Nepal: and our tour there this year, we will co-inside with the festival of Deshain, the biggest in the country; both intimate between families, and extrovert in society. Guide books suggest, crudely and simplistically, it is a festival of good over evil, but it represents a more subtle sentiment than that – with no celebration of good over evil at all.
Instead it is a celebration of the Universe, the coming together of Gods and souls – both the souls of animals and humans: dogs, birds, cattle, elephants and even crows are blessed, most are given ‘Tikas’; red vermilion powder mixed to a paste – on what would be the forehead.
Yet there are animal sacrifices too – in the belief they will be reborn in a ‘higher realm,’ as a human. Goats for example, will be asked if they want to be sacrificed by the sprinkling of water over their eyes; this results in the goat shaking its head, a Hindu agreement and ‘yes.’ Being cut off from the outside world until 1959, Nepal is one of the few countries that practices sacrifice.
Unusually, it is also celebrated by Buddhist’s and Hindus (the Buddha himself was a Hindu). Like Christmas in the West, it is the coming together of families; and feasting. Our tour is quite privileged to see Nepal at this time – we’ll give you an intimate knowledge, not only about this festival but the people, their culture and how they celebrate it. There’s a lot of fun, merriment and affection at this time, and it will be interesting to see how this festival reinforces what it is to be a Nepalese. Deshain may only represent part of our tour, but it will enrich your visit. Here is a picture of one of the many makeshift swings put up in the Himalaya at the event.
For those coming on our Real Exotic Marigold Hotel adventure next March, you may like to watch this video. Like the television series, you will stay in the same home featured here in the video with Miriam Margolyes, Jan Leaming, Wayne Sleep and others, to see what retirement in India might bring. Make sure you come with plenty of ideas, this is no holiday, but you will have an experience like no other.
If you might like to take part in this once in a lifetime experience, contact us soon, for some final places.
On the 14th October this year, we’ll be setting off on a tour of Nepal, hosted by Radio 4’s Steve Carver who has 12 years experience in the region. A dedicated 40 page guidebook on the tour, is given to each traveller on arrival, so that they can further understand the magical nature of this journey. As with all our holidays, you’ll be treated as travellers not tourists, and have free time to explore, in this very safe, relaxed country.
The journey begins in Kathmandu valley where in addition to seeing the sights, you have access to a more in depth experience of Nepalese life in the city – how people live, their daily rituals, seeing inside their houses, learning about local aspirations and family life is just as important as seeing architectural or religious gems. Travellers will have experiences to the extremes; from witnessing cremations alongside a holy river, to flying over Everest by light aircraft. Mixing with the Nepalese (most staff are Nepalese) you’ll have a much richer experience – and a lot of fun too – the Nepalese are very warm hearted with a great sense of humour.
After the Valley the group will drive south towards the Indian border, staying in a small jungle town surrounded by elephants. It’s here travellers will have the chance to explore the Nepalese jungle and bush. After this they’ll drive to Lumbini – the birthplace of the Buddha (he too was Nepalese). Travellers will rest the night in a guest house inside a monastery. They’ll be able to cycle around too.
Next, they drive north and into the lower Himalaya, staying at the beautiful lakeside town of Pokhara. It’s here, on clear days, that you’ll have stupendous views of the Annapurna range of the Himalaya. There’s lots to do here too; from adventure sports, to hiking, sampling its many restaurants along the lake – and shopping for a mixture of Nepalese and Tibetan goods.
We’ve a good, friendly group coming along on this colourful trip. If you’d like to join us, please contact us soon.
This November’s tour of India will be quite special. Rather than languishing under the grey skies of the UK this winter, our group will be heading out into the warm sunshine.
They’ll travel to the edge of the silk road, camping under the stars for the night in the desert. They’ll ride camels, stay in a palace at the cousin of a Maharaja, sleep in a fortress with the Royal family of Jaisalmer, enjoy a British Polo Heritage hotel (frequented by Prince Charles), see the Exotic Marigold hotel used for the movies, stay in the 17th century Bissau palace of Jaipur (the oldest in Rajasthan), see the Taj Mahal, and visit the Pushkar camel fair – the biggest coming-together of camels (over 20,000) on earth. It’s difficult to muster up the words that best describe the experience over the two weeks; ‘magical’ or adventure? Or both? This is the last year Angel will take visitors on this exact, particular tour. We’ll go out on a high. If you want to take up the final places, let us know.
