sirisa clark

the things I do and the words I choose


all the cool kids sit at the back of the bus…

Here we are in Nepal!

We found our way to the Tourist Information Centre in the train station at New Delhi (apparently the only info centre in Delhi you can trust…) and they said you’ll be fine to get on the train, might have to share a berth.

Feeling reassured we headed to Qutab Minar for some rather pricey sight-seeing (but worth it to feel like we were on holiday for a bit, and not just the mission of our lives.) Qutab Minar is stunning, a huge ruin of a mosque from one of the earliest Mughal incarnations of Delhi, with a huge tower that had Ben gawping for a good half hour. Having wandered round and lounged in the garden for a bit, we caught the wonderful cool metro back to New Delhi station to await our train.

In the end we had a berth each, but all through the night dudes just kept sitting on Ben’s, which meant no sleep for him. Not much for me either with the screaming babies and the chai wallahs wandering up and down yelling “chai!” But I was out cold long enough for a mosquito to wander up my sleeve and bite me all over my hand and elbow.

Arrived in Gorkhpur the next morning, and after a fairly poor thali opposite the station, we hopped a 3 hour bus to Sunauli and the border crossing. The bus trip was amazing, sat up front beside the driver and watching the sub-tropical landscape and monkeys (!) whizz by. In Sunauli we chatted with some Danes on their way to Chitwan National Park, and set off a bidding war between rival bus companies to take us to Pokhara. We didn’t believe the other company’s claim that our chosen bus would take 10 hours. In fact it took more like 13…

Once we were on board and had handed over our cash, the bus filled up with locals, including half a dozen goats, who were shepherded to the back where the seats were taken out. Another herd of goats were installed on the roof, letting out terrified screams as we negotiated the mountain road. Several locals got on, took one look at the goats at the back and started swearing at the conductor in Nepali.

After a few hours the novelty of the goats wore off as the smell worsened, and we spent the night cursing our bus driver and conductor (especially when they parked in the middle of nowhere and disappeared for an hour to have a snooze).

Still, we arrived in Pokhara at about 4am, walked around lost for a while trying to find a guesthouse, and our poor map reading skills were rewarded with a sunrise view of the Annapurna range, golden in the dawn sunlight. Once installed in a guesthouse we slept for most of the morning, grateful to lie down and be still for the first time in 2 days. In the afternoon Ben went out and explored whilst I nursed my swollen bites.

This morning we went down to Phewa lake and hired a boat to row out and admire the surrounding peaks from the water. After some ‘momo’ for lunch (little boiled dumplings) we picked up some fleeces and coats and various drugs for our trek (antihistamines for me, amoxycilline for Ben). Now we’re back at our guesthouse and I’m being eaten alive again. Heading out shortly to watch the football in town. Pokhara is very touristy, but also rather pleasant and laid back after the strain of Delhi.

Tomorrow we’ll have a mini-hike to prepare ourselves, then the next day we’ll head out on the Annapurna Circuit for the best part of a month. No internets up there, so until next time dear reader!


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fat fingers

We’ve been in Delhi for three days now, and so far so good. Actually my brain is so zapped from lack of sleep I hardly know what to type.

Tuesday was the longest day imaginable. We got into Indira Gandhi Airport at about 3am. After lingering over a cup of coffee, we went to book a cab and lucked out in finding another backpacker to share the cost with. Nick was a seasoned visitor to India and chatted to the driver in Hindi a bit, giving us some tips on autorickshaw prices and what to do in Delhi (his response: get some sleep, have a wander round, then move on as fast as you can…)

Once in Pahar Ganj we went our separate ways and realised we’d been dropped nowhere near our hotel. We walked to the train station and got our bearings, then found the Amax Inn and woke up the staff to give us a room. Did they have our booking? No. Did they have a room? Thank god, yes. Once inside we collapsed and napped under the whirring fan for a few hours.

Back out on the streets of Delhi, we started to make our way to Connaught Place, but were constantly waylayed by young men wanting to chat, tell us about the dangers of the area, and how we would be wise to take an autorickshaw to the nearby official government tourist offfice. Once there, the dudes behind the counter tried to give us the hard sell on the “Golden Triangle”. There’s no way you’ll get on your train to Gorakhpur – why not cancel these tickets and let me book you some new tickets to Agra, then Jaipur, then you can go to Varanasi and catch a train to Nepal? Thanks but no thanks mate.

Back out on the street we negotiated a very cheap ride to India Gate, where we took some time to sit on the grass and recover from the constant attempts to sell us something or take us somewhere. We tracked down the Andra Bhawan Canteen recommended by Andy and Lola and filled up on some tasty thali, then decided to put our walking boots to the test and walk back the 3km to our hotel. On the way a taxi driver stopped and jumped out of his car to talk to us. We tried to give him a polite brush off, but he took real umbrage and said he was just taking a break and wanted to chat. And it turns out he did! Chatting to Nirpal on a street corner turned out to be the highlight of our day, shaking off the view that everyone we spoke to was on the make.

Back at the hotel I discovered that the heat and dust and walking had caused my hands to swell up like an allergic reaction, but a cool shower and a lie down soon sorted them out.

More later on, it’s Ben’s turn to internets. With a bit of luck we’ll be on our train to Gorakhpur this evening, not sure when we’ll be online again.

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the next chapter

Pragmatism: 0, Wanderlust: 1

Yes friends, the travel bug has bitten, which probably comes as no surprise if you know me and Ben, and have been party to the month-long hoopla of farewell drinks and dinners and parties.

But in case you didn’t know, this time tomorrow Ben and I will be struggling to re-balance our inner ear pressure and fighting off the static cling of airline blankets. We’ll be winging our way to Abu Dhabi, and then on to Delhi to start our six-month Subcontinental adventure.

So, our bags are packed (well, mine is), the rest of our stuff has been shoved unceremoniously into my dad’s loft. Since I handed in my dissertation in September, we’ve been redecorating, shopping, DJing, hello-ing and goodbye-ing, partying, planning and worrying…

We’re spending two nights in Delhi in the seedy backpacker district (because it’s so cheap!) and then hopping a train to Gorakhpur to make our way to the Nepalese border. From there we head to Pokhara to begin a month-long teahouse trek around the Annapurna Circuit: 5416 metres above sea level at its highest point…

From there, who knows? Hopefully a bit of time in Kathmandu, and then back into India via Darjeeling and start heading southward!

So stay tuned for some Indian adventures…