Istanbul, Turkey 24-29/9 pt.1

Day 1

I just love Turkey, Turkish people, Istanbul!

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The flight from Asia was exhausting. First – 12 hours from Bangkok to Kiev. – I am a vegetarian. – Then we have nothing for you! and other situations (I have never seen so unpleasant flight attendants like in Ukrainian International Airlines), I was finally in Europe, just 1000 km from home. The air felt so fresh, cool and clean finally after 3 months!

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Transit in Kiev and flight to Istanbul were a circus too. It turned out that there was some important Jewish celebration in Kiev this weekend, so all of them were just coming back home… I have nothing against, but why the hell they start praying exactly when the flight attendant tells them to sit down and fasten their seatbelts?! The flight was 2 hours late when Merve finally picked me up from  the airport.

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I have so many great Turkish friends! During this week I am staying with Merve, to whom I met on my Erasmus exchange in Sweden, and her family. Her parents do not speak much English, but some traces of Russian we all had were kind of helpful. I was so happy about my refugee camp on their sofa!

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After I dealt with 5 hours jet lag, I went to explore Istanbul. Merve had to be in school this day.

First I visited the famous Blue Mosque – which surprisingly turned out not to be blue at all. I also went around, seen Haga Sofia museum and palace from the outside, got to know an offer of the Big Bus city tours (with a proposal of my new Turkish husband who were selling the tickets) and then my friend Sevnur joined me.

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We met over a year ago during my internship in Germany, now she got permanent job there and hopefully will screw me in, too. I was so happy to see her after such a long time!

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We walked around a lot, have seen some more mosques and Grand Bazaar, finally took a boat trip around the Bosforus Gulf. It was amazing 2 hours of sightseeing and talking. And again I got terribly sunburnt, ehh, white people life…

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Afterwards we ate a great late lunch – fish in bread and 3 kinds of eggplant in different sauces, as well as those Arabic ‘spring rolls’ made of rice in grape leaves. It was so good, we couldn’t move afterwards.

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Sevnur had to go back to Asian side, where she lives, but I went further to meet my friend Selim, other intern from India, for some beers and nargile (that’s how they call shisha here). It was so nice and Besiktas is such a great party part of the city!

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I went back home, falling asleep in the bus, and was more than happy to see little baby Merve again, still working hard on her homework in pyjamas.

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Day 2

I slept so long again, apparently jet lag was not gone yet. Communicating the basic words like coffee and pilates I spent the morning with Merve’s parents and then went to pick her up from school.

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We ate a huuuge brunch in quiet residential area and went to explore the Asian part of Istanbul. It was so nice to cross the bridge between Europe and Asia by bus! And I am so happy than my lovely Merve found time to spend this day with me, it was so lovely. We were coming back to Sweden in most of the conversations… We both really miss that time!

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We got off in Kuzguncuk and walked around a lot. It is such a nice place! Full of quaint coffee shops, impressive architecture and many many cats! I wanted to take them all.

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Then we took a bus and went to the Bosforus Gulf coast to drink tea and watch the boats passing by near the Girl Tower. It is situated in the middle of water and the legend says that the princess was put there by her father, as it was said that her destiny is to be killed by the snake. The girl was safe there but some woman sneaked the snake hidden in beautiful apples and she got killed anyway. Just another city story!

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Afterwards we took another bus and went to Kadikoy. It was so cool and hipster! We walked around, drunk a beer near the seaside, I bought the most original fake New Balance shoes of Istanbul and some other fancy souvenirs: a power bank in the shape of unicorn, a watch with The Little Prince quote, the lenses for iPhone camera. And I made another of my crazy plans come true.

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It took us looong time to come home from Asia to deep Europe, but we were welcomed by typical Turkish mum with a huge dinner (first meal after even more huge breakfast).

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Bangkok, Thailand pt.2

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Day 2

My second day in Thailand was amazing too! Having a long morning and talking to some new people in the hostel, I was very relaxed and motivated to again see as much as I can.

