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a travel blog by Clairesj

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Maidenhead, United Kingdom

Im almost all packed now- thank god i somehow got 46kg luggage allowance! i dont think ill ever find anything i actually need in my bags! Im flying at 9.45 from Heathrow tomorrow morning and getting to Bombay at 11pm (their time), then a connecting flight to Chennai to arrive there at 3 am on wednesday. im hopefully meeting two guys on the trip who arrive an hour after me, then we can sit it out until morning to get a tuk tuk ride to a hotel and meet the trip leader and anyone else that has already arrived.
Im very excited and nervous now. counting down the hours....!

permalink written by  Clairesj on April 27, 2009 from Maidenhead, United Kingdom
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tuk tuks, Chapatis and hot hot heat!

Chennai, India

Wow, so i arrived in Chennai at 6am, after various flight delays, and found some English people of the flight who i shared a taxi to the hotel with. the taxi could manage a maximum of 20mph but the roads are so crazy i was glad! it is mega hot here, going up to around 40 degrees in the day and 30 at night. it was a shock seeing so many people sleeping in the middle of pavements and tuk tuks everywhere- the drivers always hassaling for business and ripping us off a lot! there is not much for tourists here, we spent a long time going to a fort which was uninspiring (after a tuk tuk driver had taken us completely the wrong way and still charged us! the beach is really dirty, as are the streets with open sewers you often have to cross to get to restaurants! oh the food is taking some getting used to, especially when i open up a menu and have no idea what anything is! usually i ask what is not spicy and get that! I have met 3 people on the trip who are all easy to get along with- one from uk, one from Holland and one from
Sweden. Danny the trip leader is also from Holland. more people have arrived today so we are meeting them later. tomorrow we are finding out all about the trip and meeting BiRT (the big red truck) for the first time. we are heading to Bangalore on saturday which should take a long day of driving to get to. Im itching to go climbing now and get out of the crazy city!

permalink written by  Clairesj on April 29, 2009 from Chennai, India
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granite, bolts and bushfires

Bangalore, India

We had a day of traveling on BiRT to get to a village near Bangalore.the humidity is better here but it is still incredibly hot, so climbing starts at 6 or 7 in the morning, with a long break in the afternoon, then sometimes there are a couple of cooler hours before it gets dark. we are camping on a locals land, with rocks 5 mins walk away.
we did some sketchy granite slabs yesterday with very spaced bolts! (we have already had a minor casaulty when ben fell off and sprained his ankle) and some vertical crimpy climbs with awesome moves (i have one climb i need to go back to because i was 2 moves away from finishing the crux!) today we found various boulders and made up some lines and traverses. i am on cook duty tomorrow, so am cooking for 13 people, so im shopping now for rice and veg! there is a great mix of people of the trip from uk, Holland, Spain, america, mexico, Sweden, etc! the evenings have been great, chatting round the fire and exploring a huge well last night- the first time i have washed in a few days!
i have my eye on some great looking pillars of rock for an early start tomorrow, multipitch sport routes. we have 2 more days here then 2 driving days until we arrive in Hampi!!!

permalink written by  Clairesj on May 4, 2009 from Bangalore, India
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Boulders, boulders, boulders!!!

