Half a year… say what?! It’s absolute madness to think we’ve been away now for half a year. It feels like just yesterday that we left for our flight to Sumatra and here we are six months later, in a little fishing town on the coast of Kerala in India.
The last month of travel has been full on. Whilst we’ve been in the same country the entire time, we’ve moved around ALOT, travelled ALOT and got sick ALOT – it’s made for all sorts of fun. We always expected India to be a challenge and its definitely been fun!
Month number six started with a visit to the most romantic city in all of India – Udaipur. We splashed out and stayed at the Lake Pichola Hotel for my birthday, and then had the opportunity to upgrade to a lake view room on check in for an extra $20 AUD a night – much cheaper than the online upgrade option, so we took advantage of that! We had a LOVELY few days in Udaipur. We spent most of it lazing about on the rooftop, watching the world go by, the boats drifting past on the lake, the birds circling in the sky. I had a lovely day celebrating my 25th birthday – we had ayurvedic massages, and had a wonderful dinner and cocktails on the rooftop terrace overlooking the lake and watching the sunset. It was an amazing day – thanks Mike for spoiling me! You can read about our thoughts of Udaipur, and its similarities (I felt) to Europe in this blog post.
Unfortunately things started to go a little south after this. On our last night, after a delicious meal of Penne Arrabiatta, I woke up with horrifically violent vomiting and diarrhoea. I was awake the entire night – every half an hour alternating between needing to vomit and needing the toilet. It was awful. It continued through the morning – a time when we needed to be packing and checking out at midday. We didn’t know what to do – we had a six hour bus ride to Jodhpur that afternoon and really couldn’t afford to stay back in Udaipur another night. As the vomiting had subsided, I plugged myself up with Gastro Stop and braved the bus.
As this was our first time commuting by bus (previous travel was all trains), we made sure we booked onto the Luxury AC Tourist Bus and paid extra for a ‘sleeper’ seat – this was the one reason I got on the bus despite being ill. Well, it was no luxury bus that’s for sure. As for a sleeper seat? More like a sleeper box, for two. It was a horrendous bus ride, six and a half hours of terrible driving, honking horns and a window that would not shut – letting in the freezing cold air.
We spent the first two of our three days in Jodhpur in bed – with horrible colds. Even Mike who is normally fairly resilient was as sick as a dog. We had head colds, running noses and couldn’t stop sneezing. Coupled with that time of the month for me, it was a pretty sorry couple of days.
As we started to feel better, we dragged ourselves out of bed to do at least SOME sightseeing. As I hadn’t really eaten since my ‘Penne Arrabiatta’ episode (as it will forever be referred too), my appetite had returned so I tucked into a tasty Palak Paneer for dinner. Big mistake. That didn’t agree with me either, and I was vomiting again within a few hours. Lets stick to toast shall we Amy?!
Despite the limited exploring we did, we loved Jodhpur – staying right in the blue city with its ramshackle houses (that really were blue!) was amazing, as was looking to the lit up Merangarh Fort at nighttime. The fort and its museum was incredible to explore, and Mike had a ball zip lining throughout the fort complex. I opted out… stomach still a little queasy and all.
Feeling slightly better by day three, we took a train to the city of Jaisalmer – right on the edge of the Thar Desert in the far west of Rajasthan. We had four days here, with one of those to be spent on a camel safari into the desert that we’d previously booked. It was an activity that both of us had been looking forward to more than anything during our India travels.
If you’ve been following us along on Facebook, you’ll know that our trip was a big, fat fail. You can read all about our experience on that safari here – we were utterly disappointed. In addition the the failed safari, what we didn’t mention was just how sick I got from the cold food we were served that night. The morning after returning from our safari, I was violently ill again – so much so that this time I had to take antibiotics. It was one of the reasons why we made the decision to cancel our train back to Delhi, and our trip to Amritsar, and stay in Jaisalmer. Staying back a further four days allowed me to get better, and head out on a second camel safari trip – and this time, it blew our minds. It was EVERYTHING we had hoped for and a must do if you ever visit – have a read about our second experience here.
We boarded our first long haul train from Jaisalmer all the way back to Delhi – 22 hours of travel! It wasn’t too bad to be perfectly honest – by a stroke of luck we managed to score a coupe – a private two bed berth which meant we had our little space to ourselves. Despite our intentions of wanting to be productive and get all our video editing and blogging done, it didn’t happen. There was lots of naps, and lots of Game of Thrones re-watching…
In and out of Delhi quick as a flash, we flew to Trivandrum in the country’s south on Christmas Day. Our first port of call was the beachside town of Varkala, where we had a lovely (albeit not quite the usual!) Christmas dinner with our friends Clare and Meredith who’d flown in that day all the way from London!
Kerala is completely different to the north – it’s summertime in the south, and it’s been sweltering ever since we arrived. With slender coconut palms everywhere you look, it feels like a completely different country – reminding me somewhat of Thailand more so than the India we’ve seen so far.
Five glorious days were spent on the beach in Varkala – sun bathing, surfing, drinking and eating. It was so lovely to have a change of pace and environment and weather, and so great to have the company of others for the first time in six months.
We cut our stay in Varkala short by a few days – originally we were meant to stay for 8 days, but we left after 5 after realising that between the four of us we wanted to see different things in the few days we had before heading to Kochi. Jumping on a train, Mike and I head for Alleppey – the hub of Kerala’s backwater canals and home to over 1000 houseboats. A ‘must-do’ activity, we sought out a houseboat on New Year’s Eve and scored a private two bedroom boat to spend the night. It was the perfect way to spend our last day of 2015, and was one of the most relaxing activities we’d done in India – you can read all about our experience here.
Leaving Alleppey early in the morning a few days later, we took a train and a bus to the hillside town of Munnar. Munnar is home to southern India’s largest tea plantations, and is famous for its trekking, wildlife and incredible views over the mountain ranges of the Western Ghats. We spent three incredible days in this beautiful area, trekking through tea plantations, taking driving tours to lookouts and sight seeing spots, and eating delicious home made chocolate – a famous product in the area.
The journey back to Kochi on the single lane winding road was a fun one, with several commuters suffering motion sickness, a very close call with another bus and then a delay and bus change after one of the side mirrors became ‘displaced’ – but we made it back in one piece! Catching back up with the girls, we’ve spent the last few days in Fort Cochi. The area is an old fishing village, with a lot of British, Dutch and Portuguese influence – its made for some beautiful architecture and sightseeing, which we did by tuk tuk. Exploring the streets and having fun with photography is how we’ve spent most of our time – it’s an incredibly chill little town – we’re loving the vibe.
We fly from Kochi to Bangalore before boarding an overnight train to Hampi – our first stop for month number seven. After Kochi, we have one very last train to Mumbai and our Indian adventures end there on the 17th of January. Mike will be returning to work on the 19th, and I’ll be flying to Sri Lanka and catching up with my friend Greg. I worked with Greg in my previous workplace, and he is the most well-travelled person I know. We’ll be exploring Sri Lanka together for a fortnight before Mike joins me for a further two weeks.
After six months of travel, here are some of our latest stats:
- 6 countries in 184 days
- 40 844 kilometres in total travelled to date
- 23 flights taken
- 8 boat trips to get to and from destinations
- 10 train trips
- 19 long haul bus trips between destinations
- 50 different hotels, guesthouses, hostels, boats, tents and cabins stayed in all up
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