Sunday, 7 February 2016

Food Poisoning during Travels & the unexpected help from Kampung – Paris

After 7 months of traveling who would have guessed I would get food poisoning in Paris of all places. I suspect the last culprit must me the McDonald that I took for dinner. McD has been my downfall many times after all with food poisoning. I wonder why I still go back to them after many times of suffering.

Woke up in Paris at 3am in the morning to puke out all the last meal I had (McD) and continue puking every half an hour till 8 am in the morning. Nice old fashion food poisoning that was till I got a chain event of the old Gastric back. Empty stomach from all the puking plus nothing to digest gave me a gastric in the morning so I was puking bile instead of food by 8am. Not to mention the diarrhea that follows after.

Whole body was weak, energy drained but I had to check out of the hostel. My flight was later that day to Manchester from the very very far airport Beuvais Paris. Check out and I went to the nearest Supermarket to get some banana, fruitcake, bottled water and tic tac mint. I had to force food down while I still had the mental will to do so. I remember when once upon a time the Gastric hurts so much I could not even stand up let alone eat. The toilet bowl was my best friend.
I was nearing that stage. So close that I mentally force the banana and fruitcake slowly down. Small portion, little water …. Rest and focus - repeat … I was hanging around the outside courtyard where the hostel was busy with people checking out and hanging around for wifi and breakfast.

In between my meditation zone to keep food in the belly I heard some malay speaking words. Was I mistaken?? I thought for I could not be hearing very well. I could not focus back to maintaining mental will of keeping food in belly. More small bites of fruitcake, banana and little water.

Suddenlly I got the chills, weather became cold and I went indoors sat down and curl up in the old school fetal position of sleeping on the table. Mentally I was really struggling. Focus, Focus … is that more malay I heard ? Can’t be, I haven’t seen a Malaysian in 7 months (not counting Aisyv of course) Force more food down and an hour later I was well enough to not dream of things or to think that I dream of things to really notice what was going on around me
There was really a family of Malaysian in the Paris hostel chit chatting around me in Malay. Another girl came in the common room and she was shock that the family was conversing in Malay for she was from Malaysia as well. Alamak!! …. They said hello and goodbye in just a few minutes as she was headed out and as soon as she left I asked …. Kamu dari Malaysia ??? (You from Malaysia?) The family got a shock as much as I did for they did not expected to see so many Malaysian in Paris let alone in a hostel.

Duduk diam diam dengar semua ya !!! (Quietly Listening on our conversation ar?*one raised eyebrow*)  one of the elderly makcik (Aunt) said to me …. It was not intentional I told her … I was sick …. And viola fellow countryman to the rescue and I got some medicine for stomach gastric.
A few minutes later after the medicine took effect I could hold a conversation and although I was rusty with Malay it was refreshing to speak it after so long. The asked me of my plans which led to the usual probe of questions and I asked them of theirs as well and the usual follow up questions …. They were travelling for about 11 days in Europe on a caravan …. They were just heading out and getting the caravan hired and would be driving everywhere in Europe.

I was going to Manchester to see family I said …. Pergi cari keluaga kat England dan tumbang beberapa hari sampai sakit gastric ni pulih, I said.  (Going to find relative in England I said and hopefully rest and recover from this food poisoning)
Hah … bila sakit baru cari keluaga ya – the makcik chided me (Only when one is sick that they think of family) … I couldn’t help but smile.

So they left and I got better … enough to drag myself though public transport to the airport. I was very early at the airport at 3pm while my flight was at 10pm
I was glad I reach early for once I was there, I somehow caught a fewer …. I went to the arrival hall terminal which had lesser people waiting, found a armless bench and slept there for 4 hours … getting up every half an hour for toilet and my good friend the toilet bowl and more water intake. By the time I boarded the plane that night my fever had broke and touchdown Manchester to see my Aunt and Uncle waiting for me just outside the gate.

Remembering the Makcik works of wisdom I smiled inside for I knew I was in safe hands J
Reach Yorkshire by midnight and straight to bed …. Fewer and Poisoning was done … now all I had to do was slowly nurse my tummy to full appetite health in the next few days … I have reach sanctuary at least for now …. Cant help but remember the sly smile of the makcik face chiding me that I go looking for family only when in trouble. 7 months alone … and when you fall sick you go looking for family …. Sounds familiar to Malaysian who knows what it’s about … you almost always find family only when there is some problem.

