This week’s photo challenge theme – containers – immediately made me think of the huge amounts of food, spices, sweets, flowers and little trinkets that we came across on our travels across India, all stored in containers, bowls and sacks, bundled on top of carts and spilling out of roadside shops. Although the weekly photo challenge is usually just a photo with a small story or caption, there was absolutely no way that I could say so little about the food in India. It accidentally turned into a slightly longer post – oops! – as I found myself writing more and more and wanting to share the deliciousness of India with you 🙂
I’ve been lucky enough in my life to travel to some amazing destinations and experience the beauty that the world has to offer, from snow-capped mountains and sandy deserts, to tropical rainforests and modern cities. The world is an incredible place and, while I might be easily pleased, there really is so much to see in one life time that can take your breath away.
It upsets me to see when people treat our planet with no respect and, because of this, things are gradually being ruined. Rainforests are being chopped down, lots of animal species are facing extinction and the world is just becoming a dirtier and greyer place.
Sitting still doesn’t come naturally to me. After a day of relaxing on a beach, my feet start twitching, and I’m ready to get up and start exploring.
All the travelling to reach new destinations can sometimes take it’s toll. I don’t even want to think about the ludicrous amount of hours I’ve spent waiting at airports or train stations; the number of times I’ve rushed in a panic to catch a flight; the amount of delays that have frustrated me, and the hours of sleep I’ve lost to jet leg; the irritation of bartering over prices for a local taxi, tuk tuk or bus; the air miles I could have earned if only I had been clever enough to sign up in the first place; and all the plane food I’ve consumed (and yes, I’m one of those rare few people who actually enjoys plane food. It’s food…what’s not to like?!).
After an exhausting 2 and a half weeks travelling around the busy, noisy and dusty cities of North India, arriving at Marari Villas was like stepping into a whole different world. A small resort in the quiet beach village of Mararikulam in Kerala, Marari Villas was exactly the bit of luxury and relaxation we needed to end our trip with.
While I plan all our trips and Alex just goes along with whatever I say (who says there’s no such thing as the perfect man?!), I had told Alex absolutely nothing about this place. I knew how good it was and I wanted to see his face when he realised this.
This week’s challenge is based on the three-picture story: a way to tell a story through images.
My three-picture story is about Jaisalmer Fort, one of the world’s largest forts and one of the biggest tourist attractions in Rajasthan, India, and also where we spent Christmas Day last year. Unlike most of the forts in Rajasthan, Jaisalmer Fort is still in use today and not just used as a museum or tourist attraction. Hundreds of people live inside in old fashioned havelis and the winding alleys are crammed full of shops, eateries and places of worship.
One of my favourite parts of planning a trip is choosing the accommodation. It might only be somewhere to lay your head but in countries with a big culture shock or noisy streets, your room provides you with your own little bubble of privacy and calm and, for me at least, it’s somewhere I can retreat to and relax at the end of a long and tiring day of exploring, so the accommodation is an important part of travel for me.
I like to think I know what to pack when I go on trips. I do hours of research and make hundreds of lists, and travel experience also helps in knowing what to take. I’m proud to say I’ve never once forgotten anything and found myself desperately in need of it when away. (Okay so there was the time when I forgot my bra and had to turn back around when half way to the airport but that was totally Alex’s fault. And yes it was a much needed piece of underwear!)
But India is in a league of its own when it comes to what you need to take with you.
When I think of Christmas, white snow and twinkly fairy lights come to mind; Christmas crackers with ridiculous jokes; stuffing myself full with my nan and grandad’s yummy roast dinner; opening presents from under the Christmas tree; and getting into arguments over games with the family. But I had none of that this year.
This year Alex and I spent our Christmas in India. Instead of white snow we had hot sunshine, and the roast turkey was substituted with curry.
I thought I was prepared for India. I had researched for months and got tips from those who had already been, bought and packed everything we could possibly need; but I don’t think anything can really prepare you for this place.
It isn’t the culture shock of this country that is so different to England or anywhere else I’ve ever been. I tend to thrive on culture shocks and like to go to places that are as different as possible to what I am used to, but India is on another level!
I have been waiting for this day for an extremely long time. From the day I booked our flight to New Delhi all the way back in February, I have had frequent frenzied moments of jumping up and down with excitement or grabbing the person closest to me and squeezing them with delight. I’ve also had a few moments of panic – not knowing what to pack on this trip that isn’t really a holiday but isn’t really proper backpacking either; stressing over the complicated visa process; worrying about what clothes to take in a country that will be hot in the South but cooler in the North and where modern cities thrive next to older traditional places (to jean it or not to jean it?).