Saturday, 5 December 2009

1200km, 7 towns, 3 throttle cables, 1 bike (part 2)

My bike is getting fairly tired by this point - riding it out of the multistorey car park is much more difficult than anticipated, since it's on a hill. My bike does not like hills. After a few tries, a few stalls, a few rollings down the hill backwards, I end up turning around and going for a kilometer or so in the other direction to get a run up, and this finally works (just about). Then I hit a traffic jam. Indian traffic jams aren't much fun at the best of times, but with a bike that really doesn't like mornings (I'm not so partial either) it's pretty stressful. It's a proper jam, we'll move maybe 10m, then stop for a few minutes. As the line moves forward the 10m, I stall (surprise surprise) and immediately the driver behind me starts beeping like crazy, shouting 'HELLO SIR, GO GO!' behind me. It's fairly obvious when a bike stalls - you have to kick start it again (several times if you're on my bike!), and the traffic had once again stopped 10m ahead. *BEEEP BEEEEP BEEEEEEEEEEEEEEP* 'HELLOOOO! HELLO! SIR! SIR! COME ON GO GO GO! SIR!' Yeah, thanks for that. Wouldn't want to be 10m behind a stationary car. I was fairly close to calmly getting off the bike, putting it on the centre stand in the middle of the road, and going to talk to the driver. Managed to restrain myself. I finally get out onto the open road.

After a few hours I notice an Indian on the side of the road having problems with his bike. I'm not sure I can help, but stop anyway - his chain has come off and the pliers I've bought come in handy. We end up riding the same way for a while and Vikrant demands I come to stay the night at his house in a small village called Barmana. It's proper rural India - no running water, the mother making chipatis over a small wood fire, the milk we drink and ghee we eat is from their cow. I'm welcomed into their home as one of their own, get stuffed with food and get told I'm a 'great man' for helping Vikrant with his bike.

With a friend of his who's a teacher we walk around and up to the local temple, and then have a clandestine beer (their parents would disapprove, although they are both 25+. Interestingly their fathers drink, but don't allow the sons to. Of course the women of any age have no chance). Drinking in India doesn't seem to be a relaxed, social thing - in fact it seems the actual drinking isn't even done for pleasure; each glass is guzzled away as quickly as it's poured, to get maximum 'effect'. It's like being 16 again.

The next morning I try to get going early, but I keep being offered things and being introduced to new family members. I also get an invitation to his brother's wedding (brother is an all-purpose word for male relative, so I'm not actually sure what relation it was) which I duly accept, it's in a week's time. It's all very nice, but I'm a little nervous about getting going - I want to get to Manali before dark and it's a fairly long ride. It doesn't help that when I try to get going there's a problem with the bike, so someone calls a mechanic and I have to wait around for ages, and then have lunch. So it's 1pm before I set off, and I just ride non-stop, getting to manali just before dark. I'm pretty frazzled when I arrive, so it's nice to find a very pleasant guest house with hot water and beer. Cue contented sigh. I end up not doing much for the next few days, except going on a few walks. Oh, and this:

I head down for the wedding, and am once again received with delight. There is a small ceremony that evening, and then a bigger celebration the next morning with full-on dress, a band and dancing, and then we head off in the car (much to my surprise!) to a ceremony in the bride's village, several hours away. Whisky is consumed on the way. More ceremonies, more music, a huge buffet, another whisky.

I go for a walk with a few friends of Vikran, and the idea they have of the West is... well, inaccurate to say the least. One person asks me how many girlfriends I have, on answering none they were visibly shocked, several refusing to believe me. One guy actually believed that women in London walk around the streets in bikinis. He was eager to learn though, asking me many questions about western culture, saying 'this is what I know, what I've been told - teach me, tell me how I'm wrong'.

**Rant warning** Vikran comes over to tell me not to drink any more whisky - I've only had 2, but he's not drinking so I figure I should be a good guest. 10 minutes later and I find him necking neat gin, 30 minutes later and he's staggering around singing. Hrmph. He's also ignoring me and I'm being bombarded by (mainly drunk) people asking me where I'm from; it's getting pretty boring. Indians as a rule don't understand privacy/solitude, or being quiet and being the centre of attention for many hours at a time is pretty much my own personal hell. One guy asks me who my favourite musician is, doesn't wait for an answer, tells me his is Shakira and proceeds to wail the first few bars of 'hips don't lie' - and then does it all again, literally a dozen times. I'm no where near drunk enough for this. I start getting pretty grumpy; am still getting pinched and pulled in 7 directions at once, people demanding I dance so they can take pictures of me, singing terribly, asking me questions. I slip out to go for a walk, but get followed by some people who talk non-stop, and then end up trying to show me pornography (what the hell? how am I supposed to react to that? to be enthusiastic? I guess they weren't expecting a bitter laugh and a 'jesus christ' followed by me walking off, but I really don't see what their goal was). I'm in a really bad mood by this point, and walk for a fair amount of time to find some peace. When I get back everyone thinks I've been throwing up because I'm so drunk (I can't quite express how frustrating it is being totally sober and surrounded by drunks accusing you of being more drunk than them). I try to sit in the corner and read a book - HA! - and spend most of the rest of the night resisting demands for me to dance. I generally love dancing, but I'm in such a bad mood and pretend I'm not feeling well. Not that that deters them. I suppose I can't deny there was a degree of spite in not dancing too. I'll spare you my gloomy ruminations on humanity from the evening - suffice to say it was a low moment of the trip.

The next morning there is more music, more food, more ceremonies, and then we head back. I was hoping to get back early to head to Dharamsala, but we get back to Barmana in the early evening. It seems my insistence that I'm ill has come true, and I feel pretty awful. I feel a lot happier being back in the village though, and get a bit of time to myself. Vikrant gives me some medicine, and then tells me I should get up early the next morning in order to throw up. I decline... I'm feeling better by the morning anyway. I leave with mixed feelings; loving the simple village life and the welcome I'm given, but realising these people are at the core the same as any other, which I find depressing. Still, I'm fond of the family, and when I'm invited back I say I'll try - truthfully.

A pleasant day's ride and I'm in Mcleod Ganj, a Tibetan community for refugees fleeing their homeland, and the home of the Dalai Lama and Tibetan Government in exile. And that's that. Here end my bikey adventures. It's a nice place, and I've been here a while - think I needed a rest!

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

1200km, 7 towns, 3 throttle cables, 1 bike (part 1)

I made it to Dharamsala! And I'm still alive, with all my limbs firmly attached! Yay! Though it was not without its scary moments...

So I leave Rishikesh at 9am or so, stocked up with fuel for both bike and myself, and hit the road. I take the route I've driven up a few times, so it's a nice start, and helps me get used to having all my luggage on the bike. It's a great road, awesome scenery, good condition, barely any other cars. So I'm trundling along, take a corner perhaps a tad quickly (which is unusual for me, most of the time up until then I'd been creeping along at 20km/hr twitching nervously thinking 'ohmygodohmygod I'm going to die') when I behold an old lady wandering in the middle of the road. Upon seeing me she panics and starts jumping back and forth, meaning I have to brake somewhat sharply and, due to some handily placed gravel in the road, I slide and come off my bike. Awesome! 3 hours into my journey and I've already narrowly missed a pedestrian and fallen off the bike whilst moving. Back to trundling along at 20 then I guess. (Luckily I'm fine, just a scrape on my arm).

I get lost a few times on the first day, with the signs being few and far between (and most of them in hindi) and the people giving me wrong directions. One detour took me passed an old man who spoke no english but grasped that I wanted to get to a town called Dharasu. He hopped on the back, chattering away non-stop in hindi. It was a while before I realised he didn't actually know the way at all, and just wanted me to take him to Chamba (some way back the direction I'd come) - repeating the words 'ChaaaambA! petrol PUMP... CHAMbaaa... peTROL pump' for about 20 minutes, with various different intonations and stresses. I somehow manage to find the right road, although it's more of a dirt track. The views all around are absolutely fantastic - for an hour or two I'm riding along the side of one of India's biggest hydroelectric dams; sun setting, mountainous background. They're fairly controversial actually since many villages were flooded to allow their contruction (you can see the tops of trees and telegraph poles emerging from the water), but DAM they make good scenery (see what I did there)

Sometime after this my first throttle cable breaks. At this point I'm a total novice when it come to bike repairs, and in fact hadn't even bought basic tools for the trip, vaguely planning to buy them somewhere along the line, or assuming nothing would go wrong. I had some spares though and flag down a passing biker who fixes it for me pretty quickly. I make sure to note what he's doing so I can do it myself if it happens again.

