Saturday, November 26, 2005

Shark attack - Breanna

Just a quick post, ahahahah for all of you back home missing out on this crazy adventure. Travelling really can be an eye opener. The Maldives.....................Tropical paradise........I'll take it. yummmm coconut and pineapple. That's another thing about being here, there's a lot available.
Definately a nice relax on the beach. I couldn't believe how warm and clear the water was. Perfect colour combo. Snorkeling to me, is always a fun way to check out the variety of beautiful fish until the music from the movie "Jaws" started playing in my head. Can you guess where this is leading? I admit it, I'm deathly afraid of sharks. Well, maybe not deathly afraid but definately really scared of them. Considering it was getting dark out, I spooked and swam backwards as fast as my little flippers could go! I wasn't paying much attention to my surroundings. That's probably the best explanation for skinning my arse on a hunk of coral. This is so stupid because it was the only thing I could have run into! The funny thing was that at the time I was in total panic and thought a shark had just bit me in the butt!!! I swear I had a mild heart attack! I never swam so fast in my life. Don't worry I made it to the shore and we never did actually see a shark. Just my mind playing tricks on me again. I still had lots of fun. After all I AM the only one who didn't get burnt! I love taking airplanes. They're so much fun.
I can't wait to see who the next one to meet up with us will be.
I'll just wait for you on this side of the world!
Just keep dreaming like me the dreamer!!! (*~BreFairy~*)

Thursday, November 24, 2005

The Best

Happy Thanks Giving to all you Americans out there!!! Wish we could have turkey dinner with you.....yummy!
I've been to Hawaii, Mexico, Carribean and The Maldives are definately my favourite! It's just so peaceful and like a dream. We've all decided we'll all come back when we've got ourselves sweethearts! Being with the family is great but it is definately more of a romantic get away.
So far Sri Lanka is really nice. I look forward to exploring this island, after the rain stops. We're all still well and happy!
Until next time.
Lots of love,


Wow! Maldives is paradise! I suppose before I go into too much praise I must admit that aside from Isla Margherita in Venezuela, I've never been to a tropical island or resort. Not even Mexico or Hawaii if you can believe it, so I guess you'll have to take all I say with a grain of salt......
We had a great time, our "island resort" was very relaxing and informal so we just hung out and did a lot of nothing while we were there.
The Maldives are a collection of 200 something, mostly small, islands scattered along a line of about 150 miles or so, an hours flight off the southwest coast of India. About 88 islands are inhabited I believe, half being tourist resorts. The airport is it's own island, just a single runway and a couple buildings when seen from above. The capital city, Male, is just across the water. Almost all transport is by motorboat though the farther islands are serviced by float plane. We were greeted at the airport after our arrival and thrown onto a speedboat for our 1hr ride to our resort. The water is so incredibly clear it is unbelievable. Walk out of the airport to the boat docks and look down and there's our saltwater fishtank from home. Totally. Clear light blue water and white sand ringing each island on the inside of the reefs and fish everywhere. On our ride out to our resort we passed lots of other resorts but they looked really crowded or busy with all their little bungalows. We chose Asdu resort because it was small and didn't have all the crazy, unnecessary facilities like a gym and tennis courts. We also went so spur of the moment as in a couple more weeks all the prices double and the resorts are all fully booked so this was really our only chance to go.
I don't know how to describe it. You'll have to see the pictures or look it up on the internet. Our island was about 300m long and 80m wide. It had a single little dock, a central reception and restaurant/bar building and about 30 rooms lined up, most set back a little from the beach. The ground is sand, constantly being swept by the staff, and there are lots of coconut palms and a few other trees providing plenty of shade. The noisiest thing on the island are the huge fruit bats that constantly scream at each other, but there are a few other birds kicking around too. The whole island is surrounded by a reef so the water is really clear, and only knee deep until you hit the reef about 50m off shore. They also have a tiny dive shop for the scuba divers, kayakers and wind surfers but we just rented some snorkel gear and puttered around. Amazing. There are so many fish. I think I spotted all of the ones from the pet stores and plenty more besides. There are lots of different types of crabs, some running on the restaurant floor. We also spotted dolphins, flying fish (they are so cool), a huge puffer fish and rays.
It was sunny and ~30C the whole time though the sun is really really hot. The best part is that the water is about 25-26C so you don't even notice when you walk into the water as it is about the same temperature. Forget working on our tans, I got sunburnt so fast on the first hour of the first day that I am still purple. Forget red, I'm way beyond red. We all forgot about the photosensitivity side effects of doxycycline. Damn. Bre, cannot get colour no matter how hard she tries. She spent tons of time in the sun, unprotected and photosensitive and is still white. Lucky, but so unlucky.....
As the entire island is a beach, everyone claimed their own little area and we didn't see anyone else. We had our own corner where we could sit all day and watch both the sunrise and sunset. There were anywhere from 20-35 guests while we were there and about 30 staff though you'd never know. It felt like there was us and maybe 10 others total on the island. We only ever saw people at the meals and never talked to anyone... As you can imagine meals were all fish based but really good. I think my stomach isn't quite used to "normal" food anymore though.... We didn't talk to any of the other guests because almost all of them were Italian. Each island tends to cater to a particular group so we were at an Italian island apparently. Really only European tourists come all the way out here so no Canadian island available. Maybe we could buy one, there are still a few for sale......
We flew out yesterday to Sri Lanka. We arrived at Colombo airport and immediately got a taxi for the 3 hr ride inland to Kandy, where we are now. Everyone seems to travel around here by hiring a car and guide but we don't have a full plan yet. Sri Lanka has just had an election and unlike other times this one has not met with much violence so we are lucky so far. They are having unseasonal rains right now too, which are also affecting the south east of India, so most of Sri Lanka seems to be flooded and a mess and there is currently a big thunderstorm outside as I type. It should improve soon but things might be a mess for a while....

