In India I feel famous. I somewhat expected that foreign people were common throughout India, so I wouldn't really be 'noticed' by locals however wherever I seem to go, school kids, ladies with babies, families, young boys want to take my photo. "Can I get a selfie with you?" seems to be the going phrase. Mostly it's a photo with them, but sometimes they just want to take one of me standing there. Sometimes I even catch them sneakingly taking a shot, mostly on the train. In the beginning it was strange, it made me uncomfortable but now I embrace it. I mean, I'm taking photos of them. They make me laugh 😂
Sooo after 6 weeks in India I can proclaim with much excitement my FAVOURITE food. Now all the food here is AMAZING, Especially Dahl and Aloo Gobhi BUT Masala dosa is my favourite dish. Often eaten at breakfast it is a light pancake filled with a spicy vegie curry and you dip it in a spicy sauce and coconut sauce. Then there is Jalebi. OMFG! This sweet is to die for. It is a deep fried flour mix, like a donut, dipped in sugar syrup. Like a crispy creme donut but BETTER. God, I'm going to miss this pace. #dietstartssoon
3 February 2017
We have left Kerala and caught a bus into Madurai, in the south state of Tamil Nadu. Very exciting local bus, packed to the brim and with Indian music blaring. The Meenakshi Amman Temple towers over Madurai and it is a pilgrimage site. It is beautifully covered in bright carvings of Hindu gods and it was lovely walking around watching the Hindus pray. They often bob up and down and pull their ears as that is meant to open their mind. It was quite spiritual and moving.
1 February 2017
Went to a Kathakali Indian dance in Kochi, Kerala. It's a "story play" genre of art, with actors wearing elaborate, colorful costumes and face masks. There is no dialogue, just lots of noises, facial expression and gesture.
29 January 2017
Kochi, Kerala .. a really interesting city with a mix of giant fishing nets from China, a 400-year-old synagogue, ancient mosques, Portuguese houses and crumbling remains of the British Raj.
The Kerela backwaters are a vast network of waterways and canals full of boats and villages. We caught a boat for a few hours up the waterways from Alleppy to a beautiful
Homestay called Ayans's Pampatheeram. This has been a highlight of the whole trip, No wifi. Just relaxing in a hammock reading a book. Last night we went for a walk and caught a boat around our accommodation. A storm set in and it was beautiful to watch. Today we spent a few hours cruising along the backwaters in a houseboat, enjoying the sun and amazing curries and fish for lunch. (Still not sick of it).
28 January 2017
There is a tradition across the Middle East including India where women apply kohl to their babies eyes. It is thought to ward off the evil eye and bad spirits
26 January 2017
Kerala - the State of coconuts. I was tossing up whether or not to visit south India and I am soooo glad I did. The North and South of India are as different as Cairns and Hobart. In fact, probably even more different. The landscape is Arabian Sea coastline, beaches and networks of beautiful fresh back waters that are covered in palm trees and 🌴 The curries here are lighter, with coconut in pretty much everything. And the seafood is so delicious and cheap. I flew into the capital Trivandrum, and then caught a bus to a gorgeous beach side town called Varkala. It's such a nice change, from the busy, hustling, noisy North. I am spending my time down here relaxing on the beach and reading. Kerala is technically a dry State, but it has been pretty easy to find beer due to the amount of tourists. The government says they are going to stamp out all bars by 2020.
23 January 2017
Sweet, sugary masala chai. I have drank litres and litres of the stuff over the past few weeks. In the absence of alcohol (I can count on one hand how many drinks I've had this year) and real coffee, I've become hooked on tea. Masala chai is basically spiced tea with cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, ginger and pepper and is brewed with milk, rather than water. I love it with honey. It is quite a traditional, social drink and everywhere you go you'll be offered a cup. Even in shops as you look around. You can buy small 100ml cups of it at the train station for 10 rupees, which is 20c. I am sitting here in a beautiful garden cafe away from the busy street sipping on a cup of it right now 😀
22 January 2017
Agra. What can I say? The Taj Mahal is one is the most grand, beautiful monuments ever built. I might even say it's the most beautiful building I have ever seen. It was quite moving to stand there in front of it. It's made of marble and thousands of precious and semi precious stones in beautiful patterns. It is perfectly symmetrical. Built in 1631 by Shah Jahan, it was a memorial for his third wife who died giving birth to their 14th child. In 1666 he was buried there with his wife. Despite it being so grand, inside sits only their two tombs.