Some hours later, as it's getting dark, I stop and ask for the town I'm heading for and am told it's back in the direction I came. It gets reeeaal cold up in the mountains at night, and Indian roads are not ones you want to be driving on in the dark (pot holes/unmarked speed bumps/landslides) so decide to call it a night and ask for the nearest guest house. 5km in the other direction they say. 15kms later and I find a tiny shop, the owner of which tells me it's 40km further until Chamba (the town I'd passed through 4 hours earlier) and the nearest guest house. Ugh. Someone overhears though and offers a truckers' sleeping stop, 'very simple' they say, but that's a-okay with me.

Until I get inside, and there's the world's second biggest spider scuttling around on the wall. I don't mind being in a crowded cafe with an awesomely huge spider, but sleeping in the same room as one? hm... it's all creepy and swings around on only a few legs like it's enjoying itself. If you shine a torch at it the light reflects of its many, alien eyes. EWWWW. I end up putting up my mosquito net (I know, I'm a wuss) and manage to doze for a while, and set off first thing the next morning.

Taking the advice of the person I met the day before, I head back the way I came, trying to figure out which wrong turning I'd taken. The only vague possibility I could see was a little track heading down the side of the mountain, towards the bottom where there's a huge bridge - maybe that's where I'm supposed to go? It quickly deteriorates and huge rocks are everywhere, and I'm bumping about all over the place. I started thinking I'm probably on the wrong path about 10 minutes in, and then find a person who says 'NOT ROAD!' with surprising forcefulness, so I head back. Which is far more difficult of course because it's uphill - and, riding an enfield (a slightly grumpy one at that), you have to go fairly quickly even in first to stop it stalling. Cue even more bumping on a rocky, wet, slipperly path less than a single lane wide, with a 50ft+ drop to the left and landslide debris to the right. weeee!

I decide the guy who gave me directions was just wrong, and head the way I was going to originally - hell, it's a real road at least. Turns out I'm right and I make my way towards Barakot. The road starts heading through forests and is really beautiful, great to ride through - until my throttle stops working again. ARG. This time it's not the cable but the handle that's broken - where the cable attaches. I flag down another biker and we end up melting the handle together, cable included, and it holds until barakot, where I find a mechanic (who does nothing for the throttle handle incidentally, that's a problem solved, nothing to worry about) and a guest house. Barakot is a pretty small rural village - they obviously get a few tourists in season, but this is very much the end of the season, and I'm stared at even more than usual. Being a foot taller than most Indians and covered in oil generally doesn't help me keep a low profile.

I'm told the way I want to go (across a fairly barren stretch of 'road' through some mountains/forests) has been blocked, so I have to head back south again. It's not exactly the same way I've come, but feels like a bit of a backtrack. The scenery is astounding though:

More riding though tiny villages, giving cute school children lifts, getting stared at by everyone. I get to Poanta Sahib before dark (not without losing another throttle cable - I don't know why, I'm not revving it like a madman or anything. I managed to fix it myself, under the close scrutiny of at least a dozen locals who stop to watch the crazy white man covering himself in oil, which I'm very proud of) It's much bigger than Barakot - definitely a city - but again, this is not the season, and there's not a westerner in sight. I find a mediocre guest house, wash away a few layers of grime with cold water, find a take away curry and a beer (my first in nearly a month, Rishikesh is a completely dry town!) and have a good sleep. Next morning I take the road towards Shimla, one of my main 'destinations' for the journey. The road is wide, straight and generally in ok condition and I actually manage to go at 50-60km/hr for prolonged distances (very rare up to this point) and get there pretty quickly. I check in at the YYYY-M-C-A! and have a tepid shower (an improvement). My room is big and clean, and there are no humongous spiders lurking in every corner. Result!

Shimla is an odd place. An old British hill fort, it was turned into a town after some Brit settlers came here in summer to avoid the clinging dusty heat further south. As a result, it's has a strange feel to it - like an Indian city but with some Britishness hurled at it. There's a few mains streets filled with expensive, western brand shops (nike, addidas, domino's pizza), all extremely clean - littering, spitting and even smoking are illegal and are punishable by fines. Everyone's dressed in smart clothes, looking rich, beautiful and sophisticated. But... kind of boring. There's not a lot to do. Then 50ft down the hill and you're in an Indian market, winding streets with stalls of all varieties, back to the vibrant colours and smells of a more traditional Indian city. I'm not quite sure what to make of it all.

There's also a very disconcerting air raid siren that goes off every day. I'm woken the first morning by a full blown alarm; it's a terrifying sound, and in my sleepy daze I'm slightly worried the world is coming to an end. Next time it goes off I'm outside and no one pays it the slightest bit of attention. They don't even seem to register it; I'm the only one freaked out in the slightest. It's like being in 'The Prisoner' or something.

So anyways I stay here a while, but get a bit bored, and still have had very little human interaction. There are a few English speakers here, but most are 60+ rich Brit retirees, obviously living here because it's the least Indian city in the north of India, and they can still live like the colonial masters they feel like; ordering around locals to carry their bags and bring them food in superiour, lordly tones. Time to leave.

Friday, 16 October 2009

To the mountains! (part 2)

The next morning, after our breakfast of dhal and roti we head to the valley of flowers. I'm feeling a bit 'bowelarily tumultuous' as I put it, so the walk is punctuated by...stops... but it's a much easier walk than the day before and the views are stunning.

I head back a bit early as I'm not feeling great, realising as I get back that Tyler has the only key to our room, and have a nap in an open spare room. When I wake it's dark and I find no sign of Tyler or Gribb. Downstairs no one has seen them either, and a czech couple said they saw them a few hours before and that they were trying to find a lake, deep into the valley. They also said it's a crazy idea and hoped they'd changed their minds. The woman speaks some hindi and talks to the locals, who are starting to worry, and she tells me there is a real danger of bears, who come out at night to eat.

I have a fairly hyperactive imagination and had idly thought about one or more of us being eaten by bears many hours earlier but I do it just to pass the time, without any expectation or worry. As the locals start amassing a search party to go into the hills I begin to wonder if one of my crazy daydreams might actually be coming true. When I get up to go with them they tell me they know the area and will be quicker without me which, having seen some locals on the paths, I don't doubt. I also had fallen in the river on the way back earlier and my spare clothes are locked away in my room, so realise it's probably sensible to stay behind. A hypothermic cheesies wont help the search. The minutes tick by...

After an hour or so, we hear shouting, see lights and our hotel owner carrying a huge flaming torch with a triumphant grin on his face. Tyler and Gribb follow closely behind.
"Where have you been you crazy bastards!" I yell in mock outrage.
"You were worried, huh? Yeah, I would've been too." Smiles all round.
Turns out they simply misjudged the time - though Gribb had started a 1hr+ steep unpathed hill-climb as it was getting dark, and he was not to be persuaded otherwise. Tyler turned back, and after a little while, in a rare moment of rationalisation (or self-preservation?), Gribb changed his mind and turned back too.

After our dhal and roti, Tyler gets us invited to a 'party'. I wish I'd got a video - it was just a bunch of old, very drunk Indians singing and staggering around a campfire. The entire village is there (perhaps a dozen people) and they are delighted to see us; shaking our hands non-stop, standing us up, sitting us down, trying to teach us a local dance (uncoordinated drunken stagger is more accurate!) We leave pretty quickly.

