Tuesday, December 29, 2009

At Mar Musa

28/12/09

At Mar Musa, people usually leaves after breakfast. They arrange service (taxi) from the nearby town Nabek, or they walk across the rocky mountain and hitchhike at the stone mine. In either way we say goodbye. Sometimes we hug and kiss, wishing each other good luck for their forthcoming journey; most of the time we don't even know each other's name; we stand and smile as if we really mind and care, or as official as we can, or as polite as we want.

A lot of people left today, a lot of new faces, again. People usually stays for a night or two, this is my fifth night here, a lot of nights to come though. Seeing the flowing of crowds I am a bit uneasy, how can people treat gathering and separation so easy when there is no interest/ profit involved? I don't like the feeling at all. Deep inside. I knew the uneasiness came from the separation with Gabor Csonka, my travel partner for the past three weeks.

Gabor left yesterday to Damascus, continuing his journey to Jordan. I decided to stay longer in Mar Musa, read a bit and waiting for year 2010 to come. To be frank I have no where to go, especially during the festive season, I don't want to stuck in Beirut, not finding a host, stay in an expensive dormitory and cook instant noodle for dinner. At Mar Musa, at least I know I can sit with someone who I knew for a few days, greeting each other for a better year, and I knew I am guaranteed three good meals a day. Wasn't able to go with Gabor not only because he doesn't want to go to Lebanon, also because he has someone waiting for him at Jordan.

It was eggplant and zucchini for lunch today, topping with yogurt. I learned how to eat eggplant in Iran and fall in love with it; as I learned how to eat okra in Pakistan and fall in love with it; as I learned how to eat zucchini in Syria and fall in love with it.

Chubby came back after lunch. It was really good for me to see him, I recalled how lonely I was last night during dinner, sitting among a group of Americans I have nothing common to talk about with. He has both of his hands in the pocket of his jacket, sadness in his eyes.

So how are you? I asked.
Sappy. Sad and happy, what is the English word for that?
Is there light at the end of the tunnel?
I guess so, he said.

How about you, how do you feel? He asked me back.
I missed Gabor Csonka.
I think I have never been so honest before.

And suddenly I recalled, making a habit one just need to continue doing one thing for 21 days. Stop smoking for 21 days and you quit smoking; start waking up at 4am for 21 days and you start waking up at 4am. I guessed after traveling or living together for 21 days, Gabor became my habit.

Your always-judging travel partner? Chubby teased.
Yes. My always judging traveling partner.

Do you still want to meet him in the future? He asked.
Yes. I still want to meet him. It is about telling myself more than answering him.
And is there any chance for you to meet him accidentally somewhere? He asked.
I don't think there is possibility to meet somewhere accidentally, but it can be arranged I guessed.

At Mar Musa, time passed easily. After the 8am morning mass we had our breakfast, it is usually bread, olive oil and olives, apricot jam, yogurt and cheese. Occasionally we will have egg and tomato. After the breakfast, chef Pierre will instruct us on how to cut the vegetables, preparing for the lunch. We have really good lunch here, usually with a lot of vegetables, with rice or pasta. Before lunch there will be two to three hours free which I usually sit in front of the computer to type something. Going for a walk is a good idea but I walk too slowly I will miss the lunch. Lunch is at 2.30pm. After lunch we will help to clean up the dishes, sit and chat a bit and the day turned dark. 6pm is usually the time for shower, I will walk the way up back to the new monastery, soak myself in the hot water. Then it is time for 7pm meditation follows by 8pm evening mass. Dinner at 9pm. By 10.30 or 11pm everyone say good night and we are wished sweet dreams.

Father Paulo saw me after the meditation session.
So how are you today? As usual he asked.
Better than yesterday, I said.

And I knew, tomorrow is going to be better.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Back to the City

14/12/09

Arrived at Damascus after sunset last night. Had been traveling with Gabor for the past 5 days. The first night we were sleeping outside a police station, second night in the hotel, third night we wanted to sleep in a mosque but was invited to a local house in a village about 30km out of Damascus, forth night at Mar Musa monastery, and we split up in Damascus last night, sleeping with different couchsurfing host. My host is a British girl who is studying Arabic here; and his host is a Syrian girl.

It was a great experience hitch hiking, sometime in the dark, I will never do it myself. It was a special experience knocking on the door of the police station, ask to sleep inside but they offer us to sleep outside. The police carried us two beds, I guessed it is from the prison cell, with simple blanket. Out of the night we were woken up and questioned by two police traveled for distance to the desert, just because there are 2 foreigners there. They are from the security office, to investigate if we are spy sent by America or Israel. I had a sleeping bag for +23 degree Celsius. In the desert, it is a joke. Most of the time suffering from coldness, always have to run with backpacks, simple bread and sesame paste (i love sesame paste), standing under the rain. But great things happened, of course.

While we were hitchhiking, someone sent us a tea to the highway.. hitchhiking with tea! It makes us warm. The villager who invited us to his house, provide us with good dinner and breakfast, the special people that we met in the monastery out of no where, the wind that try to distort everything almost swept me into the sky.

And my travel partner, I guess you are more interested on that. After few days travel, we still don't know that much about each other, we learned something from each other of course, I learned how to hitchhike, travel cheap and some photography skill; he learned how to communicate and more sensitive in treating people.

We will continue the trip after 2 days in Damascus, spend around one more week traveling before we hit Aleppo, our starting point. After that I will head to Lebanon, and Gabor will be heading to Jordan.

So, finally in the city of Damascus, had good sleep last night on a sofa, warm enough for me. Got to buy a sleeping bag so that I can learn how to search for places to sleep in the wild. You will be surprised that travel can be done under 5 dollar a day. Lesser if there is no internet :)

Take care friend. Till then.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Travelmate

08/12/09

Will be traveling with a Hungarian guy who have been traveled for the past 7 years. Not sure if it will turned out good as people tend to be more stubborn and self-centered after long term traveling.. but my motivation is simple -- to see how one can hitchhike for 7 years and what are the differences between his travel style and mine. His motivation can be simpler -- to try a Chinese Malaysian girl who is divorced and has a 3 years old daughter (that's what I told him). Too bad I am not too tempted to try him so probably the 'project' will fail after just one day. Let's see.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Ready to Reboot

01/12/09

Sent 2 postcards at Şanliurfa post offıce 5 mınutes ago. At the moment of steppıng out of the post offıce, the story of [Central Station] ran through my mınd, may be the offıcer wıll just brought the postcard back to hıs house, tear ıt or keep ıt, never reached my frıend's post box back home.

It ıs my 10th day ın Turkey. Exıtıng to Syrıa tomorrow, decıded to hıtch hıke, at least to the Akçakale border.

Had refused to learn anythıng regardıng Türkıye, the language, the hıstory, the culture, except the Kurdısh-Turkısh conflıct that came so naturally to me. I told myself I am crossıng Türkiye, so fast that I shut everything down to standby mode. Yea I know merhaba (hello), and tashakor (thank you) of course, but I almost don't use ıt. Most Turkısh cant speak english, the most english that I heard here ıs: hello Chın (chınese), I love you, I fuck you.

Travelıng can be tıred when you need to keep catchıng up wıth the new ınformatıon, new hıstory, new language, new culture, new people, new thought, new system, ıncludıng new prıcıng! Learnıng need to be so fast or you wıll be soon realısed that you are exıtıng the country just seeıng the scenery, wah wah wah so beautıful ar.. other than beautıful you know nothing. Worse ıf you are expectıng the new place to adapt to your need.. ın other word you are changing one place to became more tourısty, that ıs the most horrible thing that a tourıst can do.

Last day ın Şanlıurfa. I am stayıng wıth a gang of people who believe ın dream. Nothing ıs ımportant, only lıvıng. If you read [On the Road], they are just lıke them. So today when I was walkıng on the street, I thought of the 20 thousand dollar that someone promısed me ıf the busıness happened, perhaps I shall gave 10% to these people for theır dream as well. But I dont even sure ıf there ıs 0.001% of chance that I can get the money, so stop dreamıng.

Pei said my english ıs ımprovıng.. HAHAHAHA so happy.. I miss writing ın mandarin..

So Türkiye, bye bye for the moment and I wıll be back to buy tent ın Istanbul before going to Europe!!

..arghh need to start learnıng Arabic... =S

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Long postıng

26/11/09

Hey frıends, ıt has been such a long tıme sınce I last updated thıs page. Lıfe has been good to me, so good you can never ımagıne.

I was rejected the Iraqı vısa at Iraq-Iran border, makıng me ceased the ıdea of vısıtıng the Iraq Kurdıstan area. Two days later, I was rejected to enter Turkey at Iran-Turkey Sero border. It was lucky that there ıs one offıcer who can speak englısh, tellıng me ıt ıs because my passport ıs old and they cant fınd the Malaysıa logo under the cover page usıng ınfra-red. I have no choıce but to go back to Iran. He doesnt know ıf the northern Iran-Turkey Bazargan border uses the same system, but surely flyıng wıll be a good optıon. I dont have money to fly and my Iran vısa ıs goıng to expıred ın 2 days tıme, ıt ıs whether I trıed the Bazargan border or go back to Tehran, extend the vısa and exıt by traın. I have spent all my Iranıan Rıals and have 10 Turkısh lıra ın my pocket, I am at the border whıch ıs more tham 30km from the nearest town, my newly bought 15USD boots has just broken apart (half of the bottom part dropped out), the weather was so cold ıt started to raın and the wınd ıs ıcy.

I thınk, ıt must be the worst day I can ever remember. I cant understand someone cannot cross the border wıth a passport whıch ıs not expıred, and wıth a natıonalıty whıch does not need a vısa. I dont understand why my boots broke on a bad tıme. I dont understand why ıt always start to raın when bad thıngs happened.

I walked back to the bus to collect my bıg backpack. Askıng the offıcer ıf he can help me to ask the drıver ıf he can refund me a part of my money (I bought the tıcket to Van but I just traveled untıl the border). The drıver so kınd gıvıng me back the whole sum of the tıcket, changed my Turkısh lıra to rıal wıth a better rate, and gave me 5 dollar extra money to take taxı. I wasnt able to speak at that tıme, I felt blessed wıth all the shıts happened, just wanted to cry.

And ıt started to snow, so wıld that some snow flew ın the car even we have the wındow closed. I felt ınnocent at Urmıa bus termınal, for the last hundred rıal credıt ın my phone, I sms my CS frıend Poorıya to send me my old boots, I thınk I cannot afford a paır of new boots ın Turkey. Yea he sent me boots, and some fruıts and bıscuıt from her mum so that I wont get hungry on the bus. I cant speak, I have no words for all the trouble I have brought and they never say 'no' or make an annoyıng face.

I was on the bus from Urmıa to Maku, a town near to the Bazargan border. It was such a tıred day I cant bear ıt both physıcally and mentally. Fall asleep most of the tıme ın the bus. A gırl sıttıng besıde me asked, where are you from? Malaysıa. Oh Malaysıa? I thought you are Afghan!

The gırl alıght at the Unıversıty ın Khoy and another gırl came up and sat besıde me. We started to talk wıth my very lımıted Farsı. She doesnt know a sıngle englısh word. I ended up spendıng the nıght ın her house. She and her husband are devoted muslım, they are the fırst couple I met who told me they love Iran, they lıke Ahmadınejad, who thanks the government for gıvıng them cheap petrol and cheap gas. That nıght I stayed ın a house up the rocky mountaın, wıth mıllıons of stars. They cooked for me the best khoresh e morgh (somethıng lıke chıcken curry) I have ever had, so much chaı, they make popcorn. Fatımeh, the gırl ınsısted I took one of her wool knıtted jacket and a paır of jeans when she saw everthıng I had wıth me. I refused for several tımes and fınally only took the jacket. I searched through my bag for a sıngle extra thıng that I can gıve her, fınally handover the old lady scarf I bought ın Chına.

That nıght before I slept, I knew I wıll cross the border successfully tomorrow, for sure. So much trouble and hassle, just to make me see these people, dıfferent from the rest of the ıranıan who rushıng to leave the country for good, for freedom, for whatever reason. And I stıll have the Doa from Fatımeh, some wrıtıng from Quran that I dont understand. It ıs the best day that I can ever remember sınce my travel, I knew I am blessed, always.

