So once I was setting up an interview with N.E.R.D. and I dropped the boom microphone on Pharrell Williams’ head! Hahaha, true story. He was wearing sunglasses in a dark room (obviously cos he is so cool), but as I got close to him I could see that his eyes were very bloodshot and he was either extremely tired from jet lag, or, well, I’ll leave it up to your imagination. I don’t want to get done for libel or anything like that! He seemed a bit stunned and just kind of looked at me blankly. I apologised and got on with setting up the interview. Randomly, that was the same day that Tim Westwood borrowed our lights for his interview with Pharrell and Chad. Now I know that he gets a lot of stick, but he was honestly one of the nicest men I have met and even sent me an email later that day just to say thanks again for letting him use our lights. What a lovely ending to that story!
Anyway…..once again that has absolutely NO relation to anything in the rest of this post. Well, almost no relation because today I am going to write about my top 10 most random experiences that I had whilst travelling through India…this is Random Travels after all so let’s make this experience all the more random for you! Now I am just gonna write these from the top of my head so no doubt I will forget some good ones and then curse myself later for not remembering….bad Patrick! Anyway, let’s start at number 10. Are you ready!? (this is exciting isn’t it? What do you mean no? I think you mean YES!)
Patrick’s Top Ten Most Random Moments From India!:
10. The Man at the Side of the Road
So I was riding through Hampi, my favourite place in all of India(!) on a scooter as it was getting dark. I can see a man in the distance squatting at the side of the road. OK, everything is normal here I think…this is just a man chilling by the road in the midst of all of this lovely scenery in one of the most beautiful places in India. But no, this was no ordinary ‘chilling moment’ that this aforementioned man was having. I’m sure you can guess what I am going to say next. Yes, this man was having a poo. Now I have seen men having a poo in China and Vietnam, but this was different…as I passed him our eyes met and as far as I am concerned – you should never have to look a man in the eyes when he is having a poo. Isn’t this one of the Ten Commandments? I’m sure it is. And if it isn’t, then it sure as hell should be!
9. Jimee and the Belly Flop
This wasn’t really a random moment, more of a hilarious/painful one! I will let the video speak for itself…
Apparently his balls hurt for a day after that one…eek!
8. “Can I Please Have a Photo With You?”
…said by everyone, everywhere in Asia. Well, this is more a collection of different moments rather than one. A recurring moment let’s say! And this happens all over Asia, but seriously….why? The amount of times that people you have never met and don’t even know want to take a picture with you is ridiculous. And the funniest thing is when you notice people casually trying to take photos of you without your knowledge, and then they try to style it out pretending that they are just playing on their phones. I met a girl from Finland who was on the beach and a guy took a photo of her but by accident left the flash on. So she basically screamed at the guy and demanded that he give her the phone so that she could delete them herself. All the while, the guy is still insisting that he didn’t take any pictures…come on bro, sort it out! Actually this happens to many girls in India I think. But anyway, I had requests to be in pictures with loads of people. One friend of mine had a crying baby thrust upon him without warning whilst he was expected to pose for photos…he was just like “what the hell am I supposed to do with this thing!?” hahaha.
7. The Ear Cleaner and his Testimonials Book
So I’m still in Hampi. It seems like this place is a breeding ground for random moments. And I’m back on that bloody scooter again! This day actually was just ridiculous. Aside from the ear cleaner (I will get to him in a minute), this was one of the worst days on a bike in all of my travels (I rode all the way through Vietnam and Cambodia with less trouble!). So we rented scooters off some kid who I think was about 11 years old. I’m sure that alarm bells should have been ringing at this point. There were four of us, me and three girls (ladies’ man!). Firstly, within about 10 minutes two of the girls came off the bike trying to turn a corner on a dirt track. Great start. About 30 minutes later the bike that I was riding broke down. The 11 year old eventually came to pick us up, whilst insisting that there was nothing wrong with the bike. Ummmm, I think you are sadly mistaken young man! On the way back to repair it, I came off my replacement bike because it had no back brake and the front brake locked even when you applied just the tiniest bit of pressure. And I think that one of the other girls came off her bike again. So all around, it was a pretty successful day I would say!