I took a taxi (very cheap one) from the hostel to meet Anshisa – my little Thai girl (she is literally half of me in every dimension) I’ve met in India. Obviously the driver did not speak English so he took me to some other place, nearby luckily, where I needed to ask locals to call Anshisa and explain her where I am and where should she collect me. Like a baby lost in a supermarket!

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When we finally met, we went to Chatuchak (or JJ) Weekend Market – full of EVERYTHING you can imagine. Putting limits on my shopaholism is not the easiest thing to achieve in Thailand with these prices… I bought two more gorgeous shirts and a wallet with my name.

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And if yesterday I wrote that my day was all about eating – FORGET. Today was crazy! We ate literally on every corner, just because I wanted to try everything – from spring rolls, through all the seafood and rice, to very weird Thai deserts of strange colors and texture.

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After the Chatuchak market we took a taxi, which took almost one hour (Bangkok is so big and crowded also on weekends!), to the famous Floating Market – Khlong Lat Mayom. And yes, it was mostly about food again! We decided to share everything we eat, and ended up filled up to the nose again. After all the sea-grass and papaya salads and coconut pudding with dried jack fruit, together with the dragon fruit, which Anshisa brought me from home, we took a boat trip and it was so great!

First of all – it was cheap. When I have seen the similar tour in the travel agency in the center, the price was 1800 Bhat (around 55 USD). Buying the ticket directly on the market, where all the boats reach anyway, costed 100 Bhat for me and 40 for A., as a Thai citizen.

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The boat was supposed to take us to the temple and to the orchid garden. Unfortunately the latter one had to be cancelled, because it started to rain heavily during our trip. Being in the boat and watching all the local life going on around was cool too, though. I was just super-afraid of all the monitor lizards (warany z Komodo. Nie, jeszcze nie wyginęły!) – they can swim, they were everywhere around in the river, they have at least 2m length and 70kg of weight, look like the chimera of dragon, lizard, snake, crocodile and dinosaur. It was soooo creepy!

After the trip we took another taxi, another one-hour ride to the other side of the city – Chinatown. It was so funny to see Thai and Chinese cultures blended together! Although it was not as impressive as Chinatown in London, we again ate a lot of good food and went on the 25th floor of Grand China hotel to see the panoramic view of the city. Prices killed us, though, so we shared one cocktail just to enjoy the view.

Later on Anshisa’s boyfriend joined us, so obviously we ate some more Pad Thai, walked a bit around and took a tuk tuk back.

Anshisa wanted to do an experiment – I asked for the price of the tuk tuk and was told 300. When she asked for the same destination in Thai, it was just 150… Very racist!

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We went back to my hostel and hang out a bit in the common area with all the other travelers I was seeing there before. Really nice French lady on her lonely travel (she planned to do it with her boyfriend but then they broke up so she decided to be strong independent woman!) and Swiss-Austrian hippie couple, as well as some Greeks (have you ever seen them out of Greece?! I realized I haven’t!).

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I can totally recommend my hostel in Bangkok! It is called Hidden Lumpu and is located in the center of everything – near Pom Phra Sumen – walking distance to all the important points of the city. The owner – Tony – works as flight attendant, so couldn’t meet me when I arrived cause he was flying back from Japan. The next evening he was called to go to Munich, but he was like ‘Maaaan, I am drinking with these nice guests… Give me tomorrow-morning shift, not now!’.

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After a couple of drinks it was much easier to pack my even bigger luggage (why the hell did I buy so much in Bangkok?! And Istanbul is still left…). I went to sleep to wake up early in the morning and catch the flight through Ukraine to Turkey.

Bangkok, Thailand 21-24/9 pt.1

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After 5 hours of writing during my flight (I’ve almost finished the article for conference and wrote two new blog posts for October!) I’ve landed in Bangkok DMK airport in the huge thunderstorm, which was shaking the plane like I’ve never experienced before. I stayed surprisingly calm.

Crossing the immigration window was the quickest of all my Asian trip, I think the officer didn’t even look at my face.

I took a taxi to my Airbnb, unfortunately the driver did not speak any proper English so I couldn’t immediately ask for the first hand information concerning the death of their King (later on during the trip it turned out that he passed away a year ago and it is still a month until the first one-year anniversary, but they already started their preparation. He is almost as respected here as Elizabeth the Second is in UK).

