Thailand – August 2023

Once upon a time I fell in love with the beautiful Erna and we are very happy. After living together some time the idea of the Dutch girl being able to vote and get an Australian passport became a good idea. And so a wedding was arranged for September 2nd 2023.

As the wedding date approached, an invitation for a trip to Europe came from her German friend who had some time off. I was really interested in going, but there was a clash with my Clown Doctor conference, an opportunity for me to recharge and connect. So we went our separate ways for most of August.

And then, out of the blue, an invite to join an old friend on a trip to Thailand.

Could this work? Me returning a week before the wedding? Her returning 5 days before? What could possibly go wrong?

Here are some photos – click them for full size

India dinner stories

An Indian themed dinner was organised for after we returned, unfortunately Tall Girl is back in the Netherlands for a short while, so this page is a few stories to entertain the guests.


Holi is the festival of colours, to celebrate the arrival of spring.

The night before, on every street…

later that night we went to the family farm at Barala, arriving quite late and waking up to…

and the start of Holi

of course, it always gets out of hand

A trip to Mandawa

We were invited to join Ajeet on a business trip to Mandawa, about an hour drive from Jaipur. Any journey with Ajeet is sure to be an adventure.

We stopped for something to eat and there happened to be a temple (what a surprise) and we were just in time for puja.

The Haveli where we stayed was run down, but incredible

Ajeet knows I love stepwells, on the way back we stopped at one that is being restored

Tall Girl and I walked around the back to where there were some people. She thought they were waving us away, I know India better.

The engagement party at Mochingpura

Sheetala Ashtami

We were on a mission to buy some gifts and wandered aimlessly. While not lost, we had no idea where we were. Trying to find somewhere to eat we spotted these photogenic statues outside a house

obviously it was worth looking inside and this was happening

it was obviously some religious ceremony, but we had no idea. As we wandered we kept seeing groups of mostly women and children heading somewhere, so naturally we followed along to see what was happening

of course…

Enough already, some favourite photos

I love this photo, I think it adequately shows the excitement and craziness when selfies are happening. They knocked over a motor scooter!

Indian temples, templets and deities

In many countries, religion is something that sits on top of the culture. Australia is like that. But in some countries, like India (and I imagine Italy and some other places) religion and the culture are so enmeshed with each other it would be impossible to separate them.

There are temples, or at least small templets (as I call them, but I suppose a shrine is a better word) with a religious deity on literally every street and in many cases traffic diverts around a structure that sits in the middle of the street. Not the middle of the street between oncoming traffic like a divider, it is actually permanently in the middle of one lane of traffic.

Shri Jagat Shiromani ji Temple, Jaipur – right behind Amer Fort,
but off the tourist trail and absolutely worth a visit.
Forecourt of mosque in Kolkata

There are Hindu icons in railway stations, government buildings, farm fields, shops, cars, the middle of nowhere, everywhere. These photos don’t even come close to showing everything we saw.

It is important to attract the attention of the gods, this is one way…

Shri Jagat Shiromani ji Temple
The end of puja at Shri Jagat Shiromani ji Temple
Evening puja on the Ganges in Varanasi.
There were several similarly sized events taking place, but it was a bit bigger than usual because of Holi.
Yes, they are all boats on the right hand side.

Photo rules: Always ask permission. Show the subject the result – not only is it respectful, but it is worth it for the reactions.

Kolkata mosque

On the way to somewhere we stopped for chai and ended up in a temple, eventually giving the holy man some sweets after puja

God attracting noise makers – Shri Jagat Shiromani ji Temple

I love this photo outside the Harshat Mata Temple adjacent to the Chand Baori. Tall Girl is so obviously happy and looks suitably bohemian.

Shri Parshvanath Digamber Jain Mandir Ji Panchayati – Agra
In a city with the Taj Mahal, there are so many other hidden gems that tourists don’t visit

The keeper of the shrine. This is essentially all there was, not a big temple or anything, just this woman sitting with the deity.

It is impossible to over-state the beauty and complexity of some temples.
The Shri Jagat Shiromani ji Temple, about 500 years old.

