Last Night in Cork...Then to Galway

Cork, Ireland
Ok, so I got some feedback that my blog is actually still 'in circulation'...good to hear. I just spent the last 45 minutes sprinting around all of Galway to find the 'best deal' on the Internet. My hostel charged 5 euro/hr (like $6.50 USD), but I finally found s place for around $4 USD/hr, so here is my last, likely $8, post. On my last night in Cork I went back to my room to shower and met a girl, also traveling on her own. She's been doing western Europe for the last 2 or 3 months. Her name was Boram and she was Korea. We talked for probably over an hour. Periodically she would giggle and it would sound like she was on a ventilator, but what was initially annoying became incredibly infectious. She was shocked with my love for kimchi and said the stuff is too hot for her. I went out to grab a bite to eat and when I got back she was already asleep. I fell asleep in bed reading my book, 'Dune'. The book, by the way, is the basis of the movie which my cousin Phillip really liked when we were younger, and we always said I should watch it...I'm reading it instead. It's allegedly one of the best science-fiction novels ever written...similar to lord of the rings. The next morning I woke up early...around 6ish. Packed my bags and was off for my long trek to the bus station...with my broken duffel bag.

Galway, Ireland

My bus left at 7:45 and I passed through Limerick and some other larger cities. I arrived in Galway a little before noon. My bus ticket wasn't too bag...16 euros, just over $20 USD. When I had left for my trip the exchange was about 1.25 USD to 1 euro. A few days before I left India for Ireland it was up to 1.28 USD to 1 euro. The last I checked it was way up at 1.38 USD to 1 euro...shit! O well, we're only talking about a total trip increase of 50-70 USD, as as the famous James Bond title goes, 'I'll live another day'! I walked to what I thought was my hostel when I arrived. I double checked my reservations in my book and discovered my hostel was Snoozles in and NOT Sleepzone. My hostel was not in my lonely planet. Luckily I had jotted down directions in my scrap notebook while in Udaipur, India several weeks ago. I followed the directions, but they were ambiguous, to say the least, and got lost again. I finally asked the information office at the bus station and was correctly directed to my proper hostel. It was less than a 3 minute walk. So I had just wasted over an hour walking and looking for my hostel...but I did see much of the eastern part of the city, which I would not return to (there isn't much there). I dropped my bags off at the storage facility since my bed wasn't ready until 3:00...this seems to be the norm. I took hold of my bible and went out. I walked through Eyre Square and then took a sharp left to head into the city center. Before heading into the heart of the city I wanted to get all the tourist things out of the way, since they were a little out of the city and I knew I would want to stay in the city center later. It turned out that the Galway Cathedral was much closer than I had expected. It was beautiful, but you can see that for yourselves. I walked back into town along the river and took some photos. I walked along the outdoor market on Church St. where they had wine and cheese shops. Then I strolled up and down Store St.. There were street performers all over, despite the cold weather. Some people played the violin, others a guitar, some danced, and other yet made balloon animals. I was scouting a place to sit and read some of my book when I finally spotted an opening at a wine bar and restaurant called Martine's down on Quay St. I got some cream of vegetable soup with some soda bread, which I absolutely LOVE. I was writing in my journal and started to read my book when I felt like chatting. I made small talk with a couple that sat across from me. The woman was Swiss, but has been living with her husband in Ireland for the last 6 years. He's Irish himself. We talked about Galway and my travels and they had said that Galway was a great place to be at this time of the year because the weather isn't too bad and the tourists haven't flocked here yet. We talked for over an hour and then I departed to see some more of the city. I walked down by the Spanish Arch and along the docks. I got back to my hostel around 6:00. I relaxed a bit and made friends with some of the people in my hostel. I made plans to go out with Tim, Teagan, and Margot. They were Aussies studying abroad in Leads, England. They where in Ireland for just a few nights. We walked down to the city center again and looked for 15+ minutes for the best place to eat. Some places were too expensive (actually most were) and others were pubs and had stopped serving food. There was the 6 Nations Championship FINAL that afternoon and the pugs were PACKED. Wales played Ireland for 1st place that evening. It was 14-15 with Ireland loosing with less than 3 minutes remaining and Ireland pulled off a win of 17-15 at the last moment. There had been MANY people from England and Wales on my bus from Cork going to Galway, as well as others on buses from Dublin to Galway. I guess Galway is the place to go to watch that sort of thing? People were drinking all day for it and it was packed...everywhere. We finally found somewhere to eat, but had to eat outside since there wasn't room for us inside. There wasn't anyone actually eating outside since it must have been in the low 40s or upper 30s, plus being on the ocean (and even closer to the river) there was a chilly breeze. We all ordered the same dish since it was on special...only 9.50 euro. I am just going to upload the photos on the picture site instead of in the blog so make sure you check there. Afterwards we went into a pub and it was PACKED. We all ordered some drinks. I got a Coors Lite...which I was actually shocked to see they had on tap. I have never paid 4.50 euro ($6 USD) for a pint of that before. There was live Irish music and everybody was dancing. The band consisted of three men, a violinist (or violist...I really couldn't tell), an accordion player, and a guitarist. It was very fast and it was quite a sight to see the Irish Dancing of the drunk (or nearly drunk) locals. We decided we didn't want to spend the money to keep on drinking and we left after 1.5 hours or so. We got back to our hostels and chatted in bed for a bit before going to sleep. At 2:45 in the morning we were awoken by some drunk people that apparently in our dorm. They were well-drunk and one of them was trying to introduce himself to me. I said I was sure he was a nice guy but it was too early for me to know my name and goodnight! The lights went on and off for almost an hour and they were still coming and going until well past 3:30. I finally got back to bed, but was woken up before 6:00 by the ridiculous snoring from the guy sleeping under me. I have some type of anger problem because I wasn't just upset I couldn't sleep, but I found a deep hatred for this man. He had a piggish nose, well suited for the animal noises coming from him. Maybe he was a rugby player himself and had gotten hit in the face too many times...he sure looked the part. I weighed my options. I could strangle him and force him to stop breathing, and thus snoring. After hours of deliberations I deduced that this would just mean I would likely be imprisoned and it might be tougher to sleep in a prison cell. I decided against it and just got washed up and ready for the day.