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The thunderstorm kept chasing me and I was more than happy to be inside the car. In the meantime I was quite surprised about Thailand: to be honest I expected another India – dirty, crowded and chaotic. The road from the airport to my accommodation was at least European standard and the amount of 7-11 shops was quite impressive.

I checked into the lovely guest house, had a nice chat with a German woman who came here for a job interview and a short holiday. I told her ‘Wow, you are living the life I would love to have!’ after she told me that she is quitting her job to move somewhere to Asia. And then I realize… I am living the life I would love to have too. I’m just on the different stage – no job yet, not enough money… but I’m getting there! I love my life and I realized it on the rooftop of mediocre Thai guesthouse late in the evening.

After that conversation I ran outside to search for food, as I was shaking out of starvation. I ate quite a good pad thai and finally, after India and Maldives, was able to order a beer in the restaurant! Such a nice change, I felt so European.

I came back directly to my room with a kingside bed, checked a few things on the internet and went to sleep, as I needed a lot of energy to complete the plan which Anshisa and Ice made for me for the next day.

Day 1

I slept super-well, as my room in the hostel was on the top floor and no one really disturbed me, although when I went downstairs at 9am I was the last person left in hostel so all the other guest must have made a lot of noise leaving before me.

I ate typical hostel breakfast – toasts with butter and jam and headed to the city to realize the plan made by my Thai friends.

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I took a very shaking ferry to the other side of the river and walked passing by many Buddhist temples and a hospital. It’s racist and maybe inappropriate but all the Thai people really look like Anshisa and Ice, or at least their relatives 😂

I reached the Wanglang market. I was surprised that Anshisa planned for me spending there 2 hours until I entered… it’s heaven for a shopaholic! I bought 6 T-shirts just because they were cheaper in bulk. And some jewelry. And considered bags and wallets…

Thai people have very good taste, at least from what I could see shopping. Everything is slightly more cute and sweet, like all the Hello Kitty stuff in China, but still in the frame of European style and things which I would wear.

I ate great sushi, praying for no parasites and no food poisoning, I also got myself a pomelo cause I didn’t eat it for long time and they were selling it already pealed out of skin (yes, I am 22 and I still ask my mom to do it for me). I also drunk a great frozen Thai Latte, which turned out to be super strong black tea with milk.

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Whole day was about walking, but luckily thanks to the stormy weather it wasn’t too hot and sunny.

Next I have seen three temples: Wat Rakangkositaran, which as the first one was impressive, but not really appearing of you see it after the other ones. Wat Arun is huge and decorated with many bells, which sounded beautifully in the wind. It was all together so impressive. Wat Pho, on the other side of the river, near many other touristic spots, is a huge monastery built around the monument of sleeping Buddha. And what is more… They offered Thai massage! I didn’t realize I need one until I felt my back hurting after a night spent on the first soft mattress in the hostel. All the beds in India were so hard, yoga made my back so good that it really felt like a change!

I didn’t pay anywhere more then 100 Bhat (around 3 USD), and ferry transport is also dirt cheap – around 4-10 Bhat.

The only mistake I made was wearing shorts and a sleeveless top – everywhere I needed to borrow the coats for my arms and legs. I finally bought very nice bermudas and put them on. Sandals I bought in Male after total breakdown of my 3-months-in-India flip flops were also not the best option.

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Afterwards I’ve visited two more temples and The Giant Swing, which wasn’t anything more special than Laweczka Tuwima in Lodz, my hometown.

I wanted to go for dinner to Thipsamao, the place which Anshisa recommended me, but I was 40 mins to early before an opening so I decided to go for a walk. I came across the very nice spot near the canal and had a very inspiring 3h, about which I am gonna write soon.

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Bangkok was also all about eating! Sushi, Thai tea, ice cream, pomelo, ah, maybe one more ice cream (just because it’s black and made of beans), or fresh juice. I needed to stop myself to become hungry for another pad thai in the afternoon. First world foodie problems…

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I had my beloved pad thai dinner in this fancy TripAdvisor-ed restaurant, joining the three American friends on the table – the place was too crowded to sit alone and they were great company too.

