Christchurch, New Zealand and the sky: another chapter in my book of unfortunate happenings
Rainbow Beach and Fraser Island: I now sleep in a car
As Sharon, Craig and I get in our pink van, Princess Rosie, it is raining a lot. So much in fact, that three people get in a car accident and drown that day. We have our own battles to fight, since the rod for the windshield wipers is coming off, and we desperately need to be able to see where we’re going. We sing Bohemian Rhapsody and King and other fun songs to waste some time, and suddenly, we are in Rainbow Beach. It’s a very small town with no cellphone reception and seemingly nothing to do. Sharon and I buy a pair of fairy wings and run around like hyper toddlers for a bit, before we end up watching Jim Jeffries on my laptop and falling asleep in the van.
The next morning, we wake up really early and Nick from the hostel in Brisbane meets up with us. We’re going on a day tour to Fraser Island, and nearly miss it when the guide leaves without us. He’s the first man I’ve ever met that is on time. We take the ferry to Fraser and drive along the 75 Mile beach, where we see a couple of dingoes.
After some coffee at a resort, we go to Lake McKenzie, which has some of the clearest water I’ve ever seen. It’s as blue as the sky, and as cold as ice, but we jump in and rinse our jewelry and wash our hair in the smooth water, leaving us soft and refreshed.
We finish off at Eli Creek, and then it’s time to go back. I’d rather stay on Fraser than go back to Rainbow Beach.
We eat dinner and have some goon and I go to bed early, as I’m not feeling too great.
The next day, Craig and I eat breakfast by the beach and eventually, Sharon and Nick join us. A Swiss woman who’s been living here for 17 years tells us to hike up to see the colored sands, but her directions just take us to a lookout over the beach. I’m not complaining, though. Then, we pack up and start driving again. Off to our next destination!
Check out at hostel in Delhi. Go to Delhi Airport. Fly to Goa. Share a cab to Vagator Beach with some fellow backpackers. Get lost on our way to the hostel. Find hostel, which is full of young people, just staring at your red sweaty face. Drop new expensive camera and therefore break it. Look for new chargers for computer online, and fail. Get mad. Have a fight. Go to bed. Discover a gecko in the room. Name him Fredo. That pretty much sums up our day. Needless to say, it has sucked.
I obviously cannot get over this whole cow thing
We wake up the next day with an entirely different attutide, though – it must have been because we’ve had an amazing nights sleep. Our hostel, The Jungle Hostel, is very tiny and modest, but it’s full of young people, who sit barefoot on pillows in the common area with a beer in hand all day and night long. It’s just so cozy.
Breakfast is included, so we start off the day by going into the kitchen and grab some toast with jam and butter, and some mini bananas. The mission for today is to look for a charger for the computer in Mapusa (pronounced Mapsa). We get a taxi to the city center, which is also by the entrance of a big street market. While checking out the market, a young local woman follows us around. She seems very nice, and pretends to think Sara has Indian roots. What it all comes down to is that she wants us to check out her shop. I end up buying some toe rings and a scarf, which is way too expensive. We continue our mission to find the charger by visiting dodgy shop after office that sells electronics after dodgy shop, with no luck. Someone suggests we go to Panaji, so we get on a Tuk Tuk. After almost finding the right charger, we decide to go to lunch at a very local place, as in no one here understands english. We have to just point at random dishes and hope for the best. We end up being fairly satisfied with our choices, except we really need to get used to how spicy the food is everywhere.
We finally conclude that our mission is impossible, and give up on the whole charger treasure hunt. Back at the hostel in Vagator, we start talking to a few German girls, and even go shopping at the little stalls on the streets with one of them, Gül. I need to get me some India pants! Gül is an amazing negotiator, and thanks to her, we save a lot of rupees on our purchases. We walk back to the hostel together, and I suggest to her and her friend that we get some seafood and then have a bonfire on the beach (see my bucket list). All 6 of us have dinner and drinks at Tin Tin (yes, that cartoon guy), which is a really nice restaurant.
