Thursday, 29 September 2011

First few English classes

I've been in to 3 English classes so far this week. I didn't know what to expect or do really so I just kind of made it up as I went along! After the first two I tried to figure out how to get the students talking more, because the first one was just like me talking and then answering questions so the students were listening more than speaking, their questions showed that they had understood everything though. Someone always asks me to demonstrate some kungfu which fortunately has been met with a round of applause so far! Most of the students so far have been between 13 and 17 years old and I think their English is really good - far better than my Indonesian, my pronunciation always gets a laugh :P

PhotobucketAt the end of the last two classes the students wanted a group photo, but yesterday it was funny because everyone wanted individual photos and I got out of the classroom about 15 minutes late. Pete said when he was here someone even asked for his autograph, lol.


Traditional Indonesian Market

28th September 2011

On the way to the school this morning we stopped at a traditional Indonesian market to pick up some things. Here are a few pictures, the banana stalls are pretty mental!



Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Random pics

When we went to the beach house the wind started to pick up later on so we tied the curtains up to block the wind.. much laughing ensued.


Chilli sauce anyone?


Shopping trolleys for small people..


..fits Dee better!


Badboy taxi! A lot of the public transport vehicles and taxis are pimped up, this taxi is relatively conservative compared to some, with its bonnet bulge, pram handle, alloy wheels and bad boy exhaust.


Yum, brockley juice.. It was actually really good! Just fruit juice really, couldnt taste brockley at all.


Tiny pasties! Aint they cute?


daka daka daka!

25th September 2011

PhotobucketToday I went with Mada to play airsoft with him and a group of his friends, there were 14 or 15 of us. I borrowed an airsoft gun that was like an MP5 replica and full face protection, which I was glad of later when I saw the bruise and cut that someone got on their face when only wearing goggles! The arena was on some land with a load of old broken down busses on it which made for some good fun.
We broke into two teams and played several games over about 4 hours. It was excellent fun, but very hot as the sun was blazing and I was wearing long sleeves and trousers.

I was out pretty quickly in a couple of games but I managed to shoot this guy who is supposed to be really good twice! Later his friends were taking the mickey that he got shot by the newbie, lol.

Farewell Dee and Pete

22nd September 2011

Dee and Pete fly to Singapore today to watch the F1 Grand Prix before returning to England.  Its been a bit of a treat to have some friends around during my year out traveling and we've had loads of fun. Now its time for them to go and I will stay with their family for a while longer.

We went to the airport to see them off in the afternoon and then I went to the office at the school to set up the wifi access point for students to use and make sure the admin office network is secured. I was glad of a vaguely geeky job to do, even if it only took me half an hour.

I'm in Indonesia for 3 months in total.  The plan is to stay and live with Dee's family in Balikpapan for maybe 6 weeks and learn as much Indonesian language as possible (English is not widely spoken, especially in Java), and plan where I will travel in the last 4 weeks here as I make my way back to Jakarta where I fly to Japan on the 3rd of December.

Dropped in the deep end!

21st September 2011

Dee's mum, Bu Indra, used to be a teacher at a local secondary school and today we went there so she could introduce me because I will be volunteering as a native English speaker there sometimes.

After the introduction Pete and I were quickly taken into a classroom full of kids and asked to talk to them for a while! It was actually ok though, at least my year out traveling gives me something substantial to talk about and is vaguely interesting to most of them so they were very forthcoming with questions and the time went by pretty quickly. Their English was very good.

We had a quick cup of tea and then got dropped in to another classroom of older kids and had to do it all again! It was quite good fun though and I think getting dropped in the deep end makes it a bit easier to deal with really.

I'm sorry Ralph!

20th September 2011

Today I went to the barbers and had a haircut, and a shave with a cut throat razor! I know Ralph will be disappointed as one of the last things he said to me before I left England was that he expected me not to shave or cut my hair for the entire year! As such, I felt somewhat obliged to let it grow but it just got to the point where it had to go. I didnt even recognise myself when it was all gone, pretty sure everyone else wondered who I was when I got back too.