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After dinner I started walking towards the hostel, but ended up on the most vivid street of Bangkok, full of clubs, bars and restaurants. That was the only moment when I regretted traveling alone. I would party so much with my friends!!!! When it comes to selfies – I have a selfie stick and timer, but it doesn’t provide you with companions for the party who will take you safe back home, one Mai Tai (ingredients unknown) and Sex on the Beach were going enough nuts for this night. I just spent another half an hour talking to the owner of my hostel – Tony, who turned out to be flight attendant of Thai airlines, and a really great guy too.

Therefore I headed back to my room, ate ma take-away portion of pad thai from the restaurant, wrote a bit and went to sleep, testing Anshisa that I want her to take me for the party the next day.

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Maldives 18-21/9

Boarding the plane which was about to take me out of India made me very happy. Even though I kept talking on the phone to Nandini and Pradeepa, I still felt sorrow about all the morning – not getting help with my luggage, just using my helplessness and immobility to rip me off money, all the stress.

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I sat down in my seat and closed my eyes for a second. When I opened them, there was breakfast in front of me – I was surprised that they served even before the take off… well, I was so exhausted that I slept like dead for an hour straight and didn’t even feel the plane starting… I had a couple-hours transfer in Kochi (Kerala), South India and then finally took the bus-size plane to Male’, capital of Maldives.

Maldives consist of more than 200 islands (not all inhabited) located on both sides of the equator. The airport is an individual island, although there are many sea planes able to start and land on water. Capital city is also one island of the diameter of 3 km and around 400 000 inhabitants (Radogoszcz-Łódź population), of whom half are foreigners – coming for work from India, Nepal, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. You can pay both in dollars and rufees – local currency. As it’s supposed to be on the island, their banknotes are made of plastic and are absolutely adorable!

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Maldives have their own language, alphabet (everyone speaks English anyways, apart from Albanian tourists I met on my way) , money and bank. Prices in Male turned out not to be that high, comparable to Europe. Eating out, shopping are fine, unless you wanna stay in a resort or even on a private island… then prices are crazy and start with 200$ per night. That was far out of my budget!

I stayed with an amazing couchsurfing host – orthodontist from India named Sachin. We had a lot of fun together, ate dinners with his friends, drunk feni (cashew nuts alcohol) I brought him from Goa, he even made a check-up of my teeth, complaining a lot that I really need braces. Nope, I am not a 13 year old girl. Yes, I love my teeth – no way I’m getting braces.

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On my first afternoon after arrival I just dropped my luggage to Sachin’s clinic and went through the city to explore. I’ve seen the artificial beach, all the little streets between 8-floor buildings (highest allowed), I ate great Singaporean soup for lunch and enjoyed a virgin (not my choice) mojito in the rooftop bar of the fancy hotel, where I was let in just because of being white (dirty oversize Tshirt and two days without shower did not disturb me).

Maldives surprised me a lot! I thought it’s another Hawaii – all about beaches, white sand and blue water, bikini, sunglasses, cocktails and flowers… And it turned out to be totally Muslim conservative place! The only women on the street not wearing hijab were tourists (not that many in Male’ itself), I thought I will get killed when I went out wearing shorts. And all this around the equator where you feel like on a frying pan and sweat even breathing…

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The second day I wanted my real lonely holidays in paradise to happen, that’s why I took a ferry to a nearby island – Hulhumale – famous for its bikini beach. How happy I was when I finally got there after a long walk through the island (well, it was 20 mins… long time for Maldives!).

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I spent a couple of hours sunbathing, swimming, picking shells (some of them were running away from me when I touched them…) and finally reading a book I stole from Olek. When I got hungry I went to the nearby restaurant (of course on the white beach, facing blue water) and ate delicious pasta with shrimps and mussels. It even rained for around 3 minutes, and there was a lovely rainbow left behind… PARADISE!

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After the beach I returned to Male’ and walked slowly to Sachin’s clinic. Later on we met up with his friends and cooked Polish pierogi ruskie. You need to be me – go to Maldives, meet Indians and cook Polish cuisine.

