Friday, 28 December 2012

Delhi (again) / End of India

We got our train from Varanasi to Delhi and stayed at a hostel that was pretty near our first hostel, so it was pretty easy to find.

We then got a rickshaw to a Sikh temple called Gurudwara Bangla Sahib.  It was very interesting as it was the first Sikh temple we had been too.  Its a very gentle offshoot of Hinduism and seems miles away from the materialism of Hinduism.  As we arrived they were giving out free lunch to people, we were thinking of having some  but as  were not Sikh's we felt we probably shouldn't have any.  They then had a very efficient shoe storage area, which you didn't have to pay for (you do in Hindu temples).

Once we got in, both sexes have to cover their hair with a scarf, which I thought was really amazing, much more equal than other religions.

The inside of the temple was beautiful and everything was calm, and when you came out they gave you a sweet.  They then had a sacred pool you could walk around, which had Koi Carp in it.  It was a very good and interesting experience.

We then got the Metro (which is really awesome  in Delhi) to the Indira Gandhi museum but it was closed due to a security breach.  We then went to India Gate, which commemorates Indian people who have died in wars.

We then went to the National Modern Art Gallery, which I really enjoyed but Andy wasn't so bothered, as it was mostly paintings.  I stayed so long that they turned the lights off and shooed me out.

We then went to the bar we enjoyed last time and met a french couple we had me in Pushkar.  On the way home we saw a giant Hindu festival happening, and watched that for abit.

The next day we went to Qutub Minar, which is a big ruins outside of Delhi of an Ancient city, made of sandstone.  We found another little Ruin of a tomb on the way which was cool as there were so many butterflies there.

When we got to Qutub Minar we just wandered around it and took photos and relaxed as it had a really nice park vibe to it, and alot of families were having picnics.

The last day we spent in Delhi, we didn't really do alot, as we had to carry all our valuables around with us, we tried to go to another Bollywood, but they wanted us to leave our bags at the back of the cinema  so we refused.  We then went to park and a man came up and started talking to us, he then said he was a professional ear cleaner and then just grabbed Andy's ear and started cleaning it!  It was abit like ear rape as he was using a pointed mental stick, any way alot of gunk came out of Andy's ear!

 We then waited in the hostel for our taxi and when it got there, we got in and then.... Nothing!  The taxi wouldn't start.  Me and Andy started to panic as we didn't want to be stuck in Delhi when we needed to be on our way to the airport. The taxi driver tried a few times and then me and Andy started to say were getting a different taxi, but he jumped out and got about half the street to help push the car until it started!  And finally we were off.  Excited for Hong Kong, but sad to be leaving the crazy world of India.

Thursday, 20 December 2012


We left Delhi in the early afternoon for a very long 16 hour train journey to Varanasi, it was incredibly hot and humid on the train during the day and freezing in the morning.  We arrived in Varanasi at about 5.30am and walked though nearly deserted streets, we knew our hostel was right beside the Ganges, so we walked towards it.

 My first view of the Ganges was through a thick, swirling  mist, with little boats dipping in and out of sight.  I just thought "wow".  It was one of those sights I will never forget.  We walked along the ghats, which is are the steps down the bank of the river to get to the water, and found our hostel (Ram Bhawan), who kindly let us in and gave us an amazing breakfast.

The first day we didn't do alot as we also got free lunch at the hostel (which incidentally was the best food we have had since we were in India!) I then had a nap, then in the evening we had heard there was a Hindu ceremony by the Ganges at 6pm, so me and Pia (one of the girls in our Dorm room) went down to watch it.

It was a very complicated ritual which involved ringing bells, and doing complicated dances with fire, water, petals and feathers.  There were 5 monks doing the ritual and it fel very spell binding to watch them so intently do this long ritual.

Afterwards me, Andy and Pia got a rickshaw to a mall, with the worst rickshaw drive rin the world.  He was just really angry and felt like quite a dangerous driver.  The mall felt very strange as it was the most modern place in India which we had been too, plus combined with the fact that Varanasi is suppose to be one of the holiest places in India, and a materailstic mall is at such odds with that.