Varanasi is one of the worlds oldest continually inhabited cities and one of Hinduism's seven holy cities where pilgrims come to bathe in the Ganges River. It is lined with steps called Ghats for kilometres and people wash there, apparently washing away their life's sins in the sacred water. Hindu people often come here to die as they get cremated on the banks of the river, and their ashes are washed away into the water. It is said to ensure liberation from the cycle of life and death (reincarnation).
We took a river cruise last night along the Ganges, watching the nightly ceremony on the shore and the burning of bodies. Quite beautiful and strange. We had a flower 🌺 ceremony where we prayed and made wishes to the Hindu gods by putting flowers in the river. I had a bit of a splash of the Ganges water (yep dead people are floating in there). Hopefully all of my dreams come true 😀
21 January 2017
We were meant to stay a second day in Agra to go to the Red Fort and have more of a look around but our overnight train was running 16 hours late, meaning it was going to be difficult to get to Varanasi. We decided instead to pay to get a private bus to drive us the 10 hours instead. It was like a mini bus, which we shared with a group in the same position as us. Well, we arrived in Varanasi 15 hours later after a shit load of traffic and a flat tire. It was a day of eating nuts, Naan bread and dry biscuits. Fun fun! I'm sooo exhausted 😩
18 January 2017
Abhaneri is a lovely little rural Rajasthan town between Jaipur and Agra. It's a pretty modest town where men tend to go to the cities for work and universities while women stay at home to look after the family. This has resulted in the men getting around in very modern, fashionable clothing but the women still wearing very traditional clothing, with their whole body covered, often including a full face veil. We visited this city to see the Chand Baori step wells, which was created to harvest rain water. The are simply beautiful and are about to be listed as a World Heritage sight. I wonder what will happen to the town when it does. In India, when someone gets married the whole town is invited. The family paint the wedding details on the front of their house for everyone to see. We stayed in a newly built hotel/resort and we were the very first visitors to stay there. It was the best service (and shower) I've had in India.
17 January 2017
Last of the main stops in Rajasthan - Jaipur. Has a population of about 3 million and is known as the Pink City. It's called the Pink City and the Maharaja had the Old city painted pink (colour of hospitality) in the 19th century to welcome the Prince of Wales. At the centre of town is the City Palace. We visited the original capital city, Amber, about 11km North where a magnificent Amber Fort built in 1562 dominates the hillside.
Last night we went to the Raj Mandir theatre to watch the Bollywood movie Dangal. 🎬💃It is Hindi, and went for almost three hours. It was awesome and I was enthralled. It is about the Indian girl who won Gold at the 2010 Dehli Commonwealth Games for wrestling. Worth watching (perhaps with subtitles).
..... and today I bought a sapphire. 💎
16 January 2017
Tuk tuks, motor bikes, push bikes, buses, trains, taxis, horses and camels. 🚌 🚴🏻 🐫 🏍 All ways to get around India. India is by far the busiest, noisiest country I have ever visited. There are very few lanes and traffic lights and vehicles just seem to glide between each other like they're reading each other's minds. But the constant honking of horns for what often seems like no apparent reason drives me crazy. People just keep their hand on their horn all the time. There are no footpaths so pedestrians just have to work their way through the chaos. It's kind of thrilling 😀. There have been numerous times where I honestly thought we'd have an accident and I'd die. It's SCARY
14 January 2017
Pushkar is a Hindu pilgrimage town, where devout Hindus should visit at least once in their life. The town sits on a holy lake with 52 bathing ghats, where people bathe for some spiritual reason. Gandi's ashes were sprinkled at one of them. I personally wouldn't go anywhere near the water it as it is filled with litter and algae. Trance music (for some weird reason) blasts from speakers around the lake. Maybe for all the die hard hippies getting around. To be honest, it wasn't difficult to get wrapped up in the chilled out, spiritual, alternative vibe and I might have gotten around town myself with my unwashed hair, bangles, harem pants and Birkenstocks. Meat and alcohol are strictly prohibited. Lucky we were able to purchase a sneaky illegal bottle of red for dinner. My mate Bob and his wife got a beer served in a teapot 😆
13 January 2017
Every town that I visit in Rajasthan, gets more and more beautiful and interesting. Udipur is on Lake Pichola, with beautiful palaces, temples, and narrow, hidden away streets with shops, restaurants ..... and, you guessed it, cows!!!! 😀🐂
Udipur has been tagged the most romantic city in India, and I'd have to agree. However, the narrow roads, which were made for people and donkeys are now filtered with scooters, bikes and tuk tuks, honking their horns, it is somewhat chaotic and crazy!!! We had three days here, so had some time to shop, read and relax. We took a long lovely boat cruise on the lake to watch the sunset.