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I got so terribly sunburnt! The whole evening was one big panthenol party to soothe my skin…

Next day was very chilled too. After breakfast I took a ferry to Vilingili – a tiny island west from Male’. I decided to walk around it and find a nice spot by the beach to take a rest. After 15 mins walk from the ferry terminal, I was already on the other side of the island. I sat down on the swing, among all the constantly resting Muslim men (how can they live their lives like this? Some of them literally do nothing apart from sitting on the benches) and read my book (post about it coming soon) accompanied by the sound of prayers coming from the nearby mosque.

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I love being on holidays. My measure of time are pages of the book read. In 20 pages I go for a walk, in next 30 pages I shift to the beach, go to swim in 10 pages and eat lunch in another 30. I also become very poetical here… Usually I think pretty straight forward, but here, in all this romantic atmosphere, I have started to wander – like Amelie Poulin (it is rare, but I don’t like this movie by the way…) – how many cats there are on this island (dogs are prohibited), how many couples are climaxing at the moment, how many socks are currenly in washing machines…

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After reaching the main Vilingili beach I decided to eat the first lunch of the day (little one, I need to eat more meals to keep up with trying all the seafood here) – grilled tuna and a salad, with unfortunately non-alcoholic cider. Afterwards I laid down under the tree and kept reading. I fell asleep for some time and luckily – was woke up by the police officer off-duty after half an hour. I was sleeping in bikini, among all the Muslim women wearing hijabs and their children, with my phone near me and the backpack open. The guy has seen me from the canoe and noticed that there are some guys walking around me, talking on the phone and checking if I am alone. It could have ended up worse than the fine for being naked, which I expected, but luckily none of this happened.

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I was also happy to have been taking anti-malaria medication for my whole stay in Asia. During the whole 3 months in India I didn’t have so many mosquito bites as after 4 days in Maldives. Let’s see how it will be in Thailand.

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After the page 200 I took the ferry back to Male’. I immediately ate lunch number 2 – grilled shrimps and reef fish, and went for a walk in the sunset light. I got into Fish Market, on which you could surprisingly get more fruits and veggies than fish… I also bought some postcards and bounty – what we know as a super sweet Nestle chocolate bar, in Maldives is sold us pure coconut pulp in a roll!

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In the evening we cooked some Indian food, drunk feni with sprite, Sachin did a quick checkup of my teeth (perks of couchsurfing – you never know what your host can offer you xD) and as every evening – exhausted went to sleep.

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There was not much time left on my last day in Maldives. We had a long morning, I packed my stuff and went directly to the airport where the security checked went the smoothest out of all my travels! Fun fact – I didn’t realize that there is a half an hour time difference between India and Maldives until my departure, when I’ve noticed that there is something wrong between my watch and phone… Ehh, holiday mode on.

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In the plane Male-Bangkok I met two lovely Spanish (rather Basque) girls, traveling through Asia for 4 months. We talked about our trips and experiences, I really admire them for how close they are as sisters. It’s a real girls power! As well as the fact that they let me eat all their flight pre-booked food, as they were suffering from the food poisoning (I was apparently lucky with eating out since leaving India – no flitzekake!).

I landed in Bangkok Don Mueang airport, Thailand at 7:30pm.

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My India – overall

It is official – Suzana Indiana is over! On Monday 18th of September at 12:35 local time I flew out of Cochi International Airport, leaving the Indian land.

No more Indiana, but always Suzana! I won’t change the name of the blog and surely will keep writing. It is too good for my self-control and development to stop it. It will be more lifestyle now. And traveling, of course – I will never stop!

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Gorgeous Ola Nowak by (c) Bence Fejes

My major issues about India? I became a different person.

Usually when your character changes, it happens so slowly that just your friends or relatives are able to notice it and inform you. The thing which makes me very worried is that I see how much I changed myself! And it was just confirmed by Hriday who has seen me on my first and last day in India.

I am not such a sweet and cheerful person. Yes, I am still pure heart for my friends, but India taught me how to be hard with strangers – work under pressure, oppose to my laws being violated, do not let people treat you differently, fight for what you want and need. I do not think it is bad – I just became a stronger, more independent and mature person. The only issue which worries me is that I might have become a tough b**ch. Hopefully I soften back in Europe again, I don’t want other people to be afraid of me.