The next day (which was Diwali) everyone in our Dorm got up at 5am and we went down to the Ganges for a boat ride at sun rise.  When we got there it was pitch black, and managed to bargain a good deal as there was so many of us and no one else was around.  We set off, and already the bathers had gathered at the bottom of the ghats, some people bathing and washing themselves and there clothes, and some washing their sins away, as the Ganges are suppose to be the gateway to Heaven.

We then went up to the other side of the Ganges to where the burning ghats are which is where they cremate the bodies before putting them into the river.  You could see the smoke all the way along the river, rising up from the banks.  They cremate everyone out in the open on the banks, and we were given a "tour" around it. It was very eye opening, at how close life and death in India is.  We saw the white piles of ashes of bodies which had already been cremated, and the "untouchables" who work there shoveling the ashes into the river.  We also saw them performing the death ceremony on one body, where the eldest son has to go round the body 5 times with fire before lighting the pyre.  It all felt very surreal.

We then went and met up a new Indian friend we made, called Sarabjeet, and he showed us round a Hindu temple for the monkey god, which was really interesting as it was one of the busiest worshiping temples we had been too, and everything was painted in orange.

 We then wandered around the University which was like a ghost town since everyone had gone home for Diwali.  We the went to a second temple which they had made a giant picture on the floor made of coloured sand which is called Rangoli, which was amazing.

Me and Andy then went back to the hostel for the Diwali celebrations.  We all sat on the roof top and watched as the city lit up with fireworks in all directions.  It was really beautiful and magical, and it was made more exciting by the fact  that there doesn't seem to be much safety regulations in India, so fireworks exploded just above us, came rushing past us, and we saw children firing fireworks out of plastic bottles next door, and also building a fire and throwing fireworks in!  It was a crazy night and food we had a the hostel was amazing.

We also had a firework show on our roof top too, run by the kids there.  When one fire work didn't go off they just built a fire around it.  All the westerners ran away but the kids just stood there as fireworks flew in all directions!  The party went on all night, but I headed to bed at around 12.30am!

The next day me and Andy went to Sarabjeet's house for lunch, and his Mum cooked us the best Indian food I've ever had.  It was really lovely being in his house and meeting his family.  There was one awkward moment where he was like "would you like to see my Mums shop", and me and Andy just looked at each other like "Oh no were being scammed again!" but it was fine, they just showed us the workshop,and explained alot of her clients were ladies going to Kitty parties which is basically a weekly meetup for richer ladies.

We then went to where Buddha did his first sermon called Sarnath, and had a look around the temple and the site.  I am quite interested in Buddhism anyway as my Mother is a Buddhist  and I realized how much nicer Buddhism is that Hinduism, as no one in the temple hassled you for money or tried to scam you, and there was just a feeling of peace and serenity.

I then went back to the hostel and Andy went to a bar with some people.  Me and Gloria (another girl from our Dorm room) went to the Ganges and saw there late night ceremony of taking statues of each of the Gods down into the river and doing a ceremony in a boat.  This was combined with crazy drumming and dancing while local children set off huge firecrackers.  It felt completely insane and you could feel the explosions from  the firecrackers.  We then danced with the locals who all wanted photos with us.  Then headed back to the hostel.

The next day me and Andy just wandered along the ghats for a few hours which was really interesting  We saw where the monsoon period has completely covered the ghats in mud, and people clearing it with huge hoses.  We then when out with our little Dorm family, Gloria, Dominic and Sarabjeet and got some Lassi's, and then watched a sitar performance which was amazing.

On the last day I just wandered around the back streets and got lost for awhile, and then wandered up the other side of the ghats and was offered Opium cookies which I declined! I then met Dominic from our Dorm and we sat and chatted for a few hours, and bought some things off a child seller called Monica who was the cutest kid I met In India.

We then all me, Andy, Gloria, Dominic and Sarabjeet met up and had cake together. We were saying goodbye to our little travel family, which was so sad as it was the first group of people we met that we had loved so much!

We were then back on a train.

Tuesday, 4 December 2012


We arrived in Delhi very late from Agra, as our train had been delayed by 4 hours.  We weren't really looking forward to being in Delhi as we had heard alot of people being very negative about Delhi saying how horrible, busy and smelly it was.  We had also read the reviews for our hostel there, and people had been saying it was in a slum!  So we were abit nervous of it!