Thus my day started bright and early at 6:00 (with only 2 or 3 hours of sleep). I met a guy downstairs names Derek who was from New Jersey. He was on spring break from his Senior year as a Civil Engineer. We talked a bit and I turned on the TV. Thankfully they had satellite and I was able to find something agreeable to watch...How It's Made! Too bad I've already seen the episode. from 7:00 to 9:30 breakfast was served...toast with butter/jam,..again. I poured myself several cups of hot tea with milk and got 4 or 5 pieces of toast. I waited and waited until my Cliffs of Moher and The Burren tour departed at 9:45. While waiting I met a German girl who had been living in Dublin for a year and is planning on moving to Vancouver with a friend in a little bit. I do NOT respect that type of lifestyle. She works at a book store now and doesn't know what she'll do once in Canada. I would feel to empty if I had no career of my own. I won't get into this too much since my opinions are LIKELY (VERY LIKELY) to upset many. I have drive and passion and WILL make a large imprint in humanity from the products of my mental faculty. I have practiced for years and will continue to peruse this ambition. For a person to just wish to travel somewhere and 'do' whatever he can to make a few bucks...then pack up and do that again, witch no long term plans...I don't know if I find it more despicable, shallow, or just incredibly said. People derive happiness from many different places, and that is a very important characteristics of life, but it saddens me that people don't find pleasure in their career and thriving for ambitious goals. I've met SO many people complaining about the horrible conditions of certain regions of the world and 'yada yada yada'. But it's these same people that have no 'profession' or 'unique talent'. Did they go to LAW school to peruse public policy...NO! I've met people that talk about how horrible it is that India doesn't have drinking water. Yet, most of these people just work an unskilled labor job to save up enough money to travel around. They travel to India to make their (in my mind, meaningless) complaints about humanity, yet they themselves are easily dispensable humanity. Sure they mean something to their friends/family, but to humanity? You see where I'm getting at. They are content with making an observations about the world and do nothing about it. Pathetic, sad, choose? Maybe I am just too young and pure and haven't had the enough grind of the workplace to kill my spirit, but it will be a hard battle and I won't give up anytime soon. I see people without limbs, diseased, starving, etc. I would not DARE say, 'How horrible' or 'someone should should do something'. My mind's gears read 'How can I help that person' or 'I wander what efforts I can make to ensure the child gets dinner tonight'...thus my interest in biomechanical engineering.

