- Farewell to Mishalli and Nishma – First stop was to meet the other three, who were staying at Raju’s House. I was 7 days behind them due to waiting on my India visa in Nepal. Raju kindly let us all stay at his place; he let us use his driver and took us out to many places to eat. We went out to some clubs with the girls and Raju and his sons. We started at his sisters house, which initially we thought was an underground club as it had a bar, dance floor and clubby feel to it in the basement of the house. Raju took us to the top clubs that night in Delhi.
- The dirtiness of Delhi – I was shocked to see how polluted and dirty Delhi is. I’ve been to Goa before which is a little cleaner, but my ohh myy, there is rubbish everywhere, bad smells of sewage and too many people.
- Division of Rich and Poor – It’s amazing to physically see the massive gap between rich and poor. We went to a shopping centre to get a few things. So the signs at the front of the shopping centre are for brands such as Luis Vuitton, Prada and Gucci… just across the road you have men, women and small kids wearing clothes that looked completely worn out and people sleeping on the road and eating disgusting looking food. Just unbelievable the difference you see, kind of sad to see actually. What must go through the minds of the poor people when they are seeing others coming out with handfuls of bags from these high end shops.
- Delhi Traffic – Traffic in Delhi is the worse I’ve ever seen. Even on a random midweek afternoon, it’s just ridiculously packed full of cars. There are road markings for lanes painted, however no one takes notice of this and it’s a first come first serve basis, you find a gap, you take it. Somehow it works for them. Though I did see one car hit another car, the guy gets out, has a look at the dent and just nods his head, gets back in and continues on. Now if this was in the UK, I’m sure a big fight and scene would have broken out if that had happened, but this is India, people just carry on.
- Veron’s cousin’s house – Verons’ cousin, aunt and uncle live here, so we took a stop to visit them. They made us some homemade food, Veron’s favourite of Punjabi Parotha. In Punjabi culture, they will feed you until you are full twice over. But it was nice to be in a family house. We took a train to get here that also provided food, the train ride was actually pretty god for being India.
- Meeting Veron’s Dad – Veron’s dad was joining us for around ten days touring across northern India, especially as he is from here, he knew exactly where to go and what to see.
- Street Barber – Whilst waiting for bus, across the street we saw some guy had set up a chair and was giving another guy a wet shave in the middle of the street. Only in India!
- Bus to Shimla with Happy Singh – This bus journey took around 5 hours and the driver was just bombing it there around the windy roads in Himachal Pradesh. He had his Punjabi music on and was the happiest driver I’ve ever seen. Smiling away the whole time just enjoying the ride.
- Sunset over Himalayas – We walked around Shimla and watched the sunset over the Himalayas then went for a butter chicken local curry overlooking the town.
- Rat ate my Crisps – the three of us stayed in this hotel, it was quite cold in Shimla, albeit us just coming from Everest Base Camp, we was expecting high temperatures. So in this room, the three of us, Veron mentioned he saw a rat but we didn’t believe him. So at about 3 in the morning, I had these lovely India Magic Masala Crisps in my bag which on carefully placed on top of a table. I wake up to the sound of rustling in my bag. I was on a top bunk so, turned my flashlight on to see what the noise is. I see something moving around in my bag and then suddenly this Rat pops its head out of my bag with a bit of crisp in its mouth, then runs off. I couldn’t believe it. I just left it and decided to go back to sleep. The next morning I see that the rat has ripped through the crisp packet and made a mess in my bag. Note to never store any type of food in bag in India.
- Local Food – There were many local places to get chicken and fish, coated in masala so we opted to give these small places a try as the food looked pretty good even though the restaurants, if that’s what you can call them, or shacks, looked dodgy. The food was delicious with all the marinated spices.
- Bad stomach – so looks like the above local food took its toll on me and I fell ill with a very bad stomach. I’m assuming the poor choice of eating meat in India became to show and take its toll on my tummy. For 6 days I think I ate 4 apples, 4 oranges, a few packs of haribo and coke and water. I definitely had nothing else left in my body to pass through me. Veron and his dad were fine, they were even drinking the local tap water, in which every place we went to I asked for a bottle of mineral water, feeling like the odd one out. But who the hell drinks tap water in India?
- The Three Himachals – traditional dressing of Himachal people.
- Tea fields – we wondered around the tea fields on the way to a temple.
- Temple – A religious temple we visited and got blessed at. Can’t say I know too much about what went on as it was in Hindi.
- Cricket Ground – We decided to wonder around the cricket ground of Dharamsala. It would have been ideal to see a game but we didn’t have enough time to stay.
