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Introducing....Tuesday Travel Diaries!

24 January 2012


Hi guys, I'm super excited to introduce a concept that's been floating around in my brain for awhile now.  This concept now has a name....Tuesday Travel Diaries.  The basic gist is that each week, I'll have a guest author write about a place they've traveled to...chocked full of pictures, travel tips, food recommendations, etc.  

As much as I love Trip Advisor {and I do love Trip Advisor}, there's nothing better than getting the travel scoop from a person you know, and who you share common interests with.  Hopefully it will inspire all of us to start planning that next great vacation!

So, to kick off Tuesday Travel Diaries and get y'all acquainted with the format, I'm going to share about my trip to India. 

The basics: where, when, & how long?
I traveled through the Northern parts of India {Delhi, Rishikesh, Haridwar, Dwarahat, Calcutta, Varanasi, Agra, and Ranchi.}  We began in mid-October 2011, and the trip lasted 4 weeks.


What route did you take?  And how much was the flight?
I flew Sydney-->Singapore-->Delhi on a code share between Qantas and Jet Airways {an Indian airline.}  The flight cost $1,400 roundtrip.



Who did you travel with? 
Part of what made this trip so awesome, is that I traveled with my dad.  He had been to India twice previously, and volunteered to join me when I expressed some interest in going.  It's so rare to get much solo father/daughter time as adults...so this felt really special for both of us.  We got so many remarks from people about how sweet it was to see us there together.  However, most of the Indian people thought we were married {shudders} and often tried to give us a room with a single bed {no thank you.}



Tell us where you stayed.
We traveled around a lot, so I won't go into specifics.  Between the seven different locations, we stayed in hotels in four cities, and ashrams in three cities.  The ashrams were definitely a more basic accommodation {sharing rooms, very sparse, bucket bathes}, whereas the hotels tended to be pretty Westernized and quite comfortable. 


{You see a lot of Swastika symbols in India.  Turns out the Nazi's stole it from them and changed the orientation.  It actually has a very sweet meaning in Hindi, that far outdates the Nazi's.}

Did you encounter anything unexpected?
For the most part, our travels were very smooth.  Particularly when you hear the horror stories of people waiting four days before they can buy a train ticket.  All our flights and trains were booked in advance and ran as scheduled.  We did encounter a sweet surprise in Varanasi.  Our tour leader had a personal connection with a family who plays classical Indian music, and he arranged a private, rooftop concert for our group.  It was outrageously awesome! 




How accurate are the stereotypes?
Well, you always hear that India is an assault on the senses--the smells, the sights, the sounds.  I found this to be absolutely true, but in a good way.  It's so interesting to be in a place that is so different from home...I just loved looking at every single sari and piece of fabric.  The colors are so vibrant and so beautiful.  




You also hear about the poverty and hygiene concerns in India.  From my experiences, that's pretty accurate as well.  One-third of India {one-third, people!} is below the poverty line.  So there's quite a bit of evidence of basic housing {many people living together, sometimes no indoor plumbing} and beggars on the streets.  However, I really saw another side to the poverty as well, and that took the form of industriousness.  Indians work very hard, and function as a community.  For what I can tell, they are just has happy, if not more so, than your average Westerner.  


And, yes, I did see people pooping on the train tracks. 

Tell us about the food.
The food was AWESOME!  And dirt cheap!  You could eat your heart out for $2-3.  People are always very worried about picking up some intestinal bug in India.  This is where having a tour guide is so critical.  I went with a guy who's been doing India tours for over 20 years...so he knew exactly where to eat, and reminded us of the simple things {no ice, no raw food unless it's been peeled} that kept us healthy.  In fact, I might have gained weight in India!


{Gotta love Indian advertising...haha}

Were there any must see’s?
The Taj Mahal, for starters.  It really lives up to the hype and is an absolutely stunning building.  Teams of people worked 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for 15 years to construct it!

{Taken at sunrise.  The smog in Agra is starting to ruin the morning view.}



Additionally, there were many "must see's" for me related to my meditation practice and the rich spiritual heritage in India. 



Do you have any regrets?
 None!  I got to see, do, and experience everything that I hoped for {and so much more!}  Well, I suppose I do have one regret....I got a massage at one of the hotels and they gave me a very young {early 20's} guy as a masseuse.  Let's just say, the massage was not very relaxing {cue weird heavy breathing} and a lot of time was spent on unconventional areas.  I definitely won't be doing that again!

{The monks at the ashram setting off fireworks for Diwali...the biggest Hindu celebration of the year, signifying the victory of light over darkness.}



Would you go back?
Yes, without any hesitation.  It's funny, you know, because I wasn't sure how much I would like India. I kind of thought "I'll go once, see what I want to see, and be done."  As it turned out, I loved every minute of my time there and I was not ready to leave, even after 4 weeks.  So I would absolutely go back, if and when I have the time & money.  



Anything else you'd like to share about the trip?
I'm normally the girl who loves a relaxing, beach vacation.  I prefer 4-5 star hotels, or a rustic little cabana situated on the sand.  So taking the leap to go to India was definitely outside my comfort zone.  I found the people to be so sweet and so loving....it just made the trip wonderful and totally blew away my expectations.

{I gave my earrings to this special girl, Anita.  She had little sticks in her ears prior.}

{Anita loved my camera.  She took about 50 photos that were blurry, upside down, or had a finger covering the lens.  Then she took this beauty.  Amazing.}



Thanks for sharing my India adventure with me.  I hope you enjoyed it :)  If you're interested in sharing a travel adventure for the Tuesday Travel Diaries, please E-mail me at emmyjuneborninmay{at}gmail.com.  

6 comments:

  1. Beautiful pictures! I'd love to go to India one day.

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  2. Your trip sounds awesome (sans the creepy masseuse guy)!

    I'm going to South Korea in 3 months!! Maybe I can share that trip with you! :)

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  3. What an amazing trip! I would love to be able to travel that part of the world. We recently took a weekend trip to Sonoma if you are interested in that :)

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  4. I am so jealous. What an amazing trip.

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  5. I have always wanted to go to India! SoMEDAY! :) Great pics, great blog, love it all!

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  6. What a great adventure!! I love the end with the pictures of and by Anita. It looks like you really had the trip of a lifetime! Thanks for sharing.

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Thanks for sharing your thoughts and love!
Every comment makes me smile :)

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