The Tour to the Cliffs of Moher and the Burren was great, but too long. I have been used to traveling on my essentially this entire several months and don't' like a guided all. It was tiresome being on the bus and having to always report to certain places at given times. The landscape of The Burren was magnificent and the Cliffs of Moher were great. I wasn't completely taken aback, but was still impressed. I think ignorance is a great thing to have when one travels. Knowing things kills the excitement and wonder of typical things. Knowing about plate tectonics, geological formations, glacial retreat, and the like take the splendor out of such things as the Cliffs of Moher. To be fair, at the same time, it makes me appreciate other things. To be discussed at a later point. I don't mean to rant again, but it's been quite some time since I've met someone with whom I may bounce back Ideas. I like the travelers that I've been meeting here in Ireland, but find that many of the travelers in Asia were 'cooler'. Here is an analogy I've devised to contrast travel in Europe and Asia. Mind you I've only traveled in Ireland and Rome, but from what I've gathered I think it still holds:
'Imagine you're at a video store searching for a DVD to watch that night. You can choose a.) the familiar big-production comedy you know you would like, or b.) the unfamiliar film that could either vastly disappoint or revolutionize your view of the world.'
This is how I see travel in Europe (mostly Western Europe) and travel in Asia. Europe is nice and you know you'll find the comforts you can find at home. But it doesn't help you grow, 'as a person' other than cultural awareness. Although even in that respect western views are all very similar. If I where to travel for a short time, sure Europe is the place to go. If I wanted to travel to see a couple of things then Europe is the way to go. But in the respect, why not just travel within in the much is being missed? Drinking in an Irish pub was nice, but the atmosphere isn't much different in an Irish pub back at home. The people speak in a different accent, but what you talk about is the same. Everybody in the bar is likely the same religion and have the same concerns about, school, job, sex, etc. You CANNOT reproduce the atmosphere from ASIA. I guess what I've learned about traveling is that I like learning and growing as a person from it, and this just can only marginally be done when traveling to a place SO similar to your own. I think of it like this: (I rant because this is my last posting)...
Our views, perceptions, sense of reality, and truths are all outputs of our own mind's function. This function, call it conscienceless (or a soul for the religious out there) generates an output from a provided set of variables (call them inputs). These inputs are all unique to the individual, and thus the outputs are all unique. Many inputs are pushed on an individual like, say say religion onto a child, many many are self motivated. These inputs are what makes us unique, they are one's: bank of knowledge, life experiences, developed skills, abilities (innate or developed), etc. Disregarding the process of how we see reality etc, let's focus in on the inputs, which are easily modified and increasing. I posit that increasing the amount of 'inputs' (be it through travel, learning, reading, training for a sport, etc) provides a more accurate, and therefore better, output. In short, being a Renaissance Man, or a person with an ever increasing bank of variables is the man I want to be and think everybody should strive for. How can having a diverse set of talents, skills, and experiences hinder one's view of life? Some people are content as they are and that is one thing I PRAY I never subject myself to. A life of being content. Who ever said being happy means to be content?...I digress...
Today I was planning on going to the Aran Islands or Connemara, but the weather isn't too nice and I don't want another tour. the Connemara national park is closed until April anyways. Today it was misting and may rain later in the day, a high of 49 degrees F. It hasn't rained on my ENTIRE trip thus far and today is likely to be the first/last time it will. How symbolic, to rain on my last day of the trip...I'm just going to walk around the town and have a few beers in some pubs and some more soup and soda bread. I'm getting into my book, though it takes me forever to read it. It's so complicated, but good none the less. Tomorrow I catch a 3:30 bus to the Shannon International Airport, but have to wait until 10:30ish for my airplane's departure. I am scheduled to fly from Shannon to Chicago via Dublin and then to Cleveland from there.

Conclusion of Trip
Thank you all for taking the time to read my blog and share with me in the joys of my travels. I hope I have not offended any of you. And to those of you that I have, you don't me well enough..or perhaps you've gotten to know me too well. I mean no harm, just some cerebral entertainment. I don't want to be ending my trip. I will try very hard to be able to do something like this again in my life, but that's easier said than done. I would most definitely do it alone, or on another independent tour. NOT a tour group. Europe is nice, but I'll save the 'easy watching comedy' for my later years and enjoy the more unique (rich in learning and adventures) locales of the world for my next journey. This blog has cost me more then $10 USD so I hope it is enjoyed! Much love and farewell.


Dublin to Cork (and around)...

Cork, Ireland
I have not gotten any comments or emails for the last 3 or 4 posts so this will likely be my last posting. Woke up early in Dublin and took bus to Cork. Checked in, dropped of my bags since room wasn't ready and went out. Walked for 4 hours or so to all the 'sites' and then rested and a quaint little pub. Talked and met many interesting people. Took a bus to Blarney, saw the castle and stone, which I didn't kiss. The most impressive thing was not the stone or castle, but the grounds around. Things are SO expensive. Went out to a diner and fell asleep around 10:00. In the last couple of days I've eaten hamburgers, french fries and so many other deep fried dishes. I hate eating like shit (though it tastes so good). I will need to get back on track while I'm home.

Woke up early today (very early) and took an hour+ long bus ride to the city of Kinsale. It's a port city. Very quaint and colorful. Walked 6km and saw Charles Fort. Beautiful. Walked around some of the city and came back to Cork. Walked to many other places, but I already know what I did and it seems like many people have not been reading this blog, which is fine... I'll just keep it short as not to waste my time. Met an Italian and two Germans, we went to the Fort together. Walked around the town of Kinsale some more then took the bus back. Walked around Cork some more but got tired...I'm always tired now. Got some subway and only paid 6.50 USD with my student ID for a foot long. For comparison a banana in a shop cost me 85 cents and a bowl of soup was about 7 dollars. Walked through the English Market, which I enjoyed. I don't know what to do with myself now.? I've gotten SO good at seeing an entire city in such a short time that It's hard on my body, but great on time. Too early to sleep and yet nothing much else to do, shy of going to a museum, opera, etc. Believe it or not but I've even managed to have a couple beers in a few pubs every day to relax. I am waking up very early tomorrow and catching a 7:30ish bus to Galway, which should only take 4.5 hours. I should be able to check in and start out on the city by 1, which gives me the day and night to see Galway. The following day, on Sunday, I'm going to take another day trip to the Burren and the Cliffs of Moher. The day after that, my last day in Ireland, I'm not sure what I'll do. O well, cheer!


