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Cinnamon patrol

Mr and Mrs Lili Wedding


Cretans, not cretins

Crete is great. Hania is even better.

Imagine a small town where you can walk everywhere, with smiley people, with lots of delicious and not hugely expensive food. Add whimsical medieval, Venetian and Turkish features, and lots of winding alleyways, and you have Hania.

And today, it was warm and sunny. Bliss.

So far we've managed to knock off a few sight-seeing must-dos, but mostly we've managed to sample lots of delicious Cretan cuisine. And quite a lot of raki, which our hostess calls "Cretan vodka". Apparently it's good for digestion... All I know is, after each dinner, we're brought a little bottle, a couple of shot glasses, and a small dessert, all on the house. It's rude not to try to finish it all, right? And funnily enough, I'm better off having more of it than less...

Today we had a lazy lunch with a (small) bottle of wine... and then the raki was brought out. It certainly made our afternoon's activities merry.

In knitting news (because I just know you're all dying to know!) - well, my Print O' The Wave stole... stalled. Wrong yarn weight, despite appearances. I do have around three pattern repeats completed, and they are lovely - but very dense and not at all as I'd like.

So instead, I cast on for Le Slouch, a slouchy (huh, who would've guessed?) hat designed to keep me warm and hopefully stylish and hat-hair free for Dublin. I'm not too impressed with the yarn I have been using (Noro Silk Garden), but I'm nearly done on the hat, which means I might test-drive it in Greece, weather permitting (I kind of hope not).

No knitting-related outings planned for Hania, but I'm not promising anything while we're in Athens... It's a big city and there are bound to be a few places I need to see. Besides, I'll need something new to knit by then...


What sly fellow, when coining the Greek alphabet, took my alphabet and swapped a bunch of letters around so that P's were R's and V's B's? At least spotting "Tabervas" is easy.

Not being used to Europe, I'm still trying to understand how countries - so close together - can all have different languages. Flying from Heathrow to Athens took 3.5 hours, but god knows how many linguistic barriers we crossed.

Speaking of flying, we managed four flights (Goa to Hania) back to back with no layovers. Was I triumphant when we arrived and was Laura relieved! That last flight was only 35 minutes and we were carried by an Avro RJ aeroplane - so that was a novelty.

Hania really is exceptionally beautiful and we are enjoying whiling away the time in a fairly unplanned and food-focused way.

BTW, the tomatoes are excellent. Like oranges.


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In transit

We're in transit at Heathrow - 2 of our 4 flights down, 2 left to go.

Leaving Mumbai was a terror, and we were fairly relieved to land here and enjoy more familiar comforts: wide availability of food, beverages, and reading materials; and first-world bathroom facilities.

More later...

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Bye India

Now we're at Chhatrapatri Shivaji (that was from memory, so may well be incorrect) international airport in Mumbai.

Although we didn't spend any time in Mumbair here, we arranged for an afternoon flight back from Goa so we had some time to do something before our flight at 1.45am tonight.

With the help of the Government Tourism office (Laura's idea) we found a car (with A/C and tinted windows) and a driver who was prepared to drive us around for a few hours and show us the sites for Rs 2,000 ($NZ80). A lot more than a taxi, but we thought it would be much better.

And it was. Our driver went by the name Subhash. He was a Maharastran. He spoke very very bad English, with a stutter, and haltingly. At first he wanted to know what time our flight was. We told him "our flight is not for a long time, but we'd like to spend about 3 hours only". But he really wanted to know what time our flight was. So we told him 1.45 in the morning. And he said "Ah, okay, 7.45 in the morning" and seemed happy about that. Happy as in, I'll keep the tour going until 7.45 in the morning. I wondered what he'd do with us. After he hurt us, took all of our rupees, and dumped us in a Ville Parle slum.

Next we tried to tell him that we didn't want to be taken to shops. He mumbled "No, no shopping. Timing only. Timing. 5 minutes, 10 minutes [waves hands]. Only timing." We didn't know what this meant, but he said it very passionately. My best guess was that he was of a strongly anti-shopping sentiment as people took random amounts of time when shopping, and this messed up his schedule.

Well, the second place he wanted to take us to was called "Government Cottage" - sounded good! Upon entering one could see that it may have, in the distant (distant) past, been a government cottage, but in its current guise, it sold Pashminas. Very very high quality pashminas at extremely discounted prices. So we tried telling him again - "No shopping". We managed to work out he was concerned that if we didn't stop at shops, our tour would be too quick, and so we wouldn't want to pay him his full fare. "No no" we protested, we will pay the full fare. We like it better with no shopping - yes we are poco loco!!! The message seemed to have gotten across.

