Place Travelled: India
What was your favourite city of India and why?
I think every city in India is so unique. For me, Jodhpur or ‘The Blue City’ was spectacular. Like anywhere in India, it is bustling but I don’t know if it was the perfect weather and company I had that made it weirdly calm.
I went to a few cities in the north of India and I think Jodhpur stood out because of the well maintained Mehrangarh Fort and the magnificent views that you could see. The colours and mirrored discs in bags and clothes that are iconically Indian are from this area (Rajasthan) so that made it even more fun when going to emporiums and markets.
This is closely followed by Rishikesh which is much further up north at the foot of the Himalayas. It’s the birthplace of yoga and a lot different to anywhere else in India I had been. Doing a yoga class there and learning to chant with my friends was an experience I will never forget.
Five items that were absolute must have on your trip to India?
⇒ Layers – in India it’s very cold in winter and there isn’t much proper heating installed because it is so hot for much of the year.
⇒ Gastro stop – I got quite bad tummy pains in India and these bad boys really helped me on longer trips.
⇒ Hydralyte – read above.
⇒ Camera – India is so spectacular that sometimes you become immune to the sights. I know this seems obvious but I think take it wherever you go.
⇒ An open mind – From my experience, Indians don’t smile so much in photos and can seem rude at times but it couldn’t be further from the truth (except in market places). Once I learned how to approach people and tone down my smiling upon first meeting people (I think I scared them), things were great.
Did you find any sights or activities down the road less travelled?
Once, I was on the hunt for a mini sitar that took myself and two friends into the heart of Old Delhi where we ended up in a small room with 5 Indian men trying to convince us they were playing the sitar. It turns out that mini sitars can’t be played and this whole venture was for nothing but I ended up buying a toy one because there was some definite pressure from our tuk tuk driver. It was a really funny and random day that took us from shop to shop and in Old Delhi, it was full on.
#TBT to the weirdest thing to happen to you on the trip to India?
Two things come to mind: my hotel room with my friends having a fire and being stared at and asked for pictures everywhere we went.
One morning, while being in the shower (read: bucket and ladle) my friends yell out to me to get out. I shouted something sassy back along the lines of ‘No, I only just got in’ and then there was a roar of laughter and ‘seriously, the room is on fire’. It turns out that the aircon (which we weren’t using and had never switched on) spontaneously combusted causing an electrical fire in our room. I raced out of the shower with a towel on while two Indian men tried put out the fire and move our stuff. I broke the modesty rule pretty badly. Their attempt at putting the fire out was splashing water…on an electrical fire. Good times.
The other weird thing was everywhere remotely touristy we went people wanted pictures with us. People would walk up and say ‘okay photo now’ and they would just expect a picture. I would sometimes get annoyed but then one person said I looked like Katy Perry (I don’t) so then I was okay with it. Also they would film us while we were walking around which was a little off. Anyway, I guess just being friendly and feeling comfortable with whatever the situation is important. I’m quite extroverted so I didn’t mind so much but there were times when it was frustrating.
Mandatory student austerity question: What was the budget like?
India is super cheap but you can always be caught out paying more for things. I didn’t eat street food because I had enough problems with restaurants and my tummy which is sad because ily Indian food. I think the best money spent in India is somewhere comfortable to stay which is secure and where you can relax from the craziness. I know I saved money while traveling than I would have spent in my normal life with rent and amenities etc.
#Foodbucketlist: Best eats?
Well this is a tough one because Indian food is amazing and some of the best food I ate was when our house manager cooked for us (each weeknight)! It was not oily and so full of flavour. I miss those home made meals so much. I think everyone falls in love with Samosa Chaat when they have it and I certainly enjoy the vegetarian koftas made of spinach etc.
What advice would you give to other people who are traveling to India?
I think try and meet as many people as you can and speak with them rather than avoiding people in fear they are trying to scam or rob you. I think that is the general mantra given to Western people going anywhere in Asia, especially women but it is important to get to know those around you when you can. On one long train ride back to Delhi this little Indian boy took a liking to me and at first I was tired but then I began to be silly and muck around playing peekaboo and what not. Also, I didn’t think I would miss raw veggies as much as I did so be prepared to only eat cooked things.
My travel mantra is…
Live it up. While you are there do whatever you want to do. Don’t worry about money so much. If you have budgeted properly enjoy yourself. Order the extra naan or stay somewhere longer than planned.