Dublin, Part 2

Dublin, Ireland
I went to the super market across the street and bought some food, which I later used to prepare my dinner in the hostel's kitchen. Afterward I hung out with the people in my dorm and we all got ready to go out for the night. It ended up being: Me, Courtney, the three Dutch girls, the two Germans, and this one local Dubliner we had met at the hostel. We left a little before 9 and walked around the Temple Bar area for a little under an hour. I became impatient and made the executive decision to go and get a pint inside. I took the group (see photo on right) to the bar I had gone the previous day. It was packed and I wasn't having too much fun. It was no different than a college bar and it was just loud drunken standing. If I were 4 years younger I would have been in heaven. I got one beer, which was 5.30 Euros ($6.89 USD) and that was enough for my budget. I left a little past 11 and walked back to my hostel with some of the girls. You can see a photo of the Temple Bar area on the left. I woke woken up the next morning (today) by the Dutch girls who had left by 7:00, but started packing near 6:00. I got breakfast, toast, jam and butter, and tea and met Courtney. We decided to go to the Kilmainham Jail together. We took a bus to the Jail and paid the 2 Euro entrance fee (we got a great discount since we were students) and waited for the tour to begin. We had to make sure we were always in front and facing the guide so that Courtney could lip-read to understand. Look at the photo of us in front of the jail on the right. Afterwards we took a bus back to the City Center. She wanted to get a bus ticket for tomorrow, since she was leaving Dublin. I am leaving Dublin too, but wanted to get it later since it was not in the part of town I wanted to visit. We parted and I got off a couple of stops earlier than she. I walked past Christ Church Cathedral and went to St. Patrick's Cathedral. I contemplated going in and just decided to go finally. It was only 4.50 Euros. I went in and looked around for maybe 15 minutes. It was beautiful and reminded me of the churches I've seen in Rome. You can check out one photo I took inside on the left. Afterwards I walked to the Chester Beatty Library and relaxed outside for a bit in the park. I took some photos of the Dublin Castle, which was just beside it. Admission to the library was free. It may have been the most awesome thing I've seen in the last week. It was amazing. There were collections of old leather bound books (and I mean 1000+ years old). I absolutely love beautiful and rare books and this library did not fail to impress. There were also Japanese suits of armour and swords (I thought of you Papa). There was an entire floor dedicated to ancient books, manuscripts, and scrolls for all the religions of the world. It was fascinating to see the documents on Hinduism since it was so relevant to me. I had been to many of the places mentioned--Likewise for the texts on Buddhism and the Jain religion. There were texts on Zen, Taoism, Confucianism, Islam, and Christianity...just to name a few. There were texts from the famous Jesus people that dates back to 100 AD. After reading the original texts from Christianity, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Islam it really is very clear. I mean religion, it's all the same recycled stuff. Even though the goals in the different religions are different it apparent what they're all used for. They all recycled existing cultures and just modified some existing story to...I will not continue because both my mother and father (on separate accounts) scolded me for being to blatant and offensive. This is where most people would apologize but there is no way I'm going to apologize for commenting on IDEAS. Enough said...I find the Irish people to be SO nice. It's also interesting to see different types of people doing different types of things (e.g. young party-oriented people sleeping the day away and going out to the bars, older people taking tours and seeking cultural entertainment, and scholarly folk in the library, etc.). I wandered to Trinity College and walked around in the campus. To be honest I was a little disappointed. Though it was spotlessly clean, I didn't feel like it was a college. The student body could have been an advertisement for pro-cloning (i.e. VERY homogeneous). There were no student organizations anywhere to be seen, no posters advertising student groups. It was not like any typical University I've been to. But I think this is just how they are in Europe. Kids go to class and that's all. The 'college life' is mostly an American concept and I'm happy for this. I kept walking around the grounds thinking, 'Wow, Michigan's ___ is better, and Michigan...'. Maybe some of this is school pride, but I think I would be saying this no matter where I went (EVEN OSU)! I walked back to my hostel and relaxed for a bit. Today I did a lot...I am not even including all the other churches/areas I visited just for simplicity. I am loving Dublin, but am anxious to go somewhere less touristy and less expensive. The city is so beautiful and after hearing about all the history I can respect it even more. Ireland has had such a tough history and it's incredible that it's come all this way and managed to keep their Independence.

I bought a bus ticket at the main bus station that goes from Dublin to Cork. The first bus leaves at 8:00 am and the last at 6:00 pm. Buses leave every two hours. My ticket was 11 Euros (student discount again) and I think I'm going to go on the first bus to get to County Cork earlier. It's about 4.5 hours so I'll arrive half past noon. O well... time to go, if I stay on for more than another 4 minutes I will get charged for another hour of Internet use. I think I may just go out for dinner tonight. I have yet to enjoy an Irish meal, other than fast food and home cooked meals. I mean what's 20 Euros ($26 USD) anyways? I don't want to come home. I am going to start planning my next adventures...anyone interested? I'm thinking Bangkok down to Bali, Then to New Zealand/Australia and then maybe Africa and or Latin America. Cheers!