I crossed to Turkey the next day mornıng, no lıra ın my pocket thıs tıme. Mt Ararat standıng just across the border, wıth the small Ararat besıde ıt. So cold, I took a walk as I cant fınd a prıvate car to brıng me to the nearest town. At the check post, the polıce hand me a freshly baked bread.

Paıd 5 dollar ın ıranıan money to get to the town, too good that they take the money. Wıthdrew Turkısh lıra from ATM ın Turkey, ATM.. haha, ıt ıs lıke a world far from me for the past 2 months. From Doğubayazıt to Van ıs a 3 hours rıde. Turkey ıs so dıfferent from whatever that I have for the past few months, westernızed, modern, developed, and VERY expensıve.

Called my host ın Van, he happened to be a Kurdısh, and a famous guy ın town, owned the best hotel here. I got to check ın the 4 star hotel, everythıng ıs well-prepared. We went to the 3000 years old castle ın the afternoon, have good dınner at nıght, days wıth a lot of chaı, beer, wıne, rakı, chıcken wıngs. Thıs ıs a kınd and wıse man, I judged wıth 2 questıons:
What ıs the best thıng that has happened to you?
Oh so many best thıngs I cant count.
What ıs the worst thıng?
No there ıs never worst thıng.

For thıs I fall ın love wıth thıs man. But he has a famıly, one wıfe and 4 kıds.. always too late for good stuff uh?! haha. But I belıeve the best thıng comes at the best tıme, nothıng ıs too late or too early, they are just at the rıght tıme when ıt shall happen. So, I am leavıng tonıght to Dıyarbakır. Oh Van ıs such a beautıful cıty, I went for a Turkısh movıe and fall asleep ın the theatre, I have a lot of walk wıth myself along the beautıful Van lake, people are busy ın preparıng for Harı Raya Hajı.

Receıved a maıl from a frıend askıng me to take care of myself when I am ın eastern Turkey, as they are not as good as the west. Thıs ıs what the tour leader told us when I went to Turkey ın a package tour few years back. I always thought eastern turkey ıs dangerous, radıcal, everyone are extremıst. No no, ıt ıs all polıtıc! And Turkısh and Kurdısh stıll dıfferentıate themselves, lıke the Malaysıan dıfferentıatıng themselves by ethnıcıty. However the whole natıon stıll workıng together towards the same goal, to be accepted ınto the European Unıon. Eastern Turkey ıs where the Mesopotamıa cıvılısatıon located, they are proud of thıs, fertılıty and water, thats where lıfe grows.

Long and messy post yea :) Pardon my englısh, I have no tool to read or wrıte mandarın here. And hey hey tell you what, I am really happy that I am travelıng, I mean after so many days how can one never get bored wıth the routıne of movıng?! I cant belıeve that such a beautıful thıng ıs happenıng on me. That day when we saw the whole Van cıty under our eyes, so clean and clear, my frıend told me I am lucky as ıt has been cloudy for many many days. I answered, I am always lucky.

Aha, so I shall put a stop here.
Wısh you all the luck all the luck.
Take good care.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Moving On

16/11/09

I was so depressed for the past few days searching for the right decision to make, whether to stay in Iran for the coming few months (teach mandarin to exchange for accommodation and food), leave to Kurdistan, leave to Armenia, etc etc. But the hint that I always looking forward came yesterday, I am leaving Tehran today to Orumiyeh and from there to Iraq Kurdistan. Already get a host in Kurdistan area, now the only uncertainty is if they issue visa for Malaysian at the border. In case no, I never thought of 'in case no', hehe.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

I like Kabul

Things never stop happening in Kabul. I was in the room when someone slapped on my door and asked me to leave the room. Shall I go up or down the floor? What happened? Is it Taliban or bomb? I have no clue. Once I was out from the guesthouse, the guesthouse had already been surrounded by police and passerby, it was on fire! And my stuff, oh my stuff.. damn it still in my room!! Shall I go back and rescue my stuff? Will the fire be pulled out on time before it burned my room? What happened if the firemen are so slow?

This is Afghanistan.

Arrived in Herat on Monday and spent 3 days there before took a flight to Kabul. Herat is supposed to be a more 'safe' city but may be due to all the 'advises' on not going, I did not enjoy Herat so much. Most of the time my mind was occupied with the thought 'what if someone is targeting me', too anxious to enjoy the stay.

Kabul is nice. It is so chaotic, dirty, dusty, polluted, heavy traffic, crowded, noisy etc etc.. but hey it is so lively. Everyone seems to be on the street, women in cloaks, men in turbans, kids selling stuff and some flying kites on Friday, restaurant busy doing business, purchasing on going, streets are full with people, shouting for customers. I like Kabul, although people keep telling me to leave as fast as possible because it is not safe.. and I believe it somewhat, for example the fire half an hour ago, so unexpected. But I like Kabul.

Anyway wont be able to stay long, money is running out. Paying 12dollar for my room, 2-3dollar for a meal, 1dollar for internet.. might run out of cash when returning to Iran, a country where no international ATM is available, which is not a good idea as might want to spend some more time in Iran.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Listening to Omen

29/10/09

I watch for the omen, so carefully, scared that I will miss the hint from God in a blink. I knew it is about the right time and the right place, once you missed it, bye bye.

Yesterday was a hard day, with the news of suicide bombing in a guesthouse in Kabul Shah-e-Nau, where the guesthouses are located, it scared me a bit. Andy from CouchSurfing (I knew him through VirtualTourist Singapore gathering) sent me an email advising me not to go at this time; the other ChouchSurfer from Bamiyan who I wrote to request host replied my mail saying this is not a good time. I am not sure if these are omen, I mean the emails, and the news.

I regard getting the certification letter easily from Malaysia Embassy is a hint of go, but after yesterday news, I am not so sure. So I went to the Afghanistan Embassy yesterday morning, full of hesitation and uncertain. The officer accepted the application without a question of reason visiting the country, not even look through the form before the approval. Paid 25 Euro for the visa, and almost right after that I have regretted, asking myself why can't I wait.

Yesterday was a tough day, concentrating to listen what is happening and what shall I do, I went back to my friend's house while waiting for the visa to be processed, so tired I fall asleep on the sofa.

It was not so crowded when I went back to the Afghanistan Embassy at 2pm. Some one trying to talk to me in Farsi (The language is called Dari in Afghanistan), I replied with my very limited Farsi vocabulary, or most of the time just 'na midunam'(I don't understand). There are some Afghan there, one of them is a teacher who teach in Bamiyan University, it surprised me a bit as I thought there wont be any higher education in the country as it suffers from war, he speaks good English.

I was concerned if I shall wait after the election, as everyone said the situation will get worsen before the election; but then it will be winter soon, and who knows it will be any better after the election? I was surrounded by the Afghans in the embassy, most of them refugees, who born in Iran, but still with a refugee identity. They shall leave Iran after graduating from school. Some of them speak a little bit English, but too obvious they have an uncertain live.

So why shall you wait for the election, are you a journalist? The university teacher asked. No I am a turist (tourist), I told him. So just go! The winter will step in soon and it will be so cold by then. But what about the safety? I am concerned if it is more safe to travel before or after the election. He smiled and said, you know thing only happened once or twice in a month, not everyday.

So I have Afghananistan visa in my passport, and my confidence boosted a bit after coming out from the embassy. I looked Afghan for sure, the teacher told me if I am in the town of Hazara, no one will suspect that I am a foreigner; and by now seems that as long as I skip Kabul, Herat, Bamiyan and Mazar-e-Sharif are in low risk to visit. Everyone from the north supporting Kanzai, they said the government is good.

I went home and found Kausar's email in my mailbox. Emailed him to ask about the better time to visit the country as he knew Afghanistan well, shall I go or shall I wait. Just go and don't wait, he replied in the email.

So I am heading to Mashhad, perhaps tomorrow night. Repacking and leaving all the unnecessary thing in Tehran, telling my friend to dispose them if they don't hear from me after a month time, but I have a good feel that I will be back.

Planning for next

28/10/09

To apply for an Afghanistan visa in Iran, you need to have a 'surat pengesahan' from Malaysia Embassy. So yesterday I went to the Malaysia Embassy in Iran.

Was a bit worry if they refuse to give me the letter. Surprisingly, after a long interview, the letter is in my hand.

It was so warm to see people from home, speaking Malay which I have largely forgotten, but still with a feeling of familiar. The Malay secretary seems so lonely in Tehran, without knowing Farsi after two years, telling me I can call his number if I have problem, even have no problem also feel free to call.

And I went back to Afghanistan Embassy with the letter. Met an Afghan who know a little bit English at the Embassy, he told me my feature looked like Hazara, people from the central part of Afghanistan; But it reminded me on the Hazara in The Kite Runner.

Woke up this morning and read that another attack in Kabul near a UN guesthouse killing three UN staff. Start to think if I shall extend my Iran visa and visit Afghanistan after the election on 7 Nov; or forget Afghanistan and proceed to Iraq Kurdistan area. No one can predict if the situation will get better or worsen.

Wanted to meet a Malaysian who just overland from Tajikistan to Iran via Afghanistan but seems like he is not checking his mail. Still unable to find any travel insurance that cover me. If it is a go, leaving Tehran on Thursday night.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Another day in Iran

26/10/09

6th day in Tehran, 23rd day in Iran. Time to sum up Iran trip as exiting the country soon.

Iran has a long history, but the sight seeing appealed so so to me. Yazd has good old city but sexual harassment is not uncommon due to the conservative society. Shiraz is known for its ancient Achaemenid empire of Persepolis, burned down by the drunken Alexander the Great; despite some fine stone mural, we were harassed by two local tourists from the Baluchistan area. Esfahan is known for its romantic square, fine mosques and bridges, perhaps of my high expectation it turned out to be an okie place which I don't really passionate in venture more; spectacular bridges stood over dried river due to the construction of dam, quite pathetic. Near Kashan there is an interesting village of Abyaneh but the public bus only runs on Friday and the taxi is too expensive for solo tourist like me, I missed that village. Qom is a religious city but I was stopped from visiting the Holy Shrine of the sister of 8th Imam. Tehran has a fine archaeological museum which we expected more exhibit; aside from that it is a large city with heavy traffic, large population and air pollution, perhaps just like other large city.

But I love Iran, so much so much that I can't tell with words; perhaps I will cry the day I need to leave.

I was first touched by the Iranian when I was in Hafez Tomb in Shiraz. People come from all over the country to pay respect to Hafez, the poet. Our friend who is a local told us, whenever he has question, he came to Hafez. A lot of Iranian touched when they read the poem, with tears, including both genders. I stood there without a word, how can there be such a romantic nation, who spend time in a tomb, read and weep. I can't tell how touched I was that night, seeing the insight of the Iranian heart, soft and tender, contradicting with the real world they are living in.

None of us know how is the feeling living in the real Iran, where hijab is compulsory for female, where walking with the opposite sex can end up in the police station, where modern music is prohibited, where there is no freedom of religion, where any man without serving military cannot obtain a passport. Everyone here is always careful, careful in talking about the politics and religion, careful about their everyday life in the public, careful about expressing their comment and views. I thought it is too exaggerate, but there is a real case where someone was stopped from leaving the country just because he left some anti-government comment in facebook, and that is it! We have no way to imagine how cruel is that, the only dream that keeps the Iranian from living is the hope of leaving the country, may be the boy will kill himself.

You can't imagine how desperate the Iranian wanted to leave their country. They are all so tired with the current situation, some still go on street but others stay ignorant. Tehran stays nervous after the riots, people apologies for the chaos we saw on the TV. I thought they are young generation who wanted freedom due to the influence of the western country, but it is not true, the 50 years old man I met in Yazd told me he stopped praying in mosque since 30 years ago, after the revolution.

It is a great experience traveling in Iran, different from any other trip. Too much of opinion and thoughts sharing. Iranian are not Pakistani, Pakistani don't care about their country; Iranian loves their country so much, you see people complain about the government with tears in their eyes, most of them are well-educated and very knowledgeable, one of the reason US still dare not invades Iran. Iranian are nationalist, they are certainly different from Afghan or Iraqi.

