My Top 10 Grateful Moments in… India!

Travelling, as we all know, has its highs and lows. Unfortunately, when we’re out there, sometimes we get so stuck on dwelling on the little things which are going wrong, that we forget how lucky we are to be able to travel in the first place. I know that I, all too often, find myself complaining, even if it’s just in my head. Maybe I should make it a resolution to go just one day without moaning about something, even if it’s just an internal gripe.

Once you accept that things won’t always go off without a hitch, you’ll cope much better. Trust me. Because in the end, most of it is magical. Nearly every cloud has a silver lining. Nearly. And at the end of a bad day, you just might find something which will make you smile. I always do.

In no particular order regarding their amazing-ness, here are my top ten most grateful moments from my two trips to India these last couple of years… As far as I can think of right now!

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A Guide to Surviving Train Travel in India!

I’ve taken a few trains over the course of my travels in India over the last couple of years, and whilst there are few things you can do to prepare, the journeys will never fail to surprise you. Be it delays, unexpected fights over your assigned seat (or lack thereof), or frantically grabbing your belongings to leap off the train at an unmarked station, there’s a lot to take in, and some things you just have to take in your stride…

Without further ado, here is my introduction to train travel in India, and what you can do to make the most of your journeys!

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Returning to India: Delhi, One Year On

To anyone who asked me about Delhi after my trip last year, I always said the same thing. It’s a place you love or you hate, I said, and thankfully I took to it straight away. It was true – from the moment I stepped off the Shatabdi Express train from Dehradun in the middle of June, 2015, I knew there was something different about this city. I have also always said that I am eternally grateful that I had two months to acclimatise to India in Dehradun whilst volunteering with the Saheli Trust, rather than coming straight to Delhi and being thrown into the deep end. I don’t think I’d have coped nearly as well in the capital if that had been the case.

More than one year later, I’m back again. Or I was, for a day or so. Whilst last year I spent more than a week in Delhi, this year, it’s been a flying visit before moving on to Dehradun for a couple of days to visit, and then catching a plane to Mumbai (please, save me the 40-hour train journey!)

So, a few things have been different. I’m no longer wide-eyed and unaccustomed to Delhi traffic, and I have even less patience for touts and over-eager rickshaw drivers. More on that later.

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The Realities Of Being A Young Solo Female Traveler

 

When you’re travelling in South East Asia, the majority of backpackers you meet are fairly young. But the majority of those travelling alone are in their mid-twenties. It’s reasonably rare to see gap-year students alone, especially once you step off the main tourist circuit. This is particularly true of young women travelling alone. And that’s just what I saw on my travels in Thailand and Cambodia. In India, to see a teenage girl travelling alone is almost unheard of. To be honest, travelling solo in India really deserves a post of its own. Another time. But here are a few things you’re likely to experience, both good and bad, as a young solo female traveler.

I wouldn’t have taken back a second of my travels last summer. Although I definitely had some lows to match the highs, travelling solo did amazing things for my confidence and sense of direction after leaving my first university course. Although I only I turned 19 towards the end of my stay in India, I wouldn’t say that being so young had any detrimental effect on my travels as a whole.

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Pai: At The End Of A Winding Road

Hi everyone! To celebrate me getting back on the blogging train, I guess it’s time for a throwback to one of my favourites from my last trip!

One of the best places I visited on my trip to Asia last summer was a lovely little town called Pai. It has so much character and things to do for such a tiny place, and some of my happiest days during all that travelling were spent there. I was lucky enough to spend the Fourth of July there with some newfound travel friends from the US and Canada, and it’s surprising how the American celebrations managed to make it all the way to Thailand!

Formerly a “hippy enclave”, Pai is one of the northernmost towns in Thailand, and well known to those on the backpacker circuit known as the “Banana Pancake Trail” – the route around South East Asia popular with Western travellers. Trust me, the hippy vibe remains! It’s part of Mae Hong Son province, and lies about 150km north of Chiang Mai, the heart of Northern Thailand. Pai lies at the foot of the mountains and so it’s a popular base for visiting the hill tribes, though not so much as nearby Chiang Rai. Continue reading “Pai: At The End Of A Winding Road”

23.6.15; BANGKOK, Thailand

Okay, so I started writing this one shortly after the last, but with the whole mugging and broken charger incident, I haven’t been able to get back on it until now. Without further ado…

Another installment has arrived! Life is just too busy at the moment; I never realised how difficult it would be to keep a travel blog whilst actually travelling? Being constantly on the move, wanting to fit in as much as possible and see all I can isn’t really conducive to sitting down at the end of the day and writing about it. It’s more conducive to me stumbling into my dorm late in the evening, having a quick shower and falling, already half asleep, into bed. With perhaps a bit of added, pointless faffing about on my phone.

