Tag Archives: travel

Shit I Learned In Scotland

In the glorious half term from school I decided that it was about time I ventured up to Scotland to see what it was all about. Not only was it full of stunning natural beauty, but also full of fun and fascinating stories of the past. I learned  more than wee bit of shit while I was there, but here are some highlights.

  1. Loads of different sayings take their origins from the Scots

‘Shitfaced’

Back in the days, Edinburgh was full of high-rise buildings. Of course, being in the days before toilets, people used to just chuck that shit out the window. Literally. If you were in the lower floors and had your head stuck out the window you risked getting shat on. So they would yell out before the bucket load of crap went flying out the window and if you didn’t get your head in quick enough, guess where it landed. They say that those who were drunk were dumb enough to hear the call of pending doom and instead of pulling their heads in, they would look up. And wind up with shit on their faces. Shitfaced. Superb!

City views over Edinburgh

‘Doing a Bouch job’

Thomas Bouch was an English engineer who built a bridge that wasn’t structurally sound, it fell down and killed a whole stack of people. What a massive fuck up! A total Bouch job

‘Soccer’

As much as the English and Europeans love to moan about the fact that we call it ‘soccer’ in Australia, it is in fact their fault. They bloody well invented the word. It derives from the full name of the sport from back in the day ‘association football’. Abbreviation of the name and tapping and ‘er’ on the end (oddly a very Australian thing to do… maybe that is where we get it from) results in the word ‘assoccer’.

‘Going berserk’

The Beserkers were a Viking clan full of fierce warriors who apparently fought in such a massively drug fucked stated that people thought that they were crazy. As such, when people go crazy now, they are going berserk.

Stone circle from Lewis and Harris

2. Seagulls can drool.

I mean, I had no idea until I was sitting on the pier with what has been voted the worlds best fish and chips and this damn seagull is sitting in front of me and his beak is literally dripping all over the pavement. He stopped once the fish was gone and I got to the chips. Clearly not as tasty…. but just wow…..

3. Witches don’t drown in shit.

So the river that used to run through Edinburgh used to be full of people’s shit that they used to just pour in there. When they accused people of being witches, they used to throw them in the river and say that if they didn’t sink and drown that they must be a witch. Well given the viscosity of a pile of faecal matter, most of them really didn’t sink. So they’d drag them out and burn them on the stake. That right there is logic for you. Even better, they cleared all of the shit out of this area and turned it into a nice lovely park full of green plants and wonderful flowers fertilised by the remnant bits of shit and dead witches from the area. One may even say that when sitting down there having lunch that you are hanging in the shit pit.

The old shit pit is now a park….

4.  Braveheart the movie is an absolute load of shit and things really didn’t happen that way at all. 

  • Firstly, the ‘brave heart’ actually referred to the heart of Robert the Bruce, not William Wallace. Robert’s heart was carried into the battle that won the Scots independence after his death.
  • The Battle of Sterling win hinged on the fact that there was a bridge that the English had to cross and were eventually backed into a corner of the river bend and couldn’t retreat. Where’s the bridge?
  • Bruce did not betray Wallace and get him captured
  • ugh…. and the list could go on… very entertaining fiction for the most part.

5. Other random shit

  • The word Caledonia is what the Romans used to call Scotland
  • Fife is the alcohol and oddly enough, pregnancy capital of Scotland being home to the bottling of Schmirnoff, Barcardi and Johnny Walker
  • Half Hangit Maggie was a legend for surviving a hanging and waking up in the coffin on her way down the road to be put in the ground. She kicked on for another 40 years post that….
  • Greyfriars Bobby is also a legend. He was a dog that sat by his masters grave for the better part of 15 years, his love and loyalty never faltered.
Cute little Greyfriars Bobby
  • I still don’t like oysters…. the slimy thing went down and some shell got stuck on the roof of my mouth and gag reflex kicked in… yuk. Just feed me a kilo of mussels instead any day.
  • Stone circles are everywhere up north in Lewis and Harris. I daresay they are cooler than Stonehenge and…. free!
  • And…. I want to go back to Scotland! This country is amazing and the nature is just stunning. I want to go back and climb more mountains and take some more boat trips!