- Dalai Lama temple – This is the temple where the Dalai Lama is based on top of a mountain. He used to worship here for a long time and this is known as his original base.
- Rafting in Rishikesh – We got on a bus for 8 hours to go rafting in Rishikesh down the Ganges for a day. Considering Rishikesh is my brother’s name, I had to visit this place. So the rafting was pretty awesome, only I, Veron and the rafting guide. The scenery was spectacular, definitely worth a visit.
- Haridwar – This is where people go to bathe in the Ganges to get rid of their sins. It’s a very fast flowing, iced cold river that you get inside and dunk your head a few times.
- Bus breakdown – so the bus had a problem with the door and couldn’t open or close properly. It seemed to need welding together. So the bus driver pulls over to this small shack along the way, and for what I could see was about 50p, this guy pulls out a welding iron and just gets to work whilst half of us are sitting on the bus. Sparks and fumes just floating around the bus and 10 minutes later, job done and the bus continues on. Safety of passengers, welder or bus? Far off.
- Golden Temple – The Golden temple is like a floating temple in Punjab. It’s a marbled out temple with a surrounding of water so it looks like the temple in the middle is floating. At night time it is light up spectacularly. A wonderful place to visit and has a very holy feel to it. Many locals were washing themselves in the water but we just washed our feet.
- Verons Dads growing up place – Verons dad wanted to show us around where he grew up and told us many stories of his childhood, he hadn’t been back for a long while so you could tell he was reminiscing about the good times.
- Verons grandfather’s house – we went to visit Veron’s grandfather’s house which was cool. He was a happy man, exactly like Veron’s dad.
- Taj Mahal – We arrived for sunset at the Taj Mahal. As Veron’s Granddad had contacts, we went in with his cousins to the Taj for free. Slowly taking a few steps and suddenly the palace just towers out. SPEECHLESS!!! This was one of those moments where you can just stand still and take in the utter beauty of the Palace. The place is unbelievably stunning. Veron and his cousins were laughing at me saying I was about to cry, but I was just standing still taking in the sight. I guess him and his cousins had seen this a few times before. Sunset was beautiful.
- Red Fort – This was another place where we wondered around and took some photos in the blistering heat of Agra.
- Journey in an Army Truck – To get to Veron’s cousins place, a new mode of transport.. Army Truck!
- Verons Cousins – Verons cousins, Gavin and Roopal, showed us around Agra. They were awesome and very welcoming, like I gained an instant new brother and sister. Also his uncle and grandma were there and very welcoming too. We stayed at their place for a few days, eating homemade food prepared by Roopal. Much appreciated.
- Amazing Garden Guavas – At Verons cousin’s house, they had a Guava Tree. These are the best Guava’s I have ever tasted. Sweet, delicious and freshly picked from their tree. I think they thought I may have been a bit mad over them, but I love my fruit and they were just soo good.
- Army Paratroopers Anniversary – Veron’s grandfather was a paratrooper and I was a special anniversary for the paratroopers regiment in India, so they had put on a service of all the ex-army troopers jumping out of planes.
- Town of Princes and richness
- The Great Train Robbery – We foolishly turned up at the train station looking to buy a ticket in first class for the next train to Mumbai. No tickets being available, we took what there was with only 5 minutes to go before the last train departs. So we walk past about 10 carriages to the back of the train, with our big bags, and realise that there are people hanging off of the train door already. How were we going to get on this train, let alone fit our bags on. So we asked the conductor and he said to pay a little more and get onto the sleeper class, so we did, Little did we know this was jam packed too and all we paid for was to go onto the sleeper carriage and sit on the floor. This journey was going to be 18 hours overnight, how was we going to last! A lady and her son could see we were uncomfortable so offered for us to share their sleeper beds with them. She took us in like an Aunt, little did we know her agenda! She fed us food, she bought us Tea and Guavas on the journey. So I slept on the top bunk with her son and Veron slept on bottom bunk with her. So the next morning I had a half descent sleep, but I could see on Veron’s haunted face that he didn’t have the greatest night. So we got off the train and I said a BIG thanks to the Aunty who looked after us. I was confused as to why Veron wasn’t as appreciative. So once we get on the Rickshaw, Veron says to me “That women you are calling aunty and thanking tried to god damn rob me!!”. I was in shock!. So at 3.a.m Veron had his small bag with money and camera around him, and the aunty pulled the bag away from him (though luckily it had a neck strap so he felt it) and she unzipped all the pockets looking to take stuff. Veron grabbed his bag back and then slept with one eye open. I couldn’t believe it. The thieving aunty! And there was me thinking how nice the people were being to us, but she saw us a mile off, probably thinking these rich kids, let’s reel them in and take from them.
