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South Africans visa requirements for South East Asia

backpacking South East Asia with a South African passport

sunny 27 °C

BACKPACKING

BACKPACKING

...." YOU have thought about it, you are excited about the idea and finaly you have decided upon it: Its destination: South East Asia . As you anticipate the amazing countries you are going to see: the beautiful white sandy beaches you are going to stroll - the amazing cuisines you are going to feast your taste buds on - the numerous bewildering temples you are going to feast your eyes on , not forgeting what we called the picture of the day : 'Monks out an about'. You might be lucky enough to be taking this amazing journey on your own , afterall you might actually find yourself on this journey -:) It could also be that you are taking it with a loved one ; with a friend or even with a travel buddy you met online.

Suddenly as always you remember your green D' Afrique Du Sud passport . As always obtaining information regarding visa requirements for South Africans is always a scatchy business. I backpacked South East Asia in March- April 2013 and these are the visa requirements for the few countries I visited :

Singapore- No visa is required

As a South African you do not require a tourist visa for Singapore. Please remember to keep your visitors card at hand until you leave Singapore.

Malaysia: No visa required

South African's do not require a tourist visa for Malaysia.

Myanmar/ Burma: Pre-approaved visa required

As a South African you do require an advanced tourist visa prior to travelling to Burma. Do not worry about obtaining your visa well inadvance as you can always obtain your visa in any country in South East Asia e.g Bangkok etc. A fellow tourist informed me that it took him a day for his visa to be issued in Bangkok . Personally I posted my visa application to the Burmese embassy and I received it within 3 working days via post.
NB: some nationals can obtain their visa at the port of entry SADLY this is not true for South Africans, so get your visa before you board the plane!!!!!

Thailand: NO visa required

As I checked in for my flight from Yangoon to Bangkok, I was asked regarding a visa for Thailand ( as always most immigrations officers get slightly confused with my passport). I informed the immigrations officer at Yangoon airport that I do not require a tourist visa for Thailand. As the plane took off, landing cards were issued & there was a section where a visas number was required. I started thinking really hard:' Do I need a visa for Thailand'. I recalled reading on their tourist sites, embassy sites etc. that South African's do not require a tourist visa. Finally as I approached the immigrations officer in Bangkok, I asked her if I needed a visa, she checked my passport & asked if I was staying more than 90 day, of which my response was NO. I was informed that as a tourist you do not require a visa for less than 3 months, passport stamped :) :)

Laos : Visa on arrival

As a South African you do require a visa for Laos , the good news is you can obtain your visa at your port of entry. I obtained mine at the Nong Khai Thai - Loa border post. Remeber to have cash with you, either US dollars or Thai Bhat .
FYI: on weekends it costs more.

Cambodia: Visa on arrival

As a South African you do require a visa for Cambodia. You can either obtain your visa inadvance or on arrival. I obtained mine at the Nong Nok Khiene -Trapeang kriel border crossing (south of Laos). As before do have cash at hand. Sadly there are no ATM's or ID photo's booths at this border post.

Vietnam: Pre-approaved visa

As a South African you do require a pre-approaved tourist visa for Vietnam. This can be easily arranged by a travel agent in major cities in SEA or you can apply for it at a Vietnamese embassy in most countries. I obtained mine at the Vietnamese embassy in Vientiane ( Laos). It cost me US$70.00 and it took exactly 3 minutes for my visa to be approaved and issued. NB: if you are asking a travel agent to arrange the visa for you please be careful on the dates and check your visa when you receive it. I met a fellow tourist who received her passport -booked her flight and went straight to the airport only to discover that her visa wasn't valid for the next 7 days. Lets just say she was stuck at Laung Prabang for another week...

To all my South African peeps planning to backpack South East Asia do not fret.. just pack you bags & go for it..........

PS: Ever wondered what happens when your South African passport runs out of pages and you require more visas OR need to travel more ... R_E_A_D my next blog shhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh

Posted by Thuligal 22.10.2013 11:55 Archived in Malaysia Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

GOA

The other side of India

sunny 36 °C

Goa

Some travel to find themselves, some travel to loose themselves, some travel for fun and some travel for curiosity. Whatever reason has paved your way to Goa, live it up to the fullest. ANJUNA this is the place where your typical expectations and experiences of India will be challanged. If you are looking for your typical beach holiday you will love the beautiful scenary around you. If you are however hoping for Mumbai's hectic life ,people and traffic you will be disapointed by Goa's calmness and cleanliness.

