Saturday, 19 September 2015

India Travel Memories with My Partner in Crime

In a month or so I'm headed to South East Asia (eeeeeek) to tick a load of places and things off my bucket list alongside one of my best friends in the entire world. Excitement (impatience), plus a combination of working from home and having a bit more freedom and not having been anywhere for a few years, means the 'wanderlust' (ugh) I have at the moment is ridiculous.

It's also no secret that I'm about as sentimental as they come, so when asked me to dig up my favourite holiday photos and memories and dedicate a post to the person I shared them with, I was more than happy to oblige. On reflection, it was a bad idea to write such a nostalgic post on a gin/wine hangover - it got emotional - but I hope it's as fun to read as it was to put together!

India Memories with My Partner in Crime
Happy to have reached the Hampi viewpoint after 500 "steps" Hampi (filter doesn't show how red-faced I was) | mopeds in Goa | Trainlyf | Gangtok, Sikkim

Although my trip to India was technically travelling, not a holiday, I couldn't possibly talk about anyone other than my partner in crime, Rachel (2.0) for this post. Rach and I have been pals since our gap year, where we spent four months together as part of a group volunteering in Uganda. I'm pretty sure we hit it off immediately, because we are essentially the same person. A good thing, because we've since been to the same university, co-ran a social enterprise team and lived together, with only a handful of nearly fatal arguments. Now we live at opposite ends of the country and barely get to see each other, Rach is my lost limb. Sob.

Although we've been away exploring and adventuring a few times, our trip to India was totally unforgettable; we toured the beautiful Kerala backwaters by houseboat, looked out across the cloud-framed Himalayan foothills from the colourful hill town Gangtok, discovered that the Taj Mahal is even more impressive in real life, drove mopeds in the "hippy town" of Anjuna in Goa, explored the fairytale-like landscapes and ruins of Hampi, a World Heritage Site, experienced the famous hustle and bustle of Rajhastan, Delhi and Mumbai and sunned ourselves on an almost-deserted beach in Kerala. Oh and temples. We visited a lot of temples.

Viewpoint (after a lot of of steps) at the World Heritage Site, Hampi

Although big, bucket list-y things like visiting the Taj Mahal are obviously incredible experiences, I think some of the best travel memories are made in the smaller moments of everyday life. The chanting men selling little shots of chai on the trains stopping in their tracks at the sight of two white girls - "chai chai chai chai chai chai.... tea?!", standing in the doorway of a train as it meanders through miles and miles of rolling mountains and waterfalls, tucking into the delicious street food by Mumbai Harbour (the pav-bhaji we ate here, on our first night in the country, was one of my favourite meals of the whole trip - for less than £1 between us).

View from the train | View from the very, very full jeep on the way up to Gangtok

It's also the people you meet as you explore different places, like "Mr. Massage", an old, toothless man offering his services while we ate our breakfast in Varanasi (thank you but really, really no thank you), the jewellers we shared chai with while they tried to sell us their beautiful rings (successfully, of course), and the various hostel owners and tuk-tuk drivers we got used to seeing every day.

Even the not-so-positive moments make for hilarious memories: discovering a cobra in our bedroom in the middle of the night in Goa, tackling a bed bug infestation, armed only with head torches and deet, in Varanasi, falling over at the Taj Mahal in front of hundreds of tourists, being cornered by the thousandth pushy bazar owner in Jaipur who ended up dressing himself up in a saree for us, having to deal with menstruation on a 20+ hour coach. It's all part of the fun, and Rach is the best for making light of a bad situation, too.

India Memories with My Partner in Crime 2
Taj Mahal in a monsoon | waiting hours and hours for a jeep to Gangtok (they did not like Rachel doing this.) | Japuir shoppin' | Yoga in Kerala

Rachel is my travel soulmate; we just get each other. We know when to give each other space (though "space" can be difficult whilst travelling), and we always agree 100% on what we want to do in each place. She's good at holding heavy stuff, will preserve my decency with a jumper while I change a tampon on a busy coach, and is (usually)great with a map - pretty much all you need in a travel companion, I'm sure you'll agree, so I can forgive her inability to pronounce place names and occasional grumpy spells (pot, kettle...).

Travelling India was categorically the best thing I've ever done, and doing it with Rach made it even better. I can't wait for our next adventure... is something you'd say about your significant other.

True, though.

Have you been to India? What are your favourite holiday/travel memories?

This post was written in collaboration with as part of their Holiday Memories campaign, but all views are (obviously) my own. See my full disclaimer for more info.

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