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.
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. Armed 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: After 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!And 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. Finally – 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? From 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. That 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! 🙂