This was my first time to India and although I had read and heard many things about what to expect, I was still awed by the experiences and sights on this trip.My fellow adventurers were a great group of people - so friendly, interested and happy.
- What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?
The initial view of the Golden Temple at night, all lit up for Divali, with the noisy fireworks in the surrounding sky was just amazing. This was my second night in India, never to be forgotten.
Meeting His Holiness the Dalai Lama, shaking his hand and experiencing his warmth, charisma and smile was something that will be with me for ever. I'm still wearing the red blessing string that was given to each of us around my wrist.
Seeing the Taj Mahal early in the morning, before all the crowds, was wonderful. We were the first group to go inside the mausoleum - breathtaking!
- What did you think of your group leader?
Phillipa was probably the best tour leader I have ever been with. She was knowledgable and patient and seemed to understand the needs of all members of the group. I learned so much about the places we visited, that I now feel I have some insight into how India is the way it is today.
Without her influence (and a bit of good luck!) I doubt we would have had the opportunity to have an audience with the Dalai Lama.
- Do you have any advice for potential travellers?
Go with an open mind. We had an amazing time, but all experiences are different.
Be prepared for the cold nights in McLeod Ganj and Shimla.
I was pretty careful about what I ate on this trip (actually was totally vegetarian), had a rigorous hand gel routine, and used bottled water for drinking and teeth cleaning and it seemed to work for this trip.
The electric plugs in India are often a complete disaster. The two pin adapters often fall out of the socket so a bit of Bluetack often holds them into place!
- Is there anything else you would like to add?
India is certainly a country of contrasts, and there area huge contrasts in all aspects on this trip - in the people, the landscapes, and especially the difference between place like Norblinka and Delhi.
Although there were times when I was just a bit out of my comfort zone, I never felt unsafe or harrassed. I disliked Delhi, but I'm pleased I went there to experience this epic capital city. After this trip, I went on to spend a further three weeks in India (spending a few days on the beach in Kerala and then doing another Exodus trip in the south), but these two weeks were probably the best ever!