Friday, April 22, 2016

Week 3 - I tried trekking, it doesn't seem like it's for me...

Day 18.
Just a do-nothing Saturday. Literally didn’t do anything. Wanted to go to the garden of dreams again, just to chill and read a book, but it was packed with people. Will probably do this tomorrow.

Day 19.
Worked today. I keep astonishing myself, because, well, at home, when I work from home I usually can’t concentrate, and keep getting distracted, and get almost zero work done. Here, I say I’m gonna be working, and I’m working. Hard. I kill tasks off in an astonishing pace, and every work day I’ve had I’ve been extremely happy with so far.
I sat in a small vegetarian restaurant called OR2K for about 5 hours (they have good wifi and constant electricity, and they don’t make a fuss about people hogging tables for long). I ended up eating breakfast and lunch there, and then needed a change of scenery, so went to the Chabad house, and got three more hours of work done. Then I went shopping for trekking pants, and got a decent pair for $12

Day 20.
Started the day by catching a bus to Nagarkot. Well, it’s two busses.
And busses in here are extremely uncomfortable. They’re massively overcrowded, and they stop every minute. A 30 minute ride turned into a 90 minute one, and when we got to Nagarkot I was just happy that this was behind me.
Nagarkot was, well, not very interesting. I chose a hotel room, and took a stroll around town, and I found nothing of interest. Went back to the hotel, and discovered that my room has not been cleaned (missed it when I checked in), it was so bad that I demanded to get my money back (to which they complied), and I found a decent hotel room overlooking the valley. Met a nice American traveller named Alex in the hotel, and we enjoyed each other’s company for dinner.
Nagarkot’s main attraction is the sunrise over the Himalayas, from a view tower located 45 minutes walk out of town. I thought that the walk is 30 minutes out, so I woke up a little late, and had to run up the hill. Almost missed it, if not for a couple who gave me a ride on the last two KM. We were very lucky, it rained at night, so the visibility was pretty good (still, far from optimal, but you could actually see the Himalayas until around 1pm)
After watching the sunrise, we went back to the hotel with Alex, and apparently, she was very displeased with her guide, so dear reader - be very careful, if you hire a guide in Nepal, make sure that they’re knowledgable and professional.
Then I set out for the trek from Nagarkot to Dhulikhel. The trek is about 15KM, mostly downhill, and passes some small villages. In these I found the most fun parts of the day - whenever I passed through a village, I seemed to be a magnet for the local children. They actually saw me, ran away to call their friends, then all of them came out to get pictures taken and either ask for some money or chocolate. After this day, I made sure to have a chocolate bar with me.

I arrived at Dhulikhel completely broken. My legs were killing me, and my back hurt like crazy. The town itself was uninteresting at first glance, I had some trouble finding myself a hotel (they’re either taken out of horror movies, or WAY too expansive, I finally settled for a $9 crappy hotel with no hot water, but a decent enough bed, with a balcony)
After lying in bed for about three hours, trying to recover from the trek, I decided I want to go to what Wikitravel recommended to see in town - the Kali temple, on top of a hill (about 400 steps, yay). It was getting dark, but I soldiered on. Got to the temple, and it turns out that it’s an empty broken down building, and it has a small statue of Kali next to it. Not much of a temple to talk about, and definitely not worth the walk up just to see it.
On the way back I stopped to buy a bottle of coke, and a local man started talking to me, he said that he always wanted to talk to a tourist, so I invited him to sit down, bought him a coke, and we chatted for a while. He’s from a tiny village 500km from Dhulikhel, and it’s the first time he’s ever been out of his area - he went to Kathmandu, trying to find work abroad via a manpower agency. He’s married, father to a 9 year old girl, and makes about $1-2 dollars a day. He’s seeking work in Dubai or Qatar, to work and send some money to his wife and child. I told him about some of the horror stories I’ve heard about people being treated as slaves there, forced to work for years without pay to repay their “debt” to the manpower agency, and living in repurposed containers in the scolding desert heat, with no A/C, and with 6-10 people in every room. I recommended him to try to come to Israel, which has laws protecting workers (although it’s harder to find legal work in Israel). Later on I was really bummed than I didn’t take his number, it could have been an interesting experience to ask him to be their guest for a couple of days, and get to know Nepali life from a personal perspective. I’m also sure that the money I’d have paid for the stay would have helped them a lot as well.