Shri Jagat Shiromani ji Temple

the 80 foot Buddha in Bodhgaya

One can only imagine the age of this palaquin in the Shri Jagat Shiromani ji Temple

Another very old shrine at the Gaitore Ki Chhatriyan, Jaipur.
It has had buildings added over the years, but this is their original shrine of Shiva.

A different view of the same shrine

Shri Jagat Shiromani ji Temple

Buddha at Bodhgaya

Merchants of India

Man sitting in from of shop filled with rows of medicine bottles
Ayurvedic medicines

Men standing in front of trucks loaded with fruit
Fruit market

Man feeding fruit into juicer
Fresh juices

Man standing at front of shop filled with a wide variety of goods
General store

Woman painting another woman's nails
Worst manicure ever…for $1

Men sitting behind pile of flowers preparing them to be taken to Hindu temple for devotion
Temple flowers

Man at front of shop, in background another man is restoring the face of a flour grinding stone
Restoring a grinding wheel

Woman sitting in shop with shelves full of folded textiles

Men cooking at large woks
Making jalabi, an Indian sweet

Man sitting on floor in shop that sells stone carved statues
Detail of large set of balance scales
Flour scales

Rows of coloured decorative containers
Decorative containers

Woman operating flour mill
Flour grinding

Bags of colourful pigments used in the Indian Holi festival
Holi colours

Man looking at bags of colourful pigments deciding which to buy
Holi colours…decisions

Man carrying basket of vegetables on his head
Street vendor

I give up

I have had it with the frustration of trying to get images uploaded and stories told. We will be home in less than 24 hours and maybe then I will add more.

Bye Bye Ajeet! He is the owner of Chillout Hotel in Jaipur with his brother Ranjeet. They are both wonderful men who have embraced me as part of their family and they loved Erna.

I love this photo, I think it adequately shows the excitement and craziness when selfies are happening. They knocked over a motor scooter!

We spotted some cool carvings, noticed a group of people inside and were invited in. It was some sort of festival where women ask for good health for their husbands…or something. We then followed crowds of (mostly) women and children to a park where there were thousands of people dancing in small groups and wearing their finery. We didn’t really find out why the kids were all dressed up, but it was pretty common in the crowd.

Some alternate Taj Mahal views

…and of course, the money shot

Of course there are loads more…maybe in a few days.

If you read this far, thanks.

Jaipur & beyond

Days later, we are still in Jaipur. There is seriously a lot to see here and with the added bonus of visits to my Indian family farm and events, we just can’t get out of the place. This is not a bad thing.

The good news is that we are both 100% well again, though the Tall Girl is being very wary of what she eats.

We’ve been doing so much, it is going to be hard to write it all up before we want to head out and do more…

Sigh…too many days to catch up.

We went to an engagement party on the family farm at Mochingpura, here are some of the other guests…

An interesting party with a crazy finish at Hathroi Fort – here’s the view from the top of the fort wall.

A day trip to Amer fort where there are a lot of elephants giving tourists rides. Again, I found it amazing being around and so close to so many elephants. This time I found it even more distressing seeing the elephants being exploited and appearing to not be in very good health. And tourists still ride them up the hill :o(

Elephants at Amer Fort Jaipur
The red and blue material hides a multi-strand rope girth that goes under the animal
and looks uncomfortable, if not painful.

Wandering down the back of the fort to the stepwell, we stumbled on the amazing 400 year old Shri Jagat Shiromani ji Temple. We arrived just in time for morning Puja and were part of a group of less than 10 people in the place, the only westerners, of course. The holy man and devotees were really friendly and there was plenty of banter afterwards.

and the stepwell….

A little later we bumped into one of the men outside his house and were invited in for chai with his daughter-in-law and grandson. This is why we come to India.

sigh…sitting in Kuala Airport, half way home, trying to get at least one more post up before we get back.


