India is a fairly exotic and somewhat chaotic destination so it’s no surprise that a visa is required for most nationalities to step onto their colourful land.
Here are a few things to be aware of as you work through the Indian eVisa process.
You may have seen the print and other ads for the Webjet tour business and wondered if they were too good to be true. The prices seem incredibly low and chockful of meals, entrance tickets and other add-ons, making you wonder, ‘how can they do it’?
Well, they can AND it is well worth doing…
The Indian adventure continues…
Each day brings exciting, and sometimes challenging, new sights, sounds and smells.
We are now down in southern Rajasthan at the romantic white city, Udaipur. In the last week we have:
• been stunned by the living city inside the Jaisalmer Fort,
• ridden camels across the sand dunes of the Thar Desert and walked bow-legged for a while afterwards!😉
• listened to soothing chakra music in the imposing Mehrangarh Fort and
• stood amused and confused in the colourful chaos of the old Jodhpur bazaar.
• bumped and jiggled and rattled over the back roads to soaring Jain temples,
• edged slowly through, joyous singing and dancing weddings and
• had more selfie photos taken than I have had hot dinners!
• Laughed at the traffic and the ability to fit a complete car chassis in the back of a small tuk tuk,
• Visited a small desert school to drop off some school supplies. The children stared at us as if we had dropped in from out of space, but hopefully the pens and pencils will be useful.
• Stared open mouthed at the opulence of the City Palace in Udaipur, and
• Watched the golden walls of the Palace glow at sunset as we bobbed around Lake Pichola.
What an amazing country!
We are not in Kansas anymore, Toto!
More accurately, we are not in little ol’ Mudgee anymore. Instead we are in a car driving through the depths of dusty Rajasthan, India.
Today will be day five of our Opulence of Rajasthan tour and I am struggling to put into words all that we have seen. India is such a land of contrasts – from gobsmacking beauty to heartbreaking sadness, and always an eye opener.
Our little traveling party of three women, and our patient driver, left New Delhi on Monday. We have been working our way eastwards and arrived in Jaisalmer yesterday afternoon. As we have travelled, the terrain has become increasingly desolate and now we are well and truly on the outskirts of the Thar Desert. To the point where this afternoon our plan is to pull on our johdpurs, mount up and head off on our camels out over the sand dunes.
In the meantime I will try to share a little of what we have seen so far. Even in the middle of nowhere there is something to look at, even if it just the crazy traffic.
Asif, our driver, is great company and is happy answer all our crazy questions and sometimes even he has his camera out taking photos too!
Enjoy the snaps below. I will try to be a better blogger over the next couple of weeks, but no guarantees!
Chandi Cowl market in Old Delhi
Through the streets of Jaisalmer
Sunset over Jaisalmer
Views from the car
Making new friends at Ramdevra Hindu Temple
The inhospitable countryside as we edge closer to the Thar Desert
Happy pilgrims on their way to Ramdevra
Transport in India!!
Thousands of rats at Rat temple at Phalodi
A rubbish mountain (the photo really doesn’t show its true size) at Bikaner
Beautifully painted houses at Mandawa
One of our hotels…
Road conditions are a little basic in places..
I have been reluctant to write this post as it means that my first Indian adventure is truly over.
Note that I used the word ‘first’, as I think I left behind a little of my heart in the elegant surrounds of the Amber Fort in Jaipur.
One day I shall return to collect it…
Rattling into Udaipur on a public bus, tired after around five hours of weaving through random traffic and over broken dirt roads, it was hard to believe that Udaipur was the beauty that everyone raved about.
Our bus coughed and wheezed into the chaotic public bus station and we stiffly stepped out to be swamped by the usual hoard of enthusiastic tuk tuk and taxi drivers. This is one of the huge advantages of travelling in a group with a guide. Ankita haggled and hassled until we had our four tuk tuks lined up and we were soon back, weaving through the choking traffic once more.
Visiting a country just to shop, would never be something I would consciously do. I have heard of people booking trips to all manner of Asian and other destinations just so they can blitz the shops. That sounds like the epitome of boredom to me, but even I was dazzled by the art, craft and pure entertainment value of shopping in India.
Before you track me down, drag me into the streets and beat me to a pulp, hear me out.
Yes, the Taj Mahal is beautiful.
Yes, it is elegant.
But where is its soul?
Like the sleepy and sluggish River Ganges, Varanasi is best enjoyed slowly, savouring the spirituality and the diversity of the devout pilgrims the river attracts.
That’s the theory anyway, but on an organised tour you need to cram in as much as you can in only two days.
When was the last time a building stopped you in your tracks?
Your eyes widened trying to take it all in and your mouth fell open in awe?
Mehrangarh Fort did that to me in November 2017!
Abhaneri? Where’s that?
Stepwell? What’s that?
In short, it is a must-visit place on your next trip to India.
India – population 1.324 billion people (2016).
Intimidating? A bit.
Friendly? Without a doubt!
Yes, I have a lot to learn about India, but I suspect there are a few of you out there who also have never heard of the Thar Desert.
