Saturday, May 31, 2003

Something i've been meaning to go on about for a while since being in nepal is agriclture. By far the most common weed in nepal is..... Weed. It's a terrible problem. The farmers grow their crops of rice in their fields, then they harvest them. Then, in the space of time between harvesting one crop and planting the next, millions of marijuana plants pop out of the ground and start growing like crazy. So then before the farmers can plant their next crop, they have to rip out all these millions of weeds, which by now have flowered and are literally packed with sticky smelly flowers, and throw them in the ditch by the side of the road where they dry out, get covered in dust, and then rot. It seems to me that a rather huge business opportnity is being overlooked here! I mean surely these plants could be rotted down and sold as compost! Such a waste! ;)

I rode the bike again today to the top of a hill with a temple on it. It was quite fun really, but stalling on the hill on a steep bit with a truck in front and a van behind was not a high point.... I've discovered that stalling on a slope poses quite a problem, especialy if you have passenger. The problem is, you need to kick start the bike, so you cant use the back brake which is under your right foot, but at the same time, using the front brake means it's tricky to control the accelerator. Then you've got to ride the clutch in first gear (very sensitive) while the passenger gets on. It's all rather stressful, especially if people are waiting behind you.... :( But anyway, I survived, and I now consider myself a bit of an expert at riding bikes in asian cities... :)

I'm not sure I want to ride a bike around India tho. It's just too tiring. My hands are aching again like mad! Hah, i'm such a pussy, I know, but what can I say, I have sensitive hands....

Selene is leaving on Monday! :( That means there's only one full day left! Then it's back to being a lone wanderer again.... I wonder how many hours it'll take to meet new friends this time..... :)

right, I've really got nothing to say today, so I'm gonna go and read other peoples blogs for a change... My favourite is my friend Joseph Tame's. It's at look for the "daily mumble"....

Friday, May 30, 2003


Wow I'm cool. Today i hired a motorbike. This is something I've been wanting to do for a long time, but I've always been put off by the fact that i dont actually know how to ride a motorbike... I know, i know, I'm a chicken, but you know, the thought of crashing into the shop I've hired it from is really quite embaressing. So anyway, I woke up this morning with motorbikes on my mind. 1 down for first, 2 up for second etc etc... running over and over in my mind.... Then Selene told me that if I wasn't really confident I should just get a scooter like I always do. To be honest, i was quite glad of the excuse to chicken out. So, I went to the shop and asked to hire a scooter. "That one very expensive, 1000 rupees" he told me. "huh??" I thought. But surely a scooter is the cheapest. No, he told me, the cheapest is the 125cc Yamaha that I had been wanting to hire.... So that was it. fate had decreed that I must attempt to ride a real motorbike or die trying....

So, I told him i'd take it, trying my best to look confident, and he went off to fetch the bike. Then I started worrying about how badly I was going to make a fool of myself. I feel I must stop at this point to explain something. Driving a vehicle on the roads here is not like driving a vehicle in the UK or singapore for example. It's more like trying to drive through the middle of a Levellers concert crossed with a living scrap yard into which a 1000 farm animals have just been released. There are no road markings and the only law is the law of "biggest or fastest first". The fumes are so thick that you can barely see let alone breathe, and as I have mentioned before, horns are used more regularly than brakes, sometimes instead of brakes even. So my anxiety at riding a motorbike is not purely because I dont know how to drive one, but more to do with the fact that there is nowhere even remotely suitable for me to learn to drive one. It's a case of straight in at the deep end.

Anyway, i digress. So, he comes back with my sporty looking Yamaha ZBX or something like that, and I set about inspecting it to make sure it's in full working order. As you can imagine, my knowledge of motorbikes isn't exactly extensive..... So I just pretent to be examining closely..... Wheels: check.... handlebars: check..... horn (very important): check..... stickers: check..... all seems to be in order, i tell him. Then comes the scary part. I climb onto the bike, turn the key, and kickstart. It starts! Hoooray! Step one accomplished! Then I put it in gear. It stalls. Oh yeah, the clutch... No one seems to have noticed, so i start it again... this time I use the clutch and put it into first.... I gradually leapfrog my way around until I'm facing the right direction and I'm about to set off to find the emptiest road I can, when it suddenly dawns on me that i have no petrol.

"Where's the nearest petrol pump?" I ask.

"Down there, left, then left, then right" he says.

I make a quick mental calculation and realise that this route will lead me into the most hellish, congested, vehicular quagmire of death in the whole of katmandu!

"ok! Thanks!" I shout, and leapfrog off in the prescribed direction. After 5 mins of nail-bitingly bad clutch control and a lot of horning, I find myself face to face with a very busy main road. It's one-way and the way is left. But my guy told me to turn right! I stop a passerby and ask him "which way to petrol station??". He points to the right, against the flow of traffic. "But it's one way!" I say to him. He points again in the same direction. I'm not about to drive the wrong way up a one way street that is already about 6 cars wide congested with traffic, so i turn around and head back.

Back at the shop, i tell the guy I couldn't find it, in the hope that he'll direct me to one on a quiet lane somewhere.... Instead he shouts at his younger brother to come and ride on the back of my bike and direct me! Noooo! Now I have the added worry of killing a small boy, and the almost definite embarressment of stalling about 10 times with him on the back.

We set off, and as I had guessed he starts to direct me into the worst part of katamdu. The road I end up one is as wide as the M1, but with no road markings, and no rules. It's a complete free for all. Everyone just weaves in and out of one another like flies. Somehow i manage to get all the way to the petrol station without stalling or killing anyone! Then i stall as I pull into the station....