The day after we head to Hemkund - a temple 4.5km above sea level in the mountains. Gribb made himself throw up the contents of his stomach the night before because of indigestion from the roti ("roti is very strong food - make fire in belly") and diarrhea took care of the other end, so when he says he plans to not eat anything all day, we're surprised to say the least.
"You ever hiked for 8 hours without food before?" Tyler asks.
"I fine, I just have water, and sun energy." And he faces the sun, palms up, eyes closed. While he has his breakfast, we have ours: guess what?

It's not an easy walk; only 6km each way but it's a 1.5km climb so it's fairly steep. Gribb is, not surprisingly, struggling and turns back halfway. We're very glad we carried on.

The night is so cold I can't sleep. I'm wearing 4 long-sleeved tops and a hoodie, and hiding under the duvet but still am shivering uncontrollably. I feel worse and worse throughout the night, and by the morning I've got the works - aching joints and muscles (or 'moooskles' as Gribb calls), slight fever, headache, cough, cold and the runs. It's going to be a fun 14km hike back, I think grimly.

Turns out to be ok, weather is good, and I feel a bit better once I get moving. More naked swimming/being frozen from Gribb, more flirting with beautiful women from Tyler. We meet Shankie, an friendly Indian (are there any other kind?) who we passed on the way back from Hemkund, turns out he is doing the entire Govindghat - Hemkund trek in 48 hours, camping out at Hemkund. I can only imagine how cold that must have been. We walk together for the rest of it, and he is heading Rishikesh-wards too, and gets us sorted with a bus back, leaving 4.30am the next morning. Tyler is heading to Nepal though and gets a different bus, so we say our goodbyes ("lets hug it out, bitch!"). We end up sitting out on the street all night - possibly not the best idea considering my state but oh well - and finally get our bus. Not the funnest 12-hr bus ride I've ever had, but we make it back finally and I trudge to find a guesthouse in a daze. I have my first hot shower since arriving in India, and I can't quite put into words how good it is.

So that's that! Back in Rishikesh now, heading off tomorrow on the enfield. Wish me luck! I'm gunna need it...

Thursday, 15 October 2009

To the mountains! (Part 1)

Tyler, a friendly American I've been spending a fair amount of time with over the last few weeks, is planning a trip to the mountains; the valley of flowers and Hemkund, and says I should come along. On the surface we're fairly contrasting characters, (him a loud, open American, me a quiet, reserved Brit) but we have many deeper similarities and get on well. Plus he plays loads of poker - what's not to like? He also invites a Russian named Gribb... I guess I should explain about him now.

Gribb Gribb Gribb. Where to begin. I suppose a good place to start might be the fact that he named himself Gribb (Russian for mushroom I think) after a mushroom shaman, and when we asked his real name he wouldn't tell us, saying (please imagine the accent) "that is not me. I am not my name. I am not my biografia". He later won't allow us to take pictures of him because it would 'steal his energy', and tells us he's burnt all the photos of him that he can get his hands on ("I am not me. I am not human. I am nothing. How can you save nothing?"). This is a particular shame because he has a floppy Mohawk with shaved head either side, a penchant for bright or neon clothes ("is very acid!") and several funky ear-bar things. It's quite nice not being the crazy foreigner and center of attention for a while! Every local we pass either laughs, shouts something like "Good hairstyle my friend!" or just stares open mouthed for minutes on end.

His beliefs... I got most of it in one huge dollop the first night I met him. I wish I'd had a tape recorder or something, I've forgotten most of it, but suffice to say my jaw was on the ground the entire evening - some of the stuff he was coming out with was just... WOW.

He believed the world as we know it will end in 2012 because of the Mayan calendar (given to us by aliens thousands of years ago, along with the pyramids and various other things), he believed there are aliens on the moon, on mars, on earth, he believed you could survive on nothing but 'universal energy' and claimed to have gone 4 and a half days without food or water. He believed technologies in films like The Matrix and Total Recall exist and are kept secret by governments across the world. I think my favourite was his belief that when the poles melt after the apocalypse in 2012, the lost city of Atlantis will be free from its icy prison under the North pole and float to the surface, replete with 5-metre tall gods with strange skulls (pictures of which he assured us he'd seen) possessing special powers such as teleportation and telekinesis. I kid you not. It was incredible! And I honestly believe that he honestly believed it. I got to utter the words 'sorry, why are there demons in babies' minds?' which brought me great joy.

I asked him, somewhere towards the end of the evening, where he got all this information. Can you guess what he said? 'The internet'. I'd tried to keep a straight face, but couldn't help laughing (or should that be loling?). As one of the others said afterwards, 'some people shouldn't be allowed on the internet'.

So that's a not-so-brief intro to Gribb - the kind of person who comes out with sentences like "I fly.... outside of matrix!" with seemingly no context, that send me and Tyler into giggles. In short, he's bat-shit crazy, but enormously good fun. As Tyler points out, he adds a bit of life and energy into our group.

Ok... So the whole trip starts out pretty weirdly. We book a jeep for 6am, I turn up at 5:40, stick around for an hour and find no trace of Tyler, Gribb or jeep. I find Gribb and Tyler the next day, it seems they overslept, but I have no idea where the jeep was. We book it again, found my team this time, waited for an hour (which included over-friendly cows and a very spaced out lady who sat with us for ages howling at the moon) and then got told the jeep wasn't leaving because it wasn't full. Third time's the charm, and we finally take the 8hr bump-fest to Joshimath. From there we get a ride to get a ride to Govindghat, the starting point for the hike to Ghangaria.

Govindghat is eerily empty, not quite a ghost town, but certainly dying (or hibernating - the season is all but over). We are the only tourists, and the few locals we meet all seems to be emptying they're possessions into trucks (in a disconcertingly hasty, almost panicky manner) or huddled around fires of burning rubbish. We manage to get a room at the only open guesthouse, get told by several people that the valley of flowers is closed and there are no places to stay, but Gribb is insistent everyone is lying, and that we should go. "You think of problem, make problem! There is no problem" We try to explain dying of exposure or starvation would be problems whether we think about them or not, but he doesn't quite get it. We find one person who says there are things still open, and of course he's not lying - everyone else had 'bad energy'. We decide this craziness is why we brought Gribb along, and set out the next morning anyway. The walk up to Ghangaria begins wonderfully, a winding path following a tributary of the Ganga with the Himalayas in the background. I gaze hungrily at the view wishing I had photographic memory and mourn the fact the photos won't do it justice (not bad though):

Along the way we stop beside the river for Gribb to have a swim. It's glacial water, and putting my foot in for more than 5 seconds causes pain. I turn and see Gribb, absolutely butt-naked (as Tyler would say) dunking himself into the river over and over with a huge grin on his face. He emits a high-pitched roll of the lips, sounding like a Pokemon - 'brrrrrrrrrrrrrrreeeeeee!' Then his signature choking noise, that I imagine to be similar to that of a strangled duck, and then a spit. KKKKARH-spit.

The end of the 14km walk gets tougher and we're pretty tired by the time we get to Ghangaria. It's even quieter than Govindghat , we see maybe 3 or 4 people. We find there is an open guest house though, and they serve food. It's starting to get dark and frighteningly cold; Tyler is shivering like crazy - I suspect he has a touch of hypothermia but he feels better after some dhal and roti (our diet for the next 4 days). Our room has no electricity, the toilet doesn't work, and the gaps in the doors and windows mean it's the same temperature inside as it is outside. It's certainly below zero at night as the edges of the river freeze over, and we spend the nights fully dressed and shivering.

Wednesday, 30 September 2009

What an eyesore....

So it seems I wasn't content with one infection, so I decided to get conjunctivitis too. It's only in one eye at the moment, but everything I've read about it assures me that it'll spread to the other eye soon, so there's that to look forward too (update: yup, both eyes). Yay! Actually my leg hasn't leaked strange-coloured fluid for a while so maybe it's a replacement infection rather than an extra one.


Oh well, at least it gives me an excuse to wear my sunglasses at all times and look incredibly cool.

