Category Travel South Asia

Of Spices and Indigo Dreams

India never ceases to amaze me.  Every time I travel to this country, the moment I step onto it’s soil I feel every part of me tingle with a different kind of energy. I had heard before from other travelers that the moment the plane doors open, each destination they go to has a different scent for them. To me India has this effect.

Just recently, during the Chinese new year break, my partner and I traveled to different parts of India, particularly Hyderabad, Jodhpur,  Jaisalmer, Bangalore, and Kerala.  We had a total of two weeks for our whole vacation, and at the end of the trip it felt like I wanted to stay longer. I felt like a cattle being dragged to the airport to be shipped back to the concrete jungle where I live.

I’m so excited to share with you the photos from that memorable trip.  You may be overwhelmed with all the color, but I hope I’m able to share the wonderful experience that we had through this visual diary.

First stop: Hyderabad. Main things to see were: Golkonda Fort and the Taj Falaknuma, which was a royal home turned into a luxury hotel.

Golkanda FortGolkonda Fort2Taj Falaknuma HyderabadTaj FalaknumaTaj Falaknuma India

After just two days in Hyderabad, off we went to Jodhpur, the famous blue city of Rajasthan.  The buildings were not all blue, as I originally thought from seeing pictures from National Geographic.  Still, it was surprising to see how so many houses used indigo, which according to locals was used because it was believed to keep them cool in the summer, and has mosquito repellant properties.

JodhpurJodhpur blue citywomen in indiaMarketplace JodhpurBlue cityRajasthanJodhpur Rajasthanclock tower JodhpurRajasthan IndiaMehrangarh FortIndiaMehrangarh Fort JodhpurTravel photographyincredible indiaUmaid Bhawan PalaceIndia travel photographyTravel photography indiajudaist templeIndia photographerIndia lifestyle photographerIndia travel photographershadowshappy Indian man

Rajasthan has always been my favorite region in India.  It’s where all my pre-conceived notions of the country are brought to life. Most other places have become developed and no longer feel as historical as this region.

Onward we move on from Jodhpur to Jaisalmer by taking a train ride.  It’s a must to take the train for people who really want to experience as much of India as they can.  Aside from the beautiful scenery you’d get to see, the experience of traveling with locals is altogether a story of its own.

sheep herdJaisalmercatching sunrisemorning in IndiaCamel rideEndlessJaisalmer Rajasthan

From the dry desert of Jaisalmer, we took a sleeper train ride to Jaipur, and then took a plane to Bangalore.  There we spent a weekend just relaxing,  we didn’t get to take much photos in Bangalore but to give you an idea, it’s a modern city where you could easily find different types of cuisines, and overall feels more developed.

After two days in Bangalore, we flew off to Kerala to see the famed backwaters. A backwater is basically a part of a river where there is little or no current because it is obstructed by either land or a dam, so the place has a general feeling of calm.   Kerala has many places you can visit, we chose three, namely: Cochin, Thekkady, and Allepey.

We saw a Kathakali performance in Cochin, rode on elephants in Thekkady, and stayed in a houseboat in Allepey.  You can do so many things in Kerala you can’t even imagine how to fit your time, especially since moving from one place to another already takes up quite a bit of time.

I think it was a good way to end our trip in Kerala, we got the peaceful energy and took it back home with us to Shanghai.

KeralaFort CochinIndian ThaliKathakali KeralaLush KeralaTropical Keralacow marketBuffalo market IndiaTropical IndiaThekkadyThekkady elephantLush paradiseTravel photographerAllepey KeralaTravel photojournalHouseboat Kerala

India: The First Time

If someone would ask me if I’d go to India alone, I’d say never in my wildest dreams.

When two of my friends and I decided a month and a half in advance to go, we were all excited. We attained all the requirements: the visa, the preparation, the local friends to contact in case of emergencies. We were all set.

The moment we landed, we headed straight to our hotel in the heart of Delhi, which we later found out from friends was in fact in a dodgy area (haha!).  We didn’t know and we didn’t care.  We had taken the cheapest flights which was the red eye flight with AirIndia, so when we landed in Delhi it was around 5 am in the morning.  Once we were in the hotel, we began to sleep, but shortly after we were woken up again – we didn’t get the notice that it was the cricket day between India and Pakistan, and by 8 am there was boom boom boom, huge drums playing a few feet outside our window to celebrate the match.  At that time I thought, wow, India is really welcoming us!