 

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Parasites and I are like total besties

This morning, much to my horror and disgust, I went two doors down to the pharmacy after just getting off the overnight bus and wandered into the hostel bathroom to cheekily message my mum and get frantic with my newly acquired nit comb. You see, after a couple of days of itching like a fucking mad woman and thinking “fucking wool hats” I then lost my hat somewhere in Stuttgart and continued to itch like a mad bitch. This coupled with a few welts here and there had me thinking…. now I remember my younger sister getting them when she was about five.  But I never did. Until now. I am a grown arse woman with nits. And I don’t know if this has to do with high school age children sending them my way or the arseclown I sat next to on the plane.  Either way I am somewhat and somewhat not amused.

I am amused because I am a 32 year old childless spinster with nits. I am amused because in this whole trip, in which I usually encounter bed bugs and have to do full eradication upon return I haven’t yet seen one. I am not amused because I am so goddamn itchy!!! This wasn’t exactly how I planned things to go and now I suffer sheer paranoia.

So of course at every moment I get I am secretly crawling into toilet cubicles to comb handfuls of hair out of my head and no more nits. I am pretty sure that I got them all first go which wouldn’t be surprising considering I combed every direction for about 3 hours instead of seeing the sights of Berlin. But this still didn’t stop me. My room is clad with lavender and tea tree oil and I smell like an essential oil factory lathered in all of my oil.

My forearm looking like it swallowed a tennis ball after a bed bug bite

Despite all of this I was oddly calm. We can get rid of these. I am not allergic to these to the point where I welt and shake like a demon fiend. I don’t have to look in every nook and cranny of my luggage for the little buggers hiding.  You just spray it all with lavender and tea tree and get out your comb and you are pretty well done. Easiest parasite I have ever had to get rid of in the end. Much easier than bed bugs, giardia and all the other horrific shit I have had to deal with on the road. Just please God let there next time be no more bed bugs… or fleas……. or mosquitoes. I hate those things too! I went to Milan one weekend and woke up the first night with a swollen eyelid from a mosquito bite. The next night I woke up and the other one was swollen shut from yet another mosquito bite. Oh the joys of having such sweet blood! Ugh…. so yeah…. can I please, travel gods, go at least one trip without being mauled by something? Just pretty please?

Murphy’s Law #1 – The first 48 hours of my holiday

We have all heard it and as the age old adage of Murphy goes “what can go wrong, will go wrong”. On top of this there is even the amendment “if there is a possibility of several things going wrong, then the thing that will go wrong will be the one that will do the most damage”. And then there is the other variation of where everything just goes wrong with the first of course being “the worst”. So with that in mind, let the story of my first 48 hours of holiday begin (that bitch Karma is totally not getting a Christmas card this year).

Getting to the Airport

I had a 2.30pm flight. It takes an hour and fifteen minutes according to Maps for me to to get to the airport. So I left home at 11am….

After hustling to try and get a ticket for 20 mins and getting the train to Luton I sat with a truckload of other impatient and cranky passengers whilst getting the entertainment of the year. This flamboyant gay guy covered in glitter proceeded to give everybody on the train an entire run down of his last night and pretty much his life whilst on the phone to his friends. Majority of people however couldn’t suppress their historical laughter as he proceeded to inform everybody that the other night he went out and did 14 shots of sambuca, blacked out and woke up with 23 Daim bars from Tesco. At this point I was optimistic and getting geared up for a good holiday.

Then the shit started to hit the fan… traffic was so bad on the highway that it took 45 minutes for a bus that would normally take 6 to ferry everyone to the airport. It is 1.30 pm. I have an hour until departure. I am full blown flipping my nut at this stage….

Checking In

Because Wizz Air are a disorganized cluster fuck of an operation, when I tried to check in online 2 days earlier it told me I couldn’t and needed to call customer service. So I called customer service. They told me to go and check in at the counter and it would be free.

So as I get to the airport there is a line bigger than Goliath and I was like “fuck this” and pushed through priority queue. I managed to get seen fairly quickly on the proviso I had no checked luggage because their conveyor system had shat itself and left everyone unable to check in.