By the time i get back to Selene I feel as if I could ride into the depths of hell and return unscathed! Talk about initiation by fire! So with my newly aquired street bike skills, we set off to find some countryside. We figure if we keep going in a straght line for long enough we have to eventually leave this godforsaken city of smog. After 40 mins of riding thru insane traffic we eventually reach the hills that surround the katamandu valley. And then we go up. and up, and up. I'm basically just waiting for a vaguely flat bit to stop on, but none comes. Eventually I settle for about a 35 degree incline and pull over. Wow! I had no idea riding a bike was so tiring! My hands are siezed up from holding the clutch and accelerator for so long, and my face is caked with dust! I sit on the floor to recover and some local boys give me a plum to cheer me up... :)

Anyway, enough about my bike adventures. Needless to say I made it back safely, and me and Selene have just been to have a thai meal to celebrate our 1.5 years anniversary! It's the first anniversary we've ever celebrated, and the date is fairly tenuous to say the least, but at least now we have one! :) Selene has been winding me up all day by going "I want to give you your present now!", which makes me think "Oh fuck! I haven't bought anything yet", and say "No, lets not do it now, lets do it later", but she goes "No, I want to do it now! Close your eyes and hold out your hand", so i oblige, wondering what excuse I'm going to give, and she places something in my hand......: An empty bottle of hand sanitizer from her handbag..... "hahahahahahaha" she cries, "your sooo gullable!". Cheeky mare....

btw, i got a very funny e-mail today with an article from this american guy about the whole Bush bullshit war etc. I've decided to give it to you even tho it's very long. here it is:

BushCo Reams Nation Good
No WMDs after all, no excuse for war, too late for anyone to care
Ha-ha, suckers

By Mark Morford, SF Gate Columnist Wednesday, May 14, 2003

Ha-ha-ha oh man did we ever get smacked on that one. Conned big time.
Punk'd like dogs. Just gotta shake your head, laugh it off. They reamed
us but good, baby! Damn.
Turns out it really was all a big joke after all. The war, that is. All
a big fat nasty murderous oil-licking lie, a sneaky little power-mad game with you as the sucker and the world as the pawn and BushCo as the
slithery war thug, the dungeon master, the prison daddy. You really have to laugh. Because it's just so wonderfully ridiculous. In a rather disgusting, soul-draining sort of way. See, there are no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. No WMDs at all. Isn't that great? What's more: There never were. Ha-ha-ha. Gotcha! No warehouses teeming with nuclear warheads, no underground bunkers packed with vats of boiling biotoxins, no drums of crazy-ass chemical agents that will melt your skin and turn us all into drooling flesh-eating zombies
unless, of course, you count the sneering vat of conservative biotoxin that is, say, Fox News, in which case, hell yeah baby, we gotcher WMDs right here beeyatch. Go figure. Those lowly U.N. inspectors were right after all. Who knew? It was all a ruse. We've been sucker-punched and ideologically molested and patriotically sodomized and hey, what the hell, who cares anyway, we "liberated" an oppressed people most Americans secretly loathe and fear and don't understand in the slightest, even though that was never the point, or the justification, or the goal. Go team. But wait, is liberation of a brutalized and tormented people now the reason? The justification for our thuggery? That is so cool! So that means we're going to blow the living crap out of Sri Lanka and Sudan and Tibet and North Korea and about 47 others, right? Right? Maybe Saudi Arabia, too, second only to the Taliban itself in its abuse of women? Cool! As if. Ah, but screw the liberal whiny peacenik U.N. inspectors, you know? Let's ask the U.S. search teams themselves, ShrubCo's own squadrons of biologists, chemists, arms-treaty enforcers, nuclear operators, computer and document experts and Special Forces troops who've been in Iraq for weeks now, searching frantically. Surely they've found something, right? Surely we can now prove that Saddam was fully intending to fillet our babies and annihilate Florida and poke the eyes out of really cute kittens on national TV for sadistic pleasure, right? Gimme a hell yeah! Whoops. Bad news. As The Washington Post reports, the 75th Exploitation Task Force, the very serious-minded group heading up all U.S. inspections in Iraq, the group absolutely certain it would immediately find steaming
neon-lit stockpiles of WMDs piled right next to Saddam's personal stash of gay porn and Britney Spears posters and opium pipes, is coming home with its tail between its legs. Found nothing. Nada. Psychopatriots are a little nonplussed. Bush is merely "embarrassed." Peace advocates are sighing and drinking heavily. We have done this ghastly horrible inane hate-filled entirely unprovoked thing in the name of power and petroleum and military contracts and strategic empire building, our nation is numb and more bitterly divisive than ever and our leaders are not the slightest bit ashamed. But of course you're not the slightest bit shocked. You knew it all along. The WMD line was just a ploy that, tragically, much of the nation bought into like a sucker pyramid scheme after being pounded into submission with hammers of fear and Ashcroftian threats and bogus Orange Alerts and having their tweezers confiscated at the airport. And of course the capacity to be outraged and appalled has been entirely drained out of you, out of this nation, replaced by raging ennui and sad resentment and the new fall season on NBC. This is what they're counting on. Your short attention span. WMDs? That's so, like, last February. Hey look, the swimsuit model won "Survivor"! Because now it's all done. Like a bad trip to the dentist where your routine cleaning turned out to be a bloody excruciating root canal and 50 hours of high-pitched drilling and $100 billion in god-awful cosmetic surgery, now the bandages come off. Smile, sucker. We're at peace once again. Sort of. But not really. Don't you feel better now? No? Too bad. Noone cares what you think. It's all over but the shouting. And the screaming. And the endless years of U.S. occupation in the Middle East, the quiet building of U.S. military bases in Iraq so we can keep those uppity bitches Syria and Egypt and Lebanon in line, forge ahead with the long-standing plan to strong-arm those damn Islamic nuts into brutal compliance with Bushco's bleak blueprint for World Inc. What, too bitter? Hardly. Should we care that Osama, the actual perp of 9/11, is still running around free? That terrorism hasn't been quelled in the slightest? That the Mideast is more of a U.S.-hating powder keg than ever, thanks to BushCo? That the economy is in the worst shape it's been in decades? Should we care that we just massacred tens of thousands of Iraqi (and Afghan) civilians and soldiers and suffered a little more than 100 U.S. casualties and have absolutely nothing to show for it except bogus force-fed pride and this weird, sickening sense that we just executed something irreparable and ungodly and karmically poisonous? Nah. Just laugh it off. Have a glass of wine, make love, go play Frisbee with the dog. Breathe deep and focus on what's truly important and try to assimilate this latest atrocity into your backstabbed worldview, add it to the list of this lifetime's spiritual humiliations, as you wait for the next barrage, the imminent announcement that we're about to do it all again.
Steel yourself. Protect your soul. Because man, they reamed us good.
Slammed this nation like a bad joke. Gotcha! Ha-ha-ha.


hope you enoyed that as much as I did!

laters! Billy.

hi guys,

just thought I'd share this with you. It's a site I stumbled upon by accident. It's called the "United States Institute of Peace", and it claims to be "an independent, nonpartisan federal institution created by Congress to promote the prevention, management, and peaceful resolution of international conflicts." But when you read it, the fact that all it's team are personally selected by the president himself is rather apparant. go take a look....