We were told that in India clothes were very affordable, so we decided to pack light and just attain our genie pants and tunics from there.  True enough, everything felt like a good bargain!  The moment we got off our first ride from the metro in Delhi, we were greeted with some beautiful handmade bead accessories which were being sold at a quarter of the price of stuff you find in H&M.

Delhi Metro Colorful India We got inspired to “localize,” aside from wearing traditional clothing, we got henna tattooed on the streets and one of my friends got a braid.  HennaArmed with our henna tattoos and complete getup, we were ready to experience India.  First stop, the Taj Mahal in Agra.  Taj Mahal is perhaps the most popular architectural symbol of India – you’ve seen it everywhere.  But in case you’ve never been, it’s a must to know that it’s a 2 hour drive away from the capital Delhi.  We had our first picture taken in front of the red gate below, and yes it is blurred, but it’s the only photo we had in front of that gate which makes it still special:3 girls travel to India Red mosque bicycle Henna tattoo Travel photography Taj Mahal Stories Taj Mahal India The Taj Mahal almost solitude Travel to Taj MahalAfter Agra and Delhi, we moved on to Jaipur by bus.  It was in this bus ride when I had one of those moments where you literally find yourself gripping onto dear life.  I was lucky to have data on my phone because we got sim cards right when we were coming out of the airport, and that connectivity allowed me to sign up for a travel insurance when we were already on the brink of possible death inside that bus.  Okay you might think I’m exaggerating, but I grew up in the Philippines where buses have literally flown out of flyovers (it was a very sad story which killed a lot of people) and I’ve had several scary bus rides before but this one in particular felt like the driver just didn’t care.

After the longest 6 hour bus journey we had ever had, we finally made it to Jaipur – yay!Indian foodjaipurcity of jaipurtempletemple visitAmer FortAmer Fort IndiaAmer Fort JaipurWalls have earsMonkIndian guardsnake charmersInside amer fort6 pointed starIndian tuktuk driver3 girls on a journeydetailsIndian womanblue and pinkIndian spicestravel selfiedeep tunnelglass ceilingsOlder Indian womanAnd then we moved on to Udaipur.  From Jaipur we took an overnight train to reach Udaipur.  If I must say, Udaipur is my favorite among all the cities I have come to visit in India.  It’s THE most romantic, imagine Venice in Italy, with several artificial lakes surrounding the city all throughout.  At night it’s peaceful, and the lake palace sometimes holds weddings which from afar looks like a whole island having a grand party. udaipurInside Udaipur city palaceTravel IndiaUdaipur Lake PicholaRajasthan travel photographyLife in IndiaCity in waterColorful India travelGrand Indian CeremonyBiryani and butter chickenFinally – one of the highlights of our trip… we took a 17 hour train ride from Udaipur to Mumbai.  And this was no ordinary train ride.  We took the no-class sleeper train, and had the most memorable night ever.  I doubt any of us really slept that night.  Luckily, a German guy got assigned to our cabin too, since we were already starting to worry about the looks we were getting from the local men who passed by and lingered in our cabin. Despite being avid travelers, one of our worries as women is the general safety in the places we go to, even if we’re traveling as a group of 3.

Our fellow German passenger was well accustomed to being around locals, and wasn’t afraid to play games with them.  So that night we ended up playing a few games of cards, and in the end it was like everyone were friends in that cabin.  Even the occasional rat that scooted by underneath the seats.  Hey – life is all about the quirky moments right? Mumbai train stationFrom Mumbai we then headed on to our last stop, Goa, which was a famous beach destination.  This west coast port city was once under the colony of the Portuguese, thus the reason why there’s a lot of Portuguese style architecture and even cuisine. Mumbai driverGoan churchIndian street delicacyMasala Chai by the beachGoa Travel India3 girls on a journey through IndiaThat was the end of our journey.  If you’re traveling to India and have a few questions, don’t hesitate to ask and drop me an email in my contact form! 🙂