Anyway, so as we are heading out in the morning (after crash number one had already happened!), a man in the street pretty much stops us in the middle of the road whilst we are riding the scooter, thrusts a small diary into my hand and insists that I read the text out loud. What the bloody hell is going on!? That’s all I have to say. So it turns out that this guy is an ear cleaner by profession and has a book full of testimonials from tourists/backpackers who have had their ears cleaned by him. People from all around the world have had their ears cleaned and then written in this guy’s book about how he is the “best ear cleaner in town”…are there more than one of them!? Is it just me, or is his profession a bit strange? Hmmmm…. And he gets his customers by running out into the roads and stopping tourists on pink, broken mopeds…maybe this guy has got it sorted after all. All seems a bit random to me though. Or maybe he is the normal one and I am just a weird man…? Well we thought it was hilarious anyway…
Here I am with my bandaged leg post-bike crash which I spoke about. It’s not really working out too well and I gave up in the end as it wouldn’t stay on. I have no photos of the ear cleaner, apologies! This photo was stolen from another friend’s Facebook, haha! Thanks Léna! 😉
6. My New BFF!
Now I had just finished my mountain trek, had managed to escape from some pesky lion that was clearly trying to eat me whilst in the mountains and was on a bus heading towards Goa to meet up with a couple of friends. On this particular day I was on local buses all day long transferring from one to another, attempting to get help from the locals, which sometimes proved difficult and eventually travelled a good amount of kilometres passing over state borders in India on my way to the party capital…Goa! Palolem Beach to be precise. So on the way, pretty much everyone I meet wants to question me because I am a white man, travelling alone and that apparently is very fascinating. It’s great fun and exciting for them, and also for me too…I love meeting new people! But when you have to answer the same exact questions from different people over and over and over it can sometimes get a little tedious.
Anyway, so a young guy gets on the bus and we have another one of those broken conversations, which lasted maybe 10 minutes. The he asks me for my phone number. Ok cool, what’s the worst that could happen? So we travel for maybe another 10 minutes and he has to get off the bus. I wouldn’t say we really ‘connected’ in any great way, just a bit of chit chat here and there about nothing too deep. As he leaves the bus he says to me “ok bye, I’ll call you later!”. Ummm, ok cool. Chat to you, errr, later, ummm, bro…?
So as I said previously, I love meeting new people but this to me all seemed a bit weird. I didn’t know this guy, we had only spoken briefly about where I was from, where he was from, exchanged names and maybe a bit more general chit chat. So I want to pose a question…does this young gentleman now consider us friends? This is a genuine question. In London if this happened and I asked for another guy’s phone number after chatting on a bus he would probably assume that I was gay and wanted a piece of his ass! But in India it is different. Is it a good thing? I don’t know, for me I have to connect with someone before I ask for their number.
Anyway about half an hour later after this guy has left the bus he calls me. I was actually asleep at this point so I didn’t answer. But when I wake up I think oh that’s a bit strange I wonder why he called. Then later that evening he calls me again. We proceed to have a very basic conversation as his English is not very good. He asks me if I have had dinner. Where am I? How am I? He ends the call by saying that he will call me again tomorrow. I don’t even speak to my mum that often! Hahaha. So I think that we are now ‘friends’…? So is this a random experience, or is it just me being close minded? Maybe I’m the weird one here! I’m not sure, you decide. In the meantime, I’m going to sleep now. I want tomorrow to come faster so that I can have another exhilarating conversation with my new BFF!