Subhash, like Anthony before him (our driver in Goa - it was a very hairy drive to Goa airport this morning), had his own rules when it came to driving. In rough order:
  • Anything is preferable to coming to a complete stop - this should be avoided under all circumstances.
  • If I absolutely have to, then I will do it at the very last moment and extremely quickly.
  • Other people defer to larger vehicles (likes huge tour coaches). Those people have no balls. Frankly they are loosers and don't deserve their taxi. I spit on them. Fools.
  • The best, really only, place to overtake is blind corners. Even better if I'm turning around and talking to my fare at the same time.
  • And specific to Subhash: I will use my horn nearly continuously (he really did - even other drivers were annoyed with him).
Things took a bad turn for Subhash when he pulled over by the police for using his cell phone while driving. Dejectedly he told us the amount of fine. I didn't hear him well. "Rs 300?" I asked. "Yes. No. Rs 1500". Had he said Rs 1500 all along? Did he revise his find upwards to try to get more money out of us?

We had to shop at one place near the Gateway of India, ostensibly to get free parking. The only thing interesting about that shop, was that one of the proprietors claimed to have come from a country called "Beloogistan" - near Afghanstan. "Was it part of Russia," Laura Asked. No it wasn't. Never was. Also, he sounded exactly like Borat. I guess that does add some credibility to his claim. We then walked around the Gateway - pretty cool. Hardly any tourists about. When we got back to the car he asked if we had made any purchases at the Beloogistan store. No we hadn't, we told him. Ahh well, he said, in that case you need to pay this man (gesticuates to man in green quasi-official looking uniform knocking on his window) Rs 20. Enh - that's free parking India-style.

The tour over, we drove back to the airport. I paid his fare and waited:
-- "A little extra tip for the driver no?"
-- "Rs 2000 was a pretty good fare I think!!!"
-- "Not my fare. I am only driver. [something about children I think] [something about being fined by the police I think]".
-- I flicked him 3 $US dollars. Partly because they were the first notes I picked out, and partly because he wouldn't know immediately how much that was and thus I could escape.

Oddly there the were no "porters" wanting to take our bags for us. This was an anti-climax as Laura had jumped out of the car to fend them off (we had previously paid Rs 50 for a man to take our bags about 10 meters - that was when we were stupid. And he complained we hadn't tipped him enough). Only passengers can enter the airport proper. The first thing we had to do was get our bags x-rayed. We stood at the back of a pretty long queue. We got to the scanner. "What airline?" "British Airways" "Other line. Only open at 10". It was just after 7. The other line was closed. Bad thoughts crept in - would we have to stay in this tiny area with no toilets, seats, or places to eat until the other lane opened ... in 3 hours?. I with him checked. "Oh no - go straight through". Maybe it's all the heady sights we've seen today - but I thought the whole point of x-raying the bags as soon as you went in to the airport was so people weren't wandering around the airport with bombs and such like? Well, if that is true, I have discovered a major flaw in that system.

It's 20:25. One and half hours until we scan our bags. Three hours until we can check it.

I had intended to write about the nature of the Indian people we have met, but will have to wait until later.

Thank you for reading this far.

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Hot stuff

We are hot stuff, baby.

It's been in the mid-30s since we've been here. In the shade. (That's Celsius, which means HOT, especially after Auckland, which struggled to get to the mid-20s all summer long!)

And so we've tried to take it easy. None of the locals rush, and now we understand why: too damn hot.

Instead, we've been lounging and lazing, drinking lots, eating a little and trying to stay out of the direct sun for awhile. In spite of our best efforts and loads of sunscreen, we *both* have tans.

Yes, I have a tan. For the third time in my adult life. I'm slapping on sunscreen like it's going out of fashion, but photosensitivity from our anti-malarial drugs has kicked in.

We've been having a great time, and are just about ready to move on to our next stop, Crete.

The only thing that hasn't been hot here have been the curries we've shared. My very generous husband gets them without chilli for me :-)


In the spirit of the book I have just finished rereading (Midnight's Children) which has the "Most Charming Man in the World" let me warn you about the "Most Rotten Man in Goa".

Unfortuantely I don't remember his name, but he is an "ear cleaner" at the Anjuna Flea Market. I have ear cleaner in quotes because what he does is not cleaning, only trickery. He makes it appear that copious amounts of wax are coming out of your ears, then shows you this little card where it states that one should pay him Rs 250 for each "stone" he removes. He then proceeds to remove four "stones" from your ears and in a completely unintelligible I-suppose-English tries to tell you about the composition of the "stone" and the various health problems the "stone" will give the bearer.

So he tried to rort me for Rs 1000. That's NZ$40. I'm not going to say how much I paid him, before I made my escape (with him protesting and protesting) but I consider it a tax on my stupidity. (Laura did much better and managed to evade 2 "ear cleaners" - I think because she didn't want anybody poking around in her ears - and fair enough too!!!).

Stay away from the Most Rotten Man in Goa - you have been warned!

-David- dirty ears still

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David's big day out

Yesterday we had decided to take it easy and preoccupied ourselves only with finding a nice shack for brunch. Then we would walk back to our guest house and proceed to do nothing.