Kolkata to Mumbia to London to Dublin

En Route to Dublin
My cab to the Kolkata airport was set for 5, but I left 15 minutes early. Got to airport around 5:15 with AMPLE time...3+ hours until my plane departed. Went to get my itinerary and sent my bags for an initial x-ray before entering the airport. My bag was tied closed with a plastic tie and I proceeded to get my e-tickets are the Jet Airways India counter. I checked my bag, which no weighs 16 kg and took a seat and wrote in my journal, it was not even 6:00 at this time. I had to wait until 7:30 before I was able to enter through security. I was hungry but had no money since I had changed all my rupees to euros, except for the exact amount required for my taxi. I waited and people watched and read a good chunk of my lonely planet for Ireland. Went through security, which is much different than how we do it in American and Europe. Everybody gets patted down and a guy or girl waves a metal detector over your entire body. Shoes don't need to come off either. The process was actually quite fast. The man who was at security asked me a few questions about my trip and the intent. We started talking and he was telling me how he thought America was 'odd' because in India people hold a job for their ENTIRE LIFE. He inquired about my shirt, which was of the Laos alphabet and when more people started coming through I had to go on my way. I waited and got ready to get onto my plane. I had been upgraded to business class since they were overbooked and I had had my ticket for a long time. It was quite nice. I had juice and a cool towel offered to me as I sat down and the seats were HUGE. My meal was good as well. I got Lamb Sagwala (lamb w/ spinach) along with a fruit dish, salad, roll, and some Indian dessert. I got some sleep, maybe an hours worth? We arrived in Mumbai and I had to go to the kiosk to get my bus transfer ticket. I took this to the side of the airport and got a transfer to the international terminal, which was a 30 minutes ride. I was 'hoping' my luggage would make it. I got to the international terminal and had no idea of what to do, but i figured it out. I filled out an emigration slip and went through emigration to stamp out of the country. I had to pass through security again. They had given each of my carry-on a tag and stamped it as well. I waited for a little then got on my plane, which departed around 2:45 am (Indian Time). I had an aisle seat in the center section. I wanted this, but didn't realize I would be sitting next to a man who had me get up at least 4 times during the flight, I wanted to punch him in the nuts so he wouldn't be able to get up and ask me to move a 5th time. We got two meals, the first being a lighter meal. The flight was around 9 hours or so and each seat had its own wide screen TV (maybe 9 inch or so, quite nice). It was on demand and we could chose from 10s of movies and 10s of TV episodes. I watched an episode of some British comedy, which was very funny, an episode of Friends, and another of How I Met Your Mother. They also had some games, which I played, since they were free. I got 4 hours of sleep perhaps even less. I arrived in London by 7 and had to go through customs since my luggage was only checked to London. I had to wait in a long enough line that it could have taken hours to get through. Surprisingly I was through within 25 minutes. I got my bag and had to get to terminal 1 (I was at terminal 3). Mind you the handle of my roller suitcase had been broken for 6+ weeks so I had to carry the entire thing, all 35+ lbs of it. I do not know how I made it to where I was supposed to go, as Heathrow is huge. I shlept the damn bag, along with my day bag and my other over the shoulder carry on for 30 minutes. I was sweating my the time I got to terminal 1. I took out my passport and checked-in and got my boarding pass. I proceeded to check-in my duffel bag and then got some food in the airport. There was no minimum charge to use my credit card, unlike in India where they ONLY accepted cash. I went through security, which was of the western style and walked another 15 minutes to my gate, No 84. I was flying Air Lingus, which was VERY budget. I had an aisle seat, but no one sat beside me or in the window seat. Nothing was included and all refreshments were expensive. I read some more of my Lonely Planet and was taking notes.

