Welcome Home Indeed

January 15, 2008

Hey hey, I had a long day on a plane and landed into Heathrow and as I came thru arrivals Mark had a sign saying Gibbins on it which was dapper. The UK felt very strange and trippy, no doubt due to my tiredness and cold.

I have realised very clearly from the sudden change some perceptions about here that struck me. People look a lot more nervous than in most of the places I have been. More uptight. I got the train to Manchester yesterday and sat next to a woman and having been so used to chatting randomly to people I asked her what she did in London – and she replied “Im married, Im married”…

And it also cost me the same amount of money for a meal in India than it did to take a piss in Manchester Piccadilly Station (30p).

Welcome home indeed (Evil Squared Homage)……

Not the greatest way to round off my trip. Catch a cold in a crappy place to stay and have two days doing bugger all in a place where there is bugger all to do. So I have invented some awards for my trip…

Best Moment – Standing on top of Mount Langtang in Nepal after four hour climb through ice and snow.

Worst Moment – Throwing up on the sodden floor in toilet in soaked pyjamas.

Best Meal – Pad Thai/Fish Steak in Koh Whai

Worst Meal – Ridiculous Lasagne in Penang

Best Night – Cards night with Shazza and Dazza in Koh Whai/With Dan in Xian’s Muslim Quarter after kite flying.

Fave Place – Koh Whai, Thailand

Worst Place – Thamel, Kathmandu

Best Trip – Bullet Train in Japan/Singapore Airlines Flights (amazing food! and board games)

Best Cultural Experience – Chinese Arts Cultural show

Worst – Shitty Club night in Nepal border town

Best Place to Stay – Mega Hotel (after cancelled flight)

Worst – Last day of Nepal Trek – wrought iron gate of a door and early wake up from spitting Maoists. Also Hotel in KL – hot and crap.

Songs of the trip – Afraid by Nico (this saved my life on one occasion), Up with people by Lambchop, Hideaway by Olivia Tremor Control, Everybody has something to hide by the Beatles, Cursed Love by Bonnie Prince Billy, Canada by Low, Avril the 14th by Aphex Twin and Innocence by Bjork (the lyrics are so true)….

Homeward Hey Ho….

January 11, 2008

Just a quick entry to apologise for my last entry which promised to be more entertaining but because I am below par in the health stakes at the mo, it turned a little moribund. There is so much I want to share from my travels but I never feel I manage to relay it well. But the cool thing is that most people who read any of this drivel will be sharing a meal or a drink with me in the next couple of weeks and so I can at least make it up in the chat stakes. Coming home is very exciting but the thought of starting a completely new life and yet it will probably be the same as the last one is a little daunting at the same time. And a wee bit scary in some quarters having had a life completely different from any other I am used to for eight months. I have realised that friendship is the most important thing in the world to me.

In the Delhi Underbelly

January 11, 2008

I am now in Delhi and my trip is about to end. Quite a wierd feeling in a way. I am staying in a Tibetan Colony in the north and my hotel is not that great and when the generator isnt wurring away at night the pigeons on the windowsill coo-coo to enforce some earplug action. The colony itself is several warrens full of Tibetan refugees and stalls of all kinds and beggars everywhere. Its funny, because it feels the same as Tibet and even smells the same too.

I feel a little below par with a sore throat – but got this from two days in the city in which I tried to buy some winter things for my return. I also had some tailored trousers made up quite cheaply. But this city is impossible to just walk around and do your own thing. Touts are constantly bothering you and ricksaw drivers too. Its a little annoying but its also fun. In my 4 or 5 hours in Connaught Place I was constantly chatting to people and I fell for some things. They all direct you to these expensive shops because they get a commission for taking you there. After I figured that one out I got a ride to some tailored from a beautiful man called Surendra – he took me everywhere and then I took him out for lunch – and we chatted about all sorts. Then I did some more shopping and just needed a rest so I went to the park for a sit down. Even ten minutes on the grass on my own was impossible as five minutes in I was laughing my head off as there was a man massaging my feet – a guy removing huge amounts of wax from my ears and two guys were fixing my shoes – one cleaning them – and another mending a hole in my heel. They all wanted huge amounts of money from me which I managed to haggle down. Then the ear and foot man took me for a cup of tea and a leaf cigarette. All rather chummy. I had a lovely evening too chatting to a couple of German Dentists at the Hotel restuarant.

