Since the last blog, we've had a very busy time travelling up through Kerala before flying north to Delhi.
We went to Alleppey where we went rowing on a small traditional boat down the backwater canals. We passed through peaceful villages stopping for numerous cups of chai (tea!) along the way.
From there we headed inland to the much cooler mountainous regions of Kerala, staying in Kumily which is a spice and tea plantation town near the Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary where we were lucky enough to see wild elephants. We celebrated Vicky's birthday in style by riding on an elephant, followed by a curry and a couple of pints of beer - just like a birthday in London!
We splashed out on a autorickshaw to take us on the 5 hour journey with breathtaking views to a hill station called Munnar. Then we headed back to the hot and humid coast, staying in the beautiful town of Cochin where we helped out with hauling in the famous Chinese fishing nets! We also saw some traditional Keralan martial arts but soon realised that our position in the front row was a little dangerous as knives and spears were flung around at a tremendous rate!!
We were sad to leave the south, especially the stunning state of Kerala. We treated ourselves to a 2 hour flight north to Delhi from the south rather than a 50 hour train journey. We were bracing ourselves for a manic experience in Delhi but actually found it an exciting, vibrant and relatively straightforward city to get around. We met up with some friends who we had met in the south and visited the Red Fort with them.
We also visited a charity called the Salaam Balaak Trust where they encourage street children to live in the shelters they provide, attend lessons as well as get any medical care they need. We did a city walk with a former street child who told us all about his experiences when he was younger and even showed us where he used to live at the railway station. He took us to a day centre next to the train tracks where a dozen small children were drawing and colouring while their parents where working. The walk finished at the main boys shelter where we met some of the resident children and were treated to some recitals of Baa Baa Black Sheep and Jingle Bells! It really opened our eyes to the other side of city life that you wouldn't normally get to learn so much about.
Then we headed to Varanassi and got our first glimpse of the River Ganges. It was a very calm by the riverside and we spent time wandering up and down watching the many pilgrims pray and bathe in the holy water. The next day we were up at 5.30am to take a boat trip down the river in time for sunrise. It was very different to the chaos that lay a few streets away in the main town where we have never seen so much traffic nor experienced such commotion trying to get 20 metres down a road. Seeing the Ganges was an amazing, indescribable sight but we were glad to leave the noise and pollution of Varanassi!
With banging heads and ringing ears, we embarked on a tiring, not very straightforward 13 hour journey by train, bus and ricksahw to Khajuraho. It was worth it though as this quiet town is home to some of the most beautiful temples in the world. They are most famous for their Karma Sutra carvings depicting various people (and animals!) in some rather compromising positions!
Tomorrow we are heading to Agra to see the Taj Mahal and then on to Rajhastan for the final leg of our trip...