Went to a computer shop to get a wifi access point for the language school and a new PC for Mada. The prices for hardware are so cheap here, the place we went to will build the PC to your specification. One of the base systems with an intel i3 and 4gb of ram was only around 300 pounds complete with 19 inch flat screen monitor. The shop will also bundle all the pirate software you want, wah.

Monday, 26 September 2011

Beach house

19th September 2011

PhotobucketSpent most of the day working on repairing the quads with Pete.  In the evening we went to a great restaurant called the Beach House and sat in a really comfortable beach hut overlooking the beach and seafront, among the beach huts there was even a bed!? I caved in and had a cheeky cheeseburger as it sounded so good I couldn't resist!


Party on

18th September 2011

PhotobucketToday Dee's parents were hosting a huge party at The Green where lots of family and friends and teachers from the English school attended. So we got up at 6am and went there for 8am to get everything ready. There was lots of food and we had a massive game of Jenga which was hilarious. It rained for almost the whole time but everyone still had great fun.

Later on we went for a Japanese chiropractic massage for an hour which really sorted by back ache out and when I got home I had the best nights sleep.

ATV repairs

17th September 2011

Dee's parents own a place called The Green, where they have activity days for the students at the school and they want to have some quad bikes there. They bought some quads but they need building also they got ravaged by rats while in storage so a lot of the wiring is chewed and broken. Pete and I had a go at getting some of them running today. There are 2 children sized quads and 4 larger adult sized ones. One of each were already built but wouldn't run. Pete is a petrol head and knows lots about engines and stuff so he started working on getting them built and running and I tried to fix the wiring where necessary. Some of the staff at the school helped out too, and got a second small quad built and running.

For dinner we went to a satay restaurant called Tanjung which I am told is the best in Indonesia! It was excellent, I managed to eat a lot of chicken despite still not feeling right with my dodgey stomach.

Saya mau pergi ke Balikpapan

16th September 2011

PhotobucketGot to Kediri at 5am. Had slept here and there on the train but not comfortably so came out feeling uber tired. We drove to Dee's Autie's house, when we arrived we ate fresh Mangos that Pete and I picked from the Mango trees in the driveway using a huge piece of bamboo with a rope attached. Afterwards we went on to Dee's grandma's place and while they all caught up for a while I slept a little. I tried 3 types of Mangos and a 2 types of banana which Ive never had, King bananas and milk bananas. I never knew there were so many types of banana, the banana stalls at the side of the roads are full of different types.

We had a 3 hour drive to the airport in Surabaya so I took some more immodium and braced myself for the journey. The flight to Balikpapan took just under 2 hours, just enough time for me to beat my tetris hiscore - up to 286 lines now, level 29 :D

The drive to the house would be very quick, unfortunately we had one final hurdle between me and a bed, because when Mada came to pick us up from the airport the car park ticket machine did not print a ticket on his way in. So we got stuck at the gate on the way out for ages and battled with the lady in the kiosk to let us out, there was a heated exchange before we were finally released.

When we got to the house, I went straight to bed as I was so tired and had back ache from sleeping in weird positions. I have my own room with air conditioning and a nice bed which is very comfortable. As a traveler I feel I am being spoiled, Dees family are so hospitable, I hope to repay them in some way by volunteering as a native speaker at the English language school they run and by helping out wherever else possible.

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Friday, 23 September 2011

Planes, trains and traveler's diarrhea

15th September 2011

So today we started the journey to Balikapapan. We would catch a train to Kediri where Dee's grandparents live, then go by car to Surabaya airport and catch a flight over to Balikpapan.

The train journey was about 15 hours long which I thought would be a walk in the park since my training back in India. Unfortunately Indonesian people are somewhat smaller than myself and the train seats, although comfortable, are not designed for people anywhere near 6 feet tall so I did suffer a little by the end.

While I'm on the subject of suffering.. I finally got the dreaded traveler's diarrhea. Having survived 6 weeks in India with no problems, a week in Indonesia finally broke me. I was super happy that I could time it so well to start on a train with no western toilets where I would be trapped for 15 hours - hole in the floor, moving train, oh the joy. Immodium helped but it was no silver bullet. Lets just say it was a long journey.  :)

Bandung is the place to eat and buy stuff!

