Northern India is a 'Smorgasborg for the senses' - not a moment goes by where your 5 senses are not continuously overwhelmed. Vitality of colours from the ladies sari's to the ochre buildings; the waft of delicately burning incence and the bullet stench of open sewers; the mesmerising sight of the devoted at morning prayer on the Ganges; the burning of your taste buds as you chose the wrong strength massala curry on the first night to the ear bleeding sound of those car horns....
- What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?
- Varanassi: period. Evening prayers would move even the most devote atheist to tears.
- What did you think of your group leader?
Gopal's enthusiastic love of his country was contageous. Boundless energy and extraordinary organisational skills, meant we never waited for any connection at anytime. He is intelligent, diplomatic, and easy going - making time for everyone in the group. You felt safe under his care, and a half an encyclopedia's worth of knowledge smarter about his country when you left.
- Do you have any advice for potential travellers?
1. Dont go on this trip if you suffer from back problems. The first 4 days involve 7,6,8 hour journeys by suspensionless coach, over the worst post holed roads I have seen bar Cambodia. Be prepared to get off a 10 hour long haul flight straight onto the coach for 8 hours to Jaipur.
2. Dont sit on the back seat of the coach, unless you love Alton Towers.
3. Ladies with boobs of DD+ - take a sports bra (am not kidding ladies)
4. Be careful, but dont be too anal about cleanliness - if you are going to get Delhi belly, you are going to get it.
- Is there anything else you would like to add?
On the spectrum of travel experiences, its about 1 up from back packing (ie back packing without the hassle), and about 15 down from the nearest 5 star holiday treatment.
Be prepared to: boil (45 degrees in varanassi); scrape the dust and dirt off your body with a cold shower most nights; be suitably appalled and humbled by the poverty; never want to see another Sag Paneer as long as you live; never look down onto the tracks at any railway station at night; and poo at lightening speed!
Be prepared for all of this, but if there is one trip you have to do before you book yourself another fortnight in Majorca - do this one. Its fabulous. Its exhausting. Its fun and it can be life changing.