“There's a race of men that don't fit in, A race that can't sit still; So they break the hearts of kith and kin, And they roam the world at will. They range the field and rove the flood, And they climb the mountain's crest; Their's is the curse of the gypsy blood, And they don't know how to rest.”
- Robert Service

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Arrival in Aussieland

...Does this make me a guest blogger on my own blog?

At any rate, we're in Australia now. We've been here for a week now, in fact and I'll blame sheer exhaustion from a month in India as the reason why my writing has been slacking. Michael's Uncle Keith and Aunt Sue have been kind enough to put us up in their home in Perth, and for the first few days I will admit that I was very lazy, happy to have clean water, clean sheets, and fresh greens to eat. And for the record (and also since I know Sue will be reading this), Sue is an excellent cook and I feel like I've been eating gourmet every day! Thanks, Sue!

So the last time I had started a genuine attempt at a blog post, we were still in Varanasi. A very adventurous tourmate hadconvinced us to come along with her for a swim the night before, and our guide had organized it all for us. A small continent of the group met in the wee hours of the morning to ride down to the Ganges, where we caught a boat to the opposing shore with a sandbar and significantly fewer locals doing their laundry, spreading the ashes of their loved ones, and gawking at the white foreigners.

But the boat couldn't quite get us up to the dry sand, so we were all required to jump off the boat directly into knee deep water.

Before I go further, I should direct you to This Website, This Wikipedia Page, and This News Article. Basically, the Ganges is incredibly polluted, and contains microbes that could easily make an outsider incredibly sick just by looking at it. But you should also note that I am still alive, a few weeks later. Michael also weighed these risks and decided he'd rather bet on sleeping in an extra 4 cozy hours and join us for breakfast.

So in the foggy, cool morning, 6 tourists jumped into the Ganges. The water was warmer than I expected, though I has buffered by the extra layers I was required to wear "for modesty." One of our group - the instigator - plunged right underwater and I stared on in amazement. Such bravery! I, on the other hand was very content to wade up to my thighs. I splashed some of the murky water about with my hands, and I gave thanks to Mother Ganges for the gifts of the Land and the Sky and the Air (despite how much we had ruined them...). It was a lovely, peaceful moment for me. I'd had very few of those since entering India, and I was very thankful for it.

Good morning, Mother Ganges!
Since we'd started planning this trip, we had expected to let the group leave us in Varanasi as they went on to Delhi. But after almost 3 weeks of camaraderie we bowed to pressure and decided to return to the most bustling, busy Indian city of them all! I'm glad we did, too. It was great to wrap up the whole experience with the other 14 brave young souls we'd been traveling with a couple of Indian beers on the rooftop terrace.

But no time to rest! Our next stop was an extended layover in Singapore, a place in stark contrast to Delhi. This place is so clean that it's illegal to import chewing gum.  No more seeing people peeing in the street all willy-nilly! But all that aside, Singapore was a wonderful, vibrant city to visit. And it's much like Vancouver with it's long walkways along the water crammed with afternoon joggers, and zest for healthy living. Although....Michael may have mentioned that "If Disney were to build a city, it would be Singapore" for it's oversimplification of tourist areas (like Chinatown) and abundance of theme park type venues across the metro area. Not that we're complaining- the Night Safari was pretty cool!
Michael and the Merlion! The 'cruise ship atop a skyscraper' (the Marina Bay Sands Hotel) is behind him.
Singapore's signature dish is Chili Crab. We waited around until 10pm to get a seat, and it was messy! A whole crab served in sauce with no shell crackers. It came with two sets of chopsticks. The two ladies behind us were able to eat it daintily, but what they don't know is that Michael has accidentally shot a crab leg across the room and under their table...
But we couldn't stay there for long! Of course, our next stop was Perth! We've been getting into lots of little adventures while we've been here, and we're only a few days in. I can't wait for more!
Aunt Sue was kind enough to give Michael a lesson in driving a stick-shift on the left side of the road. No accidents, but we took a few extraneous turns around a roundabout...
With all of this beautiful blue water around me now, I was inspired to tint the tips of my tresses blue! Yeah! ...But now Michael's taken to calling me a Hippy, especially when I'm wearing my poofy Indian pajama pants...
We're soon to leave on a road trip with Keith and Sue down south along the coast towards the South-Westiest corner of Australia. Kangaroos, here I come!

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