13th and 14th September 2011

We spent a couple of days in Bandung eating and shopping, although I didn't buy much since I have such a tight budget but it was fun seeing all the Indonesian markets and malls anyway.  Most things are very cheap in Bandung.  Found a few arcades and played some games too.

PhotobucketSince they dont really enforce copyright law in Indonesia they sell bootlegged everything! Clothes, shoes, DVDs, software, anything you want basically.  We went to a bootleg DVD market and bought about 40 DVDs between us for about 12 quid, about 30p each! They even have a piracy rating that tells you the quality, like full DVD copy with menus, partial DVD copy (movie only) or cinema rip, etc. The market was piled high with DVDs and teaming with different vendors.

We went to the BEC (Bandung Electronics Center) which is a huge mall just for geeks, only electronics shops are in there and you can buy all the latest technology. You can even walk in and get your ipad or iphone jail broken, or your game console cracked and buy all the pirated games you want all for very cheap - crazy.

Tomorrow we are leave Bandung heading for Balikpapan via Kediri so Dee and family can visit her grandparents enroute.

Bandung is a beautiful city, very clean and lots to do. We had a great time there for a few days. Here are a couple of pictures taken around the corner from the house I stayed in.


Volcano fun

12th September 2011

PhotobucketAfter breakfast we headed to Tangkuban Perahu, a dormant volcano. First we stopped at an amazing bakery to pick up loads of tasty treats to snack on and then we went to a place called "the peak", where you get a great view of Bandung and surrounding villages. We stopped there for a drink in a rather westernised restaurant.

Next we went to Sumur Murina ("pure well"), they have cows there and serve fresh unpasturised milk straight from the cow, yum - also had a cup of the famous and very expensive Luwak coffee.

We got to the top of Tangkuban Perahu in the late afternoon and walked down to the lower crater where you can find the hot water springs and even buy eggs cooked in the springs. We saw some monkeys on the way down but they were too illusive to get a good picture!

Pete and I sat with our feet in the spring water for a while, it was really hot. One of the springs was so violent you wouldnt want to get too close as it was spitting everywhere!

After we hiked back to the car we headed home. On the way we stopped at a tea plantation! :D

We had dinner at a place called Suharti which serves top notch chicken, its far superior to the colonel's dirty chicken for sure - even the crispy coating was better.

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Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Food heaven

Its pretty clear already that Indonesians LOVE their food! There are so many places to eat here in Bandung. The bakeries they have are awesome, full of so many weird treats including "cheesecake" which is a kind of donut thats not round, with cream in the middle and grated cheddar cheese on top - weird but it works somehow! They actually have quite a few things that combine cheese with some kind of cake or chocolate and pastry, seems very popular!

There are a lot of street vendors that come around from early in the morning until late at night playing a funky tune to get your attention in much the same way as the pasty wagon back in Plymouth. I have tried a lot of new things already including a new favourite of mine called lumpia, which is a kind of little pocket made of thin soft pastry stuffed with spicy chicken (or sausage) and vegetables.

Dee's family are on holiday here from their home in Balikpappan so they are taking the time to drive us all around and visit lots of cool places around Bandung and pointing out lots of traditional Indonesian foods to try and also helping me to learn some Indonesian language. They run a language college in Balikpappan and Dee's sister Nanda teaches English and Indonesian so I've got some great people to learn from. Not everyone speaks English in Indonesia so I want to learn as much Indonesian as possible to make traveling here for 3 months as easy as possible!

I'm a millionaire!

11th September 2011

Got up early and had my first Indonesian breakfast. Breakfast here is savoury, just like any other meal really. There was rice and several dishes to choose from and it was great - I'm kind of used to this sort of breakfast now and don't really miss our plain old English breakfasts at all.. except maybe a full on fry up!

We all went out in Bandung to the markets and had a look around. We went to a place where you can get jeans hand made for you in any style and even customised or clones of any brand you like all cheap as nuts, Dee and Pete had some made and I think it worked out at about 7 pounds a pair.