We took the seater train from Mumbai to Magdoan which departed Mumbai at 05:00am.As our first class cabin turned out not to be so fisrt class at all, at this moment I was glad not to be in the 3rd class cabin.Upon arrival at Magdoan we took a shared taxi with fellow travellers to Anjuna. The drive from Magdoan to Anjuna was a beautiful drive indeed. finally we arrived at Anjuan where you have a picture perfect beach scenary, with the calm Arabian sea in front of you,beautiful trees around you and instead of numerous cars etc you are confranted by numerous dogs & cows on the beach. This excludes the market stalls and people pastering you to purchase items each time you pass the stalls. If you decide to purchase something you will hear the next person asking you to make him a 'little happy' since you made the other person 'Big happy'. It is also the place where it all happens, as you walk down the stall someone suddenly asks you if you are after some 'weed' or 'cocaine'.

Anjuna has loads to offer: Your day starts around 06:00 when you wake up and go for a early morning swim. Durring the day you relax and keep deeping in the sea if it gets too hot and and at sunset you have the cool breeze to cool you down. In the evening you have options available for food. You have a choice of having an Indian meal, you can also be adventurous and opt for a Chinese meal all of a sudden its not Vegetable korma you are having you might be having a stir-fry, pizza, pasta, falafels with humus or noodles French fries etc. After your meal you can take a stroll to the beach and all of a sudden the whole beach has turned into a party zone (beach parties everywhere). If you have the energy , this is where you are expected to show off your dancing skills without any problems at all, so move your body at the beat of the sound, throw in your 'salsa moves', 'robbot dancing', 'moon-walking dancing' etc. It should be noted that you are allowed to have fun in Goa.

Go wild , slip into you bikini, walk barefooted, eat rediculus amount of fish or any type of sea food you fancy , sunbathe, if you are at it just get a tatoo if you fancy :). After all if calmeness is the reason for comming to to india you will find plenty of that in Goa.. So watch the sunrise or sunset over the Arabian sea. A walk the long beaches , find yourself or loose yourself whatever your aim for visiting Goa go for it .. remember life is too short. As always don't do anything I wouldn't do :) :) :)

Posted by Thuligal 22.12.2012 11:26 Archived in India Tagged beaches Comments (0)

TEN dates to fall in love with INDIA

INDIA

sunny 37 °C

Whether you belive in love at first sight or you believe that love grows with time , either way you can't help but to make a decision after you've been to India. Frankly you can never go to India and return back the same way, it is impossible.

Date 1

:
Its early morning when our flight lands at Chhatrapati Sivaj International air terminal, the weather is hot and humid. As I que for immigrations I decide to take off my jacket not sure if its the heat or the excitement on being in Mumbai. Finally I am allowed entry ,as our taxi slowly makes its way outside the airport INDIA slowly unvailed itself to me. The first thing I notice is the deafning hooting noise from cars, not only that but as we make our way through the crowded streets of mumbai suddenly I notice cars from every side of the road ( the roads could roughly hold 3 lanes but there is almost 6 lanes); black & gold rickshaws, buses, minibuses etc. I am puzzled as to how can one drive in this chaos. As if the traffic wasn't enough I soon notice a shear number of people filling every other available space on the road & pavement.Woman in their saris, man in their suits, little boys in their khakhi school outfits, girls in their dungarees. Its all too much to take it, I try to appreciate the scene before me, but I am lost for words. This is definately more than what I had anticipated... yeap this a dream come true.. this is MUMBAI. finaly we safely manage to arrive at our hostel which was situated not far from the airport, after checking in we jump into a Rickshaw with intentioions of going to the city centre only to be dropped at a train station inorder for us to catch a commuter train. As we join the que to purchase the train tickets, a train approaches with the scenes to be forever imprinted on my mind : 'people ,people ,people squashed on each other like sardines ; I notice that I can only see man in the coach just before me.. I then wonder where are the woman (confused) , shinny metalic boxes are hanging out of the windows as well. We stood there speechlesly and looked at each other and in unison we said: 'No lets take a taxi'. Don't get me wrong I would have loved to take that train but I couldn't understand the logistic of getting on it train, the best option was definately a taxi.