The title of this post, as you may have guessed, is not a town, but a state of being. We have both had Delhi Belly, me not so bad, Tall Girl…bad. One can never tell if it is food or a bug or what, but she isn’t well and can’t even keep an antibiotic or anti-vomit tablet down. Of course there is always a silver lining, and I now have time to catch up with travel tales while she sleeps.

Our plan was always to get to Jaipur, but it wasn’t until after we had booked flights (don’t get me started on Air Asia…grrrr…) that we discovered we would be in India for Holi, which according to wikipedia is

…known as the Festival of Colours, Festival of Spring, and Festival of Love. One of the most popular and significant festivals in Hinduism. It celebrates the eternal and divine love of the god Radha and Krishna.

and Jaipur would be a great place to be. So we had to make a bit of haste across country to be here in time for March 6th and as usual, it was worth it.

First mission was to head out with Balu (Ajeet’s brother and partner in Chillout Hotel, Jaipur) to buy some coloured powder. You may have seen bags of this stuff at colour runs and things like that, but being in a shop that has bales of 10Kg bags is something else. We only bought 10kg each of 5 colours. I rode shotgun in a tuk-tuk hired just for the delivery back to the hotel.

In the evening of the full moon the festival gets under way. We had seen piles of wood stacked like bonfires all over the place and you’ll never guess what they were…yes, bonfires.

In parks, in village squares or just in the street.

The men (of course) put some wheat or other grain on the end of a long pole, then into the fire while the women pour some water on the ground. Some ashes are then collected (by the men, of course) and are taken home to be used to mark the forehead during Puja. There were fires like that every hundred metres or so along every road.

Later that evening we went with Ajeet to the family farm at Barala, about 2 hours drive from Jaipur. We arrived late, everyone was asleep, but beds were prepared and we woke to rural India

They grow mainly wheat with some mustard seed and green leafies such as coriander. It wasn’t long before we were out in the fields picking for the hotel restaurant

and doing women’s work…

I knew the family from previous visits so there wasn’t any of the usual shyness which was wonderful. Needless to say, Tall Girl was right at home, finally getting some henna art on her hand.

We hadn’t even left the village before we looked like this

This doesn’t all happen in a context of “I’m going to ‘get’ you” and to be avoided. Quite the opposite. People walk up to each other with a handful of colour and smear it on their faces and wish Happy Holi. It is joyous and fun and everyone is into it * ^

* this is a Hindu festival, so not everyone

^ in the case of older people, you would colour their feet if requested

Back to Chillout where the fun was certainly under way


Of course, eventually it gets out of hand…and then the fun really begins

I am not sure if our clothes will ever be back to the original colours.

Ajeet has another project in mind so we head off with him to Mandwara, Rajasthan to have a look at a haveli, an old huge family home. One of many in Mandwara

Arriving at night it was astounding. In the daylight it was still incredible, but the problems became more obvious i.e. the amount of money needed to get it up to deluxe level and keep it there would be enormous.

And in other havelis…a deluxe room

a super deluxe room…as usual, in a photo you just don’t get how spectacular this was.

On the way back Ajeet had a surprise for me…another stepwell. Not very big or deep, but they are restoring it which is fantastic. Finally the Indian government is recognising the importance of these and declaring them heritage sites.

Hmmm…around the back…I wonder what that group of people is doing there, let’s go and have a look. Tall Girl was a little reluctant and thought they were waving us away. Hah! I know better…I love the outcome and her willingness to say “yes”.

Enough for now… stand by for the fully sick Bollywood movie adventure.

The Holi Ganges at Varanasi

Not a bad view of the Ganges from the balcony of the Vishnu Hotel, Varanasi. In fact, if you would like to see the featured panorama full sized, click here

The Ganges is a holy place to Hindus, so much so that as the train we were on crossed it, most people showed some respect by touching their heads or hearts or something. Maybe they were just grateful we were almost there after a 4 hour trip, the last hour of which was spent 19km from our destination. The very Indian part of that is that the “delay” was part of the schedule…

The countdown to Holi had begun and as we wandered along the ghats there were some people splattered with colour But it wasn’t clear where it came from.

Then we reached the cremation ghat and it was truly bizarre. A full on doof in amongst the burning bodies.