5. Getting Tattoo’d in a Shack on the Beach for the Grand Price of £8
This is pretty self explanatory. Getting my first ‘proper’ (well, sort of) tattoo in a little beach shack in India. The guy charged £8 and we were still trying to haggle the price down! Hahaha, this is what you have to do to survive out there – haggle over pennies! The funny thing was that he drew it on me in biro. He was clearly a professional! Well I got the tattoo done. And he shaded it all in with the same gun he used to do the outline, which if you know anything about tattoos, is just all wrong, haha! It looked a bit shoddy, so I got an artist in Nepal to go over it again for the grand price of £10…what a bloody rip off! Haha.
A bird’s eye view of me in the studio. That’s the dude’s wife in the top of the photo. She was usually watching movies.
4. Bike + Wall = Crash
I met up with a couple of friends from London in a place called Varkala. Actually something random about this place that isn’t on my list is that there was a murder here during my time in India. A man was pushed off the cliff here and fell to his death. So the restaurant/resort/guesthouse owners ended up fleeing and became fugitives. So the second time I was here, there were wanted posters up for murder suspects! Crazy. So anyway (where do I go from there!?), I met up with a couple of friends from London – I won’t name any names at this point to avoid embarrassment haha. So we decided whilst we were there to rent scooters. My friend had never ridden a scooter before (this doesn’t really matter when you are in Asia! They’d let a monkey rent a bike if he/she could talk!). So he gets on the scooter and as he is just telling the guy that he has ridden scooters before and knew exactly what he was doing he rides the thing straight into the wall! Hahaha, damn it was too funny. Well, I guess you had to be there! And because he hasn’t quite gotten used to the controls (if that’s the right word!?), instead of braking and trying to turn the bike around or reverse it he accelerates again and smashes into the wall for a second time. Hahaha! And this guy is standing right there next to him. I can’t help laughing thinking back to it! Hahaha. Oh it’s just me? Oh dear. Ok.
3. The Posing Man Who Just Wants a Ride Home
So I have also spoken about this in my last post as well, but I will go over it again in more detail cos I didn’t really tell the whole story! So we met some guy next to a temple on the top of some big rock, somewhere in India. It was somewhere not too far from Varkala. He couldn’t speak any English and he guided us to a small pond where he continued to get out a bucket and firstly wash our feet, and then secondly insist that we splash it over our faces. We then had a short interval to take some photos of him posing in various positions. The he showed us round what was possibly a temple cemetery (I’m not really sure!?) and he made us follow him round in circles around it a few times, stopping along the way to look at these ‘tombs’ (sorry I really don’t know what it was all about!?). Then we had another short interval where he posed for photos next to a bush. And when I say ‘posed’, he was really going for it! He was totally loving the camera! Then he proceeded to take us to a nearby “waterfall”…well I didn’t see any water. I think it was a little trickle of water down the edge of some rock, I’m not really sure. Maybe it was all lost in translation? Before we left we had a short interval where he posed for some more photos, but this time he uses props!…and pretends that he is eating some food. Hahaha. As we were leaving, he followed us and just jumped on the back of Jimee’s bike without any of us knowing why or where he wanted us to take him! We were just like “ok, I guess you’re coming with us then!”…hahaha. He eventually told us to stop as we passed by what must have been his house…Here are some photos of this man…what a legend!
I actually stole these photos (all but one) from my friend Alan’s Facebook, so errr, thanks Alan!!!! But here you can see the aforementioned man in a variety of different poses!
2. I Promise I Won’t Kill Myself! Honest!
I did speak about this is my last blog post for those regular readers! (cos I have been blogging for so long after all!) So I am in a town called Kollur and I have spent the morning travelling on a bus from Mangalore so that I can go and climb some mountain called Kodachadri. Apparently, it is a really amazing place and not many tourists are aware of it and so I thought it would be a cool experience. So after going topless in the nearby temple (yes it was compulsory for all men to remove their tops to enter the local temple. Probably something to do with some big God dude being a chest hair fetishist or something. Can I say that? Am I going to get taken away now? Oh well, it was going to happen sooner or later!), I got the bus to the starting point of the trek to go up this mountain. So you can choose to walk or take a Jeep up to the top, but the Jeep is just for big fatty fat fats. So by the time I started trekking, it was already 3:30pm. And the trek up takes at least 3-3 and a half hours to reach, not the summit, but the small village (3 houses or something) nearish to the top.