There are as many good as bad things about India and I can both praise and criticize it as country, society, culture for long hours.

Traffic – horrible. No basic rules, being selfish, risky, sometimes brainless. I did not feel safe crossing the street. Having crazy drivers, add bikes, motorcycles, auto-rickshaws, cows, pigs, chickens and dogs. You just cannot exist there as a pedestrian safely.

 

Good thing about it? Now I know that I will be able to drive in any conditions and any machine if I just practice a bit. This year I have drove snow mobile, dog sledge, scooter in India, left-handed car in left-sided Indian traffic… It’s all about staying calm and surviving whatever comes. Driving is like skiing or bicycle, you just never forget it and can adjust to the conditions.

Next thing – food. I cannot bear anything spicy, so I basically hate all the Indian food. It is all about masala! You cannot really taste what you really eat because they prepare it with so many spices that you can just imagine that it is chickpeas or beans… Other thing is that most of the dishes just tastes the same – strong and intense.

On the other hand, as Hinduism is the majoring religion, there are many vegetarians and huuuge variety of veg options in the restaurants, which for me as a Polish was new. Polish cuisine is all about meat, fat, onion and potatoes. In Sweden I was positively surprised that there are so many vegetarian, vegan, gluten-, lactose-, nuts-free options!

The most terrible thing is probably the lack of safety. For this three months I have never felt comfortable while I was alone! Manipal is one of the most secure places I have seen in India, I knew I have many friends there, there are many students and foreigners and that I have my knife and pepper spray in my bag, but I still felt unsafe.

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(c) Bence Fejes

White woman in India is screwed up. Nothing really bad ever happened to me or my friends… But everyone stares at you! No matter if you are wearing shorts or are fully dressed up. Some of the people smile, ask about your origin, but majority treats you like a monkey in a zoo. I know I am something new and exotic. I know that some of them never left their village and I may be the first white person they see – that is why they want to take a selfie with me (yea, smartphones already arrived to the village), but what do they actually do with those photos – I have no idea. Not to mention the crowds which gather around us when as the couple of people we go to the beach in bikini… Yes, I know I am different – I look and dress differently, maybe I am interesting, but shouldn’t we all just treat each other like humans? With respect to our own space, privacy and comfort. As simple as that.

That was a lot of critics, so now – positive thing.

Religious situation in India is something I have found the most interesting and charming. Unlike anywhere else I have been, there is such a mixture of various beliefs! Muslims, Hindu, Christians and Buddhists mixed all together, all the mosques, temples, churches built one near another, wide variety of shops with food and clothes appropriate for these groups. And there is a lot of conflicts, but not so many of religious background nowadays!

As I wrote some time ago, I found Hinduism a correct path of living. Peaceful way to happiness, enjoying life, respect to other people, nature, animals, getting and giving the most you can, sharing, smiling… It is also so broad! There are so many gods I haven’t heard about yet, so many symbols and customs, traditions… It is so exciting that I will never no EVERYTHING!

 

As still the biggest percentage of Indians are Hindu, it is almost impossible to find beef for example, as cow is sacred and believed to be a symbol of life and prosperity. Well… I am a vegetarian since years (with a break), but do you remember lion Alex from Madagascar movies, when he was out of zoo, hungry for meat and all of his friends looked like steaks in his eyes? I imagine that most of my friends feel like that right now when they see all those cows on the street. I also used to call them burgers while driving, when they were crashing in front of my vehicle 😀

What I will miss the most about India are people! First of all – native Indians. So peaceful and happy! So hospitable and willing to help! Nevertheless, most of the Indians I got along with were, as I used to call it, westernized, as they have been to Europe themselves, or at least have dealt with interns for some time already. It can also influence it, but I think it doesn’t change them as people, it just helps them understand how we feel about India. If it wasn’t for Hriday, for example, who has seen some part of world, is very considerate and understanding, I would get crazy and kill someone or get killed. He was my mediator with the rest of the world. ‘Yes Zuza, I totally understand your point, I know how you feel and I am very upset that I cannot change it, but this is India and…’ was part of our conversation every time!

