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Back in India

Kathmandu to Pushkar

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I am now back in India in a place in Rajathan called Pushkar, its a bit of a hippy haven and not as peaceful as the guidebook makes out however it is nice, it is famous for having one of the only temples dedicated to Brahma in the world and has hundreds of temples surrounding a lake in the middle of the town. It is small enough so every where you go you can walk which is great!

My journey from Kathmandu to Jaipur was quite eventful, we got the night bus from kathmandu at 7pm, I don't think I got a wink of sleep, the seats were small and then people sat on little stools all down the middle of the aisle aswell so you had people resting their heads and arms on your knees. The bus took the long route via Pokhara in order to try and miss the road blocks that are currently beig staged in kathmandu but it got to about 7am in the morning and every one had to get off the bus and where told we could go no further as the bus could not get through. We were about 30Km from the border at Sonauli where we need to pick up another bus to take us to the nearst train station on the Indian side to catch our train. Luckily there were some cycle rickshaws and we paid one to take cycle us and all our bags to the border...it took about 2.5 hours and I felt really bad for the poor guys legs! We came accorss a few road blocks on the way mainly young guys lined up accross the road sometimes with sticks and fires that weren't letting anything past except us as we were tourists they agreed that it ws not something we needed to be involved in. We ended up getting a taxi to the train station at Gorakpur as we were running short of time and experienced out first ride on a train in India..17 hours all the way to Dehli in sleeper class. I really enjoyed it, it was nice to have open windows and see the countryside flying by although for the first 8 hours we had about 10 extra young guys in our carriage all sitting on our seats and I did start to wonder whether I would get any sleep! We arrived into Dehli at 5am and got a hostel so we could catch up on some sleep before the next train ride from Dehli to Jaipur. Feeling confident about how the the trains now worked we turned up at New dehli train station 40 mins before our train left only to find out our train went from Old Dehli train station!! We bombed accross town in an auto rickshaw and ran to get the train about 5 mins before it left!! After so much travelling and not a lot of sleeping it was great to arrive in Jaipur and sleep at a comfy hotel.

I spent the next week with Beaks and her family in Jaipur which was really relaxing and I learnt alot about the Indian culture, went to the local mandir with them to pray, and ate some amazing food. Every meal was a feast of all different types of Indian food. Whilst I was there the Hindu festival of Holi took place, this covered two days. the first day we went to the mandir in the evening and all the married women gave a puja in front of a bonfire which was then lit and burned through the rest of the evening. We made some gujia sweets from pastry, coconut and sultana's ready for the next day and to eat through the Holi festival. The second day was the most fun. Everyone buys coloured powders and paints and goes round to other peoples houses and covers each other in colour for good luck...it was crazy!!! Beaks and I went to her aunties house for the afternoon where they had the whole family round, covered each other in powders and paints and then had a big water fight...even now I am still finding red paint in my ears and my clothes have had to be washed several times and still have bluey greeny tinges to them! In the streets everyone who went passed was covered in paint and colour even the cows and Beaks little dogs Silky and Sandu got covered aswell. On my last day with Beaks a special Puja was performed for her pregnancy, I got to dress up in one of Beaks Lhenga's, with a bindi and bracelets and feel the full part.

