Rachel and Matt’s World Tour
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North India Unplugged Part 2

Hello all.

We finished our Intrepid tour a few days ago and are now in Goa on the west coast. Here is what we have been up to since our last update.

We left the madness of Pushkar behind and headed to Jaipur, home to the Amber Fort and the Palace of the Winds. Rach thought the fort was very pretty inside with it’s ornate rooms. The audio guide however was extremely odd. The walls and doors talk to you in very serious monotone voices. The Palace of the Winds was also cool, but the bag sellers nearby would win the award for the pushiest in India easily.

We also took in a Bollywood movie at the Raj Mandir cinema. “Blue” was a laughable film about retrieving sunken treasure. There were no subtitles so Pradeep had to explain things every so often. Kylie also makes a cameo appearance with an awful song “I wanna Chiggy-Wiggy with you”! The cinema itself was very grand, built in a 1930’s style and was packed to the rafters. Everyone had a great night out, which was finished off with a tandoori.

After Jaipur we spent one night in Bharatpur. The nearby Keoladeo National Park provided some welcome relief from the constant noise and pollution elsewhere. We were pleasantly surprised to see lots of wildlife as the lack of rain in the monsoon season had reportedly caused many birds to migrate to other locations.

Next stop was Agra and one of the highlights of our whole year away, the Taj Mahal. On our first evening we had a whistle stop tour of the cities other atractions; Akbar’s Mausoleum and Itimad-Ud-Daulah (Baby Taj), as well as a view of the Taj from over the river. The next day we were up early to beat the crowds to the Taj. With many iconic sights, when you see them in real life they sometimes don’t live up to expectations. The Taj Mahal exceeded ours. It’s much bigger than we imagined and even more beautiful. It’s a shame some people don’t feel the same and choose to drop their  litter all around the ground (which hadn’t even been picked up from the previous day!).

Be sure to check the pictures, even though they don’t come close to doing it justice. After the Taj we visited Agra Fort. This was where Shah Jahan, who built the Taj Mahal, was imprisoned by his son for wanting to build another!

After a long train ride we arrived in Varanasi on the bank of the River Ganges. It is one of the holiest places for Indians, who come from all over the country to bathe in the water. People also come here to die as it is believed to give them an instant ticket into heaven. We saw two burning ghats, which is where the bodies are cremated, and the ashes scattered in the water. We also saw the Ganga Aarti ceremony, which with the thousands of spectators made for a great cultural experience.

Our sunrise boat trip, where we saw people bathing in the waters of the Ganges (not recommended, it’s pretty toxic!) was a picture postcard moment for us. Just outside of Varanasi is Sarnath, which is where Buddha performed his first sermon. There are Buddhist temples representing many countries in the world along one road, and a large stupa where some of his ashes are contained.

Our last stop on the tour was Kolkata (Calcutta). We didn’t see much of the renowned poverty and were surprised by the relatively modern/organised city centre. We saw the Victoria Memorial, which was very impressive, but not particularly well looked after. Frederique had her birthday on our first night in Kolkata so we went out for a special meal to celebrate. Pradeep did a great job in finding a cake. Mother Teresa lived in Kolkata for most of her life and we visited her house and mission centre, a short distance from our hotel. It was very moving reading about her life and her unwavering efforts to help the sick and impoverished people of India and the world.

Finally it was time to say goodbye to our group. We have made many good friends over the course of the trip and couldn’t have wished to travel with better people. Announcement: Pradeep, our leader was a legend. His many cultural insights enhanced the trip immensely, and the evening at his home in Udaipur was a highlight for everyone. He is also the best/worst dancer we’ve ever seen! 10/10 for effort.

We only have two weeks and are looking forward to soaking up some rays in Goa, to make you all look very pale! Until the next, and final update…


1 Emma { 11.16.09 at 4:46 pm }

Wow, India sounds and looks amazing. I can’t believe you are coming to the end of your fabulous adventure. What great memories you will have though. Enjoy the last part of your trip in the sunshine.

