Posts Tagged ‘Bangla2013’

3-Apr-2013 Day 1 of Bangla-dash run

Thursday 4 April 2013 3 comments

I set the alarm for 4am and sprang out of bed, got ready and packed the last of my bag, checked out of the hotel & caught a taxi thru the dark streets and was ready to start at Howrah station dead on 5am.

I remembered to get someone to take a photo of me. I have never ending problems showing people how to take a photo with my phone (a Samsung galaxy s3 – it’s bloody great!). Maybe the volume is off so I can sneaky ones confuses them (will try to make a sound tomorrow).

I started at a comfy pace although titally scared of what would happen and found my way well as I had walked part of it and basically memorised the rest. As it got lighter the traffic grew. The early stages went past so fast and I was almost past the airport. I lucked out on some of the roads as they were direct and easy. I finished my water & perpetuem drink and then probably made an error in drinking a cold soft drink, then a chai at various intervals then a water then a coconut juice, repeat a few times in random orders. I was drinking a heap but wasn’t hungry and made good progress almost 30km in 4hrs. I had rivers of sweat coming off me from the very start. The scenery became more rural villages. Quite scenic. The people were nice and obviously thought I was a crackpot.  The same questions – name, country from, where are you going to/from got very tired very quickly. A thumbs up or wave is fine. Some people even wanted me to double back and chat to them in their shop ! Even the plentiful police gave me a wave! Phew!

Around noon my pace slowed as it git hotter and I realisef I had a few blisters which were getting worse rapidly. I suspect my feet were swollen due to 8hrs+ on hot roads – I hardly run on roads my beautiful Royal National Park home provides everything a runner could want!  I had a larger pair of shoes my only luxury – I could have swapped them or fixed up my blisters but I was filthy dust & grime stuck on wet & dry sweat.

I toughed it out to Habra at 47km whuch leaves just 35km tomorrow – I can’t do more as I am meeting my crew at the border. Unfortunately by the time I got there I was desperate for a shower and a lie down but there are NO hotels. Of course this took 90mins to work out and 1000 conversations with everyone.  I was literally dying on my feet by now.i had to sit down and get a cold drink. In the end it was decided I’d catch s tuc-tuc to the next  town whete there was a hotel. Barely.  The town was like all the ones I’d passed thru that day – small, dusty & scraggy.

Anyway I got a room and a shower although I did lock myself IN and had to climb through the window to unlock from the outside. Phew !  I had a sports bar and sports drink for dinner as after I’d showered and popped my blisters I wasn’t game for going out for anything.

After I finished typing this I went to bed lights out, the guy came back to ask some more questions about my hotel registration – there were more questions for foreigners and as he’d never had any he didn’t know the drill. I then got somw extra water and made some hydrolite electrolyte drink from tablets from the chemist. Bed for proper approx 10pm.

I managed to record a video (background vocals from the muezzin at the local mosque):

Anyway here are some photos – comments on my instagram page









Sorry I could have taken more photos but it’s hard to keep stopping for even more reasons …

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2-Apr-2013 D-Day minus one

Wednesday 3 April 2013 Leave a comment

Tomorrow I start my crazy, possibly stupid solo run 290km to Bangladesh.  It will be good to finally get it underway. Actually it will benefit the youth of Bangladesh a little so it’s not totally stupid. However right now I am a bit overwhelmed at the enormity of it. However as they say “a journey of a thousand miles starys with a single step”. I am just glad it’s not a thousand miles !!

I knew I would take it easy today.  Up fairly late, gone 8am, breakfast of banana porridge sitting outside in the courtyard of the spanish cafe. Then sort out some of my stuff.

I went for a walk and ended up in Flury’s an old art deco period and fancy cafe for a lemon iced tea or 2 then back to my room for a siesta.

There is an interesting article here
that sort of describes what the day has been like:

the art of the flaneur is a specific take on observation: Wikipedia says the word means something along the lines of “to stroll” or “saunter” or “loaf,” which alludes to that principle at the core of flanerie, which is to do nothing; to have no objective, no destination, no prerogative or goal in mind, except to observe in any way you might like the surroundings you encounter……

Now, im not so idealistic as to suggest that all of you with your busy lives and money-trails should suddenly stop these activities and squat on city corners for hours each day. In my luxurious moment, I am able to begin and end the day without having accomplished a single goal, except to have observed, and that is a truly precious privilege. However, I also have lived the busy life

I skyped with Dawn about 6pm and we had a power cut so she couldn’t see me as it was dark my end, but I was on my mobile phone so didn’t really affect me.

I am definitely nervous about the run tomorrow and figure the earlier I start and get out of Kolkata before the heat & traffic starts, the better. The further I get tomorrow means less the next day (and the border shuts at 6.30pm so can’t be too late).

My pack weighs about 20kg or a bit less so is HEAVY and I haven’t tried to run with it fully loaded. But it’s a good pack with comfy straps.

Went out just round the corner for an early dinner as I need to go to bed early for an early start. I had Chinese-style noodles as I thought that might be more filling than indian. 


1-Apr-2013 Kolkata – Mother Teresa & more

Monday 1 April 2013 Leave a comment

I left my room sprox 8am. I guess there are 2 schools of thought – if on the run I need to ve oyt by 5am I should get up early as “practise” or the other reasoning that I should get some rest now as I won’t get any on the run. I am doing the latter and in any case I am on holiday.

For some bizarre reason I ordered banana pancake for breakfast. I NEVER order pancakes anywhere. Also 2 lemon ginger honey whilst I wrote some of my diary.