Oh! and another funny thing in the city was the way that a tout says hello to me and asks where I am going – I lose him eventually then ten minutes down the road he pops out from around a corner after following me. Patience is the best thing on your side here.

The next day I wanted to go to this huge Mosque but even this seemed hard to do. I got a ricksaw to take me but he took me to another place – then I insisted he take me to where I wanted to go and he wouldnt do it. He wanted me on a complete tour of the city. After a huge amount of patient telling – I got him to take me back to the Metro station. It was hugely frustrating because they agree and do something else. So now I am having a relaxed time until my flight home. I would love to spend more time in India as I have heard stories of how incredible it is – especially away from the cities – but my energies are done and I want home. So see you all soon!

India is intoxicating. It reminds me of Low Harrogate Tennis Club or an old couch that you love. Its worn and beautiful. A real surge of energy has arised in me because I am in a place that speaks something to me. Mumbai is completely crazy – traffic honking, slums popping up everywhere – derelict buildings – new buildings – old cars – new cars – a huge sense of colective identity – and there is something about the light and the smells. I adore it although the city tests the patienc. I went thru a 3 hr ordeal yesterday to get a train ticket all in a series of buildings that felt like they were bombed last year or something – rubble and dust everywhere. The people here seem to have an underlying cheeky smile all the time and wonderful eyes.

After staying in a posh hotel last night with this lady I met on the plane (I got a lovely buffet brekkie too – and a great deep bath), I went along with her to see a spiritual guru this morning which she came to see. He invites people to his house every morning and just chats about his philisophy. He is called Ramesh Balsekar and he is 90 years old. It was a cool experience. People were filming him talk in his bright and airy living room with about twenty people there. I had a question at one point and ws thrusted close to him with a mic on my t-shirt and had a ten minute dialogue with him… Many people were treating him like he was a god (kissing his feet) or something and this kind of thing annoys me – all spiritual men are just men – jesus, buddha etc etc. They still clip their toenails and fart in their sleep. He was a lovely man and it was great to do something cool like that that I would never have got to do otherwise.

Shove Off ButtCrust

January 7, 2008

I just landed in India after a marathon day of eight hour train – mad rush to airport – night in airport and then eight hour flight. Mumbai is bloody mental but incredibly cool and fun.

Unbelievably – I sat next to a lovely old lady on the plane who is putting me up for the night in her very swish posh hotel with seperate single beds. I offered to shag her as payment but she refused. Wierd and fun things are happening – I must be relaxed….

 Financial news today: five-one-five-one-five-one-five -up – down.

I just had a scrotal violation of the wierdest kind.. but first I must update other stuff. I am now in KL again and I got myself a good hotel and have been relaxing a great deal with lots of fruit and veg, swimming, yoga, hot baths and reading. I have got somewhat back to my usual self and feel loads better. A glimpse of normal energy levels is such a pleasure for me. My last day in Borneo was spent at an Orangutan centre in which tourists get to walk out into the jungle and look at them being fed. They swing out to a platform and tuck in. They are such beautiful animals – one of them grabbed a huge leaf as shelter from the sun and they generally stand up and look thru their legs and loll about and hug each other. Enjoyed just sitting on my bench watching it all….