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Adjustments to a New Lifestyle

We have now been in India for three weeks. My tongue is finally adjusting to the spicy cuisine. I really thought it never would but I'm actually beginning to enjoy the Indian food. We're getting a little braver and testing out different dishes since we don't know what half of them are. Sometimes we point and order what other people are eating to make life more simple. We mostly eat where the locals do. Which means....a cheap little hole in the wall, where they serve food on canteen/prison style, stainless steel trays with no utensils (those we have to ask for specially). We haven't had any tummy problems here.....yet (knock on wood).
We are also adjusting to the extra visitors in our rooms (cockroaches, rats, ants, lizards and more). It isn't as bad as it sounds though. It's just the way life is here.
Leaving Kolkata was really sad. It was like leaving home all over again. We stayed there for 12 days and in that time made a lot of local friends. The people are so friendly and interesting. For example the OCD homeless guy who touches everyones feet and calves as they sit on the curb waiting for a meal or tea, the young kid who runs your tea to you from the little tea stand down the street, the tailors who bought us dinner three nights, our chef, the fruit shake guys who always gave us extra lassi, the water and pepsi kid, and lets not forget the manager at the hotel who proposed to Bre in a letter before we left. All in all it was really great in Kolkata. We can't wait to go back in a couple months.
We survived our 49 1/2 hour train ride to Trivandrum. In that time we covered ~ 2,600 km. and it only cost us $14.00 cdn each! The trains in India are much wider and taller than any other train we've ever seen. Even Ammon had almost enough room to stretch out in bed. This was a pleasant surprise to all of us. However, it was still crowded and full most of the way. The scenery out here is really beautiful! Green, green, green, palm tree forests mixed in rice fields the whole way. Unfortunately our train arrived at 12:30 a.m. which meant that we had nowhere to stay. So again we adopted the locals' strategy and crashed on the waiting room floor in the station! You'd be amazed at how many people were doing this with huge groups sleeping out on the platform while waiting for their 3:00a.m. train.
We are heading out to the Maldives in the morning. Savannah is a little bit too excited to hit the beaches (and mostly the buffets) that await.
Anyway, I am really comfortable and love it here in India. The people have been great. I think they're being especially nice to us because we are a family and not the standard "backpackers". There is a noticable change in their attitude when they find out that we're a family. What I'm really learning the most out here on this trip is that you certaintly don't need all the things we are programmed to think we need at home. You can get by with so little and be more happy. It's also great to slow down the pace of life, breathe a little and enjoy the simple things the world has to offer.
Lots of love,

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Vacation within a vacation

Well, off we go again. We've decided we need a vacation so we are taking the train (a 48 hr marathon ride) down to Trivandrum, a town at the very bottom tip of India. On the 18th we'll fly to the Maldives for an ultra relaxing time at the Asdu Sun Island resort for 5 days and then fly from there to Sri Lanka for 3 weeks before returning back to southern India mid-dec. Later guys,

Thursday, November 10, 2005

And then there were four....

Here we are still in Calcutta, waiting and generally being bums. Brittany left us yesterday and has flown off to meet her mother in Austria so we are back to the 4 of us again.
It's nice enough to hang out here. It seems a little strange but the busiest "restaurant" in the area we are staying is a streetside shop with one shelf and a single "camping stove" cooking meals one at a time. We were commenting the other day how we would never have guessed that we'd be enjoying our breakfast sitting on the side of a road that looks as grungy as any you'd find downtown at home. Savannah still claims she'd be afraid to walk around downtown at home but we're perfectly comfortable out here. Speaking of home, and I don't want to sound too cruel, but I must admit it is a bit of an advantage coming from Vancouver because I feel immune to beggars. The biggest thing here is all the women with little kids begging for food to feed their baby. As much as this sounds like a reasonable request it is actually a scam most of the time so you have to be pretty "heartless" to tell them to go away. Being from Vancouver it's easy to do.
I think the girls are having more fun here than me though. Most days are shopping, shopping, shopping. They have so many new sets of clothes now I'm starting to wonder if they've completely forgotten what size bag they have to carry everything around in. I have been reading mostly, having finished 3 Dan Brown books in the last 4 days. The Da Vinci Code is the best one.... I am comfortably sitting here living on less than $3/day so I'm not complaining too much.
Yesterday we made another pilgrammage of sorts, this time to see Mother Teresa's tomb. Remarkable woman that one was. They are still working hard over there at her charity too. Everyone in Calcutta speaks very highly of her whenever she's mentioned. The center of Calcutta is very interesting as there is so much British influence everywhere. The old style cars make you feel like you've gone back in time as well. Unfortunately there is a bit of camera paranoia here as nobody will let you take pictures of buildings and stuff. We couldn't even take a picture inside a modern shopping mall that we went into! Hopefully this is not an India wide trend. The people however, love being photographed and think the girls look great in their new local outfits.
We have finally organized the next stage of our travels and will be leaving Calcutta on Sunday, heading south.
PS. There are a few pictures up from India now too.

