A bus to the outskirts of Delhi, then a minibus with two European sadhu-clowns inside, with their forehead painted and Quechua sleeping backs in their hands… A short quarrel at the entrance to the airport building (I didn’t care to print out the ticket reservation, and it seems to be a problem here; furthermore, my final destination is London… – “On what grounds are you allowed into UK? Do you have the right visa?” – “European Union state citizens don’t need visas to enter UK, and Poland is a member state of EU” – “Please wait, we will check on that…”) and I’m on my way home.

I run through those thousands of kilometres again in my mind… Eight and a half months on the road, so many places, so many people met, so many experiences, so many images I can see before my eyes… There I climbed a glacier wearing sandals, there I bathed in a…

 

Before I get on the train to Agra, on the platform I meet lots of friendly people whom I educate a little about Poland and Europe, and who in exchange teach me something about India and (finally! I’m so ashamed…) some words in hindi.

On the train I meet a delightfully nice family who invite me to their place; unfortunately I have to refuse – I hate booking tickets in advance! The youngest fellow, Krishna, wants to join me in my trip back to Poland, where he is planning to eat chocolate all the time. I promise to meet the guys during the wedding of one of twenty year old brothers – he doesn’t know yet whom he would marry, but the date is already fixed…

I arrive in Agra in the middle of the night and begin my walk towards the most obligatory Indian tourist attraction, Taj Mahal that is. Taxi drivers can’t stop to…

My piece of junk reaches Margao only 4 hours late (on the way the coach staff try to get some extra money from me – luggage handling fee and … handling fee). From hear I head for Palolem beach, recommended by Jankiel, who is already there, waiting. Before I get on the right local bus, I go to the railway station in order to book a ticket to Agra. I’m only 131st on the waiting list. OK, there goes the berth…

And the Palolem beach itself… Well, if you looking for solitude, peace and quiet then you might be disappointed… But on the other hand, the parties that go on here are relatively quiet and not so frequent. And the beach, built up with colourful coco-houses (I lodge in one of them – 200 rupees for a room with a bathroom, just a little dirty) has its special charm…

Jankiel tries to convince me to be the only…

The train from Chennai to Mumbai (25 hours) is cramped but I’m lucky to have my berth for myself. Inside and outside mountains of rubbish are growing – the Hindus never use dustbins. The floor inside the train becomes filled with colours and nobody of the train staff ever cares to clean this mess up. This is sometimes done by “private enterprises” – unbelievably dirty boys who, on their knees, wipe the floor with a dirty rug and then stretch out their palm, waiting for some coins… There are so many beggars crossing the train, they get on at every station and walk all coaches in an endless procession. The old lady has hardly finished moaning about her misery when the singing blind boy walks in; the skinny bearded grandpa is still waving his palmless arm in my face when the legless guy limps holding onto his cane… And others are queuing – gypsies hitting the drums, a…

I take the advice of Kris and skip sightseeing Chennai (formerly known as Madras) and I get on the bus or even two that carry me to Mahabalipuram (Mamallapuram) – the kind drivers explain to me where to get off. I only notice the noisiness, chaos and crowdedness of Chennai, as well as a corpse in a plastic bag carried by two skinny guys, I can also smell the presence of the river – before I can even see it in her pitch-black elegance, my nostrils get struck with a vile stench…

The buses somehow manage not to fall to pieces before completing the 60 km in just above 2 hours. I am relieved to get out of the hot, sweaty interior and start an intense sightseeing in Mamllapuram – there is an immensity of temples, one more impressive than the other, with all the amazing sculptures… The most famous one is the Shore Temple, picturesquely thrown right…

Late evening I land in Trivandrum, a city located on the very south of India. Luckily, my strange looking visa doesn’t seem any suspicious to the elderly dust-covered mister sitting at his dusty old desk in that somewhat small and dusty arrival hall.

The moment I step out I get surrounded with an army of taxi drivers offering me transportation to the centre where cheap hostels are located (or at least I hope so, as this is what I read on the Internet). The prices the drivers are suggesting have been prepared specially for the whitey that I am – I kindly refuse and start looking for a place to stay near the airport. The centre can wait until the morning, when public buses will be working again… And in the meantime I should rather find a place to hide against the pouring rain. I jump between the puddles and avoid hungry dogs wandering about, I refuse…

In the evening, after 4.5 hours ride on a coach (surprisingly fast pass through Malaysia-Singapore border; though maybe I should not be surprised after all – every evening half the Singapore leaves the place to stay for night in a cheaper place on the other side) I get to the city-state, international center for all business. I will only stay here for one day – I will only have time to walk the Mount Faber park, get the avant-gout of India (in its clean and organized form) in Little India, check out Chinatown (no quality found, especially after Malacca experience) and have a close look on some skyscrapers (they stand so close on to another that they must be hitting each other in windy weather). And I will fill myself up with Milo Ais – oh, I’m going to miss it a lot…

Evening metro to the airport, bus transfer to economic terminal and I’m ready for the…

Malacca is a must-see on Malaysia tourist map. Old colonial streets, eclectic Hinduist, Muslim and Buddhist temples… And – first of all – the Chinatown that has a lot more charm than old boroughs of real Chinese towns. Here in Malaysia, the Chinese put a lot more effort into preserving their own culture. The façades of houses are beautiful not only to look nice for tourists – the owners just like taking care of their property. And in the backyards of shops and in small side streets there is the real Chinese life going on – the life that is gone in post-revolutionary China. Here I meet a certain Charles Cham, a painter exhibiting his works in all important world’s galleries and in his hometown Malacca… he is selling T-shirts with a monkey. A very friendly dude that has a certain view on art critics, he really is liberated through his creation.

In one of tiny Chinese restaurants…

Ridz arrives on time; before we leave he takes me a neat Indian restaurant. Then we take a ride on a comfortable, air-conditioned coach, we change vehicles and take a less comfortable, completely non-conditioned wreck, filled with passengers to the limits… After a couple of hours we reach Port Dickson, a sort of beach resort located at Melacca Straights, 90 km south of Kuala Lumpur.

Except for tanning and swimming there is not much to do here; you can throw in a walk in the jungle – a weird jungle that is, with asphalt road cutting it in two halves… If you’re lucky you can spot monkeys, eagles and other inhabitants (mosquitoes being the most frequent ones). Ridz invites me to his house built by his father of all kinds of materials, making a surprisingly harmonious and spacious whole. The cool family receive me as one of their bunch, used to numerous foreign visitors frequenting the house. One…

Evening landing in KL, coach to the centre (many companies to choose from, reasonable prices), short hostel research in Chinatown (oh, the cheapness!) and I make myself comfortable in a dormitory shared with one cool Pakistani and one delightfully ignorant Australian.

I will leave the sightseeing till tomorrow but I decide to have the first glance just before going to sleep. A good decision again – I bump into Ridz, nice guy that talks like a machine gun. He drags me to a cheap and cosy restaurant and invites me to his hometown. The scheduled departure time is tomorrow noon, thus I’m left with just a short while for discovering KL.

In the morning I decide to check out what everybody else would – the Petronas towers. Getting there with slightly chaotic and not-so-clean metro is a piece of cake, however getting to the viewpoint on the top is impossible – even though it is still early…