Since I'm a millionaire now I thought I'd pop to the ATM and withdraw a million, should do me for a while - shame it only works out at 71GBP though.. :P

PhotobucketWe went to a place called sausage house for lunch, it should be called sausage village though as it has loads of little shops there where you buy different snacks. Had quite a few different types of sausage and other snacks before we went to a big shopping mall. They had a sausage there called a jumbo super bockwurst and it was stupidly huge!

Bandung is a really great place. Its surrounded by mountains. From what I have seen so far it seems very clean and modern. The streets are lined with trees and theres lots of nice big houses - it would be ace to live here. The road system seems a little crazy but not half as bad as India, seems like they follow the rules a bit more here than in India! There are lots of nice cars on the road in good condition. In some areas the shops are grouped together based on what they sell, so theres a road for shoe markets and then you turn the corner and you're on the bike road, and then jeans road, art road, car wheel road, etc. Quite cool I guess for when you're looking for something specific you just go up and down one road comparing prices and bargaining instead of having to march around town - although internet shopping is less effort!
After dinner we picked up some things in the supermarket, including some mosquito zappers. A mosquito massacre would take place later in the evening which provided Pete and I with much entertainment - muhuwhahaha..! ahem.

Indonesia time!

10th September 2011

The flight to Singapore was good, it was only about 4.5 hours. I couldn't really sleep so I just watched a couple of movies and ate some bad airline food, I was pretty tired by the time we got to Singapore though and this showed when I went to wait for my rucksack at the luggage carousel which would actually only appear when I reached Jakarta - I waited about 25 minutes before I realised this.

I had a couple of hours to wait before my flight to Jakarta so I made my way to the departure lounge, drank tea and dozed for a while. Later on I met my Indonesian friend who's family I will be staying with, Dee, and Pete her husband. They are on holiday in Indonesia to visit their family for two weeks, we had planned to meet but they coincidentally happened to catch the same flight as me from Singapore - so that worked out pretty well! And we were only a few seats apart! They presented me with a gift of a box of 80 PGTips tea bags which I was very happy to see! :D

PhotobucketThe flight to Jakarta from Singapore was only just over an hour long. In Jakarta airport Pete bought his Visa and while Dee and I waited we noticed the huge queues to get through immigration. While we were grumbling about the queue we were about to join we were approached by a member of airport staff who Dee negotiated with and we ended up paying him a backhander to get our passports stamped immediately and then skipped the queues entirely! :D

Dee's family met us at the airport and we drove to Bandung, about 3 hours drive. We stopped in a restaurant for dinner and I had my first Indonesian food which was really good. We got to the house in the evening and I had a wash and crashed out quite early as I had no sleep on the plane and I was uber tired! Dee's family are all very friendly and made me feel right at home - so makasih! :)

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Friday, 9 September 2011

Tetris skills++

If you ever go traveling make sure you have tetris! All this waiting around is good for my tetris skills! I beat marathon mode on the DS the other day (200 lines) and I put it on unlimited and got to 236 lines this evening at Mumbai airport! Woot. Probably still rubbish but good for me!

Look out tgm! lol

Thursday, 8 September 2011

My route around India

Can't believe the first leg of my journey is almost over. The time has just flown by!

The map below shows my route around India from 31st July 2011 to 8th Sept 2011. Pretty cool when you see all the GPS tracks joined together. Certainly covered a lot of ground!

Flying to Indonesia tomorrow night. Really looking forward to Indonesia but will also miss India - its an amazing place to be. Indian people are all really friendly, helpful and know so much about the place. I had an ace time, saw some crazy stuff and met so many cool people! Will definately come back again one day.

Onward! :D

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Excellent journey to Mumbai, NOT

It was supposed to be a 13 hour journey on the train from Madgaon (Goa) to Mumbai. Just a drop in the ocean compared to the 36 hour journey I did from Varanasi to Chennai and I planned to sleep most of the way - so no sweat.

