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!
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!
First off, apologies for a lack of longer posts recently. Hoping to write soon on my visit to Mumbai, what to wear in India, and a guide to train travel! The last couple of days have been exhausting with not much time to write! Or the energy where there has been the time!
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.
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.
Summer has truly begun! I can’t quite believe how quickly the last couple of months have gone by and how much has happened, particularly just in June. I’m in something of a state of limbo, living with my parents in Somerset during the university holidays at the moment, but as you’ll find out, hopefully not for long! No offence intended, of course, to my parents who are being fairly saintly in putting up with me. Here are some of the most significant things which have been happening in my life this month!
I’m writing this because… Well, to be honest, it’s because I keep seeing people writing soppy Facebook statuses about the New Year and I wanted to do one, but I also didn’t want to embarrass myself. So why not do a longer post here, a forum completely dedicated to embarrassing myself? Ha ha. Anyway, it’s probably going to wind up being a lengthy one, so buckle up.
I should be revising. How strange, and yet how completely predictable that I’m back in the position I was in at this time last year, with a few marked differences. I’m panicking about first-year exams I haven’t revised enough for, preparing to go back to Exeter to start another term. But I’m studying something I enjoy. Even though I have to make myself work sometimes, and I still get distracted by stupid things, and a lot of the time I just want to stay in bed, I don’t feel helpless. I’m not held back by a cloud over my head which makes me doubt whether I’ll make it into the next week, let alone the next year. Continue reading “2015 Roundup”
I got up at an absolutely RIDICULOUS hour on the Wednesday of that week; sad but necessary to get to Jaipur for a reasonable time, as the journey is nearly six hours long. Ideally, I would have liked to stay overnight, and had planned to stay with a Couchsurfing host, but it didn’t work out with the train times. When I’d been booking the tickets, I’d told the counter guy all this and watched his expression go from “mild interest” to “really couldn’t give less of a shit”.
I’ll write a focus post on my day in Jaipur when I get a chance (around the time I’ll write all those other location based ones, eh?) but for the moment, let it suffice to say that the day was very full, hot, exhausting, exciting, draining, confusing and a whole range of contradictions. Despite it being part of the “Golden Triangle”, I had mixed feelings about Jaipur and didn’t really love it as much as I did Delhi. For me, the hawkers were too aggressive (and that’s saying something, having been in Delhi for a week!), the sights not as impressive as I’d thought, and the place lacked the charm of Agra.
More on that later.
As I’d taken the sleeper train back from Jaipur (and that’s a whole other story!), I was fretting for about an hour before the train reached Delhi for fear of missing my stop and ending up in the back-arse of India in the early hours of the morning. Thankfully, it didn’t come to that, and after a few responses of confirmation to my questions of “Delhi? Next stop?” and quizzical looks, I managed to get off the train at the Old Delhi station just after 5am.
The next day, it was time to explore New Delhi! Most attractions in India are closed on Mondays, but thankfully most of the things I wanted to see were either outside or still open. Firstly, yes, I did walk all day again! I went to Connaught Place, which is pretty much the commercial centre of New Delhi – most of the big avenues lead onto a traffic circle which goes around a circular colonnade of shops, banks and restaurants. It’s like being back in Europe! Costa and Starbucks lining the roads, etc. I even saw Marks and Spencer! Home comforts!
Of course, I HAD to stop for an iced coffee, but straight after that, I headed to the Jantar Mantar, which is a huge observatory just off Connaught Place. It’s quite incongruous with the surroundings! Imagine, these huge red stone instruments surrounded by modern office buildings; very strange! Entrance fee was 100 Rs, but it was worth paying as the place was not only interesting to look around but quite a nice peaceful place to sit in the shade and people watch.