Thursday, December 20, 2012

Long Over Due Blog Post - Back from India!

Hey All!  I know it's been FOREVER (well a mth) and my apologies for that...won't happen again.  I'm back from India and ready to start blogging up a storm just in time for Christmas...have so many blog posts lined up it's exciting!  I got back from India a week ago but needed a little time to get things back in order w/ home and the business before I started attacking the blog again.  I would have blogged while in India but wifi was unreliable at best and unavailable at worst...and I only took my iPhone...hard to blog from an iPhone.

So I'll give you all a brief update about my time in India...can't talk about it all b/c that would literally take me another week to write lol!  Let's just say it was an amazing and life changing sort of trip where I met an amazing group of ppl that I will NEVER forget!  So amazing in fact I couldn't leave after 2 weeks!  I didn't have any huge obligations back home so I decided why not stay an extra week and take in more of the wonderful experiences that India has to offer (I mean after 2 yrs w/out a vacation I think I deserved an extra week lol).  One of the perks of being self employed...if I want to stay an extra week guess what I stay an extra week!

As I mentioned before I was traveling w/ a tour company called G Adventures which is Canadian based but oddly enough I was not only the only Canadian on my tour but also the only person from North America.  It was definitely an eclectic group of ppl from all over world and spanning decades in age.  Really great ppl though and we all had great chemistry and a fabulous doubt in part due to our amazing tour guide Zahid (Zee)...seriously couldn't have asked for a better guide to show us the wonders, beauty and adventure that is India.

Before I went I actually was on the G Adventures Forum called The Watering Hole look for others on my tour...couldn't find any until about a week before when I actually found a fellow companion Ole from Norway.  I joked w/ him that he had decided to do a little male version Eat, Love, Pray trip...he quit his job, sold his condo and now he's traveling for a year! We chatted for a bit online and then added each other to Facebook so we could "stalk" each other a bit more lol.  It was nice to know before I left that I was going to have at least one person there that I "knew" beforehand.

Just arriving in Delhi I knew I was in for a HUGE change!  I thought I was use to crazy driving having lived in Shanghai for 8 mths but I can honestly say w/out hesitation the Chinese have NOTHING on the Indians when it comes to CRAZY driving...let's just say lanes, blinkers, street signs have no use in India...all you need is a horn and death wish and you're probably good to drive in India lol!

So the adventure started in Delhi but I left there almost as quickly as I arrived...which was fine for me as I can honestly say it was probably my least fav city we visited..but that might in part of had something to do w/ the bit of culture shock and the 24 hrs of traveling prior to Delhi lol.

Agra and the Taj Mahal what can you say...of course it was breath taking and just seeing it was an experience of a life time!  After that we went to Jaipur (The Pink City) again full of gorgeous sites, palaces, forts and a Monkey Temple!  This is also where I got to experience my first real taste of a Bollywood movie in the movie theatre.

After Jaipur we went on to Pushkar, which is an amazing and interesting place on its own - it's completely vegetarian and alcohol free!  But it was esp. exciting b/c we happened to be traveling through it during the Annual Camel Festival which just happens to be Pushkar's biggest event bringing hundreds of thousands of ppl to the normally sleepy city of Pushkar every year.

A really sort of "interesting" experience I had in Pushkar was I actually competed in a Bridal Beauty was aimed at tourists and we got a chance to dress up as Indian Brides w/ all the clothes, jewelry and makeup of an authentic Indian bride!  I figured I'd gotten enough brides ready over the past couple of years might be fun to try it out being an Indian bride for a much more over the top can that get!  It was an experience I'll give you that...and just as chaotic and crazy as pretty much EVERY Indian wedding I've ever worked lol!  I actually experienced the chaos w/ a couple of my fellow tour companions - Ally and Sophie.  Being the control free I am I did my own makeup...and b/c of my exceptional winged eyeliner skills I was actually put in charge of doing about 8 other girls eyeliner as well lol! Unfortunately, I didn't win but it was an "interesting" experience nonetheless lol!

Pushkar was an amazing place b/c it's where I got to go on a Camel Safari...not the most comfortable of rides but definitely an experience.  There is an idea in Indian art that the Camel symbolizes Love b/c if you can love a camel you can love anything...I kind of understand that now ;).

After Pushkar we went on to Udaipur which will always hold a special place in my heart not necessarily for the activities that we did but more for the experiences I had and the relationships that were bonded over a beautiful sunrise on a rooftop on magical night/morning.  I'll admit though it was also the place where I experienced my worst

Traveling by jeep we left Udaipur behind and moved onto Ranakpur...this jeep ride was probably one of my fav. modes of transportation.  It was just a really fun playing DJ w/ my iPhone, which for some reason we learned is exponentially louder then anyone else's...good thing I have good music taste where ANYONE can pretty much find something like lol.

My least fav. mode of transportation had to have been the overnight train to Mumbai.  I'm no stranger to overnight trains as I took them when I was traveling in Thailand but this was nothing like the Thailand train.  They were bunkers of three and I had the unfortunate luck of being in the middle bunk...which IMO was the worst...and it was just not a good sleep...maybe I'm getting old or something but man my back just can't take that shit anymore lol!  Whatever like everything else good and bad in India it was an authentic experience and that's what I was after.

