Meeting Ghandi and Praha – Friday, September 01, 2006

Sep 2nd. i took the train from Munich to Prague last week and stayed there for 4 days.Looking back, it feels already like many months ago…

Pictures so far are posted here….


warning,, all jumbled, unedited. sorry for the many duplicates.

The train ride was relaxed, but I have brought too much stuff already {3 backpacks – front, back, side and then 2 tennis rackets.)… so walking with that much stuff is rather like a goose who has layed too many eggs… there is stuff everywhere.

From Munich to Prague, it appeared that 2 other people (older Brazilians) with myself were travelling from M to P. And we managed to miss the connecting trains, so had to be re-routed through various stops. Half way into the Czech republic, in a small town called Plzen, i ran into about 6 backpackers. It seems that eighty percent of backpackers are always from the same countries: England, Australia, Canada, Japan, Brazil, Germans, sometimes French.

Except for 1 Belgian, this group fit that description pretty well….

It is always amazing to me, how well-travelled and through-only speaking English, many people from the commonwealth get around… I admire the Mormons and a small minority of travellers in this sense, they will always study the language of the country they are in. That seems to me the best way to be…

These guys hadn’t showered for 1 week, from camping in Hungary…. I am kind of immune to smell, so I approached them. Their “leader” was an half-indian Aussie, who had the hair and look of Ghandi, and south-african accent of Ghandi, had been travelling for one and half years. The rest, some 6 months, some 3 months, and some 2 weeks for this festival in Hungary alone…

Everyones story was soo different. The Belgian has never really worked before, and was on a weekend trip. The 2 Brazillian dudes, were living in Japan working in a camera factory, and had been saving up for 1 1/2 years for this. An English girl from some small town south of London, and her friend, with the thickest east London accent, and billingual in a equally thick Normandy accent…

‘Gandhi’ who i sense was the most travelled of all, had been up and down up and down many times over. Saving at desk job in Melbourne, then Picking fruit, Bartending etc..

Not because of the ups-and-downs, but because of the wisdom that is naturally accrued over many events, by many cycles,, a stoicism… Gandhi, truly was like Gandhi..

We ended up heading to the central area of Prague upon arrival. Where surprising, many places were closed for the night. There are surprising few places open at night in Prague after about 9pm. I think this is a throwback to how things must of been under communist rule..

There are also, surprisingly very many chinese people in Prague! many. more than you would imagine. More than a place like Victoria BC. They are mostly from mainland…. We found the chinese restaurant that was open late and that was were I heard of those stories about each of them.

We ended up checking in to the Czech Inn, :) – which is likely the swankiest hostel I think I have yet been.

The Czech Republic has been traditionally cheap but is undergoing a large shift, from Communist state to Western Europe tourist destination, and many of excesses of tourism can be readily seen, especially in the ‘old town’ which is the tourist quarter… Prague is an extreme of either old communism, a rising eastern european nation, and tourist mecca… (in fact there is a dance club called Mecca there!). A bit schizophrenic in this manner.

I stayed for four days, and became local quite quickly. finding the cheapest internet, and food, short cuts around the metro quite fast, learning the local dishes, and speaking a bit more Czech than the average tourist, (There are tons of Polish people in Mississauga, where i grew up, and Czech is very close to Polish).

,,,, The country reminds me of Malaysia… it is an economic tiger leaving behind a past, nearly the whole country is learning english at a quick pace, 2-3 years for most. Everyone is thinking business. A knowledge of english represents prosperity, and is required for most but not all high paying jobs in Cz.

Like in Malaysia, I tried to stay away from the monolinguals, and tried to speak czech if it was easy, and tried to hang out in non-tourist places. Ghandiman, introduced me to many of the workers at the hostel, we exchanged stories with the Czech workers ,,, that is the best. when you really learn stuff.

,,,, I think Prague is a bit too touristy now, it is very difficult to see Prague before Starbucks has arrived, and they have already….. I think some of the other smaller towns would have been nicer, but regret not having time to see them.. You see from travelling that people are the same everywhere.

Bye for now’ — next — news from Berlin.

best, Dobrou noc – Alwin

posted by alwinian at 1:11 AM