I had decided to walk to Mother Teresa’s couple of buildings on AHC Bose Rd which looked close enough to walk to.  It was although it still felt a long way – I saw a thermometer reading 33C at 9.30am. It’s like a gorilla’s armpit here – hot, sweaty, oppressive with no chance if escape (unless you find some aircon somewhere). I was impressed by my route finding sills as was not even remotely unsure of the direction. There was a church, and another building and finally “the motherhouse” all along the same stretch of road. The motherhouse had her tomb and small museum which was totally fascinating. I am aware that there is bith good & bad said about her but to not be impressed is just silly – as a person she was head, shoulders & more above most people’s dreams let alone realities. I walked back via a very circuitous route. Also bought a book from a bookshop on Mother Teresa and posted it home along with a book on Dharavi that I’d bought previously. 

I had a rest for a bit then dropped off some laundry. For the afternoon I’d planned to go to the yoga studio where Bikram trained and was mentored. It’s on the web and seemed like an interesting off the beaten track thing to do. It was. I couldn’t get a taxi driver that could read or understand addresses. In the end he called and got the address in bengali. We eventually found it in a quiet area (Bishnu Ghosh studio) and I took some photos. No specific mention if bikram although there are some old photos of him on the wall. Lots of ild & fascinating puctures all over almost like a museum. I thought it was all pretty cool. I spoke to the woman who tajes private classes and she told me the open times (not for a few hours so I left).

Outside I caught a cab to Khalighat temple which was also very interesting.  A “priest” / guide hooked himself onto me and gave ne a very interesting tour. Despite being hindu there slaughtered 60 giats that morning – glad I missed that byt you could still see the remainder. They also believe the name Calcutta was a mis-pronunciation if Khalighat.

I then caught the metro to the Maidan and Park area – lots of couples canoodling in the quietest most peaceful place in town.

Back at the hotel I had a 2hr siesta and saw sone of the BBC World news on tv.

In the evening I went to eat at a restaurant that went oast earlier however it was super spicy and tgat put me off. I bought a bit-size desert at the sweet shop next door. You can’t come to India and not try one.

Travelking around by yourself is hard. You can’t be out and about on your feet for more than 12hrs a day as its so tiring especially if walking. Sitting in a hotel room is a bit sad. So going oyt to cafes is a cheapish relaxing pastime – people watching, diary-writing etc.

I webt straight to bed aporox 10pm – I am quite a plain & simple bloke really. Nothing fancy.


31-Mar-2013 Kolkata & Run logistics

Monday 1 April 2013 Leave a comment

I think it was the first night I slept well, until gone 5am then dozed until 7.30am. I was going out but the front door of the hotel was still locked and the doorman was sleeping on the floor in front if it so I went back to bed. At 8.30am I actually heard him unlock the door so went out.  My mum said all I have done is write about food! Anyway I had a banana porridge at a place on the corner.  With a honey lemon ginger,  and another whilst I typed up my diary.

I reckon any place that opens early with decent tables will make a killing as a stream of tourists came in. I spoke with a few which is why I was still there at 11am talking with a west-indian Londoner who had been a Hare Krishna devotee and had just come back to India for the first time in 8 years  she was very interesting.

I decided to move hotels from a $10 a night to a $20 a night – a big difference.  The golden apple calls itself a boutique hotel, has aircon,  tv, toilet paper, a shower that works better, hot water all day, a towel. Overall a much nicer place. I checked in there,  then checked out the other. I had paid for only 1 night – all my transactions in India are cash including plane tickets and I just draw out from the ATMs which are everywhere. I think that’s a heaps safe way to operate. I had until noon to check out / make a decision.  I may change hotels a lot, a good job I only pay 1 night at a time. There seems to be no shortage of hotels anyway, just the quality that varies.

With my run starting in weds 3rd I wanted to check out where I was due to start as I had just picked the most obvious place – Howrah station by the bridge. From the hotel I walked all the way to the Hooghly River and got a ferry to the other side right by the station – it only took 10-15mins. It is a massive station – I heard an announcement about platform 48 and there could be even more. I had a look around the station then wanted to confirm you could cross the bridge by foot – you can – so I walked across to see how easy it would be to follow the roads – pretty easy early in the morning I think. I also passed the flower market which was most impressive.

I then walked for miles in a big circle back towards my hotel. On the way I came across a nice aircon restaurant that seened very busy with local Indians so figured it must be pretty good. I got a masala dosa and stuffed idli. Excellent quality, very delicate and not overcooked. I like idea that most dish sized servings are small.

I had planned to call Dawn at 3.30pm (9pm sydney) so rushed back. In the end she couldn’t call me nor I her, so we skyped on my 3g mobile. It was ok quality – amazing technology when you think about it.

I then got my maps out to reveiew the first leg of the run from Kolkata ro the border with Bangladesh 82km away. The 2nd leg within Bangladesh 210km to Dhaka looks welk catered for – a minibus, 3 or 4 crew including English speaking with food & everything – should be fun and a lot easier to not have to worry about anything. All I have to do is run.

The first leg to the border is the scary one – me and my pack. Alone in the Kolkata mayhem. One option I have considered is to pay someone to be my crew. Another option is to leave my stuff in Kolkata and catch the train back n the evening to stay and catch the train out again in the morning.  The other of course us to just run with the damn oack on my back. There are of course a heap of pros and cons with each option.

Hiring a support crew was definitely something I have considered seriously but they would clearly not buy into what I am trying to and wouldn’t realky get it (understand a runner’s needs). They might try to change the route – hard because this is a simple direct route any other would add miles. Being by myself is good as I can change sides of the road depending on how safe I feel. I think route finding will be ok. There are plenty of food & drink places. Having someone along especially a poor english speaker will probably be more pain than it’s worth.

I have brought a small pack and ensured it’s the best to run with as I always had this idea that I might do it like this.

I suspect that my petsonal safety will be ok as its a main road and there are a lit of people around.