- Club Night – We hit a few clubs in Mumbai, one being in the hotel we stayed at. I think it was one of the top clubs in Mumbai. I was expecting a bit more from the club and it was a bit of a disappointment. I thought the UK clubs were bad for talking to people, my god half these Indians were stuck up as anything.
- Funny Indians dancing – I thought I was bad a dancing. A total and utter embarrassment!
- Meeting up with Parents – After 5 months of travelling, it was great for my parents to come out and travel with us for the next few weeks. Great to see them enjoying themselves before we caught up together.
- Sunset at Kochi Beach
- Backwaters of Kerala – Our resort had the backwaters on one side of the building and the other side was the beach. A lovely place.
- Driver and Vehicle for road trip – This was going to be our home for the next 10 days touring in on the long road trips between places in the southern part of India and also our lovely driver.
- Funny Kerala Show – A local Kerala show in which the performers wiggle their eyebrows, then wiggle their lips and their noses. I’m not sure if we’re supposed to be amazed at what they can do or what, but all of us for were laughing our heads off.
- In search of rare mountain goat hike – we went on this hike for about 2 hours to try and find a supposedly rare mountain goat. It was so rare that we didn’t see it.
- Unusual Passion fruit – My parents found this type of passion fruit that they hadn’t had for over 30 years. It was sweeter than a normal passion fruit but very tasty.
- BBQ’d Corn – We stopped for a quick bite to eat of freshly barbequed corn on the cob with some lime and chilli on.
- Indigenous Tea Pickers – We found these two retirees making a new living.
- Peddle Boat in the Backwaters – A stop along the way, we opted for a paddle boat road around the backwaters on a beautiful sunny day.
- Backwaters of Kerala Boat Trip – A fantastic boat trip on the backwaters of Kerala. After being on this small boat for a few hours, we arrived at this beach which is a separation between the backwaters and the ocean.
- India Prices – How can things be seriously this cheap..?
- Unexpected find of White Tiger – Me and Veron really wanted to see a white tiger in India and everywhere we went said it’s in different places and when we arrive there they said we’re at the wrong place, so we lost hope. Our Driver insisted we went to this zoo, but we didn’t really want to go to a zoo, we’d prefer to see wildlife in its natural habitat. But, we went anyway. For around 2gbp, this zoo had actually every animals possible. We saw Lions, Tigers, Elephants, Hippos and suddenly from the corner of my eye I saw a WHITE TIGER!! I couldn’t believe my eyes. Veron took a double take to ensure it was real. The description said it had only just arrived a few months back, so we were very lucky to see this. Incredible. Well worth the 2gbp entry fee.
- Point where three ocean meet – This is the point at where the Bay of Bengal, the Indian Ocean and the Arabian sea meet.
- Famous Temples
- Purified with 22 well washes – Supposedly to get purified, you must get washed by water from all these wells. Each well has a different significance. Thousands of people come here daily to do this ritual, queuing for hours upon end to get to each well. We met a priest (a.k.a tour guide) who could ‘fast-track’ us through for a specified small fee, so we opted to do this. It felt like we were at a water theme park, as we were flying through past the wells with the guys splashing buckets of water over us. Within an hour or so we had gone through the whole temple and been bucketed a numerous amount of times. So at the end, the priest, stops and cheekily asks for a ridiculous sum of extra money for his services. As in around 100gbp. I just laughed in his face and said his having a laugh and for asking for a ridiculous amount more, he is getting nothing except for the initial fee. A holy place and the people again try to rip you off, what a shame! As we didn’t have money for the initial fee, he came to our hotel later on. So he turns up on his brand new motorcycle and then comes back to me and asks for money for food. I said to him look at the bike you have and now you’re begging for food. Take a hike!
- First time bowling for Driver – We went to a shopping mall and we treated the driver to play a game of bowling with us. He was insisting that he didn’t want to play, but we forced him. Little did we know that this 28 year old guy had never been bowling before. He had no idea what you are supposed to do. He watched us take a few bowls then just copied us. I think he was very happy by the end of it that he decided to play and was appreciative that we invited him to play, as I don’t think many other tourists do that.
India has been a real eye opener country for me, from the tastes of the different kinds of foods to the numerous sights and activities. The country has allot to offer in terms of culture, sights, religion and people. From seeing the huge division of rich and poor, it is emotional to see how the poor suffers in real poverty, with some people cutting their limbs off to become beggars. A long four weeks travel for me in India was more than enough and I was glad to move on where I could enjoy some meaty food without having to worry about when is the next bathroom stop.