Turned up to the train station in Goa 1 hour early. Just before the train was supposed to arrive they announced a delay.. and then another, and another, etc - until 1am!! The train was supposed to arrive at 16:45! But the monsoons had caused a land slide somewhere. So I waited at the train station from about 15:30 until 1am! :]

Its not like I was in a rush, so I didnt stress it - it was just ?!#@ing boring! To top it off, I found an internet cafe in the station at about 23:30, so I could have whiled away the time a lot quicker (if a little more expensively) had I found it earlier! Managed to get one hour in though.

Thank god (and Kern for lending it to me!) for the iPod shuffle, the battery lasts about 12 hours I think - so it saved my life at the station!

The train journey should have taken 13 hours, but actually took about 16. None of the train staff really knew when it would arrive (Indian stretchable time?) and I had no idea how many stops to go. I estimated we would arrive in Mumbai at 14:00, all my train neighbours had departed, so every time we reached a station after 14:00 I was ready to go, which made the last 3 hours a little mentally challenging. :D

Then an hour drive in mental traffic through Mumbai to the hostel which is between a slum and the international airport, convenient for when I fly to Indonesia, but its pretty noisey here to say the least!

Rock on.

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Monday, 5 September 2011


30th August 2011

PhotobucketMoving on to Goa today. Caught the train at 10:20am, its a 17 hour journey. Considering I did a 36 hour train journey a few weeks ago I thought this would be a piece of cake, but it was actually pretty hard to deal with and seemed to last forever.

PhotobucketI was a little paranoid about missing my stop so I asked "train guy" to wake me before we got to Madgaon station (Goa) which according to my ticket would be 5:30am, but he said we would arrive at 7:30. I still set my alarm for 5am though, but when it woke me up I dozed off and woke again at 6am as we were arriving at a station. I asked someone what station and they said Madgaon, so I leapt out of bed (well, what feels like a plank of wood) and departed the train - thanks "train guy", if I had listened to him and got up later god knows where I would have ended up.

PhotobucketSomeone told me that Calangute (North Goa) is good for some beach action and the guide book backed that up so thats where I headed - its quite a way from the train station though, 50km ish, so I got a taxi for 800 rupees which I thought was pretty good.

PhotobucketSpent a few days in Goa, heading to Mumbai on the 6th of September. Its a great place, big party atmosphere, lots of cheap beer and food. A lot of Indian people come here for a holiday as well as lots of backpackers and tourists so the atmosphere is pretty consistent. Met loads of travelers and locals. Spent most of the time on the beach (Calangute, Baga or Anjuna). Been to a few beach parties. Drank too much cheap beer (660ml bottle for 60 rupees!) Probably have to live off plain rice for the last few days in India before I go to Indonesia, lol.

Ive had fun in Goa, but its not my favourite place. You get hassled a lot here to buy stuff on the beaches. The beaches are big and theres lots of restaurants and bars which is cool, but the beaches are covered in rubbish which is a bit of a shame! :(

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Varkala clifftop view video

Alleppey houseboat cruise video

Sunday, 4 September 2011

Varkala, awesome views, awesome dentists

29th August 2011

PhotobucketWent to the dentist at 9am. He was actually closed because it was "holy day", but he saw me anyway thankfully. He removed the piece of broken tooth and smoothed the remaining tooth off. I wasn't feeling any pain so he left it like that rather than removing the tooth. It feels a bit funky as I can put my tongue in the back of the tooth now but theres no pain so thats cool! He gave me a prescription for some anti inflamatories and I left. Crazy that he saw me immediately on his day off and also only charged me 200 rupees! I went to the medical store and got my prescription which cost me 14 rupees. Bargain!

Happy with my trip to the dentist I had breakfast and hit the beach in Varkala. Its another really beautiful place! The clifftop has amazing views.  I walked accross the cliffs as far as possible which must have been a few kilometers.


Found a great restaurant on the clifftop and went upstairs and had curry while gazing out to sea. Such a great place to be on a hot sunny day. I went back down to the beach but later on it rained so I took shelter in the rock and roll cafe and had dinner. I met a group of cool people who were all traveling alone and had a a few beers while we chatted. The monsoon really kicked off, the power went out and the roof sprung a leak! I took the opportunity to run home when it stopped for a bit around 1am.