I highlighted the route on my maps and noted the main kilometer points.

At just gone 6pm I went out to find an ATM and then had a Bengali pulao (basically rice) and some dhal down the road. They had a long menu but basically the only vegetable was potato. When I asked for a chai he said no and when I asked about the desert out of 5 or 6 he said curd (yogurt) so I left and went to the cafe round the corner for a honey lemon ginger. Went to bed early.


31-Mar-2013 Updates from Bangladesh side

Monday 1 April 2013 1 comment

Chris Hesse who is the remaining teacher from last year’s Bangla-Dash still in Bangladesh has been busy coordinating my support crew to meet me on the Bangladeshi side of the border. Marc Favre is now in Dubai and is still actively coordinating building designs.

They have posted some updates to their blog – check here for any more recent updates:

It’s bringing home to me that this is a great thing to be doing !

Recent updates here:
– 7mar – bangla-dash 2013

– 29mar – update from chris

– 30mar – building starts 1 april

Details so far, from chris, hope I don’t disappoint :

April 4th – Kevin arrives at Benapole (border)  has hotel booked and rests eats on his own.  Chris, Allen and Eric depart Dhaka at 9:00 or 10:00 and drive to Benapole (departure time to be confirmed).  Arrive sometime in the AM.  Need to confirm Kevin’s morning departure time and hotel booking.

April 5th- Support team finds Kevin early AM and follows for the day.  Kevin runs past Jessore at around 50k we stop then back track in van to Jessore for the night.

April 6th- Early morning departure (5:00am?)  50k run  Stay in Gopalganj.  Need to book hotels ahead of time or possibly stay with Tim Koehn’s family.

April 7th- Early morning departure (5:00am?) 50k run.  Not sure where to stay, this depends on how far we make it.  If we get to Mawa ferry then we can stay at Padma resort on the other side of river and the final day will be an easy run- 35k or so. 

April 8th- Early morning departure (5:00am?) finish the run. 

I am planning to bring the following food items:
whole wheat bread
peanut butter
trail mix
cut up carrots and cucumbers
hard boiled eggs
Rice and Dal
pancakes (cooked ahead of time)
pasta- (three dinner dishes: pasta with spaghetti sauce, pasta-white beans with sage, orzo with peas and mint)

UHT milk for the cereal and general drinking, Water, Gatorade, Clif Shot blocks and various running gels, Power bars

I also am bringing the following items: toilet paper, cups, plates, bowls, spoons, knives and forks


30-Mar-2013 Flight to Kolkata

Saturday 30 March 2013 Leave a comment

As mentioned before, the only reason for flying Mumbai-Kolkata is because I need to be there over the weekend and there were no trains available. I like the pace of trains and want to see more of the countryside. Still, them’s the breaks.

I figured I would leave approx 8am to get to the airport before 9.30am for my 1130am flight. That is heaps of time even allowing for anything to go wrong. I was up at 7am and soon packed. It was easy to tet s cab ($6). Checked in and bought a roll for breakfast with a chai and read a free newspaper. Not much world news ! The flight was fine, it was quite empty so had loads of room. Just read my Indian Outlook magazine on how Samsung will eat Apple.

At Kolkata I pre-paid for a taxi and caught that to Sudder Street. I was very keen to look at the route to/from the airport as that is on my running route. A total obstacle course and I am wondering what I have let myself in for – roadworks,  holes, pavements, fences, traffic all over. Hot, dusty & exposed. Kolkata is not really even like much of Mumbai – it has a general sense of decay & grime. Quite depressing.

As I hadn’t even picked out a hotel I looked like freshmeat to all the varioys touts -hotels, taxi, change money,  hasish – everything. I got a room in a small guest house.  It’ll do for now – a bit grimey, no air con, dodgy lock on door. I went out for a walk without my pack & got a chai. tried the phone and found vodaphone kolkata is different than mumbai so am technically roaming but barely any price difference.  We’ll see. I went back to my room for a rest, sort my bag out and drop off some laundry. After a while I went out to survey the scene. Lots of people. I came here with dawn for a few days in 1989 en route to Darjeeling but can’t remember much if anything of our time, other than thinking it was decaying and grimy even back then.

I spent an hour walking but it felt like forever. I just got hot & tired. I found a spanish cafe down a side courtyard and got some pasta/tomato with honey lemon ginger.  I didn’t fancy eating indian for once even though there were a couple of decent looking places. I didn’t fancy something on the main drag and liked the idea of something off to the side where I could out with a few drinks (non-alcoholic of course) without being rushed or hassled. I don’t seem to have seen many places like that this year. There seemed to be a big group of Spanish people coming in – you don’t see many travelling around much.

After a few honey lemon gingers I went straight back to the hotel and was in bed asleep by 10pm as it had been a long day.

29-Mar-2013 Running & Juhu

Friday 29 March 2013 Leave a comment

As I had wanted to do the bicycle tour this morning but couldn’t as all the tour guides were busy (some big corporate booking, bastards!), I decided to be a bit more adventurous and go for a run instead.  I was up and awake at just gone 5am and got ready including a small pack containing passport,  phone,  money etc and left hesitantly at 5.45am as it was still dark. I ran in the road as the pavements are just too uneven and I could easily have fallen and got injured and I DEFINITELY don’t want that. I ran quite quickly and easily,  I guess it’s been a few days since I last ran. I was aiming at Nariman Point and run the whole of Marine Drive to Chowpatty Beach and back with a lap of the cricket oval. I got the first few roads wrong but the made it to Nariman Point. Lots of people walking,  yoga etc even quite a few serious runners. Eventually it got daylight and at Chowpatty I walked on the beach,  took some photos and had a coconut juice which was refreshing but all the stopping slowed me down. The key thing was to run a steady pace. It was hot and sweaty and putting everything in the serious waterproof bags was a smart idea.