Day 21.
I was debating whether to take the bus or hike, and chose hiking. Went to the Namobuddha monastery, a 3 hour trek from Dhulikhel. On the way, passed through a village, and the scene with the children happened again, albeit the kids were much more friendly, and we ended up in a playful tickle fight. Afterwards, one of the kids, a bright little 10 year old girl, continued to walk with me, she was going to the shop to buy some food stuff for her family, and we talked. Her name’s Amitah, she has a brother named Amit, and was very amused to learn that this name means “friend” in Hebrew. She told me she loves to read, and wants to be a doctor when she grows up. Told me a bit about her life in the village, and then we reached the store. I offered to pick up the bill, to which she happily said yes (25c), and I bought her a chocolate bar, we said our goodbyes, and I kept on walking. I really enjoyed talking to her.

After walking some more, I reached the Namobuddha monastery, which is a beautiful building on top of a hill (these guys love building religious stuff on top of hills…)
The monastery has a guest house ($12 a night, shared bathroom, very clean and well built), and guests can eat their meals with the monks. I arrive just in time for the afternoon prayer, and it was a very interesting experience. The monks play instruments and create a very hypnotic music, and they chant. For about an hour. I was basically stuck, aimlessly watching a random point in space, for the entire time.

The meal was fun, basic Dal Bat, nutritious and tasty.

Day 22.
Woke up, went to breakfast with the monks, we ate some kind of steamed bread, with milk tea and vegetable stew. The monks were chanting before and after food, which was interesting to watch.

Afterward, I set for the walk to Panauti - a 3 hour walk downhill. I was quite amused by the fact that cannabis plants grow here like weeds, literally, just grow on the side of the road.

Passed through more small villages, but because it was early, I guess the kids were in school, so didn’t get much of photographing the Humans of Nepal on that day. Just when I was about to reach Panauti, I saw two sisters sitting on the front porch of their house, one of them was holding a baby. I asked to take their photo, to which they gladly said yes, I took a few pictures, then they asked me to sit down and show the pictures to them. I did, and in a few seconds the entire family was outside, all asking me to take their photos, and trying to communicate although nobody seemed to speak English…

I then continued to Panauti, there was a cremation ceremony at the entrance to town.

The town itself is nice, I walked around a bit, and then got on a bus to Kathmandu.
In Kathmandu, I got a recommendation to a good hotel room, I was told to expect $15 per night, which is my budget. When I got there, the room was up to standard, but they asked for $35. Apparently, it’s okay to negotiate even hotel prices here, so I got to pay $15… This was quite funny, they started at 35, then 30, then 20, and as I was heading out they finally agreed on 15 :)

I decided against going on treks in the Himalayas. The guys I wanted to join for the trek were volunteering in an orphanage in the outskirts of Kathmandu, and I will come there for a week or two to volunteer. I met with them at night so they can tell me about their experience. We had a nice meal, then went to their room to smoke some weed. I came back to my hotel completely stoned, and immediately fell asleep.

Friday, April 15, 2016

Week 2 - Goodbye India, hello Nepal!

Day 11.
Went on a guided walking tour of Old Delhi today. I grew to really dislike this town. The constant noise, the pushing, the getting run over by rickshaws, it’s tiring. The walking tour itself was nice, I guess, but I was too preoccupied with the discomfort of being in this city to really enjoy the tour. The food we ate was good, and fun to eat, which is good, and there were a few interesting things to listen to (The architecture, for instance is built for women to be able to see but not be seen, because apparently in late 1800s if you saw a woman, it meant that she’s indecent. Good thing this changed)
After getting back to the hotel room I just stayed here. I didn’t feel like going out, except for some food.
I can’t wait for Tuesday when I finally get out of this town, and head toward Nepal.