So yes, I wanted to go for a massage tonight and it took me a while to find on. Eventually, I found one which was on the third floor of a dingy building. In I go and it sounded expensive but I really wanted one so I agreed. I was shown into a small room with a half naked pic of Shakira on the wall . The guy began and it was not too good – then I lay on my back and he takes my underpants off. He then applies oil to his rubber gloved hands and starts to massage my balls and my John Thomas almost to the point of pain. I am up for new things constantly and think that maybe this is good for the old tadger so I relax… but then another man enters the room and says he is a doctor and asks me to lift my legs towards my head. I then have a brief chat with him that all I ever wanted was a relaxing back mssage and he leaves, luaghing…. The man coninues with his feeling of my chops and eventually starts prodding elsewhere – getting out a huge rolling pin for my back. After that he says its over. Only 20 mins and I wanted an hour. I get dressed and walk into the lobby. This room has photographs on the wall of erect penises with some instrument doing something to them. I refuse to pay as much as he was asking and when he goes to get his boss I press the lift button and jump in and off before he comes back. Call me a wimp – but this was well wierd and the atmosphere was creepy. I ran off in an excited mood with a very oily tummy banana.

Then I found a guy on the street and had the best foot massage I have ever had! Back on the toad tmrw….

Ooh dear, I am in no mans land. Being away for xmas and new year is cool in a way but I feel very distant from where I am somehow. Almost snuffed out is my usual chirpy self and I am left in slog mode – grinding through all the travel. This time of year is normally so social for me and around me constantly are people I dont know and it is draining to always talk about the same things for an hour or two. I guess you have to be here to know what I mean. I feel needy and in need of some attention…

Anyway, that said – I had a good time in the jungle the last three days. It is the best place to see wildlife in Borneo I had heard and it was fairly easy to spot stuff that I wanted to see. I did two early morning cruises, a night walk, a day walk to a lake and more boat trips. It was very muddy in the jungle – sloshing about in wellies and seeing loads of huge millipedes and butterflies. The night walk was cool. The guide showed us a whole range of insects that come out at night like scorpions (huge things scuttling about in the trees), glowing worms and centipedes. On the boat I saw proboscis monkey which have a big rubbery nose (they look so human – the way their legs are and the way they move), loads of hornbills and very colourful kingfishers. But the chances are quite low to see an Orangutan in the wild their but we did it! A boat was already there and a big male was hanging about and reaching to bushes around to eat the fruit. He was unbelievable! Very dark skin and huge hands and feet.

I celebrated new year there with the locals and enjoyed being on the river first thing and then as it got dark. It had a typical Borneo atmosphere and views. Misty jungle and deep rainforest. I have a very busy travel week ahead – getting to India after getting to Singapore and I am already spaced out to the max. Hope you all had a good new year….

I am travelling with a Dutch psychologist now and we got the bus from KK in Sabah to Semporna which took all day and it was full of screaming kids and silly upbeat Malaysian kiddie pop. The fun bus! I found it funny but after a while I got a bit tired…. This was followed by one night in a floating hotel on the water and three days of diving which finished today. We had the first day around Mabul Island which was lovely although not what we came for. On these dives we saw giant turtles and colour changing cuttle fish and loads of colour but the next two days we were at Paulo Sipidan which is recognised as one the top places in the world to dive. It really lived up to it for me.

It was by a long way the most breathtaking and coolest thing I have ever done. Every colour and size of fish on show and in huge numbers too. You see sharks on every dive – some swimming and some lying on the reef having a rest. Turtles on every dive too and you can swim with them and touch their backs (huge!)… Today we went deep inside a cave and were in the middle of a huge school of blue eyed jacks and then a turtle went by and then a shark – for half an hour it was magical and almost unreal because of the amount of things that were going on. Schools and schools of yellow, blue, green, purple fish, all with a different shape of tail or body and swimming in a different way. I realise I cannot describe all that I saw in any great detail! I am going to try tonight to keep it somewhat vivid as I know it was a once in a lifetime thing.

Diving really tires you out and I got pissed one night there so I am truly buggered now. The compressed air in your body makes you feel high or something and I got bitten by a jellyfish and wacked my head getting into the boat. A good sleep to come tonight…..

I put some pics of me diving on flickr if anyone wants to check it out. A nice lady took them for me….In Thailand. 

And happy new year!

Now fact me till I fart…

December 27, 2007

I have just added more photos to www.flickr.com (jpgibbins7) if anyone is interested this festive period. After a crushingly long day on a bus, I am diving tmrw which is very exciting.