Friday, 26 October 2012


Our train journey to Ahmedabad was long. We were in second sitting, and weren't actually together, but after a lot of pointing etc we managed to swap with a man and sit together. The seats were very hard and cramped, so after 9 hours we were pleased to get off. Although our sweets we bought from Mumbai helped us not think so much about the train.

Our first view of the city wasn't a good start. It was a confused mass of noise and people trying to take us to hotels, even though we explained we had one. One guy wouldn't leave us alone, and I got quite annoyed at him and was quite rude, Andy said he looked very angry, as Ahmedabad isn't too keen on women's rights, and I don't think a women would have ever spoken to him like that.

The traffic here was the worst of any city we have been too, much worst than Mumbai. I had to close my eyes at some points because we would be sitting across a lane of traffic in a rickshaw, with a bus coming towards you, showing no sign of stopping! Luckily nothing bad did happen! I would not want to drive on Indian roads.

We got to the hotel which was, to put it lightly, a crap hole. We had been worried as after we booked they sent us the terms and conditions, and it said if you were posing as a couple, you had to be able to prove it. Now we were worried that it might apply to us, (even though were just friends) and we might be rejected from the hotel.  Luckily thus wasn't the case (might be a rule just for Indians).  The room itself was dirty, and revolting.

In the morning we got up late and went to train station and managed to book a train to Udiapur. We were so happy we managed to do it! The way of booking tickets in India is very werid and confusing.

We then went to a mosque but women were not alowed inside! So we left for the one thing I was actually excited about doing in Ahmedabad, Sabarmati Ashram, which is the ashram that Mahatma Gandhi set up.

The ashram was very peaceful and had a small collection of his personal items, and his room was set up how he had, had it. There was also a museum bit that was about his life, which was very interesting. The strangest bit was a letter he wrote to Hitler, asking for peace!

We then just relaxed in our room until it was time to get our train, and had a lovely time doing nothing!

Once we got to train station, we had to wait a few hours for our train. Andy left me at one point and when he came back I was surrounded by s crowd of people all wanting to look at me! Once he came back they all left.q Ahmedabad was definitely the place we got stared at most. I guess because no westerners go there. We only saw a handful of westerners the whole time we were there. I found the best way to combat being stared at was to wave and smile back, and then they would do the same, so it was a nice exchange!

So that was the end of our time in Ahmedabad! Yay!

Tuesday, 23 October 2012


Well I'm in Mumbai now, and I have to say, I felt great trepidation before coming here after all the stories we have been told by other travellers, but I have actually loved it here!

It is a city of great contrasts, and the poverty is on such an unimaginable scale its hard to comprehend. I have found that I have been switching off to it, as I get really emotional if I think too much about it. But it has cemented my idea about adoption and I will definately be adopting an Indian child, if there is still a need for it, when I want children.  It's also made me want to do more charity work for street children and the people who live in slums. But more on that later.

The trip from Goa to Mumbai was very memorable. We got a sleeper bus, and were very happy to discover on its arrival that it was air conditioned. We hopped on and found we had a double bed at the end of the coach. Unfortuently we also had our bags with us (as we have heard stories of people stealing stuff when they are below) this meant it was pretty much 3 people and consequently I spent all night on my back, as any other way resulted in me almost being thrown out the bed, as it was an extremely bumpy ride.

Our first view of Mumbai was the side of a motorway and the extreme poverty hit you straight away. We then had a tussel with a band of taxi drivers, who were still not sure if they were trying to scam us or not!

Our first day we went to the gateway of India and the Mumbai museum. They were both ok, but the museum wore thin quite quickly. In the evening we saw a bollywood movie "student of the year". It was really good, pretty easy to follow, good music and parts were in English (it switched between Hindi and English words the whole way through). It was interesting because people shout out during the film and wolf-whistle etc. The film dipicts the lives of 3 rich Indians, and the stark contrast between fantasy and reality was apparent as soon as we left the cinima, As we then got chased by a pack of stray dogs.

On the second day we did a slum tour. Now we were abit iffy about the ethics of it. We were scared it would be abit like look at the poor people. But in actual fact it was amazing. We booked with reality tours, and 80% of their profits go back into the slum community. The tour guide had grown up in the slums and had a vast knowledge. We saw the industry side of the slums, how they recycle plastic. It's like a little production plant, one lot of people do one thing and then pass it next door to the next one. In total the slums actually turn over £70 million a year. So a lot of people stay in the slums with their community, even if they make a lot of money. The slums are like a rabbit warren, but also like a city within a city. They have shops, and most children go to school. All the kids we saw were happy and well looked after. We also saw the community center reality tours run, which had English and i.t lessons. It definately makes me want to do more for charity. The highlight was when the women making poppodums asked if we would like to have a go, I of course jumped at the chance. I think I'm officialy the worlds worst poppodum maker, they all laughed at how bad I was :)

Yesterday we went to Elephanta island. You get a boat across to an island and then they have this majestic cut of the stone temples, with intricately caved tableaus. They were mostly of Shiva (a Hindu God). I found it very peaceful and beautiful. There were also loads of monkeys on the Island. In the night it monsooned. It was an amazing amount of rain!