So nothing much has happened since my last post. I've been reading a lot, drinking lots of tea, playing a lot of cards. It's been fine, but very slow and quiet, feeling like making a move. Been on a few bike rides up into the mountains which were amazing:

Amazing scenery, freewheeling the full 50km home, getting used the bike. Fun! But on one of the trips I bashed the exact square inch of burn that I really really needed not to (of course) which resulted in much blood and pain and delaying of recovery so I wont be doing any more until it's healed. Really looking forward to the next leg of my journey; worked out a route through the mountains up north to shimla, bypassing the huge cities and scary traffic. Will be great to see some tiny villages too, get away from the tourist trail for a while.

Seen some fun things, went to an arti - religious ceremony with singing, drums and fire next to a big statue of Shiva on the edge of the Ganges:

Also saw what was almost definitely the world's biggest spider:

Kind of hard to get the scale, but it was a good 10"x10". I was leaning against a wall when everyone I was with looked just above my head and went 'OH MY GOD WHAT THE HELL IS THAT!??!?!?!1' so that was fun. It was in the middle of a heavy downpour of rain, so I think it was taking cover - apparently they hardly ever go near humans. Didn't stop me from checking under my bed when I got home though.

Monday, 21 September 2009

Biking in Relaxikesh

So we arrive in Rishikesh, and head to one of the main market/guesthouse areas. It's early in the morning, and crossing the ganges with the sun rising and the monkeys swinging about the bridge wires - it's a pretty darned cool welcome.

One of the locals:

We wander around, drink lots of chai and lemon tea, and find a great restaurant on the bank of the ganges with possibly the world's smiliest waiter. We also find an advert for a Royal Enfield Bullet - the quintessential bike for touring India. I'd been doing a bit of biking back in Britain with the hopes of doing some in India, so we try getting in contact with the owner, with no luck, but the idea is planted in our heads and we go on a bike hunt. We meet a very friendly Indian who is here on holiday and is clearly fairly wired on charras. He is wandering the same way we are and we keep bumping into each other and eventually he offers to help us find a bike, since he rides himself and is looking to rent one. I'm fairly dazed at this point, it's dark, we have no idea where we are, and we're trying to buy a motorbike with no idea how much I should be paying or what a good bike is, and one that I'm not sure I can ride, and am certainly not legally allowed to ride. Anyways, after settling on a good price for a nice bike that was about 10,000 rps less than I was expecting thanks to our Indian friend (27,000, about 350 pounds, all inclusive with insurance/luggage racks, etc) we sit and have a chai with the friendly man, I calm down, and I decide to go for it:

They tell me to ride it around for the day to get a feel, first to go the petrol station just down the road. I'm pretty nervous, not only because I've never ridden anything half this big, or because of the Indian roads, but also because I'm sitting outside a motorbike shop with tons of bikers outside clearly judging me. Obviously 100 meters down the road I fall off into the gutter and get covered in sewage. Standard. In my defense, the brakes and gears are on different sides than in Britain so instead of braking I changed into 2nd (the gears are also opposite, down for higher gears) but yah, not my finest moment. I ride around the petrol station a bit getting a feel for it, then try with my friend on the back (yeah, the first time on a much bigger bike with a passenger with different controls on insane roads in a different country is a great idea, I know I know) and we go buy helmets. We ride around a bit and find some awesome scenery on mountain paths:

There are a few scary moments, clipping a rickshaw on the busy inner city streets, a few (ok, about 3 bazillion) problems with things like turning around/maneuvers, and at one point we turn a corner where a bus is speeding towards us and there is absolutely no room so we get pushed to the side, both burning our legs on the silencer. We carried on our way, but deciding that going long distances with a passenger simply wasn't going to happen - or if it did, something bad and painful would happen. The ride back is fine though, and really nice. I drop Ali off and ride back to the shop - which is MUCH easier without him - for a few minor adjustments... (a huge iron pole and 6 men bending the engine guard thing back into place after the fall). Then I ride back to our hotel (in the dark + potholes and unmarked speed bumps + getting lost = eeeeeek) and finally get back to our room and have a small heart attack.

At this point my leg is looking pretty yellow from the burn - it doesn't hurt but then I read on the internet that it's probably because it's at least a 2nd degree burn and so the nerves have been burnt. So I head to a hospital (which is clean and westerny to my relief) and get attention almost immediately. First the doctors cleans the burn, then brings out a razor which makes me a little nervous, then he leans in to the wound and as he makes contact the lights cut out. So I'm a little freaked out, but he just starts shaving the hair around my leg, so I calm down. Until, that is, he starts cutting off the skin around and inside the burnt area. Slicing inside infected, burnt dermis with a razor without anesthetic is... not unpainful. So I chew my fingers off for a while, he sorts me out, prescribes some antibiotics and I pay a few hundred rupees. I was kind of laughing the whole way through, certainly an experience!

Which kind of takes it to now - I've been doing very little the last few days, I'm not supposed to walk much or get it wet, and have to go back every day for new bandages/to check on the infection. I sort of wish I'd taken a picture of the wound actually, but it'd just worry family members/put off other readers. Was pleasingly disgusting though, looked like the flesh of an orange covered in yellowy milk. ...yeah that was more graphic than strictly necessary.

aaaanyways, I've rambled for faaar too long - I have a lot of free time since I can't do much. Reading back it sounds kind of negative or like a bit of an ordeal but I've honestly been having an amazing time... there were a few unpleasant bits, but I'm just in a constantly good mood at the moment. It's been really nice just reading, meeting travelers and drinking lots of tasty lemon tea - it's a very relaxed place, peaceful and beautiful.

Time for some mutter pannier and roti methinks!

Friday, 18 September 2009

It begins... Delhi and onwards

Namaste! I'm in a little web cafe in a leafy suburb of Rishikesh right now, having a very slow lazy day, which was what I needed.

Anyway, yeah, blogging... um... where to begin... arriving. Right. so. Ok, yes. Brain function. Ok.

I arrive in Delhi at 10am (flight cancelled, 4 hour wait, funtimes) get 'screened' for swine flu (form saying 'do you have swine flu: yes/no') and head out, get a prepaid taxi to the train station, which is an experience in itself. Indian roads are fairly infamous - I enjoyed every minute of the ride. 2 lane roads holds 4 lanes of cars, rickshaws, bikes, motorbikes, mopeds, cycle rickshaws reversing towards the oncoming traffic, donkeys, cows all wandering/swerving about all over the place, everything honking or mooing incessantly. I actually saw a motorbike park in front of a tree on an empty pavement and beep 3 times. They just can't help themselves!

As soon as I arrive at the train station I realise finding my friend is going to be nearly impossible. There must be 500 people around the entrance, and I get approached several times immediately telling me to go buy tickets at a special foreigners booth (yah, nice try). I figure it's probably not the best place to hang around looking lost, so I head across the street to parahganj (a popular backpacker area in delhi) and end up bumping into my friend in the small winding market streets, we have some food, and book a train to haridwar for that night to end up in rishikesh. We have some time so we go to India's biggest mosque:

Me in a very fetching skirt as shorts weren't allowed (definitely the new fashion, I've always been a trend-setter)

So anyways, we experience some more delhi madness which really is hard to describe... just an all out assault on the senses. Amazing though. And then we get our AC3 train (very nice, beds and sheets, and 8 hour journey, cost less than a fiver) My friend ali tells me about the last train journey he took where a man got into the (very thin) bed with him and started stroking him, so I guess there are possible downsides... (or perks depending on your point of view I suppose)

We meet a very friendly man on the train and talk to him for a while, he tells us he is going to an ashram in Rishikesh (where we are heading) to seek medicine from a guru for his father. He shows us his father's files and it turns out he has untreatable lymphatic leukemia, and is hoping he will find a cure at the ashram. We wish him the best of luck. We meet him again just outside the station in haridwar and he buys us a chai and biscuits and we talk some more, before finally getting a rickshaw to rishikesh, a spiritual city, famous for the beatles' visit in the 60s. We don't plan on too much spirituality, but some peace from the madness of delhi will be welcome.

