Well well I can assure you India is EXACTLY how you imagine. It’s loud, smelly, bright, dangerous, and a play on every single one of your sense but it’s also so much more than a first impression.
It’s loud in a way that makes you feel alive and present in the moment. It tells you that every single person surrounding you is also alive and sharing that moment with you.
It’s smelly in a way I hadent experienced before. It’s the smell of people living and car fumes weaving in and out of the traffic, it’s the smell of millions and millions of people crammed into a small space only one million people should be able to fit in. Again it makes you feel alive.
It’s bright in a way that assured me this city never sleeps. It’s on a constant circle, as if daytime is 24/7. It’s bright not only in the lights of cars, Tuk Tuks, and bikes, but the people. The people of India have a magical light about them that makes them so special.
It’s dangerous in a way that you know your living! It’s as dangerous as the choices and decisions you make.
These are all the senses and impressions I found when I stepped out of the doors into the wild, incredible Kochin Airport. I had about 10 minutes to come to my senses before I was in a taxi weaving from one side of the road to the other in a storm of car horns. I truely thought “what have I done?”. Little did I know this place would soon have my heart and soul.
The first few days of my life changing experience consist of acclimatising to the challenge in front of us.
Day four will be a day I will never forget. It was the day we started our trek through the tea plantations and forests of Munnar. We took a break in our journey at an elephant rehabilitation centre. It was quite the opposite. This is where I am going to be completely raw and honest. Yes there is extreme animal cruelty in India, it’s a third world country and every single third world country I have been too also has similar animal cruelty issues. Yes it is wrong however there is only so much one person can do to help. Leave. Do NOT support it and eventually the owners won’t get what they want and will move on. I’m not going to go into details as it was rather traumatic for me but you can’t hide it, it’s there. It’s all apart of the experience and honestly makes you more grateful about the place you get to call home.
HOWEVER, after this not so nice elephant encounter, on the second day of our trek a stampede of sixteen wild elephants had our trek cut short! So knowing there was happy elephants going about there business, as free as they can, made me feel a lot better about the cruelty situation.
As I wrote in my diary… “as I write this Rosa and I are sitting on large rocks on top of a hill near our camp, honestly I wish mum could see this. We can see a small village that is on the opposite side of the valley and we can hear their tribal music. Oh and I forgot to mention that we were woken up to the sound of wild elephants this morning”
Reading back through that piece I wrote made me realise how special and precious moments like those are. I remember sitting there thinking I could sit here forever and be completely content with my life. That was the moment I knew India was a large present of magic just waiting for me to unwrap it. From that moment on I got rid of the “what have I done” thoughts and made sure I made the most of every moment possible!
Fast forward to day eight of my trip and this is where the magic really shone through.
Don Bosco Orphanage
In all of my life I have never felt so many emotions at once. It was the hardest thing and also the best thing I’ve ever done in my life so far. If you haven’t volunteered, you HAVE TOO.
We were welcomed by a young boy holding a bowl of fire followed by another young boy holding sandinwood paste which he then smudged on our foreheads. This was a welcoming into their family. I’ve never felt so welcomed by a bunch of strangers.
We laughed, we danced, we sang songs with buckets as drums and bottles with rocks inside as maracas, we played basketball and we also cried. We were fortunate enough to be at Don Bosco for Christmas. This allowed us to build stronger relationships with the boys who had no family at all, those who didn’t even know how old they were or where they were from.
The next stage of our trip was rest and relaxation. This started with a river cruise in Allappy. (Check out @Kiwijetsetter on IG to see more photos!)
Next we were flying up to Northern India. We stayed in a Castle. A CASTLE. It was absolutely gorgeous and still had all the furniture as if we were a few hundred years back in time.
Northern India to me was almost like a different country or as they say in Asia “same same but different”. The roads were riddled with cobras, camels and cows. We completed the golden triangle which consists of Jaipur, Agra, and Delhi.
A must see when in Jaipur is to visit the monkey temple. Over 4000 monkeys call this stunning place home, you can buy peanuts from an old friendly man at the gate and feed the monkeys VERY carefully! They will take your finger off.
We arrived in Agra on New Year’s Eve. First thing on the first of January at 6am I was welcomed into 2015 by the Taj Mahal. It truely is something else that I can’t really explain, you just have to see it for yourself.
I could go on and on about how magical India is but in all honestly it’s a place you have to experience for yourself. I also know what most of you are thinking while reading this. “I have no desire to travel there”, well neither did I before I decided to not assume or judge a place on what other people had said or experienced. What’s the fun in that? I dare you to just GO, forget about the India you think you know and find out for yourself.
It’s fair to say India has stolen my heart and isn’t giving it back for a while.