Month: February 2016

Art Class in Udaipur, India

Udaipur in Rajasthan is such a lovely, peaceful town – set around a dazzling lake (featuring a swanky 5* hotel that I was sadly not staying at) – this creative place is famed for its miniature artists. You can find intricate paintings adorning pretty much every surface and wall plus you can buy yourself a piece of art or two to take home. Being a little bit of an artist myself *toots own horn* I decided to take in an art class with one of Udaipur’s many miniature art schools. I painted a camel because one nearly killed me in the Indian desert and I thought it might work as a kind of ‘face your fears’ therapy. It didn’t. While I wasn’t cured of my camel aversion I did come to appreciate the immense skill of the miniature artists, their brushes are soooo fine and they grind their own paints out of all natural colours – needless to say, my camel didn’t turn out quite like the instructors, but I had a great time painting …

Cooking and Eating at The Sikh Temple

There are many religions practiced in India, it’s a very spiritual place, Hinduism is probably the most common faith, but there are Muslim, Christian and Sikh people too. In Delhi I was lucky enough to attend a Sikh temple, and what an experience! I absolutely loved it. On entering the temple you must cover your head, I donned a lovely orange bandana (ever stylish even in India), remove your shoes and wash your hands and feet – then you enter into the temple to the sound of rhythmic drumming, chanting and singing – it’s quite a meditative experience just silently sitting cross-legged in thought, listening to the prayers beings called. After a quick prayer (I’m an atheist but it doesn’t hurt to put out some positive vibes into the universe) we went to the temple’s kitchen. Sikh temples (depending on the size) can feed hundreds or even thousands of people for free each day. Sikhs volunteer their time to cook chapattis, dahl and vegetable curries for anyone who wished to eat. Sikhs also see all …

Pushkar – India’s Hippie Oasis

In the mountains of Rajasthan there lies a small but very holy town by the name of Pushkar. In Hindi ‘push’ means ‘flower’ and ‘kar’ means ‘hand’. The town is home to India’s most holy lake where each year thousands of hindus make a pilgrimage to the sacred waters. Legend has it that the lake was formed by the tears of Lord Shiva who was distraught after the death of his wife Sati. When Sati died Shiva cried so long and so hard that his tears created two holy lakes (in Pushkar and Ketasha – which means ‘raining eyes in Sanskrit). While visiting Pushkar it is possible to take part in a ceremony at one of the 52 ghats surrounding the lake. I obviously took part in such a ceremony at sunset (when in India…) where a holy man leads you in a series of chants and offerings, sugar, rice, pigments and flowers symbolising health, love, prosperity, for good karma. The experience was awesome, especially in such a picturesque setting – I honestly found myself …

5 Items You Must Take in Your Carry On

Not the only five of course (hello Passport and money) but important nonetheless… A Diary You might use your phone, laptop or tablet you child of the 21st century you, but you tell me when the last time a good old-fashioned diary suddenly stopped working? Technology isn’t infallible, dead batteries, weak signals and general ‘WTF?!!!’ bugs can prevent you accessing important info. So get a mini diary to write down all your important dates and information. You’ll thank me. Your Smart Phone Like a mini computer your iPhone (other brands are available) can let you surf the web, but you can also use it as a camera, video camera, voice recorder, alarm clock… the list goes on. Download some useful apps and this piece of kit is indispensable. I cancelled my phone contract but use Skype and Whatsapp to talk to friends. My favourite apps >>> A Good Book Take a Kindle of course – the Kindle for books is what the iPod is for music – the best thing ever. But technology can fail, …

The Day We Ran Over a Cow and Almost Got Stranded in The Middle of The Desert…

In India getting the train is all part of the experience, they love a good train, and it’s the easiest and cheapest way to cross the country. So they’re pretty much unavoidable if you’re a backpacker like me and you’re on a budget! Luckily, I love Indian trains, there’s a sense of excitement about getting on one – Will it ever arrive? Will it stop midway through? Will it breakdown? Have you seen the Wes Anderson film The Darjeeling Limited? If not, see it, it’ll make you want to ride an Indian train. My first experience on a train in India was uneventful as it was a sleeper train so it was mostly sleeping that I was doing, but my second Indian train was certainly an experience… To get from Bikaner to Jaisalmer it’s a 5 hour train ride (or 6, or 7, or 8) on a local train – the kind where people hang out of the doors when the train is going and people wander up the aisles selling samosas. On this train …

My Fave Travel Apps: Insta Emoji

Anyone who knows me knows that I LOVE EMOJIS! I even had an Emoji birthday cake (the black side eye moon in case you’re asking) so when I found out you could accessorise your photos with them I was like ‘show me how, now’. This app is easy to use and lets you put LOL faces, hearts and even fake Emoji suns onto your travel snaps – I love it. Insta Emoji FREE Apple App Store   

Hotel Bhairon Vilas, Bikaner

I love a good hotel – I stay, I lay, I unpack and I snap. This one’s a bloody great one too so read on… The hotel Bhairon Vilas looks, to the untrained eye, like a palace, elegant yet totally homely, the ancient residence is crafted from the red sandstone native to the town of Bikaner in the north of India. It’s literally the most beautiful hotel I have ever stayed in… period. The owner Harsh is one cool character, an Indian man in his early forties, he rocks (with aplomb I might add) a handlebar mustache., salt and pepper ponytail, a serious amount of silver bling and an old English tweed smoking jacket. He looks like a cross between a pirate and a Bollywood heartthrob. I met Harsh holding court in his bar, which looks like a 19th century Opium den – the dark walls lined with all manner of curiosities (many of them family heirlooms) – and he told me that the hotel is his ancestral family home, built by his great grandfather. …

colourful indian houses delhi

48 Hours in Hauz Khas, New Delhi

My mate Akash told me that I had to visit Hauz Khas Village when I came to India, so I did and here’s what I found… GETTING THERE Get the Metro (yellow line) to Hauz Khas metro station, this cost me just 18p each way. Then get a tuk tuk as the walk is a little long, and not a particularly scenic one. Don’t pay more than 50IR to get to Hauz Khas village. If you must walk, just follow the road round to the left and I reckon it’d take 30 – 40 minutes. EATING The street food is plentiful and varied here, each district seems to have different dishes (so try them all). The prices are very cheap but go to the busiest stalls, they’re busy for a reason. And watch how much the locals pay so you don’t get given the tourist (higher) price. If you fancy something familiar there’s peri peri chicken, burger joints, pizzerias and crepe shops in Hauz Khaz, there is a definite European influence here, plus it’s one …

Make Your Own Hardcover Book with Artifact Uprising

When I saw this amazing idea I knew that this is how I wanted to commemorate my round the world trip – with a stunning hardcover photobook by Artefact Uprising. The sister company of my favourite photo editing app VSCO Cam, Artefact Uprising take your photographs from either your app, iPhone or camera and let you turn them into your own book. Choose the layout, number of pages and colour of the book and arrange your pics anyway you want. I think this is SUCH a great way to collate all your travel memories and create a beautiful reminder of your trip. Hardcover photobooks from £43 Artefact Uprising