Alright, I’ve run out of excuses. I suck at blogging. Like miserably suck. Like suck beyond the point of no return. But even though this is coming to you months late, I have not given up! I will have a conclusion to this trip, even if it takes me a year. And also, now that I am home and missing India like nobody’s business, I figured this is a good way to reminisce. So rewinding back a few months, I am going to share with you pictures of all the places I travelled during my study abroad. Sit back, relax, and enjoy 🙂
Destination #1 (01/30-02/02): Mysore – Palaces, good food, and lots of bus rides.
As part of study abroad fees, CIEE took us on a group trip to Mysore. We also saw the tombs of Tup Sultan and Hyder Ali, but photos weren’t allowed. CIEE took great care of us and we stayed in super nice hotels, ate delicious food, saw awesome music performances, rode on too many long bus rides, and visited some of the most memorable places in Mysore.
Destination #2 (02/13-02/16): Hampi – the land of boulders, climbing, and lots and lots of hippies.
Hampi was such a fun little place. Super chill vibes and very quaint dining, and guest houses. We rented a motorcycle one of the days and had a blast cruising through the tiny streets and mingling with the local street vendors. We were there for Valentines weekend and so Jamie (my roommate) and I climbed the 100+ stairs up to the Monkey Temple where we watched the beautiful sunset on the rocky landscape.
Destination #3 (02/27-03/02): Goa – Relaxation, beach huts, and dance parties all night. The epitome of an amazing weekend.
Goa was probably my most favorite trip of all time, not just because of the beautiful views but because of the people and the entire experience. We had a strict plan to have no agenda and no plans, and thats exactly what we stuck to. We lounged on the beach all day, made amazing friends, explored the town on a motorcycle, and went out dancing every night. So much relaxation. So much fun.
Destination #4 (03/28-04/02): Kerala – Lord of the Rings-ish trekking, lots and lots of tea, houseboats, and river life.
Kerala was awesome because it was so diverse and we got two totally different experiences in one weekend. For the first part we experiences the beautiful tea plantations and amazing green mountains that reminded me a lot of something out of the Lord of the Rings. Famous for its spices, Kerala was filled with spice shops where you could buy all different kinds of tea, spices, and even ancient Ayurvedic Indian medicinal oils and other remedies. For the second part, we spend the rest of the time on a beautiful houseboat floating down the backwaters of Kerala where we got to watch the daily life of the villagers along the river. We had the best captain and cook aboard who were super fun, and made amazing food. And we had a DISCO BALL. Say what! Kerala was much greener than any of the other parts of India I had seen so far. But with the beautiful scenery came humidity and heat. I was definitely dripping for most of the trip, but we had a great time nonetheless.
Destination #5 (04/26-04/28): Aurungabad – Overbearing locals, ancient caves, and thieving monkeys.
The three little monkeys took one last trip together before we went our separate ways. I wouldn’t say Aurungabad is one of the most beautiful places I have ever been to, and there isn’t a whole lot to see, but the places we did see were remarkable. When we got there, we found out that the Ajanta caves were closed on the only day we could go, so we ended up only being able to see the Ellora caves, but they were amazing. I can’t quite explain it, but its a crazy feeling to be standing in a place that is older than the United States and just thinking about how these ancient places even came to be. Ponder that one. I also experienced the mischief of monkeys while I was there when a monkey stole my pen and refused to give it back, and then proceeded to slobber all over it. I guess they aren’t as cute as I thought they would be.
Destination #6 (04/29-05/01): Mumbai – British architecture, lots of sweating, city life.
My roommates and I took one last trip before leaving India and we decided to go to the beautiful and historic city Mumbai. In some ways, Mumbai can be related to New York–to give you an idea. Except its more humid and way more hot. I can deal with heat, but the humidity made it pretty unbearable. We didn’t really visit any monuments, we mostly just wandered and enjoyed the views. Mumbai is a much more developed city with beautiful architecture that greatly reflects the influence the british had when they colonized India.
Destination #7 (05/10-05/12): Indian wedding in a rural village that I can’t remember the name of — crazy bus rides, too much delicious food, overwhelming hospitality.
Alright, so basically going to this wedding was a last minute adventure that made my Indian experience that much more authentic. School had finished and all of my other international friends had left back to the US. I was still hanging out with my local friends on campus and I was invited to go to a wedding. The wedding was my friends friends wedding and all I knew was that it was three hours outside of Hyderabad in a very rural village in the middle of nowhere. Sounds fun, right? So we left for the bus station the evening before the wedding and lucky us, we caught the last bus of the night going to that particular village. Since the bus was already jam packed with people, there was no way we were going to fit and I thought we would have to stand in the aisle the entire time. Nope! Myself and 25 other Indian men were rushed off the bus and then much to my surprise and excitement, I watched as all of these people climbed the ladder to get on the roof of the bus. I RODE ON THE ROOF OF THE BUS GUYS. IN INDIA. Let’s just say that was probably one of the best nights of my life and not much else compares. When we arrived, we were greeted by so many wonderful people and the festivities began. If you want an excuse to party multiple days in a row, then I would definitely recommend attending an Indian wedding. A little overwhelming, but there is all the food, people, and dancing you could could ever want! I cant tell you how many Auntie’s (respectful term used for elder Indian women) came up to me asking me in Telugu if I had eaten food. And let me just say, I ate SO MUCH FOOD. Food is such a big part of this culture and hospitality, its rude if you don’t stuff your face to the max. And so I obliged. I received so much attention at the wedding–obviously because I was recognized as a foreigner–and I learned that apparently me being there was considered to be a huge blessing for the bride and the groom, so I’m glad my white skin was of some service to the happy couple. As things started to wind down at the end of the weekend, my friends and I had called a taxi to take us to the bus stop so we could go back to Hyderabad, but the groom apparently had a different plan for us. There was still one more ceremony left to go and he wanted all of his friends to be there. He sent our taxi away and canceled all of the rickshaw services in the village so that we had no way to leave. And this is when Indian hospitality gets to be overbearing and definitely over the top. After much hassle and debating, we were finally allowed to leave a few hours later, but it was definitely a hectic and slightly frightening experience. We made it home safely and in just enough time for me to call and wish my mom a happy Mothers Day, but sadly we did not get to ride on the roof of the bus on the way back to Hyderabad, as much as I would have liked to.
Alright thats a wrap! Just so you know, this isn’t my conclusion yet. I still have a few more posts to go, but hopefully this gave you a good idea of the awesome-amazing-beautiful places and experiences I had over the semester.