In the past weeks, we have all had experiences that will be stories we are still telling in 50-60 years time. From washing elephants to sleeping in the desert to beholding a wonder of the world to jumping onto a moving train, we had a very exciting 3 weeks off with Team Delhi.
Our trip began with a 2 hour flight to the capital city. We left behind the 20-25 degree heat of Kolkata to arrive in Delhi’s coldest winter for 118 years. With highs of 7 degrees one day, there were points where the chilly December days back home were warmer. Where we were staying also didn’t have insulation. We didn’t take the girls in Delhi seriously when they warned us how cold it was, so we quickly went to the nearest mall to pick up blankets and extra layers.
The roads were less chaotic and there was some more greenery decorating the streets, but overall Delhi didn’t seem too dissimilar to Kolkata.
Next up the 7 of us headed for Agra. The train took 6 and a half hours (total journey time thus far: 8.5 hours).
Agra is home to one of the Wonders of the World – the Taj Mahal. This is why we visited. In the long run we won’t remember the cold shower at the hotel, getting up at 5am the next day only for our train to be delayed until 10:30 or getting an Uber to a “24 hour café” only to have to go straight back because it was closed. All we will pass on to all our friends, family and future generations is how stunning and surreal the Taj Mahal was up close.
Next up we went to Jaipur for 5 nights. The train there took 5 and a half hours (total journey time thus far: 14 hours).
Jaipur began with a total nightmare. We arrived on New Year’s Eve at Nanus Hostel. Here the manager lied to our faces about non-payment which led to us paying far too much money, only for us to deem the place unsafe (the room had no lock, no safe, no bathroom and there was a half drunk bottle of vodka on the floor). The manager laughed at us as we left, on the search for accommodation on perhaps the busiest and most expensive night of the year.
We did find accommodation and New Years was a fantastic night in the end. We watched fireworks from a rooftop restaurant.
Going to the top of mountains to see the forts reminded us of Greece, Italy or Croatia – with the odd elephant or two on the road to keep the Indian flavour alive.
We also got to pet, paint, walk and wash elephants at a sanctuary which was a massive highlight of the holiday for us all.
Next up we went to the weirdest place of all, Pushkar. The train took 6 and a half hours (total journey time thus far: 20.5 hours).
With a population of just 20,000, Pushkar was the first time we got away from the busy, noisy streets of a big city and saw India in a totally new light.
We saw a beautiful sunrise from a mountaintop (it was crazy. We could see the sky and there was, like, no pollution in the way!) and experienced the weird hippie vibe of the place. We also got classic India Gap Year jumpers. Going down a mountain in a cable car that is duct taped together was a fun experience as well.
There’s only 2 more places after this one, we are getting there.
The train here took 7 hours (total journey time thus far: 27.5 hours)
Udaipur was the most upmarket place we visited. We took a boat ride to a water palace and a duct tape-free cable car to a mountain top for sunset.
The hotel provided hot water and towels as well as breakfast delivered to the room. An evening meal at a nice restaurant overlooking the water certainly secured Udaipur’s place as the most beautiful out of all the cities we visited.
The next train took 5 hours (total journey time thus far: 32.5 hours).
We only got a day and a half in Jodhpur but it was rather eventful. The very narrow alleyways coupled with the high population of stray dogs in Jodhpur made for some scary encounters.
Perhaps the scariest encounter was on the way to Jodhpur. The train was very busy and began moving while Lewis was still trying to cram through the crowd to get on the train. A quick run to the nearest door and a throw of a suitcase later he made it aboard. Just.
The highlight of Jodhpur had to be the Flying Fox (or zip line) over the fort and nearby hills and streams. The thrill of soaring through the warm morning air is an experience we will never forget.
Finally we arrive at our last destination. If you think it took you a long time to read this far, it took us a 16 hour train to get to Jaisalmer! For 2 nights for 7 of us we had paid a total price of just under £4 so we were very apprehensive before arrival but were very pleasantly surprised by the quality of the accommodation.
This brings us to the big finale. We took a jeep ride into the desert, 50 kilometres from the Pakistan border. Here we took a 3 hour camel ride until we reached our camp for the night. We slept under a breathtaking array of stars. It was a fittingly fantastic end to such a wonderful holiday.
The next day we had a 19 hour train to Delhi, followed a day later by a 17 hour train back to Kolkata.
Total journey time: 84 and a half hours
ROS of the Holiday (Ray of Sunshine):
Zoe: I really enjoyed the Flying Fox in Jodhpur as we got to see the blue city when “flying”! It was really cool to see God’s creation throughout the entire holiday. We also had some really cool eating destinations, and intriguing conversations with people on the trains (had to keep ourselves busy with the amount of time we were on them)!
Tom: I really enjoyed the camel safari we did but also all of the great restaurants we got to eat ate. Some of them had amazing views. Also the sunset we saw in udaipur
Naomi: we went on a camel safari and slept under the stars in the desert. The stars were unbelievable and so pretty.
But my personal favourite moment was when we were visiting a fort and a person asked me “ photo please”, as per usual in India I say “yes sure” and go next to the lady for a photo. A few seconds later I discover that the man actually wanted me to take a photo of him and his wife, not of me and his wife …
Lewis: I loved the elephant sanctuary. The staff were so passionate about the welfare of the animals and it was an awesome experience to be so close to animals we never see at home.
Please Pray for Us!
Please pray that we keep focussed for the remainder of our time here. That we won’t become bored or feel unfulfilled back in Kolkata but that we can make the most of every day we have left here and may God give us genuine gratitude for our surroundings.