It was at this time I was told that I was a “standby” passenger for the plane as they had overbooked it. Fury! I booked this flight 2 months in advance to attend a dental appointment the next day. I was getting on a flight one way or another or heads were going to roll. Their massive screw up lead me to this situation so they could fix it.

Standing By

While “standing by” I met a guy who was also on standby. He was graciously nonchalant about the situation because his boss was having a flip out. If he didn’t get back to the Formula One in Budapest to move a piece of equipment that only he was authorized to move by midnight the company would be fined 50,000 pounds. The guy says it serves his boss right for booking a cheap shit flight with 15 people on standby at the last minute.

Thankfully there was space and we got on the plane. But this wasn’t the last of the stand by… we sat there. Then sat there some more. Then I had a nap. Sat there some more. Read 75 pages of my book. And then sat there some more. After about an hour and a half of sitting on the tarmac going nowhere we were informed that the passenger manifest did not add the same as the number of people on board. So they had to figure out who the passenger was and then find their luggage. At some point a guy got irate on the plane and the cops had to be called to come and get him. The kids were even more off the show running up and down the aisles and hanging from the rafters like a pack of monkeys. One even tried to eat the apple core I put on the floor earlier because there was no bin. So shit was getting crazy and I had another nap and read some more….

5pm rolls around. We have been on a plane grounded for 2 and a half hours when Wizz Air tell us that they will be kindly making food and drink available for purchase. Riotous carnage then ensued and within five minutes we were allowed a free “snack or drink”. By the time I got to the end of the queue that whole thing had gone out the window and people were just taking whatever. I wound up with a sandwich, snickers bar and an orange juice. Eventually at 6pm, things got sorted and after 3 and a half hours of being on the tarmac we took off with a mass eruption of applause from everyone on board.

Touchdown

9pm Budapest time… finally arrived. Four hours behind schedule. Made my way to the hostel.

Midnight Snack

After checking into the hostel I had a chat to few people and went to bed. Dentist in the morning and I was just relieved to get there. It was hot, the window was open and I set about trying to sleep. I couldn’t shake the feeling that I was being gnawed at however and figured if it was on my toes it was probably mosquitoes. Within 3 hours my suspicions were confirmed and I caught a bed bug between my fingers and killed it. I took it out to reception and put it on the guys desk.

“I’m allergic and I can’t stay in there or any room where this is a risk” I told him. I took residence upstairs far away from any room with my stuff and slept (I use the term sleep loosely here) in the beanbag on the floor.

The following day he tells me that what I put on his desk wasn’t a bed bug and that my 9 glorious welts must be from a spider or a mosquito. I got angry. “I put that bug on your desk and you are going to make me out a liar?” He says “but I looked online and the bites don’t show up for a day or so”.

“Not if you’re allergic” I told him. But at this point I had to go to the dentist.

Dentist

You know you are having a really shit day when the most positive aspect of your day is the fact that you only needed 2 fillings when you assumed you would need up to 6. With a half dead mouth, an incapacity to smile and a slightly happier wallet that I anticipated, I got on my bike back to the hostel to go fight with the manager.

Captive Passport Negotiations

 Upon my departure of the hostel in the morning, the staff told me that I had to pay 2 nights accommodation or no passport. I had ‘slept’ there one night. And refused to pay the second. Apparently I need to give them 24 hours notice. And I am like “not when I am in an antihistamine-induced half-coma because of your establishment.

Despite having physically presenting them a bug, I had to deal with the manager berating me like I was a child who knew nothing. “Do you even know what bed bugs look like?” I said to him “Yes. I have dealt with them up to 15 times now and I know what they look like and how my body responds to them.”. He told me he was going to have to “respectfully disagree with me” in his condescending arsehole tone and then gave me my passport back without me paying a cent. After getting my hands back on my passport I told him I didn’t appreciate being spoken down to and called a liar and that regardless of whether he “respectfully disagrees” it is in his best interests to do something about it and then I left.

