More pictures uploaded

From: Tommy Hermansen
Date: Wed Jan 31, 2001 2:30pm
Subject: More pictures uploaded

Hello gang! I just uploaded 16 new images from Varkala and other surroundings… Sorry but the pictures of the elephants didn’t turn out well, so I didn`t bother to scan them.


I’m still alive

From: Tommy Hermansen
Date: Mon Jan 29, 2001 7:52pm
Subject: I’m still alive

Hello my friends, I have recieved a couple of emails lately from people worrying about me being caught in that horrible earthquake. You don`t need to worry, I`m about 70 hours (by slow train) away from the disaster area.

Life here in Varkala is soo laidback that there’s not much to write home about for the moment. Other than taking a daytrip to see the Elephant festival in Kottayam a few days ago, I’ve just been lounging at the beach, working on my tan. The festival was a colorful neonlit event with approx. 50 elephants walking down the main road towards the local temple. Afterwards the inhabitants got seriously drunk and were dancing and partying until the early hours of next day. I’ll write more when something interesting happens.



From: Tommy Hermansen
Date: Thu Jan 18, 2001 12:00pm
Subject: Varkala

Hello my friends, I’ve now made it down to Varkala in the Kerala district in Southwestern India. Bombay was way too dirty and noisy for my liking so I left after only one night at the Gulistan Hotel. My buddy Kjetil never showed up at the hotel that morning (he’d apparently been there the following day), so I decided to head south on my own. I had originally planned to go to Goa, but I met a couple of Finnish girls who were going to Kerala, so I tagged along. The slow train ride was a wopping 44 hours, so I got to know my fellow passengers quite well. Salla and Kamomilla were both students who were taking a few weeks off, from their jobs among the street children of Jaipur up in the north.

Varkala is situated in a popular tourist area, but is still quite laidback and quiet compared to the bigger beaches around Trivandrum and Kollam – not far from here. There’s only a few hotels around here, so most travelers are staying in private homes and chalets. My hosts are the Padmaviljasam family, and their house is right next to the local temple. Every morning around 6 am the Hindus are ligthing their firecrackers, which is the Hindu equivalent of lighting a candle. Only that this wakes up the entire neighbourhood!! Kamel, the 22 year old boy who’s acting as manager while his father is out working in Bahrain, is very fascinated by my psychedelic trance albums, and the minidisc walkman I’ve brought with me.

I got a room with bathroom for only 2000 rupees a month (400 Norwegian kroners), so I’m staying here until the 18th of February. The beaches are very nice and clean, and the Arabian Sea is soothing after being cooked tenderly by the scorching sun. There are some beach merchants here, but not as many as at the more popular places I’m told.



From: Tommy Hermansen
Date: Sat Jan 13, 2001 12:58pm
Subject: Bombay

Just some first impressions of Bombay: I landed at the airport at 5 am this morning. The Kuwait Arlines flight was very good, and with their reasonable prices I can definitely recomend using them if any of you guys are heading this way. The airport was dodgy to say the least, I knew right away I had landed in India. But somehow everything seemed to flow efficiently, the people were helping each other, and also helping keeping the luggage on the lousy transport when we were waiting for our bags. Even though this was early in the morning there were lots of taxis and people waiting by the exit. I walked away from it all to gather my thoughts, and sat down to talk to a man sitting in the parking lot.

He told me it was way too far to walk into town, and that a taxi should cost me around 250rp. Then a guy with one of these open moped based taxis offered to take me to town for that amount. It was quite far so I thought the price was OK. Suddenly he stopped and told me to jump over to another taxi. This time a cab (a car). The first guy paid the second driver 120rp to take me the rest of the way. Some scheme he was running for sure… Anyway I ended up by an OK hotel after the third try, the driver was nice and went with me inside at all the places to ask if there was a room available. So I ended up at an air-conditioned room for 1000rp a night, which is about 200 norwegian kroner. I’m just staying over the weekend though, I need to head down to Goa to wind down from all this hustle and bustle.

I met a cool guy who’s working at my hotel, maybe we’ll go out for a beer when he’s ended his shift. All in all I’m doing OK down here, just need to get used to the Indian way of life…Hope to find my friend Kjetil tomorrow.



From: Tommy Hermansen
Date: Sun Jan 7, 2001 8:48pm
Subject: Amsterdam

Hello from Amsterdam! The first leg of this trip is now happening! I arrived at Schiphol on Friday the 5th about 1 p.m. local time, the wind was nearly tearing the plane apart as the pilot slammed it onto the runway. But the landing went just fine… luckily! Amsterdam is a cold place during the winter months, so I’ll really appreciate puting my feet down on shimmering Mumbaian tarmac next Saturday morning. GOT THE TICKET IN MY BAG!! I was worried I would get stuck here ’cause I never heard anything from the Dutch travellers agent who I booked my flight through, but the ticket was printed and ready in their shop so everything went really smoothly. The budget is getting a huge cut out here, everything is just as expensive as back home in Oslo. This last weekend I spent around 500 guilders (2000 kroners) which is just too damn much on a limited budget, so beginning tomorrow I’ll skip eating out all the time, and buy all my food at the Supermarket instead. I got carried away I guess. I went clubbing at Marcanti Plaza on Friday, and Mazzo on Saturday. Mazzo was especially huge fun as ever!


Next destination: Mumbai – India (13th January 2001)