Dublin, Ireland
I arrived in Dublin airport and the pace of life was much different than what I've been living for the last 2 months. I got my luggage and went through immigrations. Went to the ATM and took out some Euros... conversion rate as of now 1 EURO = 1.29 USD :(. Took an airbus shuttle to my hotel (which was only 7 euros), but forgot to get off at the right stop. I was probably only 2 km away but my duffel bag was too heavy and I had gotten almost not sleep in two days. I walked for 30 or so minutes and finally sucked it up and hailed a cab. I paid 8 Euros for a 3.5 minute ride...shit! I went to my hostel and paid the 82 euros (106 USD) for my three nights and dropped of my bags in my room. I have a room with 5 bunk beds, 10 people. We have all share one bathroom. I went out to explore the city some. I walked for hours, through St. Stephen's Green, a park which you can see on the right. It was very beautiful. I say couples, tourists, and businessmen walking through. Next I proceeded onto Merrion Square, which only a brisk 20 minutes away. On my way I found a carnival just to the right of Merrion Sq. I entered Merrion Sq. and initially noticed it was not as popular as the other park. There wasn't as many grass flats, and the plant life was less managed. It felt more of a nature park. I walked and looked for the Oscar Wilde Statue, which was allegedly in the park somewhere, as was a museum dedicated to him--I would go if I had an infinite time here. I absolutely love Oscar Wilde (which is Irish if you didn't put two and two together) and his book (the first and last he's ever written) titled The Picture of Dorian Gray, touched me and is on my top favorite 10 books. I took a self portrait with the statue of the genius play write as you can see on the left. Afterwards I strolled back towards my hostel and walked along college green and Trinity College, which I plan to take a tour of tomorrow. I was reading my Lonely Planet on my walk back and looked for one of the popular 'typical' pubs it had suggested. I went into the Palace Bar. I ordered myself a nice Guinness and sat and wrote in my journal. I tried to make some small talk with those around me, but nothing stuck. Finally I started talking to a man named Larry. Larry was in his 60s (probably) and was a primary school teacher in a Dublin suburb. He doesn't come to the city to drink too often. We talked and I told him about my experiences in India and Lao, etc. I was enjoying myself and had nowhere to go so I ordered myself a second pint. Each pint was 4.60 euros (6.50 USD). After some time and talking to some other people a man who introduced himself as Liam came in. He had overheard me talking about Vietnam and said he's been there. In the war it was I presumed he meant. He said he was 80 years old. He had lived in St. Louis for a while but has been living in Ireland for the last 60 years. All three of us chatted and they were enjoying hearing from someone like me (both an American and someone with such different views and so much younger). I guess it's not typical for people to backpack around south east Asia and India? I don't see this because that's the only type of people I've been around for months. Some people are too comfortable with their lives they never want to venture out...quite sad if you ask me. Liam, I guess is short for Bill. I had the bar tender take the photo of the three of us, seen on the right. Bill had bought me a third pint of Guinness and I tried to refuse, but hey after a while I just went along with it. Before I knew it I had been chatting it up in this pub for 3 hours. I got back to my hostel around 6 or so and was tired. I met the others in the room, or at least a few of them. There turns out to be 8 girls and one other guy. He's there with a girl and their both from Germany. There are three girls from the Netherlands, one of them looks like Claudia Schiffer. I am on the top bunk, she's on the cute :)! There are two girls from Tel Aviv, Israel, but they're quite weird. One girl is from England and has orange hair, while another girl just finished University (or Uni as they call it) and is from Australia. She's traveling much of the UK and western Europe over the next 4 months. Dublin is her first stop and is taking tours mostly everywhere else. She's the only other person I've met that is backpacking, everyone else just seems to be traveling to one or two places for a short vacation. It makes sense that Ireland is just a week-long trip. The Germans and Dutch girls asked me to come out to the Temple Bar with them, but I was WAY to tired. I went out to see get some food and walked around for almost an hour looking for a 'cheap' place. See a photo on the right, I took it while looking for dinner. My hostel is a little walk away from the city center, but not too bad. Food is SO expensive here, I miss Asia already. I miss eating whatever I wanted wherever I wanted. Living like a king no more. I went to a place called Eddie Rockets, which is a clone of the US's Johny's Rockets and got a Cobb salad for 9.5 euros (12.5 USD). It was good and I was starving. I got back to my hostel and unwound and passed out. Woke up the next day at 7:15 and was quiet as not to wake the others. Everybody else was still asleep. My bed is the one in the bottom closest to the window in the photo on the left. I had plans with the two Germans to go to the Guinness Storehouse this morning after breakfast. Our breakfast is free in the hostel and includes a toast, jam, butter, and coffee/tea/hot coco/orange juice. It's quite lacking, but will do for now. We made plans to meet up with the Dutch girls a 12:30 outside Trinity College to watch the St. Patrick's Day Parade together. We walked to the Guinness factory, which was probably 3 km away and took just over half an hour. They were both relying on me for directions, which is quite the contrast to how it typically happens, but I've gotten great at 'understanding' city layouts and making my way around. I mean I'll have been to well over 30 main and diverse cities in 2 months times. We paid the 11 euro entrance fee (it would have been 15 if I didn't have my student ID) and went around the factory. It was large and fun. It was a self-guided tour and we got samples of Guinness Stout throughout the levels. On the 6th level there was an all-girl band playing some music. I loved it, purely instrumentals, no vocals. They were from Italy and it was quite sexy watching 5 women playing instruments. I took a photo, which you can see on the right. We proceeded up to the top floor, which was a 360 degree glass panoramic gravity bar. We received our free pint of Guinness and then set out to meet the girls for the parade. Check out the photo of us on the 7th floor are the Guinness Storeroom. The roads were blocked off by this point and as we walked father and farther into town the sidewalks became increasingly difficult to navigate. The parade had started (at noon) and it was hard to make it back. We tried to squeeze our way by and the Germans gave up. I was being compressed from all sides and it was impossible to move any closer to town. I watched the parade some, but it's not my thing. It kinda sucked actually, compared to the one in NYC and everyone I've been to. I took a side street to get out of the commotion (as were many people trying to do as well) and tried to get back to my hostel. The problem was that the parade was going through the main part of town from the north going south, which divided the city in half. I couldn't make it to my hostel since it was on the other side. I needed to walk completely north of the parade and it took more than 2 hours of brisk non-stop walking to make it back to my hostel. I got back and was very tired. I say Courtney back in the room. She's the girl from Australia. I asked her out for a drink tonight and we agreed to meet in the room showered, dressed, and ready to leave by 8. We're going to go to Temple Bar, which is going to be crazy and I know I won't love it, but I need to experience it. From what I understand it will be like a huge spring break/fraternity party. If you know anything about me you would know that's not my scene. I enjoy entertainment a little more cerebral. It's going to be very hard to communicate tonight with Courtney because she's completely deaf and I have trouble hearing what she's trying to say alot of the time. It must be hard for someone like her to travel for 4 months, by herself too. Good thing she's sticking to the western world though. I already miss India and SE Asia. I miss the 'typical backpacker' and their mentality of the world. Here in Ireland everyone is so superficial and ignorant (I mean on average). In Asia the priority was respect, even when sale people where ripping you off. Here they put on a smile and play the game of 'hello', but they have no desire to talk with you and get to know you. Some of the girls are very sexy, but most of them dress like whores, are grossly overweight, have trampy piercings, and are just ugh! Not to draw any conclusions or imply anything but this is how I see many of the Catholic girls in America as well. Not so much the girls in Solon or higher income families but the girls I've met that go to all-girl Catholic school fit the same bill. I'm just relaying the facts, but I DO see how the oppressive sexual teachings of their religion influence their lifestyles. Ireland had among the highest percentage of under 25 years old in all of Europe... they might have the highest. So many young people with children and not in the 'family unit' that is desirable in western culture (and almost every other culture as well). OK, enough for now, cheers! Tomorrow I'm taking a bus (need to figure that one out) to the outskirts of town to see a famous jail.