Day 12 and 13.
Worked on both days, and went out the minimal amount of time I could. I could not get away from Delhi fast enough! Don’t have much to write except that the time at the Chabad house was pretty fun, good people, good talks. I enjoyed it a lot.

Day 14.
Finally, leaving Delhi. The flight to Kathmandu was uneventful, the metro ride to the airport was surprisingly comfortable if not for the attendant who tried to tell me that my flight leaves from the wrong terminal (which is on a different station). Kathmandu itself? Well, outside a very well designed tourist neighbourhood, it seems like any South Asian city. But Thamel, the tourist neighbourhood, is absolutely amazing. It is perfectly laid back place, which holds some good restaurants, actual supermarkets, and an absolutely beautiful nightlife.
I’ve read on a blog, that at night, Thamel becomes basically a huge brothel, but it’s either not the case, or they cleaned the place up.
I didn’t do much today, I did get an idea for a four day easy jungle trek to do, so I can get to know myself trekking not on the hard stuff. Now I’m looking for partners to do this trek with me.
Met two Israelis I’ve met in Delhi, and we went out for drinks. Apparently, today is the Nepali new year, and I guess Thamel, because of its nightlife, is a big attraction for locals, looking for nightlife. So we got to experience new years with Nepali people, and boy, those guys don’t seem to hold their liquor very well. The streets are full of passed out Nepali youth. And then we picked a bar, and boy, those guys can party!
We arrived when the night was still young, and the bar was packed. We got a standing table in the corner. The DJ was doing the playlist live. Shown on the projector, using youtube. By picking the next song in another tab. Then the join we smoked went into full blown effect. I told the guys “oh, guys, I think I made this too strong”. I made a joint with the proper amount of weed for 4-5 joints. This stuff is, how will I explain it, sensational.
So, here’s to a good, fun day in Kathmandu!

Day 15.
Went to the monkey temple. A beautiful temple located on a hill overlooking the city, about 30 minutes walk from Thamel.

Met a couple of street children on the steps up, asked to take a photo.

An 11 year old local boy decided to be my guide took me around the temple complex, and did a pretty good job (I actually told him I don’t want a guide, and he ignored me). He took me to a beautiful shop which is also a school, making beautiful mandalas, and I just couldn’t hold back, they were so incredibly beautiful.
I wanted three, and the salesman told me the price, I thought he was talking in Rupi (125 per painting), but then he said the price is in USD :)
Bottom line, I got one small one for $20, and I’m really happy with it. Then we continued to the next temple, and sat down for some ice cream. When my guide was about to finish his, a monkey ran to him and just grabbed his ice cream from his hand, which was hillarious. The kid was a bit shaken, but not too much :)

When I came back, I went to the Chabad house, bought something to eat, and sat down. Two girls came to sit with me, and we chatted for a while. They wanted to go to the same temple as I did, at around sunset, so I joined them. It was even more fun, going with somebody. We went up, took a few pictures, I took them to the same place I bought that mandala, and they also bought one each. Visiting the temple at sunset is a better idea, the air was clearer, so there was more of a view, and generally things are prettier when lighted in red-velvety sunset light :)

We went back to Thamel, and got a REALLY good hamburger, with some great local beer. I really love this place, it’s not hot, the food is awesome, and the people more fun.

Day 16
Woke up, went to the Pumpernickel (an awesome bakery in middle of Thamel, they make absolutely fantastic pastries) and got some breakfast with the girls I met last night. We went on our separate ways and scheduled to meet later and go to another temple. I went looking for a better hotel room, and I ended up taking a 1500 rupi/night room at a place called “The Chillout Resort”. The room is almost perfect, large, comfortable bed, decently designed, and has a nice balcony. Only downside - the window doesn’t have a mosquito net on it, so if I want air, it comes together with a bunch of mosquitos. Good thing I brought a canopy, so I got it set up over the bed and it was okay-ish.
Went to the Chabad house, the girls were late, but I was having a blast. There was a family there, they’ve been travelling for about 4 months now, and their kids (4, 6 and 8) were incredibly friendly. I was chatting with a girl in the lounge area, and the 6 year old came to her, just sat next to her and started playing. We ended up on the sofa, with all the kids, using the computer to show them some cartoons. Great way to pass the time :)
The girls came over, and we went to the Pashupatinath temple, which is the most sacred temple to local Hinduism, non-hindus are not allowed into the temple itself, but we took a look from the doorway and from a balcony overlooking the temple (can’t see much, but still pretty), then we went to see a ceremonial burning of a body, and took a walk around the temples which we were allowed to see.