Hampi, India

I got some more climbing done in Bangalore, and also managed to drop my phone out of my pocket so a local picked it up.
We moved onto Hampi, and found some new roads had been built, so made it in a day (13 hours of driving) but it didnt seem like a long journey as there are lots of seats in BiRT to swap and change, some with a great view, and books, games and bouldering mats in the back which make a comfy bed! it has been ridiculously hot though.
I didnt realise but Hampi is an island, and the main shopping area of hampi is across the river. we drove through ENDLESS boulders and mountains of boulders, until we reached a guesthouse that we were camping within the site. we spent one night there then found a guest house up the road that is the same price but we get rooms and showers and a real toilet! although the power and water seem to get turned off randomly here! there is also a chill out area with a great view, with mattresses on the floor, pillows and low tables. last night was great when pete and jeremy played accoustic guitar there- pretty atmospheric!
so the climbing!!!- well its even hotter here so we have been getting up at 5am to be at the boulders as soon as pos as the sun is rising. we dont have guide books, so we just walked towards some rocks and looked for problems. slopers, crimps and a few that felt pretty high! but the granite is so sharp, that fingers are suffering very quickly. We lasted about 2 hours yesterday, but got lots done, and an hour today. i already have a problem to go back to when my fingers dont hurt so much! A few from the group had a wander today and found Chris Sharmas famous problem, so will prob check that out soon!
we then went and had breakfast at the Happy Buddha Bar which actually has some western food! i had a cheese sandwich, and a nutella pancake yesterday- bliss!
the days when it gets mega hot are spent sitting around in the chill out area, and i might get the boat across to hampi central and do some shopping.
we are here for 8 days, and gaining 2 more people on the trip. the girls are getting outnumbered! it will be 11 guys to 4 girls. so we have invented 'fancy friday' as a day to do girly things like get dressed up and even put some make-up on!
sorry about the lack of photos- the computer wont accept my card so i cant upload any.

permalink written by  Clairesj on May 8, 2009 from Hampi, India
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Cobras, Elephants and Monkeys

Hampi, India

I have so much to write, but it feels like the days go by slowly and relaxed here! its so hot in the day that we spend most of it sitting in the shade in the chill out area, sometimes doing some pull-ups and training or Ed teaching us some yoga!
On monday, we went to the double arete problem, which is on the Pilgrimage DVD and the guys tried this problem- its cool, with a scary dyno at the top. i think Danny or Alberto will get it before we go. in the evening we went on a scramble that Pete had already discovered. Me and Lorraine found it so scary! there were steep slabs we had to go up and down with drops either side and balanced rocks in precarious positions. it was much more difficult than i was expecting! we had to resort to lots of help from the others! but i still really enjoyed it. im not going to underestimate a scramble again!
yesterday i went with 4 others to a new area of bouldering and found some hard problems that i really enjoyed. they are still works in progress, but im beginning to feel a bit more confident. although im still a long way off how confident i was at the end of last summer, which is frustrating sometimes. in the afternoon, we went across the river and wandered round some temples. an elephant was inside one, and if you gave her money, she blessed you with her trunk on the top of your head!
we also experienced some good bartering for trousers, which most of the group now have! they are already falling apart but you cant complain when it is so cheap.
Jeremy and i saw a Cobra today near where we were going to climb! we decided to climb somewhere else instead! i want to hire a scooter and go to a lake this afternoon.
ive found the people on HotRock arent as psyched as i expected, but im not either compared to normal. it may be the heat and getting to know everyone. the group seems to be relaxing though.
we are getting used to luxury here with the Laughing Buddha restaurant next door and showers when we want, or at least when the water is working! i think Badami is going to be bush camping again!

permalink written by  Clairesj on May 12, 2009 from Hampi, India
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useless motorbikes, lakes, and temples