Our first impression of Delhi was busy but good.  We were in Pahar Ganj which is the touristy area.  After wandering around for ages we found our hostel down a set of winding back streets with tiny shops set in them, definitively not a slum!  So we were quite relieved.

We decided to go out for a drink, and found a cheap looking bar, inside we found.... Europe!  It was a little bar selling beer (mostly Indian guys there), with a mixture of rock and pop music playing.  

We sat down, and one Indian guy started trying to talk to us, and another guy pulled him away.  We weren't sure what was happening, but later we realized it was a security guard, so basically Indians aren't allowed to mix with tourists, which is what we found alot in India, which I find strange.

We found 2 cool Swedish guys who we chatted to most of the night, although one had to dash off home to the toilet as he had "Delhi Belly".  

The next day we went for breakfast and then headed off to Varanasi!  But yeah we liked Dehli!

Sunday, 2 December 2012


We left Jaipur really late at night (after napping for a few hours in the evening), our train was at 2am and arrived at Agra 6am.  It was definitely one of the worst trains,  as we didn't have much time to sleep and the other people spent the whole time listening to loud music on their phones.

Agra is not a nice city, its polluted, noisy, busy and has open sewers everywhere, the only saving grace is that the Taj Mahal is there. We got into the hostel and had to wait about 5 hours to get into our room.  The reason we chose this hostel was you could see the Taj Mahal  from the roof terrace  but the Taj was so covered in mist and fog we could barely see the outline.  Our hostel was awful  it was the smallest room we have stayed in and covered in mold (by the time we left all our clothes were and smelt of damp).  

 We had hoped to go and see the Taj the day we arrived but unfortunately we arrived on a Friday which is the only day it is closed!  Luckily I had my guide book and it explained that there is a big pubic garden behind the Taj where you could see the Taj Mahal for alot less money called Mehtab bagh .  We decided to get there at sunset, and then relaxed for most of the day.

We got a rickshaw over and just managed to make it over before they stopped allowing people in.  We walked through a tree lined path and then there it was, the icon of India - The Taj Mahal.

It is one of those places where you think "is the hype real?" As so many people say how amazing it is, but it really is breath taking when you see it in real life. We weren't sure how it would look from behind but it actually looks exactly the same as the front.  The best bit was that because it was a Friday and the Taj was closed we got pictures of it with NO tourists in it, which is unbelievable, even the park wasn't crowded!
We spent ages photographing and just looking at it in all its splendor.  It changed colour in the different lights, which is suppose to represent Allah (as it is a Muslim building and has a mosque on each side too).
We then went back and went to bed early for the main event of the next day, which was getting up at 5am and going to the Taj Mahal at sun rise.

It was a freezing cold day and we had to line up for an hour at the West side, we were then scanned and frisked before being allowed to enter the bit before the Taj Mahal, you walk along and there is a arched entrance way and then you see the image you have seen on every poster, advert, and film about India, the Taj Mahal.  We got there early enough that it wasn't too crowded   We again photographed it to within and inch of its life and looked in awe at it, and then went inside it. 

You realize as you get closer to it that the Taj Mahal does look best from abit of the distance.  It does have beautiful craftsmanship up close but it sort of loses it grandeur.  Once you get inside though it is really beautiful.  It is delicately carved with flowers with semi precious stones set into the marble.  The marble itself is white, smooth and cold, and defiantly gives a sense of purity.  As you get to the main hall, you see the reason it was all built - the tomb of Mumtaz Mahal.  The emperor Shah Jahal was so in love with his wife that when she passed away in child birth he built her the Taj Mahal to house her tomb, and when he passed away his tomb was placed beside hers,which is the only thing that is not perfectly symmetrical in the whole building.

I really did find the Taj Mahal wonderful and quite moving, its a beautiful embodiment of romantic love.  

