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Travel commentary

India, 1987-1988, Part 2: The Journey North

In Trivandrum, Kerala, we went to a circus which had many live animals. At the entry to the circus was a medical fair that had jars with pickled foetuses from start to finish and cardboard cut-out enactments of rape scenes. There was an adult corpse next to a helpful doctor who was lifting the rib cage with a ruler to show us where the organs went.

In Kovalum, multi coloured Kathakali dancers put on a cultural show. They had large red skirts and green and blue faces.

We took a boat tour of the backwaters of Ernakulum, Cochin filled with Chinese fishing nets. There was an island where they turned coconut husks into straw to be used to make bright green and red mats.

On the train north people were hanging off the sides of trains because there was no room inside.

Goa was all about beaches and fish. There was Anjuna, Calangute, Vagator, Colva and Benalum beaches- long curved beaches with coconut palms bending toward the sea. I wore a wide brimmed hat that could be conveniently folded into a small circle. A man pulled wax and rocks out of Dad’s ears for a fee.

Having spent the most part of the holiday taking malaria tablets with chlorine tablet laced water and being vegetarians as cows are sacred and can’t be killed; it was great to have salty air and fresh tasty seafood.  There was also an ice cream van that used filtered water – we went every day.

The guesthouse we stayed in at Benalum village was owned by a lovely couple who spoke good English and treated us like family. My parents were still in touch with them for years after the trip.  We visited Bom Jesus Basilica in Old Goa and Santha Durga Temple. We shopped at Margoa market and saw a bear dancing- a sun bear that the owner has tethered to a stick with string through his nose.

We met a Mormon family from America which consisted of 10 children from the ages of 17 down to baby. The 16 year old twin boys were my favourite and a girl that was closest to me age. We rode hired bicycles and played lots of cards- I learnt how to shuffle cards cleverly.

There was a field trip to Cape Rama Fort that we explored thoroughly and to Anjuna market to buy cheap jewellery and handicrafts. Beggars were the most prolific here and dad told me not to give them money because we didn’t have enough for everyone.

Finally we visited the gateway to India in Bombay. We stayed in a hotel where the beds had no mattresses and there were cockroaches and people everywhere.

When we arrived home, my dad discovered that he had put the same film back in the camera twice thinking it was blank. We ended up with double exposed photos of elephants juxtaposed on top of temples; and us with the Mormon family at Anjuna market seemingly walking into a crocodile farm. Though a mistake, these photos were some of our favourites and illustrated India perfectly.

Published as part of A Memorable Journey on Story2Share.

Related posts: India, 1987-1988, Part 1: The Road South

India, 1987-1988, Part 1: The Road South

In 1987, when I was nine years old, my parents and I spent three months in India travelling from Madras to Bombay. I am happy to have been so young when we went as I experienced no culture shock and had no real concept of poverty.  It remains one of the most different places I have ever been to and one that I remember quite vividly.

Madras in Tamil Nadu was filled with Hindu temples. One beach temple in Mahabilipurum had elephants that were walked inside.  I purchased a statue of Ganesh the elephant god for my Tamil uncle back home and a necklace of intricate pieces all carved out of one piece of ivory.

In Madurai I loved all the brightly coloured temples and the many different and interesting gods like Shiva with the many arms, Hanuman the monkey god and Vishnu.  Shankar, a rickshaw driver whom we had met the first day, was waiting for us each morning to ferry us from temple to temple.

We met a couple from England who were travelling after meeting on the internet before internet dating was really heard of. The woman was pregnant so she had to make sure that she drank fruit lassi’s (milkshakes) not the bang lassi’s that were laced with marijuana.

I remember a very long and bouncy overnight bus trip. Dad and I slept on the back seat which was like trying to sleep on a trampoline. There were no toilets on the bus and there were few rest stops, so the men peed out the windows and the women had to wait. When we did stop, the toilet was a plank over a pit. There were Bollywood posters on the side of the road and mum bought me a hand painted circular fan to keep us cool.

Christmas and New Year’s was spent in Kodaikanal. Being in the mountains, it was a cool break from the heat of India. Unfortunately, the president had died two days before Christmas so there was a four day official mourning period when everything was closed over Christmas. Fortunately we had already made friends with a local café owner, Israel, who opened to serve us porridge for breakfast. We had to shut the wooden window shutters and be quiet in case a passing mob heard us and stoned the café with us inside.

Israel took us to an excellent view point near his house on Christmas day which was mostly shrouded in mist. There were many walks around the lake and to a waterfall. One day we saw a rabid dog that had his insides on the outside after mating with another dog. India was the one place I was not allowed to pet the animals.

On the road south in Nagercoil there was a completely white temple that only allowed men to enter.

We arrived at Cape Comorin– the southernmost point of India. Here we saw the sun set and the moon rise at the same time. The sight was as unbelievable as the amount of people and faeces that covered the area.

