A Travellerspoint blog

And away we go!

It is only the beginning of our fourth day in India and so much has already happened. Before I left the states to come here Thom and I would tell people that we were planning a trip to India. We got one of two reactions. The first being WOW! That sounds amazing! The second was "Why the hell would you want to go there?" Through my journaling I plan to be realistic of what we are experiencing as Westerners and not always sugar coat everything but in the end I think this trip and the people and experiences we have to share could help in enlightening both types of reactions to India.

I will start in Delhi. I have to say that while Delhi is an amazing city where you can really get a sense of how India is making its way into the modern world while still keeping its rich traditions I can tell that it will not be one of my favorite places on this trip.

To be fair we really did not spend a lot of time in Delhi and there was so much I didn't see but it was very hectic, and dirty. The poverty is hard to see too. You know your going to see it but it just hits you differently when you're there and kids bang on your windows to beg or you see people sleeping and begging on the ground. However, that being said there were still some really great moments in the very small amount of time I spent there and I would like to share the good, the silly, and the wows. Because once you're here you really don't want to fight India you want to embrace it and if you can keep that going in your head it is absolutely fascinating!

After breakfast, Monty, our guide took us to the metro so we could board the subway trains to Old Delhi for a walking tour. The metro is very clean and efficient. It is pretty easy to use as well if you know where you want to go. The lines are colored and a lighted map in each of the cars helps you to keep track of your stops. Super nice with air conditioned cars.
The purpose of our walk was to experience three separate places of worship all within a short distance of one another. It is truly a beautiful thing to see how different religions could co-exist so close to one another.

First, a muslim mosque. The Masjid-i Jahān-Numā commonly known as the Jama Masjid of Delhi, is the principal mosque of Old Delhi in India. Commissioned by the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan,built this mosque in the year 1650 AD and completed in the year 1656 AD, it is the largest and best-known mosque in India. It lies at the beginning of the Chawri Bazar Road, a very busy central street of Old Delhi.
You have to take your shoes and socks off and walk around barefoot. Originally I thought it would be inside a building but it was mostly outside in a courtyard. There will be a lot of "Umm not sure if this is a great idea in regards to hygiene" moments but when in Rome... I mean India
Also women must be covered up so we get to sweat in these ridiculous patterned robes. I mean just check out this fancy one!
There was a man there who also kept following Monica, my new German friend and I. At first I thought he was taking pictures of the mosque like everyone else and then we realized no he was taking pictures of us! This is also something I read to be common so I wasn't worried and just laughed it off as ok so this is what it would be like to be a celebrity! I mean sure who wouldn't want a picture of two barefooted sweaty white women dressed in floral berka robes. And to be all honest, I love taking pictures of the people here as well because they are so beautiful and different so you can't really get too upset about the whole thing.

Next we went to my favorite, a Sikh temple. Here we all needed to cover our heads and take off our shoes and socks. You walk through a small amount of streamed water that cleans you your feet as you walk in. I think it is holy is some way. I couldn't take pictures inside because music and praying was going on and it would have been disrespectful during their worship. There were people sitting on the floor singing and chanting to tablas (drums) and two harmoniums. People up near the front were tossing flowers and it was quite beautiful. The Sikhs are the people you will see wearing turbans and their religion is very accepting of all people and other religions. Remember that next time you see someone resembling this in the US. They were having a blood donation out back to help the sick as well as making food as you can see here to feed everyone who attended the service even the poor. I really liked visiting there because we all felt very welcomed with many smiles.
Last we passed a Hindu temple. Some Hindu temples you are not allowed to enter unless you are Hindu and this was one of them but I took some pictures because they are decorated and constructed like nothing else I have seen before.
A trip down some side small narrow roads you can see the classic tangled wires many have already seen or heard about in India.
Oh and there were Monkeys too!!!!
We finished the walking tour and hopped the Metro back to our Hotel and had lunch in a near by restaurant. Food here is so cheap and all the places Monty has recommended have been great safe places to eat. So I'm more hopeful now of avoiding some belly troubles. You just really need to be mindful with the hand sanitizer. I wasn't feeling too great though and it was actually from the heat. So water water water is essential as well , bottled of course.