That's enough for now, but the next installment includes the ganges, buying a motorbike, major 2nd degree burns + infections and lots of tasty curry. Hooray!

Tuesday, 8 September 2009

GUKPT, and leaving on a high

I went GUKPT cardiff last week, I had a seat in the main event, and I played 2 side events. Predictably I bricked everything. Lost hooooge pots for the chiplead on the final 2 tables in both the side events, one losing a flip, the other getting it in on the turn with 75% equity, sigh. The main event was, as always, an anticlimax, as my stack dwindled and then got it in with the overpair and get 2 outered.

However... I had a pretty awesome weekend online, netting about $18k. Won a $75 for $10k, 2nd in a massive $26 for 8.6, and 9th in a $163 for 3.5, all on FT. weeee! Very nice as I had a horrible july and ended up roughly breaking even in august (somehow?!) so good to end on a positive note poker-wise.

No more poker for a while though... I fly out to Delhi on friday. eeek! Pretty damn excited. I think I'm going to turn this into more of a travel blog when I'm away if I get the chance - I got a fancy new digital camera for my birthday so hopefully there'll be pictures aplenty.

Anyways... back in 6 months I guess. Good Luck at the Tables!

Friday, 7 August 2009

Filling in the whole...

Been a really good week, just what I needed. Up just under $10k, lots of it from getting my 2nd biggest score ever yesterday, winning a huge field $26 mtt on tilt for $8.3k. weeeee! Hopefully I can have a good month as it will be the last month I play for the next 6-8.

Talking of which... I've finally decided on my travel plans. India! Flying to delhi in a month and meeting a friend there, and we'll head north up to a place called Ladakh in the jammu and kasmir region for some mountain trekking and maybe rafting. My friend only has a few weeks, so he'll be heading back.

I'll be heading to Dharamsala - a small town with lots of Tibetan refugees and either working for an NGO for a while, or simply teaching english to any locals that want it (apparently lots). Probably stay there month, and end up back in Delhi. Then I'm hoping to buy a motorbike (doing my motorbike restricted license in a few weeks) and bike around the deserts of Rajasthan for a while, not sure how long - kind of depends how much I like the whole biking thing. If I'm not hugely struck on it then I'll head back to Delhi to sell the bike, but either way I'll be hugging the western coast, going through Mumbai, Goa, all the way to Kerala in the south. I have an Indian friend who said Kerala is his favourite part of India, and if I find a place I like I might live there for a month or two.

That should take me to about 5 months maybe, so if I have time I'll head back up north, just depends on time really.

Pretty damn excited!!

Sunday, 2 August 2009

Thank god july's over

July was great fun off the tables - I went camping in the gower with friends (sunny!), to visit my family in Oslo and went to womad, all of which were top.

On the felt however, I put in 6 sessions, -$3552, -$1990, -$4713, -$1479, +$500 and -$2990 for a total loss of $14,224. Fun times! The last few sessions my game was a bit off, but the beginning of the month I felt I was playing well. Kinda made me rethink BR management. 14k is roughly 140 average buyins for me, and it happened in six sessions. Granted they were impressively bad sessions, but to think that in 6 sessions I can lose over a third of my online roll on a 140 buyin downswing is kind of crazy... going to leave off some of the slightly tougher/more expensive games off my weekly schedule until I get back to $30k online (like the stars $50r and $100 1r1a). Hopefully this wont be a common thing...

Thankfully played a session last night and got august off to a good start, booking a profit of $4k.

August = reverse July plz.

Thursday, 2 July 2009


zoopzoop! Finally got a 5 figure score. Had a very deep HU match at the end with improved - ranked 13th in the world at pkt 5s. For someone who's won millions of dollars online he was unbelievably classless, calling everyone on the final table an idiot (in a $55 mtt? seriously? ever heard the saying 'don't tap the glass'?!) and had a hilarious legion of followers on the rail being even worse. Which made the win even more satisfying :D Improved was gracious in defeat though, signing off with a 'gfy'. Nice.

It's interesting what people take from poker. Working hard and getting reasonably competent at poker gives me confidence in one area of my life, which is a nice change. But maybe if you aren't a neurosis-riddled inferiority complex on legs, getting successful at poker turns you into a narcissistic ego-bag of douchey proportions. Maybe I am but just don't recognise it. Ho hum. Either way I don't understand how you can get to 13th in the world, win hundreds of tournaments and millions of dollars, and still get pissy when some guy cracks your AK with TJs in a $55 freezeout.

Wednesday, 1 July 2009

Glastonbury trip report

I get to the station to get the bus at 11am wednesday morning, meet a friend in the queue and we leave at 11.30. We hear the 10am bus hasn't arrived yet due to a small accident, so we might be a few hours. Nevermind, we'll be there by 1 or 2 at the latest. OH WAIT - 9 hours later and we are still on the bus. This is the 25-mile journey from Bristol to Glastonbury - we are averaging 2-3 miles/hr. But it's a nice day, most people are walking alongside the bus and stopping at the pubs along the way, and when finally arrive at 9.30pm everyone cheers. James, who I'm camping with, has already arrived and put up our tent (score!) so I dump my stuff, and spend the rest of the day wandering around and intoxicating myself. hurray!

I wake early on thursday as the tent is BOILING. We spend the day doing more lazy wandering and intoxicating, and see a few random music things. It's a lovely day, so just sitting back at the tents chatting is great too. In the evening I go wandering, mind slightly fuzzy, and catch the end of Bristol band The Hand (rachael dadd+1) who are wonderful, and then I find myself dancing next to the rinkydink (set of speakers on a bike) with a bunch of guys in suits riding giant, luminous bug-shaped space hoppers. No, really. That'll be glasontbury then...

Rained a bit during the night, but nothing major. I meet with some friends at 12 to see Regina Spektor - I'm not a huge fan but it's nice to see my friends from Bristol. Next I head to the Jazz/World stage for the Hot 8 Brass Band, and then over to the dance area for lively reggae/ska/dub band Dreadzone which is very good fun. I meet my dad at reggae oldies Steel Pulse, and buy lemon Brothers cider and Pieminister pie. This is a good day.
At 9 I meet a group of friends at The Glade to go see Beardyman (awesome uk beatboxer) play with The Bays, who are a kind of dance/club type act but it's all improvised on the spot. They also have a super amazing drummer, which appeals to me as I've played drums for a long time. My friends don't enjoy it particularly but I think it's awesome - but then I'm in a bit of a silly state and would probably think most things are awesome. After dancing like a nutcase for an hour I head back to the tents and meet with some people there. We smoke for a while and have some 'hippie crack' (laughing gas - me feeling fairly fuzzy already makes this the most mindblowing 2 minutes ever. full on music in my head, light show, the works) After a while we head to The Park for a late night set by Fourtet. It hasn't started when we arrive, so we meet a friend of mine in the silent disco for some amusing noiseless fun, and then head to Fourtet, who are disappointing as it's a dj set, instead of the plinky-plonky niceness they play themselves. Me and James wander for a while, and then head back to the tents for sleep.

Another boiling morning, and I'm feeling a little fragile from the day before. I head to the Jazz/World bleary-eyed to meet my dad and we see Tenariwen who are fantastic. I meet up with James, we get a little silly and then go see Spinal Tap, who are suitably ridiculous/funny, and have guest appearances by Jamie Cullum and Jarvis Cocker. We head to The Park for the end of the Easy Star All Stars playing Radiodread, James heads to work (he's working for his ticket) and I lie around in the hot sun for legendary reggae oldie Horace Andy, who puts on a great show. My dad texts to say he's playing the Croissant Neuf at 8, which promptly leads to me falling asleep and missing it. I head to the jazz/world again instead to see Baaba Maal - top class Senegalese pop, and then head to The Park for Bon Iver, who has the crowd swooning with their chilled, beautiful melodies. I hang around a bit with friends, and end up going to bed fairly early as it's absolutely freezing and I'm feeling knackered.