12 January 2017
I have always been a lover of Indian food, but India Indian food is to die for. 😋 I thought by week two, I'd be a little sick of curry for breakfast, lunch and dinner but I can't get enough. Most of the food up north is Vegetarian but the flavours used in each dish makes you not even notice or miss meat. My favourite is the Thali, which is a plate of a variety of curries with a bread and rice and I'm loving byriani, which is a spicy rice dish and Dahl, a lentil dish.
I did a cooking class today and learnt how to make a base Masala sauce and then make different variations of the sauce to make a huge range of curries. I also learnt how to make different breads.
I feel an Indian dinner party coming on 🎉😁
Holy Cow! They are everywhere! In Hinduism the cow is sacred as they respect most natural life and things that come from the earth. Cows and bulls here are so so gentle here and just wander the streets calmly walking in front of buses and lying on the road. Indians rely on them as a source of diary products and they use their poo as fuel for their fire and fertiliser. Many Hindu's are vegetarians and it is illegal to slaughter cows, possess or even eat beef in many parts of India and Nepal.
So THIS is my daily coffee fix 🙄 #needexpresso #nescafesux
10 January 2017
Jodhpur - another beautiful city in Rajasthan with a majestic 18th century fort towering over it. Referred to as the Blue City, it is scattered with beautiful blue houses, traditionally signified a Brahmin homes. Brahmins are one of the higher of the caste families and were spiritual people. We spent time walking through the Mehrangarh fort and the Sardar market. We took a day tour out to the villages, and visited the homes of people who do tapestry and pottery and then had lunch at one of the villages.
8 January 2017
Cold showers, CoLd SHoWeRs, COLd sHowERS, COLD COLD COLD FUCKING SHOWERS ❄️💦❄️💦❄️💦😳
I have been in India 12 days and I have had one warm shower and one hot shower. The rest have been frickin COLD. The only way I can manage to bear it, is to fill a bucket with water and splash it on the essential parts.
Jaisalmer - a former medieval trading city in the heart of the Thar Desert. Known as the "Golden City"
it's distinguished by its yellow sandstone architecture. Dominating the skyline is Jaisalmer Fort, which contains numerous shops, residence and guest houses. We are staying within the fort and our guesthouse looks down on the beautiful city. From our rooftop you can see kids
flying kites, high high in the sky, like the book the Kite Runner. They glue finely ground glass to the string of the kite and fight their kites and try to cut each other's out of the sky. People then run around the streets, looking for the kite to keep.
We have done a city walking tour and visited the Maharaja's Palace and beautifully carved Jain temples within the fort. I bought a really lovely rug for my bedroom which I'm getting shipped home. Today we bought the most delicious samosa's I have ever eaten, and walked down to the lake to have them for lunch. ☀😀🇮🇳
7 January 2017
Experienced a bit of camel toe today and I liked it. Arrived in Jaisalmer at around midday yesterday. It is a gorgeous ancient city, with buildings that come from the cliffs, a golden sandy colour.
Had a quick, cold shower and a change of clothes and then got on the road to our camel safari. After a 45 minute jeep ride we got on our camels and head into the Thar desert. My camels name was Julian 😀🐫. It was a bumpy but fun ride into the desert. Once we arrived, we watched the sunset over the dunes and had an amazing Indian dinner. After some campsite activities, we head to bed pretty early (not much to do in the middle of the desert with no electricity and running out of fire wood). We slept under the stars and it got down to about 3C. It was warm with my thermals, four layers of clothes, a sleeping bag and two thick blankets. We woke up to fog so thick you couldn't see a metre ahead. After some Chai tea to warm us up we head back to town on our camels.
6 January 2017
Not knowing what day of the week it is, is the sign of a great holiday. I woke up today at about 8am on a train travelling across Rajasthan. Departed Dehli at 6pm last night to travel 20 hours across the state to the city Jaisalmer, near the border of Pakistan. The terrain outside the train window is sparse, flat desert with little of anything else. Some cows, camels and boars here and there. The train trip has been an experience, with it packed with locals travelling to different parts of the state. They train doesn't have cabins as such, rather two long bench seats/beds across from each other with two shelves/beds above about 60cm apart, totalling six beds in a compartment. Despite the lack of space, a man trying to steal my pillow and the orchestra of local snoring, I managed to sleep well. I befriended some local kids who are teaching me all types off card games and magic tricks.