Too much good experiences here, camp in the desert, dance in the public, pee in the castle, learn to sing a Farsi song, plenty of lunch/ dinner invitation by people who we know a minute ago, hitch hiking, secret party, alcohol, test opium of the best quality, picnic, sharing of Taoism, music music music, chai chai chai (tea), and yes, friendship.

p/s: pardon me for my English and excuse me for my laziness to write. If you are interested in any particular thing about Iran, just drop me a line.

The biggest sun

I know there is some mistake in "the biggest sun" as there is just one sun.. but anyway .. this is the biggest sun I have had in my life up to now, at Esfahan of Iran.

Friday, October 16, 2009

The Party

16/10/09

After hearing so many times about the secret party, I had a chance to attend one myself yesterday night.

It was held in a garden far from the town, girls are all without head scarf, with tight jeans and shirt (too bad it was too cold else everyone will be in their miniskirt and tube), we have plenty of alcohol (wine produced by dates), a lot of good music and whole night dance. And yea, people have body contact when they dance, just like any other country that we are familiar with; and yet it is Iran, an Islamic country.

Iran has two faces, one in the bright and one in the dark. One too conservative and one extremely open. They asked me if I am a Muslim in the party, ironically in the non-Islamic atmosphere around these who the country's leader wanted them to be a Muslim but they themselves don't want to, I said yes.

It was about 4 am when the party ended. We went for an early breakfast, eating sheep face and bread. I really enjoy myself.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Kharanagh之行

在Kharanagh那个沙漠中的小村庄,我们在沙漠中兀起的石壁边睡觉。清晨醒来后在灌木丛后撒了泡尿,天已亮但月亮仍高挂在空中,冷风吹得我赤裸的臀部发凉。昨晚抵达十天已经暗下,没有察觉我们其实睡在干枯的河床,清晨石壁上历史的遗迹清晰,我想起在巴国时有人告诉我,这种石块的画痕是冰川的记号,那个时候这个地方很冷很冷,冰川嵌在山谷中央,自冰河时期就在,日照时融成滔滔一条河,滋润附近的村庄。那个时候一切是不是很绿很绿?村民还建起高架桥横跨过流水,他们可以从这一边走到那一边。

Kharanagh的土城堡现在是一座美丽的废墟,里头意外的大,布满错综复杂的小巷,阳光稀稀落落。城堡内的小房以前住满人,一定非常热闹。人和人在窄窄的小巷中擦肩而过,可能认识也可能不认识;孩子们在小巷里奔跑,喝着大人的叱骂声,婴儿放肆的哭,和着牲畜的粪便味;尽是熙攘,尽是声响,尽是生气。才几百年的时间,冰川完全融化,河水干枯,露出单薄的河床。

我们在城里找水。M没有过问的将最后一口水给了那只叫Bell的胆小狗,我们气结。城里有座被警察封掉的客栈,隔壁似是有人家,一条水管稀稀疏疏流下水。M攀过客栈的墙进里头偷水,O站在水管下用脏水洗下体。M将水一罐罐的从门缝中传过来,O嚷,偷两颗pomegranate!M将满书包的pomegranate传过土墙,他才翻过土墙,被警察用铁丝拴住的门就坏开了。我们经过那头黑骆驼进入城堡,我几乎是跑过去的,M说它会吐口水,而且吐得很远很远,我可不需要这么好的润肤液。

我口里嚼着酸得可以的pomegranate,将籽都吐了出来;O将籽都吞了进去,她可以吃的东西很多,包括苹果核,和所有绿色的植物,从叶到茎。

那天我们搭便车离开。坐在开蓬的小货车后,风啪啪的吹,所有人的脸都被风吹得走形,所有人手脚冰冷。

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Some updates

13/10/09

In Shiraz and traveling to Esfahan tonight. Intended to travel to some small villages but too lazy at the moment. Was traveling with a psycho russian girl, she was very direct yet very fake, always pretending and acting, yet I like her so much because she is so fake. She steals everything whenever she has a chance, raisins, nuts, bread.. whatever you can name. I never met such kind of person before. But too much can be too tiring, we had been traveling for around one week, we met in Yazd. Will have more stories, hopefully if I am not too lazy.

Take care.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Poor Afghani Malaysian

Hui and Ko said I looked poor with my shawal kameez when I was in Pakistan. Yesterday their opinion was proved by a Lahori who study in Iran.

We were sitting at the bench waiting for the custom office to be opened. The Lahori girl told me, you should change your shawal(the baggy pant) as soon as you reached Iran.

Why?

You look like Afghani! Only Indian, Pakistani and Afghani wearing shawal. And with your look, just a typical Afghani!

Ooo..

Actually, even in Pakistan, your clothing are so out of date, only villagers wear that.

Har?

Yea, so better you change it or people will think you are no manner. They will said 'pelu' behind you, it means people who has bad manner..

=S

p/s: Afghani look so much like chinese, small eyes, brown skin. I also think I look so much like an Afghani.. bo bian

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Attacked

07/10/09

Right after I said I like Yazd, I was attacked in the afternoon when I was on my way back to Kohan Hotel, which located in the old city.

Iran is well-known for its hospitality of the Iranian and its notorious sexual harassment towards foreign women traveler, both get proved today, but I will only talk about the latter in this chapter.

It was around 3pm in the afternoon when I was on my way back. Today was an okie day, I bought a long pant with 4.6 dollar in the bazaar, a lotion with 3 dollar, get my fruit shake and sandwich, visited masjid jameh.. followed by an unknown but successfully get rid of him, and I was walking on the small alley back to the hotel when I heard the sound of motor engine behind me.

I turned around and saw a guy on his motorbike heading towards me, he has his hand extended preparing to grab my butt, I immediately siam (siam: hokkien, pardon me I can't find a suitable word in english) and catch his shirt. He was so fast on his bike, I have no way to run as fast so I have to let go his shirt, shouted and chasing behind him. Finally of course he ran-away after his failure attempt and I writen down his number plat in Farsi.

Passed by the police office for tourist but they were closed. Will try to report the case later in the evening. So angry. I have heard the same thing happened to Haru chan who stay in the same room with me in Hunza, she said she experienced 2 times of sexual attacked in Iran, one grab on butt and another on breast. But she concluded: one thing that I have learn is, take it easy.. Made me faint, that's why those culprit only choose Asian as target..

Bypassing Kerman

07/10/09

Seems like there are too many bypassing..

I am already in the old city of Yazd, today is my 2nd day here. I like Yazd, including the hotel I am staying, it was a traditional hotel made by sun dried mud bricks, Yazd is said to be one of the oldest kind of city in the world. It costs me 50000 rials for a bed per night including breakfast, slightly more than 5 dollar. The dormitory is just a small underground room/store room, imagine the room for a maid or slave centuries ago.. the cheapest you can get, but hell the atmosphere on the ground is great, relaxing garden will a small pond, iranian music, breakfast with tea, nan and 2 eggs.. not that expensive after all.

Yea bypassing Kerman. The couchsurfing guy in Kerman that I contacted did not reply my email. Arrived in the city by overnight bus to save money, checked out the cheapest hotel in Lonely Planet but it was fulled. The cheapest musafehkhune (cheap hotel) I can get is 17 dollar, it is definitely too much for a place like Kerman. So I am forced to move.

Ko and Hui arrived have worse experience at Kerman, they arrived one night earlier than me. They arrived in town at night and cannot find any cheap place, the taxi driver sent them to the police station and after that with the police they went to five star hotel. They were charged 5 dollar for the taxi and the five star hotel manager asked them what the hell they are doing in Iran if they have no money! hahaha

For me, too lucky I have 2 legs which work well for me. The taxi driver wanted one dollar for the 2 km distance to the town. I looked at him and think he must as well go rob. The petrol in Iran is so cheap, <0.2USD for a litre, and 2km distance is just 30 minutes walk. So I walked with my backpack the whole morning.. Iran is a country blessed with oil, I was told that every single day they have news on discovery of new oil field.

But no one speaks english, and it makes travel in Iran hard. So I bought a Persian/Farsi language book last night, hopefully it helps. Will stay in this old city for a few days before moving on.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

One leg to the other

Crossed from the sub-continent to the middle east..

Iran is a whole different world from Pakistan..

- Men no longer wearing shawal kameez; but western shirt and pant

- Women are in black chador, no covering of face needed but hijab (head covering) is compulsory

- Couples holding hand in the public

- Women smoking qalyen (smoke with water pipe)

- Almost no english, only Farsi/ Persian

- No more doodchai (milk tea); iranian drinking sweet tea by putting the sugar in the mouth before sipping the tea

- No more 2-3USD bed/room; but 6-7USD bed

- modern, clean, expensive

Monday, October 5, 2009

Bypassing Bam

05/10/09

Reached Iran yesterday morning, escort by the police for the whole morning and noon.. spending too much on transportation because we need to pay for the police! and they made us change from this car to that car to this car to that car, as if some bandits are following behind us and we do that to distract their attention. I am not sure if it is lucky or stupid. Passport was hold by police and was unable to sneak away. All police don't speak english so we had hard time communicating, anyway there is no choice at all for us. Called my CouchSurfing friend, Oudi and got him into trouble. We went to police station to register and later on immigration officers went to his house. He was a professional dental technician (making false teeth) so he promised for some free false teeth. The night was peace and I went out with his family and friends. Iranian life is relax, I tried smoking qalyen too and had some pokara, but it is too cold for me even in this town near the desert. It is too embarassing that I cannot cook. This morning Oudi cook breakfast for me in his workshop (I slept in his workshop) and told me no one will marry an Iranian lady that do not know how to cook. Will have lunch with his wife later in his house, I believe it will be a good lunch.

Rest enough in this border town, going to Kerman today bypassing Bam.

Salam world, I am already in Iran

Salam world, I am already in Iran!!

First of all:
1. No facebook.
2. No mandarin in computer. So if you are writing in mandarin, sorry I can't read.
3. It is 4.5 hours behind Malaysia time.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

IRAN!!

Have had enough of Pakistan.. Iran I am coming!!! =D

Saturday, September 26, 2009

若无其事

朋友,今晚你告诉我你父亲逝世的消息,我努力地在想你心里会是什么样的感受,于是我想起那一夜在夜色已深的巴士上你告诉我你父亲仍像小孩一样让人操心,想起你说想让两老过好日子的话,我于是知道你的痛,尽管屏幕上传来的是过去了的若无其事。

我不知道自己读到的若无其事是不是和事实相符,但却想起自己。以前我在小岛时你总是问我关于我失去父亲的事,问得比任何人都多,问得比任何人都详细,那毕竟是十年前的事了。我有没有告诉过你父亲走过后的那一天我打电话给班上和我最要好的同学,让他告诉班主任我会缺课,因为父亲走了。他于是悄悄地告诉了班主任,像传达一个不可告人得秘密。守灵的日子只有寒冷的夜晚和做也做不完的功课,日夜不停播送的佛曲,还有单薄的自己。父亲火化后我向往常一样上课,全世界都以为我无端逃课,没有人知道我失去了父亲。那三天残忍得让人发抖,我深刻知道自己孤独得连一个朋友都没有。那时的伤害,至今想起我都还会哭,原来十九岁的自己如此介怀,三十岁亦然。因为这样,失去父亲成了一个不可告人的秘密,从一开始就不知道怎么面对;在小岛的那一段日子,我甚至变态到在朋友问起父亲时,佯装他就在家里。

我觉得心里有一个结,缠得死死的。这么多年了它都还在。我常常觉得除非有一天自己能将当晚看见父亲的最后一幕巨细靡遗的口述,否则失去终究是一件放不下的事。那个凌晨我将父亲看得那么仔细,我从来不敢看父亲看得那么仔细,只有在他合上眼后。是不是意味着我们没有正面交流过?《我的父亲,六月》的评审说过,写这篇稿的年轻人只在失去后才懂得惋惜。那时候我觉得他不认识我,根本没有资格批判我的感受。时间不停筛洗,这些年后我承认他当时说得一点都没错。但在当时来说,他的话像刀一样划开我的肉。

我常常想有一天让我口述,我一定泣不成声;但更大的可能性是泣不成声的情景已经在我脑海中上演过千万遍,那一天真的到来,敢情只是若无其事。

后记:
打这篇时我看了遍以前写给你的文字,这是人生必经之路,即使我在你身边,也只是想听着你的呼吸,知道你又好好过了这一刻。其实我什么都不想说,除了叫你少抽一根烟。

