Leaving Pokhara, Nepal

Flights booked, plan formed & renewed energy flowing through me – I am happy to be moving on! It’s nothing personal Nepal, honestly. I have really enjoyed aspects of you but for me, right now, you haven’t been taken into my heart. I’m leaving Pokhara to go back to Kathmandu for a few days before jetting off to Thailand – one of the countries firmly secured in my heart. I am happy to be leaving Pokhara. It wasn’t the holistic haven people boasted about. It was a cloudy, rainy, dull town – with some charm. It’s my own fault for not seeing or doing more. I am fair weather, I hate monkeys & I’m on a budget. You can still do most if you fall into these categories. I just didn’t seem to have enough motivation.

When the weather clears & you can actually see the peaks of the mountains it is beautiful & impressive. Even the moody clouds & the howling wind were striking. One day the weather just turned from pleasant to shiver inducing eery. The sky went dark, the clouds felt so close like they could touch the ground & the air became haunting. The pictures below don’t do justice to how encapsulating & sinister the clouds felt.

 

 

 

 

 

I felt a little stuck in Pokhara. The mountains were more freeing although not in my heart like the mountains in Verbier, Switzerland. I don’t feel like I’m being unfair to Pokhara or Nepal. Everyone has personal preferences, nostalgia that draws them to form an opinion, gut feelings on certain places. That’s what I love about travelling. It’s such an individual experience in the end. The Pokhara I see will not be the one unfolding in front of your eyes when you go.

I’m in a grumpy mood waiting for my eternally late friend to go to the bus station. I’m not looking forward to our long, bumpy journey squashed on the bus. I can’t wait for space from her. I can’t wait to be back in the Thamel 327, horizontal – My happy place.

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Poon Hill Day 3: Sunrise at Poon Hill

In the quiet of the third cold, blustery morning I set off at 5am to conquer the last hour of summit before sunrise. After 3 steps up the path my lungs were faltering while my legs were fit & able to continue. I pushed through it presuming it was the cold or the altitude but my lungs could not keep up. It was my slowest ascent with many, MANY, breaks. The hue of the sun sneaking up behind the mountain was spurring us to continue. My neurons were dulled by the confusion of the altitude compromised biting cold air accompanied by the stifling sweat of my muscular & cardiovascular effort. The sun was rising faster than my footfall & I pushed hard to make it to the summit before the sun, challenging the elements on every aspect & pushing my physique & mindset.

Our guide kept encouraging us saying it was only 10 more minutes to the top – but with all these steps & my faltering lungs it felt impossible. Only one group of people overtook us which was a reassurance that our pace was not as dismal as it felt. Finally, after an hour of full blown effort at such a slow pace, we completed the 1000M final climb to Poon Hill 3210M. Flat land has never been so appealing!

On the last steps my already shallow breath was taken away by the ferociously stunning impact the breaking dawn etched over one of the worlds highest peaks. The view of the Annapurna mountain range was overwhelmingly striking in all its majestic grandeur. I gazed, entirely absorbed, unable to tear myself away from the powerful encompassing beauty. The view at the top was magnificent. We could clearly see the vast Annapurna mountain range. The sun slowly crept behind them taking us into a brand new day.

There weren’t many people on the top when we arrived but quickly this turned into 100 people. It didn’t feel too crowded though & I felt like I was able to enjoy my surroundings in relative peace. I got a hot chocolate as a toasty reward & chatted with my fellow trekkers. I gave myself a good 10 minutes of flat land before I went up the viewing tower. It was incredible. Did I mention I love mountains??

Once we felt our third eyes were truly open & had enough of taking pictures we made the descent back to our hostel. Keen to go to the bathroom & recharge my phone for the day I quickly skipped down the steps in 15-20mins. My legs were like jelly at the end! The power was out at the hotel so it was wasted effort for my phone. I had a ginger lemon honey (my current beverage of choice) & told my wobbling legs that everything is going to be ok.

 

Poon Hill Tips:

-Make sure your phone & camera are fully charged as the cold weather quickly drains the power.