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(c) Bence Fejes

Other group I will miss even more are the other interns. Our Masala Family grew a lot, and changed a lot in the meantime. During this three months I have seen so many people coming and leaving! And I got really attached to almost all of them, that is why I am so happy to be a traveler! Other Polish cities, Serbia, Germany, Brazil, Argentina, Mexico, Austria… I will be everywhere visiting my old friends!

I think the main reason why we got so close are the hard conditions – we very often had to support each other in some Indian-Western disputes, provide all the kinds of support from 10 rupees for tuk tuk to western, reliable antibiotics. We spent a lot of time together – eating, working, partying, chilling, traveling, shopping… That is why I have been living with most of these people just like with brothers and sisters! It was lovely to knock on each other’s doors and just spend evenings together.

The greatest thing about India is obvious for the people who talked to me about it and know how much passion and enthusiasm I have for… yoga! It is not a sport, it is a lifestyle. Lifestyle I just started exploring.

I have been doing yoga in Poland for a couple of months, but at that time it was just physical activity. Yes, I felt fresher and chilled going out of classes, but it didn’t really change my mindset. After three months with Pradeepa, while for last few weeks I was going for classes both morning and afternoon, I finally understood that most of yoga is in your mind – fighting the pain, pushing the borders, being able to focus and relax, or just push all the thoughts out of the brain. You have to get to know yourself, observe your body and breath, sometimes listen to the proper music or just calming voice of your guru. At first I was surprised that there is so much chatting in the class, but then I realized that it does not disturb me in focusing – it just makes me even more relaxed as I can just be myself and talk as much as I usually do :D.

Pradeepa is the most non-Indian adult person I have ever met (yes, she is Sri Lankan, but culture-wise it does not matter) – you can talk to her about ANYTHING and you will be listened and understood. She helped me realize many things, she always knows what I need. She also feels people and is able to help them with what some people would call magical powers. I did not believe it at first, but she really took back pains and headaches from me a couple of times…

I have been talking to her a lot about my problems until she told me about hers. Then I felt stupid and childish, as there is so much more to life than what I face… She didn’t let me feel that way at all. And she is one of the strongest women I have ever met.

I was quite convinced that I cannot have children – destroying my body with lack of sleep, irregular lifestyle, alcohol, contraceptives, medical history of my Mother, I would not be surprised. Pradeepa couldn’t believe me and checked it using her ‘power’. I will have one son on my own when I will be between 30 to 40 years old. That is something new for me. And you know what is the weirdest? When she told me that I literally cried out of happiness. I surprised myself with the fact that no matter how much I was pushing it in my mind and time, one day maybe I will be really happy and convinced to be a mother.

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(c) Bence Fejes

Yes, I can talk about my guru infinitely. Some people started to call her ‘Dumbledore of Manipal’ after hearing how much of authority she is to me xD But I trust her a lot and know that she knows what is good for me. That is why when we were talking about my studies, future job and plans, it didn’t take her long to convince me… ‘- Zuza, look, you will graduate next year… Why to rush to adult life? Yes, go and travel in South America, if it is your dream and goal, but maybe than you come back to India for some time? You could stay here, do yoga, explore Hinduism. You would maybe repair the picture you have about India right now…’. And I did not have to think a lot to say yes. I graduate in February, can spend March-May in South America and June-September in India (I have Varanasi, Kolkata and Chennai to see anyway!). If I keep doing yoga in Poland now, maybe I can get certified next year in India? Maybe I could join both Pradeepa and Vijaya (the guru in Udupi I have visited around a month ago and spent weekend with him)? It all just seems so right thing to do!

I don’t want to wait. I will monitor the prices of the tickets, but I guess I will buy my flights by the end of the year… Just to have something settled. At least to start building a scaffold for my plans.

For now – see you India! Change for better, stay awesome.

Hampi 15-17/9

My last weekend in India, not even in Manipal, was one of the bests. All thanks to the Hampi trip!