After dinner, we all head for the beach along with our roomate, Jonas, and 12 beers, rosé wine and marshmallows! We pick up some wood and branches on our way, to the amusement of some locals. An old Indian lady starts grabbing branches and hands them to us and I could just die. She’s so cute.
We find a spot on the beach that is as far away from the restaurants as possible. Saskia and Jonas are skilled fire-makers, so we leave it to them to start this thing. A group of people join us, and we all sit and enjoy the big, warm fire with our beers, rosé wine and roasted marshmallows. Even though we have a lot of wood, we constantly have to split up in groups to go look for more in the grassier areas, bringing our flashlights. As the fire is dying, the wood group comes back and lets us know that a lifeguard saw the fire from his tower (what is he doing there in the middle of the night?), and apparently what we’re doing isn’t exactly legal. So we let the flames die, and we head back to the hostel.
3.45 in the morning is no time to get up, but that’s what we do anyway. We start our day agreeing that we are getting sick and promptly fill up on vitamins. We take a cab to the airport to avoid having to endure a long, cold walk to the train station with our backpacks on, which would ultimately make us more sick. That’s lazy people’s logic for you right there. The driver rips me off of course, but I am too sleepy to care. Paulina is with us to try and get a refund on her flight, as she hasn’t gotten her visa approved yet, but she doesn’t have any luck. She then heads over to the ATM to get some money out, and it rejects all of her cards. Almost teary-eyed, she has to watch us go through security while she is waiting for the bank to open, so she can get some money for the cab back.
Sara and I fly to Paris, where we have a quick layover, then we’re off to Delhi. We sit in different rows, which I don’t mind, since we have movies, naps and food to entertain us. We try our first Indian meal on the plane, which is not too bad. I am geniunely thinking I won’t mind this coming month of just Indian food. Two weeks from now, I will regret that.
We also have our first taste of Asian politeness on the flight. The Indian woman sitting next to Sara not only stares her up and down for a long time, she also completely skips the line to the lavatory, where we have been waiting for several minutes. I am shocked how unapologetic and rude this woman is, but I also have yet to find out how common that really is.
When we land in Delhi, we have to deal with a long walk and line to immigration before baggage claim. Our backpacks are taking their sweet time to get there, and we are on the verge of a nervous breakdown. Wouldn’t it just be typical to travel all day, just to end up in a strange country without our luggage and an idea of how to deal with it?
We finally leave the airport, one whole hour after landing. A driver has been waiting for us all this time, and he’s going to wait a little bit longer, when we spot an ATM. I don’t know the currency rate, or what half the (English) words mean, so I take my sweet time. Poor guy.
Our driver takes us for quite a walk to the car. On the way, several big groups of young guys give us the stare, which makes us a bit nervous. I have heard a lot things about Indian men and their sexuality, and especially about their fascination with blond girls. It makes me even more aware of people staring at me, and even more scared that I will somehow end up in an uncomfortable situation. Not exactly the best thing to think about, going into a month-long trip in this country. I better shake off my prejudices about this country and its people. Not that I have too many.
We get in the taxi, which is clearly not an actual taxi, but an old, white car with duct tape to hold the windows in place. We have our first taste of traffic in India: loud, chaotic and seemingly super deadly. I get distracted when I see cows casually crossing the street here and there. This is amazing! What’s not amazing though, is that the driver asks us for a tip, and we hand him about 200 rupees, to which he gets offended. In the end, he cashes in 600 rupees in tips alone, and it’s a total scam, and we are tired and just want to get out of the duct tape car. He heads into a narrow and dark alley, and we stand there, unsure if it’s safe to follow him. Why is he going into this creepy alley with nothing but young men sitting around, staring at us!? It turns out our Hotel, called The Spot, is a tiny place far into the alley. Now, I’ve been staying in shit places before and it’s never been a problem. I have a fairly low standard. This place seems scary and disgusting though. I can’t put my finger on it.
We have plugged in the charger for the computer we have bought together for this trip, and suddenly a few sparks fly from the plug, the charger melts, and the lights go out. We are too scared to leave the room and go back to the reception, where it’s just a few young guys sitting around, so we just fall asleep in our beds, which Sara suspects is crawling with bed bugs. It’s been a looong day.