Yet another stifling morning gets everyone up before they'd like. I go for a festival-wide wander, and bump into a friend from Bristol, and we go see The Destroyers, who are a 12-17 piece loud gypsy band. Needless to say they are good fun. I then head to the pyramid stage for international world music superstars Amadou and Mariam who are great, and then head to the other stage to see the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. I'm excited about this gig and it doesn't disappoint - easily my highlight of the festival, and I am in an unbelievably good mood. We sit around a while, and then head to camp out at the Pyramid stage again, for Nick Cave and Blur. Nick Cave puts on a great show, and as soon as it ends there's a surge to the front for blur. We manage to get a decent spot fairly near the front, and spend the next two hours singing along to hit after hit. They aren't great to be honest, but everyone is having a good time - including frontman Damon Albarn who is so overcome he breaks down sobbing mid-song.
I'm starting to fade towards the end, and with a friend from Bristol and her friends I wander around slowly - wandering though Shangri La at night is awesome, tons of tiny 'side streets' with club-type things and music in lots of little tents and hidden corners. I'm feeling good, but then it gets cold, starts to rain very heavily and I'm very tired, dont have a coat or jumper, and am wearing my sandals. I get soaked through and my feet are caked in mud (i'd be disappointed if it hadn't happened at least once!) and eventually we head back to her tent to get her stuff, as they're all getting a 3am train. We wander to the entrance, I see them off and wander back very slowly (partly because I'm tired, partly to stop myself falling over - the mud is very slippy) feeling a bit shit.

When I get back to camp, clean my feet and get a jumper I cheer up though, and pack away our tent ready for James to finish work at 6am and we can head straight off to miss most of the queues. I manage to acquire some smokables, and I sit by myself watching the festival get light. A few of our camp return from various gigs and things and we smoke a few together, talking bollocks and things, all very pleasant. It starts to rain very heavily (I pat myself on the back for predicting rain and moving our stuff into the communal tent bit) and I feel sorry for James stuck outside. He comes back a little while later, absolutely bedraggled and I immediately wave the joint saying 'Come here and smoke this RIGHT NOW' He obliges and then packs up the rest of his stuff. We head off to get the bus, both talking utter jibberish and giggling, until we get to the bus gate and head our seperate ways. I'm feeling really quite silly and manage to get in the queue for the wrong bus several times before finally finding the Bristol bus. I then find out that instead of 1 bus every 30minutes, there has been 1 in the last 4 hours, and there are lots of grumpy people waiting. I sit on my bag in the hot morning sun trying to act vaguely normal, letting everyone else do the shouting, for the next 3 hours. It's quite surreal. Eventually 8 buses turn up at once (to a great cheer from our queue) and we head on to the buses. At this point I've needed the toilet for 4 hours, and had no food or drink for 10 hours and the bus is ridiculously hot, so am feeling slightly uncomfortable. I still manage to sleep almost all the way home though, arrive in bristol at 2pm (7 hours after I got to the buses) and hop in a taxi with a random guy who's been at glastonbury too. We discuss the highlights, and then he gets out and I head home for the wonderful post-glastonbury shower, toilet and sleep. And my god it's good.

Saturday, 20 June 2009

A good score and GLASTONBURY!

Yay glasto! Haven't been thinking about it much, but am starting to get excited. I missed last year (trust me to miss the one sunny year in aaages) and loads of my friends went, and all had a great time. It's not for everyone, and I know it's changed a lot since it started, but I still love it to bits. The people, the place, the atmosphere, the music - it's all amazing. My dad has worked there a lot, when I was young he sold pancakes and now he plays there most years, so I often get free tickets (not this year though). Basically I've been there a lot, and I feel its an important event every summer - some fairly major stuff has happened there for me.

It might be a bit weird socially this year though. I have a few good friends from bristol going, but I don't think they're going together, and then there's a big group from sheffield who I kind of know...ish (one or two I know well) - I kind of said I'd go with them, but they're pretty different from my bristol friends. Basically they're a bunch of druggy hippies :P who are all lovely, but my bristol friends aren't into the whole drug scene. I'm kind of in the middle somewhere. meh, i'm sure it'll be fine. I think i'm going to spend most of the time wandering on my own to be honest, trying to meet with people/staying in groups and stuff can get stressful.
Anyways, it's going to be awesome. And please don't rain.

As for pokerz, I've continued having dozens of near misses (10th-18th in a $1001r1a, a $100 FO, a $55 6max, a $77 6max, a $15 FO, a $7r and a $200 FO, and top 30 in a BUNCH more - in the last 2 days) but in my last game yesterday I finally got a score coming 4th in a $163 75k on fulltilt for a profit of 6.5k on the session. sweet! That score quadrupled my month's earnings which is great, nice to be back on track for the $6k+/month I've been hoping for.

The transition to the higher stakes stuff has been a bit rocky, but mostly ok. It's mainly the swings, I'm still not used to spending 2-3k in buyins per session. Still, no massive downswongz yet (touch wood) and I've decided to start cashing out again - it'll be nice to have some 'income'.

Monday, 8 June 2009

Swingy sessions and a warehouse rave

So I went to a rave a few days ago, and it was pretty damn awesome. I've been to similar-ish things before, but nothing on this scale. Was a massive set of abandoned warehouses, different rooms playing different music, all totally trashed and grimey - pleasingly so. Thousands of people, all there through word of mouth, going bonkers dancing, great fun. Was feeling pretty tired at the beginning of the night, almost didn't go, but very glad I did - there's not much that beats dancing your socks off for 6 hours. Unfortunately it didn't end well. I guess when there are thousands of people possibly not in the most sensible frame of mind in abandoned buildings accidents will happen now and then. On the upper floor you could climb out of the windows onto the roof which was a big square thing where lots of people went to cool down, really nice - got a great view of the sunrise. Anyway, at about 7am there was a flurry of activity and one of our group told us that a girl had fallen from the roof (3 storey fall onto concrete) and the police were on their way. We made a sharp exit, was a strange end to the night. I found out the day after that the girl had survived, but broken her legs. Pretty horrific, but at least she lived and will be fine - frankly I think she was probably pretty lucky, it was a big drop.

So yeah, a slightly odd/subdued end for us but still an amazing night. We ended up going back to a friend's house to wind down for a few hours - a few of my mates had entered a football tournament starting at 10am, and needless to say they were seriously regretting it when the time came! Got to bed 11am, woke up at 5pm, spent the rest of the day shuffling around as you do after a big night out and then slept 13hrs last night. score

On to the pokerz. Played 3 sessions in june so far, -1.2k, -2.2k (I had maybe 1 or 2 mincashes this session, one of the worst sessions I've had in a long time) and +4.7k. Just finished the 4.7k session so I'm feeling positive :) Won 2 $109 mtts, on ipoker for 2k and bwin for $4.5k. Actually came reeeal close to some others, went out 10th in a fulltilt $55 mtt KK < A8 (ace on the river...) and 20th in a pacific $55 too. Still, nice to book some solid results after a rocky start to the month.

Got SUSOP this weekend (sheffield university series of poker) which is a £50 freezeout. Not much of a series, but should be fun, and then back down to bristol next week in time for glastonbury. And lots of online poker in the meantime of course.

Tuesday, 2 June 2009

Close encounter

So me and a few friends are sitting in the park, drinking some beer and smoking a few joints, playing the guitar, generally having a lovely summer afternoon. A few of my friends go off to find the loo, and it's just me and my friend Jon. He's telling a story which I find immensely funny and am giggling, as you do.

'What are you laughing at?'

I'm faintly aware something threatening and unpleasant is about to happen, but try to ignore it and carry on talking to Jon.

'I said what the fuck are you laughing at?'
Ah crap. 2 guys approach.
'Nothing, my mate's just telling a story'
'You fucking laughing at us? I'll take that guitar and smash it over your fucking head'
Nothing like a guy who thinks he's Joe Pesci to round off a nice afternoon in the park. Why does this stuff always happen when you're slightly baked?
'Woah chill, we're just sitting enjoying the sunshine, we're not laughing at anybody'

We finally manage to convince them we're not laughing at them, and the guy who's doing all the talking apologises, saying there's 'gang shit' going on. At this point I'll add that my friend has long curly hair and wears cardigans and I was wearing a stripy hippyish shirt and shorts and sandals. Real mafia types.