I bought a herbal drink from a guy, which was quite spicy so wasn’t the best idea. Turning off Marine Drive was harder as I had to run on the pavement as there was now more traffic. I made it round the oval – lots of cricketers again – and bought a small sugarcane juice. Back at the hotel approx 8am. I had a shower and rinsed my kit and hung it up on my washing-line that I’d brought with me! Smart thinking!

I had to call vodaphone to activate my phone and the I went over the road for a coffee.  Eventually it activated but I couldn’t work out why I couldn’t txt until later – I had bought a data plan but not a talk plan. I did that for $4 and I was good to go! I didn’t have breakfast other than the coffee.  I decided to go to Juhu beach and check it out way to the north as I didn’t want to just stay in Colaba today.

I went by cab and was impressed the driver used the meter.  There was a lot of traffic and it probably took more than an hour however I was not in any rush as I was still tired from the run. Eventually we got to Juhu, the meter read 315R. I gave him 320 and the driver said “no 500”. I pointed at the meter and reminded him if the deal so he turned the meter off and made his demand again.  I gave him an extra 50R and walked off. Juhu beach was ok but there are a million better at home in Australia. I was quite hungry but bought a coffee and looked at the food stalls and decided I wasn’t that hungry after all.

I walked through the town and ended up at the Hare Krishna temple and they had a service on. It was very much like the one at Vrindaban last year. I didn’t stay long and it was way hot outside.  The town was really scruffy and not helped by all the roadworks.

I went into a coffee shop to have a cool sit down and bought a lime-mint uce tea and fiddled with my phone which was now working yay!

I decided to walk to the railway station as I didn’t want to go by cab on principle. It was a ling hot way but interesting. I got a coconut juice just by the station. Other than water or fresh juice, it’s about the only cold drink I have. I don’t like sugary drinks or stuff in plastic bottles.

The train ticket cost 10R still took an hour to get back but was more interesting than sitting in traffic. I really enjoyed the train and will try to use it again.

I walked around a bit and went back to Colaba from Churchgate station. I biught a book and a magazine for tomorrow’s flight – the only things I have bought other than food & accommodation as I have to carry it all and my bag is JAMMED FULL. I don’t really need stuff. If I buy any souvenirs for the family I will buy in Mumbai just before I fly out.  I then went to starbucks to upload some more photos – my mobile plan will probably be ok but figured I could save it for when I really need it.

Dawn was online at the same time so we txt and emailed although we didn’t speak but it felt like we had. Between 6pm-9pm I went back to my room to write my diary and have a siesta. Then I went to another place for a thali a bit like yesterday’s although this was spicier. I was quite hungry but actually got full very quickly. I don’t usually eat a lot. I had 2 excellent lime juices. Back to my room to write some diary.  Put the tv on but went to bed before midnight as I was so tired due to the run and being uo so early.

28-Mar-2013 Dharavi slum tour & movie

Thursday 28 March 2013 1 comment

I guess my body clock is still all over the place as I woke up approx 4am after falling asleep in front of the tv playing hindi mtv. I turned the tv off and went bsck to sleep till approx 5.30am. I got a chai from the guy at the front desk and wrote some of my diary.

I had booked to do the Dharavi long slum tour today (it’s pretty rare for me to book anything). There is a link to the tour info here:

It left from around the corner at 0830am and would last approx 5hrs. I figured I should eat breakfast first. Most of the places around here were closed except Leopold’s so about 7am I left to have a walk around to see what I could find. Up at the big traffic circle there are a few bus stands that had some cheap street food type places and I settled on one right next to the maharashtran state police station office. In fact it was perfect. I ordered the same as the guy next to me was having – a puri bhaji – about 3 or 4 puris and some potato onion spice mix and a chai. All up approx 60 cents. I stood and ate with all the other guys. I got some water to take on the tour with me.

I got to the meeting point approx 0820am. I met Janet an engish woman who has been teaching in mumbai since last august.  Just after 830 the  2 turned up with the guide – a Dutch bloke who has been living here for 2 months and his girlfriend from NZ who lives in Germany.  Quite a mix!

We drove off apparently through the red light district but you couldn’t see anything and stopped at the dhobi ghat washing area then stopped to use the loo and get a coffee before walking into dharavi.  I had a pretty goid idea of what to expect from one of the largest slums in the world as I’d seen some tv and read a lot about it. It was endlessly fascinating and the guide talked about the history & economics etc.  It was a well-run and sensitive tour. It’s like a maze if alleyways,  raw sewage,  industry,  but spotlessly clean houses – each really just a small room. Dharavi has a population of more than a million so is incredibly dense. By the end about 1pm even I was quite tired.  It was hot about 30c with a lot of walking & stopping.  The others all got dropped off at various places so I got out by the start. I got a veg thali for lunch. I tried to book a cycle tour for tomorrow but they were all booked out by 75 English. Another time maybe.

I went back to the hotel for a shower then went to get an indian sim card as it looks like mine used a ton of data eeven though I had been careful and it was so expensive.  Indian ones have massive limits and are much cheaper but I had to get a photo and a photocopy of my passport and fill out a massive form which I did. If wifi was more prevalent I might not have bothered.  should all be working by the morning.