It was just coincidence that I happen to get food poisoning the day I was to fly out to see family ... but I guess it was ironic in a sense that it happen and I was chided by a Makcik Malaysian .... Like reading an old comic strip from Kee's worlds - It's a Durian Life :)

Sunday, 31 January 2016

Dirty City of Love – Paris

The first time I travelled Europe, I avoided Paris like a
Eiffel Tower - Paris
plague. It was drilled into our minds that it is one of the most beautiful places on earth and where everything magical can happens especially love. It did not help that cartoon from Disney during childhood day’s shows humpback of Notre Dame and the favourite Ratatouille rat with all the beautiful families and happy endings. In addition to that every damn French I met on the road says the best place in the world is Paris even if they have never set foot there themselves. Yep I avoided Paris like a plague in reverence that it was a special place that I may someday share the experience of visiting with someone.

You did not visit Paris ???? But that’s the city of Love !!!! …. Quote by various people when I returned from the first trip.
Exactly ….  It’s the city of Love …. Hence I avoided going there as a Single.

A few years has passed and the second time travelling the world. I decided there is never a right time to do anything. I have learned that time is a fleeting thing and that life is to be lived and not prepared like a story book. I will see Paris if just to see the infamous city and admire the Eiffel tower and visit The Louvre.
Paris is a Dirty City.

In terms of European standard I guess (Let’s forget about India for a minute) …. Paris is a dirty city no doubt about it. The moment I got there and the first walkabout I decided that Paris was worth visiting if only to see the Louvre and I could not wait to get out. The love part I guess it’s a hype over sold by tourist agency to get more client. What I find more comical was the directions to everywhere. They were wrong. Reminded me of Malaysia and the mess up signage’s to divert people to different places to get more business or just more foot traffic.

This was not due to lack of the ability to speak French for even the subway station had confusing signage’s. Today I decided to just check out the bus station where everyone gets an airport shuttle to Beuvies airport where budget airline Ryanair stops. I was bound for that in a couple days and with the shitty weather of rain and more rain I thought no harm checking it out. Again I got stupefied by the signage’s bringing me to no man’s land.
If you never been to France, stay away and keep that magical optimism of childhood with you. Once you have been here like me, you feel like a dimwit falling for an obvious sales gimmick that you never thought will happen to your good self. City of Love …. Bah …. You see people trying too hard here with Love …. Good play for the heartbroken sucker.

The Louvre - Paris


Tuesday, 26 January 2016

IdTGV from Nice to Paris

Trying to skip hop faster than ever since I needed to get to Paris to catch a Ryanair budget flight to Manchester I decided to break a poor man’s backpacker rule and take a bullet train to Paris from Nice. Ryanair ticket from Paris to Manchester was only Euro 48.95 all tax inclusive + luggage fees but the bullet train ticket could easily double that amount. 

The thing about Europe is that if you book in advance … ADVANCE like not backpacker friendly advance, then train tickets COULD be really cheap. The bullet train I was thinking of boarding was on a French TGV line and after hours of keying in CHEAP, BUDGET, FREE, BEST, DIRT CHEAP, and any other keywords that comes to mind on Google, I stumble upon IdTGV the alternative website that sells cheap TGV line tickets.
I dun pretend to understand the system trust me and till today I am still baffled for it was technically the same train. Book under Seat 21 or some other TGV rail website or rail Europe blab la and the price sky rockets, but book under IdTGV website and the price was reasonably ok …. Still not dirt cheap but at Euro 69.90 I figured it was a good as any price to experience a bullet train at 325km/hr.

There was a problem thou trying to book IdTGV …. They only accepts online booking and they only accepts European credit cards. *KNNCCB …. (curse in Malaysian/Singapore style)* … Don’t give up hope I told myself and looked for that email under contact list where I send in a request by email pretending I had no idea a foreign credit card cannot work …  I keyed in my credit card number (without the security code nor the expiry dates) into the email telling them I was using so and so credit card from Singapore.
Within two days I got a reply, they told me that foreign credit card was not accepted but they have keyed in their database to exempt my credit card for this purchase since I have notified they by email. Try again they said. So I did and Hooray I got the ticket book and the journey was set.

The journey from Nice to Paris on the high speed train was an experience in itself I guess. 5 hours but really it only took 3 hours. The other 2 hours was getting the train from Nice to the starting point of Aviagon before the Train could shoot at full speed non stop.
In a way the train ride was not really comfortable. Seats were first class, clean, all amenities available and perfectly in order but if you have never been on a high speed train then you probably would not experience the air pressure constantly changing as the train go up hill and downhill. That was really not good for me for although it felt smooth the air pressure differential cause me to have a headache. Looking out the window was also a bad idea for it was too fast and everything was a blur. If you have a little motion sickness like I do …. brace yourself …

Arrive in Paris on time and out the train station. Dirty city of love I would call Paris ….
Gare De Lyon Train Station - Paris