Thursday, July 4, 2013

The Dark Side Of Glastonbury

I'm still recovering from the incredible high that is Glastonbury. It has been only 4 days since Mumford and Sons took the Pyramid Stage and rocked the entire Worthy Farm, and only 3 hours since I finally cut my official entry wrist band. I know I've been gushing about how amazing it was - and rightly so, because it really was... but I feel like I also need to be authentic, and fess up about the not-so-pleasant experiences we had to endure during the trip. So just in case my other post inspired you to get those tickets for Glastonbury 2014, this post will set your expectations. It's not all peace-love-and-fun. Most of it is. But not all.

Here it is. The real deal.


My friends and I drove from Cardiff to Glastonbury using 2 cars. We woke up at 4am, got out of the house by 5, and arrived at the parking lot before 7. Thousands of cars were already there (these were people who camped out outside of the farm the night before to secure a good parking space), and the queue to enter the grounds were already painfully long. Everyone had backpacks and trolleys filled with crates and crates of booze (you're allowed to bring them in Glastonbury, but only cans. No glass allowed in the farm). Since the ground is rocky and uneven, one by one, we watched a number of those trolleys give in and break down as we were moving along in the queue. The distance to get into the gates from our parking lot was about a mile and a half or so, and we spent about 3 hours in the queue before getting in. GRUELING! 


I got this photo from Nomad Travel. I couldn't take a photo myself because anytime I went near any toilet facility, I had to hold my nose with one hand, and hold baby wipes on the other.
Inside the stalls of these communal toilets, you will find - basically just a toilet seat, hammered on top of a hole that reveals a huge underground, er, space,  occupied by human waste in every shape, color, or form. The stench really was unbearable. I made the mistake of looking down on my first visit to the toilet. Never did it again after that. It was traumatic.

As a female, I quickly learned to master the art of squatting and hovering over the toilet seat. Although, I have to say, by the 5th day of walking for miles on end, when my limbs were sore and muscles giving in, squatting became more of a challenge. My thigh muscles started quivering, and peeing became a chore.
On the bright side... my friends discovered a "Posh Toilet" which was a 15 minute walk from our camp site! This "Posh Toilet" (and yes, the capitalization is on purpose) actually uses real toilets (as opposed to a hole) with water for flushing! They're clean, you can sit down properly, and it didn't stink. And that, is where my friends and I did our dirty business, ifyaknowwhatImean. ;)


Let's just say I baby-wiped myself to cleanliness.
There were only a few shower facilities in the farm, and the queues are always as long as a Space Mountain ride in Disneyland. Honestly... it's almost not worth it, wasting all that time in a queue when you've got a whole lotta festival to explore. So what if you're dirty? Everyone else is, too! At least that was the consolation thought in our group. :)
We weren't that bad though. We managed to shower once on our 4th day. It was the time of the day when everyone was out seeing acts in different stages and we didn't have anyone in particular we wanted to see... and the queues were short! They did run out of hot water though, so it was an icy cold shower... Which wasn't so bad because it was such a hot day! :)
Anyway, if my hair weren't down to my bum, I probably would have survived washing my hair in the sink like most of the other girls I saw... and I'd have lasted the 5 days with just the baby wipes. It is roughing it after all... Right?
The point is - if and when you go, just have this as an expectation... That you might not get a chance to shower as often.... and it's OKAY. Just bring baby wipes, change your underwear everyday, and bring dry shampoo or baby powder for your hair. Those things work like magic.
OR.. if you have the funds, you can always get your hair washed and dried for 30 quid at one of the beauty tents.


We were extremely lucky that we had great weather in Glastonbury this year. There is a reason why rain boots (wellies) are the festival's official App logo... It is because this festival is notorious for rains and floods. This is the UK after all...
This year, we had sunshine on 4 out of the 5 days. On the one day that it rained, it was challenging, to say the least. Just cause it's hard to do stuff when it's pouring, and wet, and cold, and muddy. We managed to do what we could in our wellies and rain gear, but it was harder to enjoy everything that the festival could offer.

Remember that the location is a farm. We were walking on the Earth. Soil. And when rain hits it, it turns to mud pretty quickly. So everything was just so icky.. and it makes you feel lazy... and dirty.. Ugh.
We managed to make the most out of it though, all of us cooped up in our tent, playing cards. It ended up being a fun night, but it would have been nicer to be outside running around.
I heard stories about the festival from years back, when it rained nonstop and the grounds got flooded. The tents that were set up in the lower areas were washed away. I shiver to think about what the toilet situation must have been then. Yikes.


I think considering the fact that we were all camping in there, you know, being one with nature and away from the hustle and bustle of the city, Glastonbury did a pretty good job in providing "Recharge Tents" for our phones and all our other techie gadgets. I brought an extra phone battery, a portable USB charger (fully charged), and I turned my phone off whenever I didn't need it. So I only really needed my phone charged once during the whole trip. It was my camera battery that I constantly worried about. What's the point of going on a trip like this without amazing photos to show for? :)

Obviously, just like everything else in Glastonbury, the queues for the recharge tents were insane... Another hassle wasting time in the queues. So if you are one of those people who wouldn't survive a day without Tweeting, Instagramming, Facebooking or texting, then this might pose as a challenge for you.. unless you're willing to sacrifice precious festival time queuing up. 


Depressed. I didn't want to leave.
ALL OF THAT plus roughing it in tents and walking miles and miles everyday from one performance stage to the next, and you have the full Glastonbury disclosure. Now, the big question is, knowing about all this... bad toilets, no shower, the hassle of getting in and the rain, etc... are you still willing to experience the best music festival in the world, have an absolute blast, and have the time of your life?

As for me? I would do it again in a heartbeat. :)