The guy in the orange turban isn’t some sort of holy man, he was dancing to deafening music on the edge of a crowd of about 500 people as a cremation took place right beside him. On one hand it all seemed disrespectful, on the other, what a great send off, into the Ganges with people celebrating life around you.

In what is something of a miracle, after the required haggling, we paid close to local’s price on a boat ride along the river. It is a great way to see the full extent of the ghats, especially the big old buildings above them.

I had spent at least 2 hours over the previous couple of days searching for an ATM that worked. Because of the Holi festival, seven I tried didn’t work, maybe they were out of money. Four were locked up. I was starting to get a bit nervous about paying our hotel bill until I found out that (unusually) they accepted credit cards. My search took me as far as Assi Ghat where I had stayed in 2015 and I was reminded of somethingwith which I could surprise the Tall Girl.

Her first stepwell. Or more accurately, a Kund, which is Hindi for “infinite” because they don’t know where the endless supply of water comes from (which is actually unlikely because we were 50m from the Ganges). Although it is a working Kund, with people washing and praying, it is locked to prevent easy access. But Tall Girl came to the rescue, befriending a young woman who spoke great English and let us in. We decided to be very careful about going near the water as the Kund attracts worshippers due to its reputation that if couples come and immerse themselves, they will have a child within a year. And we don’t want anything unplanned.

Varanasi was a place to chill after our first 4 or 5 days in India, travelling a fair bit. Tall Girl got to do some more art…the photos don’t do it justice

There’s also a pretty large Puja (holy ceremo y) carried out each evening. The crowds were particularly big due to Holi happening – the photo doesn’t include the dozens of boats jammed up against each other.

And what better way to protect the statue of a God built in the middle of a road than with a wall of cow dung.

By the way, apparently we have all been saying it wrong. It is not Vah-Rah-Nah-See, each syllable with equal weight. It is pronounced VarRar-NarSee – I don’t think he was pulling our leg.

Let’s get out of Kolkata…

Boy it was good to get out of Kolkata. It is a noisy, dirty, busy city and we were in a commercial area with lots of trucks of all sizes, plus goods being moved on trolleys, bicycle carts and heads.

The noise of constant traffic with the continuous honking horns, crowded streets, hot weather…it became a bit overwhelming. We both had a mini melt-down (not at each other) and decided to seek quiet time in a large mosque that we had spotted from our hotel.

But we did find a great restaurant, Gupta Brothers, right beside M.G. Rd railway station. It is bright and efficient (in an Indian way) and clean. At least the eating area is, who knows what the kitchen is like.

Most importantly, shared tables, so more Hindi for Tall Girl. I confess that I have shifted from being bemused by her project to being envious, maybe even jealous, at her skills.

It is absolutely a great initiator of interacting with people. I suspect that by the time we head home on March 21st, she is going to be quite fluent.

We were a bit frazzled and the White House owner suggested the Hard Rock cafe. This goes totally against my idea of travelling in India, but I wanted a beer (which is surprising hard to find) so we head off. We have discussed western franchises in India and have both agreed the best we can say is that it was air conditioned.

Well, there was one other good thing. As we were walking, there were a few hole in the wall places selling “rolls” which are basically a flat bread rolled up with a filling of choice. They weren’t busy at all, except one, that had a 3 deep crowd trying to order. On the way back we bought one each and they almost made it worth the Hard Rock visit.

The other reason we headed there was to visit the Victoria Memorial. But we were too late. It was closed. We tried every trick on the guard on the gate to be able to just go in and look around, but he wasn’t having any of it. It looked like an astonishing building, the best we got was a glimpse. We also marvelled at how we were starting to learn our way around the Kolkata metro trains.

Our last day in Kolkata we make a decision to do chilled stuff and after leaving our bags at the White House we head to the bazaar so that Tall Girl can find a Salwar Kameez.

We had learned a very important Hindi phrase; मुझे अकेला छोड़ दो (mujhe akela chhod do) – “leave me alone” and had the opportunity to use it many times in the market.