When he realises we're students and not in a gang from out of town, he clocks us as potential customers and sits down next to us ('oh please god no') and talks about drugs and where to find student parties non-stop for what felt like hours. The quieter guy speaks up and is actually being quite nice, but there was that undertone of 'we almost got beaten up by these guys for no reason, they could easily flip out again' that made it very difficult to relax. Finally our friends came back and we decided it was a good moment to leave without looking like we're running away (which we were). Before we go he insists we take his number in case we need drugs. yah, I'm going to voluntarily meet up with a psycho who almost assaulted me in order to give him money...

Monday, 1 June 2009

Is this legal?

Just had my 2nd winning sunday in a row - I'm suspicious! That has to be some kind of record, surely? Maybe the poker gods are placating me before dealing me a -100 buyin downswing or something. Final tabled 2 $109 mtts on ipoker, 2nd in a smaller one for $1100 (really good HU match, almost won it a few times but couldn't quite clinch it) and 3rd in a bigger one for $3100. Probably cashed for about 6k total, about $2.5k profit. Yay! Reached 20k online which is great, feel I'm able to take a shot at the majors without satting now, although I wont be buying in to $150+ mtts during the week, want to keep to the softest possible fields for now.

Pretty pleased with how everything's going pokerwise at the moment. I think I'm playing well and I'm actually progressing in terms of bankroll and stakes, which I haven't done in a long time. I've been a bit slack organising other things though. REALLY need to figure out what I'm doing this winter, can't stay in the UK. Not just because I'll feel crap, but I literally wont be able to do anything. Poker's off the cards (ba-boom tish) since SAD makes me tilt and lose bankrolls (I really really reeaaally don't want it to happen a 3rd time) so I'll have nothing to do, so I'll lie around feeling miserable, so I'll play poker. And lose bankrolls. Basically I need to phone this guy about a teaching placement in senegal who hasn't been replying to my emails, but I'm lazy and don't like phoning people. If that doesn't work out I have some decisions to make - and I'm really no good at making decisions.

Having said that, the 1 big decision I've made recently -dropping out of uni- I definitely feel was the right one. Even hearing about people's exams just makes me squirm, especially language oral exams... ewww. Hate them soo much. I always did fine, just... ugh, I'd just wake up and immediately start worrying, even in normal term-time without exams. I love being able to wake up and not worry about everything.

Wednesday, 27 May 2009

2 more winnings sessions, woop

so on monday I finally got the win, a $109 mtt on ipoker for ~$3.6k, which was pretty sweet. Ran pretty good, but played ok too. Then tonight I luckboxed a $216 turbo mtt final table on fulltilt, came 4th for $4.6k. yay! Was 6handed and I went into the FT with the chiplead, was eyeing up the 14k for 1st, but wasnt to be, carddead+weakish play+cooler. Still, a much appreciated boost to the roll.

Hope this continues...

Sunday, 24 May 2009

What's this? A winning sunday? Surely not...

No massive scores, but came 2nd in a small $100 6max tourney for 1.7k and 5th in a $75 6max tourney for 1.9k, had a few other small cashes and ended up about +$1.5k on the session (sundays are expensive). Nice to have a winning session, had a few more frustrating sessions before this one. I mean, in a way it's great, every session I've played since I got back I've had a bunch of really deep runs, often at least 1 final table. It's just a shame I haven't been able to convert any of them so far and so am down over the last week.

Finally got around to buying HEM, did some leakfinding and was pleasantly surprised, no glaring holes in my game or anything. Also looked back over some HHs and again was pleased to see not too many hands that made me recoil in disgust, so I'm feeling positive. Lets see what happens...

Thursday, 21 May 2009

Welcome back!

So I've had 3 days of the most frustrating grinding ever. yay! An insane amount of near misses. Like, silly amounts. I could easily be +$20k if a few hands went different ways. Instead I'm stuck a few $k. boooooooo. The good thing is that I feel I'm playing well, and my concentration has been good, especially yesterday (6 near misses) - a decent score has to come soon.

Doesn't it?

Sunday, 17 May 2009


So I've finally returned from distant lands. After the hitch to zadar I decided to stay out there for a few weeks, went round croatia, bosnia herzegovina and montenegro, and flew back from budapest today. Had a really awesome time, was totally what I needed. I, however, now have a slight urge to play poker.


ahem. Too tired to play tonight, but gonna play a big session tomorrow I imagine. And probably every day I can possibly manage it for the mext 3 months. So yeah, lots of grinding, going to play some more live tourneys if I can - I've decided that some of money I have saved up isnt doing me much good lying around earning .25% interest or whatever, so I'm going to invest it in poker instead. yay! There's my gukpt seat to use, either luton or cardiff probably, and i'll try and make the monthly £300 at DTD whenever I can. There's also the £1k there in a week or 2, which I'll try and get a seat for.

Hoping to start playing more of the higher buyin games online too now that I'm actually building a roll. March was the rebuild from the $800 I had left after my xmas blowup, now I have a decent roll and no need to cashout. Hoping to reach 20k online by the end of june, so soon I can start playing majors without faffing about with sats. Still thinking about getting a coach too for a little bit, depends on what my plans are in the long term... seems a little pointless if I'm only around for a couple of months and then disappear for 6 months and not play a hand. we'll see.

I'm actually excited about grinding tomorrow - nothing like a break to renew enthousiasm. Time to catch me some fishies!

Friday, 10 April 2009

Aces suck.

So I bust the Irish Open soon after the dinner break on day 1. 22bb stack, AA vs 99 aipf, he flops the set and turns quads, weee. Quads are good sir. Happy with the way I played apart from my 1 obligatory blowup hand - shipping it over a flop check/raise vs a shortie with air for some reason. That got me down to 7k from the starting 10k, hovered around there until 150/300, then got the aces. meh, pretty disappointing, but also fairly standard, not like it was some massive beat or anything.

Was going to play cash but just learnt the charge at 1/2 is 8bbs/hr. 8bbs! 32bb/100 to breakeven. Totally insane, my hourly would be waaaaaaay lower than just grinding online, though it seems a bit boring since I'm here. 2/5 is a bit better, but I've heard it plays more like 5/10 since its uncapped, I'm just not rolled for it really. They've got some sngs going with standard 10% rake, so I'll probably play a bunch of 100s/250s if they're running. If I run good I might take a shot at the 1650mtt in a few days, I'll see - I'll need to win about 10 just to cover my beer costs, it's pretty obscene.

Sigh. Not quite what I had in mind for my first major. Oh well, I guess I'll get to see more of dublin this way. Silver lining...

Thursday, 2 April 2009

Back from break

So I'm back from my break, went to Grenobe to visit an old friend which was great, and then to Verbier to visit another old friend, and to try snowboarding. The place itself was weird... full of very posh, insanely wealthy tourists wearing furs and sipping £18 beers (honestly) or arrogant swaggering boarders and skiers, or an intoxicating mixture of the two. So in some ways the town was my own personal hell...but all you had to do was lift your head slightly you and see this:

Which kind of made it all ok! Was just stunning. Boarding was fun, though pretty painful... got ok towards the end of the first day, then had far too much to drink and the next day was... well, I struggled. Dizziness, nausea and snowboarding as a beginner really don't go well together. I can laugh about it now though :)

So yeah, had a great time all in all. However, was much more expensive than I was expecting (silly prices for food, boarding stuff and ski passes were insane) so hopefully i can get a few decent sessions in before ireland. Got some family gatherings, but should be able to get 3-4 days worth of playing.

glatt all.

Friday, 27 March 2009


So I've played quite a bit this last week, though I've been ill so not as much as I'd like. Came pretty close to some big cashes, took down a small tourney for 1.3k, final tabled the pp 20k again, but most of the sessions i've played have been breakeven (which is pretty odd for mtts).

