Boy oh boy time flies when you… forget to blog about the last four places you’ve visited. Let me catch you up. TAJ MAHAL, yep it’s totally a winner. Really, it’s some kind of surreal magic getting the first glimpse of that big beautiful dome and it’s even better if you FaceTime your parents so you get to experience it together. I can’t/won’t let myself imagine what it would be like during peak season however – already you could barely move without wondering whether someone just groped you or it’s simply just very packed. However, if you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to be a celebrity, the Taj is the perfect place to visit – I can only imagine the hundreds of photos of me there are with strangers on Facebook, and one where I am holding somebody’s baby. I highly recommend going at either sunrise or sunset – less hot, less crowded, less paparazzi. One train, one bus and about fifty tuk tuk’s later we had arrived in our much anticipated destination of Rishikesh, the yoga capital of the world and about 5 degrees cooler than Rajasthan (you’d be surprised how massive this felt to us). It’s hard to explain Rishikesh without sounding like a total douche bag and saying that it just has a ‘vibe’. I can’t help but think it’s because the majority of people that visit/inhabit this place hold a similar purpose and intention for being there. All I can say for sure is that it felt different, and special (and not in the way you describe your younger sibling). Our days in Rishikesh were spent with early morning yoga followed by cafe hopping and big walks to waterfalls where being in the water had never felt so good. To be even more of a d-bag, I got a massage just ’cause I felt like it. Up until this point we had been pretty braggy about the fact our time in India was nearly over and we hadn’t got the infamous ‘Delhi Belly’ yet. So of course, we got it three days out from leaving and it hit us hard. Turns out brushing your teeth with the tap water is ALWAYS a bad idea and that your stomach doesn’t ‘climatise’ no matter how long you’ve been in the country for. Huh, good to know. Let’s just say we felt very lucky that there was no one else in our hostel room/using our bathroom (too much? I thought it might have been). Rishikesh was the perfect way to end our trip in India. We left full of experiences we couldn’t have ever imagined and the feeling that we had only just grazed the surface of this extremely vast and contrasting country. And very ready for some sand, sun and salt water goodness – whaddup Sri Lanka!
We touched down in Colombo late at night, trusted a tuk tuk driver that in hindsight we shouldn’t have, spent a night in a hotel and were straight to Kandy the next day. By straight, I mean after standing for four hours on a completely full train where every stop was a little bit of false hope that somebody would get off. No one did. At the train station we were met by Raju the tuk tuk driver who we for some reason agreed to him taking us around the next day to see the sights – Kandy is inland and renowned for its tea plantations and incredible botanical gardens. Raju was right on time the next day, 9am sharp and we honestly had such a great day. So much so that we asked Raju to come pick us up the next day to take us to the bus station. Turns out implicitly trusting a tuk tuk driver to get you to your bus on time isn’t always a good idea – or ever. We were left waiting by the side of the road, in the pouring rain while Raju was with someone he had gotten a better deal from, laughing at the silly Australian girls. If anyone ever meets Raju, please tell him we’d like to retract the reviews we gave in his book and no longer think he’s ‘such a nice guy!!!’. An hour in after hopping on a bus we merely assumed was going to our destination, my buddy decided that she really, really had to pee and we were to get off this bus immediately. I’m not talking waiting until the bus stops like civilised individuals, I’m talking we jumped out of a bus that was only partially stopped in traffic. When you gotta go you gotta go, I guess. Somehow, we ended up safely arriving in Sigiriya, famous for the ‘Lion Rock’ which has an incredible history dating back many years – I don’t know what the history is, so I suggest googling. Climbing it was bloody cool though! From the summit, you could see for miles uninhabited land with so many shades of green I didn’t even know existed. If you’re scared of heights, this one’s a doozy.
I think that’s about all you need to know for now. We’ve just arrived at our first beach and I’m about to go jump in the ocean. Baiiiii.