Friday, September 25, 2009

关于梦想

朋友,我喜欢和你聊天,因为里头总有很多很多梦想。昨天在互联网上我告诉你我回去后想骑自行车游大马,想一寸一寸地走自己的国家,倾听活在这片土地上的人说话;我说我想设个大马背包客网站,教年轻的一代游走;我告诉你那个关于客栈和咖啡馆的事;我告诉你关于书吧。很多事情我都没有和别人说过,因为它们大半不会实现,只是想想说说而已,但同你我就可以天花乱坠胡乱涂鸦,是我们都爱做的事。我还记得在人行道转绿前你告诉我你要在你的书吧前卖水果,让客人一边看书一边吃水果。我说那你的客人会把书弄脏了。你说walau,泼我冷水。我喜欢那样随便拉来扯去,知道一天即使自己什么也没干成在你面前也不会不好意思。其实我根本不知道几时回家。

我还告诉你我向往简单的生活。你说那要看我愿不愿意。其实路上的生活还不简单?吃饭睡觉,晃晃悠悠。隔日能够再睁开眼睛,已经是人间最美好的事。不过向往还是要有的,没有像往日子不免单调;只是李白的故乡(注)。

你说我回去后你会来找我,于是我知道原来归期有期。因为你会来找我,所以我有一天会回家,然后你会来找我。

Yeah!真好。


注:不是有人这么说吗,李百成天喝酒吟诗没事干,口里不停在说故乡,那么闲的人为什么不回故乡看看。于是那人断定李白是在强说愁,说说罢了。(后来路上遇到一个中国人聊起,才知道李白原来是塔吉克斯坦人,是少数民族,所以故乡在他心里那么远,还李白一个清白)

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

那个和往常无异的早上,巴国的迷思

那个和往常无异的早上,她记不得天上的云有没有比平时多一点,风有没有尝试预告什么,空气里只有像无数个昨天一样,参透着轻微煎饼的味道。那个和往常无异的早上女孩的母亲告诉她,从今天开始,她不可以再和男孩像往常一样走在街上,他们不再可以肩搭着肩,不再可以手挽着手,不再可以像往常一样在街上嬉笑怒骂,肆无忌惮地欢唱奔跑。那个记忆中和往常无异的早晨,母亲告诉女孩,男孩和她是不同的,从今天开始除了上学她必须呆在家里,客人来访时她必须躲到门帘后头,外面的世界与她毫不相关,她必须学习埋葬自己的好奇心,她的一生,要以不被‘其他不相干’的男人看到为荣。

那个和往常无异的早上过去后,女孩开始活在面纱后面,看见男孩时立即噤声低下头,拉起面纱收起笑颜。那个和往常无异的早上过去后,他们的世界翻覆颠倒,不再从前。

------------

每回在街上看见男孩女孩肩搭着肩玩在一起,心里就觉得很奇怪,一直无法想象那一个和往常无异的一天是怎么到来的,朋友怎么能够在某一天过后就突然不是朋友,连吵一场架都省了。

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

找不到出路

这几天不停地在想路线,想来想去找不到出路,最后往往睡着。

1.Iran - Afghanitan - Uzbekistan - Turkmenistan - Azerbaijan - Armenia - Georgia - Turkey

2. Iran - Afghanistan - Iran - Armenia - Georgia - Turkey

3. Iran - Turkey

第一条路线只是签证就会花上上百块美金;第二条路线需要从阿富汗飞回伊朗,才会拿到落地签;第三条路线没什么好说的,大家都这么走。

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Survived Ramadan

20/09/09

Today is the last day of Ramadan, never felt so closed to the festival when I was back home, but this is Pakistan. Yes, survived a month of Ramadan in a country with >96% Muslim. It was not too bad though, I had 8 days in Hunza and 3 days in Chitral; while the Kalasha in Chitral don't fast, Ismaili in Chitral can choose not to fast.

So I am in Gilgit now. There are gun shots since 5 minutes ago, celebrating the end of Ramadan and the beginning of Eid. Yes, they are not using firecrackers like us, they use pistols and guns. And just two minutes ago there were sirens from police cars.. it is forbidden to shot but no one really cares.

It is a different experience to travel in a Muslim country during Ramadan, unlike Malaysia where you can still get food everywhere, it is impossible here before 730pm except simple snacks like samosa. The fasting days or days insisting not to eat in the public is simply self-discipline and basic respect to the local, and yet the locals appreciate you so much for it. One month is not a long time, but a good experience, which I don't really bother to do it back home, a Muslim country.

Traveling in Pakistan do make me want to know Malaysia more. This is an extra gain along the trip, realizing that I know nothing about my own country. How sad.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Look Update

Update of my look.
At Rumbur, the Kalash Valley with a breastfeeding Kalash lady.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

May be I will die soon

17/09/09

I should leave Hunza yesterday morning, but it was my favorite weather since yesterday early morning, rainy and cloudy. No choice, stay for one more night. And it turned out to be an omen to stay for one more day, Hui broken down so badly after her quarrel with Kou the night before, and she needs an ear. I have a pair of ears, more than enough!

And I got severe stomach problem after the Korean dinner the night before yesterday. The problem persists until today.. toilet, vomit. I am not sure why, but I think may be I will die soon. Strange thought but I do think so.

Anyway if tomorrow I still alive, it is time to move to Gilgit for my visa extension. Again. Can't afford anymore delay as next week is the start of Eid (Hari Raya), which they will have long holiday.. and yup, finally got the Iran visa, so heading back to Islamabad to collect the visa..

Too lazy recently. Too too lazy.. no post.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Doing Good

14/09/09

Yesterday as usual we were sitting in Haider Inn attached restaurant doing nothing. Kousuke asked me: what will you do today? I have no answer.

Later in the day I suddenly thought of writing some tips on the hotel guestbook. This is what Japanese and Korean travelers usually do, the guest book is fulled of traveling tips in their language, I was a bit mad on this because I cant read. So I told Hui:

a Hui ar, I think today is a good time for me to do some good thing.
What?
I think I shall write some tips on traveling in the Pakistan after my 2 months here.
Hmm, good.
So do you think I shall write in Malay or Chinese? I dont want to share with other chinese other than Malaysian.
Har? So far how many Malaysian Malay you met on the road?
I met one in southern Laos.
I met three in Cambodia.
Haha. May be one day there will be more?
Don't be sampat la, write in Chinese.
Hmm.. so you think how many page shall I write?
Wa you so geng meh can write many pages meh?
Of course la if I want to write I can write 10 pages I think.
Dont be sampat la..

After I have writen half a page..Hui said:
See chan, I think your writing too messy no one can read leh..
Har?... I thought my writing very beautiful..
......

This is an usual day in Hunza.. sit and squeeze your brain on what shall be done today... or what you want to eat for dinner.. or what time is the dinner time.. or how many cup of chai had you drank.. or how has Iran visa going on... or repeating where you came from and where/ when you started your trip to a new comer.. or sending off a visitor who we knew for few days and had some chats... or just doing nothing. But yesterday I did something good, I hope.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Story Teller

Background: I met Tomami, a Japanese girl in Chinar Inn, Chitral. We don’t talk much other than say 'hi'

Scene 1: 1st night at Engineer Khan GH, Grom village, Rumbur Kalash valley. Having dinner with Engineer Khan.

I saw Tomami registration entry in the guesthouse ad noticed that she stayed for a night and moved to Balanguru village.
Me: Tomami? I met her at Chinar Inn.
EK: You know what, I guessed she must have told you that. Tomani came for the previous years and she always stay with us. This year she stayed with us for a day and she moved to Balanguru, saying that she would like to check out other GH. You know, it is always your choice if you want to change and see the others. So she went to Balanguru, but she came back after the next day! She came back and stayed with us for 6 days. She thinks we are better and she said, no more other GH, haha!

Scene 2: 2nd day evening, small path at Rumbur. Met 1 Japanese with Saifullah (the owner of the Balanguru GH) on their way to Kalash cemetery. They invited me to go together.

Jap: I saw a Japanese lady that day, happened that she is my old friend!
Me: Tomani? I met her at Chitral!
Saifullah: Yea Tomami stayed at my place for 6 days before she left to Chitral.

On the way, Engineer Khan saw us.

Scene 3: 2nd night at Engineer Khan GH, Grom village, Rumbur Kalash valley. After dinner with Engineer Khan, sipping local wine.

EK: You know what, Tomami is so good in using people.
Me: Har?
EK: Yes. You know what, she stayed with us for 1 night, the next morning she came to me and cry. She said she is poor and can only afford 350Rp for the upstairs room (I was charged 400Rp for the upstairs room).
Me: Oh?
EK: Yea, she is so good in using people. So what can I do? I said it is okie if you have no money to pay, if you don’t have you can don’t pay.
Me: So did she pay?
EK: Yes 350Rp. She is so good in using people.

----
So I left this place after 2 nights, which I can stay for a week or more. It is too obvious to see his character and what kind of person he is, making up stories and talk bad about your guest? no way..

note: EK = Engineer Khan

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Under Surveillance

03/09/09

Today I got my registration done in the police station before Amin came. It was a hassle free one. Then I went to photocopy my passport, but when I turned around, tiny Saga is already standing next to me.

SHIT! (hokkien: kua1 diok3 gui1 arr!!)

He followed me to the DCO (may be he thought he brought me there), DCO needs a paper from the police station and told me there is no electricity now, and extension is not possible today. I guessed really loss my patience, I raised my voice and talked straight, not sure if it is still polite but hopefully, and the electricity ‘pop’, came back.

The tiny Saga tried to impress me by telling oh you are lucky bla bla bla but I am really frustrated with him around. The tiny Saga followed me to the police station, I got the paper and he followed me back to the DCO, visa extended, but only for 15 days. I was again mad on this, why the hell everyone is getting 30 days from other places but I am getting 15 days in both Karachi and Chitral?

The tiny Saga arranged my meet up with Imran, a tour guide that contributed a lot on the forum in thorntree and virtualtoursit, I always wanted to meet him.

After the meetup, I was escort by the tiny Saga to the Internet cafe, where I asked him to leave because I will be online for long time, but he sat on the computer beside me until Amin appeared. Amin slapped on his face and he gave the seat to Amin.

Now Amin is sitting beside me, 'you get 15 days extension? Why don’t you wait for me?'
And 'pop', the power again went off!

I paid and walked down the street, Amin asked 'you must be hungry by now it is lunch time.' I got irritated and walked away.

So now I am an ego and unfriendly tourist who do not appreciate the hospitality that the local tried to provide, I guessed.

Fifteen seconds later when I had my 'phew' that Amin is not following, I AGAIN found the tiny Saga walk (AGAIN) beside me, and he asked 'are you hungry? It is lunch time.'

GOSH!!!

---

The rest of the day is the same, whenever I am outside my room, I found tiny Saga nearby, like ghost, never be haunted like this before. Later in the evening somebody from Intelligence Bureau came and advise me not to go close to Afghanistan border when I am in the Kalash valley, and make sure the tour guides are with license. After he left, tiny Saga and Amin came again, I told them I am having dinner with myself today and will appreciate if they stay away from me. After my dinner someone knocked on my door, it is of course, tiny Saga again. I asked him to leave and threaten to complain to the hotel. He left and I had good sleep that night.

Friday, September 4, 2009

I hate Chitral (Part II)

Finally I got back to my room, the door is opened. I stepped in and put my hand on the daypack. I felt my camera. It seems to be a great relief for Amin, he said Alhamdulilah and grabbed my hands, put them on his mouth and kissed it.

Outside, the rain splashed heavily into Chitral town.

Amin insisted that we should get back to his house for the green tea, his sister had prepared it for us. It was around 8:30pm and I wasn’t sure if I shall react greatly for his action. Anyway we need to wait for the rain to stop. Amin seems to be still at his relieve and excited mode, he pretended to cekek my neck and, he pull me so close, put his nose on my cheek. So I am greatly offended now, I had enough.

I forgot to mention that my visa is going to expire soon and I need an extension in Chitral. Amin is the one who assured me for a 30 days extension, his brother is working in the DCO office, that’s what I am told. If the extension in Chitral is not possible, I will need to rush 12 hours to Peshawar or 20 hours to Gilgit to get an extension.

