Tag Archives: India

India dreaming..

It’s been a while since my last post…I left NYC over a month ago and I’m now back in England which has been my home for nearly 5 years. This past year has had a great influence on how I  see my life and my place in it. As cliche as it sounds, travelling really opens your mind to new possibilities and helps you learn a lot about yourself. Now that I think about it, my travels around Asia and America have quite possibly taught me more about myself than about the places I visited! New experiences that come with traveling are like a prism through which you get to see your life from an entirely different perspective. Thanks to them,  you get to know your limits and then break them; your learn to be patient when you’re in a situation you’d normally dread to even think about; they give you the freedom to be carefree and joyful while helping you realise what’s lacking in your life.

Travelling around India has been such a prism to me. It was an amazing experience and I will never forget it… Sitting on the rooftop overlooking Taj Mahal, sipping masala chai as the sun was about the set and the Call to Prayer was echoing through the city…Midnight swims in the Arabian Sea, glistering in the moonlight… Camping in the middle of Thar Desert, falling asleep as the Milky Way was shining bright..Endless hours spent on the train, talking to strangers who, within one journey, would become my friends…It almost seems like a dream! I realise how much it changed me and the way I see my life especially now, when I’m back home (although, knowing myself, I won’t be back for long;).  I thought I would share a few photos from my journey across India – they are mainly portraits because I’ve always believed that the best way to learn about a culture is though people  – after all, it’s them who create it!

Shop keeper, Varkala, South India

Local fishermen in Varkala. I took this photo early in the morning, after a sunrise boat ride.

Another photo from Varkala..I love the colours and the composition.

On the way to Jodhpur fort..This man was really friendly and asked me to take photos of his son!:)

One thing that always struck me about Indian women was how incredibly graceful and feminine  they are. I think this photo managed to capture that. It was taken in Hampi, one of my favourite Indian cities -it’s absolutely magical.

Temple in Hampi. I couldn’t get over the amazing detailing and the vibrant colours!

On the Ooty toy train. Taking this train was such a fantastic experience – the views were breathtaking!

Lady in orange.

This was taken on my first day in India,right in the middle of Paharganj, Delhi. I must say, out of all the cities I’ve visited in India, Delhi’s definitely my least favourite. The dirt and pollution was just too much!

Street vednor in Kanyakumari, South India. The city’s on India’s southernmost tip, it’s also where 3 seas meet.

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My personal guide to cheap and happy travel.

I’ve been travelling for the past eight months – I started off in India, made my way to Malaysia, then Laos and Sri Lanka, to finally end up in New York City – leading  most of my friends to believe that I’ve either robbed a bank or married a millionaire. Well, I haven’t done either – travelling doesn’t have to be expensive. It’s all about your travel philosophy (and how you manage your money!;). If you want to stay at expensive hotels, eat out everyday and treat yourself to shopping sprees, you have very little chance of keeping it cheap. To me, travelling is about experiences, and these often come free. Wake up early and watch the sunrise. Go on a lone walk, have a chat with the locals and listen to the rythm of the city. Admire the architecture. Take a midnight swim in the ocean and look at the stars and the moon as you let the waves carry you.  Keep an open mind and heart. You’ll be surprised what you will learn, not only about the places you visit but about yourself, when you just let go, slow down and enjoy the moment.

Enjoy simple things. The way I see it, each day is a sum of moments, so the more we enjoy each moment , the greater our day.  It’s all about little things – like stopping at a cafe in New York’s Little Italy on a rainy day, choosing a window seat and slowly sipping your cappuccino as you’re watching people pass by.

Make Friends! Making new friends  while you travel will not only make your trip more fun and exciting but also save you money! Paying for accommodation, regardless of where you are, is one of the most expensive aspects of travelling – and if you’re not free-spirited enough to enjoy camping on the beach or sleeping in a car few days in a row,  then sharing a room with a like-minded  travel companion  will help you save a lot. Plus it may just turn out that the person you randomly met somewhere in Southern India will become one of your best friends, and invite you to their home country where you will join them on more crazy adventures!

Explore! Yes- travel  guides are great and it’s always good to buy one before setting off on a new adventure – but use them as a starting point of your trip, don’t base your entire stay on them! After all, you don’t want to recreate somebody else’s experiences – you want to create your own! One of the greatest things about travelling is the freedom you feel when you arrive to a new place – with all the new, amazing things to explore, who is to tell you what you must and musn’t see?  Ask the locals, talk to fellow travellers, trust your instincts, be spontaneous, don’t be afraid to get lost– and you’re in for the adventure of a lifetime!

Don’t book ahead! From what I’ve noticed, accommodation that you find online tends to be more expensive than privately owned hostels and guesthouses which don’t have the money/resources to advertise online… So if you don’t mind arriving at a place without a pre-booked room, head  off to the area that offers the best accommodation deals (check your travel guide!) and find a hotel that goes best with your budget – you might even be able to haggle and you can’t go wrong with that! (This is true especially in India, where you can (and should!) haggle for room prices, often ending up paying 50% of the starting price! If you book ahead online or through an agent, you will have to stick to the price that you already agreed to pay…And that means overpaying!!)

Use public transport! While taking a bus, train or a rickshaw may not be the most glamorous way to travel, it’s definitely the cheapest! Plus, it’s an adventure – you will have a chance to meet local people and exchange travel tips with other travellers. And for God’s sake, if I survived a 12 hours ride on a local Indian bus, squeezed between bags of vegetables and screaming children, then you really have nothing to worry about! The rule is simple – the slower you travel, the less you spend!

Collect air miles! Ok, so while travelling around the country once you already got there doesn’t have to be expensive, GETTING THERE usually is.  Follow three golden rules to make it cheaper – 1. Book flights in advance to get the best deals;  2. Collect air miles to pay less; 3.Travel with cheap airlines such as  Air Asia, Ryan Air etc (you can also try befriending an airhostess and travel for free ;).

Swap restaurant food for supermarket meals. If you’re travelling for a long time, eating out is a luxury you can’t always afford – supermarket food will cost you less and last longer (especially if you’re staying at a place with a fridge/kitchenette). Also, consider buying local food to support the local economy! And if you’re desperate for a meal at a restaurant, use discount websites such as groupon.com to get the best deals.

Be patient and stay open-minded! Travelling to a foreign country can be difficult – you might have a hard time getting used to the local customs, have problems communicating (language barrier) and adjusting to the climate.  But before you get frustrated and upset, take a deep breath, look around you and remind yourself that you decided to come to this place for a reason – that being there is beneficial for you because travelling is the best way you can learn about the world, the people and about yourself. Don’t worry if you missed your train or if things don’t work out exactly the way you planned – sometimes the best  and most exciting things  come our way when we least expect it!

Happy travelling 🙂