Leaving Beaks was sad but I am now in Pushkar and mid way through a yoga and meditation course with a guy called Yogesh Yogi who used to me a Saddhu in the mountains in Nepal and now runs a yoga and meditation school with his wife. I am staying at their house which is really lovely and peaceful in the middle of the fields outside the main Pushkar market every day I am doing 8-9.30 Hatha Yoga, then 9.30 - 10.30 philosophy of yoga then 4.00 - 5.00 meditation and auyrvedic practices then 5.00 - 6.30 hatha Yoga so I am getting nice and fit. Yesterday I did a cleansing practice with them where you clear the body of all toxins...it was quite an experience and one that I don't think I will repeat! First using salt water we had to pour water into one nostril and then out the other to clean the mind and sinuses, then we had to drink 250ml of warm salt water and perform 5 yoga moves 8 times to swill the water round the body. The aim is to keep going drinking water and performing the moves until when you go to the toilet only water comes out. It was gross and every mouthful of water I thought I was going to be sick...luckily for me it only took 17 glasses for the other guy who was having it done it took him an extra 1.5 hours and 33 glasses in total. After the practice your body is very sensitive so we were only allowed to eat baby food and not even any water. For the next 7 days I am only allowed to eat boiled vegetables and rice, brown bread, papaya, banana and drink water...it better be worth it! Aparantely within the next 40 days all the toxins will be out by body I will be glowing, look younger, loose weight, have perfect complexion etc etc etc.....I will keep you posted! Before I had the cleansing I treated myself to lots of Humous, falafel, palek paneer, and banoffee pie...there are lots of Israeli tourists in Pushkar so lots of places to eat Israeli foods including one dessert called Hello to the Queen which is chocolate cookies nd brownie with banana hot then covered in ice cream and chocolate sauce...its probably a good thing that i can't eat that for the next 7 days otherwise it would become my staple diet!

After Pushkar I plan to head to Udaipur and then down to Mumbai, Goa, and Kerala. Still only a few photo's posted as my camera is a bit hit and miss where I can download them but I will keep trying!!

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Posted by BecciDrums 00:40 Archived in India Comments (1)

Everest Base Camp

Nepal

all seasons in one day
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I am very proud of myself for making it to Everest base camp and back although the experience was one of real positives and negatives combined! Every day I woke up thinking I as not going to make it and that I would turn back or stay where I was and every day I proved myself wrong!

Ok so first of all I didn't ever really plan or pack for doing a trip to base camp, when we were in Kathmandu we kept overhearing all these people talking about how they had been in training before coming out, and how they thought that if they could do some of the climbs they could do anything but I brushed it off and thought with a little bit of gym work before I came out and lots of salsa I would be plenty fit enough to complete it!!! So I hired some boots bought a woolly hat and gloves and thought I could get by on just wearing all my clothes to keep me warm!!!

Day 1 our flight to Luckla was on the tiniest little propellor plane I have ever seen, it had 10 seats in total and there was me, Liam, our guide and then lots of Sherpa women all with their prayer beads mumbling throughout the flight! I am not the best flyer anyway and was sitting and the front with full view of the pilots and all the equipment (which was pretty cool)! The engine started and then the pilot said there wasn't enough power so I little man went and manually started turning one of the propellors and then we tried again....still not enough power...so he did it again...third time lucky although I really wasn't so sure!!! Anyway we took off and had the bumpiest plane ride of my life, I was sooo scared, even Ganesh our guide said it was the worst flight he has ever taken! The airport at Luckla is on the side of a hill, there are no radars so the pilot has to land the plane by sight...I am glad I read that in a guide book yesterday after returning to Kathmandu!

Our guide Ganesh was really nice, he is also a folk singer in Nepal and quite famous, every tea house we stayed in had his CD and he showed us a couple of his music videas on his phone aswell. As a present when we said goodbye he gave u a CD of his music and his music videos...we were travelling with a superstar and if you were ever short of things to say you cold just ask him a question about his music and he would be off talking about it for hours! We did try to get him to let us be in his nxt music videa which he is shooting in the next fw days but we would have stuck out like a sore thumb and hadn't really got the Nepali tranditional dancing quite perfected!

So we walked for about 3 hours on our first day from 2800 feet in Luckla to 2600 feet downhill at a little tea house in Phackding, this was our first experience at tea houses it was family run and we had lunch and dinner there....vegie momo's and then Dalh Baht. There are no roads in the mountains so everything is carried from place to place by porters who carry up to 70 kg per person in baskets which they balance round there heads! it was amazing to see them walking up and down hills with meat, water, sometimes massive planks of wood etc all balanced on their heads! Anyway we decided to be vegetarian for the 16 days on the advice of Ganesh as by the time meat has been carried from Luckla to Namche and further it is not very fresh at all!!!! The walk was nice and gentle for the first day but I managed to twisted my ankle just before we arrived! My ankle was bad for the next 4 days and every morning when we set out we had to walk extra slow until it warmed up a bit and the painkillers and tiger balm wore in! I couldn't beleive my bad luck!!!