We had already checked out of our hotels before the tour and our next job was to pick up any food that we may want to have for our 19 hour overnight train ride to Jaisalmer. YUP! 19 HOURS!!! This is actually the longest of all 6 or 7 of these will take over the course of our trip.

This being our first train ride I wasn't sure what to expect exactly so organizing the bags and such will be done differently in the future. So like I said we had already checked out so this meant that we were all going to be wearing and sleeping in the hot sweaty clothes we had worn all day already for our walk. Yeah we were all ripe and at some point you just start to get use to to this or accept that your going to be dirty and the next shower you take will be the most heavenly thing of all.

Waiting for the train was probably the most uneasy time I had felt. We piled all our bags in a heap and stood around to guard them. We got a lot of stares. I know we are an attraction to many who rarely see foreigners and that the staring is part of their culture as well but there were some shady characters at the train station and I was just glad to be part of a group. Monty is really great though. So for example this teenage boy was following Thom as we walked to place our bags down. You could tell there was something not right with him. He kept huffing into a handkerchief and making really weird eye and face gestures. I assumed it was drugs of some kind and Monty politely just said some kids just have problems. The boy started getting closer to Damien another guy from our group from Australia and wanted to listen to his headphones that he was wearing. This is what I loved and just shows how great Monty is. He kept his cool, didn't yell but simply put his arm around the shoulders of the kid and started walking him away for us talking in Hindi.
It was cool and it made us all feel better.

Ok Indian Trains
We couldn't all be right next to each other so we had to split up. We were lucky as it was Thom and I with 4other ladies from our group sharing a cabin to ourselves. We were in 2nd class AC (air conditioned). It was tight with three bunks on each side, Absolutely nothing like the movie Darjeeling Unlimited if you've seen it....ha ha ha Thom slept on the very top on one side and I slept on the middle. The biggest problem was that we had the last cabin in our cart and it was next to the door. So all night people kept slamming the door and our curtains which help give you privacy and block the light hall light kept opening as people got on and off the train all night. Plus you want to sleep with all your valuables in your bunk close to you just to be safe as well.... Ahhh it was quite the experience but We will be so much better at preparing for the future ones and I'm not worried. Go with the flow and enjoy the ride!!!
I will be posting about Jaisalmer next. It is absolutely gorgeous here and worth the train ride. I feel like I am in Alladin. More on that and perhaps some crazy Indian driving videos as well!

Posted by Kelly Rose 10:33 Archived in India Comments (3)

In the beginning...

