I am heading East :)
14.11.2012 12 °C
I've dusted off my backpack, got nostalgic about the last journey we went on together and then got giddy about the one due to start in t-minus-48 hours time. And so I decided it was a timely moment to revisit my travel blog so I can diarise my trip and provide general musings along the way.
I am deeply passionate about a couple of things; social justice and travelling. Which at times can seem a bit conflicted, especially when I feel convicted about the need to consumer detox...but hey ho...I'm going to travel India baby!!! The spreadsheet itinerary has been created and shared with a select few (fellow traveller Amanda, boyfriend John and anxious Mother Reeves). It was pointed out to me by John that scheduling an ice-cream in Mumbai on Thursday 22nd November at 3pm local time was possibly taking forward planning a bit too far, even for me. But in general the plans are not this restrictive, just a sensible guide for where we need to be and when so that we maximise our time out there. There is no time contingency built into the plan for illness recovery or transport delays, and after my brief exposure to the Indian Railway network I think that's pretty optimistic. The people at IRCTC have been very lovely and polite, but my goodness what an inefficient and bureaucratic online-booking system. Their official internet site will not accept foreign card payments so to reserve trains online (which get booked up very quickly) you need to register on IRCTC, receive the email activation code, then email customer services with a copy of your passport, within certain times only, to request the required mobile activation code. On receipt of the mobile activation code, to your email address, you then have to register with a private affiliated company at cleartip.com and then go through the same process of registering, using the codes provided by IRCTC. Simple yeah? Not when the site regularly crashes and then each time you try to re-register it sends a new email activation code and so you have to go back to the customer care people and hope they will email you with a new matching mobile activation code. Only to realise that you have since been sent 4 new email activation codes and now need to decipher which is most up-to-date to send back to the customer care people, who at this point have got fed up with you and stopped responding to your emails. Awesome. We'll leave the transport arrangements until we're out in India then.
I'm going on this trip with my good friend Amanda; lovely Manc lass and highly relaxed. So totally the opposite of me. Fortunately I know from our time spent at Brazil Carnival and in Sweden that we travel well together and can have a laugh. It's good to be going away with another experienced traveller who is happy to hostel-it and will humour me and my need for organisation. And I provide benefits as a travel partner too - a significant number of medicinal items for every occasion: Delhi Belly, vertigo, travel sickness, Malaria, Flu or general need for pain relief.
Sickness concerns aside, I am so massively excited about this trip. India has been on my list for ages, if it wasn't for South America drawing me back 3 years running I would have gone East a long time ago. But now IS the time and I cannot wait to gain from all that comes through travel - a culture shock to all the senses, riding on public transport not too sure how its going to work out and being very grateful when you get to where you wanted, meeting beautiful and hospitable local people and learning a little bit of what it's like to live where they do, remembering that every country you visit has its own confronting poverty and social issues and being thankful for all you have in your own, having to make time each morning to separate your money, passport, key belongings over your body / in your underwear and the relief that it's still all there when you settle, and of course...adventure adventure adventure. To conclude this blog entry, a quote from the Lonely Planet that got me super excited about this particular trip...
"Nothing can fully prepare you for India, but perhaps the one thing that best encapsulates this extraordinary country is its ability to inspire, frustrate, thrill and confound all at once. India is one of the planet's most multidimensional countries, presenting a wildly diverse spectrum of travel encounters. Even the most experienced travellers find their sanity frayed at some point, yet this is all part of what makes India a unique travel destination".
Bring. It. On.