There is dilemma when there is conflict of interest.

We sat in front of my room when Amin talked about what we shall do tomorrow, breakfast, register in the police station, visa extension, lunch, go to the summer palace and national park, dinner at his house, and the day after he will drop me to Bumburet for Kalash valley.

‘My commitment to you.’ he said.
And who needs your commitment? I whispered to myself. I never asked for this and don’t appreciate it at all. I hate someone arranging things for me and I hate it so much.

‘See, this is my plan.’ I told him, ‘I will get breakfast myself, not in your house. Then we go to the police station and the DCO for registration, then lunch by myself, then will see how.’

‘What do you think? You are my guest, I was just too tension if anything happened, if you have lost your things…’ by now he already noticed that I wasn’t happy with what he had done and trying to explain

The rain stopped. I still haven’t reacted extensively for what had happen except refused to some part of the plan tomorrow, and he said ‘Lets go back for green tea’. Too much reluctant, I moved my step.

On the way, the rain gets heavy again, and Kausar called.

I was glad that Kausar called. Talking to someone you trust makes you feel better, although he is part of the reason I am into this now. I wasn’t able to tell him what had happened, so I shouted at him said why he arranged all these for me, I am on my own and can do everything by myself. When I was on the phone, Amin was besides whispering, ‘tell Kausar I am a bad and dangerous guy who kissed you, a very dangerous one.’ I wished he shut his mouth up. I am not sure what he is up for but definitely not a good one, Pakistani man have strong brotherhood relationship between each other, it is stupid to tell the truth, worse if they think you are exaggerating.

The rain still falling but I told Amin I am on my way back. He knew I am already not happy. He sent me back and asked if I would like to have some apples. I guessed I have too much for today.

***

Finally I am with myself back in the room, unpacking and preparing for shower when someone knocked on my door, it was just a minute after Amin had left. I opened the door and it is the tiny Saga. You can’t believe what this stupid guy does, he asked ‘Amin is not with you?’ and tucked his head into my room to see if Amin is inside. I felt greatly insulted and know it is no way for me to stay in his guesthouse in Bumburet.

‘Can we talk?’ he asked.
I assumed there is some information I need to know, so I said ‘Ok sure’

‘Inside your room? or outside?’ He must be stupid enough to have asked this question.

We sat outside my room and he started to bad mouth about each others. I soon realized that it is my fault to assume that Kausar will have nice friends and get myself into these troubles. And after all Chitral is another Belaga (a very political place up Sg. Rejang, Sarawak) for me, where too many touts and people talking bad about each other, hoping to push themselves up. No matter how gorgeous the landscape is or how great the locals are, the existence of these few ruins your whole travel experience.

Later on a tourist from Lahore joined us for the talk. He is a PHD student in fine art, doing some research on Bahawalpur architecture, and he managed to fond some grave of the Bahawalpur ruler in Chitral. That is the only present from GOD for the day, meeting someone knowledgeable.

And the tiny Saga suggested a cup of tea in the teahouse.

In the teahouse, one insane starred at me and asked the rest, ‘where do you get this girl from?’ (may be the word used is much unrespect in Urdu). Oh, I hate Chitral, I hate Chitral SO DAMN MUCH!!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

I hate Chitral (Part I)

After some traveling, you start to aware that you are collecting memories rather than places; you enjoy people more than scenery.

So I traveled from Peshawar to Chitral, the gateway to the Kalash valleys.

Before the night leaving for Chitral, I thank GOD for letting me meeting up with some awesome people, in this old city of Peshawar, on the Silk Road. Making friends during the journey is not easy, very much depends on the will of GOD, or how much fate you have. These people showed me around the town with nothing request in returned, I enjoyed the aftarian (buka puasa) dinner very much with them although most of the time I am not fasting. I enjoy and treasure friendships developed between two strangers.

I thank GOD for I have the chance to see the caravanserai, in person, at the time HE wishes, too lucky to be in this life. This is so far the only place I had ever thought of to stop for good since this long journey started, that makes me feel that I must have been here long long time ago, in my past life.

I thank GOD for having opportunity to sip a cup of kahva (green tea) in one of the old teahouse on the Storry Teller Street. The name of the street itself gives me too much imaginations, I wondered how many interesting stories had been exchanged in the good old days.

I thank GOD for getting myself lost in the labyrinth of the old city, where I met a lot of kind people, who do not mind that I visited their residency area, offer me a glass of water even they themselves are fasting, or just asked to have their picture taken.

I thank GOD for making the hard decision, go or no go to Peshawar a worthwhile one, and so I leave for Chitral early yesterday morning, it is then when things turned awful.

The road from Peshawar to Chitral is opened for foreigners again. The road condition is far better than KKH, and I enjoyed the first part of the landscape very much. There was one landslide on the way where we need to carry our stuff and walked across the obstacle to catch a bus at the opposite side, but it was fine for me. The journey took slightly more than twelve hours, and I reached Chitral safely.


Surprisingly, some one is waiting for me at the bus station.

‘Are you Tham from Malaysia? I am from Happy GH in Bumburet (one of the Kalash valley), my name is Saga.’

?

‘Kausar told me you would be here today so I am here expecting you.’ By the way Kausar is the CS guy in the previous posting, together with Prince and a British guy running a tour company here, we had some great time together when I was in Peshawar, they are one of those who make my Pakistan trip memorable.

Okie.. this is the first time I have someone fetching me from the bus station. Saga helped me carried backpack, he is so tiny I wonder if my backpack will crushed his spine, and we headed up the street to the guesthouse.

I wasn’t too happy that he was there with me because I intend to checkout other guesthouse despite Kausar’s suggestion. I knew he suggested a good one for me but it could be too expensive. So with this guy, now I have no choice.

‘Are you Tham from Malaysia? I am Amin.’ the moment arrived at Chinar Inn, another guy approached me. Both of them I have chat before through the phone when I was in Peshawar, Kausar gave me their number and I know who to call when I get stuck, but I never expect people to come to me, this is not the way I wanted it to be.

They showed me the room, which is a real nice room with a garden in front.

‘How much?’ I asked.
‘150rupees, special price for you.’

That moment I thank Kausar for having good friend and helping me such far. I assumed he arranged these.

The night, I was invited to Amin sister’s house for dinner. I am not sure if it is the culture, you don’t get to eat with the whole family but only with the one who invited you. So I was the only one eating with Amin. It was great during the dinner, we chat about this and that, Amin even showed me Kausar's girlfriend picture (I was wondering why he keeps other's girlfriend picture) and later Amin told me that he is bringing someone to Kashmir, where I really wanted to go but special permit is needed. He said he knew someone out there and can easily get me the permit. I start to believe that everything is possible if you know the right person. And he was telling me he was a cricket player in the national team and now doing coaching, waiting to go to Austria/Australia (cant hear it clearly) for some coaching job.

I cant remember what was the topic when he suddenly asked if I locked my door. Soon I recalled that he passed me a bottle of Sprite before breaking fast and say I can sit in the garden, I closed my door without locking it, and after the Sprite I went directly to his house.

Not too much nervous on my side knowing that what will happen will happen or what shall happen shall happen, so I took my time finish my chapatti and tea. Amin was too pressure thinking of what happened if my things get stolen.

It was dark outside his house when we are on our way back, no street light and the rain seems to be pouring very soon. He directed me by holding my hand across the running river, I didn’t suspect anything because giving hand is common, the street is dark and we are rushing back to check if my belongings are still there.

(the story is too long, I gotto make it into 2 parts)

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Peshawar

29/08/09

Did I tell you that other than war and revenge, Pashtuns are known for their hospitality as well?

Reached the land of hospitality, Peshawar yesterday afternoon. After hearing so many negative reports from the news and people keep advising me 'not to go, not to go', it was a hard decision to make if I shall risk my life to come to Peshawar.

But hey, I think it shall be okie to wear burqa and cover my face there; it shall be okie if I stay near the Cantonment area which is of higher security; it shall be okie if I don't take out my camera to expose my foreigner identity; it shall be okie if...

And I arrived at Peshawar yesterday afternoon, thought it is a conservative land which people may look at you like alien (I have not covered my face yet), and the one standing next to the pillar might be some Taliban guy, and may be there is already an eye on me trying to harm me anytime..

but HEY! none of these happened, someone speak English approached me and offer help(not like in other places where people surrounding you in a circle speaking the language you don't understand and starring and starring and starring), he pointed me the public bus to the cantonment area. On the bus the conductor said I need not pay for the ride because I am a guest (1st time I experience this), and on the street people shouting back in their vehicles 'do you need help?'. It is just amazing.

But my good feeling to this city vanished when I came to the Tourist Inn Motel that recommended by Lonely Planet and supported by some forums. The owner is a super weird guy, he was praying in a room when I went to the motel, he saw me and asked me to go inside the room. That is the moment that I know he is not right, you don't ask a female to go in a room (it is not an office, it is a room with 2 beds) when you are alone in the room. The old guy is so not right, the way he laugh and talk made me too uncomfortable, so after settling down I went out to check for other hotels, but all are too expensive or they don't accept solo female foreigner due to prostitution reason (:|). So I think either I check in to a more expensive hotel, or I leave the next day.

The old city in Peshawar is something not to be missed, on my way to the old city, someone (his name is Prince)approached me and asked my nationality (again), I am in okie mood so I said Malaysia. Another guy suddenly said 'are you tham? Tham from Malaysia? I am the one writing with you in Couchsurfing'. So this is the Peshawarguy, he is a normal one, Alhamdullilah.

I ended up spending half the day wandering around the old city with these 2 guys. They showed me around the old city but I don't know the exact direction even after the trip, the reason I hate tour. I was doubting if they are trying to sell me some tour package, obviously the Prince is trying to sell me the trip to the Smuggler Bazaar, where people sell guns and drugs, where the Pakistan law doesn't apply here, but I never show that I am interested (I hate tour), anyway they are just kind people who want to offer help.

With Prince's help I finally get a cheap and OK room somewhere else and moved in this morning, what I did is showing the receptionist Prince's name card after he said no room for foreigner. So may be the Prince is really somebody, who knows.

Finally I have a chance to take a good shower and brush my teeth.. the shared bathrooms in Tourist Inn Motel are either cannot be locked, or they have huge gaps in between the door(I suspect some peeping is ongoing).

Spending 2 more nights here before moving forward to Chitral, another seems to be interesting place.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Stuck

27/08/09

Okie, after a Shawal Kameez free day in Karachi, where I stayed with a middle class CS friend for one day, I am back to the real Pakistani world again. (The day with the CS was a free day with normal t-shirt and pants. She brought me to places where the higher level class is living, so no one stare at you or she will scold for me)

Moving north from Karachi to the Larkana for Moenjodaro, the place I always want to go since Form 1, when we studied different human civilizations on this planet from the history text book.

It was damn damn damn hot in Larkana, not as dirty as in Karachi, but as dusty or more dusty. Oh did I tell you that I like Thatta so much? I like Larkana too.

Thatta is somewhere 100km from Karachi, a small town with a super fine Mughal period mosque- the Shah Jahan Mosque; and nearby there is this place called the Makli Hill, which is a huge graveyard across several centuries. There are some truly beautiful shrines with perhaps some well known kings or queens or philosophers or saints or whoever famous buried there. Very impressing.

So I arrived at Makli Hill. The watchman said: 200rupees charge.
200 rupees? Come on, no way I am paying 200 rupees to see dead people.
Ok, no charge, go.
Wahaha so this is the trick! I walk into the graveyard (gracefully) and start taking pictures at the shrine with 'no photograph' signboard in front of it. After 15 minutes...

Hey, 200 rupees! A man on his bike stop beside me.
200 rupees? No man then I am leaving.
No, you picture, fine 200 rupees!
No is okie no picture, I leave. I put my camera in my bag, and start walking back.

I am at the gate when another man with his motorbike reached me at the back,
Hey you! no charge, go. Now free, no charge!
Huh? what you think I am, okie I have enough I don't want to see this graveyard anymore bye bye.
No charge for you, go!
No no thank you.
Free!
Okok but I am leaving thank you and bye bye.

I headed for Thatta, a town 2 km away from the Makli. It was prayer time, so I am not allowed to go into the mosque. What so good about Pakistan is female can enter a mosque and you don't have to pay to get close to GOD. So I decided to get myself a bottle of coke while waiting.