Last Couple of Days in Kolkata

Day 2 in Kolkata
And then there were 8. Wow, these last few days were BUSY. Two days ago, my second day in Kolkata went something like this: Cass, Emily (the twin), and I walked around Park Street and the girls went on the Internet, while I ventured a little farther down the road. Dave and Lizzy were still recovering from the previous night. Finally when David was feeling a little better Emily, Cass, He, and I went out to see the Marble Palace which was quite a distance away. We had to go to the tourist embassy the other day to get a permissionary note allowing us entrance into the palace. We walked for nearly an hour trying to find where the metro station was, but finally gave up and nixed the Palace since it was already nearing its closing time. We walked back to our hotel and along the way stopped in a local cafeteria-like restaurant. My vegeburger was OK, but not a burger by any means, just tasted...Indian. Back at the hotel Cass, Emily, and I regrouped and went out to get another permissionary notice for tomorrow (Dave couldn't go since he had to leave for Nepal the next day). Dave went to DHL to mail some of his things, but he ended up keeping it since it would have cost him and arm and two legs. On the way back from the embassy we stopped at a chemist (pharmacy) and got some drugs. You would not believe what you can just walk up and get, scary really. Cass's jaw had been hurting her and didn't know what to get since there were no drug company names, only the chemical compounds. I was able to get her some NSAIDS and she was amazed that I knew so much. It made my day when the pharmacist didn't even know that much. He tried to give her antacids, and then antibiotics...oh brother. Anyways, Dave and I met up again and took a cab to Sudder St, where all the budget hotels were. I went to one that I had previously scouted the previously day and we checked-in. We had a room that looked like a prison cell. The bathroom had no drain, just a huge hole in the middle of the floor. No warm water, and a window in the bathroom only. There was a jungle of mosquitoes in that bathroom so we had to always keep it closed. We had only one bed, which didn't seem to bother either of us and a 13" small color TV that only got Hindi channels, but I must confess I do enjoy watching their music videos. India, unlike all of south east Asia is almost completely isolated from western culture (almost). Later that night we met up with the rest of the group, the Aussies, the twins, Lisa, and Cass. We went to a Chinese place to eat and then afterwards we said our goodbyes. It was sad, but I was getting used to saying goodbyes. We said we would keep in touch and visit each other. Maybe they actually believed this, but I knew better, but played along. Dave and I both wore pants, socks, and shirts to bed to ward off the bed-bugs we were certain where there. Tomorrow Dave, Emily (the Aussie), Deb (the Aussie), and Lisa (the German) would be gone.