Day two we made it to Namche Bazaar, this was a really hard days walking all uphill from 2600 to 3400 meters, we had 2.5 hours straight walking uphill on what looked like the stairway to heaven!! We stayed in Namche to aclimatise for 3 nights and took walks each day, the first to an army base camp where we saw our first view of Everest, absolutely amazing! then the next day along the path that leads to the Tibet border! One of my fav memories is lying on the side of a stupor in the sunshine whilst Liam and Ganesh climbed a hill and every tim I opened my eyes I could se mount Everest in he distance!
On the last night in Namche I was really sick, I couldn't eat anything had a really bad fever and headache and had to spend the day and night in bed! Namche was probably the most modern of all the tea houses that we stayed in, it had hydro electricity so there were little electric heaters, a proper hot shower and western toilet! Bliss!

On Day 4 we walked up to the Everest Hotel which is the highest 5* hotel in the world with a view that overlooks Everest, we had a drink and looked at the view and then headed down into Khumjong a littletown at 3600 meters. We stayed in a family home and theycooked us traditional bread and veg curry for dinner it was so good! In Khumjong they have a monastary which houses the famous head of the Yeti! Ganesh organised for the local village people to open the monastary so we could see it! It was such a sureal experience the guy opened up a grey filing cabinet and it was there...it looked like the hairy raised part of a Yaks back but they take it very seriously and we had to give the village a small donation in order to see it as it is supposed to bring the village good luck! We also visited a local hospital where I read about the symptoms of altitude sickness and then convinced myself that I had it! I think I was sick because I caught a bit too much sun to m head but I was convinced for the rest ofthe day and night that my brain was leaking fluid (just a bit of sunburn on my head) and that I had a fever and headache and nausea!

Any way I took my first shower in Khumjong which I paid 50p for and it turned out to be 2 buckets of hot water in a stone shack that didn't have a closing door! I decided just to wash my hair in the end and not bother with another shower until we got back to Namche. Liam and I decided that if we smelt as bad as each other it wouldn't reall matter! To be honest after Khumjong it got so cold and we were so dirty after each days walking that there was no point in washing so I slept and walked in the same clothes and just added layers as we got higher!

Day 5 we walked to Phorte and stayed at a tea house owed by a Sherper who had climbed to the top of Everest at least 6 times. There tea house was lovely and had the sun shining in all afternoon and then they lit the best fire in the evening to keep us warm! The scenary and walking up to Phorte had been through green tree covered mountains with Sherper settlements along the way, pine tree forests and sandy stoned walking paths going along the side of mountains and then down to the rivers running through the valleys. Really gorgeous!

After Phorte we walked to Pheriche and the landscape realy changed, it was stony and barren and Pheriche was in a valley with mountains surrounding all sides at 4200m. It was really windy and cold. We we due to stay here for two nights to acclimatise but decided to stay a third as it was Sherper Buddhist New Year and the owners of the tea house were all young and having a party to celebrate. It was the best day of the whole trip! We didn't step outside once, they gave us a present of a massive plate of four donoughts, pinnale custard cream biscuits, coffee cream swets and a tangerine and milk tea! Then for lunch they made us Yak meat momo's which were gorgeous and then in the evening some of the other village people came round and they cooked a big chicken curry Dahl Baht, playd music and danced! They thouht it was really funny when Liam and I joined in the dancing and tried to do the traditional Sherper moves...lots of twisty arms and side steps!

Day 9 and we walked to 4900 meters at Labouche, we got there at lunch time so spent the rest of the aftrnoon playing a card game that Ganesh taught us called Colbreck, our porter Jamjo happend to be particularly god at the game and I gave up in a strop after loosing 25rupees (about 25p) game after game! The altitude did start to do funny things to your body after a while, I found that although we would be walking up to 5 hours a day I lost my appetite and didn't feel hungary for anything but fruit which you couldn't get! The higher we got it got a lot more difficult to concentrate on things and sometimes when I was walking I felt drunk and dizzy! It is also really difficult to sleep, we were going to bed at about 8.30pm every night and although your body would relax and feel like it wqs sleeping your mind would just not shut off and keep going all night! I had so much time to think about stuff and had some great dreams!!! Even though we weren't sleeping much after Phorte every morning it was dificult to get out of bed!!