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After packing all the 30 kg of a little of my belongings and a lots of souvenirs inside my moulded backpacks and far too many little shopping bags, we went for the trip by another party bus. Of course in the meantime I spent lost of time with Pradeepa, Olek and other interns, in Country Inn and Valley Flats , to celebrate my last moments in Manipal in the best way. I arrived to the bus slightly late, didn’t even succeed to give back the key to my hostel room.

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Bus journey was a Polish-vodka-Soplica party, with lots of broken sleep later on. When we arrived in the morning to Hampi, took showers and siestas, we went for sightseeing. Well, tried to. Our bus got broken and we had to rent tuk tuks.

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We were driven to multiple temples from 13th century. We took a rest on the grass, teased the monkeys, petted an elephant, climbed the sunset point with the cows… it was all so peaceful! In the evening we returned to the hostel and kept partying in the rooftop. Some people waited until sunrise, but I was too exhausted to keep it going and went to sleep around 3.

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Next day was full of fun too! Our bus – finally repaired – took us around 30km from Hampi to the place where we rented scooters and could explore on our own. Well, that was funny! Interns – aka Whities – were driving pretty safe, but our guide felt hopeless when he saw crazy Indians falling one by one. He leaded us to the artificial lake with a beautiful view, and than – not paying attention to crocodile warnings – we started to jump into water in underwear. I think we really gave him hard time…

In the afternoon we climbed 575 steps to Hanuman (monkey god) temple, admired the view, played with monkeys and survived heavy rain. Our bus picked us up, we went for a dinner to the nice restaurant where you seat on the floor (so cool for a yogi!).

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Afterwards I needed to say good bye to the crew. I didn’t think I will take it so badly! I was crying a river and really feeling bad. No matter how many problems are faced in Manipal, we all became so close!

I waited for the bus to Bangalore accompanied by our guide, who revealed why he was laughing of me during the whole weekend – masala (the word which I use to describe many Indian phenomenons which originally means mix of root spices) in their region’s dialect is a metaphor for 69 position… as simple as that!

I took the night bus to Bangalore, which was obviously delayed and costed me a lot of nerves, got ripped off by the tuk tuk driver in the morning, finally succeeded to take airport shuttle bus, needed to pay lots of money for extra luggage and boarded the plane as a last person, but yes – NOW I’M FINALLY ON HOLIDAYS!

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My last days in Manipal

My last two weeks in Manipal were finally just perfect!

Due to my professor’s absence I did not work in September at all, so had plenty of time to sleep, party, travel, do yoga and take care of myself.

I have done a couple of trips: Kapu beach nearby – the one which I haven’t visited before – on scooter. I really liked the lighthouse situated on the top of rocky island. The only problem was that I got kicked out of the empty public beach by the FEMALE police officer for wearing bikini… Indian girls, why are you doing it to yourself?

Next day we rented the car (and of course took my Indian friend Aakash to handle this traffic) and went for a road trip to Kudremukh and Agumbe National Parks, climbed the abandoned temple, got bitten by leeches (AGAIN), almost destroyed the car, watched the sunset in heavy rain and drove the car. To my surprise, left-sided traffic is easier to handle than the gearbox under the left hand, and swapped wipers and indicators switches… It was a nice adventure though!

As the car was rented for 24h, we also came up with the crazy idea of going to the beach after the karaoke party… Well, never have I ever before swam in the warm Arabian Sea during thunderstorm and heavy rain. It was so cool!

I also had my good bye dinner in Hakuna (I was so grateful for bday that we came back again!) and a good bye party in Valley Flats, which again was absolutely crazy. The surprising miracles of this night – I fell asleep in one bed, woke up in another. And noone knows how did I achieve it!

My last day in Manipal is full of duties. I needed to pack, fill in some papers, collect my salary, give back the things I borrowed. Anyway I mostly spent it with my yoga guru – practicing, eating lunch at Thai place and early birthday cake (Queens are born in September – all the 3 of us!), drove around the city for some more duties and shopping, visited family in Udupi and finally I drove us home. It was great again!

In my last few days I got into a lot of trouble again – with the hostel, work, even IAESTE people… I am just glad that there are also other interns coming to the Hampi trip. It will be so great!