Monday, 12 November 2012


We left from Pushkar and got the train over to Jaipur. On the train I was speaking to a family of a mother, grown up son, daughter and the daughter had a baby. They asked if me and Andy were married, now sometimes we say yes, but they were such lovely people I thought I would say the truth and we were just friends. The Mother couldn't believe it, she said that her only friend was her husband. It's so different over here. They then made me hold the screaming baby to take photos of me and her together, she obviously wanted her Mum and not me!

We then got into Jaipur and got a taxi to our Hostel which was lovely. The family there was really lovely, and our room was really big and clean.  We were still tired from sleeping in the desert the night before, so we just had some food and relaxed.

The next day we got a rickshaw driver for the day, through the hotel called Mr Raju. He was such a lovely man and took fun photos of me and Andy such as jumping ones with out us asking him too! He first took us through the city gates into the "pink city" which is Jaipur's old city. We were abit dissatisfied with it as we imagined it to be very pink (like Jodhpur is very blue) but the pink colour didn't really stand out at all! We then went up the Isar Lat. Which is a very tall minaret, which has great views of the city below. We then went to Hawa Mahal (palace of the winds), which is where ladys of court would be able to look down on what was happening below through hundreds of screened windows, while remaining in purdah.

The next (and best attraction of Jaipur as far as I'm concerned) was Jantar Mantar. It was built by Jai Singh as an observatory, with 18 huge stone measuring devices. They were so strange and amazing looking, really modern and abstract, and surrounded by a beautiful garden.; My favourite was the sunken semi circles that were cut out, and also the biggest one which was a huge sun dial that we dubbed "the royal slide", as that's what if looked like from the palace!

We then saw some more cenotaphs which were lovely and made of marble.; We then went to the Amber palace which I really enjoyed. It was up a big hill and when you finally get inside it has a pretty palace structure and a gorgeous garden, and you can imagine the princes and princesses wandering around in the summer heat. It also had a gorgeous room covered in mirrors, and you were left to explore the place with all the nooks and crannies by yourself which was fun. We then walked along the secret underground tunnels which then come above ground take you up to the fort. We walked all the way up to the fort and decided not to go in.

We then went to a charity/co-operative textile factory, for poor/low caste people to work in. We saw how they made the material and coloured in the golden patterns (the men were completely golden coloured), and I bought a bag from them. We then went to a Jewry shop where Andy bought a ring. And I then got henna done!

We then got dropped off at MI road as we had heard it was the main street but all the food places were too expensive so we went (to our shame) to McDonald's. We then got a cycle rickshaw home.  We both felt so awful as this poor man was really struggling up a slight incline. We both felt like getting out and cycling for him. I have never felt more like a rich western bastard in my life! We paid him extra money when we got out, but I guess you have to remember that this is their livelihood and not to use them is actually worse as they can charge westerners more!

The next day we went to monkey temple (Galta) called so because of the hoards of monkeys who live there. We went with an older guy called Neil who wanted to join us and went with the rickshaw driver Mr Raju again as he had been so lovely from the day before. As you drive up to the entrance there are so many wild peacocks its amazing. You then get there and there is a guy selling monkey food, so of course we bought some peanuts.

As you walk in there is abit of an abandoned Disneyland feel, as you can tell it was once a colourful magnificent temple now fallen into disuse. There were half broken statues staring at you (one very forlorn looking broken cow statue), then you see all the monkeys!
They come upto you and take the nuts out your hand, and the babies are so cute, sort of scared of you, but wanting the nuts more. You realise how human they are with all the interactions they have, they seem more human though the younger they are!

We then walked up past the 2 sacred springs (where people where bathing, with fish and terapins) and up to the sun temple at the top, where we were rewarded with a stunning vista of Jaipur. The buildings were cloaked in veil of pollution so we couldn't see the further most part of the city. The rest of the city seemed to be growing by itself with little or no planning.

After we did this we went to an awesome restaurant called the peacock (which our friend Neil suggested) and had some lovely food and beer. We then all went back to the hostel to pack to go that night to Agra!

Thursday, 8 November 2012


We were getting the train over to pushkar at 7am, therefore we were suppose to get up at 5am, to have showers and pack. Luckily I woke up and checked the time, we had both slept through our alarms, and it was 6am!  We literally threw everything in our cases, and went to the station, and luckily we got there with time to spare!