Yep, definitely some of that.

On Monday morning – or rather, closer to noon after the excesses of the previous night – I checked out of my Khao San hostel, and left my bags there in order to go and enjoy another day of unburdened (physically, at least) exploring the city.

Also, I’d mention that I wasn’t really hung over, just quite tired. And that it had taken the grand total of one mixed drink, half of a vodka and Red Bull bucket, one Smirnoff ice, and a pink cocktail, to get me well and truly drunk. Understandable, since I haven’t been drinking at all in India. And it makes a night out cheaper, I suppose? I’d gotten to that point at uni where nothing at all seemed to get me drunk except the magic vodka and Red Bull, discovered by accident one night at a gig with… questionable and hungover-ridden results.

ANYWAY.

It was another pad thai for breakfast – 30 Baht, not bad – which I made the grievous error in spicing FAR too much and having to choke it down with a brave face in order not to look like a total newbie tourist. I managed. There were a few tears but I managed. Following the suggestions in the Lonely Planet guide for Bangkok, I decided to tackle a couple more of the Bangkok districts. There are quite a few and though I didn’t manage to see every area of interest, I hope to be able to explore a little bit more when I stop there before flying home in August.

My pad thai breakfast!
My pad thai breakfast!

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When the end is nigh; pre-return contradictions… 

NB: I apologise once again for poor photo quality; still no laptop/camera access! 

I’m happy… But I’m sad. I’m hopeful, but I’m also a little nervous. I’m tired, but I’m full of excitement for the next part of my life.

Such are the feelings I face as I scuff my toes in the hypothetical dirt, unwilling to drag myself away from the action-packed, varied life of travel which I have been living for the last few months, leaving behind the unpredictability of life on the road in favour of a new Bachelors degree and a whole YEAR of living in the same place. I left university nearly six months ago; I flew to India a month later. Since then, it has been such a roller coaster ride. The lows are few and far between, but despite what some would have you think, they do exist. But the highs… The highs are extraordinary in every way.
I would not take back a second. I would not reverse a single decision or moment which led me to be here, writing this post in a cafe in Kanchanaburi, watching the monsoon rains splash on the road outside. Even though at points during the last year, I’ve felt so desolate that I could barely see my own existence into the next week, I am now exactly where I am supposed to be. 

 

I swear I am having fun, despite my face… Taking in the history in Kanchanaburi
 
 

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Oh, Cambodia, why can’t we all just get along?

I haven’t really loved my time in Cambodia so far. A number of reasons have added up to me being alternately amused, faintly bored, somewhat interested and enormously irritated in varying amounts since I have been here. I am sad that I don’t have more time here to give it more of a chance and visit some places which are a little further from the backpacker trail, but unfortunately I am going to be leaving in about a week. Or perhaps fortunately, this time.

Don’t get me wrong; in no way am I dismissing the whole country, or the people, or the amazing experiences other people have had here. But at this point, Cambodia and I really haven’t gelled at all… Maybe another trip in the future will change my mind but currently, my feelings about the places I have been here are fairly resentful. For a number of reasons.

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Getting mugged in Phnom Penh – my narrow escape! 

So hopefully you’ve all seen my notice about how I won’t be able to post properly for a while. Currently in Phnom Penh, the capital city of Cambodia, I’m writing this on my phone and in all honesty, I probably could write some more long posts like this but it’s the most annoying thing… Especially as my nails are now at the stage where the length makes it uncomfortably difficult to type but they just look too cool painted so I am unwilling to cut them off.

But yeah, laptop out of action. And the reason for that is… I got mugged. Well, it was more of an attempted bag snatch so I won’t be over dramatic.

I had been warned about Phnom Penh, especially about its change of character after dark. However, I am generally not one to let warnings stop me from living my life and perhaps I was careless last night. Scratch that, I was definitely a bit careless.

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