For those coming with us to Cambodia this year, here is the actress Angelina Jolie, who loves the country. Cambodia is an unusual place, especially if you go beyond the tourist sights – as travelling with Angel – you’ll inevitably will. Combine this, with less visited Laos, and the places we take you, you will have quite an extraordinary experience.
Inspired by the Best Exotic Marigold Hotel movies and the BBC documentaries that followed them, Angel Holidays has created its own Exotic Marigold experiment where volunteers can travel to India to see what retirement would bring. The trip is almost 3 weeks in duration and will operate much like the BBC series. In fact, it has been developed with the help of the BBC production team.
You will stay in Jaipur, the same city as Miriam Margolyes, Wayne Sleep, Jan Leaming and others used for the series. At the end, we’ve also added 3 magical nights in the city of Udaipur, where you’ll also witness Holi: the wonderful festival of light and colour. We’ll also take you to the Exotic Marigold Hotel used for the movies with Judy Dench etc, before flying back to Delhi. A journey by to the Taj Mahal, like in the BBC series, is included too, as well as a train trip across the desert and internal flight.
The trip cost is just £1,595 (based two sharing) reduced to only £1,495 for those who reserve their place(s) before 30th June. Return flights to Delhi start are extra, and start at approximately £340 which we help you find. There is a single supplement of £395, but we can try arrange a same sex room-share if you prefer.
If you would like to take part in this once in a lifetime experience, please contact us via this website. Angel Holidays will repeat this experience again in the autumn of 2019 and in 2020, so you can also join our mailing list for future Exotic Marigold trips. Please note this trip might be covered by the UK media.
Perhaps the days of carrying a guide book around, the size of a brick, with subjective views from one or two writers, might be finished. Much of a traveller’s information can be accessed via the net on smart phones these days; there are great ‘e-guides’ on line, as well as ‘aps’ for each country, that are inexpensive to download; with live, interactive maps using satalite navigation.
A source from the Australian guides ‘Lonely Planet’ tells us ‘information online is immediate, user orientated with multiple traveller reviews, and not instantly out-of-date, at the mercy of print runs and time delays. We’re worried.’
Certainly it’s true that written guides can be hopelessly out of date; sometimes even written, ironically from internet research – rather than writers actually going there. The Lonely Planets’ India guide for example, is hopelessly inaccurate.
However some guides are written with passion and expertise: take the Rough Guide Peru, whose writer, the late, and wonderful Dilwyn Jenkins, designed our Angel Holiday’s tours to Peru: descriptions, tips and overall knowledge ‘beyond the pale’ when compared to say, an trip-advisor’s account of Machu Picchu make the book invaluable. Perhaps travel guides will become elevated; looked upon with a nostalgia and ease, like a musical connoisseur’s ‘vinyl.’ The sound might not be so good, but the spirit it confers; magical.
Dale Winton, the warm charismatic and genuine presenter of daytime and evening TV has sadly passed away today, he was just 62 – and the cause is yet unknown. Dale was a wonderful character, who has been little heard of in recent years. He was best known for ‘Supermarket Sweep’ and was a close friend of Cilla Black who died in 2015: an all round good man.
With many of us travelling these days, what’s the best (and cheapest) way to take your travel money?
Buying currency to go overseas can be expensive, unless you know what you’re doing. For one, never, ever, under any circumstances exchange money at an airport, the exchange rates are always abysmal. Touring places like India, Cambodia or other far flung destinations too, it’s best not even to get the currency until you get there – it can be bought much more cheaply in the country of origin.
On most trips it’s advisable to have your spending money in as many guises as possible: a mixture of debit card, credit card and hard cash. It’s also more advantageous to spend what currency you have before coming home (unless you plan to revisit) as ‘buy back’ rates from companies like Tui and others are equally abysmal.
Using your debit card abroad does have it charges (we’ll come to that below) and hard cash exchange facilities overseas who charge ‘no commission’ fundamentally make their profits from poorer exchange rates. Although it must be said that on tour in places like Cambodia, Laos, Nepal or India money changes are ‘fairer’ so it’s worth doing.
So here are our tips on how to get the best from your pound abroad.