Day 10 and we walked to Gorakshep the highest settlement of people living in the world (according to Ganesh!) this was at 5100meters and was really cold. There were only 3 tea houses in total and we could see Everest and Evrest base camp from Gorakshep! That same day we walked 2.5 hours to base camp, it was the hardest walk of my life! he whole time you could see it but it never felt like it was getting any closer! The walk was up and down the whle way on massive rocks and because of the altitude I had so little energy. I got a really bad headache as we were walking too! Base camp is a massive glacier at 5350 meters of Evrest and the starting point for anyone who has ever climbed the mountain. It felt great to get there such an acheivement and to have walked in he footsteps of those other famous people who have conquered the mountain.

Garlic soup and loads of boiled water was what saved me having to go back to Labouche that night as my head was really bad. In the morning I didn't make the Kalapatter view point as my head was still sore and it would have meant pushing myself up to 5600m.

The walk back down to Luckla only too 3 full days of walking but each day I felt like I had more and more energy. We went from Gorakshep to Pheriche, Pheriche to Namche and then Namche to Luckla where we stayed one night and then got the plane back to Kathmandu in the morning.

The whole time we were away we decided not to buy any of he chocolate or biscuits or crisps or western luxuries that they sold at every tea house for extortionate prices. We ate the free food and hot drink every breakfast lunch and dinner which was nearly always Dahl Baht or poatoes, noodles or rice with vegetables and cheese. At Namche on the way up Ganesh bought us 10 packs of coconut cookies in case we got hungary in between meals and they did become the treat of the trip!! It was amzing how expensive things were the higher up we got, a hot shower became 400 rupees in Gorakshep and to have your bottle filled with boiling water of which you needed to drink
3 litres a day was 250 ruppess the equvilent of 2.50p! By the time we got back to Luckla Liam and I where craving meat and beer and chocolate so we were so glad to get back to Kathmandu!

The first night back we treated ourselves and Ganesh to a burger and Everest beer to celebrate! It was sad to say goodbye to Ganesh as he had become a good friend but we have spent the last couple of days just chilling out in Kathmandu and preparing to return to India!

Today I am off to Durber Square sightseeing amd trying to find a inflatable pillow to take on our long journey! We are taking the over night bus from Kathmandu to the border Sonali then getting a bus 3 hours to the nearest train station on the Indian side Gorakpur. We then have a 5.5 hour train journey to Varanasi where we stay until the evening and get an overnight 12 hour train to Jaipur! I think its going to be difficult but it should be an experience! I am looking foward to seeing Beaks in Jaipur for a few days before then heading down on the train to Mumbai!

I will definately miss Nepal, and I will definately be coming back one day!

Posted by BecciDrums 23:17 Archived in Nepal Comments (1)

Nepal

End of the Drago trip!

sunny 19 °C
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I am now in Nepal and loving it, I didn't think it would be that much different to India but as soon as we crossed the border which was a bit of a chaotic experience everything here is so much calmer and peaceful, the food is different and the people are different.

I have stayed two nights in Chitwan national park which was a great introduction to Nepal. My fav experience so far is probably washing elephants on the banks of a river in Chitwan, it was so much fun even being thrown off into water and seeing elephant poo pass by a couple centimeters away! In Chitwan we went on a morning safari first down the river in a long boat where we say a rhino cross the water in front of us and a few crocodiles although thankfully we didn't get to close, and then on a walking safari through the park. When we arrived we had to split up into small groups and then our guide proceeded to tell us that is we came accross a tiger we had to stare it out and walk slowley backwards otherwise it would kill us and if we saw a rhino and it started charging we either had to find a tree and climb up it more than 5 meters or run in zig zags to get away from it ...even though they run 45km per hour! I don't think my tree climbing skills have ever been put to use so I was pretty scared and I don't think I have ever been more pleased to go on a safari and see nothing but insects! In the afternoon we rode on the back of an elephant through the jungle which was fun...I have now officially been dragged through a bush backwards by an elephant!

