A Tour of the Farmhouse in Ujire, India

Here's a quick tour of the farmhouse I'm staying at in Ujire, India. It's relatively remote, about ten miles from town and about two miles from the main road.

The area where the farmhouse is situated is called Malajoti, a name given to it long before the current owner came into possession of it.

The mountains you see are part of the Western Ghats, which is "one of the world’s ten 'Hottest biodiversity hotspots' and has over 5000 species of flowering plants, 139 mammal species, 508 bird species and 179 amphibian species".

I'll work on making another video of the areas around the farm, which are really worth seeing!

Contemplating Contentedness

In this video I contemplate a feeling of content that I began to experience after spending one full week living the lifestyle of my dreams.

This video was shot on my first night staying alone on a remote farm in Ujire, India.

I'm still working on correcting a few annoyances with regards to making videos (for example, I say "umm" and "you guys" way too much). If you have any other suggestions for me, please let me know. I'm shooting for semi-structured clips; I don't want the entire thing planned out, but at the same time I don't want to be umm'ing throughout the whole video.

A Quick Update from a Remote Farm in Ujire, India

If you're following me on Twitter, you might have seen my last two updates about reaching Ujire safely. This is my one week anniversary here in India and its been amazing so far. I've seen and experienced so much, I haven't really gotten sick (besides a mild case of travelers diarrhea), and everyone I've come in contact with has been so incredibly helpful and generous.

I'm currently staying alone in Ujire, on a remote farm about 9 miles from town. There is some electricty here, but it's solar powered (running on batteries at night) and the phone is wireless (basically a CMDA cellphone-type connection). For Internet, I'm using a Windows XP laptop that was already here -- it uses a dail-up connection and Internet Explorer 6 (ugh!). My cell phone still isn't working (there were issues activating the prepaid SIM).

I can use the laptop for doing very basic things like checking my email (GMail usually takes a minute or two to load every page), but everything else is painfully slow (it took me 30 minutes to respond to 8 comments on my blog!). The isolation, remoteness, never ending heat, and constant sweat have all made me shy away from using my laptop to write, however I have been taking my camera with me.

After getting such an awesome response on my first video blog, I've started making a lot more video clips (thank you to everyone who commented!). Unfortunately, the dial-up connection here on the farm means I have to go into town to upload anything, but if you can be patient, I can assure you that the clips are awesome!

Staying on the farm alone makes me feel like I'm on a remote island somewhere -- or like I'm on one of those TV shows, Survivor or LOST(I haven't watched a single episode of either, so I'm only guessing). The view here is incredible and I'm surrounded by mountains and jungle. The locals have seen tigers and elephants nearby and there are so many different types of tropical birds with incredible colors and songs.

There are some other really cool things about this place, but I don't want to spoil the surprise. The videos will tell all!

I'm planning to head into town at some point this week, so you can expect videos and pictures soon! Until then, if you have any questions, please don't hesitate to contact me (I love getting email and comments!).

To Video Blog or Not To Video Blog?

Note to RSS & E-Mail readers: You may need to visit the site to watch the embedded video.

This is my first "video blog post" from Bangalore, India. I'm thinking of mixing my writing with one or two video blog posts per week. The video would allow me to give everyone a better perspective of the places I visit. Maybe I could even shoot other videos and then compile them into mini-documentaries.

My writing and photos wouldn't go away -- the videos would just complement them and give me another way of reaching out to you, my wonderful my readers. 🙂

Thoughts? First impressions? Please leave feedback below!

My First Day in India

The plane landed in Bangalore India early in the morning. This was my first trip outside the United States and I had no idea what to expect when I arrived.

On the plane we had to fill out an Indian Customs card to give to the immigration officer when we arrived. It asked questions such as where I would be staying and whether or not I was bringing in any seeds, meat, or plants that might carry insects. This seemed like an important concern because before the plane took off from London's Heathrow airport, they also sprayed an insecticide throughout the cabin to kill any insects that might have stowed away on the passengers.

Upon exiting the plane, the first stop was the Indian Customs. I had built up all this unnecessary anxiety over not getting through customs and the immigration officer literally spent 15 seconds looking over my passport and then let me through. He didn't even ask me any questions!

As I exited the airport, the air smelled thick and humid, but cool (the sun hadn't risen yet). It first smelled of burning wood, then of human waste. Within a few minutes, the smells had mostly faded (I think my nose adjusted because I hardly smell anything anywhere now).

My friend had arranged for a driver to drive us to his house. My first impression of the driving was that they're all suicidal and crazy, and that they constantly use their horns to make others aware of that fact. They drive fast, really fast. I will never again think American drivers from any state are crazy.

As we approached the first intersection on the highway, I noticed the traffic light was red. But we didn't slow down. There were other vehicles approaching the intersection, but that didn't seem to matter. As we flew through the intersection my friend told me that there's an unwritten rule that red lights don't matter before 6:30am. Awesome. Continue reading