Another meal at Gupta Brothers and once again Tall Girl is in her element.

I recall the last time I was in Kolkata in 2015 and am still traumatised by the memory of being hassled as we left the hotel for the airport. One would think I would learn a lesson, but obviously I didn’t and a promised 5 minute wait for a taxi turned into a 30 minute back and forth about where the taxi was, with me about to hail a tuk tuk and put everyone out of their misery. At the time Tall Girl wouldn’t let me…nowadays I think it would be her idea…she is adapting well to India :o)

Speaking of being put out of our misery, I am contemplating self destructing. I just can’t get it together to write the stories I would like to, so this may turn into a photo essay of our trip with some brief notes for our reference

Train to Bodh Gaya class 2AC
(2 high, air conditioned)

A giant and a midget…in front of the 80 foot Buddah

Bodh Gaya is where Siddhartha attained enlightenment under a bodhi tree and became the Buddha. It is the holiest of Buddhist places, and the Mahabodhi Temple, which has a descendant of the original tree, is a peaceful and wonderful place.

Unfortunately, since a bombing in 2013, no electronics, including phones are allowed inside = no photos. So Tall Girl created our own memory of monks chanting.

It was such a shame about not having a camera. Stone point Tall Girl had about 10 monks crowding looking over her shoulder and admiring her work. It was such a great (missed) shot.

We went the wrong way back to our hotel,which was a good thing. I have a philosophy to follow the crowd / music / noise and see what is going on.

This was a crowd scene that was quite puzzling. Nothing was being sold. It wasn’t a bus station. It was odd.

We were directed to a bloke at an inquiry desk who spoke excellent English

Welcome to Bodh Gaya eye camp 2023 where people from near and far, especially rural, are brought at no personal expense, to receive eye surgery, mostly cataracts.

We were given the VIP tour of the entire place, including showing us people’s damaged eyes.

This is really awesome work carried out by international doctors, funded by a charity we are having trouble traking down, but would like to ask our friends to support. Each eye costs only $US40 to fix…nothing when you think about it. At some point, when we find out how money can be donated, we’ll put the word out to people who feel inclined to help.

A not unusual front yard scene, and this is in a big town, not in the country.

Next, on to Varanasi, but not before more friends and Hindi practice at the railway station

It could have gone horribly wrong…

Away we go at stupid o’clock out of the Gold Coast to Sydney. We have the day in Sydney before we leave for India via Kuala Lumpur and are going to be like tourists. Except we will be tourists who have a son and his partner living in town.

First thing to get out of the way is satiating the artistic hunger of Tall Girl so we head to the Art Gallery of NSW. It is the morning after the World Gay Pride event so there are a lot of colourful bleary eyed people around. There is also plenty of corporate rainbow washing with posters everywhere telling us how a variety of corporations support “the family you chose” or “loves equally” or whatever.

I am just realising how potentially long this post could be so to save us both time, I am going to leave out some of the detail, you can add it to suit your own narrative.

Ferry across to Manly with the other tourists, who likely don’t have a child in Sydney to welcome them to Manly, and before we know it we do what any tourist does and go to the beach. Personally, I think beaches would be greatly improved if there was no sand or salt water, but some people seem to love it.

That’s them, in the middle.

We head out to the airport and bloody hell, I am in shock. We get to the check-in counter where my international travel experience is long tedious waits, and there is not a single person in front of us!!! A woman (who it turns out is named Culika) is guiding people and I ask who the Air Asia supervisor is. It turns out to be her. We check in and broach the subject of the shit fight surrounding this trip. She is a great people person and I would have her on my front line any day. Culika was very helpful, mostly in the Indian sense of not actually doing much apart from promising to investigate our outstanding refund. As some sort of apology she gives us 3 seats each to stretch out. Sounds great, except that the plane was about 30% full and just about everyone had 3 seats. A token upgrade would have been nice, just saying.

Arriving in Kuala Lumpur at 0330 is everyone’s idea of fun. Fortunately I had the foresight to book 12 hours in the capsule hotel for which I received much praise from Tall Girl.

