36 hours of my life that I do not want to repeat!

In all the guide books and all over the internet the advice is to not eat Ice cream unless you can be sure that it won’t make you ill. What do I do….buy a chocolate ice cream from the station. To make it worse at the time I  thought that it was extremely melted….but then went ahead and ate it anyway. I didn’t even really want an ice-cream, I was just very bored -:)

My first 5 hours on a 36 hour train journey was pretty fun, met a lovely Indian family, enjoying the views and feeling excited about Rajasthan. I was even glad that I was in sleeper class and thinking that there is no need for me to go in AC class.

I very quickly changed my mind as I got increasingly more and more sick (literally). I spent the next 12 hours being sick on my bed, in the aisle, in the toilet and out of the train door. I honestly have never ever felt so ill in my life. I lost all my dignity and sat on the floor despite it being wet everywhere from people missing the toilet. At 1 point the train driver told me off for having the door open as it was in the night but after very nearly being sick on his shoe, he re-opened the door for me and left me to it. After holding on for nearly 4 hours I thought that I cope being back on my bed….as soon as I climbed up I was climbing down and running back to the door. I was glad that it was in the middle of the night as most people were sleeping.

Not all though!!!! One man was so fascinated he felt the need to take a photo of me being sick out the window. I am used to my photo being taken but I really have no words for this, I dread to think where this photo is now.

I finally stopped being sick after 12 hours and spent the rest of the journey huddled up on my bed, feeling pretty sorry for myself. I finally arrived in Jaipur and spent the first day recovering in my hostel.  It was a family run hostel who were amazing and kept checking on me and giving me boiled rice to eat.

Oddly but interestingly my narcolepsy on this day is the WORSE it has ever been. I was laying on my bed having horrific hallucinations alongside sleep paralysis which was then causing me to have cataleptic attacks over and over again. I didn’t time it exactly but my cataplexy lasted for at least 30 minutes.

I’m sorry for the awful picture but it really does sum it up well.

On top of this I kept having repetitive vivid dreams of normal daily tasks for example I kept dreaming that I was having a shower and getting dressed. I know this doesn’t sound that bad but these dreams are unbelievably vivid, so much that I wake up suddenly in complete confusion and realize that it was a dream. The best way I can explain it is that I feel like I have been drugged… I could be laying in bed for 5 and 10 minutes but I genuinely still think that I am up and dressed.  I am experiencing this more and more these days….it is really quite irritating.

My consultant (who is a very good Narcolepsy expert) is of the view that having a virus as a child could have caused my narcolepsy and that over the years the illness has manifested. I’m no doctor but I think that there is a clear correlation between becoming unwell and an increase in my narcolepsy symptoms. I wish my narcolepsy wasn’t affected to this extreme but at the same time it is hopefully that maybe at some point in the future treatment to address the cause rather than ‘just’ the symptoms will be found.

As you can imagine I was feeling pretty pissed off and exhausted but when I got to “extreme sorry for myself mode” I reminded myself that at least I wasn’t being sick out of a train window anymore. Next thing I know is I have fallen off my bed….evidently I found this funny -:)

Thankfully the next day although I didn’t feel 100% I was tucking into a rather large pizza on the roof terrace…..I was definitely ready to start to explore Jaipur.

hostel

I had a whirlwind tour of Jaipur known as the pink city (although I thought it was more of a brown colour)pink city

Here are a few of my highlights;

  • Amber fort

amber fort 2

amber fort

view from amber

  • Palace on water – Jal Mahal

palce on water

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Pushkar’s Crazy Camel Festival

I have been sat at my computer for a while thinking about how I can describe my time at the camel festival – words just do not seem to reflect the 8 days I spent here. Whilst writing I am having crazy flashbacks of some amazing, disturbing, insane and hilarious moments.

camels
To put things into context the camel festival is one of the many major festivals in India. An astonishing 50,000 camels converge on the tiny desert town of Pushkar alongside thousands of sheep, goats and trillions of people. I have never seen so many people in 1 place. My favourite things to do was to people watch in one of the rooftop cafes, my chance to do the staring.

The original intention behind the Pushkar Camel Fair was to attract local camel and cattle traders to do business during the holy Kartik Purnima festival, held in Pushkar around the full moon in the Hindu lunar month of Kartika. Pilgrims come to this festival to bathe in the holy waters of Pushkar’s lake and be absolved of their sins. The two days around the full moon are considered to be the most auspicious time of the year for bathing in the lake. Those who bathe on the day of the full moon are said to receive special blessings.

holy wash

Unfortunately some of these pilgrims were men whose priority was to scam tourists and make some money. The first time I walked down to the fair I got harassed by lots of young boys offering me ‘free’ flowers. I kept refusing but I started to feel guilty as I thought that I was being disrespectful. Minutes after accepting the flowers myself and a Australian couple got accosted by a few men wearing orange robes wanting to pray with us. I stupidly went along with it and found myself sitting next to the holy lake. This ritual went on for some time but I was happy to stay as it seemed very interesting. At the end he requested that I paid 1000 rupees per person he had prayed for (I had lost count as he was going on for some time) his total was 8000 rupees, the equivalent of 80 quid.

Bugger…I had been scammed!!