I will pay for your coke. Some 'unknown' stand up from the chair in front of the grocery shop and said to me.
No no thanks but I can pay for myself.
No no let me buy you a coke. This old man with big beard said.
No no. And I go on to pay. Who knows what will a bottle of coke costs.

While I was crossing the street back to the mosque, a car stopped by me and one guy stepped out from the car, not kidnapping me but told me 'you know why mr. Saji is paying for you? He is the owner of Thatta.'

Haha the owner of Thatta! wow you mean someone owned Thatta?
Yes yes.
I looked back and the white beard old guy was waiving back at me like he is someone famous.
Okie well thank you so much for telling me so. So what is his name again?
Hmm we called him Mr. Saji, Saji of Thatta.

I want to laugh out loud because it looks SOOO funny and weird to me but of course I did not. And later on in the mosque I asked a local college student if he knows Mr. Saji of Thatta, he said whoever he is, he must be a liar.

That's the first time I think I somehow do like Pakistan despite all the weird starring guys and unbearable weather and unhygienic living environment, it is not too bad since I still can get someone who can help me whenever I need, I still travel in public transports and staying in cheap hotels and don't have too much trouble with my stomach. I always meet people who are so sincerely telling me 'whenever you need help, don't hesitate to tell us', especially when they noticing me alone in the bus or in the town. After all most people are offering help than trying to harm.

So back to the 'I like Larkana too'. Larkana is too hot for the species called Homosapiens, I knew it is hot because I had a bad headache out of nowhere, I kept waking up in the night even there is power supply and the fan is spinning at its full speed, I am sweating.

Leaving Larkana, planned to go to Bahawalpur and Multan, again for the fascinating shrines and mosques, but the trip ended up in Rawalpindi/ Islamabad. I was in Bahawalpur that night, at the bus station and for no reason decided to skip Bahawalpur and Multan. No reason or explanation needed for a decision made by woman. haha.

So then I am back in Rawalpindi and just came back from Taxila, a Buddhism city famous for its Ghandara arts and visited by Fasien and XuanZang centuries ago. But I am looking forward to the Gandhara arts in the Peshawar instead, the sculpture are of different materials making the 'wow' differently.

And I am starving and stuck in the Pakistan. Starving as in I really hardly find any food except samosa before buka puasa, and since I am not allowed or it is not good to eat in the public, I am forced to skip lunch unless I am in the room, which most of the time I am not. And stuck, because there is no news from Tehran yet about my Iran visa.

And tomorrow I will be in Peshawar, the land of the Pashtuns, who known for war and revenge, and if you read 'Kite Runner', you know what the other thing that they are good for. (Sorry for the racism, this is one of the joke most travelers talk of) Will have a cup of chai with another CS at the old city, hope he is a normal one.

I am (so)looking forward to the trip despite a lot of advises. Man thank you so much for the concern, but I want to see it with my own eyes(although very small) whatsoever it is. Don't worry, I will be super alert ant try my best to stay safe! :)

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Karachi, the former City of Light

Lesson learnt: If you dont cross the street as if you own it, you will never have the chance to get acrossed.

Visa extension
Extended my Pakistan visa this morning in the passport office of Karachi. The officer told me, 'request for whatever day you want, the fee is free.' So I happily wrote '2 months'. Unfortunately the application need to get the approval of another officer, he said 'sorry I can only give 15 days, no discussion. You want more you go Islamabad.'

Ceh, no fun.

PTDC
Karachi is the best information center that I had ever been to. Mr Asif in the office is so informative. And with his information, it makes my day busy.

Busy Day
Today is a busy day. Went to the Mausoleum of Quaid e-Azam and Tooba Mosque. Both are fine architectures. Love the mosque so much, a semicircle building without a pillar, voices reflecting throughout the spaces, no secret is allowed.

Went to the Cliffton beach in the evening. It is a huge rubbish site, I never seen something like this before, the rubbish are unburied on the beach. Whatever the tide can reach, that is sand, whatever the tide cannot reach, they are rubbish. So much so much of them, you can't imagine.

Updates
Friends email me said the Iran visa will take another 15-30 days to process, probably because of Ramadan,so they are heading back to Hunza asking me to join them.. Going back to Hunza means passing through KKH(Karakoram Highway) again and I HATE KKH so much, I get so sick of it. If I opt to go back Hunza, it had taken me tonnes of courage.

Lesson learnt
Lesson learnt today is if you dont cross the street as if you own it, you will never have the chance to get acrossed. It is worse than anywhere else that I have experienced.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Moving south..

18/08/09

Arrived at Hyderabad after 19 hours train ride from Lahore. I am in the province of Sindh now and according to my outdated Lonely Planet, you will need to report to PTDC (Pakistan Tourism Development Corporation) when you are traveling in Sindh, they are the one who have the most updated safety information about the region, and they will arrange an armed guide to escort you if needed.

I went to the cheap hotels near the train station but the hotels refused to rent me a room, so I went to the police station in Hyderabad, asking for PTDC's help. I am kind of unsure to move around by myself not knowing the current situation, and the hotels that I can stay are too expensive for me, I wonder what is there in Hyderabad, and if I shall leave for Karachi.

After some calls the officer in the police station confirmed that there are no PTDC in Hyderabad, asked me where I want to go and arranged a guy to escort me. The guy was armed with pistol (anyway I always see guy with weapon, no uniform), he drove me to the museum, made the entrance free, afterwards drove me to the bus station to catch a bus to Karachi. I thought it will be good to buy him a drink for driving me around, ended up he paid for my drink.

Hyderabad is not an old city, the most attractive thing to me is the city is piled with rubbish. So much rubbish.

And I arrived at Karachi. Karachi is chaotic, noisy, super dangerous when crossing the streets, dusty and very very very dirty. Everywhere there is rubbish, everywhere. It is so far the dirtiest city I have seen, although I think India and Egypt might have out-beat it. And again, no hotel wants to admit me, every single hotel told me they are fulled, which is so weird because all the keys hanged on the wall.

Was so frustrated after plenty of check-outs, almost decided to head back to Islamabad if I can't find a cheap hotel, the last choice is to call the family I met in Islamabad for the help. While I was trying to get the line through, hei hei the owner of the hotel suddenly asked if I have all the legal documents with me and may be he can arrange a single room for me. Damn it but phew.. so I am staying down.

I knew Quetta will be hard for a single solo lady to get a room, but I dont expect Sindh area to be that hard. It was said that there was a Korean woman who prostitutes herself in Quetta and so all the hotel in Quetta refused to let any single Asian looking solo woman stay in their room since then. Spoil market.

Wanted to spend sometime in Karachi visiting Makli Hill, Thatta, and extend my visa. Wanted to go to mausoleum of Quaid e-Azam to pay respect to this great man, the founder of Pakistan. I wonder what he feel if he sees Pakistan today; sometimes I wonder how will Tunku Abdul Rahman feel if he see what our politicians are doing today. If the hotel allows me to stay for few more days, may want to go to the seaside, for the Arabian sea.

I have to say I start to miss Lahore after seeing Karachi..

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Another day..

16/08/09

After yesterday's rain, Lahore weather turned normal today, and last night we were blessed with the whole night electricity. That was the first night I slept throughout the night without keep waking up feeling myself lying on a bed of sweat..

Everyone in the inn went for Sufi's festival, I am not really that interested in that. There has been a lot of actvities going on since I arrived here.. the visit of Badshahi Mosque, the old city, the Qawwali music performances, the weekly Sufis night on Thursday, visit to Wagah border, the Pakistan Independance Day..

I need a break/ let me breath.

Went out to check the train ticket to Bahawalpur today after the lunch and juices session with the Japanese girl. It was a bit complicated to get the 30% foreigner concession fee for the train, so I went to the bus station to check the bus ticket instead.

It annoyed you, or at least it annoyed me after 3 weeks here in Pakistan, everyone seems to be interested to know your country and your sweet/ good/ kind/ lovely name; I am not saying that it is whoever's fault, but I am getting impatient with the repetition. It annoyed me when people gathering around me and stare at me, some are ready to help even though we have no language in common (my fault not to learn Urdu), and of course some waiting for chance to take advantage.

We were talking over the lunch about some people taking advantage of female foreigners by trying to touch you here and there. That is also the reason I am so hesitating in going to the Sufi festival today. There will be twenty over villages participating in the celebration, expecting millions of crowd. They dance and spin like nobody to connect with their God, some are real and others are fake. In hokkien we call that 'dehg siao dehg siao'. The Japanese told me it is even worse in India, a lot of female get molested, and she even met two rape victims in Delhi.

I was surprised to know that Sufi is a part of the Islamic religion. The Japanese went for the international Sufis festival last week and she told me those people go wild after they get connected to the God, they start to fight over the knife to beat on their own back, blood splashed everywhere. Anyway undoubtedly the music is nice, if you listen to it by closing your eyes, leaving the crazy world outside, you can easily go into meditation state.

I was there last week for their regular Sufi's night, and don't feel comfortable at all with all the weird staring, and walking so closely without considering you are a 'female'. 'Woman' is a different kind of animal from 'man' in Pakistan, even if the distance is okay in the rest of the world, it is not common here. So if suddenly the man go with the standard of the world but not Pakistan, you know they are trying to take advantage.

Later the evening I went to check out the Cathedral Church located just nearby the inn, had some good chat with the Pakistani christians in the church. Here we shake hand and talk and laugh like I was at home. It is strange to me that religion changes a lot of things here, too much that you can imagine.

Sixty over years ago the country separated into two due to different religions, people move from east to west to a Muslim country called Pakistan and others moved from west to east to a Hindu country called India. Rumours said the mass change of people caused half a million deaths. He can be your neighbours for half a century, and they are of same skin color, same features and similar language. Just because you have different religion, you need to be on the opposite site? It looks silly. Anyway since I am just a passerby I shouldn't make too many comments/judgements.

SO, will be heading south hopefully tomorrow by bus to Bahawalpur for Uch Sharif, then to Hyderabad, Karachi, Moenjodaro and then back to Islamabad. Still intend to visit Peshawar, so bought a burqa (the whole suit was too expensive so I only bought the scarf and the cover for face) at the old city the day before. In some places here woman is his (any HIM) property, not human being, so don't need a face.

Seems too much emotional feeling under the hot weather, uneasy to be easy going as a solo female traveler in Pakistan, may be I am just not experienced enough to take things light. And so fast, the 4th week started unknowingly.. will have to extend the visa once before exiting the country. More to go.

初见印度河

看见你时我几乎掉眼泪。你的姿态汹涌澎湃,狠狠将山石划破,经年累月深深浅浅,崖边留下你若隐若现史前就存在的见证;时间在你怀中磨出表情,横刀阔斧大气盎然;那开荒杏无人烟时就累积的故事,高高低低,抑扬顿挫。

我会激动是因为你孕育的那段璀璨文明,听说是古文明中最先进的一个,有规划的城市,市场,聚集地,民宅,水道,灌溉系统。。。当然,最神秘的还是至今仍是个迷的整个文明的消失,或陨落。有人说是因为你,你的背弃荒废了一个时代,像蝗虫风一般扫过农作,在一秒钟内卷走繁盛,留下空荡荡的荒芜,惹人心慌。

那时候课本上多个文明沿着河流饱满,尼罗河,黄河,幼发拉底河,唯独对你格外着迷。Harappa,Moenjodaro,这些被你滋润的印度文明。我不曾梦想有一天咱会靠得那么近。

那天我们相伴了一个黄昏,直到暮色退去。

Friday, August 14, 2009



Lahore热得不得了。

这儿的电源每来两个小时就会停一个小时,一天当中有三分之一的时间是没有电源的。

热得已经没有词汇可以恰当形容。

第一个在Lahore睡睡醒醒的晚上我深切体会自己是活着的,睁着眼睛,确实感觉每根汗腺如何酝酿汗粒,然后在汗腺尾段冒出一抹潮湿。

昨天46度。

今天更热。

无时无刻不在冒汗,衣服裤子无时无刻不是湿的。

清晨热醒时,发现自己睡在一张被汗水渗透的床上。

大麻

有人抽大麻。

有人问是从哪儿弄来的。

喏,就是从那个常在旅馆中晃荡的司机哪儿弄来的嘛。

其实这东西到处都是到处都有,而且几乎路上的人,都碰过。

可怜

没有看过一个那么可怜的国家。

一个民主国家独立六十几年,一直在霸权国家手中翻来滚去的被把弄,外战和内乱一样多,国内时常断水断电,连基本设施都弄不好,却拥有核子弹。

昨天老远跑到印巴边界去看每天例行的降旗仪式,两个国家像小孩一样用夸张的手法企图贬低对方,搞笑的操步跨大的表情动作,自以为是很了不起的做法,看在外人眼中却幼稚不堪,把自己踩在脚低却不自知,可怜之极。

伊朗

几天前申请了伊朗签证,批不批还不知道,十天过后自有分晓,但自从知道有人在巴国拿到印度签证后,就一直心痒痒。

Peshawar

还不知道去不去呢。

是想去的。

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

In L:ahore

In Lahore and the power is going to cut soon! This city has intermittent supply of electricity and water... I am surprised.