I notice a few things: signs : 'do not spit as spitting causes TB' , immediately I see a man spiting some 'red stuff' yuukkkk. I then understand the sign .Like all relationships its not all bad, since I am vegeterian I am in food-heaven. We locate an affordable resturant, I feast only to pay later with an upset tummy that evening. After our meal we decide to stroll from the Chhattrapati Sivaj Terminus (VT pronounced weetyy ) station to the India gate. We get lost in the happenings around usm the locals are living up Mumbai as it should: lovers are holding hands, children are holding their parents hands, people taking pictures ( of themselves and soon of me) we loose track of the time and before we know it its the rush hour in Mumbai. Due to the shear amount of traffic no taxi driver is intending to take us all the way outside the city centre. It soon became obvious that our only option was to take a local bus. Finally we are travelling like the locals yeeyyyy. Catching a bus in Mumbai needs a few skills: accuracy in reading of bus numbers , the ability to Push people without feeling guilty, the abilitty to jump unto a moving bus and the magic skill of figuring out where to seat on the bus ( or the ability to ignore everyone looking at you when you seat at a wrong seat). Finally after almost +- 3 hrs we finally make it back to our hostel yeap we did get lost, but getting lost in Mumbai is not getting lost is it or is it??

As I conclude my first date with India , Mumbai has definately got me thinking , like a lady I let Mumbai sleep in its filth ,noise and chaos while I curl up and relax in my bed. As I am digesting the days hapenings I realise the following:

I love the food- the noise is irritating- frankly can't get my head around the shear number of people everywhere- certainly I am not feeling the love with India , but I am intrigued. Anyways who said you know you are in-love on the first date, afterall this is not one night stand is it?

Date 2

It is when you have survived the first date & you are still interested that you realise maybe you have to give this a chance. Luckly I didn't have to wait long for a call after my first date, I knew Mumbai had apitised me and I had to get more of it. The Dhobi Ghats are our destination this morning. As we arrive we are approached by a young pretty girl who for some reason , you can mistaken as a tour guide. After that we decided to see the rest of Mumbai & window shop. We finally arrive back at VT station an hour prior to the scheduled to departure time for our train. We inquire regarding our platform and we obtained contradicting information. The train departs and we are left behind. Irritated, annoyed and frankly angry with the staff at the station who had no clue what was happening. I decide to count from 1 to 10 , after calming down I purchase another train ticket for early the next morning. Since we were leaving early in the morning we decided to sleep at the train station. You are wondering how is it possible, its easy: you locate a spot on the floor (avoiding any red marks on the floor) , You make yourself comfortable (I got into my sleeping bag) and then attempted to fall asleep. Only to be woken up by a shhhh shhh shhh sound, as I lift my head to locate the noise: its a man with a flask selling tea. It finally dawns on me that falling asleep in the station will be an impossible task but I try anyway.

Yeap its true communication is the best key in any relationship , since its almost impossible to get correct information from officialls in India I think this relationship will require too much work- I can't stand the filth I seem to come across everywhere but I am intrigued-luckly I am an adventorous chick and adventure definately keeps me interested what else could be instore ...

Date 3

Its 05:00 in the morning, finally we are on a correct train, destination GOA. As we approach our first class section of the train we are anticipating all the works only to arrive in our coach and think we are lost., yeap it is the first class which is not so first class. For a moment I wonder how life is on the 3rd class . At this moment I had no interest in finding out how life was on the 3rd class, I was simple glad I didn't notice coackraches around my coach. Again I unzip my sleeping bag, get inside it and I manage to get a few hours of sleep. Only to be woken up as the train stops, as I look outside the window I am faced with an unbelieveble scene before me: as I look outside the window, a young boy in his khakhi school uniform suddenly aproaches the train holding a bucket. He then places the bucket on the ground ( I am wondering why he has a bucket).The boy looks to his left side -right side & behind , for some reason he forgets to look to infront of him. He starts lowering his trousers, he squats , oops he is relieving himself. As I am digesting the fact that he is relieving himself infront of a whole train, sudenly the bucket moves to the right side, the right hand picks the water & the left does the rest I am still shocked .. the train starts moving and I loose focus of the boy who I believe wasn't aware we were there oops did I just see that... finally we arrive at Goa, from the dusty,overcrowded ,filthy Mumbai we are now in clean, fresh air, less crowded Goa.. what a beautiful place, we check into a hostel close by the beach its a dream indeed

I have realised that life is full of suprises: 1st class train turned out to be not so first class, just saw a boy relieving himself & just arrived in beautiful GOA wow one thing for sure I am liking this country.. could I be falling in love????

