Danger

Night Terror and a Welcome Midnight Snack - Part II

Night Terror and a Welcome Midnight Snack - Part II

It is a terrible, terrible, night.  We screech down roads, and hurtle round bends in the pitch black for hours on end.   Moanings and groanings are audible throughout the vehicle.  I hear someone screaming, hysterically, “For god’s sake, be careful, that’s a hairpin bend we’re going round.”  The Tibetan monk, next to me, has opened the window and is vomiting, copiously, out of it.  As for me, I know without looking in a mirror that I’m deathly pale and I thank god I ate nothing before climbing on board.  I put my head between my legs, because I feel so faint, and tell myself that this will pass.  But the truth is I am bloody terrified because this driver is a mad man, and 52 people are entirely at his mercy...

Night Terror and a Welcome Midnight Snack - Part I

Night Terror and a Welcome Midnight Snack - Part I

I weigh up my options.  Whilst visiting Amritsar is truly tempting, the logistics are a nightmare.  There’s only one bus a day, which leaves at 5 am, and takes 8 hours.  Even worse, it’s local (translate, wooden benches, no assigned seating, and livestock/wailing children in abundance).  The clincher, though, is that it’s currently a cool 44 degrees in the Punjab, which means that any power cut in the Golden Temple, will leave me roasting like a chicken in a tandoori oven…

It’s been a long few weeks.  I don’t need any more aggravation.   Option B it is!

Dicing with Death on the Road to Dharamasala

Dicing with Death on the Road to Dharamasala

Within minutes of leaving town, our driver’s putting his foot down, despite the heavy rain, poor visibility and windscreen wipers working intermittently.  He’s taking the bends like there’s no tomorrow.  Rain is dripping steadily through the roof onto my head and soaking fleece.  Out of the window, the road is unlit and all I can gather is that yellow headlights of other vehicles hurtling towards us.  Fast.  My fellow passengers, naturally, are munching on chapattis, not a care in the world.  I don’t know what’s worse – over the Himalayas by day in blazing heat, or round hairpin bends at night in the rain. 

The Long Road North Part III

The Long Road North Part III

The windows are cracked.  The doors look like they could fall off at any moment.  And it’s packed.  And when I say packed, I don’t mean every seat is taken.  I mean, it’s two or three to a regular seat, people jammed in, squeezed up against each other like sardines, screaming babies, cute kids, shy women and old people that I can’t even give up my seat for.  Oh yes, and don’t forget the woman with the livestock in her lap (luckily, she’s at the front).  Nir throws our backpacks on the roof and we bundle in...

The Long Road North Part II

The Long Road North Part II

The Punjab is a “safer” option (we can always find a place to spend the night) but if there really is no direct bus, we could find ourselves sitting at this bus terminal all day, which won’t be pleasant.  I spy two young, pretty women with small holdalls and run up to them.  Yes, they tell me, the “short cut” is fine.  In fact, they’re going that way, because they’re studying at Solan University, about two hours south of Shimla.  That’s it.  Never one for procrastination, I make my decision.  “Short cut” it is...

The Long Road North Part I

The Long Road North Part I

We leave late (always a bad idea) but it can’t be helped I guess.     Trudging over the suspension bridge (I’m weighing in at an impressive 8 kilos, but Nir and Yael are carrying packs so heavy one could be forgiven for thinking they’re schlepping corpses) I take a last look over my shoulder at the Ganga.  Well, not quite.  The guys are starving and want a quick bite.  We stop at the German Bakery.  It’s almost 6pm, and I’m conscious that the sun’s going down.  The river at dusk is at its most beautiful...

Canoeing with Hippos and a Touch of Malaria...Part II

Canoeing with Hippos and a Touch of Malaria...Part II

Putting my hand to my forehead, I knew I was burning up. After a long drink of cold water, I crawled under my net and into my sleeping bag, telling myself I was just overtired and needed nothing more than a good night’s sleep.  Only a few hours later, I awoke to find myself drenched in sweat. Crying out in my sleep, the woman sharing my tent had woken up and switched on her torch, only to find me semi- delirious and running a fever of 40 degrees...

Canoeing with Hippos and a Touch of Malaria...Part I

Canoeing with Hippos and a Touch of Malaria...Part I

I’d trekked around the area, seen all kinds of unusual flora and fauna. and taken an early morning jeep drive, out in the bush, which had been spectacular. And, fearlessly, that morning, I’d canoed down the river, for over 2 hours, and found myself almost hysterical with delight when I spied a huge group of hippos not a few metres from my boat, lounging on the river banks and two or three 90% immersed in the water...

A Brush with the African Police Part III

A Brush with the African Police Part III

The detective motioned to two of his men and without a word they grabbed me, one by each arm.
“You, madam, are going to a side room.”
Gripping me tightly, I was walked down a long, narrow corridor, at the bottom of which was a door with bars.  Sick with anticipation, I willed them to keep walking on.  They stopped, and one unlocked the door.  With a rough shove, the other pushed me inside.  It was a cell...

A Brush with the African Police Part II

A Brush with the African Police Part II

No-one said a word to me.  I wondered how many times this had happened before, and cursed myself once more for having travelled alone.  No-one knew where I was…I hadn’t used email for over a week, and hadn’t placed a single call to Europe in over a month and a half.  My parents were used to these trips of mine, as were my friends.  I’d chosen to travel incognito and now I was paying the price.

A Brush with the African Police Part I

A Brush with the African Police Part I

As I sat on the hard wooden bench, sticky and dehydrated from the heat and hot air blowing my way, I forced myself to face the unfortunate facts.  However it had happened, I was in trouble.  Zanzibar was semi-autonomous from Tanzania.  There was no way – even if I could borrow the money for another boat ticket – that the authorities would let me leave without my passport.  And all I had on me now was close to $20...