overcast 88 °F

It is 10:18 p.m. On Saturday July 20. I need to state that as we awoke at 3:30 a.m. on Friday July 19th to drive to Newark airport and time has two different meanings. The one the clock and calendar states and the one one my body dictates. There really isn't too much to say just yet, this is more of a check in. Both of our flights were great but long. 6 hours to Heathrow, London and 8 hours to Delhi. I watched Life of Pi on the way here as one of many movies and absolutely loved it It was my favorite and not just because of the Indian reference. Thom got all teary eyed. Now when ever I travel I am always the most on edge when it comes to leaving the airport in a new country and getting to your hotel. In Ghana it was midnight and luckily I found the person who was picking me up in the crowd of screaming taxi drivers holding nothing more than a piece of scribbled notebook paper that said "Wormann." In France years ago our plane ran late which made us miss our train which made us miss the person picking us up. In Peru they lost our bags and we had to fill out forms and pray the whole time that our driver would still be out there when we got through the confusion and panic. So knowing what I had read about India I was me taking planing for some chaos. WOW of all places things were so smooth and easy I am still kind of amazed. It wasn't crowded, we got ALL our bags, the driver was there with an official sign and we were able to stay pretty dry as we walked a short distance to the car.
Now it is Monsoon season here but today's rain was pretty hard. Luckily we had landed and missed it because unfortunately another girl in our group got to tell a story like the one's I mentioned above. Her plane got delayed because it couldn't land and there was something else about a crying kid on either side of her on the plane. Yikes! Back to us though, we got in the car which (driver on the right) and headed to the Karol Bagh area of Delhi. It wasn't as crazy as Ghana was but it,t still pretty insane. There is no such thing as a directional it is all about the horn. And lanes are nonexistent. We did see one cow, mopeds, tuk-tuks and rickshaws all over as well.
We are staying tonight at Hotel Perfect. It is decent and clean but you would never know it from the outside. Reminded me of the Hotel in the Muppet Capper but the inside is fine with air conditioning and even a TV. Of course the one channel that is in English is playing the movie Eat Pray Love...HA!
Going to keep this short because I am getting sleepy but we met our guide Monty who seems SUPER! We also met the rest of our group. We are 12 all together consisting of one older couple from New Zealand, another lovely girl who is also a primary (elementary...he he he) teacher from Ireland, two girls from Switzerland and a bunch from the UK. Monty took us to a nice restaurant after our meeting and I had some Chicken tikka with a fresh sweet lime soda and garlic Naan. Tomorrow we are up early for some sight seeing in Old Delhi before we leave on an overnight train to Jaisalmer where we will spend some time on camels in the desert. More with better stories and pictures later!

Posted by Kelly Rose 09:47 Archived in India Comments (6)

Asia- Just not what we originally planned!

India it is!

And so yet another adventure turns out to be something other than originally planned. Such is the life of a traveler and so you roll with the punches and look ahead to all the new possiblities! I haven't had much to write about here since my engagement in Peru. Since then we were planing a wedding (but no one wants to hear about that...go to wedding wire for that mush). Then came the small trips within the United States and even those got changed due to Mother Nature and her wrath.

You see originally we had big plans this summer to travel to South East Asia- Singapore, Maylasia, Thailand, Laos and Cambodia. But our trip that we waited so long to take got canceled. Alas, that just means we need to go another time. A time when more people who book with the travel company we like to use go too...he he he he!

Thom and I were upset at first only because this was to be a honeymoon of sorts when originally booked but later came to see that the finances were all still there saved and the world was our to choose from.
Neither of us have been to Asia and while greatly vast and different from what we planned we are excited and overwhelmed in planning for our trip India Unplugged.
There is so much I could talk about from what I have been researching and reading but I would much rather save those topics and entrys for when they can be told from my own personal expericence and not just from what I have heard or read. For now the tickets are booked (atleast the one going there is) and all kinds of buzzing is happening from renewing passports, obtaining visas, travel insurance requirements, shots...don't want to forget about the shots, how to pack, what to pack, how to protect what we pack and what not....
Here is a picture and our itinarary. More to follow come this summer!

Days 1-2 Delhi

It's big, it's bold, it's busy - and there is nowhere in the world quite like it. Delhi's sights and sounds are sure to engage and intrigue.

Days 3-5 Jaisalmer/Thar Desert

Like a city risen from the desert sands, Jaisalmer's sand-coloured buildings, busting bazaars and fascinating living fort all help give the city a wonderful old-world feel.

Days 6-7 Jodhpur

India's enigmatic 'Blue City', Jodhpur, has a captivating Old Town with palaces, heritage buildings, colourful streets and the Mehrangarh Fort shining like a jewel high above the city.

Days 8-10 Udaipur

With dusty hills in the background and tranquil lakes its centrepiece, Udaipur is a truly beautiful city with fabulous heritage buildings, restaurants and narrow laneways.

Days 11-12 Pushkar

The holy city of Pushkar is a place of beauty with its whitewashed buildings, serene lake, rooftop restaurants and impressive temples.

