaazing!! We haven't had a bad meal yet!

Off to see if we can find a beer. We haven't drank since we got here, and apparently the only place you can find booze is at a bar. So here's hoping. Hopefully sunnier news from Goa!!

We'll see India in a week at this pace!

Friday, June 10, 2011

Lessons learned so far

1. Packs are heavy. When packing for 9 weeks (especially when you're a girl), shit gets heavy. And you know who has to carry it? Me!!! Will be slowly shedding clothing and product.

2. If you're in a cafe at the airport fb chatting with your mom while you should be boarding your plane, the flight attendant will come and get you. And make you run to said plane. Go Air Asia.

3. Although it may look like another plane taking off next to you, it's not. It's just the wing of your plane. Thankfully I have a nice, observant boyfriend to remind me of such things.

4. AC is necessary. I will pay extra. In India I don't know if this is a choice. Hmmm.

5. Wet wipes are essential in humid monsoony countries.

More on what we've actually been doing coming soon.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011


Is my final day in Korea!! I just finished my last class and am off to a final dinner with Ms. Han. Last night BHive had a dinner for Krissy and I which was awesome. My boss is super hooked up and knows everyone who's everyone in Seoul, so he took us to am amazing Japanese fusion place with some awesome wine.

Yesterday and today Paul and I shipped everything to Hong Kong and the US. What a pain in the ass that was. We show up to the post office with 4 suitcases. "Oh, no, don't ship suitcase." Well, I'm not leaving it behind so do it. Then, "20kg weight limit." Im shipping this by boat, why is there a weight limit!!!!! So we repack some boxes, had to come home and repack more boxes, went back this morning only to be told, oh USA can't use size 6 box (which is perfectly OK for Hong Kong), must use 5 size box. So I repack that into 2 suitcases and finally we're finished!!!! 400,000 won and 10 boxes later. 8 boxes to Hong Kong, oops. Hopefully they take a while because I'm guessing Paul's school will be less than thrilled to hang on to those for 2+ months.

Anyway, packs are packed and I'm about to be homeless....again. I packed a few t-shirts, a couple light pants and thats about it. I think some saris will be in order ASAP.

Off to dinner, drinks with friends, closing bank accounts in am and one final galbi dinner before we flee for Malaysia. Late.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

CFA strikes again

Yesterday I had been feeling a little off. Kind of nauseous, and just kind of icky. I've been fighting my sinuses and had a spicy lunch, so blamed that. Came home, chatted with Mom, had a glass of wine and started feeling really bad. Maybe milk will settle my stomach. Wrong. But it did help me to puke for no less than 10 minutes. Was up tossing (ha get it) and turning all night, went to the doctor this morning and she says I have a fever and a virus. This is great timing. Let's get violently ill 3 days before the biggest test of my life. I have vague recollections of going to the doctor before the last CFA convinced I was dying. Stress seems to manifest itself in some sneaky ass ways with me. Oh and I have I mentioned I start malaria pills next week. Those should be a treat.

So moral of the story. Don't try to take the hugest test of your life, say goodbye to some of your best friends, pack, move and mentally prepare for the experience that will be India, all within a week of each other. Today is my last full on study day. Hopefully I can drink my Powerade and practice test my way to a pass.

Dear Korea,

It's been the best of times and the worst of times. We have had our highs; our lows; our extraordinary extraordinariness; our boring boringness.

But, you know what Korea? I'm going to miss you.

You have been my home. You have sheltered me from harm and provided me a wonderful jump off point to travel. You have introduced me to my future husband. You may have even impacted my child bearing decisions. And introduced me to some of the most interesting people in the world. I have met your children (pause, reflect, sensor), and although in bulk they are "challenging" they sure are cute. I have met your job recruiters; good luck with that.

You have showed me it's OK to eat bugs. It's OK to pass out in public. And it's damn certainly OK to push people when they're in your way.

Although, you have made me sick, and potentially ruined my lungs forever from all of your pollution, you have provided me cheap quality healthcare. And new teeth. And glasses.

You have showed me some of the most wonderful food in the world. And beers. And that you really don't understand sarcasm.

Korea, I love you. You will always have a huge place in my heart. I hope my small existence here has left a little with you as well. Best wishes in your future endeavors.

Much Love,