The weather here is HOT! 40 something I guess.. you soak in your sweat permanently. But I like the place although it is chaotic, noisy, hot and humid, just because the similarity we have with the British colonial style of buildings around the town..

Will stay here for few days, for the Thursday Sufi's night and this Friday, the Pakistan independence day.. and of course, old town plus Wagah border daily closing ceremony.. even though it is hot, it worths a few good day here.

Till then..

Friday, August 7, 2009

今晚没有流星

08/03/09

那个女生说这儿每晚都看得见流星,但我知道她今晚上没有看见,因为她哭了。日本男生在外头大吼时我坐在屋里看新闻,不知道外头发生什么事。Musa Sang后来把门关上,坐在我那排椅子的尾端,我不知道他也是在看新闻还是在等待外头的风雨过去。

后来那女生走到屋里来记账,我想问她还好吗,后来想想,还是没有开口。

Thursday, August 6, 2009

地球的另一天

08/03/09

傍晚时分坐在电视机前,听播报员一件一件地呈列地球充满疮痍的另一天。

挪威的海岸线被倾泄的石油污染;尼日利亚暴乱;伊朗大选后示威;巴勒斯坦人被以色列人驱逐;巴基斯坦恐怖袭击和民族杀戮一样多;马来西亚街头反内安法令,示威者被警方用催泪弹驱逐;地球暖化,一块一块的冰川浮在海面上。

我突然想起玛法达看世界,那幅恶心的表情。

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

无眠

08/02/09

昨晚喝了两杯咖啡后,和自己躺了一夜。
很久没有这样,真实得让人难受。

Monday, August 3, 2009

07/30/09

从来不晓得天气可以那么热。原本在新疆时想到吐鲁番去体验一下天气到底可以热到什么程度,后来因为乌鲁木齐事件而被劝罢。在喀什市一位天天到老城招客的师傅说:现在到巴基斯坦,不好。我以为他知道时局,‘把你热死’,原来他知道的是天气。

抵达Gilgit的第四天,天气开始无法忍受的热起来,坐在风扇底下,汗水不停的流过胸口,头发永远是湿的,脸永远油油,双腿永远发粘,裤永远湿。

我急着离开Gilgit,主要为了逃命。

到Karimabad的车上我被天气折磨的想死。我的双腿浸泡在自己的汗当中,再被皮肤吸进体内,整条裤子前后里外没有一寸是干的,窄小的车子没有移动双脚的空间,腰非常酸,关节发疼。我睁不开眼睛,即使戴上墨镜也无补于事,我的后脑疼痛得不得了,仿佛下一秒就要爆裂。我从来没有过这种感受,脑袋要爆裂的感受。我的右食指的那寸小节不停在抖。我用头巾将脸和手臂包上,减少阳光和皮肤的直接接触。

离开Gilgit前我在旅馆吃了盘220卢比的炒饭,这个价足够我吃饱饱的三顿,但当时我需要的是卫生,还有饭。我不想坐在外头吃饭,忍受一群男人一顿饭的注视。尽管如此,肚子并没有因为一顿饭而温顺起来。在车上,胃涨风,想吐。我没有闲情欣赏外头的景色,一味闭着眼睛却强烈的感受自己的每一寸不适,从头皮到脚趾头,从左手的大拇指到右手的小指,液体在肚子里滚动发出巨大的声音。

八个小时后我抵达Karimabad,少于120公里的路,要命的八个小时(故事下回再说)。而今天,Karimabad这个避暑的地方也热了起来,傍晚六点钟,我仍然没有勇气踏出房门。

那个马来西亚女生和他的日本旅伴从印度过境巴基斯坦,在Lahore呆了一晚,Islamabad一晚就直接到Karimabad来,呆了一个多月。真的会死人,她说。他们抵达Lahore那天气温是47度。
晚上不能睡,身子僵在床上眼光光的望着天花板,呼吸困难,根本无法住人,她说。

现在连Karimabad都热成这样,我实在没有勇气往下跑。

Saturday, August 1, 2009

我非常向往自律的生活

07/29/09
Day 358 Week52

我非常向往自律的生活,非常向往,真的。

我的想法变得非常快,决定也无常,脑袋几乎没有一刻不和自己对话,所以单是用‘想’,生活只是一尘不变的琐碎,偶尔还会失控的混乱,所以我必须写下来。

大学时期为了让自己的生活更好,我常在自制的日历上画上:星期一三五:跑步,星期二四:打球,每个一个星期的周末:爬山,一个月看两本书,之类的事。更早之前还在学校时,我将时间分成一段一段的,两点到四点:历史;四点半到六点半:物理,诸如此类。

通常计划这些就得花上我好些时间,先是制做日历,内容的编排还需要符合逻辑及现实条件,不能太苛刻,之间还要有互补作用(比如读完化学后要排上半个小时做化学练习),也要有足够的休息空间。有时候这些计划的内容甚至简单到:知足的活,多看点书,定时用餐,常运动。

这些计划/时间表如果不是从没开始国(很少发生),就是开始不到一个月后就坚持不下(通常是这样)。尽管我那么渴望自律并且主动去追求她,却永远被自己的惰性打败,所以你可以想象我如何一直生活在自己对自己的愧疚当中。

这次出门带了尼康D80的手册,自买了相机一转眼两年过后,自己对相机的操作仍仅限于皮毛,他人看你手操单眼相机就以为你是搞摄影的,但我操单眼只为了比较真实的色彩效果。之前太高估自己,以为背着手册摄影技术应该会有所提升,毕竟路上有很多时候你是闲着而且手上缺一本书的。但背了近十个月后这本手册就搁在背包内的同一个位置,没有见过阳光;这同时我也背了一本牛津英语字典。

我一直对自己的英文还是小学五年级的水平感到尴尬和耿耿于怀,以前读书时自己总是可以毫不费劲的记得大部分的中文和马来词汇,唯独英文。也不是不曾自律的要自己一天背十个英文单词,但那些单词和我的关系就像世仇,永远志道不合,隔天就散。旅途上背一本字典,是因为路上总会有书,而书中有太多自己不懂得生词,以为借此自己的英文水平应该会提高,但这么多日子过去了,路上有书是没错,但遇上不懂的字时要不是跳过,查字典的那一两次也只为了当下的理解,过后几乎都没有印象了。

像一开始出来时告诉自己一定要定时写稿(不是写博客),这当然没有做到,没有带手提电脑是最大的藉口,博客比写稿随性是最大的原因;连对自己最基本的早醒的承诺,也一天拖一天,遥不可及。

我追求自律,但惰性像骨髓,支配着我。

即在喀什遇见一名自学德语的中国女生后,在Karimabad又遇见一名自学日语的马来西亚女生。
‘反正有的是时间,又没事干’,她说。
我想起自己出门前因为想学西班牙语而差点冲动的买下西班牙语的书,后来觉得自己大概会因为太懒而一路白背那本书或甚至将书留下(这事不是可能会发生,而是绝对会发生),才放弃这想法。但遇上他们俩后触电似的又激发了我过自律生活的欲望,尤其是学好英语的欲望。(虽然昨晚睡觉前我告诉自己今早要六点醒最后还是八点半才醒)于是今天早上我坐在阳光明媚的门口,面对着眼前的高山峡谷,一边喝着我的三合一咖啡一边在小本子上写下:

0500-0700 起床,瑜伽,早餐
0700-1200 徒步,1200前回来
1200-1400 洗澡,午餐,休息
1400-1700 看书,学英文
1700-1800 上网
1800-2000 散步,购物,洗澡,晚餐
2000-2300 写,回想一日所发生的事
2300 睡觉

至于是不是能够在早晨五点醒来,嗯,明天告诉你。

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Overland from China to Pakistan

Landing point
Exit point at China: Tashkurgan
Entry point at Pakistan: Sust

Transportation
1. International bus from Kashgar to Sust/Gilgit depart everyday from Kashgar International Bus Terminal. Natco bus (seater) from Pakistan and Chinese bus (sleeper) run the journey on every alternate day. Note that the bus only go until Sust on weekends.

2. The official time for the bus to leave Kashgar is 12 noon, with a request of a minimum of 10 passengers. But there is still possibility for the bus to leave after 12 if there is enough people, so leave your contact to the worker doing loading/unloading to give you a ring whenever a bus is going. The journey takes 2 day with the first night stopping over at Tashkurgan. Leaving Tashkurgan 10am Beijing time on the next morning.
Alternatively you can charter a private car for 80yuan/person (4 in a group) to Tashkurgan and continue with the international bus on the next day morning.

3. The cost are as below:
Kashgar - Sust: 270yuan
Kashgar - Gilgit: 350yuan

Pakistan Visa
Single visa entry issued at Sust. One photo needed.
Visa fees are different depends on your country:
Malaysia: 8USD
Singapore: 15USD
Japanese: Free
China: Free
USA: 150USD
..etc..

The Karakoram
1. Sit on the left (if you are from Kashgar)
2. If you are asked to pay for the Karakoram National Park, and you look chinese, say you are from China. Foreigners are to pay 4USD for the NP, Pakistani 20rupees, Chinese free of change.

Danger and Annoyances
Do hear complain that the immigration try to sexual harass women travelers by searching through the body for drug or whatever. There is no female officer who you can ask for help. It wasn't happened to me, the officer just offered to host me and ask me (with the tone of ordering) to have dinner with him. Afterwards he said he has big car big house and can drive me around, and try to make the visa application very very slow. The bus was about to leave without me and it really frightened me up, so I asked the student from the bus, no matter what happened, ask the driver to wait for me. It was a big relieve when I finally got back my passport, yes it is immigration, but who knows bad thing can't happen at the immigration?

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Bargain

I told the French guy staying beside my room that I think I have paid too much for the tomatoes (he was the 'Crazy1' in the previous passage).

You don't bargain for it?
No, I didn't, do you bargain for 10 rupees? (RM0.5)
Yes of course!
...
How do you know it is expensive?
I bought 3 tomatoes for 5 rupees in Gilgit, but here 4 costs me 10 rupees.
Oh it is expensive!
...
This is Pakistan, you bargain for EVERYTHING.
You bargain for your room?
Yes of course!
The transportation you took?
Yes of course!
The cost of your meals?
Yes of course!
=X

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Hunza Valley



从房间走出来就是这片景,贴切一点,在这儿几乎每处一抬头就是这种景,高山深谷,蓝天绿林,景色超越言语,即便是再好的摄影技术,也无法传达。

Monday, July 27, 2009

疯子

昨晚几个人坐着闲聊。

疯子一号是同房的法国男生,20岁,长卷的头发大眼睛高鼻梁,带着一顶欧洲旧时代的勇士帽,只差没有插上两根羽毛和配上剑,长得比门还高,睡觉时必须把双脚卷起来,说话时像演一场默剧一样表情丰富。

他年轻到坚信有志者事竟成。在土耳其知道申请伊朗签证无望后连续半个月跑到土耳其港口要求货轮把他载到新加坡港口,和船上的每个成员交朋友,从船长到搬货员,半个月后才放弃。后来找到便宜机票从土耳其飞到斯里兰卡,在斯里兰卡码头让船夫以二十块美金把他渡到印度,船夫说那二十块钱足够他全家三个月的开销,但肯定会要了他们两人的命。于是他飞到南印度,开始徒步。一天50公里,他说。因为他有很长很长的脚,所以我想他走一个月的路程我应该要走两个月。他从Titucorin走到Calcutta,再往西走到Varanasi,走到他上了当地的报纸,走到新德里。在新德里他再次展现他有志者事竟成的信仰,到巴基斯坦驻印度大使馆申请巴基斯坦签证,这次足足去了十天。他和大使交朋友,通电话喝茶聊天吃饭。十天过后人家把签证发了给他,一天后又把那签证注销。基于印度签证就要到期,他飞也似的赶到尼泊尔拿巴基斯坦签证,然后飞也似的从印度过境到巴基斯坦。Phew,有惊无险。可以相信有志者事竟成是年轻的本钱,我比较相信谋事在人成事在天,有志者事竟成这种想法,已经太过奢侈。

疯子二号也是同房的男生,美国人,有一张帅气的脸,看样子不过二十左右。这些年轻人总是精力充沛,他们话里总有那么多对生活的热诚,世界永远是新的,充满所有可能性,令人羡慕。

他和疯子一号在印度遇上后觉得大家疯狂的程度一致,于是决定同行。因为巴基斯坦不太容易找书交换,他背着二十几本书走。下午听见他跟一群巴基斯坦人在闲聊:
What is more precious than our life, more evil than devil, the rich need it, the poor have it and if you eat it, you will die.
有个巴基斯坦人说:nothing
Bingo! you are right.