-Layers are best. I was so hot on the climb I stripped down to a t-shirt but had to put my hoody back on when we were standing around at the top

-A splash of Baileys really would have made my hot chocolate quite special

 

Poon Hill Day 1: Pokhara – Ulleri

Day 1 Pokhara – Ulleri

We left Pokhara at 7.30am. I managed to squish everything I needed into my small backpack & tied the rest on to it. We got a bumpy taxi ride over an hour away to Nayapul & began trekking from there. We walked for about 30 minutes, wandering through a few small cute villages where cute kids would run up to us shouting ‘namaste! chocolate!’ hoping we would give them chocolate. They were obviously used to trekkers on these paths handing out treats. I had some cheap cereal bars buried at the bottom of my bag which was so full it was on the cusp of imploding, there was no chance I was going to delve in there! Sorry kids! We crossed 2 bridges then handed our TIMS in at Beripani checkpoint & continued on the meandering path towards Ulleri to Ghorepani.

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It was a hot humid day & we ploughed on until 11am for breakfast. The restaurants in the area are all priced exactly the same per village meaning no competition & there are signs up not to haggle. It was 400NPR for out set breakfast which consisted of tea/coffee muesli, toast & 2 eggs. I found a bug in my muesli, then another 2 so I left it to the side. I think I’ll leave muesli for a while. IT was filling & fuelled me up for the hills to come.

When we got back on the path it was so hot. My Irish complexion is not tolerant of the sun or heat so I struggled a lot & was so grateful of cold water, even if it was 70NPR. We were warned that as we ascend the mountain the prices would also ascend accordingly – but there is no way I’m going to pack Litres of water to lug up the mountain!

The distance from Nayapul to Ulleri is only 10.4KM although it is the terrain that is the struggle. The incline is almost 1Km in height, with many ups & downs to really draw this out. En route there is a section with 3200 haggard, jagged steps each varying in height, depth, breadth & angle. They felt never ending. We seemed to be going at an average pace catching up with the same groups of people between breaks.

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Halfway through the 3200 steps we met a 76 year old wee old American lady powering through her return journey from Poon Hill. What strength to be able to complete this trek at 76! She certainly gave us the motivation to continue & cease complaining!

When we reached our stop for the evening we were so relieved & felt a great sense of accomplishment that we achieved our first destination. The view was beautiful. We were high up the mountain range & had a good view of the snow capped Annapurna South. I adore being in the mountains. The mood at the teahouse was a humble pleasantness & all trekkers talked with ease to one another. We had a very late lunch & skipped dinner in favour of sleep.

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The people staying at our teahouse were lovely & funny. Everyone was tired but so happy to have accomplished thus far – I’m telling you, those steps were barely tolerable!

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Poon Hill

The Himalayas look so impressive & I simply couldn’t go to Nepal & not do some trekking. I am desperate to trek to Everest Base Camp but it is working out really costly & I can’t afford is this trip – never mind my fitness levels not being at their optimal!

My friend & I have decided to conquer Poon Hill & do a 3 day trek with a sunrise 3210M summit along the Annapurna circuit. This seems to be a beginner trek which is quite challenging yet manageable at your own pace. My friend has never done any hiking & one of the agents we were speaking to put it very simply – If you can walk you can trek. He’s quite right. It may take you weeks, but you’ll manage it if you take it easy.

I read a few blogs & priced around Kathmandu & Pokhara unclear about what to do. My friend & I decided we wanted a guide (even if we could manage without one) as extra confidence, for more local information & general peace of mind. We decided we could do without a porter. If I was more organised I would be happier to go without a guide as I believe the route is simple to navigate. This takes the added stress out of the trek. If I was to do a longer trek I would definitely hire a porter primarily to give someone work & an income for a few days.

I priced a few places for full packages or guide only while my friend updated her instagram & flirted with boys. I wanted to go with Three Sisters Adventure Trekking & on our way there I insisted on stopping at a few agencies so she could have a comparison as well & not rely so heavily on me. One guy charged us $70 per day for the full package & the second agency quoted $40. The second guy seemed really straight to the point, was realistic about what we would need to take as opposed to encouraging us to buy a lot of kit & was patient answering all our silly questions e.g. regarding the monkey population, the meaning of his upper ear piercing & where I could buy a bottle of Baileys. We felt we got on well with this guy & booked him for a 4 day Ghorepani/Poon Hill trek.

In hindsight just hiring a guide without going through an agency would have been much more affordable but as first time trekkers we did the best we could to get a decent deal within our budget. This cost included taxi transport from our hotel to Nayapul & back, accommodation for 3 nights, the guide & 3 meals a day with a hot drink per day for 4 days.