The experience of watching the burning of the body was an interesting one. In their culture, they seem to embrace death, as part of life. We, in the west, generally try to avoid dealing with death, while they do what needs to be done. The dead woman’s husband was the one who did the whole task of burning her body. The family didn’t cry, I was told they weren’t allowed to. I felt like I was intruding, by watching, and went away.

We came by a few “babas”, sitting near the small meditation “cave” temples. Chatted up with them (apparently, unlike their Indian counterparts, they avoid smoking weed), and took their picture.

Then we came by a rather sad situation - a young monkey was playing on the power cables, and got electrocuted. His friends were trying to tend to him, but were afraid to touch him (good call). Finally, somebody grabbed a long bamboo stick, and pushed the monkey off the pole. The monkeys didn’t understand what happened, and were grieving their fallen comrade, and the larger monkeys were really aggressive towards the people there. The locals reacted with aggression back, which I understand is the right thing to do (otherwise, the monkeys will establish territorial boundaries, and will become constantly aggressive towards people), but it was still quite sad to watch.
Back in Thamel, we went to a nice Israeli place, which makes some good vegetarian food, apparently I chose the wrong dish, as the dishes the girls ordered were by far superior, but we still had a good time. Then we parted ways, they are going to the Annapurna trek tomorrow.

Day 17.

Had a good night sleep, after setting the canopy, went to a small, beautiful garden, called “The Garden Of Dreams”, it was built by a local man in the 1920s, and recently renovated with help from the Austrian government. The garden is located just outside Thamel, and is a beautifully designed garden, with many places to sit, and just relax. I enjoyed it a lot, and will definitely come back with my kindle. The place attracts both tourists and locals, and it’s easy to see why that is - it’s so beautiful and tranquil. There are also some hidden places to sit, and they’ve been occupied by pairs of local teens, making out.

Don't want to do much else today, going to the Shabbat dinner at the Chabad house, will probably chill there for a while...

Friday, April 8, 2016

Day 10 - It's Friday, friday, Gotta get down on Friday

So, I woke up, went to get breakfast, stopped to buy a couple of t-shirts, and got a call from a dear friend at home, had a very fun talk with all his kids, got teary eyed because I miss them all quite a lot. Talking on the phone with a 4 year old is quite an experience :)
Anyway, got some breakfast at the rooftop restaurant I visited the first day in Delhi, and got back to the hotel.
On the way I contemplated the India way of life. Why they drive like they do, why they act like they do, and I think it all comes down to income, and time left to spend on the future. When all you have is today, and surviving it, bringing food to the table for your children, and getting by, you don't have time or energy to think about the future, or about other people. You need to get somewhere, so you just do what you need to do in order to get there. You need to honk like crazy to get through? you just do that. You need to scam people, and tell them you're a doctor, or a travel agent? you do that. Whatever gets you through the day.

And I completely understand that. Doing everything which it takes in order to make a living. It's kind of sad, but that seems to be life here. Children as young as 6 seem to be working instead of going to school. That's sad, but that's life. I wanted to take a photo, but I felt bad doing that. It felt like an invasion to privacy, so I chose to just walk by. But there's a family on the street which I take to get to the main bazaar, two young girls, about 6 and 9, and their mother, selling something I can't explain, which looks like dirt. They're there all day, so the kids obviously don't go to school. Sad.

Anyway, after contemplating that, I went back to the hotel room, chilled for a bit, and then went out to get some lunch.
This was going on in the street:

Pretty fun :)

After lunch, I fell asleep, got up just in time for the Shabbat meal at the Chabad house, which was absolutely awesome, we had a great time, just talking, arguing, laughing, and just having a great time until about 11pm, when I called it a night, went back to my room, and currently I'm writing these lines, slightly drunk.
Overall, not a bad day at all.