Also, please go read the news on, especially if your in singapore and rely on channel news asia or straights times.....


Thursday, May 29, 2003

Today was a very tiring day. We set off in the morning for Posh-potty-not (I'm serious! that's what it's called!) which is a temple/creamation site just outside katmandu. Upon arrival we hired a guide and set off into the complex. The first thing we encountered was burning people. Lots of them. They were dead, which was a relief, but my guide informed me that the temple I was stood next to used to be used for sacrificing live people as an offering to Kali, the hindu goddess of bitchiness. She's a bit like Xena warrior princess in the episodes where she turns bad.... Apparantly she eats babies or something. I think people worship her more as a precaution than out of reverence...something like "O hail Kali, goddess of darkness, you are the best, please dont eat my baby". She's actually earned herself the title "protector of children" due to the fact that appeasing her will increase your childs chance of survival by keeping it off her menu.... cheeky bitch. Ironically she is actually just a reincarnation of Parvati, who is really nice and lovely...

Most of the temple is devoted to Shiva, who is the most popular Hindu god in this area. I have to admit shiva is pretty cool. Once, Shiva tried to prove his coolness to his fellow God mates, Vishnu and.... umm, i forget the other one... but anyway, to prove he was the don, he got his dick out and made it grow into a pillar that streathed in both directions as far as the eye could see. He then challenged his mates to try and find the ends. They both set off, and when they came back, one of them addmitted that shjiva did in fact have an infinitely long willy, but the other, vishnu I think, claimed he had found the end! Shiva proved he was lying however, and they all laughed at him.

Shiva dick, as i may have mentioned before in my blog, is very popular here. I think Imust have seen over 500 "Shiva lingas" around the temple complex, most of them housed in their very own little temple. A shiva linga looks decidedly like a cider press. It has a round stone base, with a kind of spout, then it has a big "knob" sticking up out of the middle. It's supposed to represent male and female genetalia apparantly. So I supposed shiva's not such a lad after all, more of a hemaphrodite....

Lots of the temples have erotic carvings around the roof to "protect" the temple. By erotic I mean stuff like a woman getting taken up both holes whilst fellating another man and giving two hand jobs simoultaneously! Talk about multi-tasking! It truly is a "holy" experience.. hohohoho!

Anyway, back to more sombre topics. Burning people. Yes, It's very strange. I couldn't help feeling it was a bit sick, all these tourists standing round and gawping at someone elses funeral like it was some kind of freakshow. I was so appaled in fact that I decided to zoom out my handycam slightly as a mark of respect.... I have to admit that i couldn't help taking a photo of someone burning on a funeral pyre... Altho afterwards when I looked at the pic on my digital camera i was disgusted with myself and decided to delete it... not that I actually did delete it mind you, but at least I showed a slight bit of remorse for my callous behaviour! It's so hard being so self-righteous and at the same time so shallow.....

I'm in a dilemma at the moment. Selene leaves in a few days (sobs) and then I'll be back on my own again. So, should I head for thailand and lie on a beach, or should I buy a Hero Honda and go burning round the North of India with Danel. Selene has forbidden me to buy a motorbike, so that adds a bit more rebellious credabilty to the bike idea.... but still I can't decide..... I think I'll hire a bike here and see if I actually can ride it before I decide....

ok, 5 mins of political discussion before I go. Tony Blair is a cocksucking sonofawhore. George Bush and his weapons of mass corruption can kiss my bony butt. I've just been reading the online newspapers again. What the fuck is Donald Bumsfelt talking about! Cheeky fucker! "Oh yes, they might have destryoed them before the war....that's why we haven't found any...". Think about what your saying you dumn twat! Maybe the american public are so stupid they'll buy that as an excuse, but the rest of us still remember what you said before the war! A certain UN Resolution 1441 which stated that Saddam must destroy all his weapons of mass destruction or we'd blow him to hell.... well if he did, then how come we still blew him to hell??! Duh! I hope you all burn in hell for this your lying bastards! Right, glad thats off my chest. Time to go and take some more advantage of my priviledged western money........

Wednesday, May 28, 2003

mmm, i seem to have run out of time before writing anything.... ok, here's 4 mins worth of ramble....:

I have come to the conclusion that all vehicles in nepal (and india) are "horn powered". By this i mean that the horn is actually vital in the running of the engine, being the only thing that pumps fuel from the tank into the engine. This conclusion is based on the fact that all drivers use there horn at least once every 6 seconds regardless of whether they are in congested traffic or on an empty road. The horning has absoultely no correlation whatsoever with people in the road/cars in front/other drivers etc, so I ealised that there must be more to these horns than I had first suspected. Another thing that supports my theory is that the larger the vehicle, the more frequent and more powerful the horning becomes. Trucks for example, dont have a simple "Beeeep", or "Parrrp" sound, but a "NeeNawNeeNawNeeNaw" noise which is loud enough to rupture an eardrum. This sound is used at least every 6 seconds, and even more when going up hills (more fuel needed i suspect). Anyway, times up.... think about it......

Tuesday, May 27, 2003

wow, I'm achin like shit. Just got back from a 2 day rafting trip on the Bote Koshi, Nepals most hardcore river. It was awesome. The rapids were.... rapid. And big and wet and everything else you'd expect from white water rapids. Me and Selene were the front paddlers today after our two english chaps, James and Charlie, proved useless yesterday, either failing to respond to commands or responding by doing the opposite... (hehe, sorry guys, but you sucked!). So we got the front seats, which I have to say is way better. You get the full brunt of the water as you crash headfirst into it. We had quite a few occasions where our raft got stuck and nearly flipped us out in some severely huge rapids, but somehow it always worked out. It could have had something to do with our guide, who was steering the raft at the back. Krisna, which is his name, is the biggest guy I have seen in a long time. He is just a huge wall of muscles, some of which I think belong to an as yet undiscovered muscle group which he has cultivated himself from scratch. Despite looking like a Terminator, he is a very nice guy, and I'm sure he saved our lives a few times. I'm not so sure, however, about the time he told us "Forward! Forward! faster!" before aiming out raft directly at a huge rock with water rushing round it and falling about 2 metres into a kind of spin cycle washing machine type whirlpool. We hit the rock at full speed and our raft literally bent double, almost spilling us all into the middle of the spin cycle. he thought it was all terribly funny, and I'm sure he did it deliberately....