The previous day we visited the Trekking permit office to obtain the necessary documents required to hike in the Annapurna region. These are TIMS (Trekkers Information Management System) & ACAP (Annapurna Conservation Area Project). The TIMS document is regarding your safety & whereabouts as you check in at various points on the trek & ACAP is to support the area & maintain the routes. Be sure to get the correct TIMS card as one is for trekking without a guide & one is for trekking with a guide/via an agency. This wasn’t explained clearly to us & we had to go back to the office to plead our case for a refund & correct document. You need to have 2 passport photographs for your TIMS card, many places in Pokhara offer this service. The office had about 7 other trekkers completing forms when we were there & it only took us 20mins to fill out the forms & get our documents (albeit one was incorrect).

In addition to this we would have to pay for all our water, snacks & additional food we wanted as well as entrance to Poon Hill (50NPR) & electricity for phone charge (100NPR), fee for hot shower (150NPR) & wifi connection (150NPR) if required. Prices vary from place to place.

Accommodation ranged from 200NPR to 500NPR for a double per night & meals were between 150NPR to 600NPR depending on what you got. Hot beverages were averaging 100NPR for a cup & filtered water was between 60NPR to 110NPR per litre. Chocolate bars were about 200NPR & beers 500NPR. Generally prices increase as you ascend. All prices are set per village as well with no haggling tolerated.

Digesting all this information we set about assembling the kit we needed for our expedition.

Pokhara, Nepal

When we arrived in Pokhara we downed our bags, lay down to revive our bodies & got ready to venture out for something hearty to eat.

People had told me it was a blissful area of peace & beauty. In reality I found it to be less so this than I had hoped for. The weather was hazy so I couldn’t see the majesticity of the lake & mountains & the streets were dirty & very much aimed at tourists. It didn’t help that I seen a man taking a shit in the street when I was enjoying a cup of tea.

Pokhara caters exceptionally well to its increasing tourist population. There is a wide selection of restaurants including western cuisine. Some are quaint & tradition while others are more modern or backpacker kitsch. Pokhara has a lot of shops selling souvenirs, kit for trekking as well as numerous agencies to book trips & activities. There’s a lot of accommodation available – Pokhara has it all!

It is beautiful, I don’t know why I’m being twisted

It was less busy than Kathmandu of course but not the place I had conjured up in my head based on how people described it to me..… I hope I talk it down so if you ever visit you’ll be impressed in comparison!

My last day in India

Sustenance for the long journey  ahead – I swear, all I did was eat here!

I checked out of my hotel in McLeod Ganj at 4pm & arrived at my hostel in Nepal at 10.30pm the following evening. I really tend to drag out travel taking the cheapest & usually most uncomfortable & longest route possible. I had my last dinner in McLeod Ganj, made my way to get the bus at 6pm, took the 12hour bus to Delhi, got hassled by tuk tuk drivers waiting to rip me off in Delhi at 6am, arrived at the airport at 6.30am then waited. Boy did I wait. Until my flight from Delhi airport at 7pm.

AS IF you need a sign in India to tell people to blow their horn!

This is the part of travel I detest! In India their policy is to only let people with boarding passes into the airport up to 4 hours prior to their flight! I was homeless, tired & cranky…. Luckily I managed to perch by a powerpoint & make my way through season 5 of Game of Thrones. Not the best thing to watch in public thanks to the sporadic nudity. I’m sure people presume I’m watching porn…..

I could have taken the opportunity to explore Delhi for a few hours but I was exhausted from the night bus (I never sleep on buses), totally fed up with the annoying rude people & lacking the motivation to do anything. Big Indian cities can be incredibly busy & very intimidating. The thought of having to navigate around another city when I was already in a miserable state made me shudder.

Passing a small shanty village on the way to Delhi

My mood was atrocious! I was blatantly unimpressed when people were feeding me incorrect information – I don’t know if this is an Indian thing or I’ve just become grossly aware of it. People will just outright lie to your face. You can call them up on it & they will smile & try to backtrack but I really really hate it. Today I am the girl with the stone face. Do not mess with me. I will not smile & accept your bullshit.

In India you cannot enter the airport without a boarding pass. You cannot enter the airport until a few hours prior to your flight. I was told 3 hours & 6 hours prior. Luckily Delhi airport has a separate area with 2 cafes where I could wait. It also has a lounge but I was informed it was closed – despite people obviously seated behind the glass in the lounge awaiting their flight. I may be a haggard tired looking backpacker but I’m no fool. I was really hating India by this stage! I could not wait to leave. Every persons stare & noise drove me insane. Patience is a virtue I seriously lack. FYI Delhi airport gives you 30 minutes of free wifi. I used this up by 7am giving my (highly dependent) friend instructions on her taxi from the airport to the hostel in Kathmandu.