One of the big reasons I picked this tour was b/c it was a basic tour...I felt like I'd get a "real" India experience that frills or fanciness here!  Let's just say I'm now a PRO at the squatting toilets in ANY circumstance or condition, I really learned to love and appreciate hot water and I probably smelled really bad for a lot of the trip b/c no matter how much I tried...hand washing in a sink is not the same as washing clothes in a washing  machine lol!  Plus as I mentioned before we traveled in ALL modes of transportation - plane, train, tuk tuk, camel, jeep, cab, rickshaw, bus! NOT my music normally but in that city, w/ these ppl and those conditions it all felt right!  A few of us stayed right till the end and Zee showed us some real late night Mumbai action w/ some street food bought from an illegal late night restaurant and we also visited a beach which we found out afterwards was against the law at the time of night/morning...Zee may have had some words w/ a cop...
So back to Mumbai...if I'm to compare Mumbai to Delhi I'd definitely say I preferred the vibe of Mumbai A LOT more...I'll be honest this might in part of had something to do w/ the fact that I wasn't culture shocked or jet lagged (although I don't really get jet lag..I'm pretty amazing that way) but the overall feel just felt better.  I liked the culture more and it just seemed less dirty (this is a relative term of course) and the cars didn't seem to beep quite as much...which is always nice.  We only had one night in Mumbai but boy did we make the most of it - there was dinner, drinks, dancing, lipstick moments, street food and some illegal beach entries!  Started the night w/ dinner at the famous Leopolds...which ANYONE who has read Shantaram (I'm currently reading it btw...bought a black market copy in Mumbai in fact...seems appropriate lol) knows is a must see place..just for the experience or to say you've been there!  After dinner it was off to a true Mumbai nightclub experience at Blue Frog where we drank and danced to trance music LATE into the
After that it was onto Goa, which was actually the last time in the two week tour of the trip I had planned!  It was crazy how many places we had visited and sites we had seen but also how quickly time had passed!  A few of the group were actually staying on for a third week w/ another tour which was heading further south into the Kerala region and I knew I couldn't cut my journey yet.  So w/ some MAJOR airline drama, a lot of hours of trying and the wonderful help of a G Adventures flight representative back in Canada I was able to change my flight w/ literally less than 24 hrs left in the trip.  Seriously, I can't give enough props to the ppl at G Adventures not only for their tour but also for their amazing customer service!

After some sad goodbyes it was off to Kochi w/ the remaining 5 ppl on the of them being my "first" G Adventures friend Ole...kind of a neat full circle thing you know.  What was different in this next week was they were all part of a tour and technically I was just tagging along and following them lol.  So basically I just booked a room in all the same hotels and homestays they did but I had to find my own modes of transportation b/c they had a private bus taking them around.  If I was doing this my first wk in India I think I might have been a bit overwhelmed but after two weeks I felt I was up for the challenge and it was exciting and new so I liked that!  I figured out train schedules and buses all my own (well maybe I had a little help ;) ) and even managed to arrive at all the places w/out and real hiccups...pretty impressive indeed!

The South was a much more relaxed adventure w/ a lot less scheduled activities and cities to visit which was kind of nice given the hectic pace of the first tour.  Some of my fav. meals on the whole trip were actually had during this last week.  Special shout out to Green Palm Homestay in Alleppey which was run by a wonderful and warm family and literally had the best food of the entire trip...home cooked meals at it's finest!  That's one thing I haven't really touched on much yet...the food!  Fortunately, I NEVER got sick the entire trip...I was expecting it but it never happened!  Unforutnately, I literally put on at least 10 I'm not pull on cargos capris were tight by the end of the trip.  But you know that's all part of the experience and after awhile you go fuck it and eat some more b/c it's vacation and that's what vacation is for!  Did a couple of amazing cooking classes on the trip as well - one in Udaipur and one in Periyar (one of the stops in my third week).  While it's nice to have a salad again I'll admit I did LOVE all that garlic naan at EVERY meal lol!

Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end and that end was in Varkala, a beach resort area where we mostly just sunbathed, swam and indulged in fresh seafood!  After Varkala I took a train w/ Ole back to Kochi and although it was uncomfortable, hot and sweaty it was the perfect way to end the trip and experience the warmth and hospitality I had grown to know throughout my entire time in India.  At least it was nice to end the trip w/ the first person I met on the trip, Ole but some goodbyes are definitely harder than others...

And some flights are definitely harder than others...major delays on the way home and w/ the inclusion of the train ride from Varkala to Kochi I traveled for 48 hrs...ughh I needed a vacation after that!  But I wouldn't give up ANY of it...even the overnight train and gross disgusting washrooms b/c it made all the experiences that much more real and exciting!

Good Bye India...You definitely will have a place in my heart forever...

Here's a few more pics of my Adventure...wish I could share more w/ you but there are literally hundreds!

It's cliche but had to do it lol!

Myself, My Roomate Beci and Ole on one of our MANY tuk tuk adventures!

Monkey Temple

Chai before Henna w/ the Girls!

You can't tell but I'm on a camel

Cooking Class

They are probably much better at hand washing clothes than me that's for sure lol!

Much needed coffee after a long, late night!

Coconut Water - Nature's Gatorade...and a good hangover cure ;)

Puppies in Ranakpur!

Leopolds - The boys rocking out a bit at the beg. of the night!

Illegal Beaching at the end of the night in Mumbai

Canoe ride to Green Palm Homestay in Alleppey

Group Shot - Such a Great Picture!

Train Ride

Now back to your regularly scheduled Makeup & Beauty Blogging Business!


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