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The current state of a portion of my lower back

I then spent a good hour wandering around trying to find somewhere to stay that wasn’t full. And I did. For one night at least. But I still have to move the next night. I now lie here in my gloriously bed bug free bed (I hope) tired, covered in giant welts and cortisone cream still shaking and unable to sleep from my allergic reaction and hoping that the rest of my Balkan’s Adventure doesn’t keep this tone. If it does I might have to hang up the travel shoes for good and become a hermit.

Shit I Learned In Denmark

So I decided to go to Denmark in search of a prince to marry like my fellow Tasmanian, Princess Mary. While I did not manage to find a prince, I did however manage to learn quite a lot of shit…..

We shall start with Shit That I Did Not Know Was Danish….

  • Lego – Now apparently the largest selling toy company in the world (they are ecstatic to be beating Barbie), Lego started right in Denmark in the 1920’s and still uses the same structure for their blocks. A block made 80 years ago will still fit a block today.
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    A whole display made of Lego! Glorious Lego!
  • Pandora Bracelets – I am so glad that I didn’t know this to tell my Mum before I left!!
  • The Little Mermaid – This is a fairytale written by the famous writer Hans Christian Anderson and yet I didn’t realize. There is a Little Mermaid statue in the harbour of Copenhagen and it is ridiculously underwhelming…. well until you take the boat tour and they inform you that the mermaid statue has had its’ head decapitated twice and it had to get recast.
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The most hyped-up and underwhelming statue in all of Europe, “The Little Mermaid”.
  • Aqua – Hooray! We can thank the Danes for that horrific song “Barbie Girl” that rang out in the 90’s and made everyone’s head hurt.

Awesome Danish People

  • Niels Bohr – For any fellow science nerds out there you shall also share my excitement! Known for his quantum model of the atom known as the Bohr atom, he postulated that electrons can move through energy levels of a set quantity in an atom. For those of you who are not science nerds, know that this is kick arse. When the German’s decided to create atrocities against the Jews in World War 2, it was Niels Bohr who negotiated with the Swedish government to immigrate 90 percent of Danish Jews in the city to Sweden in return for him agreeing to go to the United States and work with Albert Einstein on the Manhattan Project. This is basically the race to see who can make the atomic bomb the fastest. Anyway, not only is he a quantum physics and Nobel Prize winning genius, he is a pretty fucking awesome Danish guy!
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The canals of Copenhagen
  • Danish People in World War 2 – Speaking of World War 2 and the Jews, the Danes showed a lot of compassion towards their Jewish population. During the war, the Red Cross would send care packages to all of the Danish occupants of the concentration camps courtesy of the Danish Government worth up to 2 million dollars. These care packages, despite being raided by the camp control, managed to keep majority of the Danes alive.  At the end of the war, the government sent a whole bunch of white buses to collect their citizens and bring them home. Upon arrival home, most of the prisoners discovered that their fellow countrymen had kept all of their affairs in order for them and when they came home, they came home to lives that resembled what they had left behind. I was moved by how considerate these people are of each other.
  • Queen Margaret the Second – Tell me any other queen in the world that is cool enough to help provide the Danish translation of the Lord of the Rings and to provide all of the illustrations for it? Enough said!
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Amalienborg Palace – where the current Queen Margaret lives and where the future queen and my probable relative Crown Princess Mary lives.
  • Hans Christian Anderson – Once upon a time there was a small boy who moved to Copenhagen at the age of 14 and tried his hand at the national ballet. After being terrible and them ousting him, he then tried his hand at the choir. He was also terrible at that and kicked out of the choir too. He then tried his hand at the theatre and was absolutely fabulous… well for a while anyway. While he was working at the theatre he became renowned for his incredible stories. And so he wrote a few of them down and they became published and after many, many years, Disney decided to make movies about his stories like “The Little Mermaid”, “Frozen” and “The Emperor’s New Clothes”. He became very famous and lived happily ever after, the end.
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Just chillin’ with Hans 🙂