Hampi, India

I wasnt planning on writing so often, but it has been a busy few days. good and bad. ill start with the bad- most of the guys were trying this really hard boulder with a dyno at the top (i may have mentioned it before). Flavius tried it and nearly touched the top, but fell and landed awkwardly on his knee and was clearly in agony. we had to improvise a splint and Alberto and Garath carried him down to a waiting tuk tuk and took him to hospital. He is back already with a splint on, but it is a torn ligament, and has to rest for 3 weeks, then not sure after that. So im not sure what he will do as he is inly on the trip until Dehli, which is about a month away. He is so frustrated and we can all sympathise, but feel helpless. i think it has made people think about how easy it is to get injured, so we will be extra careful now.
on to a happier note- yesterday was great fun! in the morning we did some really good bouldering, then in the afternoon, Samora and I hired a motorbike and went to find a nearby lake. the bike was the last one left, and the owner said it may struggle up hills! what we didnt realise was he meant any kind of slope would reduce us to getting off and pushing the bike up! we did start to get the hang of picking up momentum on a downward hill to get up the other side, but this was a bit scary when i was sat on the back going over pot-holes and around cows! we found the lake after getting lost and going up unnecessary hills! the first sign we saw said 'no swimming, beware of crocodiles'. so we were a bit tentative to go in the water as it was very murky! but there were locals in other parts of the lake, so we had a swim, which was lovely. we then headed back via the monkey temple. this involved a LOt of steps to reach it! it is pearched on top of a hill and is inhabited by lots of monkeys, who seemed quite friendly. we were invited into the temple and given some dried fruit and red paint on our foreheads (for good luck i think), then as we were leaving, we were invited into a house that was built into a rock and sat down on the floor while the owner started making chai. he spoke little English. then other locals joined us. it was a bit strange! all in all a good day!
I am hoping to have some kind of party tonight for my birthday tomorrow. we were thinking fancy dress as there is a fancy dress box in the truck.
we move on to Badami tomorrow, for sandstone (kinder on the fingers), sports, and trad.

permalink written by  Clairesj on May 15, 2009 from Hampi, India
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My Birthday with cake!

Badami, India

So my birthday was on Saturday, and we had a party on the truck, as it was a drive day. we played music and sang along from about 9 in the morning (the journey started at 5am), then all the guys decided to look through the truck fancy dress box and found womens clothes to put on (apparently this is a HotRock tradition Danny and Pete told us and which their dresses were!) it was entertaining when we stopped at a service station for some Chai! when we arrived at Badami, we went though the town, and everyone was covered in orange or pink powder- to do with local elections i think. a local through some orange powder through the window of BiRT so we got covered in orange. Dave got covered in pink in the town later and is still pink after swimming and quite a few showers! We then found a hotel close to our bush camp that has a swimming pool!! So we enjoyed a relaxed afternoon, ordering nice food and using their showers to wash our hair! i need to go back for another shower!in the evening, i found that a few of the group had found a bakery in town that actually sold birthday cakes! that was a good surprise! mum had sent me a singing candle which made it feel quite like a birthday! all in all- a good day!
The climbing- i have found some great sports routes, and have started leading again, even though im not always gertting to the top, it feels like definate progress. the routes are really nice, vertical o slightly overhanging with lots of jugs and crimps.i top roped some brilliant 6bs and 6cs but got very pumped! i also did a 2 pitch trad route close to our camp site. there is no guide book for most of the trad, so i dont know if any one has done it before. startin a route that you dont know what is like is quite unnerving. it felt a bit sketchy especially with big blocks in a crack that i wasnt sure how secure or stable they were!i think it was probably only servere or HS but it felt scarier!
the town here is very hectic, especially the market. it is a bit of a nightmare to buy food, but im getting used to what food is available. Im on cook duty with Suuz today and yesterday, and we found chicken in town-the first meat we have had in quite a while! it was a bit gross though becasue they had cut it all up, including th head and eyes, liver, heart etc! so Suuz had to go though it taking out the bones and other bits we didnt want!it was very tasty though!
Hopefully we have 4 days left here becasue we voted not to go to Mumbai for a day later on in the trip, giving us 2 extra days somewhere. Goa is next on the list- probaby go on Monday. it will be nice to have some time off climbing- let my fingers and muscles recover, and relax on a beach.
oh and Flavius has gone to Goa today to see a specialist about his knee (apparently its a torn ligament), then he will probably go home from there. but HotRock gives him the time he misses to claim on the trip at another time, so we are hoping he will come back for Thailand!

permalink written by  Clairesj on May 20, 2009 from Badami, India
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sand, sea and luxury