When I declined his request he started to get increasingly more aggressive shouting ‘Dont lie at the holy lake’ I very calmly but surprisingly firmly shouted back ‘Don’t cheat people at the holy lake’. In the end I gave him 200 rupees just to get away. Sadly I met many people who had also been scammed 1 couple who gave 50 quid each!

lake

The camel festival itself was insane. It is one big carnival with an array of musicians, magicians, dancers, acrobats, snake charmers and carousel rides to entertain the crowd. This was fascinating and a great opportunity to witness an old traditional style Indian festival.

crazy dancers

girl dancing

Mr Desert 2014

dancers

There was also different competitions every day. Of course this includes the mustache growing competition, camel race and horse show.

Runner up in the Moustache competition.

race2

camel race

The organisers were keen to get the tourists involved so  lots of the competitions were tourists versus locals. The tug of war was a lot of fun but much harder than I expected. It wasn’t until I saw this photo that I found out that our opponents were sitting down – Cheating me thinks!

Much harder than I thought it was going to  be cheats

As you can see we won the tug of war!!

winner

Following the win and award ceremony I then took part in several radio and television interviews answering questions like “so how does it feel to be a winner”.  Normally I would love the attention but this was too much…even for me.

I honestly did not think my day could get any stranger. But 10 minutes later I found myself running in a water pot competition.

This all happened before lunchtime. Obviously I went back for a nap but so did everyone else I was with. Luckily I was staying in a guest house 30 minutes walk away from all the mayhem where I was able to re-cooperate. The guest house was lots of fun where I met some great people.

good times

Once the festival had finished we decided to escape the city and head to the desert on a camel. We spent the night eating delicious food, drinking rum and playing cards under the stars.

The camel riding itself was fun but camel riding is NOT in my blood. I think our guides would agree after having to rescue me as the camel attempted to kick me off. Poor camel!!! BUT  I would like to point out that I don’t think this is entirely my fault – my seat was wonky and  had come unloose leading me to slip, nearly ending up on the poor things neck. Although the next day Rob had the same camel and didn’t have any problems.

me camel

rob and cristen

Incredible Sun Rise

camel bf

I had the most an amazing week……the horrific 36 hour train journey was all worth it after all!!

Learning to say NO in Mysore

Most people who know me are aware that I find it difficult to say NO sometimes; as a result of this “I can’t say no” condition I have ended up in some ridiculous situations. I have lost count of the amount of new year resolutions where I have vowed that saying no will be a more frequent phrase in my repertoire. India has been good practice for me as I have been forced to say no much more…..the city of Mysore has been my biggest test so far.

I arrived to Mysore at 5am half asleep following a 13 hour night bus from Munnar. Unlike the lovely Munnar; my first impression of Mysore was pretty dismal as all I could see was busy, dirty roads with rows of hotels, restaurants and shops. Views of fields and the sea were miles away). Although the the cow parked up next to the motorbikes made me smile.

Within minutes of getting off the bus I found myself surrounded by groups of rickshaw men; all who were insistent that I should get into their rickshaw. Feeling apprehensive about battling the mayhem on my own, I was pleased and relieved to spot a dutch couple who were also in the same situation. Together we scoured a few hotels looking for a semi decent room at a cheap price; we eventually picked an hotel; a decision we later regretted.  The room itself was clean with a decent shower but every time I charged my phone or Ipad I endured an electric shock. The electrician was sent to fix everything but instead he seemed to make things worse so with my safety in mind I accepted having no electricity. To make matters worse the hotel staff were the most rude, arrogant and obnoxious men I have ever met….I thoroughly enjoyed writing highlighting this in a trip adviser review.

My dark room was an extreme contrast to the local market where the array of colour was incredible. The market was insanely busy and people were buying vegetables and spices like their life depended on it.

I found myself walking up and down the vegetable section as it was the one place where I wasn’t harassed….I suppose they knew that onions and potatoes were not on my shopping list.

Unfortunately for me as soon as I left the rows and rows of vegetables I returned to being Miss popular, a popularity that I would have readily given away. Within an hour I was approached by 5 different young guys who seemed desperate to make sure I found the incense and spices section.

Of course they were all doing this out of the goodness of their hearts!!!

Each guy had a different and inventive story of why they wanted to help me out. One guy was insisting that the city palace was closed to foreigners due to Diwali and told me that I was lucky as he could help me out and get me in secretly if I paid him 800 rupees.

You will be pleased to hear that unusually for me the only word that came out of my mouth was “No, No No, No and No”. Ok that it is a white lie….these words also included the odd swear word.

After finally getting away from these kind people I made my way into the Palace (the guy must have been mistaken).

One of the many photos that were taken of me.

My time in Mysore was short and sweet, but as you might have guessed I was glad to be leaving.

No more cataplexy???

I haven’t had any big attacks since I have been in India. I thought for a second that maybe the sun, curries and no stress may be the answer.

Course not – Cataplexy was alive and kicking during my Skype call today to Laura Marshall and the lovely little Parsons (Bethany, Holly, Chloe and Charlotte). I shouldn’t expect anything else. It was a very funny conversation after all, especially when Mr Socktopus (sock made into an Octopus) took over the screen and when I discovered that I couldn’t hear them all because my head phones were not plugged in. Luckily for me I am skyping from my bed so during my many cataplectic attacks I just fell back onto the bed. Pretty funny for them as suddenly I was there and then I was gone.

Off for dinner with the indian family I am staying with, wonder what there reaction will be if I have a moment??? I will refrain from making any funny jokes over dinner.

I have my narcolepsy leaflet in my pocket just in case -:)