Other interesting facts

  • “Hygge” is a fabulous word, and while it has not direct translation to English, anything that can be thought of as being a good time can be ‘hygge’.
  • The Danish revolution happened in a pub…. apparently.
  • Buildings in some parts of the city don’t have square corners. They are cut at an angle to allow fire trucks to be able to adequately turn around corners and so that fire hoses didn’t kink and stop working after the God-knows how many-th fire they had in Denmark.
  • The Danish Government just passed a  be able to take any valuables off immigrants settling into Denmark to help pay for their stay in the welfare state….. shame on you Denmark!
  • Christiania is the only self contained community that regulates themselves with their rules. They consider themselves an entity outside of the EU. In the Green Light District (where a shit ton of marijuana is sold) they profit over a million dollars a year. Not bad for a place that was created by homeless people and junkies breaking in and settling in abandoned buildings of the army barracks.
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The gates of Christiania, where no photography and a shit load of weed is allowed.
  • Woden is the English name for the Norse god, Odin. It is his name that gives rise to the day of the week known as Wednesday. Thor’s name gave rise to Thursday. And the goddess of fertility Freya gave her name to Friday.

Oh and I also learned that Denmark is fucking cold and one needs to take thermals. Other than that, that is me for the week! Until the next!

Things I Have Done To Make Money

As I approach the first “grown up person job” in a while, I thought it might be fun to look back on some of the crazy different jobs I have worked and other things I have done to make money to fund my travels…. Some of it is pretty funny so enjoy!

  • 14  years old…. 1st job… KFC. Did it so much some nights I would come home and dream of putting chicken into a box with tongs… nuff said!
  • Singing in pub bands. First pub band was Freefall and some of the best times of my life. Started at 17, still somewhat ongoing. On and off I have played more gigs with bands such as Alphanumeric, Platinum Datsun,  Multigroove (Melbourne) and quite a lot of acoustic duo work.
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Typical Friday evening pub gig at the Royal Oak Hotel in Launceston, Tasmania, with my good friend Andy.

  • Driving a 50 ton suspended crane in an aluminium smelter. 12 hour rotational shifts in the baking furnace baking carbon anodes to be used in the electrolysis process. Dirty and hot work.
  • Farming… cabbage harvesting, poppy seed harvesting, broccoli harvesting, organic farm work, more poppy harvesting….
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Eastport Organics Farm, Newfoundland, Canada where I gardened and weeded for a week or so for food and accommodation.

  • Laboratory technician for a biotech company. Mostly sterilization, chemical solution preparation and dish washing.
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Hanging out with my good mate Cyril the Skeleton in the lab.

  • First Year Chemistry Department at Monash University. Fingers in so many pies here…. Laboratory demonstrations, tutorials, exam marking, practical design, preparation of chemicals, troubleshooting, the one on one help centre.
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One of my lab classes at Monash University in the First Year Chemistry Department.

  • Folding children’s clothes at a kids clothing shop.
  • Selling watches and handbags
  • Selling hair and make up products at Aveda.
  • Singing in the drag bars of Toronto as support for Drag Queens or as a part of ensemble shows. I swear this was one of the most fun jobs I have ever done! Too good!
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Another Christina Aguilera number in Crews and Tangos, one of my favourite Drag Bars to sing in.

  • Medical testing…. I have written a blog post about this. I spent a lot of time doing non invasive brain function tests for the hospital research centre.
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Chilling in the the medical research lab with my EEG cap on ready to do some testing on perception of musical tones

  • Walking flyers and posters around the neighborhoods.  I have done this for at least a good 3 months every day.
  • Online reviews of cities and hostels.
  • Driving forklifts, doing crop reception and sweeping and shoveling for poppy harvest.
  • Substitute teaching and short term contract teaching involving every single subject you can possibly think of including kindergarten music.
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A surprise some of my year 7 students left on the board for me on my last day of teaching them for 3 weeks.

 

  • Can collecting and bottle return… (may or may not have stolen cans from campground recycling bins throughout eastern Canada to fund our accommodation and petrol bill.
  • Online surveys
  • Focus groups
  • Cleaning and managing the front desk at a backpackers hostel.
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Cleaning at the hostel was dirty work. The “Friendly Morning Cleaning Lady” left lots of interesting notes, like this one with regards to the handsoap in the mens shower…..

