The BBC’s wonderful documentary ‘The Real Marigold Hotel’ explored the possibility of retiring in India, in the busy city of Jaipur – and what a wonderful place this ‘pink’ city is. It has a vibrancy, exuberance and eclectic quality of its own, and the haveli (old mansion house) featured on the show, is a place Angel Holidays is friends with (we know the owner) and where you can visit: we can book you in for dinner (for just around £9). Here’s an interesting BBC link that has some perspectives; from the men of the group. Copy and paste the link below, you can also click the BBC link for female perspectives too.
Here are some practical tips to help those travelling to India. By now you should be well underway with vaccinations, and don’t forget to apply for the Indian Visa.
What to bring
You could conceivably arrive in Delhi with no luggage and buy everything you need cheaply within a few hours. So don’t be too concerned if you forget anything. Your case/bag: We’re moving around a lot. Often you’ll have to carry/wheel your own luggage over rugged terrain, poor footpaths etc; it’s useful not to bring large cases. A soft holdall on wheels is probably best or a smaller sized suitcase.
The contents: Remember whilst evenings can be cool (but rarely very cold) days will be warm. You can buy most things in India such as toiletries, clothes, sunhats and sandals. You may want to bring some smart clothes if you want to dine in style some evenings.
Your luggage should include:
- Shorts and t shirts,
- Good fleece top, light jacket/pullover
- Pyjamas (optional)
- Small toiletries
- Mosquito repellent
- Binoculars (not essential)
- A small overnight bag that you can use for the desert (you can buy in Delhi too)
- Hand cleansing gels (used regularly make a difference)
- Concealable wallet/money belt.
- Your main luggage should be lockable or at least have one pocket where you can store money by padlock – few hotels have safe deposits
- Medications in case of an upset stomach: these can include ‘electrolytes’ or rehydration powders, medicine for diarrhoea, and anything else recommended by your pharmacist
- Any personal medication you need
- Small torch for desert
- Bring a photocopy of your passport (the picture page). Sometimes hotels ask to photocopy this for check-in; it’s useful
There are cheap laundry services along the tour (bring a carrier bag to store laundry) so there’s no need to pack enough clean clothes for a full three weeks.
You can change sterling in India. It’s better to change large amounts at a time as exchange bureaus are not always easy to find and non existent in remote places. Changing around £100/200 or more per person in Delhi is recommended. You can also use ATMs in cities, but tell your bank you’re going to India. Your bank will charge you per withdrawal so it is better to withdraw larger amounts.
In tourist quality restaurants you can pay anything from £3 to £20 (but rare) for a meal. For an approximate budget the average meal will cost around £3 – £10, a large beer or Gin/Tonic £2.50 and soft drinks 50p. Wine can be bought but not everywhere. Tax and service charges are added to your bill and can add up. Overall you’ll find India a great deal cheaper than the West. Souvenirs can be bought very cheaply. Local markets offer fabulous bargains. Don’t get taken to any emporiums by rickshaw or taxi drivers.
We hope this advice helps to prepare for our great trip. Bring some luggage space for shopping!
With 4 months to go before our holiday to Peru, it’s nice to know that Angel Holidays is cheaper and better! Our two week holiday is £1,390 plus flights which are currently around £840 – and dropping steadily. Trailfinders meanwhile, with less internal flights (meaning more time sitting on a bus) are £3,100 including flights from the UK – and we both go to the same places; in fact Angel Holidays takes you to some extra locations, as our holiday is longer. The saving is nearly £1,000 per person going with us, and you get two extra days in the country! We’re more authentic too, staying in downtown Lima for example, when the others stay in a resort that feels more like Malaga than Peru – not that we have anything against Malaga! If you would like to join us, let us know soon.
For all those on our October 2014 holiday to Nepal, please find here a picture of your favourite host to our trip – Shrisana.
Here she is on our visit to the look-out point at Sarankot – with the Annapurna range behind her. Shri misses you all now, and this shot was taken prior to our trek down through the mountains back to Pokhara. Hopefully, this lovely photo of her (her first taste of travelling with us ‘foreigners’) will bring back some happy memories.
Hi to everyone and just to let you know that we’re pleased that our tour this coming October is gaining a lot of interest particularly from recommendations from previous travellers. So a big thanks to those who have held us in such high esteem! We’ll shortly feature in the Guardian newspaper too. October once again is going to be an exceptional experience for all concerned, warm wishes, Steve.
The link below takes travellers to see a range of photos taken by one of our travellers Richard from our trip last April with Angel Holidays. Here too, is a sample of one of Richard’s photographs of a Sadhu (sanskrit meaning good or holyman) – a religious ascetic whose aim is achieve moksa, a liberation from the cycle of life. Seems like he’s having a little trouble with it here.
I recently travelled to east Nepal to Ilam, the country’s tea growing district. Ilam shares its border with India and Darjeeling, another albeit, less beautiful setting for tea. I am not sure if you can buy Illam tea in the West, but it certainly is delicious. The photograph here, a little hazy with the pre-monsoon heat, shows the road as it twists and turns up until we reach a sufficient altitude for tea production. I’m investigating organic tea and the over use of pesticides in the West compared with the pure tea over here in Nepal.
Locals often infuse the tea with spices, or my favourite: Illam tea infused with black pepper – it’s not a simple process of just adding pepper, instead the pepper has to be heated, crushed and then slowly fermented within the tea. Next time you are in a supermarket, maybe check if they stock Illam tea, in my humble view, the purest and best in the world.
In Nepal there is such thing as a ‘wedding season’ where there is an abundance of weddings, at least more than usual. Here is one that I was invited too, and as you can see it’s a fun affair. Most ceremonies (particularly for Hindu marriages) are a three day event. The first day, the bride is collected from her family home; where she usually appears a demure figure among the throngs and processions of the smiling groom’s family who collect her. After rights and rituals, the party begins, and here you’ll see one in full swing. This was a ‘love marriage’ as opposed to the more common arranged ones. What a lovely day!
Here’s our group on our Autumn 2014 holiday to Nepal. Twenty four people from all walks of life and all ages, all thrown together on the adventure. We’ve been on rickshaws and elephants, jeeps, dug-out canoes, bicycles and light aircraft around Everest on this trip thus far. And we’ve all gelled together as one big family on our colourful holiday in Nepal! Thanks for being such a lovely bunch.
Nepal’s version of Christmas is just coming to an end now, the year here is 2071 and it’s the festival of Dashain. Like Christmas it’s a great time of feasting and the coming together of families, it lasts over a week. There are quite a lot of animal sacrifices over the period, as well as blessings within families and even the anointing of cars and motorcycles – these are decorated with flowers, garlands and red vermilion powder. Even the animals have a sense of getting together, here is a picture from a street in Kathmandu. Happy deshain, and happy holiday in Nepal.