Author Archives: Marie Lisa Jose

About Marie Lisa Jose

With every new place I discover, I discover a bit more about myself.Sometimes I surprise myself! But there are two things I am sure of; one, I am happiest when I am travelling and two , I can never say no to an adventure! John Selden said " While you are on earth, enjoy the good things that are here"; I have taken his advice very seriously. To Life Ahoy!

Right bus, wrong way

I have always believed that a smile can overcome any language barriers. This I realized wasn’t necessarily true while boarding a red mini bus outside the Yau Tong MTR Station in Hong Kong. The driver, an elderly balding man whose eyes seemed half closed most of the time seemed to be having a pretty long one-sided conversation with me. I figured that the questions ended just when he took a short breath followed by a high note and an immediate prolonged note of a lower pitch. I smiled through the pauses while the driver waited for my answer. Finally he threw his arms in the air and took the conversation to the rest of the bus.

There was complete silence. Everyone was focused on our conversation.

 “Ticket, you take ticket” said a young lady sitting in the front seat.

“Oh yes!” Of course that must have been it.

The driver stared at the 10 dollars I handed him,shook his head and turned to the young lady who promptly on cue asked

“Where you go?”

 ‘Lei Yue Mun’ I said, proud that I had pronounced it  right.

The lady looked confused. She conversed with the driver then turned to me and said

“..is last stop”.

He  grabbed my money, returned a handful of change and started the bus. The jerk of the engine threw me off-balance and the little coins dropped to the ground and rolled all over the bus. The driver shook his head from side to side,put the bus in gear and pulled out of the stop.

I contemplated picking up  the coins, then changed my mind and instead  found a seat right at the end of the bus.

During the  up hill and down hill ride the coins rolled over the bus. A few people picked up the coins and passed them around. It was my money really but I was not complaining about a little change;honestly I didn’t want to make another scene :- on my fours picking up coins between people’s legs. I think I have had enough drama for one day.

In about 20 minutes we  reached a residential zone where the stops became more frequent and  people started getting down. Finally there was only an elderly couple in the front  and me at the back.

The bus made another stop near an apartment complex. The driver switched off the engine, leaned out the window and started a conversation with a  group of men standing about.

The elderly couple got up to leave. The woman gathered their bags and slowly walked to the door while the man turned looked at me and motioned me to come to him.

That made me a little nervous but I still walked over to him. Without a smile he handed me a small polythene bag and followed his wife out of the bus.Inside the bag was a bunch of coins. The passengers were picking up the coins for me.

Before I could get that warm and fuzzy feeling the driver of the bus spotted me and squealed in frustration.  Talking to himself  he threw his hands in the air and exited the bus.

I looked out of the window. All I could see were apartment buildings.  This could not be the last stop. It has to be a fishing village. There was no sign of the sea anywhere.

I sat alone in the bus for 10 minutes. I was too embarrassed and scared all at once to get out and find a fishing village. This was the first time in my life  I was out on my own. I had set out that morning to explore  the fishing village of Lei Yue Mun  famous for its seafood bazaars. Cowering at the back of a bus in god knows where was not part of the itinerary.

Luckily for me the old balding bus driver  was soon  replaced by a younger guy who  knew a little English.

” You want to go to ‘Lei Yue Mun’? But it is the other way!”

So I made the journey again, this time in the right direction all the time tightly clutching the polythene bag with the coins.  The young driver refused to take money for the return trip saying “Right bus,wrong way”.

Later in the day I would count the coins in  the comfort of my hotel room to realize that the coins added up to a little more than 11 dollars !

 

Categories: Asia | Tags: | 1 Comment

Travel is possible while chained to a desk

I have read my share of stories where a person one day quits a desk job, picks up a backpack and gets on a plane.  It has become so cliché!

It’s come to a point where now people believe that if you want to be happy and free you need a backpack and you need to be  a nomad. Not true. You can have a desk job and still travel the world and be happy and free. In fact sometimes it works out a lot easier.

So, if you have a desk job which you don’t want/can’t afford to leave, read on. Here are some reasons why traveling while chained to a desk is feasible and advantageous.

1. You constant day job makes you realize the value of vacations.

2. You have a steady cash inflow so you need not be worried about landing odd jobs in different countries.

3. You can plan your vacation from the comfort your home instead of using the time to explore a new place to plan for another one.

4. You have a shelf in own home where you can display all your souvenirs. Imagine tugging all your souvenirs from place to place. Worse still imagine  NO Souvenirs at all.

5. It is so much easier to get over post trip depression since you have a routine to get back to.

6. You can plan your vacations with like-minded friends and relatives. Imagine the hours of fun pouring over guide books and blogs and trip planning.

7. You know the hard work that went into maintaining  the balance in your bank and hence you will be conscious of your budget.

8.  Sometimes the best part of traveling is coming back home. Back to the familiar comforts and familiar people.

So all you people at your desk reading this… Go, get out, travel!

It is the only thing that makes you richer the more you spend.

Categories: Travel | Tags: , | 1 Comment

Along the Danube

According to an article in National Geographic Traveler the route of Tram #2 as it moves along the curve of the Danube is one of the top 10 tram rides in the world.  Having been on one I declare that to be true.

The Danube cuts Budapest into two – the Buda and the Pest.  It is remarkable how remnants of the ages of prosperity, cruelty and suffering all find  themselves mixed together like a potpourri.

You can choose to explore the early days of Budapest – the tribes of Magyar to the days of King and then Saint Stephan, or if you choose you can explore the incomprehensible blot on human history , the holocaust or wonder at how soon liberators become occupiers i.e that communist side of Budapest.

Here are a few pictures. Stories to follow soon.

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Categories: Europe | Tags: , | 3 Comments

Kambala

Kambala originated as a rural sport. After the harvest was done, the slushy  paddy fields were filled with water. It served as a race track for farmers to race their buffaloes.

A decade ago when Kambala was still just a rural sport, the sport had an added advantage. The racing of the  buffaloes was used to till the land. Today Kambala is far from that. Buffaloes are now bred with the single intention of racing. . The winning pair receives a few grams of gold which by no stretch balances the money that goes into their diet which consists of  a litre of coconut oil and kilos of fodder a day.

Every team has two buffaloes(of course) yoked together, a runner who either holds the yoke and runs behind the pair or stands on a platform between the pair and a about half a dozen men just to hold the buffaloes.

But whatever anyone says, those lumps of lard can run! I saw a pair of seniors ( age greater than 6 years)  a 100 mts in less than 16 seconds.

Getting ready with a wash

Getting ready with a wash

The yoke

The yoke

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The race track

The race track

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A pair of seniors

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Categories: India | Tags: , , | 2 Comments

The gods of the thin places

On our trip to Amritsar I knew I would be photographing the Golden Temple from many angles and at different times of the day. I knew I would get a picture of the reflection of the temple on the water, of the fishes in the pond and every other building around it. I couldn’t have been more wrong.

Eric Weiner in an article in the New York times describes ‘thin places’ as places where the distance between heaven and earth collapse. In all my travels I have never gone looking for  thin places nor have I found them by chance.  I cannot imagine finding a god  waiting for me amidst all the superficial devoutness of the tourists and the pretend piety of the touts. To me god comes silently in places that I am most familiar with.

But the photographs I took at the Golden temple assure me that while I may not believe in the gods of the thin places that does not mean that they do not exist.

 

 

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Categories: India | Tags: , , , , | 3 Comments

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