We collapsed into bed and woke quite refreshed. I have used this place a few times and can recommend it. Not the cheapest, but it is worth it if you need some sleep between flights.

0330 arrival, 2240 departure. Our plan was to go to Batu Caves, a quite amazing temple complex. We don’t have a real lot of time by the time we have slept and eaten, so are a bit disappointed when we get to KL Sentral and the next train to the caves is over an hour away. Change of plans and we head into Pasar Seni, the local Chinatown – hmmm…how come most cities have a Chinatown but no Indiatown or Kenyatown?

I am keen to move on to India…you’ll read why…so not much more about that.

It is only a 4 hour flight from Kuala Lumpur to Kolkata and Tall Girl spends pre-flight and flight time practicing her Hindi on real people rather than an app. I must say that I am impressed. She has been using Duo Lingo for 2 months and I have been gently mocking that it is teaching her things like “Does your grandfather live in America” and similar useful phrases. My standard line has been “If someone doesn’t understand you in Hindi, I will ask them in English”.

And here we are, Kolkata. Walking out of the airport we are immediately pounced on by a taxi driver who quotes R1150 to our hotel. Some fierce haggling got it down to R800 ($AUD16) which wasn’t too bad for a wild ride into town. I had experienced Indian traffic often enough to know this was normal. Tall Girl was a bit freaked out by horns blaring, red lights being ignored, motor bikes being just avoided, etc.

Finally we get to Mahatma Ghandi Rd, or M.G. Rd as it is known. I just received a compliment, that I should mention my amazing skill at getting us to the hotel using Google maps. I’ll accept that. The driver had no idea, despite saying he knew it of course. He kept stopping to look at hotels and alleys and I would say “keep going” until we arrived at the corner where the hotel is shown on the map.

It was about 1:30AM and took some hunting, but eventually I found a sign for the hotel. And then the serious haggling over the fare began. Maybe it’s me, but I thought that we had agreed on a fare and suddenly he wanted more. My fault, I had R1,000, i.e. not exactly R800 and was expecting change, he was holding out for no change. Tall Girl and I stood our ground, paid what we said and now it is time to check in and sleep.

At the time of writing I was in damage control. The streets were filthy.  The outside gate of the hotel building was locked, fortunately some bloke lurking in the street had a key.

Of course the lifts don’t work so it is a 5 story grotty climb, past people sleeping on the floor.  Another locked gate on the stairs exiting the 4th floor to the 5th floor hotel. A bit of shouting and someone comes and opens the gate and we are in.

The sheets are stained. The water is luke warm…and later stops completely.

Our hotel – not quite like the photos

Like many people who arrive in a big Indian city, Tall Girl is, in her words, “in mild shock and wondering if this what the trip is going to be like”. Fearing that the whole thing was a mistake and the trip could go horribly wrong, I am on the defensive, worried that this trip will scar us forever.

Next morning we complain and they mention another hotel just up the road, the White House. This looks better. All the staff are wearing white shirts and black ties. It is clean and organised and directly on the street. But they don’t have a room available right then. To cut a long story short, they find one and there is lots of banter in English and broken Hindi and we decide that hang the expense, we are going for a better class of hotel from here on.

While we are waiting to see if we get a room we wander off and end up in what we think was a wholesale fruit market. Truck after truck of produce with people offloading onto big baskets that are then carried on the heads of poor buggers who carry heavy things on their heads.

I should have done up his fly for him

We are trying to find any Pure Veg restaurant, i.e. they don’t serve meat etc at all. We keep being pointed in various directions without much luck.

At this point I have to concede that after being right about a lot of things e.g. don’t worry too much about the 7Kg weight for carry on (did I mention we are only taking carry-on?), I had to concede I was wrong…not many people speak English really.

But it was all fun and I was thoroughly enjoying getting back into the India I remember. Slowly Tall Girl is beginning to relax and get over her immersion shock. We get some street food, we receive puja at a small temple, buy our first souvenir (a wood printing block) and people watch.