I was supposed to have a guide, but when I got to Kollur my contact that I met there through a friend phoned the guide and couldn’t reach him. So he was like “oh just go and do it yourself. It’s easy you can’t get lost, just follow the path” and then he drew me a map of some lines on a piece of paper…seriously, this is so India. They are so laid back about everything, if you ask for help or guidance from 10 people, expect 10 different answers! Is the mountain this way? Yes. Never ask a question which poses a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer because they will always say yes. They don’t want to seem like they don’t know what they are talking about. And if you don’t get a yes, then maybe instead you will get a head wobble and sometimes it’s anyone’s guess as to what that means. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not slating India, I absolutely love the place, but sometimes it’s just ridiculous when you are asking for help the answers you get. So when the path up this mountain ended and turned into what looked like a dried up stream I wasn’t surprised! Anyway, eventually I found my way to the top, but still with no idea where this ‘village’ was. I thought I was gonna get lost up a mountain in India, in the dark and get eaten by a mountain lion…seriously this is totally possible ok so shut up yeah!
So I eventually make it to the village in the dark and I meet up with the man who lives in the only house up there that houses people wanting to stay and then continue to the summit in the morning. He tells me, “I’m sorry but you have to go down, you cannot stay with me”. Actually that’s a lie, that was translated to me by a couple who were also staying up there for the night. “Why?” I ask. I didn’t want to go down, I had come this far, risked my life, almost got eaten by a lion and then to do what?…go back down in the Jeep with all the fatties? Hell no! So the reason he doesn’t let me stay is because I am apparently on my own. So bloody what I think! It is then translated that solo travellers climb this mountain to then commit suicide by jumping off. Ahhh ok. I see. I am assuming that it is because it is a religious place, there is a temple at the top of the mountain and maybe some people feel like it is the perfect spiritual location to end it all. Well not me, I am enjoying my life too much to jump off some mountain in the middle of India, even if I am being chased by a mountain lion! So how am I supposed to reply to this? “ummm I promise not to kill myself if you let me stay in your house for the night. Pretty please with a cherry on top!”. So I basically tell the couple who are translating for me that I promise I won’t kill myself (seriously, this has gotta be one of the most random moments of my life, hahaha!) if he lets me stay in his house. Eventually he lets me stay…not because he believes that I am an honest, life loving guy but because I happen to be carrying a flyer for a local yoga guy (the guy who said I didn’t need a guide…yeah thanks mate, I almost got eaten by a lion because of you!) who he happened to go to school with. So all of a sudden, this guy was all happy and cheerful and laughing and we were no longer having a conversation about whether I was or wasn’t going to kill myself. Joy.
To add to this, during the night a spider climbed in my ear, my bananas and my iPhone cable got dragged over to the other side of the room and chewed on by some creature (maybe it was that lion?) and I had all sorts of bugs flying into my face. An all round 5 star experience! Highly recommended! Here is a photo of the place where I stayed!:
This place had the most amazing view of the stars at night…really stunning. Just a shame that the door had a big chunk taken out of the bottom of it allowing creatures to get in and chew on my belongings! Luckily not big enough for the lion to get in. He probably got bored waiting for me during the night and so wandered off to find someone else to hunt. Also randomly, this was the place where I had my first ever cup of coffee. Yeah, never liked coffee but now I am loving it, and it all started here at the age of 30! Oh and another thing – on the way down from the peak a big black snake slithered past my path. It was moving well fast. The end. Great story huh?