We then got into Ajmer station and got a taxi to Pushkar. Our hostel was amazing, it was a family run place, the wife was a lady from the UK who had gone traveling and fallen in love with an Indian guy, and stayed and got married, and they now have 2 kids. I thought it was kind of amazing.

Pushkar itself was werid. It's suppose to be one of the holiest places in India, as in Hinduism, the creator Brahma, dropped 3 lotus leaves which turned into the lakes at Pushkar and meant Pushkar was the first place ever created. But although its really holy, holy people don't think twice about trying to scam you out of your money.

We went down to the lake and were made to do the holy ceremony to bless you and your family. It was a nice ceremony, but the whole time your thinking, when does the money bit come in. Once they finish the ceremony they put a bracelet on you which is known locally as a "pushkar passport" which means the other holy people will leave you alone as they know you have done the ceremony. After the ceremony you then have to argue a price, and then escape.

The second day we were there we went on a camel safari, which is one of the best experiences I have had in India.

The guys picked us up with 2 camels, one Andy got on, and the other was pulling a cart which I got into. We then went along into the desert. We then swapped and I rode the camel and directed it with a harness. My camel was called slowmo. And every so often one of the guys had to chase slowmo so he would hurry up. When slowmo ran it was horrible as there wasn't much to hold onto and I almost fell off!

We went through farms, where the people were still living as they would have done for century's and then came to our sleeping place, where we lay blankets out, and then helped to peel garlic for our food.  The guys made us food which was delicious, and a type of bread which they buried into the hot coals to cook, which was very heavy and dense.

We then lay under the stars and saw shooting stars and sang songs together. It was all very lovely, until the stray dogs we fed to leftovers too decided we were its new best friends and came and sat on me through the night. It stayed with us all night and then in the morning followed us back to town. We affectionately called him mangey.

On the way back we both rode one camel, which meant I only had Andy to hold onto. We then walked through the town on camel back, along roads (which felt abit ridiculous!) With our mangey friend following us and getting into fights with other dogs along the way.

I absolutely loved the camel trek though and totally think everyone should have ago! At it!

We were then dropped off in our hostel before getting a train onto Jaipur!


We caught a bus from Udaipur to Jodhpur and it has defiantly been the best mode of transport so far. We had a big double compartment, which had a glass screen and a curtain across it to give you some privacy. We also had a big window to get some air too. The only problem is people kept opening our glass screen and curtain. I am unsure why, apart from them wanting to check me and Andy weren't up to anything! We saw a red moon, as well, as we had been crossing the desert. It was beautiful.

My first hint that I was still unwell was when we were trying to get off the bus. The simple act of trying to get my bag down from our compartment made me feel sick and dizzy, and I thought I would pass out.  We got a rickshaw and then had to walk up a hill to get to the hostel. I felt very unwell but felt worse when trying to eat, (apart from when a lizard jumped on Andy),  I went to bed.

The next day I tried to go out but just walking down stairs made me feel like I would faint. My legs went shakey, like bambi legs. I decided at this point to call the Dr. It cost 500 rupees (£5) for the Dr to come and tell me I had tonsillitis and about 60p for the prescription. I spent 2 days in bed (the second day I made it half way to the fort before almost fainting).

The 3rd day I went to the Mehrangarh fort by myself (Andy went the day before) it was an amazing place. Huge and really beautiful inside, with loads of interesting peices, such as babys cradles, and  palanquins (for carrying ladies around) and the audio tour was very interesting. They had some very luxerious rooms, such as the room of mirrors! While I was there people were constantly doing things, and we found out Naomi cambell wad having a party there the next day!  Me and Andy then walked along the city wall until a local shouted at us that we couldn't walk along it.  We then walked to a memorial of one of the princes which was a beautiful marble cenotaph.

Our hostel was amazing. Jodhpur is called the blue city because the old city is all painted blue (in olden times only the high caste, brahmin, were alowed to paint their house blue) and we were right in the middle of the blue houses over looking the fort, and it was spectacular!

In the evening Andy did a zip wire around the fort, but since I was still ill, I desided not to Do it!

Tomorrow onto Pushkar!