2 Louisette and Michel { 11.16.09 at 5:18 pm }

Très heureux de vous accompagner, superbes photos, et narration très bien faite, c’est comme-ci nous y étions… nous allons avoir envie nous aussi de faire quelques escapades dans ces pays merveilleux.
Encore merci de nous faire participer
Louisette & Michel

3 Carol, Dan and Harry { 11.16.09 at 5:54 pm }

Hey guys. Every blog is very welcomed as we love to read about how you are getting on. Although we talk on the phone, it’s easier to see what you have been up to when it’s on the blog and backed up by the fantastic photos! I know you must be sad to be in your last few weeks but we cant wait for you to come home. We have all missed you guys so much. We are counting down the sleeps now until you come home. Preparations are now taking place for your return – making room for you etc, you homeless people!!
Anyway, love you lots, hope to speak soon. I know you will be so pleased to see little (not so little now) Harry after a year away. Take care. xxxxxxxx

4 Geoff Collis { 11.16.09 at 10:07 pm }

The “real” world will never be the same.

I have enjoyed all your dispatches and am sure the memories will live in your heads forever.

Have a safe journey back to blighty.

5 Mum and Dad Silsbury { 11.16.09 at 10:22 pm }

There are certainly some wonderful buildings in India as your pics show,interesting blog as usual. Time is creeping up now, it’s sad your journey has almost come to an end but my what wonderful memories you both have-you will be talking about your experiences for the rest of time ! We will miss the echo of ‘is there a new blog on yet’ ? We are all very much looking forward to your home coming , your tales, your experiences and to Christmas which is just around the corner. Take good care, enjoy the rest of your travels. See you soon. xxxxxxxxxx

6 Mum Doran { 11.16.09 at 10:28 pm }

Hey there you two. Ab fab blog and fots as per usual. I have just sent about 80 fots to N & P this week. I am off to see them on Wednesday. Will give them your love. I really like the look of India and Pradeep seems a super chap. Hope that you keep in touch with all of your new found friends. I am thinking that the sprite t/shirt must be the “Indian” t/shirt – are you bringing any of those t/shirts back home, or would you like some new ones? Mind you there are many happy memories tied up in them. Anyway enjoy yourselves in Goa- see you at Terminal 5.xxx

7 cool car { 11.17.09 at 7:55 pm }

Hey hobbos ,what a marvelos adventous adventure .Have a good journey home to the cold crispy weather over here .I here the people are very nice in goa ,so have a good time .

8 Ria (and Tom) { 11.19.09 at 2:10 pm }

Hey guys, photos look great again. Love the one of the half naked man – just what I needed to see whilst slurping on my soup! You guys are gonna have one massive photo printing bill when you get home to get all these printed. It’ll be worth it though. Looking forward to an official slide show night, accompanied with some mulled wine!! Rach – you look SUPER tanned and gorg in that one of you and Matt posing by the Taj – I don’t think you really need to top that up anymore! Even though it’s cold and wet here, if I were you I’d be dressing like that half naked man all winter just to show the tan off! Matt you can do it too if you like, but I’m not sure you can pull the look off quite so well as Rach!!

So it’s sad that this is the last update – are we not getting one from Goa? I have to say I have really missed you guys, but I have loved reading about your adventures and seeing all the amazing photos. You really have inspired me to go travelling. Although I don’t think Tom will be up for going for a whole year, but I think we’d be up to going to places for a month or so. I think my fav placed you travelled to were Cambodia and Vietnam. Also NZ looked amazing. I just can’t believe how quick this last year has gone!!

Big night out when you get back!!


9 Matt Wihlm { 11.20.09 at 7:45 am }

Looks like you two are having a good time! I am trying to cut a few weeks off my trip, I getting ready to go home! But, good luck with the rest of your travels, whats up after india?

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