Date 4

Early in the morning we decide to take a stroll around the beach & checkout the stalls...and we meet two guys:
Guy 1: 'are you up for some weed/cocaine? '
Me : 'ahaa what?'
Guy 2: Cocaine or weed
Me: with a puzzled look 'No I don't take either' ( I walk away)

I am still buffled by this offer made to me in public at day light. As I walk up and down the stalls the same guy approaches me over and over again.We then go for a splash in the sea and the evening approaches. AThere fter dinner and a movie we stroll back to the beach & Anjuna has come to life. There is a rave party going on at the beach, the music was deafening, people are doing something I am ssuming is dancing , for tonight just tonight I decide to take a seat & enjoy the occurances around me.. mind you usually I will be on the dance floor.

. ... what a date, as earlier mentioned I am an adventorous chick Anjuna is surely above my expectation yeap even though I might have to say it I think I am enjoying my dates with India. I then rest for the evening.. while trying to sleep I am toassing & turning wondering what could India have instore for our next date.. one thing I know India is kind of my type but could it be love or a holiday fling with India???

Date 5

Its early the next morning, as I step out of my room I smell the fresh air, the cool breeze and the calmness of the beach. As I take a stroll at the beach I notice a few things I wouldn't normally expect at a beach: dogs lying on the beech & cows strolling by. I am perplex but I am reminded I am in Goa. After breakfast we decide to go to Mapusa for some sight seeing only to realise that the Mapusa carnival is taking place the same day. Before the carnival starts we decide to have lunch in a resturant close to the carnival route. After lunch I ask the waiter for the toilet, he points me down stairs, as I approach the toilet funny enough the smell of curry gets stronger and stronger. Finally I manage to locate the toilet and suprise suprise I know where the curry was cooked yeap next to the toilet. I don't know whether to vomit or walkout ASAP.My stomach manages to hold the curry down but my legs carry me as fast as they can. After the carnival we return back to Anjuna , by now you could mistaken me for a local, I am doing the public transport system as a local. Upon arrival at Anjuna I discover that there is a night market on the next beach, yeap I soon find myself there.

suprise suprise oh India wow I am perplexed by the date did I just eat a curry coocked next to a toilet, if that is the case what else have I eaten hmmm. As early mentioned I am adventurous girl. Definately my kind of a perfect date.... am I blushing .. ooh could I be, no its too soon *wink** :)

Date 6

Finally we are ready to procede from the beautiful Goa region and make our way to Dehli due to time constraints we fly. We realise that we had been upgraded to first class. ohhooo la la as I am enjoying the benefits of being on the other side of the curtain, I wonder how the multitudes are managing on the other side. We have half a day connection in culcata we then fly to Dehli. Finally we make it it to Dehli, as we land at Indira Gandhi International aiport I am filled with much anticipation. We meet up with our host for the 2 nights in Dehli, sadly my friend is in serious need of meat. She finally manages to locate a KFC oh the smile on her face. Its the morning of the night before: the rush hour begins, green & gold rickshaws fill the street , young boys with their carts, the hooting begins. Yeap I am still India, that is reaffirmed by the fact that the streets suddenly quiten down becuase there is a cricket match : South Africa VS India (cricket world cup 2011). I am wearing my South African cricket shirt, we win the encounter with India suddenly everyone is quite besides one person ME : I scream, I shout and scream some more, finaly it seems like I have offended the lady next to me , finally she approaches me and say: 'are you sure you should be doing that' I respond what's going happen they wouldn't kill me for celebrating a win could they. yeap I am definately in India ...