Anjuna, India

It was sad to leave Badami with so much climbing. I did lots of sport climbing and some trad climbing. we got into a local newspaper in Badami (which we were all given a copy of), its written in the local dialect but there is a picture of us all and i found out which my name is in it! there was also a camera crew that came and videod 2 of the guys climbing, which i think was national. we are getting famous already!
but by the end of the week we were all beginning to feel a bit run down, ready for some time off climbing and some luxury in the form of a hotel room with shower, toilet, bed, fan and fridge! and restaurants on the beach. However, i picked up the bug going round camp, or from something i ate (im not sure), so have been ill for a day now, and the travelling yesterday was a bit grim when your feeling sick. luckily we arrived in Goa in one days travel rather than the expected 2 days and a lot of really bad roads. The hotel rooms are better than we expected, and right on the beach. the beach is a bit dirty, and the current is quite strong, as we discovered when we ran into the sea last night in the dark!
we have hired mopeds to go into town and buy food and use internet. there is actually a supermarket here and it has western food, although its also at western prices. perhaps once a month i can treat myself to a bit of luxury in the form of some good quality ice-cream and proper shampoo and conditioner, to name a few! im surprised im not missing more things from home, but at the moment its not too bad. the other strange thing in Goa is that there are other Westerners around. we have got used to being the only tourists, with all the locals staring at us and asking us our names and country (which i think is the only english most of them know, so it gets very tiring after a while!).
im not sure what plans we have for the next few days are apart from relaxing on the beach and going shopping- there is a market tomorrow that the 4 of us girls are going to go to and hopefully find some bargains.
oh and a new member joined this morning, hes American and called Paul. we are now up to 15 people again.

permalink written by  Clairesj on May 26, 2009 from Anjuna, India
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Anjuna, India

Its just taken me an hour to upload these photos! but hopefully they will give you a very brief idea of where i have been. Sorry its only of Badami and Hampi, but i borrowed Gareths memory stick and he only came on the trip at the end of Hampi! I will attempt to put more photos up soon!

permalink written by  Clairesj on May 28, 2009 from Anjuna, India
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a long journey!

Goa, India

I should start with my last day in Goa, where i joined half of the group in crashing my scooter. my excuse is that i was following Alberto and Samora on their bike, and a goat was in the road, it was bucking so i was watching it as i went past. when i looked back at the road, i realised that the guys had braked for a speed bump (which dont have any warning or colour on them) so i braked a bit too fast and ended up spraweled across the road! i got a nice graze on the elbow and knees! but i was more embarrassed than anything! the bike was a little scraped, but luckily the owner didnt notice when i gave the bike back! i am now religiously applying savlon so my scratch doesnt get infected. i did get back on the scooter and had a nice drive to the next town for lunch at a seafood restaurant.
We then had a 3 day drive to Mount Abu which is in Rajasthan. it was a long drive but i soon discovered that the back 8 seats which face eachother are a very good bed when you put some bouldering mats on them. although there was a fight for a space on it!
I cooked with Ben for the second and third drive day. we had to eat out on the first of our cook days so had to organise a set menu for everyone at a roadside restaurant. then we had a late meal when we arrived here. we went shopping for food as soon as we arrived, whilst Danny sorted out a hotel. we ended up walking down so many alleyways, it was a miracle we found our way back, as locals kept pointing us down the next street! the food turned out well even though we didnt eat to quite late.
Mount Abu is a tourist destination for Indians and it is quite tacky like our seasides.
the climbing today was dissapointing becasue it is used my local climbers only, so its not developed. its mainly slabs that you either toprope or solo. Me and Gareth went searching for a different area and after walking up lots of steps towards a temple, then cut across lots of brambles and slabs before ending up lost and deciding that trying to solo across a steep slab to get an absail to the bottom of the routes but it was very sketchy! so we then tried to find a way out! some of the group had made it to the routes and said they werent worth it anyway!
tomorrow may be a relaxing day because im not feeling brilliant, i may go to the lake and hire a pedalow! Three days here before we head to Jaipur and the pink city.

permalink written by  Clairesj on June 2, 2009 from Goa, India
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The Arc of Asia 2009-2010. Bring on the climbing!

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