Tomorrow I want to get to the Lotus Bahai temple, and then to a guided walking tour.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Day 9 - or - Tom is stupid

Didn’t sleep well again, finally got out of bed at about 7:30, got out and was surprised that it was pleasant outside, almost cool. Went toward the Main Bazaar, got breakfast at a place I’m not gonna return to again (the food was borderline inedible), then went on a long photo walk

Walked on a bridge, and a guy driving a bunch of schoolgirls yelled at me to take a photo, so I did...

Then I passed through a market which seems to be in the sole business of power tools and DIY home stuff - an entire street of the same stuff over and over again.

It was too crowded so I tried the metro (insanely cheap, easy to navigate, but a little too packed and smelly), I have no idea where I was going, I guessed that the “Kashmere Gate” station would be a central place and might have something interesting to see nearby, so I got out there.
It wasn’t. It’s just another dump. I walked around, found some place named the red fort (which is indeed just that)

And then I got lost. Like, not really lost, as you’re never lost when you’re with Google, but I had no idea where I am, or why I’m there. Everything looked roughly the same to me (except I found myself in a Muslim area, which has slightly differently dressed people), and I ended up just getting a motor riksha to the main bazaar. Went to the Chabad house, got a Schnitzel, and found that the rabbi and me went to yeshiva together, and he seems to remember me quite well. Small world :)
Anyway, went back to my room, had a skype chat with my awesome client, chilled for a bit, then went out to get something to eat.
Well, the hotel is pretty good, but the area is shit. I couldn’t find any decent restaurants here, and instead of doing the sensible thing of returning empty handed to the hotel, and ordering room service, I got a vegetable rice thingie from a small store in the market.
It was pretty good, going in.
But it’s not good. Not good at all.
Now, to top the fact that I’m recovering from a ENT infection, I’ve also gotten my stomach upset. Why, oh why, didn't I go for the logical option of ordering room service? So stupid!

Kids, if I could offer you only one piece of advice for your future visit in India, this would be it - only eat freshly cooked food in India, preferably from decent restaurants. If it sits on a counter, or inside a dish, do not eat it. No matter how hungry you are. Don’t do this to yourself.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Day 8 - back in Delhi for an emergency hospital visit.

Did not have a good sleep, kept waking up because of fever, took an advil a couple of times and it helped a bit. But overall, really felt shitty. And then, I woke up, did the morning routine, and coughed. Some stuff came out, and when I spit it out it was bloody.

Immediately I packed all of my stuff, went to the nearest travel agency, got an overpriced plane ticket to Delhi, so I can go to a real hospital with real doctors as soon as possible, and then went to get some food.

At the caffe (which became my usual place, the one near freedom cafe), talked with a nice Israeli girl who seems to be stuck in Rishikesh for the last three weeks. This place has that effect on people, it’s so laid back, that it’s easy to just do absolutely nothing there. I think that all in all, the fact that I was forced to get away from Rishikesh, is a good thing.
I went on a really funny taxi ride to the nearest airport, called the Jolly Roger or something like that (Jolly something, but hey, it’s Captain Hook’s boat, and you’ll never convince me otherwise!). The airport itself loosely resembles a bus station from the 90s. The way things are done has nothing to do with professionalism, and no order is kept, which is hilarious, to somebody who’s used to seeing airports function like swiss watches - stand in one line, do your thing, than you move to the next station, until you’re free to roam around and wait for boarding.
Not here. Here you go to the check-in counter, the guy there tries to sell you an exit row seat for “the nominal price” of about what you paid for the ticket, and then he’s like “oh, I forgot, you need to pass your bag through the x-ray machine”, which I did.
Only oddity about that (except the order in which things were done) was that nobody was actually attending the x-ray machine. So my bag passed through it, nobody watched what’s inside, and somebody picked it up for me and took it back to the check-in counter. Then it was time for “security”, which, here, means you pass your bags through an x-ray machine while people skip the line, then you pass through a metal detector, and even if it doesn’t beep, you still get a pet-down.
I’m pretty sure that the guy did it just so he could check if I was circumcised or not.