1. Drunk Guys + Guns = A Bad Idea!
OK, this has definitely got to be my most surreal moment I think. Just thinking back to specific moments of this night I remember looking to my friend Kiya who was with me and thinking “what the absolute fudge is going on here!?”, haha. So my friend who lives in India thought that it would be a cool experience if he took us on a hunting trip to experience something a little different. Something that tourists generally don’t get to see. So we got in his friend’s car and headed off to meet these guys who he didn’t even really know very well. He called them ‘country Indians’. I’m not sure if that is racist if it is being said by another Indian(?), but you get the point I hope. Anyway, so we pull up to this bar to meet these guys who we are meant to be going hunting with that night. And another thing…hunting at night? Is this normal? Aren’t you meant to hunt during the day? I got the impression that it’s because what we were doing was either very illegal, or ummmm, well I can’t think of any other reason! It was probably well illegal. Who knows. So anyway, we pull up to this bar/restaurant and yes of course these guys are steaming drunk already. Well some of them are anyway. One guy keeps introducing himself to me over and over again. So it’s funny that I actually can’t remember his name, hahaha! Anyway, after driving for a bit in the dark in the middle of God knows where, we eventually (after a piss break) arrive at some farm/estate. There is a chicken tied up that these guys keep taunting and thinking that it is hilarious. He was actually an ex-fighting cock that the guys had bought to cook and eat….but wait, aren’t we going hunting? I thought that we would catch our own food! They are obviously not very confident in their abilities.
It turns out that these guys don’t really know how to hunt at all. And all of a sudden one of them appears to be holding what looks like an old musket from World War I! And it doesn’t fire bullets, no. It fires ball bearings. And they are trying to clean the barrel with this pipe cleaner type thing, all the while they are drinking and getting even more drunk. And when you have a drunk man holding an old gun that could possibly go off at any moment cos it’s so old that it probably doesn’t function in the way that a ‘modern’ firearm should do, there are moments when you question “am I going to get shot tonight? Is tonight the night that I die? I should have jumped off that bloody mountain after all, it would have been a better way to end it!”. Hahaha, they are waving it around all over the place pointing it in our direction and my friend is like “whoa whoa, be careful with that thing”. At this moment, I think that I would have been safer up that mountain with that lion chasing me! Hey, maybe we will shoot him tonight with this old gun from 100 years ago! He has probably been tracking my scent for days after all! Yes! This seems likely! So eventually after playing around with this antique for ages, with us thinking that we are about to head off into the wild at night to kill ourselves a lion to eat, it all of a sudden goes off…*BANG*! “Oh sorry guys we can’t go out hunting now because we just scared off all of the animals”…haha. so you’re telling me that I just risked my life hanging out with a bunch of drunks waving a gun around in my face for the last half hour to then be told that it was all for nothing? Super! “no, it’s fine we can go fishing instead” they tell us. Errrr, ok. So there is a small stream behind this guy’s estate and they set up a net across this stream to catch a big ol’ fish for breakfast. Hey, maybe we will catch a shark! It seems probable. And how successful is this fishing net? Well in the morning they have caught one fish that is about 3 inches long! Hahaha, wow a feast! I came to the conclusion that these guys didn’t know how to hunt after all…just a feeling. They all got naked and washed themselves in the stream in the morning. A beautiful end to a wonderful experience.
Look it’s Kiya, posing in the stream the morning after the ‘hunt’. The very same place where they almost caught Jaws! And that’s my friend Binil in the background with his boxers on…what a lovely view! Haha
So that’s all you’re getting this time. I think last time I said that I would post about my top places to visit in India. Yeah sorry about that one. I seem to just post what I want, when I want and never stick to what I said I was going to post. I’m just trying to keep you lot on your toes! So this time I won’t make any promises about what is coming next time. Probably some more India related stuff or maybe I will move onto Nepal, or maybe, just maybe it will be about something entirely random…who knows!?