The majority of the people at Delhi airport were rude & unfriendly towards me. I miss Irish hospitality. After a shitty day with nothing but stares from blank or frowning faces I am more than ready to bid good riddance to India. I won’t be back any time soon*.

Stunning views on the way down the mountain

After all my waiting, 9 episodes of Game of Thrones & rubbish airport food I was on my flight bound for Kathmandu with Cat Stevens – Katmandu playing on my earphones. You know that feeling you get after a tough day that everything is going to be ok? That. I got that.

It wasn’t even that tough a day. I was just waiting. I wasn’t doing manual labour or stressful work. I was just staying in one place. I admit I am a terrible traveller. Although now that I’m flying to Nepal I am feeling a hell of a lot happier.

*Disclaimer: I wrote this on a travel day & was extremely moody. I would go back to India – not as a solo female traveller.

Holi Festival, Dharamshala, India

Happy Holi!

May you have a colourful year!!!

Holi is an ancient Hindi religious festival also known as the festival of colours or the festival of sharing love. Holi signifies the end of winter & the beginning of spring, the victory of good over evil, time to forgive, forget & mend broken relationships & a time of merriment. It is celebrated in India & Nepal & in the past few years has also become a popular theme for various events in western countries. Holi is a fun, mischievious, festival where participants cover each other with an array of coloured powder & have water fights. Everyone is fair game to douse good naturely with vibrant coloured powder & music & dancing is plenty! Some intoxicating drinks are consumed, including the popular bhang lassi which is a cannabis based lassi. The festival has little focus on religion & is all about enjoyment & having fun!

My friends & I went down to the more populated Dharamshala to celebrate Holi as Mcleod Ganj has a predominantly Buddhist culture who don’t particularly recognise this Hindi festival. Dharamshala still isn’t exactly the Holi hotspot but was the preference my friend & I had when it came to deciding where to celebrate Holi. The festival is considerably intimate compared to the shy India way. People throw & rub coloured powder on each other to symbolise Lord Krishna putting coloured powder on his beloved Radha to make her more like him. I didn’t want to go to a busy area to celebrate with crowds of people pushing & groping. As a solo female traveller I endeavour to respect my safety boundaries.

We made our way to get a taxi down the mountain & before we even got in the taxi we were covered in colour thanks to a group of Indian men in great party spirit. It was hilarious as they only got the girls in the group & the guys were void of colour. I wonder if they will remain colour free all day….

As we walked the streets in Dharamshala people in the street, on scooters & in cars called out ‘Happy Holi’ & decorated us in colour! What a fun festival! A car stopped to ask for a picture with us because they hadn’t seen foreigners ‘play’ Holi before. This was one of many requests for pictures. People would run up to you shouting ‘selfie’ & continue to take pictures until you said it was enough. I dread to think how many Facebook profiles my coloured face is currently gracing!

 

 

By the time we got to the action in a nearby village we were already completely covered in colour – before we even bought any ourselves! There were quaint stalls of friendly, multi coloured, people selling a wide range of coloured powder in various sized bags. We all purchased a selection & got to work colouring India & wishing everyone a happy holi. We had a great time dancing with the locals & covering each others faces. A young drummer appeared who played to the amusement of the men & boys who danced wildly & vigorously to the beat. It was a great party atmosphere & the locals shared their (extremely strong) drinks with us. As newbies to this festival we failed miserably imbibing as the powder fell from our faces into the drinks then settling on our teeth when we drank. Schoolboy error! I was inappropriately groped once, but according to my friends that was lower than their encounters of harassment – unacceptable Indian men!

When we had enough & were starving we took a taxi back to the quieter McLeod Ganj & went to an Italian restaurant. We were the only people covered in powder. We were absolutely saturated in the stuff. My friend tried to rub hers off in the bathroom & came out with a dirty brown face. I opted to sit in the layers of powder & wait to get washed after.

As much fun as it throwing powder around, I was so elated to have a shower! My face alone had layers of colour & my clothes were covered in it. My bra seemed to be carrying most of it. Apparently that was where people must have been aiming for. I felt so good after showering although I still have patches of pink & purple in my hair. Our bathroom is a wonderful rainbow of colours & there is a powder trail into our room.

The locals seemed really impressed we got involved in Holi & especially to our degree of involvement. Layers people! We had layers of colours in our hair, on our face, all over our bodies & on our bags. We’re not quite sure if it’s going to come off our belongings.

