10.01.2010 30 °C
We've had a funny old time in India. Most of it has been spent visiting relatives (and hence living very locally, not like backpackers at all) which has been fantastic, with warm hospitality and amazing, wonderful, fresh-as-you-can-imagine food. That's been the highlight.
We've also ending up spending quite a lot of time stuck in crappy Indian hotels and booked on atrociously organised tours which we didn't really want to be on in the first place, but ended up doing for long and complicated reasons. These have been some of the worst of times of our trip – we have on occasion truly reached the end of our tethers, and I have honestly never been angrier than at times here. But even at the worst of times, every so often a moment of such perfect niceness, or an entirely unexpected spark of such warmth from someone forces you to vacillate between the absolute extremes of opinion, even when you would be entirely happy just fermenting in anger.
We spent an amusing Christmas on the beach at Goa, with Sharad (Angi's father) keeping us company and being our little bit of home away from home. Goa is an interesting place (Portugal has all the best former colonies...) - a tiny Portuguese enclave embedded in vast Maharashtra, full of beaches, huge churches and cute little brightly coloured colonial-style bungalows. It seems like some other place which has been inexplicably filled with a lot of Indian folk, a few Portuguese and a sizeable minority of beautiful mulattoes, all clear of eye and dusky of skin. Plus they have amazing spicy Goan chorizo – almost worth the trip out alone!
From Goa we had a torrid train journey to Kerala and a lot of mixed experiences when we were there. Without doubt the most pleasant part was the trip on the backwaters in the houseboat (which we could have stayed on for days, frankly) but we also enjoyed a walk in the tea estates in the hills at Munnar, and we managed to meet my old schoolfriend Leon for lunch.
As of writing we are (finally) kicking back in one of the most un-Indian places in India: Havelock Island, part of the Andaman & Nicobar Islands group, a long 1200km flight east from India and much closer to Thailand. We are staying in a beautiful eco-resort, sympathetically nestled in the tall trees of the primary forest which tumble down almost straight into one of the most stunning beaches in Asia, a few hundred yards from our porch. Although we've had the most astonishing amount of rain in the last few days (I think more than we've seen for the entire rest of our trip put together!) we've been enjoying the peace and quiet, and have managed to get some diving in as well. We did a boat trip out to Barren Island which was pretty dramatic: diving around a still-smoking oceanic volcano, complete with occasional muffled booms and soot plumes!
We'll be in Thailand by the time you read this. We're excited – the South-East Asia part of the trip is the Big One, the bit we've been dreaming of for, well, forever really. Street food, here we come!