To use your debit card abroad (and inform your bank before you go) always take out large amounts at a time. The local cashpoint and your bank usually set a fee per withdrawal, so taking out smaller amounts overseas does not make sense. The advantage with debit cards is that they often give you a better rate of exchange than any money changers or banks. So, on arrival in a country ‘max out’ and take out a lump sum with your debit card first.
Take a sum of money in UK sterling. This acts as security if you lose your cards. Take this in £50 notes as exchange facilities often give you a slightly better rate for £50s as opposed to anything smaller. This is because logistically-wise, they are easier to move.
Travellers cheques are virtually extinct, so it’s best not to take these particularly on tours of India, Nepal or Cambodia. Some banks offer cards where you ‘load’ them with credit – with free withdrawals overseas. Whilst these can be popular, be aware that they do not work everywhere, and the bank might initially give you a poorer rate of exchange on the loading of a card: what they give with one hand – they take with another.
April 13th is New Years’ eve in Nepal, where the year will be 2075; 57 years ahead of the Gregorian calendar. In the ancient city of Bhaktapur, wooden chariots are dragged through the cobbled stoned streets, surrounded by tens of thousands of onlookers. At night time, the Himalayan capital is lit with candles and, as a concession to the modern world, fireworks fire the night skies too. The festival lasts for 5 days, with blessings to families, parties and gatherings.
Just beyond the tourist enclave of Kao San Road, lies a small bar called ‘Jazz Happens’ little more in space than the size of a single decker bus. It reminded me of Sin’e, a tiny bar in New York I used to visit in the 1990’s where, taken by my New York girlfriend at the time, I first saw Jeff Buckley play. Artists received no payment, instead a beer glass was handed around.
In Jazz happens it is the same; a base player plays, happily and easily, a young man on a Roland keyboard, in dreamatic concentration, two saxophonists and a chap, so gently dextrous on drums, it is little more than a purr. The lead singer is a transgender girl ‘Sal,’ who, albeit with a deeper voice, sings with feminine superiority, touching upper notes like a feather, delicate, romantically precise, yet whimsical, the audience is transfixed.
Outside this theatre traffic passes, yellow cabs and buses, and beyond this the river and golden temples along its edge. And in this small place, Jazz does actually ‘happen.’ Jazz Happens is a recommended bar in Bangkok.
Black Friday: and with dates set for ‘Black Friday’ sales on the 24th Nov in the UK, in Nepal they have a different perspective, entitled white Friday. Here you set aside all consumerism for the day, and don’t buy anything except for essentials. The day is used to consider carefully your spending habits not just for the day, but for the year ahead. You look at ways to avoid buying things you don’t really need, to express affection through action not purchases and build a better spending habits. If you might like to enjoy a white Friday alternative on the 24th, pass this on.
The lake city of Udaipur in India, occupies a special place on our tour of India. It was the location of Roger Moore’s James Bond movie ‘Octopussy’ and it’s also a place of exclusive weddings due to its opulent palaces. It was also the location where the cast stayed for the Exotic Marigold Hotel movies.
A wedding day here is $23,000 which includes food, and a palace location for around 50 guests – which compares quite well with the ‘golf club in Essex.’ Angel Holidays has been tasked with arranging a celebrity wedding here on a luxurious budget – complete with elephants and carriages, and boats around the lake at midnight. Travellers on our tour next spring will also get to enjoy this unique and romantic location.
Up here in the Himalaya the ‘Hippie Trailers’ are a diminishing breed. These men and women, who embarked on what was known as ‘the Hippie trail’ in the sixties or seventies, arrived in Kathmandu. A small
number – known as the ‘Hippie Trailers’ – never left. And now they’re in their 70’s or 80s.
How they financially survived to stay here is varied. Many came from wealthy families, whose bursaries still support them. Others have maintained simple work, such as making singing bowls or jewelry.
They meet once a year, and have a party. A band plays, made up of members of the Hippy Trailers – a unique ensemble of sitars, flutes, fiddles and electric guitars – they play great, but these days the dancing is a little tired. Sadly, the hippy trail no longer survives. Travel through Afghanistan, Syria, Iraq or Iran, is of a bygone era. Yet the nirvana of their journey – Kathmandu with its ‘Freak Street’ where they all lived still survives – as does their spirit.