Dehli is quite, culturally diverse all of a sudden I don't get too much staring at all, if asked could I stay in Dehli ... my response is: I could consider moving to India if I have to reside in Dehli.. oooppps am I jumping the gun.. We are not at the moving in stage yet BUT yeap I might be liking India :) :) :)

Date 7

==
Since our host in Dehli wasn't into adventrous travelling, I sadly found my next stop this morning at a designer mall. I am confused what on earth am I doing in a Mall at Dehli. I am looking at my watch wondering how much time will we spend in this mall, finally we make our way to New Dehli train station inorder to inquire about transport to Agra. We are informed that the train is full for the morning, we then locate a travel agent . The agent informs us that there only way to travel from Dehli to Agra is by taxi, when we inquired how much that will cost us, we are informed of a reduculous amount. Nooop I don't like being taken for a ride, I say to the agent: I find it odd that there is no other mode of transport from Dehli to Agra. He insist there is none, my intelligence and common sense as a budget traveller are insulted. I walkout of the travel agent leaving my host and my travel partner in the office. I then walk to a rickshaw driver and ask about buses to Agra. He informs me the bus station is outside the Dehli but I can get a bus to agra from 5:00am throughout the whole day. I thank him , by this time my host and travel partner are outside I tell them that I am taking a bus to Agra in the morning. I don't appreciate being lied to by travel agents. I have calmed down and we decide to discover more of Dehli. My travel partner gets a chance to purchase a big bucket of KFC again since she was going through meat withdrwal symptoms ( especially since she couldn't get steak).

Who said a relashionship is smooth sailing. I have realised I don't liked to be lied to and it seems that is happening alot in India luckly I am streetwise. I am still seeing India, I can't stop seeing it just because there are people who live on lying to innocent travellers.

Date 8

Early the next morning, the streets of New Dehli are calling me for a ride to Agra,we make it to the Inter state bus terminus which is almost 30-45min drive outside the city centre and manage to catch a luxurious bus to Agra. After almost 5hrs we make it to Agra, apparently the train is the best option for reaching Agra from Dehli. Upon arrival we inquire about transport to our next destination VARANASI. Afraid of not finding seats on the train to Varanasi tonight , we decide to take a bus from Agra to Varanasi (from our luxurious bus from Dehli experience we were not worried about taking a bus). Our first destination in Agra was the Taj Mahal, as we approach the entrance my eyes are glued on the price list. Apparently it is too expensive to be a tourist in India, the price difference between locals & foreigners is just too much. Anyhow I have travelled a long distance what is money compared to being in Taj Mahal afterall. As I walk through the entrance , I forget about the value of the ticket, no amount of money is worth the sight before me...WOW- wow all of a sudden this trip is worth every penny spent on it . I try but fail to take my eyes off this beautiful magnificant structure which has bewitched me. After the Taj Mahal we go to the redfort. Late in the afternoon we make our way back to the bus station for our bus to Varanasi.. ohhh dear oh dear oh dear , is this the bus?. Talk about a chicken buses, filth-filth -filth and more filth galo. Initially I get confused as to where to place my bag, there is filth everywhere.Secondly I did't know whether I should use my sleeping bag or not there is filth everywhere .All of a sudden I realise that taking a bus from Agra to Varanasi might have been a mistake but who said I should get it right all the time.I gues on the positive note this bus was very cheap but I can't really save money at the expense of filthiness. Lesson learned indeed, I force myself in my sleeping bag using my backpack as the only clean item on the bus to put my feet on and I try to sleep.

I am perplexed by the filth in India but why should I focus on the negative , the Taj Mahal moment was a wow moment. I am a glass half-full kind of a chick.. and yeap I am still hooked on India..

Date 9

Its midday after almost 18hrs on the bus we finall make it to Varanasi, known also as the holy city in India (holy for Hindus, Budhist and Jainas). I am exhausted, I am having aches from parts of my body I never knew existed.Varanasi is very HOT... and it seems filthier than anywhere I have been in India ( I could be making this assumption due to hunger), yeap I was hungry but a thought of food after that bus ride elicited nausea. I then notice more clearly the different social standings in Varanasi, how people relate to each other I gues I notice this more because I can't wrap my tinny head around this issue. Finally we check into a youth-hostel close to the university: The bedding on the bed looks clean, the floor looks mopped, the shower is infested with mosqitos. I try to shower while I make sure the mosqitos don't feast on me.. In the evining I decide to see the evening rituals at the Gangis. I arrive early enough just before the candles are lit. I then go to the burning ghats ( Manikarnika Ghat). My attention is devided between the boddies which are wrapped up in a white cloths, some are burnth and others are loaded on a boat and dumped into the river without resurfacing. I am intrigued as to how long does it take to thoroughly burn a human body, and what happens to the bones (yeap they get crushed with a stick).With the smell of burnth human flesh on my cloths I make my way back to the hostel, and come across a wedding proceding stunning indeed.