There is some political unrest in Nepal on the way from the border to Chitwan we had to take all the back streets as people were protesting and causing road blocks. We got caught in a road block which was a human wall of people not letting anyone passed on the road and there were no other routes to take. Luckily the UN and police were there and we managed to negotiate a way through quite quickly and the protest was very peaceful.

The Drago truck Daphnes got fixed and made it to Chitwan in time to take us on our final days drive to Kathmandu...the mountains and landscape in Nepal is beautiful. On the way we stopped to visit a temple on top of a mountain in a little town called Manakana. The temple is famous for pilgrims to visit and make sacrifices. To get to the top of the mountain we had to take an old swiss cable car, there were people taking up goats on the cable car to sacrifice at the temple. I couldn't believe how many people were queueing to worship at the temple and lost of them had goats and chickens which were then slaughtered at the top...gross but quite fascinating!!!

I am now in Kathmandu which is quite a cool place, the Thamel area which I am staying in is quite westernised compared with the rest of Nepal that I have seen and there are lots of aged hippies hanging about in bars who look like they stopped here and never left! I do like it here though and I have spent a lot of time chilling out since my tour finished just wandering about and catching up on missed sleep. On the tour there were so many early mornings to make the most of the day and see things at sunrise...and then so many late nights drinking Blue Riband Gin and sprite!!! We have been to a cool bar called Sam's bar where a triple rum and coke costs about a pound, in Nepal they have a curfew at 11.00pm where all shops, bars and hotels lock and shutter their doors so as not to get in trouble with the police, after 11.00pm you have to drink in the dark and v.v.v quietly in order to stay out longer!

It has been really sad to say goodbye to the people who I met on the Drago tour, and feels quite weird as everyone has been leaving to go home :-( Tomorrow is the start of a new adventure though, I have booked a trip to trek to Everest base camp. I didn't plan to spend so long in Nepal but this seems like an oppotunity of a lifetime and is much cheaper to do direct from Kathmandu then if booking from home. I have a flight to Luckla tomorrow morning and then 16 days trekking before I arrive back in Kathmandu. The altitude when we fly to Luckla will be 3000m and we will eventually get up to just over 5000m so we will spend a few days in a couple of the towns along the way tp adjust.

There is just the two of us going and we have hired a guide and a sherper to carry our bags. We will be staying in tea houses along the way and all our food is paid for aswell although is will be Dahl Bhat probably for brekfast lunch and dinner the whole way! I am really excited and hope I make it too the end without giving up...the hike will be really hard!!! I have hired hiking boots and thick socks and have bought a cool hat and gloves as the weather will be freezing and snowy for the end part of the trek! We have both been given big down jackets to wear so should be cosy!!!

There will be very few places with electricity or internet connections when I am trekking so I will update you again on my return!!!...and I promise to download photo's really soon!!!!!!!!

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Posted by BecciDrums 01:53 Archived in Nepal Comments (1)

Dehli to Varanasi

sunny 23 °C
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I am currently staying in a hotel with internet in Varanasi so thought I would update on some of the cool things I have done and seen since leaving Dehli on the Drago trip!

The truck we are travelling on is called Daphne and unfortunately just as we pulled into the street of the hotel last night it broke down and needs a whole new engine before it will ge going again....this means tomorrow we need to take a bus to the border of Nepal where we are staying tomorrow night....but we have a chiller and lots of beers and drinks to keep us going so although it is a full day travelling tomorrow it should be fun!