Days 13-14 Jaipur

Jaipur was designed by royalty and has delighted visitors for centuries with its pink-hued buildings, wonderful bazaars and rainbow of bright colours dancing along hectic streets.

Day 15 Bharatpur

The legacy of once being a strong military stronghold is a good fort, and Bharatpur's is pretty impressive. It's also home to the wonderful Keoladeo Bird Sanctuary.

Days 16-17 Agra

Famed for the awe-inspiring Taj Mahal, Agra is a city with a fascinating history and is rich in Mughal heritage, lush gardens and exquisite buildings and temples.

Days 18-20 Varanasi

The holy city of Varanasi, sitting on the River Ganges for thousands of years, attracts scores of pilgrims and travellers wanting to discover something divine.

Day 21 Kolkata

With its colonial architecture, mouth-watering cuisine and celebrated intellectual and arts scene, Kolkata confronts in so many ways but surprises in just as many.

Day 22 Chennai

Located in India's Bay of Bengal, Chennai is a Tamil cultural centre and home to India's second largest film industry, known as Kollywood.

Day 23 Mamallapuram

Mamallapuram (also Mahabalipuram) is a town with ancient origins. It has nice beaches, good restaurants and the intricately carved Shore Temple, still standing from the 9th century.

Days 24-25 Madurai

With incredible temple complexes and a recorded history going back to the 3rd century BC, Madurai has some wonderful buildings and heritage sites to discover.

Days 26-27 Varkala

Blessed by dramatic cliffs falling into the Arabian sea, Varkala is an unassuming town with a relaxed feel and some great temples, beaches and eateries.

Day 28 Kerala Backwaters Homestay

Swaying palm trees, lush rice paddies, winding waterways, Ayurvedic massage and welcoming locals all await on this amazing Kerala Backwaters homestay.

Days 29-30 Kochi

As a centre for the spice trade for centuries, cosmopolitan Kochi has an intriguing mix of cultural influences from both the Indian continent and overseas.

Days 31-32 Mysore

The peaceful city of Mysore has a score of lovely parks, grand buildings, well-regarded yoga centres and an incredible palace, the product of its Wodeyar Dynasty heritage.

Days 33-34 Hampi

Hampi is a relaxed village awash with captivating ruins and temples of the 15th-century city Vijayanagar, now a World Heritage site.

Days 35-36 Goa

Tinged with a Portuguese flavour, the state of Goa is blessed with lovely beaches, rich traditions, mouth-watering cuisine, World Heritage buildings and a wealth of attractions.

Posted by Kelly Rose 15:41 Comments (0)

Posting of Pictures...

Just a heads up since I am not sure if anyone gets notified or not when I post pictures. I have started putting up some and will be finishing it up today and tomorrow. It is taking some time since A) There are like a billion and B) I want to label everyting with the map so it lines up with the blog. So if your not my friend on facebook or even if you are there will be more on here and labeled better. Njoy and Share! Definately check out the map feature it helps organized what your seeing where.

Posted by Kelly Rose 06:50 Comments (1)

This entry doesn´t count sorry....

Yea so we are sitting in Lima airport after a 3 and 1/2 hour flight from La Paz. We arrived here at 7 P.M and out flight doesn´t leave until 12:20....swell! So we had a nice diner which lasted about a half an hour.... Now I am sitting at a place where as long as I but drinks I can use the internet for free.....so things may get sloppy here...Hahahahahaha! But wait it gets better.....shit I know I should have looked at the schedule more......when we get to Miami it will be 7 in the morning and our plane to Philly doesn´t leave until almost 2!!!! What the F! Oh well. Sorry this doesn´t really count as anything important to share but rather something to bide my time with. La la la! Lesson learned.....If someone else books your flight look at it closer before you leave the country...hopefully our bags will make it back as well...LOL

Posted by Kelly Rose 18:42 Comments (3)

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