This is my monthly summary post with high points of the month, not-so-high-points and what’s next for Soul Travel Blog.
February has been a month of contrasts in more than one sense. Contrasts of deserts to mountains, contrasts of the worst vs the best in long train journeys, contrasts of 30 degrees to 3 degrees, and contrasts of New Delhi to London.
In London I also went on a ‘tour of contrasts’—with the inspiring Unseen Tours and Visit.org.
My India visa expired mid February, so with my heart a good deal heavier than it has been in months, I took the plane to London. London is my ‘original hometown’ and I’ll be using my time here as much to catch up with family and friends as taking advantage of good internet and active networking. During my time here I’ll also be trying to get off the beaten track in London & other parts of the UK.
Sometimes I know I’m guilty of thinking of travel as somewhere “far away”—when in reality we have so much to explore closer to home. It has dawned on me over the last months that travel is as much a mindset than anything. One where we simply look at places and people with fully open eyes.
So how long am I going to be back in London for? That’s a question I’m getting asked often at the moment! The answer is not yet a simple one as I’m waiting on bits of paperwork—my new passport and also visas for some of the countries on my 2017 list… But one thing is for sure. My return here does not signal the end of my travel plans!
Where I’ve been in February.
- India: Jodhpur, Rajasthan—the beautiful blue city that unexpectedly stole my heart with its amazing views up to the Mehrangarh Fort
- Jaisalmer, Rajasthan—the ‘golden’ city (that all these cities have ‘colours’ still makes me smile)
- Bikaner, Rajasthan—an un-planned stop on my journey north in India, which it turned out has the most fabulous fort!
- Rishikesh, Uttarakhand—for some needed ‘soul time’ (by that I mean quiet, yoga, meditation and some time appreciating the beauty of the mountains)
- New Delhi to close out my time in India—for this time at least
- London, UK, where I’m writing this from.
More to come on all of the above over the coming weeks on the blog—so stay tuned!
The best train journey I had during my time in India was between Bikaner and Haridwar (for Rishikesh). At 17 hours, it wasn’t a short one, but thankfully I had some wonderful neighbours to keep me company for the journey.
A kindly family from a small village near Jodhpur made it their mission to adopt me for the journey—the daughter (who spoke the best English) chatting for much of the journey and her mother insisting on sharing their home cooked food that they’d bought for the journey with me. When we arrived in Haridwar they even insisted on walking with me to the bus station and putting me on the right bus to Rishikesh to avoid me being ‘prayed on by touts’. This is the sort of kindness and hospitality which is not only heartwarming but is the norm in India, and is what this beautiful country should really be famous for!
The train journey that never happened. Usually when people tell you a certain train is ‘bad’ it’s because they’re trying to sell you another (more expensive) option. Sometimes, however, that’s not the case and I should have listened to them. My first attempt to get from Jaisalmer to Rishikesh was thwarted by arriving at Jaisalmer train station at 1am (many Indian trains leave in the middle of the night) only to hear that my train was ’11 hours late’. One of the challenges of solo female travel in India is that generally—as with many cities in the world—you can’t just get in a tuk-tuk on your own at 1am to go back to your hotel (where everyone is asleep anyway).
So the only thing for it was to spend the night in the train station along with with a good number of other people in the same situation. I’ve noticed that Indians seem to have a talent for being able to sleep anywhere… for me however it was a long six hours of sitting awake until eventually morning came and I went back to my guesthouse to get some rest.
The next day the train was cancelled and I eventually made it out of Jaisalmer the following evening.
They say everything has a silver lining. If it wasn’t for this train, I wouldn’t have made it to Bikaner, or met the wonderful family in my ‘Highlight’ moment at all….
In 6 weeks of travelling around India this was my only train that was delayed. But the reality is every day 25 million Indians travel by train, which are often—unsurprisingly—several hours late. It’s just a part of the Indian Railways experience!
February Blog Posts.
- The Places I Can’t Not Visit in 2017—My 2017 wish list with a bit of a difference, and a look at how travel can’t help but be impacted by politics, and what we can do about it.
- The Rise of Sustainable Hotels in Mumbai—Mumbai (or India) might not be where you’d expect to find sustainable travel gems… but you’d be wrong!
- Should I go on a Slum Tour of Dharavi, Mumbai? This was one of the decisions I agonised most over during my time in Mumbai. Read this post to find out why.
- How to Find Sustainable Accommodation—some of my best tips on where and how to find great places to stay that care.
Posts on other Blogs.
- Best Places to See Elephants in South East Asia, on A Traveling Life
- 15 Beautiful Slovenian Cities that you’ve Never Heard Of, on WanderlustingK
Instagram Post of the Month.
When I see beautiful, palatial buildings like this and all of the birds… there’s only one country in the world I can be in. There’s something about the birds in India – particularly at dawn and dusk – that just captivates me and roots me to that moment. Even if these ones are only pigeons!! What captures your attention and roots you to the moment on your travels?? #soultravelblog
I’ll be here in London for the coming few weeks plotting my future travels, but in March I’ll be making visits to the Peak District (the North of England) and Amsterdam, Netherlands.
Thank you for reading!
As you know, without you I wouldn’t be here writing this. Every comment, like, share and piece of feedback matters to me and I appreciate it. Thank you!