I bought a ticket for the 1945pm movies tonight. Then had a bit of a siesta. Dawn called for 23mins so got all the news from home. I put the new sim in my phone, quite a hard task as I have this rubberised army-grade waterproof cover. Anyway I went to the movie and bought a samosa instead of popcorn.  The film seemed to have a storyline that I couldn’t follow and I dozed off.  After the film,  gone 10pm, I felt very hungry so decided to walk to a restaurant that is supposed to do a good thali. It was a long way and I was knackered when I got there without even using a map. The gujerati thali was quite simply massive and never ending ie you ate something and they came to top it up. I even turned them away with new dishes that I didn’t even look at there were just so many. It wsd generally spicy but not excessive.  Some were salty, some sour and some sweet. It was amazing especially as it only cost $6. I got a taxi back afterwards as there was no way I was going to walk back ($1). By now it was after midnight so went straight to bed and slept immediately.

I thought I would jot down some notes on food & water hygiene or at least what I do – and as you might imagine its like the rest if me – consistently inconsistent!  I do eat the street food, in fact I look out for it by choice. I buy bottled water although I do clean my teeth in tap water. I usually avoid ice as I am sure in most places you can’t really guarantee the water quality. However I am not over the top about ice avoidance. I have hot drinks eg chai whetever. I think getting dodgy guts is expected but usually I don’t feel ill. It just comes & goes quickly !! I haven’t consciously thought about this before I guess it’s just evolved over the years and just feels right to me. Of course when in remote areas you’ve just got to get through the best you can, big cities have more choices and you can be pickier. Remote pkaces are harder with less options.

There are some photos on worth seeing as I am typing this on my phone and I can’t be bothered to link & embed them properly!

27-Mar-2023 A loose day in Mumbai

Wednesday 27 March 2013 1 comment

As I didn’t sleep that well, I was up around 6am and sorted out my bags a bit better then went out for a walk to survey the surroundings and take some photos. I saw the water – it was right next to the hotel – as the sun was rising. Also went to the Gateway of India. It’s a big archway that is famous throughout India’s history. Up close it’s a bit like any monument – need to be careful I don’t get too blasé as you see so many temples & monuments they just blur after a while.

I also went past the oval where there seemed to be about 15 separate games of cricket going on at the same time. I bought a sugar cane juice, it was really nice. I enjoyed walking around, looking at stuff and taking photos and I feel I got to know the area quite well.

I eventually found a better hotel, quite expensive compared to what I was paying last year but not expensive in the big scheme of things and I guess that’s what you should expect – it is Mumbai and I seen a few other places even more expensive.  2350R is about $40 however it’s got an en suite and hot water and toilet paper – I can’t be bothered buying & carrying my own so often end up using my hand like half the rest of the world!! It also had a tv and aircon. I went back to the old place to check out and get my bag. I stopped at a place for breakfast as I was quite hungry now. It sold coffee indian style with milk & sugar but the food wad a bit weird.  The menu board said “brain” which could have been an abbreviation of a poor translation. Anyway it looked like everyone was eating brain with these hunks of awful white bread so I drank my coffee and left. Later on I found a decent looking place and had a foul-looking & tasting veg roll and chai for breakfast as I was by that time positively starving.

I moved in to the new hotel, had a hot shower,  cleaned my teeth and felt better about the world. I took some photos of people who’ve been covered in coloured powder as part of Holi – there was a big party near here but that’s not really my scene – you could hear the music from miles away. Chelsea would have been there for sure !

More info about Holi here.

I then tried to sort out a train to Kolkata for Friday night or Saturday but at least 2 places said that ALL trains were full. I even saw the online bookings and wait lists so decided to fly (and will catch the train back).  Plane was about $150 whereas the train is $100 but takes 30-38hrs. I got a plane ticket for late saturday morning so don’t have to rush in the early morning but will still have time to suss out a place to stay in Kolkata in the daylight as it gets in at 2.10pm

It was interesting as the agents have a login to and bring up all the flights etc – I could order them by time, airline, cost etc and saw that at any time the price was the same. You could even see the agent’s comission etc. He pays from his account and I gave him the cash. This is exactly what they did in kashmir last year.

I then bought a green coconut to drink the juice for 60cents. Lovely. I went past a decent looking restaurant so stopped and had lunch. I am pretty good at going into places by myself now. It feels a bit weird at first. Maybe even a bit sad! Rice, dhal, roti, lemon tea. Left feeling full but relaxed. I can feel my pace slowing down now it feels like ages since I was at work!

I had met  a tour guide tout earlier and was thinking of doing a small tour of Mumbai. I normally hate tours & anything over-organised but if you do it one-on-one you get individual attention, can skip past the stuff you don’t like, can ask questions & learn heaps more than in a larger group (where I’d normally switch off). Also it would be good to see whatever sights there were and get a better feel for the geography. Anyway I then met anothet tout and knocked him down to a fair price so did it from about 1pm to 4pm.

We went to the laundry washing area although pretty much everyone had the day off partying – there were a lot if drunk and drugged up people wandering around (bhang – marijuana is very commonly used). Then we went to the fisherman’s colony, same but still very interesting. Then nariman point,  marine drive and malabar hill – lots of ecoensive areas, the jain temple (I think the jain’s are great). Then the hanging gardens – very hot & exposed here, then the temple of silence where the pharsees are chopped up & fed to vultures instead of burying or cremation. Of course a trip to a souvenir shop and of course bought nothing. The highlight wad Gandhi’s Mumbai residence back in the 1920s. Then the railway terminus. A great tour and worth the $40. I got dropped by my hotel where I had a late siesta for 3hrs as I was so tired by now.

About 8pm I realised my phone’s mobile data was not working due to using all my data so went into starbucks one of the few places with free wifi which appears to be much rarer than in delhi or even rishikesh last year. I had seen a sign for a phone plan unlimited Internet for $8 a month. Telstra ? So maybe everyone just uses 3g. The coffee wad the same poor quality that they have back home! I haf tried to buy a lical sim but 3 olaces said you couldn’t activate as everything shut for Holi so it must have been true. I emailed dawn, topped up my credit.

