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!