Sunday, 25 March 2007


Having decided that Mamallapuram was one of those places that we could have ended up spending the rest of our holiday lazing at we decided after three days it was smart to keep moving.

We braved the local bus, which to be fair was no worse than the Piccadilly line on a Saturday, if not better, and enjoyed our second class seats on the floor by the space where in other countries you would put a door. The ride was really pleasant and gave great views of the countryside and the farmland.

Pondy is an old French colony so seems comparatively organised, and even clean (mind you anything beats the mess in Delhi).

A throwback sign in Pondy

We did a tour about the town yesterday, including the backwaters and a commune called Auroville (which I remain sceptical about - go there without religion to worship the Divine, but the town is named after the bloke who founded it...)

The shrine at Auroville

We met another Paul on the bus (who lives in the next postcode in London) and had dinner in a French restaurant with him and another traveller we picked up on the way, followed by a spot of cricket watching.

Unfortunately Paul has been sick today. He braved thew outside world for a couple of wee walks but is now enjoying the AC, lots of water and antibiotics (and more cricket). I've done a bit of exploring today, along the beach, through random streets and 'boulevards', stumbled upon Mr Aurobindo's Ashram, and my personal favourite finding a temple with an elephant.

Temple Elephant

Dusk on the beach

All going well we'll head southish tomorrow, not sure where we'll end up next...

First Installment (22 March)

Not really knowing how shattered Paul was going to be when he finished his trial we booked the first few days in India as Rich Tourist. Airport pickup, car with AC, tour guides etc. It certainly made settling in to the chaos a little easier.

In Delhi for the first couple of days we saw a huge Mosque, an ancient pillar of sorts, Gandhi's assassination and cremation site, market, hawkers and more cows than you can shake a stick at. Possibly the funniest moment in all of it, aside from a cycle rickshaw going the wrong way into 'four lane' traffic, was when a man was talking to us, unbelievably not trying to sell anything and asked "So where in New Zealand are you from - Hamilton or Timaru?".

Making a new friend at Jama Masjid

Boys at the mosque

The crazy driver who took us into oncoming traffic

Our next stop was in Agra for a day or so. In addition to the usual things, the Red Fort (pretty), rug shops (we were restrained) and the Taj at sunset (stunning) we happened to stumble upon the first day of a Hindu festival. From our terrace restaurant we had a great view of all the floats (covered jeeps), coloured horses, brass bands, dancing, flashing lights. Of course as fate would have it I'd left my camera at the hotel and there's no visual record, then again no photo could capture the absolute noise or mayhem. Getting lost in the middle of it to get back was a definite highlight.

Taj at sunset

Paul and Amy at the Taj

Yesterday was a day of travel (Agra Delhi Hydrabad and finally Chennai), and time for the holiday to stop and for the travel / poor tourist to begin. The plan had been to stay the night and then venture to Mahabalipuram in the morning but two non-psycho-killer looking German guys asked us at the airport if we wanted to share a taxi down here last night and it seemed like a good idea.

Mahabalipuram is about 60km out of Chennai on the coast and was badly hit in the tsunami (all the boats on the beach were launched in 2005/6, and one of the cafes has a mark showing where the sea came through). We have had a very pleasant day here, breakfast from the local markets, lots of time on the beach, checking out ancient temples, more loitering on the beach and a bit of haggling with the locals.

Paul enjoying the beach

The Five Rathas

Shore Temple

Amy at the Croc Bank

Our new friend on the beach

Not too sure what the plan is from here... Pondy is looking good. Might just need to head back to the beach to ponder...

Saturday, 17 March 2007

One sleep to go

And a well deserved one at that given Paul's work and my work trip.

Have just had a fun game of "where-is-Paul's-passport" but thankfully it has now been found.

Tuesday, 13 March 2007

Happy Birthday!

It is quite a week for celebrations. Today (13th) is my brother Rowan's annual 21st birthday. Tomorrow Mum turns, well, you'd never ask a lady her age (don't worry Mum I've not really forgotten). Finally my other brother Julian and his wife Tracey celebrate their second wedding anniversary on the 19th.

It's also a week to think of two dear friends Sarah and Malcolm who only had short journeys on this earth. Thoughts, as always, are with their loved ones at this time.

Sunday, 11 March 2007

OE musings

When I was young(er) and first thought of doing an OE I never thought I’d end up in London. The whole idea of working behind a bar (phew avoided that) having people sleeping in the hallway (avoided, although we also don’t have a hallway) and hanging out in places like The Church, as seemed to be the norm for others had no appeal to me.

Years later when Paul’s older and wiser sister mentioned that she was off to the Church with friends the temptation to OE like an 18 year old was too great, and troops were rallied to attend…. and tie bags of beer our belts….

Dr Mel, Becks & Paul

Paul & Andrew

Mel & Becks

Paul, Amy and Amy’s tonsils

I can now say “been there, done that”, and am unlikely to ever go back.

Spring has sprung in London and the days are getting longer and warmer. Today was a barmy 17 degrees, perfect for walking through the park and admiring the daffodils. Unless you’re Paul where it was a perfect day to go to Twickenham and see France loose to England for the six nations.

Highbury Fields

This is the same view as one of the snow photos...

With tickets to the world cup having been purchased for the price of a NZ house deposit a year ago the six nations is being watched intently in this household and I still can‘t decide if France or England is the greater evil. The flight print outs are also on the notice board as a constant reminder of our carbon footprint. Roll on September!

It’s now only five and a half sleeps to India, not that I‘m counting. I’ve spent all my wages in Blacks and Kathmandu and Paul and I are now having anti-malarial tablets with our breakfast.
My first trip to India was to visit World Vision projects in 1996, so I‘m a little late in getting back within 10 years like I promised myself, but only just. It was at the time one of those rather overwhelming places, and I’m sure that it still will be but I’ve now travelled more I’ll be a bit more prepared for the noise the smell and the colour.

Paul has never been - he could be in for a shock!

Best be off now, have lots of bags to pack as before we leave for India I’ve got three days in France for work.

Has anyone got some carbon credits I can buy?