Anyway, the flight was fun, basically taking off and landing straight away, with about 5 minutes of turned off seatbelt lights.

I landed and took a taxi straight to the hospital, which is conveniently in the middle of the way to the main bazar in Delhi. The hospital is fairly good, albeit coming from a country where medical services are free, I found it odd that in order to ask a doctor a question I had to pay for a visit, but I understand them, I guess...
I saw an ENT doctor, who diagnosed what I have as a severe bacterial infection in the upper respiratory system (i.e. throat and nose, not lungs), and because my mom insisted, I went to see a physician who listened to my lungs and ruled out a lung infection such as pneumonia or bronchitis. Got all the correct medication, and ordered a nice hotel room on - I’m stuck in Delhi for the next few days, so why not make the stay more pleasant by being in a decent hotel room, with room service, A/C, etc.

The hotel is located in a dump, like, the street is horrible, but the place itself is fairly pleasant. I’ve quite content with this place for a few days.

I’ve ordered a plane ticket to Nepal for a month - found a rather cheap flight to Nepal and back for exactly one month, so I’ll do that. I really hope I’ll find fun people there.

Plan for tomorrow is simple - work 4 hours in the morning to make up for the half-day which I couldn’t do on Sunday because I started feeling bad, and than I’ll just chill out in the room. If I’ll feel well, I might go to the Chabad house and meet some people, and who knows, maybe I’ll find somebody who’s going to Nepal as well :)

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

India: Week 1

Day 1.
I’m on the plane, the first leg, not even the second one, from Moscow to Delhi, just the first flight to Moscow. And I’m sitting here, listening to Eric Clapton, and crying my guts out. Quietly, not to disturb the passengers next to me.
There was a funny betting pool at my farewell party, about when I’m going to be missing my friends too much and will come back. The consensus was about a month. Currently, I’m feeling like this will actually be a day. I keep reminding myself that I wanted to do this. I wanted to get away from it all, to break my boring daily routine, and just take a few months to give myself time to think about what I wanna do when I grow up.
But here I am, sitting on board a plane, and crying, because I keep going back to thoughts about friends, and family, whom I love, and already miss like crazy. The fact that my phone is filled with pictures of fun memories doesn’t help :P

Why, oh why, can’t I just enjoy the thought of going on an adventure? I wanted this. I still do. But damn it, I’m not even 5 hours away from home, and I’m already homesick.

Day 2.
I’ve met two friends, Ido and Shlomit. They’re pretty fun to be with, and I decided to postpone my trip to Nepal and go to Rishikesh with them instead.
The hotel was a dump, an absolute dump… But, we were tired, and jet lagged, so everybody slept very well. Waking up in the morning, and getting out to the market was quite an experience. The smells which attacked me were awesome, absolutely an attack on all of the senses, the smells, not unpleasant, just a LOT of them everywhere, the noise, the chaotic traffic. I chose not to enter a state of shock. I took it all in, and just went with the madness. I chose to be happy.
I think this is the best way to handle India, just accept that it’s different, and that the madness is part of the deal.
Food was good, the same rules I always use for choosing restaurants still apply here as well, which is good, the basic rules of the universe still work here :P
And now I’m sitting in the Chabad house, passing time until we get on the bus to Rishikesh. The people are fun to be with, and the place has a nice, laid back vibe to it.
We sat on a rooftop restaurant, took over the music, and put on amazing music, Eric Clapton, BB King, Pink Floyd, Estas Tonne. Smoked a couple of joints, and passed the time in an exquisite way. Now going to Rishikesh, probably going to try Yoga for the first time. It actually sounds good to me, which is a surprise :)

Day 3.
We went around Rishikesh, tired from the journey here, which was quite uncomfortable and we didn’t really get any sleep on the way. We passed through the Chabad house, smoked a couple of joints, and then went to find a hotel. After getting a few hours of sleep, we went to find some food, smoked some more, and basically chilled. The atmosphere here, in Rishikesh, is relaxed, and the pace is slow. Service in restaurants is slow, it’s completely okay to smoke some weed in restaurants, and it seems like the waiters are stoned as well :)
And then, I reverted to my regular state of mind, instead of the talkative persona I put on in Delhi, I found myself quiet, and getting bored. I need something to do, or somehow get into the right state of mind. Otherwise, I know I’m going to get bored really quickly, and I don’t want this to happen. Also, I’m a coward. But that’s for another post.