I walked around a bit more and bought a veg kebab roll,  really good but very spicy and I like very spicy foods!! I read about the street stall in the lonely planet guide which I had got the downloaded pdfs. Although India changes so quickly you can’t rely on any guide and I like exploring stuff by myself in any case. But it was good to know where the good street food stalls were.

I stopped for a pineapple juice and a satsuma juice – you can only drink so much plain water and I don’t like drinking the fizzy sugary drinks.

I got back to my room about 9pm wrote some of my diary. At about 10pm I thought I would grab a coffee befire bed so went out. It was quite funny that all the street stalls were packing up. I had been out & about from very early before they’d setup, during their setup, in full flight and afterwards – their complete daily lifecycle.

Leopold’s cafe was pretty much straight downstairs and is a key focal point in the area  – it’s been there since the 1800s. It’s quite expensive and I figured it would be full of foreigners but it wasn’t. As usual the sheer number of Indians in their own country totally drowns out the very small % of non-Indians. I came to India for the experience so that suits me better. I had a double expresso – poor quality – for a bit less than $2. If people ordered beer they got like a see-through keg for their table with a beer-tap that they to pour for themselves. I’ve seen that before!

I reflected on the day, a great success in many ways.  I like Mumbai. I like India but its ckear that it’s such a massive place sn despite all I have read about and seen I probably know so little.  We sre all just a small speck in a massive world.  Humbling.

Back in my room I had a shower no hot watet this time but overhead someone else complaining so I didn’t bother even mentioning it. It’s India after all! ! I watched some hindi mtv and fell adleep writing my diary.

There are some photos on worth seeing as I am typing this on my phone and I can’t be bothered to link & embed them properly!

26-Mar-2013 All Set & Ready to go

Tuesday 26 March 2013 Leave a comment

I had a busy day at work yesterday – left at 8am and got home 9.45pm! I guess it’s always like that when wrapping up for a big trip. The good news was my headache went, as predicated, as I got to work, as I knew that whatever things happened, at the end of the day I’d be walking out the door.

I eventually left:

#kevintiller is out of office.

And started packing :

Packing my bag #kevintiller

And even finished, although I had to leave out a few items. Not a lot of kit for 4 and a bit weeks! Still that’s my style.

#kevintiller is all packed & ready to go

Make sure you keep checking Instagram for my photos :


26-Mar-2013 Airport & flying to Mumbai

Tuesday 26 March 2013 Leave a comment

I got up at 6am to pack the last few things. Weighed myself 76.6kg. I am predicting that it won’t change much by the time I get back. Left at 7.45am with dawn & charley dog. We walked along thee beach naturally! Met jaz & chel by the ferry as it was the school one. Had said goodbye to ko at home. Ferry then train to the airport, trip spent pondering the sheer enormity of what i was going to do. I checked in then bought some fruit & juice as wanted to start off right – saw my work friend and running mate michael rensford & daughter who were going to phuket. Then I had a coffee and used the free wifi – pretty amazing  technology really. I posted some photos to instagram then did one last check of work emails. On the plan it was a freaking airbus A380 – Hope it’s safe!  I was on the top deck but still in economy. Although I am writing these notes and displaying them in public,  they sre really for me & my kids and maybe even their kids…

I bought a copy of the Guardian Weekly to read and The Smith Journal to read as it always has some different & unusual items. The first one in this issue had these messages that I decided were auspicious for this trip :
– leave it to chance
– know nothing
– obsession is vital
– if you don’t evolve you’re dust
– even shit ideas are worth something
– people don’t care so much
– activism happens
– sometimes you have to go too far
And that was just the first article !

I then listened to the uk charts for 1977 – inflight music options are great these days ! It reminded me if silver jubilee in worthing and our summer holiday in cornwall and elvis dying. Then I listened to the same but for 1979 reminding me of being 13 and driving up the m1 in a commer van to scout camp in the Lake District.

My goals for this trip are – in order:
1) come home safe & in one piece
2) finish the run
3) do fun things in interesting places

Of course I am very grateful for this opportunity to do this trip, huge thanks to dawn who cops the worst of the deal.

The trip to Singapore was 8hrs with only 50mins to change planes. The final leg was 5hrs. Changi airport is like a big U and I am going from one tip to the other. You could catch the train but figured that wss for lazy people snd I needed to stretch my legs so I walked. It wasn’t too far. Went past s lit of shops but didn’t stop as wasn’t sure how much time I had, and can’t buy anything as I hsve no room to carry it. I could have got a coffee but only just made the plane’s last call.

Taking off it seemed like there were lots of golf courses snd ships. Thought the airport would be fancier but it was just ordinary – maybe I have seen too many ?!

At Mumbai, we fly low over the city which was cool. It felt weird coming back so soon after nearly 6 weeks here last year. I got my bags quickly and pre-paid for a taxi to Colaba. The trip took about an hour. Mumbai is MASSIVE! Of course never having been here before (other than a plane refuel about 30 yrs ago literally! ) I had no idea where I was or anything. The cab driver at one point asked me if I wanted to go one the Sea Link – of course I had no idea what he was going on about and I was like “nah just take me to my hotel” and didn’t really realise that it was the quick way (for an extra toll). So of course we went the very slow way thru the traffic. We could barely find the hotel and he had to call ahead on his mobile – I was impressed that he wasn’t going to charge me – they are so widespread here also. The hotel I picked out was full due to the Holi festival across India. So were a few others I tried. In the end I just checked into the closest hotel I could find that had a spare room as it was 1045pm and I’d had enough (Sydney time was 0415 by now!!). It was called the hotel delight and wad very cheap & scungy and cost $8. I decided I would find somewhere better in the morning. The toilets and room were clean so that was something. I bought a bottle of water and really wanted something to eat but couldn’t be bothered.  Bed at 1130pm but didn’t sleep too well. Txted dawn about 2am as she was probably awake as the kids were going to school.  Or maybe she was at work – I hadn’t even checked !!

