OMG! Thank god for the internet!
This morning we arrived at New Delhi train station for our early morn train to Jaipur.
As we approached the baggage check area a chap checking tickets (supposedly) told us that the train was cancelled.
He told us we’d have to go to an office near the old Delhi station (30 mins away) get a refund & book new tickets for another train at 7.15.
We were clearly not convinced so he took us to another chap who was apparently the ‘tourist’ guy who proceeded to explain to us in very good English & very convincingly this was indeed the case and explained very clearly where we needed to go & what we needed to do.
He even negotiated a low taxi fare for us.
But clearly something didn’t sit right.
We got in the taxi & started to head off & Natalie searched up train cancellations from Delhi & the word SCAM filled our screen!!!
With less than 8 minutes to go we shouted at the taxi driver to turn around & drive us back asap!
He was awesome & managed to skip past all the traffic even running alongside us pointing the platform entrance (he was clearly not part of the scam).
We had to run to get on the train & my poor sister couldn’t catch her breath!
Thankfully we made it & as I write this I’ve just had a nice cup of tea on the train to Jaipur. ☕️
Beware any westerners catching trains from New Delhi. On reading further, they’re organised crime groups who have been running for years!
So many tourists have been stung for hundreds after being told the train is cancelled then full then having to book a car to get where they want to go! 😮
I have to admit I am feeling a little gullible right now as we did fall for it stupidly without checking the station boards (mainly because he was telling us how urgent it was or we’d miss the next train) but thankfully this wonderful internet world allows people to share similar experiences!!!
Plus I’ve done my exercise for the day! 😁😁😁
Funnily enough I’m quite glad it happened as it adds to the whole experience, but I may be thinking quite differently had I missed the train!
No-one said that travel is always easy, but it’s always fun!!! 😂😂
Well! What can I say.
I was told lots of stories about Delhi before we arrived and I was expecting a super busy, traffic filled, polluted, chaotic, dirty city full of scammers & pick pockets!
What we found was quite different.
New Delhi built by the British when they decided to move the capital from Kolkata to Delhi back in 1931, is an expanse of parks, wide roads, parliamentary buildings, embassies, hotels & monuments etc.
It’s pretty clean, spacious and altogether an attractive & pleasant place to explore.
India Gate, a memorial to Indian soldiers lost in the First World War, is gorgeous and a very popular place with western & Indian tourists alike.
We stayed in a hotel just off Connaught Place, the main shopping & financial district.
The highlight though was a rickshaw ride around Old Delhi.
Old Delhi is like another world altogether and very similar to Kathmandu.
Narrow streets full of colourful shops & dodgy wiring.
Rickshaws, tuk tuks, people with huge loads on their heads, & cars abound with horns blaring at every turn.
Dirtier, yes. Smoggier, definitely. Did we need to be more diligent? Absolutely.
But we loved it! ❤️
Sari shops, jewellery stores, fabrics, bags, wedding decorations!
Then we turned a corner into the Spice Market. The smells & huge bags of spices & chillis were amazing. It was all you could do to stop yourself from sneezing.
Our rickshaw guy Salim was fab & even let me have a go on the rickshaw! 😁
All in all a great experience including eating the most glorious Indian dishes!
The food here is ah-ma-zing.
Mushroom Keema Masala & Dhabi Kofta! Yum yum 😋
Just a quick word of warning. The tuk tuk drivers do not listen. They want to take you sight seeing & shopping & anywhere that extends the trip and increases the price.
We had to be very firm and very specific with the drivers & only pay what we had agreed before the journey.
There is definitely an air of take the piss out of the tourist here.
But other than that, fan-bloody-tastic! 😁
Yesterday we arrived in Agra on the Gattiman Express from Delhi.
That’s an experience all in its own! The Hazrat Nizamuddin train station in Delhi is both busy & chaotic, but with big signs everywhere we were able to find our platform fairly easily.
They say grab a porter to show you where to go which you can do if that makes you feel a bit more comfortable but it’s not rocket science. 😁
Anyway nice comfy train, and lots of food so don’t have breakfast before you go!
Once in Agra we jumped in a tuk tuk to our hotel with a friendly chap called Ali. In no time at all he’d sold us his services for the day and after a quick check in we were on route to the Baby Taj!
We spent a few hours visiting the Baby Taj (Tomb of Itimad-ud-Daulah), the park opposite the Taj Mahal (Mehtab Bagh) with amazing views of the Taj, the Agra Fort & an amazing Indian restaurant for a Kingfisher & a snack.
All in all a great afternoon which cost us 2000 rupees for tuk tuk & driver with tip (about $25).
We stayed at the Grand Mansion hotel a lovely hotel with a rooftop pool with views of the Taj Mahal. Also huge benefit, only a 10 min walk from the Taj! 😁
So this morning we set our alarm for 4.30am and by 5.45am were walking through the gates of the Taj Mahal.
It was magnificent!
It’s as beautiful as you imagine it to be and I was so happy to get there so early as were able to get pics with no people.
Quick tip, a guide for the Agra Fort is well worth the money (about 1000 rupees), a guide for the Taj Mahal is not necessary.