Saturday, November 05, 2005


India...Well that's a big topic. I think I'll just sum it down to shopping. That's where all the fun is anyways!! The style here is so fun. So much variety in colour, combinations and fabrics. The last few days have been spent deciding and planning our salwar kamis outfits and buying more and more. We got fabulous skirts for under $4.00, gold and costume earings for cheap and a salwar kamis is on average 600Rs. ( $18.00) for fabric and 125 Rs. ( $3.00) for the tailoring. So now our suits are in the shop being made. Our tailors are actually incredibly kind and have invited us again to come eat dinner with them. So exciting. Paki dots, make-up, bright colours, gold, gold and more gold! I am almost completely decked out and looking like a true Indian princess. All I need now is to work on that tan. Which seems a bit hard when you can't show much skin, if any, in this culture. I think it would be a good time to head for the beaches now.....


Friday, November 04, 2005

Some initial impressions

Maybe it's the festivals that've been going on since we arrived in the country but I'm inclined to disagree with people that complain about Calcutta. It's a different experience though, that's for sure. Everything out here is a total assault on the senses. There is so much colour in the dress and jewelry worn by the women, so much sound, from the constant noise of horns and traffic to the shouts of shop owners and lively local music played everywhere at full volume. Let's not even get started on the smells. One minute you'll have all the food stalls on the street with their myriad of smells, walk 50ft down the road and you'll suddenly gag at the strong smell of garbage or urine from a public dumping ground on the sidewalk. Things just change so fast.
But that's just the way things are here. I saw a herd of goats being led down our street in Calcutta the other day. They are in the middle of the city. Where could they possibly be going? They also have water pumps in the middle of the sidewalks. But it's all too intense for us compared to home. You have to sort of zone out and be half comatose to survive it all, otherwise the garbage, beggars, horns, the sheer number of people and all the other wildness would drive you crazy too fast. 12hr bus rides actually take 18hrs and "soon" actually means "forget about it, you'll never get it". I'd hate to start my trip here that's for sure. Maybe that's why so many travellers are on drugs here.....
In a way India is much easier to travel in compared to where we've been. It's definately a different game. The challenge is no longer getting what you want because of the language barrier but a matter of getting it at a reasonable price. Getting it is never in doubt. This, however, has it's drawbacks as you have less of a feeling of accomplishment at the end of the day but more one of doubt that you were actually successful in your goals. But it is nice to be able to sit down and talk to a local and get them to explain things about the country or just tell you stories. It's something that we haven't been able to do for a while.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Mountain roads

We spent a couple of days in Darjeeling then headed off by jeep to Pelling in Sikkim. Enjoyed a few days in Pelling as well, before heading, yet again by jeep, to Siliguri on our way to Kolkuta (Calcutta). We are now currently in Siliguri waiting for our 7:00pm. over-night bus to finish our journey to Kolkuta.
We have said our goodbyes to the Himalaya range. After being in them for the past month and a half it's nice to be back to hot weather and flat roads. Now let me tell you about skinny, mountain roads! If the "Wild Mouse" at the P.N.E makes you nervous, then the roads in Sikkim would terrify you, and if it scares you then you would absolutely die of fright. It's hairpin turn, after hairpin, after hairpin, after hairpin...... on a one and a half lane, two way traffic road. They drive in the middle of the lane, speed around blind corners with no guard rails (to protect you from the sheer drops that you can't bare to look over) and when they meet on-coming traffic, it's chicken, until the last fraction of a second! Never mind the fact that they all have bald tires too. Very nerve racking, Brittany didn't do too well to be honest. The rest of us are now immune to reckless driving (we haven't worn a seat belt for six months due to the fact that they are non-existent) and spend our time absorbed in the spectacular scenery. We're going to miss the mountains but beaches are calling to us. So far so good in India. Looking forward to more.
Maggie the mom
P.s. We have added some Safari pictures to the Nepal folder in our if you'd like to look. Also we've added another video.