Anyway, we survived. Now we're back in Katmandu (yes, I'm still refusing to spell it correctly), and it's absoultely packed! It's the most packed we've seen it, which is wierd, as it's gradually ben getting more and more empty since we arrived in Nepal. The reason for all these people is that it's the 50th anniversary of the first Everest Summit expedition (at least the first successful one!), so loads of wannabe mountaineers, and a few real ones, are all coming here to celebrate. Having climbed the peak twice (see earlier entry) we are presiding over the ceremonies as guests of honour....

ok, I'm starved, gotta go and eat some rice and lentils.... or maybe a big juicy steak and a cold carlsberg.... ahh, the joys of being a tourist! :)

Saturday, May 24, 2003

WE'RE ALIVE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Yes, that's right, we're back, and you wont believe what we've been thru! After making it to the Annapurna base camp in only 3 days instead of the usual 5, we decided that the base camp wasn't enough of a challenge, and set out alone to tackle the peak.....
ok ok, I'm lying. Here's the real story:

Day one:

Got a cab to Nayapul, from where the book says it's a 20 min walk to Birethanti, the start of the annapurna conservation area. 1 hour later we arrive in Birethanti...... start to have doubts about the trekking times given in our guide book...... The book also told us it would take us about 4 hours to reach gandruk, our destination for day one. We set off from Nayapul at 8am. By 2pm we were still in the first village along the trail and having trouble getting up the first hill. Then it started raining..... and hailing..... and then more raining..... We sheltered in a tea house and watched the crazy nepalese porters continuing to trek past us in the rain. I say crazy, as the path no longer resembled a path... more of a cascading river/waterfall/mudslide affair.... and these nepalese were wearing flip-flops (slippers) and carrying about 40kg of stuff on their heads...... Anyway, after about two hours the rain stopped and we headed off. Our plan of arriving at lunch time now turned into a plan to try and arrive before it got dark.... Selene decided she couldn't go any further with her pack, and luckily for us a local guy offered his services as a porter for 200 rupees (about 1 pound 50).

So eventually we arrived at the start of Gandruk, just as it was getting dark. At the first guesthouse we came to we stopped for a rest, and a voice from the balcony above us shouted: "Hello! Come and stay here, it's great!". We didn't need much convincing, and we trapsed in. Anyway, they were right. It was the most fun place i've been so far! It's run by this old nepalese lady who we called "Ama" (mother) and she called us "Chora" (boy) and "Churi" (girl). These 3 words formed the entire basis of every converation we had with Ama, and beleive me we had a lot! A typical coversation would go something like "Ama!"..."Chora! Churi!"... "Ama!".... "Chora!".... But she laughed and smiled so much that you felt like you were sharing your life story with her, and being damn amusing in the process! The other word she knew was "Ganja", which she would add onto the "Chora!" every now and then before offering us and huge pile of ganja for 20 rupees...... I cannot beging to explain how much this woman laughed. And no, she wasn't stoned, she only grew ganja to give to other people! Let me give you an example. You try to order some food... "I'll have and onion omelet please".... "Omelet!!! Chora omelet! hahahahahahaha!!!!!".... you get the picture.....

Then there was Cook. Cook, not surprisingly, is the cook. He is 21 years old, and completely insane. Having a conversation with him is like putting your brain in a blender. I wish I could recount even a part of what we talked about with him, but it would be like trying to explain random events in a sequential order..... It usually involved a lot of hysterical laughter from both parties, although never at the same thing..... However, Cook could cook, let me tell you! As long as you asked for no salt... otherwise you got 2 heaped teaspoons full no matter what the dish.... :)
The guys who called us from the balcony were a bunch of very friendly Israelis, and that evening we sat around a campfire with them and had a lot of fun... Effy, the guy who shouted us, had been there for 3 days, after deciding that trekking was not for him on the first day of his trek. Having been there for so long, he had appointed himself manager, seeing as no one spoke english, and ama and Cook had both wholeheartedly accepted him as such!

Day 2:

Decided that after the hard day on day one, we needed a rest day. Spent the day lazing around. walked into gandruk and looked at the view. Decided that maybe the ABC (Annapurna Base Camp) was a bit adventurous for us and started thinking about alternative routes....
After having my second nap of the day, i emerged from my room to find about 13 nepalese sitting on the lawn playing cards. There was aslo about 5 tents pitched in the garden. Wow, I thought, nepalese tourists! I was wrong. They were in fact part of a 14 strong crew (11 porters, 1 cook, 1 guide, 1 assistant guide) who were part of an organised trek. So where were the "customers" of this organised trek?? Then i spotted them. All 3 of them. 1 english guy, fresh out of school, not looking a day over 18. One English girl, who was too nervous to make friends on her own, and one ozzy girl. All 3 had signed up for the trip back at home, and were paying about US$70 a day for the trek!! And they were staying in tents and having their food prepared by the cook. As you can imagine they were a bit shocked to find out that we had rooms with comfy beds and were paying 100 rupees for them.... :) The brit girl asked me... "but what do you eat??".... "whatever I decided to order off the menu in the restaurant" I replied. Poor ignorant fools.

Day 3

Having realised that we hadn't bought enough money with us to hire a porter, it was decided that i would become the porter, and selene would transfer her stuff into my bag and leave her bag at the guesthouse. What an amazing plan! So we set off at 8am heading for Chomrong. With Selene packless things were going much smoother. We made it to the halfway mark with time to spare, and were just starting to feel really optimistic when it started raining. We didn't let thing dampen our spirits however, and set off thru the rain, which wasn't that heavy anyway.

An hour later, and we were still trekking thru the rain, but surprisingly, still happy. If Selene started to look a bit miserable, all I had to do was pop a gummi-bear in her mouth and her scowl would immediately be transformed into a look of joy! The power of gummi should not be underestimated... Eventually we reached the only tea house on the way to chomrong, just in time, as the rain, which up until then had been of the english variety (relentless but pissy and weak) suddenly turned into himalayan kind (torrential, turning into hail and back every few minutes, accompanied by lightening that singes your eyelashes and huge clouds that envelop you and block out the sky).

We stayed in the tea-house for an hour and drunk burnt milk tea while I played my flute to try and calm the gods a little. Eventually the storm passed, and we set off on the last leg of the journey as the sun came out.....