Wow, I am reminded that people are different and do things differently , I had an amazing experience at the burning Ghats. Not only that but I have seen how the bones are shattered after burning the body and yeap I have realised why the bodies don't resurface after being dumped in the river. Shocked but who said eveyone should be the same. Yeap India is still keeping me interesed by showing me something new everyday

Date 10

Early in the morning I take a stroll to the river Gangis, joining pilgrims on their way to conduct their morning rituals. My intentions are to take a boat ride on the Gangis. As I try to take a video of the occurances before my eyes I get licked by a cow, I get frightened but no one comes to my rescue, I then decide maybe taking a boat -ride in the Gangis is not a good idea ( maybe I am supersitious but getting licked by a cow at the banks of the Gangis while no one comes to your rescue is a sign that taking a boat-ride in the Gangis might not be such a brilliant idea). I am perplexed by what I see happening before me, at the very same spot I was last night. People are shaving their hair and throwing it in the river; some are bathing in the river ; some are doing their laundry BUT the most perplexing thing : 'some are drinking the water', I am confused BUT soon I remember apparently :'The Gangis cleans itself'. After seeing the rituals I make my way back to the hostel. It is my travel's partners cousin's graduation this afternoon.Varanasi is a bit clean this morning, apparently officials will be at the graduation ceremony. From a travel budy I become a lady, my walking boots are replaced by high heels and jeans are replaced by a black sexy dress, sun screen replaced by make-up FYI: 'yeap I still got it , I am a lady again'. After the graduation we celebrate. You are now wondering, if its possible to party till dawn in Varanasi shhhhh...

What a date, I never thought I would be licked by a cow especialy infront of the Gangis, wow what a date suprise! suprise, maybe I am a lucky chick :) :)

Final date:

As I take my flight from Varanasi to Mumbai I seat & digest my relationship status with India. Could it be a holiday fling, noop. I think I am in-love. If you are adventurous like me you can't help it but fall in-love with India, it challanges all you beliefs about life, human relations, social justice/system. frankly it shook me to my core but luckly my core is established . I love the diversity, oddness , I think I even love the filth ..ooops I am in-love, maybe I should update my relationship status to:== 'Thuli is in love with India' ==

Posted by Thuligal 24.09.2012 14:58 Archived in India Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

One night in a brothel - Sao Paulo

Life's little suprises :)

sunny 27 °C

Sao Paulo

Sao Paulo

... It was a blisful lovely evening when my plane from Peru-Lima landed at Sao Paulo airport. I had assumed that all will workout as the rest of my South American backpacking trip , afterall I had just spent the past 3 weeks roughing South America.Tonight was my last night in South America ,what could possible go wrong. No experience in all my backpacking experience could have prepared me for the night at hand:I located a quite corner at the airport and started turning the wornout pages of my Footprints guide, I soon located a section I had previously looked at and that was Sao Paulo. This time instead of looking at tourist sites I was looking at the accomodation section. As always, I picked a highly recommanded youth-hostel.With the hostel decided I had to make my way from the airport to the hostel. I took the local EMTU bus to Bresser bus terminal, from there I took a metro to the Praca da republica station. As I exited the Praca da republica metro station, the time was 22:00. As soon as I walked out of the station Sao Paulo by night suddenly unravelled itself before my very own eyes and fear engulfed me. Don't get me wrong I have had a few instances in my life when I asked myself the question: ' what on earth have I gotten myself into?', this evening as I walked out of the station, I asked myself the very same question again:' What on earth have I gotten myself into': The streets of Sao Paulo were buzzing with people, you could be forgiven to think it was midday but it wasn't. Street pavements had turned into sleeping zones, suddenly I had to be careful not to step on anyone's toes when they are sleeping. As I proceded I noticed that almost everyone was either drunk or high on something , I bet I was among the few people who were sorber on those streets. As if that was not enough I soon noticed a large number of police vihicles all over the place, my initial thoughts were:'maybe there's been an accident';'maybe there is a road block & they are searching every car' ; ' since I am in Brazil maybe a war has broken out among the drugloards ' noop that wasn't it either. There was no accident, no major robbery, no drug-lords war this was Sao Paulo by night. I had assumed that with the high visibility of policeman I will feel safe but on the contrary I felt more scared. I then realised I need to decide what am I going to hold close to me and what I might have to freely give-away incase I got robbed. I decided to hold on my bag wich had my passport , thinking if anything could happen atleast I could fly home (i.e. if I am still alive) or it could be used for identification if the unfortunate happened. I decided to keep walking, hanging unto my personal belongings and crossing the street each time I see a doggy figure behind me. Soon I realised that I was lost, due to my non-existance Portuguese I also realised that 'Obrigado' was definately not enough for asking for directions. finally my limited map reading abilities were paying off.. yeey I was nearing the hostel, just few more steps I will be locked way safely from Sao Paulo's scarry streets.

