26-27 January, Keralan Backwaters, Southern India

We’re currently on a house boat somewhere in the backwaters of Kerala and I’m not sure there could be a more relaxing place than this. The backwaters are formed by large open channels that feed into bigger lakes and are surrounded by palm trees and endless fields of rice paddies. The people who live off the land have built their homes on the narrow tract of stable land between the water channels and the rice paddies. The ‘land’ component is, from what our captain-slash-guide tells us, man-made. After constructing walls around large areas of water, all of the water was …

23-24 January, Cochin, Kerala

We were reluctant to leave our little beach-side hut, especially since our early morning flight required a 2.30am wake-up call. We didn’t know too much about our next destination except its location as the gateway to the Keralan backwaters and the beginning of our boat trip.

16-19 January, Palolem Beach, Goa

The moment I saw Richard jolt up from his book and stare at the wing of the plane I sensed something could be wrong. I had thought the same thing moments earlier when the engines suddenly went quiet while we were still ascending but I’d written it off as another passing thought in my head. After a series of ups and downs, we rested high above in the air and went back to our books. The descent and touchdown on the runway was bumpy and just as stressful but we were both just glad to be back on the ground …

14 January, Mumbai

It’s difficult to explain just how different Delhi and Mumbai are. While Delhi seems to be a cultural and political hub, Mumbai is all flash, cash and wealth on display. Outside our hotel we were greeted by a horse and gigantic silver carriage with flashing lights and a red velvet interior. This just isn’t something I can imagine seeing in Delhi. We’ve read that Mumbai is just as much about the slums and that a large majority of the population actually lives in the slums but the most we’ve seen so far is a small shanty town at the other …

13 January, Delhi

Back in Delhi we were looking forward to a relaxing day of doing very little. I’m not sure if such a thing exists in India as even something as simple as going for a walk is no simple task. We went for a wander back to Connaught Place to get some photos of the buildings in the area and stopped off along the way to get a coffee.

10-11 January, Jaipur

Something about Jaipur grabbed us both instantly. The pink sandstone, the chaotic yet human scale streets and the warm afternoon sun made us feel like we could stick around for a while. Knowing we only had one night in the city though, we set off on a walk to explore the streets before sunset. Animals had much more of a presence on the streets than in Delhi – pigs, cows, dogs, goats and donkeys happily made their way through piles of garbage, unperturbed by the busy traffic surrounding them. It is amazing how they all (seemingly) live happily together.

9 January, Agra

We had hoped to get an early morning sunrise photo of the Taj Mahal however the fog rained on our parade so we abandoned that idea and headed to the Agra Fort while waiting for the air to clear. Our tour guide joined us again and we were pretty happy to have him with us as he explained lots of things we wouldn’t have been able to find in the guide books. The Fort was comprised of different palaces for different members of the Mughal Empire and constructed mainly of red sandstone and marble.

8 January, Agra

We arranged to have Praveen pick us up early this morning to head to Agra. The drive was longer than we thought, but it was interesting to see the edges of the city. Around five minutes outside of Agra, Praveen explained that a tour guide would be joining us to go to the Akbar Mausoleum. This was the first time we felt let down by Praveen as he’d given us no warning about this and left us little choice once the guide was in the car. Once outside the Mausoleum we explained to the guide that we didn’t need a …

7 January, Delhi

Since arriving in Delhi we have, not surprisingly, felt as though we’ve been walking around with dollar signs above our heads. Praveen had warned us against taking tuk tuks but we assumed this was just based on his bias as well as his own self-interest so we took off from the hotel in a tuk tuk heading towards the National Museum with a quick stop off at a coffee shop. After negotiating a price the driver stopped at the coffee shop and said he couldn’t take us onto the Museum as it was too far. In reality it was only …

6 January, Delhi

This morning we checked out of our hotel and into a more affordable budget hotel. We made the most of breakfast at the first hotel by having two serves of croissants, pastries, toast and coffee. Praveen took us to see two hotels – the first of which was fine, however, the rooms had a lingering smell of cigarette smoke and the bed sheets looked like they’d seen better days. We settled on the second hotel which is pretty kitsch, with decorative pleather pillows and a disinfectant smell throughout. The main thing is that it’s clean and secure. After confirming the …

4-5 January, Delhi

The fog over the city during the descent into New Delhi was thick, obscuring any chance of an aerial view so what was outside remained a mystery. We were pretty lucky that our airport rendezvous worked out perfectly. Richard arrived only an hour before me, and was waiting at the gate with our driver Raoul. Raoul put us in contact with his ‘business partner’ who charges a fraction of the cost of a car for a day compared to what the hotel charges.