Yes! We have a room at the White House on Mahatma Ghandi Rd, or M.G. Rd as it is known. It is close enough to a lot of things, including a mosque where the call to prayer is ringing out right now. It is perfect. Tall Girl’s mood has improved markedly, especially after a lot of interacting in broken Hindi with the hotel manager while we were checking in.

We hear about an important Hindi temple and also some better intel on a veg restaurant and off we head for the day.

As I type this in the evening, it is hard to reconcile that everything since we took off from Kuala Lumpur has happened in less than the last 24 hours, and I am still nowhere near through our story. How to get it all down and keep it readable? It is worth reminding you, dear reader, that the primary purpose of this is as our “diary” of the trip and we love sharing that. So we do want to get the details, but also don’t want to spend hours documenting them. Pictures…thousand words…

We find the restaurant, where Tall Girl naively expects to make a booking. It is early, but now we know it is the place to eat later, and conveniently it is right over the road from M.G. Rd train station. We catch a train to Kalighat, the location of a very important Hindu temple.

All along the way Tall Girl is trying out her Hindi and making friends with people. Where a few hours ago she was in shock, she is now having a ball and is on fire. One woman tells us that the temple is along a broken up road and she was right about that. I suggest to Tall Girl that if we come back in 12 months, not much will have changed. But after visiting the temple, there isn’t much fear we will be back.

Just like we were pounced on by the taxi driver, as we arrive at the temple, we are pounced upon by someone claiming to be a temple priest. He even pointed out his white sarong and said he is Brahman (the priest caste) and let us know, as he started guiding us around, that guides aren’t allowed at the temple.

Shoes are also not allowed at the temple and Tall Girl was a bit nervous about her new sandals. I have the opinion that shoes are respected, since everyone leaves them outside temples and there is little to worry about.

The temple is a bit of a disaster area. It is a mess, crowded, grotty, a construction site and there is no real path through the place. Our non guide led us around, very quickly, instructing us on how to do puja using the flowers we had bought. We are jolted back to reality when we get to a room where people are holding small goats and praying and un-guide explains that every morning goats are sacrificed right there. He explains it as though he expects us to find it interesting, as vegetarians we are not impressed. Tall Girl’s impression of Hinduism has been a bit tarnished, given that Hindus are vegetarians.

I think that is the point where un-priest turned and it all kind of went downhill at the end when he expected us to pay him, via his friend, when we asked him to not even take us.

Back to M.G. Road and the restaurant where we had a date. One of my fellow Clown Doctors has retired and back in Brisbane there was a farewell dinner at an Indian restaurant. I had quietly arranged with one of the others to video call from an Indian restaurant.

Wish I was there, but glad I am here

There was no wifi at the restaurant and we don’t have SIM cards (yet, if at all) so I didn’t think we would be able to call. But the tables in the restaurant were shared and our new fellow diners wanted to practice their English with Tall Girl wanting Hindi. I had an idea. Would they create a wifi hot spot so I could make a quick call? Of course. And then I had another idea. Instead of just calling one clown, I would do a group call to them all. And there we were, in a noisy Indian restaurant waving to people in a far away Indian restaurant. What fun. Missing you already Dr O’Dear.

As we were heading back to the White House (I do love saying that) we passed a “Gents Only” hair dresser and I suggested getting a shave for R40 (80c). Me, not her. Into the chair I plop and almost immediately Tall Girl is in full on banter mode with the bloke who seems like the owner and anyone else who would work with her broken Hindi or practice their broken English. It wasn’t hard to upsell me to the R100 ($2) face massage and before we knew it, the first rule of the Gents Only hair dresser shop was broken as Tall Girl jumps into the chair for what was probably the young guy’s first female face massage.

Too much fun indeed.

Back to the hotel and for some reason reception rang our room at least 5 times but they couldn’t hear us or we couldn’t hear them. We ended up taking the phone off the hook. They needed to get our address from our passports, failing to understand, despite being a hotel that likely deals with lots of them, that passports don’t have an address in them. As an apology we get a fruit basket that includes 2 pomegranates, add that to the half papaya we bought and it is fruit heaven here.

And this is just day 1.