As I approached the street where the hostel was based, I noticed a number of ladies who were dressed to impress. These ladies were definately showing off what their mama's gave them , skimpy dresses-hot-pants -micro skirts-top which left little for the imagination , afterall I was in Sao Paulo and I wasn't expecting anything less than what I saw. Soon I realised that not only am I among the few sorber people on these streets but seemingly I was also among the few fully clothed people on these streets. When I approached the entrance of the hostel, I noticed a number of ladies standing at the door of the hostel. As I entered and approached the receptionist, I noticed some of these ladies inside the hostel's reception area, talking and handing their personal belongings to the receptionist . I attempted to inquire about a room but the receptionist's English was as non-existance as my Portueguese. Luckly the price list for the rooms was on the wall. I took out the amount for a single room and placed it on the table . The receptionist noded, took the money-took his keys and asked me to follow him. Finally I was safe in a tinny room, which had an old single bed and a TV. I quickly locked my room and tried to relax, instead of relaxing I heard a rumbling sound from my tummy oops I think I am hungry. I had no intentions of going out for a meal so I ignored my rumbling tummy and tried to sleep...

As I tried to sleep, I started hearing some strange noises from the room next to mine. It suddenly dawned on me what was happening. The ladies outside the hostel were on business and the hostel was their premises... OH NOOOOOOOOO . As the night got deeper, business started booming and so the noises. Soon the booming noises were not only comming from the room next to mine but most of the rooms on my coridor. Thankfully I wasn't in a 8 bed-dorm sleeper because that could have been seriously disturbing. Anyways a brilliant thought pooped on my mind:' Thuli checkout now'!!! a much wiser thought pooped up as well : 'Yeap go for it, lets see how far you could get with your limited Portuguese'.I held the thought of checking out , there was no way on earth I was going outside to the streets of Sao Paulo again. All of a sudden being indoors with these booming noises seemed like heaven compared to walking the dangerous streets of Sao Paulo. I would rather put up with these noises than being out there looking for another hotel/hostel for the evening. All I could do was to make sure that my room was locked, yeap it was firmly locked. I then decided turned my TV and increase the volume. With my door safely locked, the TV bluring at almost the same frequency range as the booming noises, I got into my sleeping bag- ziped it and I covered my head and dozed off. Only to be woken up the next morning by more booming noises around the hostel, I looked at my watch and the time was 05:00am. Seriously are they still at it, I then wondered what are their business hours?? I then manage to get my head out of my sleeping bag, the TV was still blurring and on the tv was a morning prayer service. I couldn't help it but to smile, what on earth is happening and how odd indeed ????? I just spent a night in a brothel and I am listening to a church service !!!! finally I decided enough was enough. I slowly unzipped my sleeping bag and prepared to go for a shower. As I entered the shower I heard gigling voices. I managed to find an empty shower cubicle and again I locked myself in it. As I checkout the receptionist asked me :' did you have a good night' . I smiled at him and said: 'an interesting night indeed' ........ :)

Posted by Thuligal 26.02.2012 08:29 Archived in Brazil Tagged backpacking Comments (1)

