hey!!! so this is it!! the ultimate blog from my around the world adventure!! (whats most surreal is updating it from the comforts of home!!)
Ok, so lets relive from mt.abu! A hill station set in rajasthan, where all the indians go on holiday as a break from the heat and to enjoy the beautiful mountainous area. Therefore when i arranged to go on a day tour of the sights of mt.abu, i was on a coach full of indian tourists and the tour was conducted in hindi! saw some fabulous temples, which will have to stay in my memory as no photos were allowed in these places! some temples were in rocks, some a little underground, but the most memorable was a jain temple, consisting of the most intricate white marble carving i ever did see. Stunning, and so much of it, every where you looked, the walls, the doors, the ceilings, all so detailed. however, if you are a female who is on your monthly cycle your not allowed entry!!! leather is also not allowed to be worn. If the beauty of it wasn't enough, you then realise that your at the top of a mountainous area and so when it was built the people relied on elephants to carry the marble from the flatlands of india to the top of the mountain! immense! i'll try and give some perspective on it..... the bus i travelled on, took a good hour to get up the hill and it struggled in some areas with the steepness (although thats indian buses for you!).
For the whole day in mt.abu i was quite a spectacle and i had so many people try and shadily take a photo of me, so many people ask...which i much prefer and quite willingly agree to a few! staring..... this was probably the worst day for it... especially when i wanted to take some photos of the local monkeys, they thought that hilarious! a few people did try and speak with me and their friendliness was much appreciated. One man told me so many people wanted photos because i was "very handsome girl". Not sure if this meant butch and was lost in translation!!!!!!!!!!!!!! By the end of the day i had found two brothers who spoke good english and they treated me to mendi(henna) on my hand, bottle of beer (drinking is banned in restaurants so we got one from the off license and took it to their hotel....which caused controversy because a white girl was on the premises... so the hotel staff suddenly became very attentive in their room service!! so funny!) and also my dinner that evening!
Next day and next stop was Udaipur, the home of James Bond 'Octop**** locations. Udaipur is said to be the indian venice.....as it has a lake with a palace and a hotel on their separate islnads within the lake! I arrived into udaipur into a festival in which the better off indians provide food and clothes for the poor....so there was lots of commotion happening outside the main temple which i had to wade through like a packhorse with my backpacks! Udaipur has some beautiful jewellery, handmade books/albums etc., clothes and rajasthani style shoes so is great for shopping! Its also the best place for food, i had some delicious dishes here and even took an indian cooking course so i now have the skills (that need practising) to make a few speciality dishes and the breads..chapatis, naans, paranthas, etc. the cooking course was definately one of my highlights of India, as the lady Shashi, at the sunrise restaurant that runs it was an inspirational women besides a great and patient (much needed when i'm attempting to cook) teacher. i also tried some yoga here in udaipur and really ached for a few days after..it was good!
Moving onto Pushkar... i grabbed the overnight bus to ajmer and then a local bus at 5.30am in the morning upto Pushkar. this local bus was the stereotypical indian bus journey you hear about...there were goats loaded on, people crammed into every space possible, a llittle kid sneezed and some of the spray headed my way... tasty! Once arrived i found myself a place to stay, had a little rest before going for a walk to orientate myself. the end of my walk led me to the pushkar lake, where the water is meant to be holy and priests approach you and conduct a small ceremony for you. i accepted, but was aware of the scam so didn't pay more than i wanted to, to the 'supposed charity'...but i did have to get a red painted bindi, and repeat chants in hindi, the only words i recognised were vishnu, ganesh and shiva...the gods!! the blessings are for your family past and present... and some people get scammed into paying hundreds of rupees per family member to send well wishings into the water. its all very fascinating though and indian families travel to pushkar solely for this reason (however they're not scammed as they don't have white skin!). I met a group of girls who were all independentally travelling but had found themselves staying in pushkar and hanging out together, along with a group of local lads. so i chilled with them for the day, had nice times and even got up early next morning (5.30am) to play a little cricket. Cricket mania....its loved so much, most guys play every day. i also decided to be cultural and then walk up a steep hill to the hill temple where the views of pushkar were stunning. i visited the braham temple also, but it was a 5 minute job... no comment required. however its significance is that it is one place in the world that braham can be worshipped.
next stop jaipur....took in the sights of the local markets selling textiles, kitchenware, marble work, fruit etc., the city palace (where i purchased a sitar for my brother), and took a small bus journey to amber to see the fort. my favourite part of the fort however had to be the snake charmer i saw as i was leaving. firstly i'd never seen a cobra so close and secondly i'd never seen one so hypnotised, it was ace!
In Jaipur i found some lovely genuine people, infact quite the opposite of what i'd expected as i'd been warned there were so many people there ready to scam you. i actually found this was the place i was hassled least... and actually, while there i managed to get two free rickshaw journeys as i was happy walking but the drivers insisted i get a ride ..free! one even treated me to chai tea and offered to buy me breakfast...obviously he wasn't the greatest business man, but he was a really sweet older guy. He tried my sunglasses on and they broke, after i'd tried to tell him they were cheapos, fake ray bans, my point proven. we had some giggles about it, esp when he put them on with just one lens... and then him trying to fix them. i also met some boys who i hung out with in the evening after by chance bumping into them again after having chatted with them in the street earlier. we grabbed food and then chilled out with cups of chai tea. sulraj, gave me a rajasthan style puppet he'd made as a present and amant treated me to indian breakfast at his favourite stall the next day.
onto agra for my final full day in india! stayed in a hotel where i had a rooftop view of the taj mahal... and it was cheap, the hotel that is! taj mahal looked just like it does in the photos u see! spent the evening in other travellers' company and then 6am the next day i was walking through the entrance gates to the taj mahal! 750 rupees for a foreigner admission and 50 for an indian. shocking! so the taj, a building of love.... for that in itself its impressive. inside its just a square room with a tomb inside, the beauty of it is in the inlay and the symmetry of the marble building. however i really feel that unless you want to walk in the gardens, it really doesn't need to be seen up close. a roof top view really is as effective.
train journey back to to delhi....where i had a little boy wee on the floor just infront of my feet....his parents just let him do it there, that was accepted! glad that he'd not needed to go when he was crawling on me!! was so excited about going home, the wait at the train platform really helped those feelings along, as i was sitting there trying not to be affected by the beggar children that were only approaching me, the flies, many flies just irritating me, the sweat that i could feel just running down my body and the stares that i endured while writing in my journal!
arrived in delhi...my sandals broke (loved my haiviana's). definately time for home, as they'd been my sole mates since mexico!! grabbed myself food in a place i knew was nice and then headed to the airport, getting a good bargain rickshaw price for the last time, 12 hours prior to my scheduled flight.
My hopes were met and i was able to get a flight 7 hours earlier than planned so i arrived in heathrow with the cheesiest smile early monday morning... to find i could also get my bus ticket to coventry brought forward so i arrived back in sunny coventry mid-day! my first impressions of England again were its so green, clean, beautiful, respectful...health and safety conscious!! arrived home a day early than expected to shock my mum and dad....and boy were they shocked!!
since getting home, i'm taking my time to slowly adjust, having good days and occasional bad times where i feel totally disorientated. a mobile phone is soon going to be back in my possession and then i think normality will begin again!
i Just can't believe i've done it, i'm so proud of myself for achieving it all, have made some great friends, forged some top memories.. but equally its nice to be home and catch up with people i have loved and missed.
Thank you to everyone who has taken time to read my blogs...many of them long i know!
my trip of a lifetime around the sun has come to an end.....heres to the memories and the many photos!!
x x x