Sunday, March 3, 2013

Sleeping on the Go

Over 16,000ft
Catching some Z's is often hard to do while traveling, but sleep is very important to keep your body and mind healthy and alert. Sleeping in a new and unfamiliar place can be hard enough, add uncomfortable, too cold, too hot or to public to the picture falling asleep becomes very hard to do.

I have slept in many strange and uncomfortable places, its part of traveling. The longer you travel the easier it is to fall asleep no matter what, the main reasons being your super tired from all the activities you did during the day, the lack of sleep over time, and increasing your comfort level for different and unusual situations. To enlighten you I would like to write about the 10 craziest place I have slept:

1. Under Bush:
At the age of 11 my father took me on my second backpacking trip with some of his friends. Since they where much more fit than my dad and I they sped ahead with most of the gear. We were left behind with one of their wives, who had recently had a baby. We arrived at our meeting location close to dark, but our friends with all the gear where nowhere to be found. Since it was close to dark we could not walk out so we decided to stay the night. Since the lake was above the tree line there was not much shelter from the wind. We found a bush set out our sleeping pads, opened up the one sleeping bag we had and tried to sleep through the cold and windy night. To add the problem I had altitude sickness.

2. On a Rug Near Grandma
In India sleeping on rugs is very common, but for me with my memory foam mattress at home it was a new and exciting experience. One night while visiting my friend's family I slept next to this sweet older lady who must have been at least 90 yrs old. We shared a lovely rug in the living room. It was surprisingly much easier for her to fall asleep than me, go figure.

3. SPIDERS!!!!
If you don't know me yet, I an deathly afraid of spiders. One of my worst fears is waking up to one on my face. Well at the end of the Annapurna Circuit is the town called Tatopani. If you hate spiders then keep walking. I spent the night there with some friends I met on the trail. I got this lovely room near the hot springs. I sat on the bed writing on my journal when this coin sized spider fell onto my notebook I threw it against the wall. On the wall next to my journal sat a spider the size of my hand (for those who don't know my hand, the size of a baseball). I immediately had my friends come in and kill it. When they moved the bed away from the wall another one sat right below it. My friends succeeded at killing it. When I told my Spanish friends about how large the spiders where in my room they did not believe me. To help me go to sleep they helped me look through my room for other intruders. One girl pulled the curtains away and lo and behold another one. She chased after it with a shoe but it managed jump away. I had to then sleep in that room. I slept with my sleeping bag completely zipped with just my nose out, did I mention it was very hot in Tatopani, which is in the jungle.

4. Santiago Airport
Due to having to get the cheapest airline tickets, I sometimes book flights with inconvenient layovers and departure times. One so occasion was in the Santiago airport. After arriving from Patagonia, I had to wait overnight for my next flight. I checked my bag and found a quiet corner to lay out my sleeping bag. I woke up in the morning to the many passer-bys that where staring at me, the quiet hallway had turned into a bustling pathway for travelers and employees alike.

5. Fiddler (or should I say Cats) on the Roof
I look super excited
I was invited for a wedding in Varanasi, India by my friend Mudit. The whole family was there preparing for the wedding celebrations. In the middle of the summer, it was over 105F (40C) so to
escape the heat, we pulled up mattresses onto the roof to sleep. I laid next to my friends mom and dad. To add the the heat small kittens continuously ran over my feet throughout the night, but I still managed to fall asleep.

6. Below Freezing, Above the Clouds
I pulled on all my layers of cloths, wool thermal, two pairs of wool socks, and a fleece sweater before climbing into my -15F rated sleeping bag, and I was still cold. At over 16,000 ft (4870meters) with temperatures below freezing its often hard to stay warm on the Annapurna Circuit. Despite the cold and the altitude, after 20 km (12miles) of walking its not too hard to fall asleep.

7. Wind and Flying Tents
Patagonia is the furthest south you can go in Chile, its so close to Antarctica that I am sure if Sarah Palin was there she could see it. Patagonia is known for winds, check out my video below or click this link. One night it was so windy we were sitting in the lodge trying to dry off when we saw a tent fly by. Everyone was yelling out "anyone have a red tent?" When we went back out to sleep in our tent the wind sounded like a train, speeding towards us rustling the leaves, getting louder and louder.

8. Sleeper Class
The trains in India have four different classes of sleeper cars: First Class AC, Second Class AC, Third Class (which I had taken before) and Sleeper Class. Because there were no beds left in 3AC I decided to take the lowest class Sleeper Class. Being a solo girl it was a bit intimidating riding in sleeper class. The differences between 3AC and sleeper class are many. To start in sleeper class there is no privacy, 3AC has curtains dividing the bunks from the main hallway. In sleeper class people are just jumping on and sleeping anywhere including hallways, even without a ticket. In 3AC they give you blankets and pillows, in sleeper class you get nothing and sleep on the hard bunk beds. In 3AC there is air conditioning, which means its cool (sometimes too cold) compared to boiling temperatures outside.  In sleeper class there are dinky fans that push around hot air. On top of it being semi uncomfortable I had my valuables with me that I was sleeping on top of. Nice pillow right? I kept waking up every 20 mins checking to make sure all my bags where still there.

9. Semi Cama
As you might have concluded from the name if you speak Spanish, cama means bed. So semi-cama means semi-bed like. While traveling around South America you travel on double decker buses. You can either pick form cama, which are seats that recline all the way, or semi-cama, which are seats that recline halfway. Since semi-cama is cheaper, I decided to save money instead of sleep. For me its very difficult to sleep sitting up unless I am super tired, then I can sleep in almost any position. I am also a stomach sleeper, which is impossible to do in a semi-cama seat. To add to the semi-cama seats, they also played Hollywood movies dubbed in Spanish until very late at night, which are very distracting. On another note, try not to get a seat in the back of the bus near the toilet for obvious reasons.

Watching the monsoon, from the boat.
10.Waves, Thunder and Lightening
Maybe its not as bad as the Carnival cruise ship, Triumph, which was stranded in the Gulf of Mexico. In Sunderban jungle I stayed in a large boat, we explored the water ways looking for the infamous Bengal Tiger. Although we did not see a tiger, we did get stuck in the middle of the water during a monsoon on a small boat, although we made our way back to land as the sun was going down, our boat adventures did not end there. We spend the night in a wooden boat with candle lanterns swinging above out heads. Although it might have been bad for people who get sea sickness, waking up in the morning to be surrounded by the jungle and wildlife was amazing. The toilets did not back up, mainly b/c the waste went right into the water.

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