We had a delicious brunch of aloo palak and Goan fish curry and then struck up a conversation with the tattoo-wallah and the massage-wallah. Both were quite chatty and I enquired about where to buy paan, something I had read about many times but which is not really available in New Zealand. The tattoo-wallah organised through several middle men for a young boy to run off and fetch me some, which he did at length. (Meanwhile, we both got henna tattoos: Laura's of a stylised flower and mine of "David" in the language of Karnataka).

The boy returned with two "masala paan", which were 25 rupees each. We paid him another 20 for his services. Laura went to pay the bill while I stuffed one into my mouth. As I chewed on it, liquid that tasted like a mixture of lemon, chilli, salt, and pepper ran down the back of my throat and I started hiccuping immediately. By the time Laura had paid the bill I felt extremely intoxicated (I'd say the equivalent of a half-dozen or so vodka shots + a handfull of panadeine - I'm not sure if it was laced with anything but my god it packed a punch!). I panicked a little, not expecting this at all, but tried to relax into it; it became quite pleasant. Laura went for a paddle in the sea. (I should mention I had spat the mixture out after about 30 seconds instead of leaving it in the side of my mouth and chewing on it for sometime, as is the custom).

The feeling of extreme relaxation was quickly overtaken by profuse sweating and a very prickly heat. Laura was sitting next to me as I vomited all over the sand next to our table. Luckily, sand can quickly cover these types of things up. Very nauseated I sat on my chair, trying not to move my head. The shack boys bought me some water, which I had, and then vomited up (I felt very sorry for the people around us, as, without going into detail, my fish curry was red, and Laura's aloo palak which I had eaten some of, was, well, bright green of course).

At length I sat there sipping on a lemon soda until I felt well enough to walk back to our guest house. By the time we did get back, it was after 4pm. We'd left at around 11.30! Today I feel fine except for sore stomach muscles and I will never again eat masala paan - it is an evil evil thing indeed.


Laura says:

This was a scary proposition indeed. We were a good 5-10 minutes' walk from the nearest road (and thus transportation to a doctor), and this is only the second time David has puked since I've known him. Everyone was very helpful, but not unduly worried, which kept me from losing the plot completely and demanding an ambulance.

However, paan is well and truly off the menu. Forever.

It was a shame about the puking - what a waste of two particularly delicious curries!


Some photos below - cows in the street, a night market with hippies, just another beach-side restaurant.

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Goa a-go-go

So we've been in Goa for a couple of days. Briefly, it is hot, busy, dusty, and yummy.

So far India has been less of a shock to our systems that I'd anticipated. They do say that Goa is less Indian than other parts of India - I don't know if it's true, but it has been easier to adjust to things here than I'd expected.

It is really hot all the time - except when we're in our suite with the A/C on. But the heat is quite pleasant in a way - and I figure we need to stock up before moving to Ireland anyhow.

So far we've had great food in a variety of places: our guest house, restaurants, beach shacks... All Indian food mostly, and all delicious. As I'd suspected, "no chilli" is not really an option, so I'm getting used to spicier curries than I would've eaten at home.

The pace here is slow, and we're slowly unwinding to match it. It's such a change for us: no set timetables, no se tasks - just time to spend together as we please.

And now, a word or ten from my travelling companion...


Exciting: seeing the rocky mountains and cliffs as we flew over Burma, eagerly watching channel 53 of our in flight entertainment (the flight information channel) to make sure I didn't miss the exact time we left the Indian Ocean and flew over India (I saw some lights on the ground - some remote place), seeing a thunder storm from above (tried to take a photo, didn't work), driving (well, being driven) anywhere as it is complete chaos, wondering if the next meal will be the one that poisons us (but doesn't it taste great), wondering if the next mosquito bite will be the one to make us sick - but the night market was fantastic and there really are a lot of hippies (young and old) who have made Goa home - and it's true what the Lonely Planet said - Indian tourists come to Goa and end up buying handicrafts from the white hippies who live here.

Now we are going to organise a spice planation tour, then go to a beach shack, order some drinks and use their complementary beach chairs while we go for a swim in the warm warm sea!

- David

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We made it!

To our plane, and out of NZ, I mean.

It was touch and go a few times - realising how tiny the baggage limits are, and how expensive and extra 10 kg each would be over 10 flights; frantically cleaning our apartment the day before we flew out... you get the idea.

Yet somehow, we managed to get it all together.

Now, we're in Hong Kong. So far, we love it: cheap designer knock-off bags at street markets, great public transport, good food everywhere. It's not nearly as crowded or smelly or disorganised as I'd been led to believe. However, English not as widely spoken as we'd been told, either.

We don't have much time left here - just enough to do a few important things like go to The Peak, get Lili some chilli crab, and visit a few yarn shops. (Like I said, important things!) Then tomorrow afternoon, we're off to Goa, via Mumbai!

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Do I really need to say anything?

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I think the photos are under that stack of boxes...

Nah, they're actually online - finally.


4 days to go...

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