  • Promotions and marketing…. now this is a big one because each of the jobs I do are different. Many many sampling programs for things like milk, shampoo, icy hot packs, cans of Nestea and Quakers bars. There is also lots of hustling different contests. Below we will specify some of the more ridiculous jobs.
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Looking like a Ghostbuster while distributing free hot chocolates to the masses in winter.

  • Driving a popsicle van for 3 weeks.
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Chillin’ in my popsicle van and distributing the joy of flavoured ice.

  • Dressing up in ridiculous costumes such as Shaun the Sheep or Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz.
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Dressed as Timmy the Sheep and trying to hide from all the kids during break that were pulling on my tail and grabbing at me. Hard and hot work.

  • Placing stickers on men’s urinals in pubs so they can pee on teams they don’t like.
  • Filming a commercial for Edo Japan as the Edo Elf.
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Out on the streets as the Edo Elf. This guy told me all kinds of fun stories about his days in the Masad…. ummm… yeah right…. not quite sure about that one.

While this is a non-comprehensive list as I am sure I have probably forgotten something, it is still pretty ridiculous and funny. What is the worst job you have ever had? And better yet, is there anything here you’d like to know more about? Happy reading and I look forward to your input! 🙂

Traveling Adventures With Needles

Post my little hospital visit in Nepal, I developed a secondary infection. One that would see my time in India being very uncomfortable for the first couple of weeks. I thought that the medication that I was on for it would do the trick. Unfortunately for me the infection didn’t go and what was left made me sicker and sicker and eventually I left Pushkar in a taxi bound for a doctor in Jaipur.

When I arrived I had high fever again and they made me go through different tests to identify the type of bacteria causing my infection and what antibiotics it was resistant to. While I waited for these tests to come back for two days they put me on a series of medications to manage my symptoms and I spent two days in bed watching Bollywood sitcoms and drama shows in Hindi that I didn’t understand.

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Hospital gowns… my most prominent Asian attire.

The day I went back to the doctor I sat in wait for the results. As he hands me the sheet of paper with the results, I nearly cried. Of the fifteen different antibiotics that they had run this bacteria against, only three of them worked. My infection was resistant to twelve different classes of antibiotics. As someone who has studied science, microbiology and chemistry, I understood the severity of this.

Of the three different types of antibiotics that they gave me, the one that showed the most efficacy was amikacin…. an injection to be taken every 12 hours for five days. The doctor says to me “so how long are you going to be around for? You will need to be injected by a nurse”. Me being me and stubborn as hell, I said to him “I leave tomorrow. I will give them to myself. Teach me.”

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The giant pile of drugs and injections they sent me home with.

Both the doctor and the nurse stood there dumbfounded because they weren’t sure whether I could do it or not. They demonstrated where I had to inject myself into the buttocks and I dug the needle in and pressed down on the plunger. Too easy. “OK, they said, you seem to know what you are doing, here is your bunch of needles and all of the other pills you will need to take for the next week or so. Good luck!”

I left the doctors office, got into a cab and went back to the hotel where I was met by my tour leader in the lobby. I started to cry for all of the thirty seconds that I allowed myself before telling myself I need to pull my shit together and get about it. There is nothing else I can do about it other than just suck it up and deal with it.

That night I didn’t sleep well. Nor did I sleep well any other night for the whole five nights that this went on. I dreamt of needles. I had anxiety about not doing it properly and my ever growing bruises on my arse. The first time I gave myself an injection unsupervised by medical practitioners I was freaking out. But I did it. I got up and I got on the bus and I went to Bharatpur.

On the third day of having needles I still wasn’ feeling too bad. My symptoms had started to disappear and I was feeling better. It was my day to go to the Taj Mahal. So slowly but surely, I went. I got dressed up in a sari, I did my hair and make up and I went to the Taj Mahal. It was a great experience and I am so happy and lucky that I got to go. Everybody keeps telling me I look so happy and healthy in the pictures. Pictures for the most part lie. I felt happy, but also very weak and very sore. My time at the Taj was cut short by my needle schedule and I had to depart to go back to the hotel to take my fifth needle.

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Looking apparently healthy at the Taj Mahal.