This morning were have had street food called kanji vada, which are abit like savory donuts with a spicy sauce! Now just waiting to go to Ahmedabad, our next stop!

Saturday, 20 October 2012

Scams of India

After posting such a lovely blog the other day about Goa I feel the need to balance it out with something bad.

Today thrice we have had people trying to scam us.

The first 2 of the day were by our "lovely" hostel owner. Now don't get me wrong, I still think this hostel is amazing, and you should stay here, and the owner is lovely, but just check your change twice. And always check how much your hostel should be (that goes for any hostel though)

The first time she tried to charge us 300 rupees more than we owed and the second was she gave us 100 rupees less than she should. We delt with these quickly and they may have been a mistake but both me and Andy felt it was a scam.

The third was a lot more elaborate.

Yesterday at the beach two young Indian guys, stopped us and started talking to us, they seemed genuine and interesting and very modern. They then invited us to their house to have lunch. We agreed and they said how no other westerners would talk to them. We thought how sad it was that no one else trusted the Indians, and how exciting it was to see a real Indian home.

Today we walked down to the meeting spot, and they picked us up on mopeds. The ride was exciting and I found it so joyful. We arrived at the house they were "housesitting" for their uncle and there younger brother was there.

We all sat and chatted. And then the "bosses" came in. The others left (at one point there were 7 people with us.) And he told us about his importing/exporting jewellery buisness and how taxes were high for exporting a certain amount. I though he seemed like he was on some drugs as he seemed to be chewing or gurning a lot. But then he left and they said he was just checking the house was ok.

The guys then showed us how to make aloo paratha, which is sort of a spicy potato cake (very tasty). They were good fun, but asked us not to take pictures in kitchen as it was bad luck in there culture. We of course complied.

The buisness men then came back and started the sales pitch. We could export jewellery for then to Australia, and make log of money. We didn't even need to take it with us. They would just send the package to Australia and then we would just pick it up with there people in Australia and then we would get money.

Me and Andy declined very quickly and made our excuses about going to yoga and left.

The atmosphere went very werid when the buisness guys came.  Everyone else went silent, and I think they were definately trying to make us into drug mules, which is quite scary.

It's sort of made my heart drop abit. Everything in India seemed magical up until then, and its kind of brought me down to earth, and realize people are out to scam you, and not to trust people just because they are lovely and friendly. I want to trust everyone but now it feels like there will always be an ulterior motive. To be fair it is s poor country and we have to remember people are living hand to mouth, and will do extreme things to survive. So I guess this is the 'real' India we wanted to experience.

We have checked our bags and luckily there is no drugs or anything in there, so I think we have got off lightly with no harm done, apart from bruising our gentle hearts and naive idealism.

Thursday, 18 October 2012


So were in Goa! It's very chilled and relaxed here. It's still India and crazy but a more relaxed crazy! Our time in India started at 3.30am inside a tiny, hot airport. We thought there would be a airport lounge to hang out in, but once you clear security your outside! We got talking to a lady called Maria and then got a taxi with her once the sun came up.

The first taxi ride will be one of my most magical and enduring memories. The sun was rising through the palm trees with the smells of smoke and damp soil. The people were going about there daily routines. Selling fruit by the road side, children waiting for the school bus, roadside shrines everywhere. This overload of sences is before the crazy traffic, drifting in and out, around people and each other, almost crashing but never quite.

The first hostel was ok, the people weren't for us, but the place was lovely called Vagator. More of an Indian Tourist destination, but its apparently flooded by Russians in a few weeks who "drink Vodka, smoke and don't buy much" according to one Indian we spoke too.

We saw so many cows and went to the beach, were followed by stall holders trying to get us to buy stuff, they can be quite aggressive!

We then walked up to a fort and went to a proper market, we were pretty much the only western people there, and one stall holder followed us the whole way round and got angry when we didn't want anything from her stall. You have to be very firm with people here.

Were now in Anjuna, and I prefer it here. Were staying at the Evershine hostel, Sabastiana who runs it, is a star. Everyone is so chilled out here and we have met loads of cool people already. We sat around yesterday listening to Justin playing and singing guitar (he was doing it in his room, but Sebastiana told him to come and play for all of us. It's just such a friendly place. The beach is beautiful and I had a perfect moment just sitting staring at the sea thinking how amazing my life is now. And how grateful I am that I'm here.

Today me and Andy met my Uncle Philip's friend Sabu. And it was really insightful talking to him about India. We ate coconuts and sat in a cafe. And later were going swimming!

So basically I love Goa and Mumbai will be such a change!

Sunday, 14 October 2012

Well, I guess it's goodbye

Well this is it, I'm leaving the UK at 9.45am tomorrow morning.  It's all abit crazy, especially since i'm amazing at leaving everything to last minute!  Its been abit of a crazy rush as my (amazing, caring and wonderful) parents drove me round, helped me throw away my stuff, and pack my bag.  I'm am very lucky to have such awesome parents!

But amazingly I think I'm ready to go now.  Although I really don't feel like I'm going.  I think because its all been such a last min rush for everything!

I would like to thank all my friends and family for the support and love we have been given.  I love you all for coming to our leaving party, and it was the perfect night!

me and Andy at our leaving party

But Its time I finish everything and go to bed and next time I write I will be in India!