5 January 2017
Short stop in Delhi. It's noisy, dirty, busy, friendly and exciting. I'm staying in New Delhi, which is the newer part of town with lots of shops and restaurants. We caught the metro to Old Delhi, which was an experience in itself. Old Delhi is hundreds of year old and has lots of little market bazar's and alley ways. Visited the largest mosque in India and a Sheikh temple. It was a festival there today and the Deputy prime minister of India was there, so a lot of media. At this temple, through volunteers and donations they feed 25,000 people a meal a day. It doesn't matter your religion, all are welcome to visit and eat. Everyone is expected to volunteer there at least once a year and you can often find politicians and millionaires, serving the Delhi community. It was pretty inspiring ❤️
About to board a 19 hour train to Jaisalmer 🚂💨💨
3 January 2017
South Goa - a serene, tropical paradise. I am sad that I only got a chance to spend two nights here, but thankful that we decided to ditch the hectic North, to have even this short stay. Palolem beach is quiet and calm and I feel so much more relaxed while I sit here sipping my fresh juice. Kate and I are are staying at an awesome beach shack where the sound of the ocean keeps you up at night. I've spent the days walking along the beach, swimming, sunning and reading.... and eating curry Tomorrow is flight number 5 - off to Dehli to start my 37 day tour 😀
1 January 2017
How to break a $2000 rupee note? Story of our life! The money situation in India hasn't been as bad as I first thought but it has still been a pain in the arse. The Indian government banned all of their old 500 and 1000 notes late November and replaced them with new 500 and 2000 notes. This was to stamp out corruption and black market cash. It has created a bit of chaos with getting your hands on the new money, which is their largest currency. First of all, you can only get $2000 at a time from an ATM, which is equivalent to $40 AUD. ATM's are also hard to find. Then it's hard to find a business that will take a $2000 note as payment, including taxi's and high end restaurants. It feels like every time you pay for something, you're worried about how much money you'll have left before you have to go through it all again.
31 December 2016
Happy New Year. Goa had been great!!! We have been staying in Baga beach, which is in the North. It has been fun but absolutely chaotic. This is one of the places that Indian tourists come to visit for their holidays, so the place is really really crowded. I've never experienced anything like it. 1000's of people on the beach at 10am, drinking and swimming (in their underwear 😀). By evening there are 10's of thousands, very very drunk people. It is 5km stretch of beach up to Calangute, all beach clubs playing Goan trance. Feeling a bit old for it to be honest. We decided to get away to a quieter beach, called little Vagator beach for NYE. It was pretty low key. Tomorrow we head to Palolem, in the south, before we fly to Dehli and I start my Intrepid tour. Having a ball!
29 December 2016
Goa - Day 2. Started the day early (still have some jet lag) with a delicious Nescafé coffee 😏 and eggs. Can't yet stomach curry for breakfast. Befriended a nice Indian driver who drove as to some sites. Absolutely loved driving around, having to stop to let the cows cross the road. We Drove out to Chapora Fort, located in Bardez, which rises above the Chapora River. It is a Portuguese fort built around the late 1600's and has a stunning view of Vagator beach. Had some beers on the beach and watched the sunset and then went to Big Fish restaurant for a Goan Fish curry. It was delicious and soooooo HOT (these guys were calling it mild). Not looking forward to the repercussions tomorrow 😱
28 December 2016
Day One - Goa. Arrived early this morning and had to kill some time before being able to check into our accomodation. We had a walk around and then went to Baga beach for our very first curry and beer (at 9am) -Indian Curry is AMAZING. It is such a gorgeous weather, about 30C. Once we checked in we crashed for a couple a couple hours, then head back down to the beach for sunset and a delicious tandoori chicken dinner. Now back to the accom at ready to bed at 9pm (cos it's 2am home time). 😴
28 hours since I left Melbourne and we have arrived in Mumbai, India. The journey has been long, but exciting. Business class flights from Melbourne to Sydney, Premium Economy to Hong Kong, then some spare seats on our flight to Mumbai, so lots of room. Now sitting here at 4am having coffee, waiting for our flight to Goa. Mumbai airport is actually pretty impressive. We'll likely get to our accommodation around 9am today. Then one week chillin on the beach in Goa #bringiton #NYEgoa ✈🌎🇮🇳😁☕️