There are some photos on worth seeing as I am typing this on my phone and I can’t be bothered to link & embed them properly!

23-Mar-2013 Packing & sorting

Sunday 24 March 2013 Leave a comment

I developed a bit of a headache by the time I left work on Friday, I think it’s my sinuses and being stressed brings it on. On Saturday it was no better, but I spent a quiet and relaxing day at home, sorting out my travel sim card, printing stuff to take with me, and a heap of other things that take time.

I have been looking at video of Bangladesh etc and found this one filmed in Jessore – I will go through this town, fingers crossed!

In the evening I took Jaz out driving, took Dawn to work and came back. Spoke to our friend Victoria about the sinus trouble and she suggested Apple Cider Vinegar. Googled it when I got home and sure seemed like everyone was raving about it. I tried half Apple Cider Vinegar and half hot water. I felt sick and went to bed early !!

I got up very late 10am and tried to keep sorting my stuff, but my head feels so bad. Went to the beach for a walk and a swim etc which was good, it’s so beautiful there. Interesting in today’s Sun Herald newspaper, there was an article about tourism in Bangladesh:

I’d read warnings about travel in Bangladesh: the toilets are filthy, the kitchens are like toilets, and travellers will get sick. Hartals, or general strikes, regularly paralyse the state. In the villages, people are taken by Bengal tigers. But nothing filled my heart with quite as much fear as the item on day two of my Experience Bangladesh seven-day tour program: “In the evening, as part of their daily practice of affirmation of sustainable living, you will listen to songs by the neighbourhood fishermen, weavers and farmers.”

If I were in my house, and the neighbourhood fishermen were in my dining room singing songs about sustainable living, I wouldn’t come out of my bedroom until they had gone home.

More here:

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21-Mar-2013 Friday talk

Thursday 21 March 2013 Leave a comment

Work has been very busy this week – getting in early and leaving late as one of my team members was away. On Friday we had a big team meeting with maybe 100+ people and I was asked, with zero notice to get up and talk about my run for 5 mins. I did ok, as you know I quite like talking, but I do find it quite stressful.

It’s a bit of a dilemma, I am quite happy not to talk about my run, or send out emails etc, but if you are trying to raise money you need to get in front of as many people as possible. I am not a good salesman and  would prefer my good works just sell themselves. Anyway most people seemed to be happy.

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19-Mar-2013 Bangladesh updates

Tuesday 19 March 2013 Leave a comment

It looks like all the logistics are falling into place now:

Just an update for you in terms of the school and our plan.  We begin construction as agreed upon by SAFE April 1st.  We have negotiated a contract where they will finish in 61 days.  By the time you get to visit they will have either finished or close to finishing the the foundation and they will be prepping other aspects of the build.

Your visit to Sonargoan will include three site visits.  1. Cobbler Village (site of school construction), 2. River Gypsies 3.  Maya Dip (on an island, sandbar).

SAFE Bangladesh (Simple Action for the Environment Bangladesh) (website) are effectively a low cost building group using locally available materials & technologies that are building the schools.

Marc & Chris, the Australians who I came across who did the Bangla-Dash run last year are not yet a proper charity or organisation, but they have been taken under the wing of the Solmaid Community School who are doing what they want to do (build Community Schools). The money they raise (and I am raising) is funneled through them to Solmaid and then onto SAFE.

Sonargoan, where the schools are, is just outside Dhaka the Capital of Bangladesh:

For the run itself, it’s also looking good:

Here is the update from my end.  I have booked the bus to leave on the morning of the 5th so that would mean you should leave Kolkata on the 4th if you are taking two days.  It is not possible to leave any earlier than that.  Now, the school has agreed to loan us the bus, but they are worried about the Hartals (violent protests) around the country and if there are protests then that would impact thing.  We have been having hartals about once a week.  So, this complicates things.  We have assembled a good support team, (Mofiz the driver, Allen from Canada, photographer, Eric from France logistics and support and finally myself).

Bangladesh is still in the news a lot:

15 Mar : Double trouble brewing at border with Bangladesh

20 Mar : 1 killed during violent Bangladesh strike

I have been trying to read accounts of other people travelling thru Bangladesh, there are not that many it seems, here is one I read from 2010. Interesting !


17-Mar-2013 Weekend Activities

Sunday 17 March 2013 Leave a comment

It was a busy weekend. On Saturday morning I ran for 4h 30m with Mikey from work. We started at Garie Beach at 06.30 – it was still dark when we arrived but got light almost instantly. It was a long run to Helensburgh and back in a big loop (map here) and we didn’t kill ourselves with speed. I felt ok but tired at the end when it was very warm. (Photo is of us both at Six Foot Track Marathon in the Blue Mountains).

At home, I had a quick 30min doze on the sofa and a strong coffee, then had to go out and buy Kody school shoes, soccer boots etc and then take Jaz out driving to get her hours up in the evening (taking Dawn to work).

On Sunday I ran down to Burning Palms as I was on Patrol but the beach was closed, grrr, although it was really rough. In the afternoon I ran back up, then went running with Dawn later. Unfortunately as so often happens, we went fast and I was knackered when I got home. A swim in cooler water afterwards was lovely.