The following day after needle six, I was suffering big time. I could barely walk without pain. I had giant bruising on either side of my butt and it became almost impossible to manage. From here we had to leave however and go to Varanasi on the train. This was one of the worst times that I had with needles.

Because of my soreness, they put me in a side berth on the bottom bunk overnight. Many of the Indian locals however found it quite OK to use my hips as bag holders at 2 am when they were getting off the train or to lean over me and put their hands on my hips or knock me as the night went on. The amount of times I cried out in pain and started yelling at people I couldn’t count. And of course they had no idea what was going on and I couldn’t explain as I didn’t speak Hindi.

The morning bought with it a new challenge. Trying to give myself a needle on the train. As the train slowed to a stop, my friend climbed down off the top berth and helped me alcohol wipe down my skin and hands and take the medication into the barrel of the syringe. Whilst she grabbed a chunk of my flesh, I plunged the needle in and started to inject as the train started moving and we had to finish the injection while taking off. We were half concealed by a makeshift curtain sheet that I tied up that didn’t really cover very much and the men on the train sat staring as my butt hung half way out of my pants, but when it is your life and your health on the line, you kind of stop caring. We survived the train needle, needle number eight and we were on our way to the finish line.

My next needle was on the floor of a silk shop in Varanasi. We were visiting there to learn about how to identify real silk from fake ones. Three girls held up a cashmere blanket curtain and I injected myself again with help in style from behind the blanket. The whole thing had become oddly funny. Instead of scheduling my activities around my needles, my needles had just become a part of my activities.

My last needle was the following morning. Never before had I been so happy to not have to deal with anything anymore in my life. I was happy that I could finally rest without having to inject on to bruise after bruise after bruise.

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My left buttocks by day 3.

Upon arrival back in Delhi three days later I went to the hospital to get a check up. After x-rays, ultrasounds, blood work, urine samples and the entire works, I left the hospital and went to the hotel to await the results. Two days later they arrived. For the first time in over a month and I half I was infection free. My body had been put through absolute hell and I was tired. I didn’t care too much about being in India even. I wanted somewhere to sleep and rest. I wanted to eat a giant steak to get some protein back into my body to heal my bruised and weary muscles. I wanted so much to not be on the road. But despite all of this, I was incredibly thankful for the amazing doctors in India for figuring it out and dealing with it so thoroughly. And I was incredibly happy to be alive. There is nothing like a near death experience in Nepal followed by severe antibiotic resistant secondary infections to scare the shit out of you. From here on in, I look after myself every day the best I can and am thankful for my health being so good ordinarily.

How To Get Away With Excess Luggage

For those of us who travel quite a lot and like to be prepared by carrying everything that we may need on our trip, the frequent pain of excess luggage in airports always manages to crop its ugly head. And as airlines are getting progressively more frugal with what it is that they allow you to travel with, the cutting down of things becomes harder and harder. Sure you can buy everything you need when you get there, but then you are going to have to wind up throwing it all away and then buying new stuff when you get to the next destination. The added cost of doing this can be painful. So here are a few tips and tricks from someone who not only loathes airports, but also loves to get through them cheekily carrying more than she should.

Where They Check Luggage Weights

There are two places they check luggage, at the front desk when you are claiming your ticket and checking your bags on, and at the gate before you embark on the plane. Sometimes in foreign countries I have seen luggage weights be checked before you enter the security area. So it is best to hide your weight best as you can before you walk through the airport door and leave it there until you get to the security checkpoint. Once through security, chuck the stuff back in your bag for a while for a bit of comfort and then make sure you resume original position of hidden goods when you get to the gate if they look like they are checking peoples luggage weights.

Be Nice To The People Working Behind Check In

I was told once that you catch more bees with honey. And is indeed true for excess luggage at airports. One time I got super mad because I was five kilos over and willing to pay for it but they told me I could not take another bag or pay the excess. I was tired, shitty and generally grumpy. It certainly didn’t get me anywhere except for throwing all of my clothes in the rubbish bin. The woman behind the counter was a bitch and I certainly didn’t help things. So where possible, find a counter with a person of the opposite sex, be happy, jovial and polite and flirt. Sometimes they will let you off with being a couple of kilos over. If this doesn’t work, then it is time to hide some stuff. It is quite difficult to hide luggage in your check in as that goes on a scale and that is as it is. But on your body and in your carry on is where you will get away with your weight. As I will explain in this glorious section of carry on luggage.