Friday, 2 November 2012


So we escaped Ahmedabad, and got on our sleeper train. We were in a compartment with a sweet family, who got us to talk to their daughter on the phone, and invited us to their village, which we declined!  The sleeper beds were hard and as soon as the train was going it became freezing inside. Everyone on the train seemed to be very ill too.

We arrived into Udaipur and the hostel had sent a driver to pick is up which was amazing. The hostel itself was a beautiful blue and pink place up a small hill, with amazing views across Udaipur!

We didn't do much the first day we went to a temple in the center of town. The second day we hired a rickshaw driver for the day for 600 rupees, so about £6! He took us to loads of interesting places.

First he took us to lake Pichola, which was beautiful, and we got the boat ride around it, the lake is huge and has 2 hotels on it, and is surrounded by mountains! He then took us to a local market. We then went to a royal cremation ground. It was full of beautiful cenotaphs, all different for different royals. It was a huge place. Now we were the only ones there, and our driver said to pay on the way out, he said he might be able to get the price down. But the guy we paid was a secruity guard and he made us go behind a wall to pay him, so I guess we weren't actually alowed in there and we just paid a bribe to get in!

After this we went to a Hindu funeral ground which was very peaceful. We then went to sahelion ki bari, which is gardens with beautiful fountains. We also went to a tailor and I got a salwar kameez top made, which is beautiful.

That evening me and Andy met Raj, my Uncle Philips friend. We had an amazing time. He picked us up on his motorbike (3 of us on the motorbike, abit of a squeeze!) And we went to the hotel he's the manager of, which was over looking the lake! We had lovely conversation.

The next day we went to city palace, we just went round the museum bit, it was quite beautful in parts, with stained glass Windows, and rooms full of mirrors. And there were a few beautiful courtyards. The best bit was a courtyard that was embellished with 3 mosaic peacocks, which was just stunning. The tour got abit thin towards the end, and they had a lot of paintings which didn't really interest me! We then went over to Raj's house and had a lovely home cooked meal with him and his wife Suchi. It was all delcious, but I had started go come down with a fever, so couldn't eat much, and I spent the evening very ill in bed.

We hired the same rickshaw driver the next day and went out of the city and saw some temples, and we then saw a dance and puppet show in the evening. The dancing was very good, all traditional dances, one girl danced with a pot of fire on her head!

We then changed from our hostel to a hotel for some luxery. The reason we picked the Anjani hotel was had a swimming pool. But when we got in it was FREEZING! So didn't spend ages in there. I was feeling abit sick, so spent most of the day relaxing in room. We then went up to the roof top terrace to take pictures of the sun set. I started to be violently sick over the side of our nice hotels balcony, luckily Noone else was around! We then met up with Raj and Suchi in the evening which was lovely.

The next day hung around the hotel,and then Raj came to see us, he then let me try riding his bike, I was pretty ok, for a first time, and I saw my first elephant! It was then time to catch our bus to Jodhpur! Bye Udaipur! the

Friday, 26 October 2012


Our train journey to Ahmedabad was long. We were in second sitting, and weren't actually together, but after a lot of pointing etc we managed to swap with a man and sit together. The seats were very hard and cramped, so after 9 hours we were pleased to get off. Although our sweets we bought from Mumbai helped us not think so much about the train.

Our first view of the city wasn't a good start. It was a confused mass of noise and people trying to take us to hotels, even though we explained we had one. One guy wouldn't leave us alone, and I got quite annoyed at him and was quite rude, Andy said he looked very angry, as Ahmedabad isn't too keen on women's rights, and I don't think a women would have ever spoken to him like that.

The traffic here was the worst of any city we have been too, much worst than Mumbai. I had to close my eyes at some points because we would be sitting across a lane of traffic in a rickshaw, with a bus coming towards you, showing no sign of stopping! Luckily nothing bad did happen! I would not want to drive on Indian roads.

We got to the hotel which was, to put it lightly, a crap hole. We had been worried as after we booked they sent us the terms and conditions, and it said if you were posing as a couple, you had to be able to prove it. Now we were worried that it might apply to us, (even though were just friends) and we might be rejected from the hotel.  Luckily thus wasn't the case (might be a rule just for Indians).  The room itself was dirty, and revolting.