.......for about 5 mins, after which the storm returned with a vengence. This time we had no tree cover and the wind was blowing the rain directly into our faces. Selenes face was now displaying signs of Acute Mountain Depression, and no amount of gummis was going to work this time. But still we soldiered on (we didn't have a lot of choice) and in the end we reached Chomrong. We stopped at the second guesthouse we reached (an improvement on Gandruk!) and peeled off our soaking wet clothes.... My so called "waterproof breatheable" jacket had breathed about as much as a week old corpse, and as a result I was soaked thru to the skin with either sweat or rain... does it really make a difference?

After we dried a bit, there was a break in the clouds and for the first time we caught a glimpse of the mountains. Wow. This is why we came! They were so big and pointy with white bits at the top! Awesome!

Day 4:

Woke up at dawn and went out to have a piss. Was confronted by the most amazing view I've seen on my trip so far. The sky was cloudless and the air was completely clear. The sun hadn't yet risen over the ridge to my right, but it's rays were searing their way accross the sky like a halogen torchlight in a dusty cellar. Where these rays touched the peaks of the mountains, they caught the fine spray of snow blowing off of them and illuminated them like a floodlight. I cant fully describe this, but luckily the photos I took can, so keep your eyes peeled for them....

We had designated today as a rest day, but i was feeling restless, and when the guest house owner invited me to the hot-springs I couldn't resist. He was taking this french guy, Jean, there. Jean had broken his foot on the way to the ABC and had been resting in this guesthouse for 3 days waiting for his foot to heal. Apparantly it was just about ok, so he was going to attempt this walk. I was told it would take about an hour to get there and 1.5 hours to get back. No worries.

After about 20 mins of going down the steepest steps I'd encountered so far, my knees started giving me some trouble. And from what I could see the path went pretty much straight down into infinity and beyond.... But I survived until the bottom by running ahead, therefore taking the risk off my knees and placing it on my life instead. I don't know if you've tried it, but running down mountains is exremely effortless compared to walking down them, and just requires a bit of quick footwork and an acceptance of a possible, probably very painful, death.

At the bottom I lay in the hot spring and rejuvinated my aching muscles... bliss! However, rejuvintaing your muscles is a fairly pointless exercice if it forces you to completely fuck them up beyond repair trying to get home, which is exactly what I did. I set off back up the hill following Jean, who despite his "broken" foot was setting a pace that was somewhere between an olympic walk and a sprint. I'll remind you now that these were very steep steps, with no flat bits, and no traversing, just tight zig-zags going all the way up the steepest side of the mountain. One hour later we reached the top (30 mins faster than it was supposed to take) and I thought I was going to die. It was midday and the sun was beating down on me. Every step felt like I was being stabbed in the chest with a large kitchen knife, and my legs were numb. I staggered into the courtyard and selene greeted me with a look that said "Oh my god, your about to die!". Somehow I didn't die, but my rest day had succeded in completely straining every muscle in my legs. Tomorrow was gonna be fun.....

Day 5:

Set off for Gandruk at 6am. Almost all enthusiasm had evaporated by now as we were no longer heading towards the mountains but away from them. My legs were fucked. For the fist 30 mins I was actually hobbling as my knees felt like they might go "pop" at any moment. Just in case you sitting there saying "God billy's such a hypocondriach!" I'll have you know that my doctor has told me that I do have some condition with my knees called "old man's knees" or something, and if you dont beleive me I'll get him to write me a note!! So anyway, I'll spare you the details, but we trekked back to gandruk.

When we arrived it was like ariving home! Ama came rushing out to greet us, and the time honoured shouts of "Ama!" "Chora! Churi!" filled the air once more. Once we'd settled in, I appointed myself manager seeing as effy had left, and sat on the balcony trying to coax in tourists. I managed to get in one Israeli and was later offered a large bundle of Ganja by Ama as payment.... !

Day 6:

Set off early again and made good time as it was all downhill. By the time we arrived in Pokhara again we were sooo knackered, but the thought of all the luxuries we could buy was too much so we headed out into town. First we ate thai food. Then singaporean food. Then Japanese food. Then we bought a large bag of sweets and chocolate and made ourselves thoroughly sick. Then we went and slept for a long time.....

Right, I'm sick of writing, and I'm sure you're totally bored shitless of reading, if you are still reading of course. I'm actually back in katmandu now btw, just to confuse you all. :)

Wednesday, May 14, 2003

I have alittle story to tell you about our safari in the jungle. We set off at 6am with our 2 guides, rajendra and monuch. Both are very experienced in jungle survival and animal tracking, as they grew up in villages inside the reserve. Their experience began to show as we entered deeper into the undergrowth, and they started pointing out various tracks and marks left by rhinos, tigers etc. Every few minutes, rajendra would stop suddenly and hold his hand up to signal we should do the same. We would all stand in deathly silence, not even daring to breathe as we strained our ears for the sound of wild animals. Each time we heard nothing except our own heart beats, until about the 5th time we stopped. It seemed like every other stop, and we had no idea what was about to happen....

We stood there in silence, once again straining our ears for the slightest sound. Then we heard it. "kuuurwaaarrp"..... It sounded like it was coming thru a loudspeaker in the choking silence. An inhuman animal sound that made your hairs stand on end. And then we caught the scent, which was almost overpowering. It was close. But where had the sound come from?? For me, this was a rhetorical question, as I knew exactly where it had come from: my butt. Yep, that's right, I farted. What could I do?! Farts are like children: eventually you just have to let them go. Admittedly I didn't realise it was going to be quite such a vocal fart, but then farts by their very nature are unpredictable beasts. Selene was standing in front of my and got a full earful of my bum's strangled cry. She turned to me, at first shocked, and then as the silence continued post-fart, the shock tirned into an uncontrollable urge to laugh very loudly. We both creased up, desperately trying to regain our composure as our guides stood alert, ears pricked and noses primed for the signals of the rhino. Obviously they were not as susceptable to toilet humour as we were, and they kept their proffesionalism intact. For us however, even after we had continued walking, every time we made contact we had to fight to keep the laughter down..... :)

ok, enough silliness. Back to the present. Me and selene have suicidally decided to try and trek to the annapurna base camp, which is at least a 10 day trek up very steep mountains with snow on and everything. We have also opted to take no proffesional assistance at all and carry all our own gear. We have however bought a book, so we are not compeltely unprepared. I have also purchased 2 bars of cadbury's dairy milk, so I think the mountain will have to try very hard if it wishes to defeat me.....

