All posts tagged: India

27 Things You Didn’t Know About India

India is fast becoming my favourite country, it really is unlike any other, but with the good comes the bad, and it’s this mix that makes India a conundrum inside a riddle covered in a mystery… wrapped in pancetta. Anyway here are 27 things I learned during my month in India… The wifi here is a myth. It just doesn’t work. End of story… which is so annoying for a blogger, I have so many stories to tell and pictures to share! On that note, when you do get wifi (rarely) the only website or app that seems to work is Whatsapp. I have no idea why but I love love love all the web developers at Whatsapp for making contact with my fam possible. India doesn’t smell. I arrived expecting gutter stench as so many people warned me that I’d be overwhelmed by a disgusting aroma. I was actually surprised that India smells, for the most part, amazing. A heady scent of spices, marigolds and masala chai. Masala Chai. HEAVEN! I drank at least …

The River Ganges, Varanasi

Varanasi is probably the most spiritual place in the world, I guess you have Lourdes and Vatican City, but trust me this places smacks you in the face with religion. You can’t turn a corner without seeing religious icons, ceremonies or indeed dead bodies being burned. I’m not making it sound very appealing but it is one of the most interesting places I’ve ever been.  I was lucky enough to take a boat on the river Ganges that flows through Varsnasi both at sunrise and sunset. It’s the best way to see the ghats where locals bathe in the supposedly holy water, dispose of cadavers and ashes and even do their laundry.  In the morning it’s a very serene and tranquil affair, seeing the sun rise over the haze (it’s always hazy in India) is such a calming experience. Probably because you miss the worst of the heat too. I even did some souvenir shopping on the river, I bought some Ganesh dolls forms man in a boat. Obviously I haggled but it’s definitely the …

India: The Best & The Worst

It seems ages ago since I went to India, needless to say I loved it and I will be back. You have my word. So to refresh my memory and to also give you guys some travel tips here is the best (and worst) India has to offer. The Best Bits The Best Food Definitely momos which are kind of steamed filled dumplings and apparently tibetan, but wherever they’re from they are good. They cost roughly 30-40IR (30-40p) from street vendors. Or there is a fast food chain version called Wow Momo which does every kind of momo known to man – chocolate, tandoori style, momo burger, fried, steamed, you name it and they do it. Wow Momo, Hauz Khas Village, New Delhi  The Best Vibezzz Varanasi at sunrise was an unforgettable experience. Being in the holiest place in India and therefore the world (FU Vatican City) was pretty spesh, the river Ganga is where Hindus and some other religions burn their dead to send them off to the spirit world all pure. I also …

G-Adventures ‘India on a Shoestring’ Review

Overview G-Adventures offers tours for young travelers all over the world including several tours through India. The ‘India on a Shoestring’ tour is 20 days traveling around Rajasthan or the ‘golden triangle’ and takes in many of the most famous sites of the area starting and ending in Delhi. Highlights I personally enjoyed the lesser-known (to me anyway) places we visited such as; Pushkar, Bikaner and Udaipur. As they were smaller it was easier to head off alone and do some exploring. The trip into the Thar desert was pretty amazing, and the food the local people cooked there was so tasty it’s hard to believe they cooked it in the middle of nowhere, without a kitchen. The river ganges was beautiful too and a once-in-a-lifetime experience. What’s right with it… The itinerary ensures you take in lots of things you wouldn’t if you were traveling solo, such as visiting the tiny village of Tordi Sagarh, eating at a Sikh temple and staying at THIS amazing hotel. The pace is quite fast and you get …

The Dreaded Delhi Belly and How it Nearly Broke Me…

Call it hubris, cockiness or just plain stupidity but I *honestly* thought I would avoid Delhi belly while travelling. I’ve never been ill because of food, I’m the person who eats with a group who all get food poisoning and remain unscathed, my stomach is legendarily strong.   That’s not to say I wasn’t careful, I didn’t eat meat for a month while in India, avoided tap water and religiously sanitised my hands – seriously, what more can you do? And I thought I was safe, I lasted one month feeling fantastic, so on the second to last night (in an expensive western restaurant, it’s never the street food) I indulged in some chicken. On the afternoon before my flight to Bangkok I began to feel *really* sick, I was sweating, nauseous and confused and just had to go to bed. Then the vomiting started. Now, before that, the last time I vomited was 2 years ago after the Hotbox London launch party where I drank 435 free cocktails and ate a whole cow, and …

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 …

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 …