Carry On Luggage

Gone are the days of 10kg of carry-on luggage. Majority of the airlines now have opted to move this down to 7 kg. So what that pretty much means is put a small notebook computer and a charger for it in a backpack and you are only a couple of kilograms off your weight limit. So here is my advice for excess in carry-on luggage.

Items you are wearing do not count as a part of your weight limit

The amount of people I have seen going through airports looking like the abominable snowman dressed in all of their clothes is hilarious. Massive puffer jackets going out of tropical countries is indeed laughable but for the most part, your clothes won’t weigh more than a couple of hundred grams each item unless you are taking a massively heavy item of clothing. So in this case I suggest wearing the heaviest shoes that you own (for me that is often hiking boots or snow boots) and wearing clothing that is comfortable and loose but has a stack of pockets. This will help with phase 2.

Items in your pockets are also not attributed to your weight limit

Anything that is heavy and small goes in the pockets. I am talking about phones, point and shoot cameras, money (especially coins), and other electronic gadgets that might be fairly weighty. Your friends here in this endeavour are the money belt around the weight and around the neck. While these are supposed to be ‘concealed’ while travelling for safety, I usually wear something stupidly baggy and put my money belt stacked with my passport, all coins, phone and ipod in there if I need to get luggage down. I carried my water purifier in my pocket as that weighs quite a bit too (oddly it is shaped like a dildo and I get quite strange looks from people with regards to what this is… quite humorous).

Keep books and water in your hands as books can often be weighty and nobody thinks twice about telling you to put a book in your bag to weigh it as it is seen as something you are using to pass the time. If worse comes to worse, hide heavy books in your jacket pockets or in your pants.

One time when I was travelling in Warsaw, Poland with Ryan air I was concerned about my carry on weight limit. So after I got through security, I put my laptop computer down the back of my pants underneath my giant winter puffer jacket (which didn’t look so odd given that it was -16 degrees Celsius at the time) and got away with it. Automatic 2-3kg loss out of my luggage. They will never check your weight at security screening, only usually at the front counter and before you get on the plane at the gate.

Look Like You Aren’t Carrying Much

Most people get these exact to size carry on suitcases and jam them full of stuff. Nothing says ‘check me I am heavy’ like a jam packed carry on suitcase. I on the other hand prefer to travel with a smaller 40L backpack. I fill it up with a stack of heavy items that are small and dense and then compress the bag down so it looks like I am only carrying half of the bags capacity. This looks to people like you wouldn’t really be carrying excess because you didn’t bother to fill the bag up. You still have more space right?

Sometimes I have gone through with around 15kg in my carry on backpack and as I am strong and can pick the bag up and make it look effortless nobody asks questions. Which leads me to the next aspect. When you pick up your bag, make a conscious note to not look like you are struggling with it. If you look like it is heavy when you are picking it up then it will be seen to be heavy to others.

In some countries this is easier to get away with than others. In places like Indonesia where the women are not very strong and don’t do very much exercise in many parts, the men will look at you carrying a backpack and assume that because you are a woman you aren’t very strong and as such the bag couldn’t be more than 7kg. I was literally the only person in this cue that wasn’t stopped and I was sure it was because I was a woman with a backpack and not with a wheely suitcase.

Prepare What You May Need To Hide, Part With Or Pay If You Get Caught

Last but not least. If you run the risk of getting caught, make sure you are either willing to pay for or part with what you have packed in your carry on if you are over. That means like I said before, cameras, passports, wallets and phones in pockets. I usually carry my less than 100mL foundation in a glass bottle in carry on as it is heavy and if I have to part with it so be it. Books usually go in the carry on, if I have to leave them for someone else then again so be it. And I usually pack some crap clothes I would be happy to part with in there too. But, if you aren’t willing to part with things, make sure you have another jacket with deep pockets and get stuffing your things in there.

Happy travelling! And may the odds forever be in your favour at airport check in and security!