I'm spending so much money here in nepal. It's not so much that nepal itself is expensive, it's just that there's so much touristy stuff available that it's impossible not to spend.

We climbed a hill today as a bit of training for the trek. I think we did fairly well...... kind of. Selene only stopped every 20 mins for a rest. Unfortunately her shoes had no grip on the soles, so she kept slipping all over the place, but we've just bought her a pair of genuine counterfeit walking boots. These shopkeepers make me laugh! I ask them "Are these genuine?" pointing to a pair of "Columbia" walking boots... "Yes! Yes!" they assure me. Then I point to an identical pair of "Salomon" walking boots, and I mean IDENTICAL in every respect except for the name on the label. "How about these ones?" I ask. "Yes! also genuine!" they tell me. Even after I point out the similarity of these shoes, they still insist that they are genuine, although they are happy to admit that both are the same shoe...... Oh well, they're surprisingly good quality, so who cares? Mind you, I say that now, I'll probably be cursing myself when selene's soles fall off on top of the mountain.....

I've had 2 experiences recently with bad food. The first was with some "french onion soup". I know, what was I thinking ordering french onion soup in nepal, but i wanted some, and it was on the menu. Anyway, after waiting about an hour it finally came. It looked like boiling water with onion floating in it. It was. The second was a similar experience with a usually delicious tibetan dish called thukpa. Once again, i recieved boiling water, this time with noodles and cabbage floating in it. Unfortunately, being english, I am forced to pretend that the food is delicious and only complain when the waiter's back is turned. Sigh.

ok, enough. This may well be my last post ever, so if i dont make it back from the peak, you may all become very famous for having known me, and you are all welcome to sell interviews to the national press. wish us luck!!! We need it..... :)

Monday, May 12, 2003

hey there,

internet here very expensive so must be quick!!!!

have been in Chitwan National park for the last few days. We went on a jungle trek to try and spot rhinos, tigers etc, but in 3 hours of trekking we only saw 2 beetles, 1 caterpillar and a cockerel!! anyway, the next day we went back this time on the back of an elephant, and after a couple of hours of being lashed by branches and brushing off hundreds of bugs, we finally saw a family of rhinos, lying in the water doing nothing in particular. It was great to finaly see them, but I have to admit I was secretly a little dissapointed... I wanted to see a rhino fighting a tiger whilst being simoultaneously attcked by a sloth bear....... oh well.

now I'm in pokhora, which is where ppl do all the trekking and stuff. It's by a lake and it's pretty cool from what I've seen so far.... The mountains are obscured by clouds at the mo, but I'm told in the morning it's clear...

The guy who owns this internet place is bugging me now as he's sat behing me supposedly having a friendly chat with slene, but basically trying too sell her any kind of service he can think of.... grrrrr. ok, my times up. gotta go!!! :)

Thursday, May 08, 2003


It's another sunny day here and Khatmandu, with temperatures reaching a scorching 275 degrees centigrade! The tarmac on the roads has melted, turning them into sticky black rivers which flow in the direction of the traffic. I've seen many a hapless tourist who ventured out with slippers (flip-flops) on get stuck in the tacky ooze and burn his tender tootsies! Visibility has been reduced to 7cm due to the dust and pollution, making getting around very difficult. Most people have chosen to stay inside, but even this has its risks, as millions of poisonous flying ants seek refuge from the dust in hotel rooms and restaurants. It's like a scene out of a bad 50's b-movie! The government has called a state of national emergency, and plans are being drawn up to destroy the sun and anyone supporting it's evil regime of heat. Alternative plans are being suggested by the peace movement that we tunnel underground and rebuild a new subterranean society of mole people, but most object to this idea on the grounds that earth is dirty and will make clothes intolerable to wash.

Some have suggested that the heat is actually the work of "Islamic Fundamentalists", although no one is exactly sure how or why. Others claim it's due to the fact that it's summer and are pointing to previous summers to try and back up their theory. Of course no one is taking them very seriously.

As you have probably guessed by now, I have nothing of interest to write, so I am subjecting you to the strange world of my imagination. Mind you, it is very hot. :) We're heading off to Chitwan national park tomorrow to try and shoot tigers and rhinos! We may also get the chance to shoot some endangered species of bird as well! Gotta make sure my camera is locked and loaded....

Yesterday we went to Patan, just south of Khatmandu. It was pretty cool. Well actually i suppose it was amazing, but to be honest I've seen too many temples now, and so something that 6 months ago would have seemed breathtaking now doesn't even seem worth picture-taking! Time for a change, hence the tiger shooting. Mind you, the guide says that Chitwan will be "unbearably hot", so we'll have to see how we manage to bear it. Is it possible to bear something unbearable? I rekon it is. You just have to be hard like me... ;)

Just spent 20 mins trying to find my archives which dissapeared once again. I'm a bit worried that ne day all my journal is going to dissapear. If anyone has a lot of spare time on their hands, they could backup all my journal onto a word doc or something for safekeeping! i'd be very greatful.... :) I'll give you a mention in my blog and then you'll be world famous!

Right, I'm gonna go and find some asbestos wellies to wade thru this bloody tarmac river and buy some Baygon to kill all these bastard ants....

Wednesday, May 07, 2003

Bastard fucking PC.

I just wrote some side splittingly funny anecdotes about the last 2 days, and then the pc crashed, and all my efforts dissapeared in a puff of binary code. So here is a very bitter and unenthusiastic attempt to re-write the same entry:

went to a temple. it was on a hill. it had monkeys. good view.

ok ok, I'll attempt to write from this point on in my uaual style, but I'm not promising anything....

So yeah, we went to this temple. Anyway, on the way there, we decided to walk, as the guidebook (Rough Guide, not Lonely Planet!!!!) told us that it took 20 mins. Anyway, after 20 mins of walking down streets dodging insane drivers and inhaling a toxic mix of exhaust, dust, and SARS bacteria, we had had enough. Selene wasn't dong so bad, as she was wearing one of those protective masks for SARS that you see on the cover of every newspaper in the world at the moment. It was quite fun pointing out to people that she was from singapore and could well be a SARS carrier, pointing to the mask to emphasise how potentially dangerous she was... :) Anyway, we'd had enough, so we went over to a cycle rickshaw driver and negotiated a price. However, when we got into the back of his rickshaw, we started to doubt whether this was such a good idea after all. The seat was tiny, and the sun-shade over our heads meant that your head was almost touching the struts. This is all very well, but once we started moving, a new problem surfaced. The road, if youcan call it that, was basically just a series of holes connected by small areas of tarmac, and this cycle rickshaw had nothing in the way of suspension. When I say holes, I mean HOLES! Big bastard holes with no bottom. So we bounced and crashed along, every hole causing me to crack my head on the frame of the shade above us, trying desperately to stay perched on the edge of our tiny seat as we anticpated the next crunch...