Two weeks later I will still have this colour in my hair & people will point fondly at it asking ‘Holi?’.

 

Rishikesh, India

On my arrival to Rishikesh I didn’t even have a chance to sigh in relief at being in more serene conditions due to the suffocating volume of monkeys roadside. I wound my taxi window up frantically & looked terrified much to my Swiss taxi companion’s amusement. I was a fool to think escaping Hampi would equate to escaping monkeys. It was a 20 minute taxi ride to Rishikesh passing many monkeys who had ventured to the outskirts of the jungle. There were many signs for drivers to beware of elephants crossing – similar to those we have for cattle & deer back in Ireland. Unfortunately we didn’t see any elephants but maybe that was a good thing because I heard 8 people per month are killed in Rishikesh by ‘angry elephants’. I’m not sure why the elephants are so angry or how they murder their victims…. In my head they are a peaceful & placid creature.

I spent the entire taxi ride trying to keep my shit together & fretting about what side of the bridge the driver would drop me off. Surely enough he ditched me on the opposite side of the bridge to my hostel. I wandered towards the shops looking for a bridge & quickly found it, along with picking up a Dutch backpacker. This poor guy was my rock for the next ten minutes!

As we approached the bridge I immediately told him about my paralysing fear of monkeys & unburdened all my angst about crossing the monkey bridge. His face was a mix of empathy & vague dismay at stumbling upon such a vulnerable & somewhat ungrounded fellow backpacker. As we descended the steps to the bridge my internal organs strangled at the sight of several monkeys jumping & grabbing at people from the bridge railings. I looked desperately for another way across the river. I was out of luck. This was the only way to my hostel. My Dutch companion watched as I lost all my composure & stepped reluctantly towards the busy bustling bridge of fear.

Inside I was screaming as I took the first few steps towards the monkeys. The bridge was overcrowded with people walking slowly, taking pictures of the Ganges & taking pictures with the monkeys. Motorbikes were haphazardly speeding through the crowd & the bridge was narrow enough to touch both sides with my arms stretched out. After passing the first set of monkeys I felt my confidence & carefree adventure crumble. I was now trapped on all sides by monkeys & my only viable escape would be to throw myself off the bridge & tumble into the Ganges. This option was looking more appealing by the second.

I tightened my backpack & clutched my rucksack tightly, put my head down & powered through the slow messy slew of people. Monkeys jumped on the ground in front of me & dashed along the railings carrying their babies. A man popped out at me with one on his shoulder asking if I wanted a picture with it. I recoiled & prayed for this nightmare to end. I was halfway across the bridge pausing reluctantly for motorbikes to pass & shouting ‘excuse me’ to the lackadaisical tourists enjoying the scenery. My heart was beating out of my chest & my palms were sweaty. I was never so happy in my life to see the end of a bridge!

6 monkeys were gathered at the end of the bridge & I could see others on the roofs & power lines on the other side. I knew my monkey ordeal would not be over once I made it to land again. I wallowed in horror as the incessant screaming in my head fizzled out & I forced my legs to complete their task. I passed the last pack of monkeys without incident & scurried away from the bridge as fast as my backpack carrying body could go. Luckily my hostel, Bunk Stay, was easy to find & I was quickly at the bottom of the set of steep stairs to reach it. The crowd on the other side of the bridge was a blur as I was recovering from my traumatic ordeal & still on edge of fear of more monkeys. My Dutch friend reassured me & I felt my anxiety not subside, but not escalate further in his company.

At the top of the steps, breathless & emotionally exhausted we checked into the hostel & I went for a much needed lie down. How am I going to cope in Rishikesh??? My anxiety is palpable.

About Rishikesh, India

Rishikesh is located 230KM North of Delhi, resting at the foothills of the Himalayas. The more scenic & popular tourist destination is about 2km upstream from actual Rishikesh city. This area is split by the beautiful turquoise River Ganges which rushes below Lakshman Jhula, 450ft of steel bridge connecting either side. This bridge is barely 6 feet wide & is crammed with tourists, locals, monkeys, vendors, cows & motorbikes whizzing by. It is not for the faint hearted! For me this bridge embodied the very essence of India! All it needed was some delicious food….

This area is full of backpackers & tourists & all the things that draw them there – ashrams, cafes, restaurants, massage & other therapies, yoga classes/courses, activities, shops, street food, an array of accommodation. The small town has a great buzz about it.