Licked by a cow in Varanasi- INDIA

what happens in India hmmmmm

sunny 29 °C

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........... I woke up in the early hours of the morning to join the pilgrims in Varanasi as they made their way to the river Gangis. As I step outside the air is crisp and fresh, its still a bit dark outside and the dew is still on the grass. I decide to take a cart from the youth hostel to the river. As I arrive at the river Gangi's, I am perplexed by number of people at the banks and the happenings around me. Suddenly I notice that people around me are perplexed by my presence in their mist. Everyone turns to look at me, some people want to come next to me ; some laugh and point at me hmmm interesting indeed. As if people's reactions towards me wouldn't get worse, they then approach me and ask : ' can I take a picture of you please' or : ' Can I take a picture with you please' of which I calmly decline ( not meaning to be rude but sometimes it does get annoying people staring and then wanting to take a picture with or of you). As if that was all some people then approach me and ask:'please if you could just touch my kid' they say that as they push their kids towards me. I am perplexed what? , touch your kid ???? I decide to ignore people's reactions towards me and concentrate on the morning happenings of the river Gangis: I soon notice that this place looks like the Dhobi Ghat in Mumbai but smaller: people doing laundry, some are bathing, some are shaving their hair .. both young and old, male and female; sick & healthy. The plan of the day was to take a boat ride into the River Gangi's. Before attempting the boat ride I decide to take a video on the happenings around me.

Suddenly I felt something on my hand, my initial thoughts were maybe someone has just touched me. I decide to ignore whoever could have touched me and continue taking a video of the happenings. Suddenly it happens again, this time I notice that people are looking at me. I then slowly turn to see what is happening,as I turn I notice a big huge black animal next to me, it's a cow!!!. I scream and it then dawns to me that this cow is busy licking my hand, the intensity of the licking increases. I am frightened by this and I am hopping someone will come to my rescue to push the cow away or pull me away. Basically I wasn't hoppping for much but just that someone will come to my resue. I notice that everyone around me is just looking at me & smilling ,no one comes to my rescue but everyone looks as though approaving of what is happening. The roughness of the cow's tongue soon proves to be irriatating, just imagine a sand- paper on your hand. All of a sudden my hand is filled with thick-slimmy saliva. The cows lips prove to add on the roughness as well. With fear and discomfort written all over my face I look at the people around me hoping that someone will come to my rescue. The only reaction I get from those around me is approval of what is happening , it looks as though everyone around me is happy that this cow is licking my hand. I am confused , what should I do?. I suddenly remember that I am in India & I am infront of the Gangis in Varanasi. This basically implied that whatever my reaction is in this scenario is I must make sure I don't annoy the crowds around me. I try to be calm assuming that the cow will get tired of licking my hand but the roughness continues as I deliberating on what to do, suddenly the cow starts chewing my leather jacket. I think to myself :'How on earth could this cow decide to eat its own skin ?'. Soon I realise that wearing a leather jacket, leather boots & standing infront of the Gangis maybe wasn't such a good idea.Its too late to start thinking about my wadrobe chooices I need to be focused and get this cow away from me. As the chewing starts getting rough & intense I realise that my leather jacket will be damaged and that is motivation enough to do something about this scenario. I slowly & quickly pull my hand away making sure that I don't touch the cow itself . All of a sudden my hand is free but the cow is still next to me I then quickly move away from the cow, it follows me for a short distance , finally it decided to go roaming again. All of a sudden everyone looks happy about what just happened , everyone is smilling at me I then realise that they are happy about what just happened . Still terrified of what just happened I decide to ignore their reaction and concentrate on my relief of being away from that cow . As I try to disapear from this scene a young man suddely approaches me and asks : 'do you want to take a boat-ride on the river Gangi' I respond : what ??? let me see : a) people have been asking me to bless their kids, b) I have just been liked by a cow at the banks of river Gangi's in Varanasi ( a holly site for Hindus) & 3) you want me to take a boat-ride in the river Gangi ??? . Maybe I am paranoid all of a sudden I think : What will happen if the boat capsizes? hmmm I bet no one will come to my rescue again. I gues what has just happened this morning is a sign and surely taking a boat ride in the Gangis this morning might be a terrible idea. As I walk away I meet a man with a snake in a box, he catches my attention and then opens the box infront of me. This time I am thinking this is seriously wrong I can't have a snake licking me as well , I seriously need to get out of this place ASAP.......

Posted by Thuligal 27.12.2011 00:51 Archived in India Tagged backpacking tourist_sites Comments (0)

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