There is nothing like an Intrepid tour to take you slightly off the beaten track and at the same time, open your eyes and your mind, to new places.
The Thar Desert is certainly one of those eye-opening spots.
What is it about a door that so captures my imagination?
Why do doors seem to have so much personality for an inanimate object?
Is it just me? Or do doors and doorways catch your eye too?
Have you ever felt equal parts excited and nervous?
Yes? Me too, and I am now!
Promotional Blurb: ‘When a Gandhi dies, nobody is safe.’ An assassination, a romance. A hijacking, several nuclear explosions and a religious experience … just some of the ingredients in the latest tour de force from the bestselling author of the Carpet Wars. In the searing summer of 2004, Christopher Kremmer returns to India, a country in the grip of enormous and sometimes violent change. As a young reporter in the 1990s, he first encountered this ancient and complex civilisation. Now, embarking on a yatra, or pilgrimage, he travels the dangerous frontier where religion and politics face off. Tracking down the players in a decisive decade, he takes us inside the enigmatic Gandhi dynasty, and introduces an operatic cast of political Brahmins, ‘cyber coolies’, low-caste messiahs and wrestling priests. A sprawling portrait of India at the crossroads, Inhaling the Mahatma is also an intensely personal story about coming to terms with a dazzlingly different culture, as the author’s fate is entwined with a cosmopolitan Hindu family of Old Delhi, and a guru who might just change his life.
For those people who don’t know me well, I am a planner and an organiser. Yes, I would like to be more chilled and ‘go-with-the-flowish’, but after 50-odd years on this earth, I have found that approach just doesn’t work for me. I need goals and I need exciting things on my horizon to keep me motivated and interested.
Many years ago I developed an aversion to birthdays. Not that I despised getting older, although who wouldn’t want to turn the clock back a tad, it was just that I would look back on the previous 12 months and wonder, ‘where did that go’ and ‘what did I achieve’?
Most times I felt like I had accomplished a big, fat nothing. This was inaccurate and no way to think about my life, so I decided to change. Each birthday I would sit down and set myself some small challenges for the next 12 months. Then, I would stick this list, big and bold, on my fridge door. This provided no end of amusement for visitors to my house, but more importantly it kept me honest and kept me focused. Subsequent birthdays were greeted with slightly less trepidation, and a degree of excitement, as I set myself even more ambitious goals.
Without wishing to be morbid, I am now at a stage in life with more years behind me than in front, and it is time to really ‘up the ante’ on the goal-setting front.
Yes, the list is back on the fridge door, and as a sign of the times, it is now termed a ‘Bucket List’. Perhaps this is a poor choice of words, and I do not plan on going anywhere soon, except to remarkable, exotic overseas and Australian destinations.
I am always open to suggestions and here, in no particular order, is the Bucket List so far:
The Mississippi River Trail: A cycle route that starts in Lake Itascain Minnesota, USA, and finishes near the mouth of the river in Venice, Louisiana. It covers 3 600miles (5 794km), using the Mississippi River as the common theme or motif. In the past, the USA was never really high on my travel wish list mainly because the cultural contrast was not significant enough. However, this trip has captured my imagination because of the many states we will pass through – their different climate, architecture, history, scenery and accents. Yes, it will take us around three months, but what a way to experience a country.
India: How do they cram so much chaos, colour and culture into one five-letter word? The thought of the scale of the population in India frightens the pants off me, but I am busting to get there to experience such their vibrant culture. I am not brave enough to do this solo or via independent touring so I am currently researching cost-effective and well-regarded tours that will give me a small insight into this country. Fingers crossed, I get to tick this one off the list in 2017.
Trains Through Asia: I am not sure if you have come across The Man in Seat 61? He has to be world’s largest train nut, and what a wonderful resource he has created for rail-travel fans. The loose plan is to fly into Singapore and then train (and bus where necessary) north through Malaysia, Thailand and finishing in Luang Prabang, Laos. Again, a fantastic way to experience a variety of Asian cultures, move slowly through the changing countryside, and meet the locals.
thrown into the mix. This walk starts at Irun, near the border of France, and follows the Spanish coastline until you cross into the province of Galicia, then turning south-west towards Santiago de Compostela. This is a tough walk apparently, due to the mountainous terrain, so we had better start training now!
That is just a small sample of what’s currently on the list. I think it’s a nice mix of active, overseas, cultural and the Aussie, but I am more than happy to print out a longer list or buy a larger fridge to display it!
So, now it’s your turn. What is missing from our list? What cracker destinations must we add?
What: The Bucket List is open to all suggestions. I figure once the appeal of sitting on a long haul flight fades, our focus will change and we will travel much closer to home.
When: Anytime, and any length of time.
Why: Who needs a reason to travel?
How: Planes, trains, automobiles plus by boat, on foot, by bicycle.
Who: Myself and The Brave Man* and anyone else up for adventure.
Related Posts: Watch this space
*The Brave Man refers to my husband. He is indeed a brave man for marrying a crazy woman like me!