Rishikesh is known for being the birthplace of yoga & is referred to as the yogic capital of the world. There are numerous yoga schools offering intensive courses & daily classes. If you enjoy yoga you will be surrounded by many like minded people. The streets are full of people carrying yoga mats & glowing from their spiritual journey & self healing.

If you intend to take a dip in the Ganges, Rishikesh is one of the less polluted points to do so. The 2252KM long river flows from the Shivlak mountains, in Uttarakhand, the residing state of Rishiskesh & hasn’t accumulated as much pollution by Rishikesh’s river banks. The River Ganges is deemed to be one of the most sacred rivers in India, flowing through numerous holy cities & worshipped by Hindus. It is also extremely polluted due to the dumping of untreated sewage, industrial waste, religious offerings & dead bodies (cremated & non-cremated/decomposing). Despite this pilgrims still travel from around the world to take a ‘holy dip’ & cleanse in the waters. After my recent bout of sickness I opted out of this opportunity.

Rishikesh is a very spiritual area & has been meat & alcohol free to coincide with the holy city status it carries & to align with the religious beliefs of the communities it harbours. It is an absolute haven of tasty options for the vegetarians out there (& non vegetarians!), as is most of India!

The Beatles visited Maharishi Mahesh Ashram in Rishikesh in the late 60s boosting it’s fame in the West & assisting to shape it into the popular destination it is today. Their stint here learning meditation was creatively inspiring for them. Their endorsement opened the west to meditation, changing attitudes worldwide & sparking international interest in Indian spirituality. The ashram has since been abandoned & jungle & monkeys are taking over the ruins. It is well worth a visit for Beatles fans. I have heard several reports of paying an entrance fee or hopping a wall to get in. Obviously due to the monkeys I couldn’t go.

Rishikesh is emerging as the adventure capital of India, offering white water rafting on the River Ganges, bungee jumping, trekking, canyoning, mountain biking… It truly has so much to offer!

If none of this tickles your fancy & you are keen to pick up a new instrument while in India, Rishikesh seems like a popular place to learn the Indian Sitar. A friend who was learning it said it would take him years to become competent in it although he was very enthusiastic about learning.

As with most popular backpacker destination, Rishikesh has ample various ranged accommodation available. I stayed at the newly open Bunk Stay Hostel & I was happy with my experience. There are also a lot of cafe’s restaurants & the apparently popular German bakery – who knew this was a thing in India? There is a nice selection of restaurants, the ones I visited were reasonably priced & I didn’t get sick during my time here! Bonus!

If you need to buy souvenirs, clothes, jewellery, ayurvedic medicine, yoga mats, spiritual books etc, you can get pretty much everything here. There are also a few places offering a packaging & delivery service if you want to send a parcel back home. They cater really well to their backpacker market here! Rishikesh seems to have it all!

Delhi Belly in Hampi, India :(

I am not feeling great today. I feel so lethargic & nauseous. I don’t know if it was the heat or something I ate but I feel terrible. I ventured out in the morning but when the midday heat arrived I retreated back to my hut to snooze. All my friends have taken guides to explore the area on tuk tuks & will be swimming in a waterfall or visiting the monkey temple right now while I sweat it out in bed striving for rehydration.

It looks as though someone just dumped the massive pile of boulders behind the palm trees

 
I feel limited to what else I can do in Hampi due to my monkey phobia & extreme heat intolerance. I’m mildly defeated that it is my time to move on when all my friends are having such a great time. Sometimes I have an amazing ability to suck things up & get on with it but monkeys & heat are apparently deal breakers. I venture out with the greatest intentions but as soon as I see a monkey I freeze then retreat to a monkey free zone. It’s difficult because the monkeys are fecking everywhere & I really freak myself out with them.

I took the peaceful afternoon to ascertain a plan in my head & have decided to flee to the cooler climate in the north. It is such a shame because the south of India looks incredible & I had hoped to visit but I know that it is even hotter there & I will be miserable. India is so vast I knew from the outset that I wouldn’t be able to visit everywhere I wanted to go but accepting this as reality is a bit demoralising.

The monuments were incredible but I was limited in what I could see due to the lingering monkeys

In being forcibly confined I have by default become productive! I have booked a flight from Bangalore to Dehradun (Jolly Grant Airport), via Delhi, in 3 days time. I will visit Rishikesh where it will hopefully be cooler & have less monkeys?? A girl can dream! Tomorrow I will take a night bus from Hospet, near Hampi, to Bangalore & spend a couple of nights there. I have given myself the deadline of tomorrow afternoon to pull out of this sickness. Wish me luck!