In the morning we got up late and went to train station and managed to book a train to Udiapur. We were so happy we managed to do it! The way of booking tickets in India is very werid and confusing.

We then went to a mosque but women were not alowed inside! So we left for the one thing I was actually excited about doing in Ahmedabad, Sabarmati Ashram, which is the ashram that Mahatma Gandhi set up.

The ashram was very peaceful and had a small collection of his personal items, and his room was set up how he had, had it. There was also a museum bit that was about his life, which was very interesting. The strangest bit was a letter he wrote to Hitler, asking for peace!

We then just relaxed in our room until it was time to get our train, and had a lovely time doing nothing!

Once we got to train station, we had to wait a few hours for our train. Andy left me at one point and when he came back I was surrounded by s crowd of people all wanting to look at me! Once he came back they all left.q Ahmedabad was definitely the place we got stared at most. I guess because no westerners go there. We only saw a handful of westerners the whole time we were there. I found the best way to combat being stared at was to wave and smile back, and then they would do the same, so it was a nice exchange!

So that was the end of our time in Ahmedabad! Yay!

Tuesday, 23 October 2012


Well I'm in Mumbai now, and I have to say, I felt great trepidation before coming here after all the stories we have been told by other travellers, but I have actually loved it here!

It is a city of great contrasts, and the poverty is on such an unimaginable scale its hard to comprehend. I have found that I have been switching off to it, as I get really emotional if I think too much about it. But it has cemented my idea about adoption and I will definately be adopting an Indian child, if there is still a need for it, when I want children.  It's also made me want to do more charity work for street children and the people who live in slums. But more on that later.

The trip from Goa to Mumbai was very memorable. We got a sleeper bus, and were very happy to discover on its arrival that it was air conditioned. We hopped on and found we had a double bed at the end of the coach. Unfortuently we also had our bags with us (as we have heard stories of people stealing stuff when they are below) this meant it was pretty much 3 people and consequently I spent all night on my back, as any other way resulted in me almost being thrown out the bed, as it was an extremely bumpy ride.

Our first view of Mumbai was the side of a motorway and the extreme poverty hit you straight away. We then had a tussel with a band of taxi drivers, who were still not sure if they were trying to scam us or not!

Our first day we went to the gateway of India and the Mumbai museum. They were both ok, but the museum wore thin quite quickly. In the evening we saw a bollywood movie "student of the year". It was really good, pretty easy to follow, good music and parts were in English (it switched between Hindi and English words the whole way through). It was interesting because people shout out during the film and wolf-whistle etc. The film dipicts the lives of 3 rich Indians, and the stark contrast between fantasy and reality was apparent as soon as we left the cinima, As we then got chased by a pack of stray dogs.

On the second day we did a slum tour. Now we were abit iffy about the ethics of it. We were scared it would be abit like look at the poor people. But in actual fact it was amazing. We booked with reality tours, and 80% of their profits go back into the slum community. The tour guide had grown up in the slums and had a vast knowledge. We saw the industry side of the slums, how they recycle plastic. It's like a little production plant, one lot of people do one thing and then pass it next door to the next one. In total the slums actually turn over £70 million a year. So a lot of people stay in the slums with their community, even if they make a lot of money. The slums are like a rabbit warren, but also like a city within a city. They have shops, and most children go to school. All the kids we saw were happy and well looked after. We also saw the community center reality tours run, which had English and i.t lessons. It definately makes me want to do more for charity. The highlight was when the women making poppodums asked if we would like to have a go, I of course jumped at the chance. I think I'm officialy the worlds worst poppodum maker, they all laughed at how bad I was :)

Yesterday we went to Elephanta island. You get a boat across to an island and then they have this majestic cut of the stone temples, with intricately caved tableaus. They were mostly of Shiva (a Hindu God). I found it very peaceful and beautiful. There were also loads of monkeys on the Island. In the night it monsooned. It was an amazing amount of rain!

This morning were have had street food called kanji vada, which are abit like savory donuts with a spicy sauce! Now just waiting to go to Ahmedabad, our next stop!