Day 4.
Finally! A good night’s sleep! Woke up at 10am, went out to get some food. Ran out of weed, so today isn’t a “high day”, but still, walking around town, looking for a more attractive guest house, was pretty fun. Met some Canadian travellers, father and daughter, and talking with them was pretty interesting, as their experience is something I would love to share with my children when I have them. Only thing I wanted to do, but didn’t, was go to the Chabad house, as it’s Saturday, and it should be fun to visit today. Well, there’s always next week.
We found more weed, and sat in a small place called “Freedom cafe”. The place is built for LONG stays. By long I mean really insanely long. Service is slow, but comes with a smile when you’re talking to the right waiter (the wrong one actually ignored us, and did it in a hilarious way, we asked him for the menu, he said “yes”, turned back and left. We never heard from him again :)
Anyway, at the cafe, which has pretty good food, a chill environment and a comfortable setting right on the Ganges river, with floor mats, pillows, etc. we met a couple of girls from Switzerland and Turkey. Apparently, I looked like I was making a move on the Swiss girl. I should have, as we were having a good time, and she was cute, but I literally do not know how. I never did that in my life, so I don’t know how to move from being friendly to more than that. I should learn.

Day 5.
I’m sitting in a small cafe next to freedom cafe (food is better here), and working. I’ll be trying to do an 8 hour work day. First PR already submitted, which I take pride in. I ordered a 4 day trek at the Freedom Cafe for the next morning.

And then, it all went to shit.

Day 6.
Yesterday, I was feeling funky, really unwell, at first, I thought it was the regular thing everyone gets in India - food poisoning, so I tried vomiting, which didn’t do much except make me feel miserable. My fever went up to about 38.5c, so I took an Advil, and went to sleep. Today, I woke up feeling just fine, decided to take it easy, and just lay around the room for the day. We went to a nice cafe called the Ganga Beach, had a wonderful meal, smoked some more, and at that moment I decided to stop smoking for a while. Going back to the room, I was starting to feel feverish again, this time, 39.2c, which got me VERY worried.
Went to see a doctor, who I think might also be a yoga instructor, and this was the most surreal experience I’ve had for a long time. We went to his house, knocked on the door, and he answered, asked me to sit down, took my fever reading, and listened to my chest. Gave me some cough medicine, and didn’t take money yet, promised to come tomorrow and check up on me, and take my money. Which is a trick I really do not like. But there are no taxis available, and the nearest decent hospital is 15km away…
The good thing in this story - the guys at the Freedom Cafe just returned my money when I told them I can’t make it to the trek. I’ve had a similar situation in Thailand, and there they just told me to piss off, and refused to even move my trip to another day. For this reason, and the fact that they’re awesome fellas, I highly recommend visiting the Freedom Cafe if you find yourself in Rishikesh, and using their travel services.

Day 7.
Still down, same symptoms, feeling well in the morning, and then around 3pm, fever goes up. This is beginning to make me a little worried, as I usually just go down for a day or two and then get well. Which clearly isn’t happening here. The “doctor” I visited tried to pour some ember colored substance from a filthy glass dripper, that’s where I just said “woah, stop right now”, paid him half what he asked for and just left.
So now I’m taking some medicine to take my fever down when it happens, and if nothing changes, I’l get on a flight to Delhi and go to a western-standard hospital.

On the bright side - I fucking LOVE Indian food. Whatever I’ve got is effecting my respiratory system, leaving me to enjoy some delicious foods at times I don’t feel bad. The items on the menu usually mean nothing to me, and I love trying new stuff. Meanwhile, I loved everything I ate.