I am considering using Instagram to publish photos on my Bangla-Dash run, so was fiddling around with that – here are some I took:

View this post on Instagram

Beach closed at #burningpalms #kevintiller

A post shared by kevin tiller (@kevintiller) on

My Instagram page is here:

15-Mar-2013 Setting a huge scary goal

Friday 15 March 2013 Leave a comment

I just posted this note to LinkedIn :

Setting a huge scary goal – running 290km in Bangladesh

As Linkedin is a professional, career orientated website I thought I would start this discussion off with how setting sporting goals and working towards them can provide valuable lessons for your professional life. They are probably not separate – you are one person with a family, a career and various outside hobbies. So the way you approach GOALS in your hobbies should mimic how you set goals in your career. Yes ? No ? Maybe ? Well I want aim to be consistent, I am no different at work than how I am with my friends or my family – just an ordinary bloke doing his best.

I came across a great training goal that made me shiver a little bit. Its crazy, it won’t work! Impossible ! You. Have. Got. To. Be. Kidding. Then I ran the numbers and though  ..  maybe .. just maybe .. it might be possible. I discussed it with a few close friends who promptly said I was insane. I committed myself to the idea and my wife said I was CLEARLY having a midlife crisis. She wanted to slap me. Work colleagues thought I would kill myself !

Anyway I told everyone my plan so I was committed. They thought I was either totally insane or very impressive. But the cat was out of the bag – I am now in deep – too far to back out now.

The I began to doubt myself … maybe I can’t do it, maybe I can. Who knows? Why DID I open my big fat mouth. But I started training, hard, in the heat and especially when I didn’t want to. I hadn’t been so tired in years. I still have my doubts – THIS MAY NOT WORK AND I MIGHT FALL FLAT ON MY FACE. But sometimes that is exactly what’s required – a goal to push you further than you ever dreamt of pushing yourself ever before. Ever.

It’s so scary that it almost makes you feel physically agitated, but on the other hand, so scared that you just want to do that thing, for better or worse, knowing it will just be a memorable adventure, again for better or worse.

One week away from departure it’s almost too late to do any more training to actually help, its just hunkering down to go through the logistics one more time. What if this happens ? or this, or this or this ? What’s the worst possible scenario ? Failing to plan is planning to fail – that’s not me.

Ivan Turgenev summed up a good point “If we wait for the moment when everything, absolutely everything is ready, we shall never begin”. We just have to make enough plans but then we have to start, that’s the key – not thinking, not talking, but starting, then keep pushing through. We should not quit.

So my challenge is to run 290km from Kolkata India to Dhaka Bangladesh. It will be hot, but flat. Two Australian teachers ran it last year, so I KNOW it’s possible.

12-Mar-2013 Got Visas Now

Tuesday 12 March 2013 Leave a comment

I have got both my Indian & Bangladeshi visas now – here is the photo I used:

Here is the touched up version I used for my linked in profile:


9-Mar-2013 Six Foot Track!

Saturday 9 March 2013 Leave a comment

Finished my 11th Six Foot Track Marathon today. Very happy with HOW I ran – Picked up from Pluviometer (26km) and screamed thru deviation and on to the finish (45km) overtaking all those people who went past me earlier. However my time was not great due to a slow section between the Cox’s River (15km) to Pluviometer (26km). 6:24.56 total. A good workout test for my Bangladesh run in a few weeks (distance & comfort if not much speed).

Saw lots of people from CoolRunning which was great, so many old friends. Stayed at Sean & Mel’s at Wentworth Falls the night before, with Colin as an extra guest.

Heaps more discussions & comments at the Coolrunning forums, only 2 went to hospital!

Below photo from my phone:


7-Mar-2013 The big difference between ‘memorable’ and ‘fun’

Thursday 7 March 2013 Leave a comment

  There was an interesting article in the Sydney Morning Herald the other week about tourism in Bangladesh. Not many people travel there so it’s quite rare to see articles about it. It was well worth reading.

 “One short week: a thousand stories, a million experiences. Definitely worth $145 for a visa” (It’s actually AU$150).

That article aside there are quite a few civil disturbances in Bangladesh at the moment, this article one of them from the Australian newspaper:

Schools and businesses were shut yesterday across Bangladesh on the second day of a general strike as huge numbers of police were deployed to stop the deadliest bout of violence since independence.At least 61 people have died in clashes since last Thursday when Islamists erupted in outrage at the sentencing to death of one of their leaders who was convicted of war crimes dating back to the 1971 liberation conflict.

More at The Australian newspaper.

There are some really “good” photos at the Washington Post also.

My friends in Bangladesh say that it is localised and not too much of a problem although the Australian Government is taking no chances and has updated the safety section of the SmartTraveller website.

In more peaceful news, I saw these photos of Indian trains, which I have travelled on before with success & enjoyment. I will also be on a train for 30hrs+ from Mumbai to Kolkata.

One of my friends said that the Bangla-Dash would be an EPIC adventure. Yes I think it will be !

4-Mar-2013 My Weekend Runs

Monday 4 March 2013 Leave a comment

On Saturday I ran approx 2hrs 10mins along Lady Carrington Drive (20km ish), in the Royal National Park, close to my home on Sydney’s southside. It’s a fairly flat route, but was muddy due to all the rain, and it was even raining during the run, off and on. Didn’t see a soul but it was very enjoyable and I was pleased with pace etc.

Sunday I ran with a mate from work, Mikey, approx 26km in just over 3hrs. It was a big loop around Bundeena. I felt I struggled a bit, not with the distance but the pace. It was warm and sunny mostly and quite wet underfoot in places. We had a dip in the sea afterwards then I zonked out on the back deck reading the paper.

I managed just over an hour tonight after work, cutting it short as it’s getting darker earlier now as it’s now officially Autumn.

All up I am pleased with that for the weekend.

There is now a thread on CoolRunning about the Bangla-dash.

I saw a cool article on the ABC tonight about an 18yr old Victorian Nic Pridan who is also running a marathon in Bangladesh later in March. Cool.