Eventually we reached a bridge, and at the other side of the bridge the driver stopped and said "here". I got down and looked at my map. "But we're only halfway there!" I said, pointing this out to him on the map. It turned out the next part of the journey involved a slight hill, and he didn't do hills, so we had to walk.... oh well, we were glad to be back on the road again to be honest!

right, I'm out of time, so you'll have to just imagine the rest. Make it interesting ok?

Monday, May 05, 2003

Katmandu is way cool. I wandered round aimlessly for hours yesterday, and there is just so much to see! The city is so old it feels like you've walked back in time. Not so old however are the many policemen wearing flak jackets stationed around every national monument in the city. I went up to a group of police stationed around one temple in the centre of town and shamelessly asked to take a photo of them. Three of them agreed happily while the 4th stood there looking mean and shaking his head. I figured that 3 out of 4 was good enough to risk it and snapped the shot. Then I asked them what they were doing there. They said something about a party. "Ahh, a celebration?" I said. No, the Maoist Party, they said. It seems they were stood there because the maoists have a habit of blowing up objects of national importance. That would explain the flak jackets, helmets, steel shin pads etc... Suddenly feeling very vulnerable in my shorts and t-shirt I thanked them and hurried away!

Katmandu is a shoppers paradise. You can buy anything here! Also, you can buy a copy of anything! Although I have to say that anyone who sets of to climb everest with a bag counterfeit bag full of counterfei gear is a bit stupid if you ask me! Just because your jacket says "The North Face" on the front and has a label saying "Goretex" inside doesn't make the cheap nylon it's made from any more weatherproof! Even more crazy is the idea of buying climbing gear from these shops! But hell, it's cheap.

I ate a steak last night!! And let me tell you, it was the most amazing steak i've had in a loooong time. Mind you, it did cost me as much as about 4 normal meals, but that's still less than 5 quid, so what the hell! :) Money really is funny here. Not that it makes me laugh or anything, it's just funny money. Like now for instance, I'm about to go and take a cab to the airport and back to pick up my gf (woohoo!), and it's gonna cost 300 rupees for the entire trip. That's less than 3 quid. In England the taxi starts with 3 quid already on the meter before you've even moved!!!!! For those non english amongst us, quid means pound (UK pound sterling), but keybaords in asia dont have a pound sign, so I always have to write it out....

Right, nature calls, must dash... :) Can't wait to se my baby!

Sunday, May 04, 2003

I'm in Katmandu!!!

wow, what a journey... I left Delhi without incident, after buying myself a flute (I want a guitar!!!!) and got on the train to gorakpur. After about an hour of lying in my bunk trying to smile at the little kid opposite me without him hiding his face in his hands, a long haired rosey cheeked yorkshireman appeared and plonked himself down on the seat below, squeezing in between the indian family members that made up the rest of my compartment. He introduced himself to everyone as Matthew, and it turned out he was sleeping in the bunk opposite me. He'd bought a bottle of spirits from Korea with him, so we settled down to get pleasantly drunk, and talked to each other in pidgeon english. It's fascinating the way being in india affects the way you speak. You become so used to simplifying your sentences and not using complicated words, that when you find youself speaking to a native english speaker, you still talk to one another like your both retarded! "Hello, my name is billy, what is your name?", "My name is matthew. Are you going to katmandu billy?" "yes, I am going to katmandu".... etc etc...

After a while we realised that we understood one another and the words started to flow more freely, and before I knew it I was asleep. The next morning, we arrived in Gorakpur, and a Nepalese woman and her daughter told us that they were also going to Katmandu, so we decided to follow them. We went outside and found a Jeep that was heading for Sunauli, on the border. We climbed in, and I thought "man, I hope this ride isn't too long", as it was really cramped in there. Then about 5 more people got in!! There were 15 ppl in total in a normal sized Land Rover!! I was sat in the boot, which had a seat on either side facing the middle, and 3 ppl on each seat!! But they told us the journey only lasted an hour, so we thought what the hell.... 4 and a half hours later we arrived in Sunauli.

About 10 mins into the ride, we came across a roadblock of sorts, and our landrover turned around and went back, taking another road instead. We then drove for 4 hours thru the remotest villages imaginable, asking ppl for directions in every village! It turns out that our drivers didn't have any documents of licences etc, so in order to avoid the police, had opted to avoid the main road, and instead head cross country. Bastards. It was a pretty harsh journey, but we made the most of it, singing beatles songs very badly over the sound of hindi music blasting from the stereo....

When we finally arrived in Sunauli, we headed for the border, and almost walked straight thru it without realising it was there! No one stopped us or asked us anything! Then we walked back, and eventually manged to find the Indian immigration office, hidden under a shop. The same happened on the Nepali side of the border, where we walked straight past the customs office, which is set back off the road a bit. Eventually we got our visas, and decided to stay in Sunauli for the night, as we were literally caked in dirt and needed rest badly!

The next morning we got on the bus which we had bought tickets for the previous night. No sooner had we sat down than we were told that our seats weren't actually our seats, and we had to move! Being stubborn english bastards we stuck our ground and refused to move, and eventually they gave up trying....

About halfway thru the journey, Matthew decided to go and sit on the roof, and after another 30 mins, all the foreigners on the bus went to join him. It was awesome: driving along winding mountain roads with 8 of us clinging onto the roof rack for dear life as we careered around hairpin bends at breakneck speeds. Overtaking on blind corners, narrowly avopiding decapitation by electricity cabbles, looking over the edge of cliffs as the bus tilted around the bends.. such fun! At one point, Matthew's bag came open, and his precious hair conditioning oil (he has long shaggy hair) went flying off the back of the bus and dissapeared. Matthew was not happy. It wasn't just conditioner, he told us, it was special indian conditioner, only available in calcutta, and it was the only thing that stopped him looking like Jimi Hendrix on a daily basis. So, when we stopped about 2km later for a piss break, Matthew lept of the back of the bus and started jogging back down the mountain, shouting "Don't let them leave without me!" as he dissapeared around the corner!! After about 20 mins, the bus started it's engine and was about to leave! We shouted at the driver to wait, but he pretended not to understand, and the bus started to move. We all studied the horizon for any sign of our hairy yorkshireman, but to no avail. Then, just as we were about to give up hope, a small, sweaty, bare chested figure came around the corner, still jogging. He made it back to the bus just as it pulled away, and to top it off, he'd actually found his hair conditioner!!!! It was only a very small bottle, so this was pretty amazing if you ask me!