Published as part of A Memorable Journey on Story2Share.

Travel rememberings

My parents had been married and travelling for 10 years before they had me. They travelled to Afghanistan before there was a Lonely Planet guide for the country, went to the Black Forest in Germany when the Berlin Wall was still up and got my mother’s engagement ring in Turkey. Or was it that I was conceived in Turkey? Or maybe that was the second time they went back?

Either way, they travelled A LOT. So much so that even they have trouble remembering where they have been in what year, let alone wether I was there or not. This was also before the time of digital cameras with locality devices recording every time, date, place and memory.

Therefore, it can be hard to piece together where I have travelled before my own memory kicks in, but I will endeavour to give it a go. A lot of the stories are snippets of memories that have been retold to me over the years or photo’s that have been unearthed and referenced.

When I was three weeks old, my parents left me with my grandparents in England and travelled to Corsica. Apparently it was a pre-arranged trip- not child abandonment as it would be labelled today. Perhaps due to this trip, or maybe because of it, I was henceforth deemed old enough and dragged on every trip that came after.

There were trips to England where my father lived, Australia where my mother lived, Canada where my uncle lived and Sri Lanka where a lot of mum’s family lived. It was a time when maybe they were trying to decide where to live or maybe they were making the most of the flexibility they had until I started primary school at age five.

My parents remember me riding a red scooter down the driveway at my grandparents’ house in Weymouth.

My mum remembers that all I ate on the European combi van tour when I was six months old was Boots powdered baby food.

We went to Yugoslavia before it was renamed.

There are pictures of me holding natural cotton flowers on a hill in Scotland.

My dad remembers going on the Matterhorn roller coaster with me as a toddler in Disneyland.

There is a picture of me sitting on Chacmool at Chichen Itza with a nappy on.

There is a photo of me as a baby with my face full of chocolate in high chair in Maui.

The two places that I am sure we never went to are China and Japan as they have never held any interest for my parents.

Calling any friends or family who can fill in the blanks to please comment below!

Related posts: I first started travelling, Top 5 Wildlife to Spot in California, Home is where you make it

Top 5 Wildlife to Spot in California

December 2007

1. Joshua Tree National Park

We have been driving through the park for an hour- a detour on the way to Las Vegas. I am on a mission to find the Cholla Cactus Garden, after my fill of knarled Joshua trees. It’s getting towards sunset- we may be running out of petrol soon. As we round a corner I spot something moving. “It’s a coyote!” I say. “No it’s not,” says Steve. But it is.

 

2. San Simeon

On a foggy day, we are headed for Hearst Castle. Randolph Hearst was a great lover of animals, just like me, and he once had a zoo there. I look out the passenger window and can’t believe my eyes. How can that be? Am I in Africa? Those black and white stripes cannot be mistaken. “It’s a zebra!” I say. “No it’s not,” says Steve. “YES it is,” I say.

 

3. Big Sur

On our way up Big Sur, the weather is quite bad. Steve wants to stop for a driving break, so we pull off the road. I stay in the car. Five minutes later, there is a knock on the window. “You have to come and see this,” says Steve. Below are an entire family of Elephant Seals on the beach- fighting, playing and dragging themselves around the sand.

 

4. Monterey

We stopped in Monterey for the night at a hotel on the edge of town. The hotel proprietor is a lover of animals, like myself, and promises that a trip to the harbour is a must so we head out along the wharf. “There’s one there!” I say. “No it’s not,” says Steve “YES it is,” I say. Seeing otters in the wild was a high light of this road trip for me.

 

5. San Francisco

We arrive at our final destination on the road trip. My favourite Californian city- San Francisco. We enter Golden Gate Park and head through the park on another one of my missions. The Bison Paddock is water logged but they are all there at the feeding pen. Real American Bison. Not roaming the plains like they once did, but there all the same.

Related posts: I first started writing

I first started travelling…

I first started travelling when I was 6 months old- around Europe in a combi van. My parents always travelled a lot and being the hippy era I was taken everywhere with them.

Mum grew up in Sri Lanka and Dad and I were both born in Weymouth on the south west coast of England where we all lived until I completed pre school. Then we moved to a town on the south east coast of Australia.

Being passionate travelers and having family all over the world we went overseas every few years which was a great experience that I will be forever grateful for- even if it means I caught the travel bug early.

In year four we spent 6 months overseas and I was taught basic Maths and English by my dad. I learnt much more about life and the big world that was out there than I ever would have by staying behind for school.

When I finished high school my parents promptly gave me a round the world ticket with an open return so I went back to Weymouth to live with grandma and work in a restaurant owned by my dads friend. And so began my grand tour around thirteen countries in Europe in three months with a girlfriend I had met in the restaurant to many of the places I had been to as a baby in the back of a van but could not remember.

Since then I have travelled back to Sri Lanka and many places by myself , with  friends and with family.

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