I'm off on my travels tomorrow, so no more poker for me this month. Really pleased with how march went, had 7 4-figure cashes, and ended up ~$10k in profit. as I said in my last post, I really needed a decent start to this whole thing to get me on my feet, went pretty much exactly as planned (slightly better in fact!) so yeah, feeling good. I really think that I'm going to progress a lot as a player in the next few months. The last year has been pretty flat in terms of progress, but I feel that I'm ready to start putting in a lot of hours, and spend a lot of time analysing and improving my play. I've got a cardrunners subscription which has already helped loads, and over at pfu we've started a replay section where we look over entire hhs in the replayer for analysis. I just did one for the 75$ mtt at fulltilt that I finished 6th in a few weeks ago, already noticed several fairly major leaks. Sweet! (well, assuming I block them...)

Also considering getting a coach when I get back from travels at the end of april. There's a few I'd be interested in advertised at the CR forum, and I really think it could help me. Wouldn't be a long term thing (can't afford it!) but 10hours or so of help from a top online pro would amost certainly do me the world of good. going rates are $100-200/hr so it wouldn't be a decision I'd take lightly, but I think it'd pay for itself pretty quickly.

Anyways, that's all for now.

Friday, 20 March 2009

Runs good

(picture taken from pfu - thanks sqrl!)

Been a good couple of days, with 3 decent final tables; $50mtt - 6th, cashed for $1200, $16mtt at stars - 2nd for $3300 and somehow I managed to come second in a $10 1r1a for $2700, depsite it being the only tourney I was playing for 4 hours and so me being incredibly wasted. Ya know, to pass the time. Was pretty funny! I have vague memories of some pretty huge suckouts, which of course made me giggle like a school girl. Ah, goodtimes. tbh I actually was playing pretty well, just got lucky in some spots. I totally lost it HU though, fairly decent player just crushed me, had nothing left in the ole cheese tank. Or something.

So I'll be grinding for the next 10 days or so, and then things kick off in april:
~1-4 april: visiting friends in france and switzerland (+skiing! never been, excited)
9-14th: Irish open in Dublin. Obviously this is going to be awesome.
16th-25th: Hitch-hiking to Zadar, Croatia. Really looking forward to this too.

Will be nice to get out of the country for a bit! Anyways, glatt all.

Wednesday, 4 March 2009

Good start.

So that's my main score for the last few days. Been playing this tourney for like 2 years, finally took it down, feels awesome :D Apart from this I've had a few frustrating days of no results, and 1 final table, $75mtt, finished 6th for ~$3k. Was probably the sickest exit in any tournament I've ever played - allin on turn with top set, he rivers the gutshot. $16k for first. Was absolutely livid at the time, but still feels nice to rack up some scores - have about 8k online now, bit of breathing room. aaaahh deep sigh of relief.

Got most of my totals from all the poker clients I've played at, not as bad as it could've been. About $12k less than the last total I counted up, which isn't wildly off what I thought, lost about 10k over xmas, and ignoring another few k isn't unlike me... but anyways, onwards and upwards. Let's get that 12k back ;)

Saturday, 28 February 2009


Time to sort my shit out. The last 3 months I've been pissing about, not keeping records, and generally hemmoraging money all over the place. Time for direction, organisation, focus.

The big bit of news is that I've left uni, at least for now. Assorted medical and personal problems meant that xmas was a write-off in terms of uni work (and poker...sigh, byebye bankroll), so I'm months behind on work. That wouldn't be too much of a problem in itself, but the crux of it is uni really isn't what I want to be doing right now. It was always a filler as I had no clue what I wanted to do after a-levels, and I never really enjoyed it. I'm not in a place where I can just get through it for the sake of it - I need to do things I enjoy and am motivated in or else I'm just going to grind to a halt.

I should clarify that I'm not leaving uni to be a 'poker pro' or anything. Although I suppose poker will be my only income for a while... I'm in a lucky position being fairly well off financially and having zero responsibilities, so I'm going to do what I've wanted to for a while - lots of travelling and teaching english. Hopefully going to teach in dakar, senegal for 6 months this winter, if not there are hundreds of teaching organisations all over the place. I was diagnosed with S.A.D. (I think this is the reason the last two years I've gone all tilty and dropped $10k in januray/february) a few months ago, so my plan for the next few years is basically: poker + stuff I enjoy in the uk for 6 months in the summer, travelling and teaching for 6 months in the winter. Man, I hope it's as good as it sounds.

So, on to the poker. Well after the xmas crash I've been hovering around busto online, and putting in a load of sngs on ipoker. Almost earnt my GUKPT seat, which is nice, though have been running pretty bad, which is less nice. I'm now truly sick of sngs, so it's back to mtts for the foreseeable. Slowly getting back into them the last few days, no results to speak of yet. This would be a really really nice time to run good; little bankroll, big life changes, self doubts... cue 100 buyin downswing :P Probably will make some major redeposits at some point unless I have some big scores soon.

Decided it was about time I actually worked out how much I am up (hope it's up!) at poker, lifetime. I have a horrible feeling I'm in for a nasty surprise... I'm very guilty of ignoring/rounding down losses and exagerating wins. I've requested my complete deposit/withdrawal histories from all the sites I've ever played at (took bloody ages), waiting for the results now. Finger's crossed.

Sorry for super long post, it's been a while. Good luck at the tables!

Saturday, 24 January 2009

Back to the grind, some live donkaments

So I've been grinding the sngs again at ipoker, which have been going pretty well, almost got a workable roll for the limits I want to play there again, which is coolio. I want my GUKPT seat!

Played 2 live sessions last week. One was £10r, which I ended up dealing for as no one else wanted to which was fairly stressful, and didn't really give me a chance to concentrate/play much. Bust out pretty standardly (KK < 55 < 88), but got £20 and a free meal for dealing so not all bad. Ended up waiting around for AGES for a seat at a very juicy £1-1 cash game, but only got it at like 4am as it was winding down. I was pretty tired too, ended up dumping a quick £50 and leaving.

Next was the £50r, which was probably the worst I've ever run live. AK < A3, AK < J3s, AQ < 64s, top 2 < turned gutshot, £50 a pop. Managed to chip up a bit before end of rebuys, another £50 for the addon (in for 250, sigh). Chip up some more after the break, then get KK. few limps, I raise, some calls, J63r, I bet, get check-shoved on, call, he flips 36s. Sigh.

Gonna play it again tomorrow though, very fishy. And nice stakes-wise too (assuming I dont sink £250 every time...), dont particularly feel like playing cheap tournaments if i'm making a trip and using up an evening trying to make money. And I'm sure not going for the atmosphere, lets face it - gamblers are either dull or annoying. Usually both. Ipods are an awesome invention.

Anyways, glatt y'all.

Monday, 12 January 2009

lots of downs...then an up

So i've been doing that whole tilt thing again...which has been pretty costly. Low point was playing $500 and $1k hu sngs in ipoker. dropped 3k there, probably down about 7k the last few weeks overall. Which sucks majorly - I'm a stupid twat. Been having a very rough 6 weeks anyway, with an array of personal and medical problems, so my head really hasn't been in the right place. I've withdrawn whats left of my battered bankroll (about 2k), have been depositing every now and then for mtts when I feel like it's not too bad of an idea... but i havent felt like grinding at all, so ive been playing the odd mtt session, but less games and higher buyins, so down about another 2k from those - not that much for $200 mtts. was playing ok, probably shouldn't be playing them, but oh well. Decided I really want to get out of this stupid country and play a live event somewhere, so have been playing sats for things including the irish open which I played a sat for yesterday...

and took down a seat! weeee

In april I shall be visiting the land of green, guinness drinking leprechauns surrounded by shamrocks and fiddles... and any other stereotypes you care to think of. So that cheered me up greatly; dont know why but sort of feel like I might settle down now. I've been gambling looking for a big score, now I actually got one (shock horror) maybe i'll be a bit more sensible. Bought time too, need to get back on the sngs for the bigslick promotion, dont want to get 1/2 way to a gukpt seat and then quit, would be such a waste.