Before you go just look up Wikipedia and you’ll learn everything you need to know about this magnificent tomb!
I feel so blessed and lucky to be experiencing these amazing wonders of the world!
I also have to remind myself I’ve worked my backside off for this and created a business that gives me the opportunity to travel the world and see all these amazing things. 🗺✈️
If you’d told me back in 2010 this was possible I’m not sure I would have believed you. So if you’re at the start of building your lifestyle business, keep going.
You can have the life you want if you’re prepared to put in the work! 😁
So now for us back to Delhi to see what awaits us there! 🚈
Wow wow wow! What an amazing experience!
We had booked to do the ‘Everest Experience’ with Buddha Air on the Saturday morning, but unfortunately after sitting in the plane for 30 mins we were informed there was cloud over Everest & the flight was cancelled.
They automatically allowed us to swap our flights to the following morning & refunded those people who were unable to reschedule.
This morning we awoke to cloudy & hazy skies thinking our luck was out, but headed to the airport anyway with fingers tightly crossed! 🤞
Meeting up with a couple of other ‘second timers’ we waited with anticipation in the departure lounge.
We needn’t have worried because an hour later we were breaking through the clouds in our little propeller plane and there they were….
…The Himalayas in all their glory, spreading for miles and miles, surrounded by clear blue skies!
We travelled along past the Holy Mountain (worshipped by Nepalis as God), past various peaks & ranges up to the magnificent Mount Everest & then turned and travelled back so both sides of the plane got spectacular views.
We were also invited up to the cockpit to see the views from the front & to take photos.
As we flew the flight attendant pointed out the various mountains, taking pictures for us and being super helpful.
We all chatted excitedly & moved freely about the cabin taking photos wherever we couple get a great view which was pretty much from every window.
All in all an amazing experience & highly recommended!
I feel so blessed to have seen The Himalayas in this way and experienced the great Mount Everest! 😁🙏
As their t-shirts & posters say. I have not climbed Mount Everest but I have touched it with my heart. ❤️
The Great Mount Everest! 😁
I’m not going to lie, I felt a bit nervous flying into Nepal Tribhuvan Airport yesterday.
Mainly because a good friend of mine had mentioned how accident proned the airport had been over the years, but also when we flew over, it was so mountainous before reaching the valley, I found myself clutching my arm rest hoping we had an experienced pilot! ✈️
I needn’t have worried it was a beautifully smooth landing and our Kathmandu adventure began!
Had to be done! 😁
Almost as soon as we exited customs, very friendly men began asking what our plans were & whether they could sell us tours etc, but we politely declined, grabbed a couple of SIM cards & jumped in a clapped out old banger to head to our hotel.
A couple of cows, lots of mopeds, rickshaws & people later we arrived at the Oasis Kathmandu Thamel in the heart of the city. 🐂
The hotel manager told us this was our home for the next 2 days and we were all family here! (He meant it, they are so incredibly friendly).
We searched for the top recommended restaurant on Trip Advisor and just as the heavens opened made our way onto the streets of Thamel.
Even though it was bucketing down, there was something magical about the place.
The people are so friendly, the atmosphere is welcoming and as two women travelling alone (albeit older women) we instantly felt at ease.
We ducked into a shop to buy a dusty old umbrella the guy fished out from the back of a cupboard charging us a round number of 500 Nepalese Rupees (about $5). ☔️
But minutes later we were invited onto the back of a rickshaw and as it was monsooning at the time we hurriedly jumped on.
The restaurant was only a 7 minute walk away & we probably could have walked faster than he was cycling but at least we were under cover (of sorts).
Because we were rushing we didn’t negotiate the price first – always a mistake – and so he wanted $10. Neither my sister nor I are petite women so I decided he must have charged by the kilo!!! 😂😂😂
Dinner at the White House Kitchen certainly backed up the positive reviews on Trip Advisor & was made even more magical by a huge power cut which took out the entire street we were on.
A 10 minute walk through the cobbled streets, past all the little tat shops, restaurants & bars took us back to our home for the night.
Can’t wait to see what tomorrow brings! 😁
It’s 4.45am and I am excitedly getting the last of my little backpack ready for the next 23 days!
Today my Sister & I fly to Kathmandhu in Nepal. We’re staying at a place called Thamel in the heart of Kathmandhu for a couple of days as we explore the local area and tomorrow head up in a small plane to experience Everest up close!
On Monday we fly down into Delhi in India, where we jump on a train on Tues morning to head to Agra to see the Taj Mahal in all it’s glory.
Back to Delhi on Weds for a couple of days before heading off for a 4 hour train ride down to Jaipur.
2 days here followed by a day and a half exploring the Ghats on the Ganges at Varanasi – apparently an incredible cultural experience.
Last Indian stop is Madurai to see the Meenakshi Amman temple before we jet off to Sri Lanka for a couple of days.
Then we end the trip with 3 days on a paradise Island in the Maldives!
Phew! Some trip!
Will be updating as we go and sharing photos where possible, (no idea of internet quality yet), particularly over on Instagram.
If you have any tips on any of the above places I’d love to hear them!
In the meantime I need to finish packing! :)