Year Abroad Update: Two Months In

year abroad two months houses

So, I started writing this post more than a month ago, at which point I had intended it to be my “one month in” update for my Year Abroad, but sadly, I wrote a few sheets on a train in Austria and since then, they’ve been gathering dust on my desk. Funny, how life runs away with you.

It’s more than two months since I arrived in Tübingen. At risk of sounding like a cliché, it feels both as though I arrived just a few days ago, and like I’ve lived here for years. Maybe I was always supposed to be here, then. Perhaps it’s that I’ve had so long to get used to the idea. Continue reading “Year Abroad Update: Two Months In”

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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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”

Why is the fun gone? Coming home, feeling guilty and dragging my heels…

Sigh. *paces* Harumph. *sits down heavily in armchair* Pfft. *blows fringe out of face* So I’ve been home for nearly a month, and guess what? I’m moving out tomorrow, back to Exeter for another year at university, this time studying a brand new course which hopefully won’t make me want to hibernate all day in my room, eating cheese and crackers and whining about my abject misery to anyone who’ll listen. But never mind that…

I’m all packed – as usual with far too much stuff to take – and aside from the usual last minute panics and remembering things I forgot, I’m ready to head back for Freshers’ Week. Take two!

Trouble is, I’m feeling a little flat. I’ve mentioned this already. Before I got home, I was so full of it. So keen on writing, I bought a few more notebooks – always a necessity – to start journalling by hand whilst my laptop was out of action, I finished reading Eat, Pray, Love, and I couldn’t wait to get home, and start catching up on all my posts. The trouble is, it hasn’t really worked out like that.

Me and the fam after my return

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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!

Continue reading “23.6.15; BANGKOK, Thailand”