Anyway, we eventually arrived in katmandu, and when we got off the bus i was first greeted by the sight of hundreds of marijuana plants growing wild at the side of the road! and this is in the middle of the city! So we all trekked off together to find a hotel, and eventually found one in Thamel, the main tourist area.

After a meal of spagetti bolognaise with BEEF!!!!! Yes beef!!! In case you didn't know, in india you can't get beef anywhere, cos cows are just so damn holy! Anyway, after food, (and beer!) we went to a casino. I've never really liked casinos, and this one was no exception. I tried to gamble a bit on the one armed bandits, but it just felt too wrong. Here I was throwing money away 10 rupees a spin, when I've just spent all day refusing to give away 10 rupees to people who really need it! Every coin I slipped in and lost made me feel more and more guilty, so after I'd spend my 200 rupees (about $3), I gave up.

When I got back to the hotel, I remembered that i'd forgotten to taker my Larium tablet (for malaria), so I decided to take it then. BIG MISTAKE!!!!!! I hadn't eaten anything since dinner, had been drinking beer all evening, and had no water to wash it down with. Almost immediately after taking it I started getting the worst heartburn and indigestion i've ever had, and my mouth started pouring saliva and all in all I felt worse than I've felt in a long time. I didn't mange to get to sleep until about 3 hours later, after waking up the hotel staff to give me water, and sitting on the side of the bed clutching my stomach for what seemed like eternity! I think it's time to stop taking this Larium shit. It's not good for you...

anyway, that's about it for now. I go to pick up selene (my gf) tomorrow from the airport!!! :)

Thursday, May 01, 2003

back in smelly Delhi!!!

So yesterday I went to get my bus at 6pm. After a rather precarious trip on Danel's Honda Hero with all our bags, I made it safely to McLeod Ganj in time for the bus. I was sat next to a large russian guy who was nice enough, except for a few unspoken border disputes concerning the LOC between our two seats, and some minor friction when he refused to open the window to let me throw out my half a samosa... Anyway, this was the first time I've done a long journey on a "super delux" bus as opposed to a "sleeper" bus. The main difference being that you can't "sleep". The seat reclines really far, which would be great if it didn't cut of the cirulation in the legs of the passenger behind. Being a nice guy, I put my seat halfway back up when requested by the guy behind me, but sleep was just not happening. The big Ruskie beside me kept inching his way across the LOC into disputed territory, and more than once I was forced to dispatch a series of butt-butts (like a head-butt but done with the butt), with very little effect.

Eventually, after about 14 hours, we arrived on the outskirts of Delhi, and our bus stopped. I was expecing this, as a friend had told me that first the bus stops outside Delhi in the Tibetan district, before continuing on to the City. However, something was going on here.... The drivers were telling everyone to get off!! By brilliant Indian logic, they had decided that seeing as there were two buses, and some ppl had got off, they could save some petrol by making us squeeze onto the other bus! A fine idea if there was space, and if we hadn't already paid for our seat until Delhi, but nither of these small obstacles was going to hold back this amazing plan. So, all the bags had to be removed from the roof, and then squeezed, along with their owners, into the aisle of the second bus.

After a while we started moving again, but not for long. After about 10 minutes, a german guy at the front starting having a strop because apparantly the driver had left his bag containing very important documents on the road back at the bus changing spot. Having not been aware that the bus driver was this idiot's mother I was yet to see why h should be respnsible for looking after his stuff, but anyway, Gunter (for want of a better name) somehow managed to convince them to turn the bus around, and when we eventually arrived back at the spot, it turned out that all he'd actually left behind was a sweatshirt, and a shit one at that! cheeky bastard.

So in the end I arrive in Parhaganj, and of course I'm surrounded by rickshaw drivers immediately. The thing is, I WANT a rickshaw!! It's only 20 mins walk to the train station, but I think fuck it, I'm tired, I'm gonna get a rickshaw. But alas, it is not to be. All the rickshaw drivers are determined to charge me double the actual fare, and would rather not take me at all if they can't ripp me off. Bastards. So I walk. And walk. And eventually i get to the Train station. After a fairly painless transaction in the air-conditioned "tourist reservation office" I head down to the platform to stick my bag in the cloakroom before going into town. But what's this??!! The que for the cloakroom is about 150 metres long!! And it doesn't seem to be moving....and I need a piss...and there's no one to look after my bag.... bollox.

After an hour of queing and crossing my legs, I finally get my bag locked up and head into town where I buy a newspaper. Luckily the indian newspaper only has one page for "non-indian" news, so I'm not too depressed by the world situation...

So which Bush is loonier?
Senior or Junior?

Getting the train tonight to katmandu. Such a cool name! Kat-man-du.... from timbuktoo to katmandu... In fact, I think if I ever become a super hero, I want to be known as the katmandood... pretty cool huh? :)

As you've probably guessed, internet is cheap here, and I have time to kill. About 8 hours. Yes, I could go and see the sights of Delhi, but quite frankly, I can't be arsed. It's hot, its smelly, and everyones trying to sell me something. I have taken to wearing my sunglasses and walkman while I walk around, which has distinct advantages and disadvantages. On the plus side, I no longer have to acknowledge people if I don't want to, I can just pretend to be looking the other way, hidden behind my mirrored lenses, and my headphones excuse me from hearing anything... I am untouchable!! Which brings me to the downside: Due to my self inflicted deafness, I am also unable to hear the last minute horns of the rickshaws, wailing at me in horn language, "Get out of the way of I'll break your legs!!!!", and consequently have had rather too many close calls for comfort.....

I'm gonna see my girlfriend in about 3 days!!! cool huh? Can't wait.... :)

right, enough is enough, now Piss Off! Go on! All of you! Clear off! Cheeky little fuckers.....