疯子三号是瑞典人,二十四岁,绑着小马尾。他不和我们同房,他和另一个中国女生同房,他们是一起的。

他出来十八个月,在这儿我们总是用月或星期来计算时间,星期几的意义不大。他背着吉他上路,煮自己的食物,在巴基斯坦待了三个月,说他的预算是一天三块钱。他说马来西亚有最好的医疗系统,他在泰国染上骨痛热症,马来西亚给他免费治疗,全套的医疗,一日三餐,热情的护士,一分钱也不用付。他说他在中国买了足够他用三年的衣服和茶叶寄回家,他还要回中国去淘宝,那是世界上最棒的购物网络,然后从西藏回到印度,那时他要从一个笨旅客手上买一辆二手摩多车环游印度,在离开前把摩多车卖给另一个笨旅客,卖价一定要比买价高,然后回家。他要在印度买一堆烟筒回家卖,回到家时他已经一分钱也没有,也许一路还要乞讨别人的收留。他说话时牙龈是拱起的,里头是一种叫snooze的东西,不止可以代替香烟,而且一粒就等于六根香烟的尼古丁,这东西不会给你肺癌,只会给你口腔癌。当然,一天三块钱在巴基斯坦还是不可能的,所以他要到Skardu去买帐篷了。

疯子四号是疯子三号的伴,我觉得其实她正常得很,直到她分享了她的美容秘诀。这女生来自江苏,样子非常沉静,话不多。她有一头长而乌黑的头发,总是披着披肩,四十二岁,

四十二岁?疯子一号呆了,那不可能!你看来顶多二十五六岁。
真的,四十二。
那你可以当我妈了!你是怎么保养的?
第一,需要一个年轻的男人,那非常重要(她拍拍疯子三号的肩);第二,瑜伽,每天两小时;第三,把芒果,鸡蛋和蜜糖混合敷脸;第四,用香蕉按摩脚板。
疯子一号不信,于是她开始用香蕉按摩脚板来示范。

Saturday, July 25, 2009

For the northern area

07/25/09
Day 355 Week 51

1. Just noticed that I have out of job for 1 year, gosh time is fast!

2. The second day in Gilgit is not that bad, today I went out with veil covering my face, others can still recognized me as a foreigners with my small eyes and awkward glasses, still stared at me but much better than yesterday.

3. Avoid eating in restaurant by buying yogurt and biscuits and settled in the guesthouse.

4. There are Efes, the Turkish beer sold in the store, in this Muslim country.

5. Sunni and Shi'te are attending different mosque! But what's different between the mosque?...

6. Got an expired Pakistan LP from a guy in the dormitory.. yaahoo!.. I hate LP but need one desperately. It was a total blank to me on Pakistan as China don't sell books on Pakistan and no internet for the time I was in XinJiang. I know nothing about the country except not to go Peshawar and Swat, there are Talibans.

7. 2 guys from my room said they went to Peshawar for the weapon market and it was life risking. Crazy.

8. I guess the women in Pakistan have a good life. They seldom come out, all the tailors, barbers, whoever you see in restaurants, hotels, petrol stations, shops, markets, are men.

9. Leaving for Passu tomorrow. Will be out of internet until I get from Passu to Karimabad. Take care :)

Friday, July 24, 2009

Back from Mars

07/24/09
Day 354 Week 51

In Pakistan
Crossing the Khunjerab Pass through Karakoram Highway into Pakistan, arrived at Gilgit last night.
Pakistan is so different from the rest of the places I have been visited, with the smell of middle east, even though it is still in Asia, and there are rarely women on the street, and I am yet to get myself a local dress, so I got to bear with the strange stares from the Pakistani men.. =|

The Karakoram Highway is nice, after all it is where the Himalayas, Karakoram, Pamis and Hindu Kush converged. The scenery in Pakistan side after entering Sust is just stunning, it can't be described by any word, not to say I have a poor vocabularies :)
Even for one that crossed the highlands in Tibet, these mountains take your breath away, and can't be compared.

Gilgit is a small town. It is the capital of the Northern area but still, a small town with a few streets, and of course, a lot of Pakistani men. I was thinking of stocking up a few books before moving north to the mountain areas but seems like the hope is slim. Will try to look for long sleeves again later today (currently I only have 1 long sleeves), can't imagine what happened if you are the only alien wearing short sleeves in this part of the world.

Time in MARS
We were thrown to outer space after the 7.5 incident of Urumqi. I was thinking of going Carrefour that night to get a scarf but change my mind to sleep early. (Carrefour is exactly where the area that the incident happened) Before that a Japanese in my room told me there are demonstrations on the streets in the evening, but no one pay much attention on it.

With the whole night sirens, I woke up the next day morning and they told me what had happened. I was eager enough to know more and found out that the internet access of the whole XinJiang province had been cut. I send an sms home telling my mum people died in the unrest but I am okay. A lot of people trying to call home but it was an empty tone reply. The TVs in the youth hostel are not working so we dont know what happened outside even t hrough we are 15 minutes away from where the incident happened, except rumours.

Everyone live in horror the second day. I was just outside the clinic when a nurse shouted 'they are here, run!!' I ran fast into the clinic and it turned out that she is too phobia after the incident. Most of the chinese in the hostel cancelled their XinJiang trip and heading home; most foreigners flew out of the province or country. Most of the citizens in the town start to carry weapon when they are on the streets. And of course, curfew.

I was still there on the 3rd day. Finally 1 TV is working and we sat in front of the TV watching repeating news from China station. Repeating shots, repeating sentences, repeating video records and repeating facial expression. Some Hans (chinese) gone crazy on the 3rd day, they started their demonstration from the train station and shouted 'Uighur, kill!' all the way to where the incident happened. They carried whatever weapon they can find - big knive, wood, stick, L-bars, saw, shovel.. anything you can think of, to kill but not to self-protect.

I was out for food that evening not knowing that there is curfew, and took a long way back because the road was closed later when I got my dinner with me. And that's when I saw the demonstations, which Hans breaking Uighurs windows and shouting loud along the streets, with army following the line without stopping them. It is at that moment that I am totally disappointed with Chinese government and decided to leave.

It is not much to my concern when it is a terrorist issue, which I believe it was on the 7.5. But on the 7.7, I witnessed that it turned into a racial issue, and if it is a racial issue, I am a Han and I might have problem. And you will be surprised that most chinese in China know that Hans is beating Uighur on the 7.7 and they dont think that is a problem. 'We cant just let people bully us.', they said, among them are educated. And that's the message the government indirectly gave them by allowing the demonstration on the 7.7.

I left Urumqi on the 7.8, that's the start of the day when all the msg from mobile phone are prohibited. And the first time ever I felt so much of being thrown into the outer space. Can you imagine how we live without accessing information in this modern world?!! and China is doing this, of course with the reason behind, but too much backwards, of course ridiculous to a foreigners; and this is the only way to keep them in control, they always say.

But still I traveled to southern XinJiang, just because I wanted to cross overland to Pakistan. Along the way people telling me to leave, and along the way I met a lot of kind hearted Uighur who helps me without asking for price. I see how Han looks down at Uighur, and see how they treat Uighur when others need a hand.

Well, after reading this a chinese from inner land will definitely comment: how dare you made judgement, you are not reciding in China and what do you know about us. Oh well really I dont know anything in depth, but I know the brain-washing education, information filtring system. But for sure, I admired your patriotism.

Monday, May 18, 2009

幸运的

入藏的路上绞尽脑汁,千方百计处心积虑,侥幸抵达西藏的东大门昌都后已经疲惫不堪,却还有千多公里的路要走。藏南线查得特别严,藏北线几乎都是土路,非常难走,也因为少人走,跟本没有检查站多寡的讯息。

我决定走藏北一博,先到类乌齐,被查的话就说自己正要上青海,走一段算一段。

类乌齐的车票奇难买,买了两天都买不到,正放弃买票决定边徒步边拦车,回旅馆的路上竟然看见拉客的私家车。

‘有到类乌齐的吗?’我站着问这辆开着车窗的货车师傅,是个康巴汉子。
‘应该有。’
‘多少钱?’
‘不知道。’
‘你到拉萨吗?’这辆车子上面写着昌都到拉萨。
‘是。’
‘多少钱?’

后来这个康巴汉子用三百元的回头车价拉了我1121公里,两天一夜的行程从昌都到拉萨走川南线,沿途停车照相,包吃包喝,遇到检查站就说我是他的老婆,人家看到一个汉族女的和一个康巴汉子在一起,总是多看两眼,然后笑得嗳昧,这样也就过关了;而我付出的代价是吸他的二手烟,抵达拉萨后喉咙痛发烧感冒,重重地病倒了。

尽管如此,我还是无比幸运的。

Saturday, May 16, 2009

只是路过:不言而喻

那天在拉萨的八廓街看见两个年轻的华人旁边跟着一个会讲英语的藏人导游,我立刻知道他们来自哪。

Friday, May 15, 2009

无题

05/14/09

那曲的第一晚竟然睡到早上十一点。这趟旅程几乎每天都迟醒,出门吃了碗面,川菜馆的面条如果不要辣,盐一定过多。口渴难耐跑进一家藏族开的茶馆喝杯甜茶,出来时外面已经刮风下雪。

低着头疾步走,口罩里吹出的热气模糊了镜片,转身进了一家网吧,才把冷气排除在外,但十指还是冰冻的。

我想走到城边四周白皑皑的雪山去,今天看怕是去不成了。我想到澡堂去洗个澡。我想打电话给一个人,我想大口大口地喘气。

Thursday, May 14, 2009

入藏

05/13/09

今天坐在火车上终于了解为什么人家总是说‘坐火车或搭飞机入藏的跟本不叫入藏’,我望着窗外一望无际的美景,得来那么容易,甚至有想补票直接到西宁的冲动。实在太舒服啦!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

查证

05/13/09

好久都没有登入了,拉萨上网一率需要证件,旅馆内耳目众多也不方便,所以干脆不上。

今天从当雄搭火车到那曲,这一路北上真的搞笑,从拉萨到羊八井到当雄,在羊八井理应泡温泉,那儿的温泉是世上最好的,海拔四千多的高原地段被雪山层层包围着,地上却处处冒热气;当雄的纳木措是世上海拔最高的湖泊(4700米),藏民中三大圣湖之一,结果是温泉和纳木措我都没去。

羊八井的温泉要价128元,纳木措逃票后仍然要150元,我舍不得。

在当雄火车站买票时要查证件,没证搭不得火车。折腾一番后终于上了车,下火车又查证。好不容易在下雪的那曲镇找到一间看起来干净价钱又可以的旅馆,听说我没证件怎样都不肯出租房间,最后找了一间昏暗而且看起来不太卫生的,将就入住。查证查证,也许我还得庆幸吃饭买东西不用查证。

会在那曲呆上几天。不知道为什么,那股荒凉特别有味道。