Day 3 in Kolkata
And then there were 4. Dave and I both woke up early, he to try to send his stuff home and me because I had to meet the girls at their hotel which was several kilometers away. I said goodbye Dave and he said he would just leave the room key at reception (he did). I met up with Cass, Lizzy and Emily (the twins) at their hotel (my first hotel). We took a cab to Cass's new hotel and she checked-in. She had booked it in advance and holy shit it was NICE. It better have been since she is paying 10 times what I'm paying. My 'double' room, which was right by the 'new market' by Sudder Street, called Hotel Palace, cost me 400 Rps per night ($8 UDS). Afterwards we walked to the metro underground train and took it north to MG Rd, where we walked around and got some Chai Masala. I LOVE CHAI...Indian Chai. It's only 2 to 3 Rps per cup of tea so we always get it when we see it. Chai Wallahs are at every corner. We walked into the Marble Palace, which was beautiful, see photo on right. There were caged animals in the gardens, which as I later read, was Calcutta's first zoo. If you have heard of the Hurst Castle then I strongly suggest you google the Marble Palace since the architecture and decor share a STRANGELY similar quality. We had to be 'followed' around by some tour guide who spoke close to no English. It was quite odd because of the HIGH security and precautions to get into this place, but there was no other tourist in the palace, not even around the palace grounds. That reminds me, there have been SO FEW tourists here in Kolkata that I have begun to feel that I am not a tourist any more. I am reminded when I get stares down the streets and the children run up and shake my hand and then return to their friends and giggle. SO MANY people, mostly young men (15-25 years old) look at my arms and say "wow, you work out" or "strong man" and they giggle. Indians don't have overly masculine builds, at least not the poorer and working castes. We walked around afterwards and I really jammed up my toe when I fell of a concrete and metal wire fence. I was scaling it to try to sneak a photo of the palace. It was a success since I was able to capture one. I applied first aide IMMEDIATELY as not to get an infections (that was for you mother). I always keep antibacterial spray, cleansing gauss, and a band aide on me. I'm the group's medic. I've very rarely used any on my self, but often times on other people. We walked south a little, passing some of the metro stops, and I bought an antique looking lock that I've been looking for all trip. They're ubber-heavy so I wanted to hold off as much as possible. See photo on left. We had walked maybe 1.5 km, but in the high humidly, sun, and heat we were done. We took the metro to Park Street to go to the Indian Museum, which was allegedly the best in the country. The fair was only 4 rps (equal to 8 pennies, mind you) and once we got there only Cass really wanted to go in. It was only 150 Rps, but no bags were allowed in. I didn't like this so I decided against it. We all decided to grab a bite to eat so I directed them to a nice place right next to my hotel, you can see in my photo on the right. Afterwards the twins and I went to the New Market, while Cass went on her own. We had plans to all meet up at 7:00 outside KFC for dinner. We walked around the market and men bothered us about showing us around and taking us into their stores. There was avoiding it so I just picked the 'coolest' of the guides and stuck with him so all the others would leave us alone. I looked at some saris and after 45 minutes the twins went on their own. I was ready to make purchase when I found out they only had one of each type of sari. I looked around for 2 more hours and found the same thing. I finally went to some fabric stores, but the fabrics that had ANY embroidery was no less than 4 dollars/meter. I really wanted to get ~45 meters for my Uncle, but I don't think it's going to happen. I spend a total of 3 hours yesterday and several other hours in Udaipur looking for fabrics. They are much more expensive then originally thought, and FedEx doesn't take account numbers. Bummer. O well. On my way back to my hotel I bought some henna and another lock, just for kicks. I relaxed for a little then went back out to meet the group for dinner. We went to a very nice place that had live music (piano and alto sax). I had a dish called Spicy Spiced Mutton. I demanded it be extra spicy. Here is what I said, "I want this spicy...not 'white man spicy', but full-on Indian spicy". I told him to bring extra chillies on the side. It was a GREAT meal, though not too spicy. Man I miss spicy Korean food. Shawn, when you see Jenny, tell her to bring me back some of her cooking. Haha jk. We said our goodbyes, but realized my plane didn't leave until 8:30 the next day. We made plans to meet up at 1:00 (today) to head to the New Market together. This is right by my hotel and I plan to hail a cab around 4:40? I think that's ample time for my flight. Wow, I know I missed ALOT, but I have been writing in my journal religiously, so I'll make sure to refer back to it later when I catch you all up to speed. It's 11:10 now and I'm in the fastest Internet cafe in all of Asia. It's only 15 Rps. /hour. I hope by now you're smart enough to understand the conversion of rupees into dollars. 1 rupee = 2 cents. Well that's close enough anyways. I have to check out of my hotel at 12:00 and luckily I'm already packed. I am wearing my trekking shoes (finally) and am carrying my journals and North Face jumper in a bag on the plane so my luggage is a little easier to handle now.

I'm a little worried about the money issue in Ireland, since a meal there can run 12-15 Euros, or around 20 dollars. That's more than I've been spending all day here in India. For your reference if I remove all the expenses of shipping things home and my carpets/saris I bought I've spent a little under $350 and that's for ~ days. That's under $15/day and trust me, I've been eating VERY well.

I don't think I'll be able to go online too much in Ireland, but we'll see.

Please check my pictures as I'm uploading a bunch of photos now.