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India

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Getting Around India: Your Extensive Transport Guide

When I left for India, I had all these images in my mind of people sitting on top of trains, hanging out of buses, and piling in to cars – navigating that as a tourist sounded like a nightmare I wasn’t prepared to face, so it was a huge surprise to get there and realise that getting around India is actually pretty easy.

India Travel Guide

Whether you want to lay on a beach and forget about the world in Goa, explore the wonders of Kerala in a house boat, experience a first-class tour through the deserts of Rajasthan, motorbike around hundreds of temples in Hampi or rough it backpacker-style through the south – India has you covered.

Kep In April: Think Cold Thoughts

I’m sitting in a cafe in Kep (southern Cambodia) and I’ve honestly never been so hot in my entire life. I’m boiling just sitting here, doing nothing. I want to melt. Cold drinks are warm in five-minutes, ice melts in two, and you’re hot again in one. It’s inescapable. Kep in April is kind of horrible. So to console myself, I’ve decided to post about some of the coldest places we’ve been so far: Nepal. Chris seemed to have this idyllic notion that we’d step across the border from India to Nepal, and birds would instantaneously start chirping amid a picturesque backdrop of snow-capped mountains, prayer flags, butterflies, and fawns. So we got our Nepalese visas and hovered on the Indian side of the border, prepared for the scene to majestically transform from its dusty, loud, uninviting, garbage-laden façade in to a vision of beauty in a Narnia-esque kind…

Trains In India: Living The Unreserved Dream

I think our lowest point was on the way to Kolkata from Darjeeling. We booked beds on the train in one of the nicer classes (AC3) for the 13-hour overnight journey (find out how to book trains here). We were number eight and nine on the waiting list, which isn’t as bad a plan as it sounds.

Holi Festival In India

Something that’s really surprised me over my time in India is that Indian men will not swear or talk about the thing that happens when men and women hug each other in a very special way, in front of women. Often people will look at Chris when a swear word or something to do with sex is about to be mentioned and say “I can’t say it in front of her, but, you know…”, and sometimes when we’re in temples, I’m told to go elsewhere while the guide shows Chris ‘man carvings’. So the other day when we were being relentlessly followed and questioned by a hotel tout while carrying huge bags in Kathmandu, he got quite a shock when, in all my exhaustion-derived frustration, yelled: ‘The answer is no!” And swore. Not at him, just in general, out of frustration. It actually shut him up for a minute,…

Food, Pilgrims, And A Golden Temple

One of the central reasons anyone should come to India is for the food. It’s rich, creamy, spiced, and complex – Indian food is like nothing else on Earth, and you haven’t tried it until you’ve eaten it in India. Someone said to me ‘Indians love sugar and spice’, and it’s absolutely true. When ordering coffee, I’ve had to start asking for sugar on the side because I literally cannot fathom how or why you would/could put that much sugar in a single cup of coffee. The desserts are basically cardamom and turmeric-infused lumps of sugar – both amazing, and mind-blowingly sweet. Gulab Jamun (one of their national desserts) is a sugar/curd ball that is both deep-fried in, and served with, sugar syrup. They don’t care about waistlines, cholesterol, or portion control, here it’s all about the taste, and if that means putting a lump of ghee in with…

Camel Safaris In Rajasthan

If you ever go to India, Rajasthan is where you want to be. It’s vibrant, colourful, and totally absorbing with bright textiles, sunshine, smiles, and coffee lining the streets. The abundance of rooftop cafes, beautiful hotels, food, and markets will have you transfixed, and if that isn’t enough, the amount of ancient temples and palaces is almost enough to make you want to abandon your plans and live there for the rest of your trip. While Udaipur was my favourite place because it’s so unique and great and I just loved it, the rest of Rajasthan has also been unforgettable. Over the last week we’ve gone from jumping around the monkey-infested ruins of Bundi Palace channeling Mogali, seeing the Ghats of Pushkar, and taking a tour around Jodhpur’s incredible Mehrangarh fort (often described as the most magnificent in India), to drinking the world famous Makhaniya lassi at the…

Backpacking India: What I Did In Three Weeks

Three weeks backpacking India… Aaaand… GO! From Kanyakumari we finally moved out of Tamil Nadu and in to Kerala: the land of many beaches. The beaches are picturesque, the beer is flowing, the water is warm, and that all would have been great if I wasn’t sick, but it was great nonetheless. We stayed there for two-days sipping juice in this massive (massively cheap) two-room apartment, staring at the beach while eating fish, before catching the bus to Alleppey: houseboat land. A valid attempt to get on a houseboat was made, but at the end of the day it was 6,000 rupees for one night on a boat, or 6,000 rupees for six-nights elsewhere, so after speaking to some French tourists at our hotel (Cherukara Nest: I highly recommend it), we did a canoe tour of the famed Kerala backwaters instead, which is organised by Cherukara Nest. The tour…

Kanyakumari: The Seas At The Edge Of India

After realising trains from Madurai to Kanyakumari only left at ridiculous hours of the morning, we visited Madurai’s famous Meenakshi Amman Temple at 8pm the night before we left. It was beautifully-carved, with tiny rooms and alcoves where miniature deities stood decorated in fabric and trinkets, with Hindu’s gathering around each one to give offerings and worship their gods. It’s been kind of amazing to see just how many Indian tourists are in Tamil Nadu – they come from miles around, with school groups or families, to see these ancient structures and pay tribute. Because they tend to travel for religious reasons, whenever we tell an Indian person we’re visiting their country for the sake of tourism, they generally don’t understand. “Why did you come to India?” “We’re interested n exploring the country.” “But why did you come?” “Tourism, that kind of thing.” “Do you study here?” “No.” “You don’t study here?”…

Kodaikanal: Sick In India

It’s day 12 and I’m lying on a bed in a small hotel in Madurai surrounded by juice, muesli bars, and canned fruit, fighting the urge to throw up. Again. I feel as though this was inevitable, but I didn’t think it would happen this soon…it leaves a whole 14-weeks for it to happen again. Well, damn. Chris was violently ill two-days ago, and we did think it was lunch in Kodaikanal (this sweet yogurt thing we accidentally ordered), but since I now seem to have the exact same thing, we’re thinking it was the school children we met later that day. We’d decided to go sightseeing around Kodaikanal and went to this one lookout that was supposed to be particularly impressive. The second we got there we were surrounded by these kids (age 12?) on a class trip from Kerala, and they were fascinated by us. Overtly…