The long days on the truck so far have been great fun, we stop on roadsides and have breakfast and lunch from the camping gear on the truck...it always attracts loads of attention from the locals and by the time we pack away we normally have a crowd surrounding us watching our every move! The funniest stop was on the drive to Bandhavgar a group of Sadhu's stopped in their truck and watched us eat...Sadhu's are holy men who have the right to wear what they want...one was naked apart from a shawl, another had a gold thong on that just covered him with a gold plate at the front.....was so funny!!! Driving through the countryside and litle villages has been great, everyone waves as we go past and is so friendly when we stop! They are always amazed to see two women driving a massive truck and it cause much amusement!! I had a turn at sitting in the front of the truck and giving directions the other day which is a lot harder than it ;looks as any signs that there are...which are rare are all in Hindi and all km are approximate so you have to use a combination of checking stones on the side of the road, working out the mileage of the truck and sticking signs out of the window with the name of the next town along!

We have camped for 4 nights so far which is great fun although I am so dirty its unbelievable! I had my first shower for 3 days last night and still the dirt didn't all come off!! India is very dusty and dirty particularly in the towns, my skin is constantly covered in grime!

I went on a tiger safari in a place called Bandhavgar a couple of days ago and were lucky enough to see one of the tigers...it walked about 4 meters away frm me in the open air jeep which ws amazing....but scary!!!

Bandhavgar was great, such a small town, I wen for a walk passed a local shool and loads of girls came rushing out to see me and have their pictures taken with me until the teacher came ou and then they all hid behind a tree and got in trouble! The people here are great...so friendly and hospitable. We walked passed a wedding in Bandhavgar and were invited in given food, seats and then pulled up to dance with the band.....it was the best night so far...the dancing was basically jumping up and down and waving your hands in the air ...we got some great videos which I will post up!

I feel like I have dne so much in the last few weeks that I have been in India for ages. I really love it here, once you get passed the hustle, bustle and dirt and hagglers the people are great, the culture is so different and there is so much to learn!! This morning I went on a boat ride along he Ganges at 5.30am, the sun came up, we floated candles as wishes in the water, we saw people bathing, praying, meditating, and people being cremated in the river, it was really colourful and different to anything we would ever do at home (the ganges has 1.5million bacteria per 100ml of water...safe water has 500 bacteria per 100ml of water!) needless to sy I did not even dip in a finger!!!

Load more to update....but I am off to have some humous for dinner......the first time I have had not had curry in 2 weeks......heaven!!!!

Posted by BecciDrums 04:32 Archived in India Comments (0)

Dragoman Trip starts

Day 3 - 10

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My last day in Dehli with Maria was really random! We were walking down a street on our way to a park and stopped to watch some ladies doing a yoga class on the front lawn of a public house and they invited us to join them!! It was great fun...even though we had just eaten and felt a bit sick...but they were all so nice, gave us rugs to put down and then took us through their yoga moves, breathing techniques and meditation which included laughter therapy....so funny!! It did mean that we were late for our introduction talk with Dragoman :-( but all was forgiven and we had some dinner with the rest of the group that night. Everyone is really nice and similar minded in terms of what they want to get out of their travelling experience, massive range in ages and we have people from US, Canada, Denmark, Germany, Aus and UK!
So far on the trip we have seen the palaces at Jaipur, we camped for two nights in Agra and saw the Taj Mahal at dawn before anyone else got in,and then again from the dry river bed on the other side at sunset! Been on a jeep safari in search of tigers, stayed in the river lodge that inspired the jungle book, seen the erotic temples at Khajuro...wait till you see the photos of the temples!!! The trip is great everyone mucks in and has a job...mine is lounge arranger...sounds alot more glam then it is ...basically when we stop to camp or cook I set up all the chairs, washing up facilities etc ..we cooked buffalo the other night!!

I have had a rash on my face since I arrived in India and tried numerous things to get rid of it so having to go to the Dr when we reach Varanasi if it hasn't disappeared...bit annoying as its red and itchy !!!

I have nearly run out of space on my memory card so will post some pics in the next few days and update a longer blog as it has been difficult to find internet time whilst on the Drago trip!

One of the guys on the trip is going to do a trek to Everest base camp when he gets to Nepal so I am thinking that I may make the most of my visa while I am there and join him...need to get some warmer clothes though!!

xxxxx

Posted by BecciDrums 02:16 Archived in India Comments (1)

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