We began October in the Land of Smiles – Thailand! I had briefly visited Bangkok and Koh Samui back in 2011, so I was ridiculously excited about heading back to see more of what the country has to offer. This was Ankit’s first trip there, and I had talked the place up so much that I was hoping that it didn’t disappoint!
We only had a week before we were flying out to New Delhi, so we decided to base ourselves in the capital of Bangkok and explore it before moving on, as we knew we’d be back in November for a month to cover the rest. Overall, our experience of BKK was a bit bittersweet. There’s no doubt that the city has an amazing energy: bustling sois just waiting to be explored, a vibrant Chinatown, young locals who are incredibly fashionable, mind-blowing temples such as the one of the leaning Buddha.
The city, however, is ridiculously dirty. At night, people throw their garbage on the streets and rats make the whole place their playground. We would see at least two to three of the cretins every single night when we’d be walking around. I absolutely hate rats; in our whole two months in Vietnam we only saw about four of them, so to see so many in such a short space of time was rather disconcerting.
Then there’s the taxi drivers. If you don’t speak Thai, they will try and rip you off left, right and centre. 90 per cent of the times that we hailed one, they refused to go by the meter and would quote us the most ridiculous of prices to take us places.
On the 9th we flew to India. You may recall that I was extremely excited about my first trip here. It’s been a whirlwind of a month; first we went to Ankit’s hometown of Dehradun to spend some time with the family, then we made our way to Mussorie and Landour for two days.
We also had the fortune of seeing the Taj Mahal and other Mughal masterpieces in Agra and Delhi. As for Delhi, well, it was an underwhelming city from what I saw of it. Dirty, polluted, crowded; we had a nightmare experience on the Metro one day when we were caught on it during rush hour. I’ve never seen so many people trying to ram their way into an already full carriage. It was, quite frankly, petrifying and definitely one of the lowest points of our entire trip so far.
Then, I got to experience my first Diwali in India, which was definitely the highlight of this leg of the journey.
Our next stop was Rajasthan. We will be writing a post about our trip there in the near future, but overall I can tell you this: Jaipur had the better monuments, but Udaipur is definitely a nicer city to spend some time in. Most the good restaurants overlook the Lake Pichola, offering breathtaking views of the City Palace, which is lit up at night. The city is the cleanest I’ve seen in India, and a bit of research tells me that it’s due to an initiative by the authorities there. Around the old town, you’ll find murals of Rajasthani paintings, and the shopping here is great if you like handicrafts and brightly coloured shawls!
In Udaipur we also saw the Bagore-ki-Haveli Dharohar performance of Rajasthani dance. This was certainly one of the highlights of our trip – the women were dressed in brightly coloured traditional clothes, and the dances were just phenomenal. One dance entailed a woman doing all kinds of moves with eight massive clay pots resting on her head. Now that’s skill!
I shopped for the first time in months in Udaipur, and brought home with me a bunch of bangles, two small Rajasthani-style paintings to gift to my mum and grandma, two shawls, some hippie trousers (sigh), and some peacock motif shoes. I have no idea where I’m going to put all this stuff when I have to pack in a few days time!
The month in numbers
Miles travelled: 3196
Number of modes of transportation: 4 (car, bus, airplane, rickshaw).
Money spent: $1700 (staying with family has its advantages!).
Number of breakdowns: 1 when we were stuck in mad traffic in Delhi on our way back to Dehradun for Diwali.
Number of squirrels seen: Easily around 50
Number of Indian cold coffees consumed: 24
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Facebook update of the month:
Meal of the month:
The first meal we had when we arrived home in Dehradun. Ankit’s mum cooks the best Indian food!
Cocktail of the month:
The Amaretto Sour I had at Vesper in Bangkok. So delicious and served in a very classy crystal glass!
Seeing the Taj Mahal in all its marble-y glory. Totally worth the hype.
Seeing Ankit’s family again.
Experiencing Diwali in India for the first time.
Wearing Indian ethnic wear for the first time. I felt like a princess!
Handing 6kg of laundry over to Dad’s Laundry in Bangkok, only to have it given back to us folded but still dirty! Sounds silly right now, but it wasn’t so much fun when we had to wear dirty clothes during our flight to India.
Being unfortunate enough to be on the Delhi Metro during rush hour and nearly getting crushed by people trying to ram themselves onto the train. Absolutely terrifying.
Least favourite place:
Agra – asides from its Mughal monuments, the city has little else to offer other than traffic and trash.
General travel observations:
In Bangkok, I noticed how all the women are incredibly glam – even women of my grandma’s age wear lipstick and make an effort!
The vast majority of Indians are incredibly friendly. If you flash a smile at an old lady, you’re 99.9 per cent guaranteed to get a genuine smile back.
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What’s coming up in November?
We’re coming to the end of our time in India, and we’ll be flying back to Bangkok on Saturday. Our itinerary has yet to be finalised, but we’re both desperately behind on our work, so we’re planning to find a nice island to catch up* (*on my tan). We’re in Thailand for 20 days and we’re aiming to do a bit of an island hop, take it easy after enduring the crazy roads of India for a month, drink loads of coconut water, rent a scooter and see the sights. I cannot wait; I’m in desperate need of some relaxation! We will also be spending our anniversary at a swanky Phuket hotel! Bring on the pool bar.
Can you recommend a good Thai island for us?