Month 5: Introducing our Monthly Summaries and Statistics
Greetings from Nepal! Yes, after 5 and a half months we’ve finally left India! We’ve decided to mark this with the introduction of a monthly summary newsletter.
The unreliability of Indian internet aside, we’ve been struggling to keep you up to date in real time with what we’ve been up to, just because we’ve been up to so much! So here goes.
After experiencing travel fatigue we really slowed down our movements through Rajasthan in February. But we were back on the fast-paced track as the beginning of March brought the arrival of our friend Helen from the UK. It was her first time in India and her wide-eyed enthusiasm at all things Indian rejuvenated our love of its quirks.
We met her in Amritsar, a horribly polluted, building site of a city that is apparently being redeveloped but all at the same time. There were three redeeming factors:
We stayed at Amritsar Bed and Breakfast and were thoroughly spoilt with great hospitality from Vivek who took us to the best local food joints and lassi stalls, and by Sangita’s incredible cooking. Every evening we were treated to her wonderful Punjabi dishes and she spoilt Chris on his birthday with no less than 3 desserts!
The theatrical pomp and ceremony of the Attati-Wargah border ceremony
This border ceremony between India and Pakistan takes place every evening. It has to be seen to be believed. High kicks, salutes, flag-waving, deafening drumming, bollywood dancing and all round patriotism. Hilarious!
The serenity of the Golden Temple
Stepping through the archway in to this Sikh complex felt a million miles away from the filthy streets just outside.
Next we travelled to Rishikesh, the ‘Yoga Capital of the World’, where we enjoyed a wonderful stay at a yoga ashram for a week, went on a 2km hike that turned out to be 16km, zip-lined across the mighty glassy-green Ganges and white-water rafted along her fast-flowing waters.
We followed in the footsteps of the Beatles and visited the eerie, now abandoned Maharishi Mahesh Yogi Ashram where we ‘meditated’ in their meditation pods and admired the amazing graffiti.
We all fell in love with Rishikesh and wish we’d stayed longer. But we had to get to Delhi to meet Helen’s husband Matt in time for Holi, the festival of colour! We’d all been looking forward to this for so long but it was not to be for Chris who came down with food poisoning and missed it all.
Delhi was a sweltering 40 degrees so a Holi colour-soaking was a welcome respite but the searing temperatures followed us to Agra where we limped around the fortified ancient city of Fatehpur Sikri and the spectacular Jama Masjid mosque, visited the baby Taj and the magnificent Red Fort, and caught glimpses of the Taj Mahal from various angles.
Determined to beat the crowds, we bought our tickets to visit the Taj Mahal online and were in the queue by 5.20am, the earliest Eliza has been up on her birthday in decades!! But it was well worth it. It’s almost impossible to put into words the incredible beauty of this building (despite the scaffolding!).
We made a quick stop in Gwalior to visit its medieval hilltop fort with its turquoise tiles, before leaving the cities behind.
We ended the month in a rural homestay in the village of Ganj, just outside Orchha, where we enjoyed the slow pace of village life with the lovely young Neetu and her family. All thoughts of visiting the temples were abandoned in favour of cooling off with a swim in the Betwa river and trying to teach Neetu and her friends Mini and Kushy, to swim.
Stats of the month
Countries Visited: India
Places visited: 8
Jaipur, Amritsar, Rishikesh, Delhi, Agra, Fatehpur Sikri, Gwalior, Orchha
Money spent: £22.69 / $32.15 per person, per day
Distance travelled: 1937km / 1210m
Meal of the month: Punjabi Pakoda Kadhi
Anything served at Sangita’s table in Amritsar was amazing but special mention has to go to Pakoda Kadhi, deep-fried pakora dumplings in a mildly-spiced, tangy yoghurt-based sauce.
We’ll share our last two weeks in India and the incredible wildlife we saw (head over to Instagram for a spoiler) and spend our first 10 days in Nepal in the Kathmandu Valley catching up with Eliza’s parents. Then we will be heading off on an action packed adventure involving white-water rafting, trekking, para-gliding, zip-lining on the longest zip line in the world and whatever other adventure sports we can get ourselves into. We’re looking forward to finding out more about, and eating at much Nepali and Newari cuisine as possible and stuffing ourselves with momos – delicious Tibetan steaming dumplings – nom!
Is there anything else you’d like us to include in our monthly summaries? Let us know below.