Viet Nam – and plans are in place for our new Vietnam tour, the first of which will take place next April. This tour will complement our already adventurous trip to Laos & Cambodia; in fact anyone who has booked Laos & Cambodia for this year, or has come with us before, will be entitled to a discount on any future Vietnam tour. The Vietnam trip will start in the capital Hanoi, descending down the coast by a mixture of train, private bus and boat until we reach Saigon. It will be 16 days in duration, and like all Angel Holidays’ we’ll give you time to explore, whilst having the support of the group.
This new Vietnam holiday will complement well, our exotic Laos & Cambodia tour, which is nearly fully booked this year. As many of you know, our Laos and Cambodia holiday really takes you to ‘parts unknown’ seeing some beautiful landscapes that no ordinary tour sees; taking you across Asia’s largest lake, seeing remote cultures, as well as visiting exciting cities such as the ‘Pearl of the Orient’ Phnom Penh and golden Luang Prabang on the Mekong. For many, Laos & Cambodia is our best tour yet. Hopefully, Vietnam will live up to expectations too, as it deserves a two week holiday in its own right. Watch this space for details
Climbing Everest is an elitist sport in Nepal. Per person the permit is $30,000, and to join a climbing team led by experts, another $35,000 – $50,000 per person. One needs to add extra equipment travel costs and insurances too. Most climbs cost around $100,000 per person.
Until a few years ago, no one could attempt the summit until they had already climbed three other peaks over 6,000 metres (Everest is 8,840 metres). These days however, with the increasing lucrative commercialisation of the climb, this has been laxed and anyone can attempt it, provided they have sufficient funds.
To climb the mountain you first have to fly (20 minutes) to Lukla from Kathmandu, a small town in the lower Himalaya, followed by a trek to Everest Base camp. The trek to base camp is around 37 miles, but can take over two weeks to allow for acclimatisation and stops between walks.
Base camp is around 5,600 meters above sea level, leaving a further 3,200 vertical meters (around 2.4 miles) to Everest’s summit. In walking distance (climbing approximately 1 metre in every 3) it is around an 8 mile walk. The summit itself is around 10 feet by 6 in dimension.
The most dangerous part of the climb, known rather crudely as the ‘death zone’ is the initial descent after the summit. With modern breathing equipment, deaths are extremely rare these days.
A friend of Angel Holidays takes groups of wealthy clients, around three times a year, to climb Everest – which is a very lucrative business. The only way to climb Everest more cheaply, is to gain sponsorship or ‘climb for a cause’ offering some kind of publicity.
On our Angel Holidays tour of Nepal, we may not climb the mountain, but we certainly give you the chance to fly around it by light propeller aircraft – which is quite an 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 TV series.
You will stay in Jaipur in the same home as Miriam Margolyes, Wayne Sleep, Jan Leaming, Bobby George and others used for the BBC series. At the end, we’ve also added 3 magical nights in the romantic city of Udaipur. You’ll also witness Holi: the wonderful festival of colour and light and visit the Exotic Marigold Hotel used for the movies with Judy Dench etc, before flying back to Delhi. A journey to the Taj Mahal is also included, as well as a train trip across the desert and an internal flight.
The trip cost is just £1,595 (based two sharing). Return flights to Delhi start are extra and start at approximately £379 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. Note, one very small room may be available at a single supplement of £189.
If you would like full information on this once in a lifetime experience, please contact our Bookings Manager, Bridget Lewis via this site or call her on 01983 562 744. 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 and will take place 9th – 27th March, 2019.
Bangkok: and many of our previous travellers might remember the ‘Hotel de Bangkok,’ this pleasant little hotel, down a quiet alleyway in the centre of town. It was here, just a handful of months ago, that our last group stayed, shortly before flying into golden Luang Prabang on the banks of the Laos Mekong. It was a thrilling journey that we’re doing again this year.
Yet today, in Bangkok, it is low season. In the tropics, May brings warmer weather which will steadily rise until July to September – and the monsoon showers. When our next group arrives in November it will be just about perfect – once again we’ll enjoy a welcome dinner, the night markets and the frenetic pace of the city, before travelling to the remote – and endlessly exotic corners – of Laos and Cambodia.
Yet today I remember some of our travellers exploring Bangkok’s canals, Thai syle around 20 mph, and smile to myself in recollection.
In addition to today’s pre-monsoon heat, even warmer Thai smiles go by. The wonderful food, my first lunch on arrival – fresh shrimps, salad and vegetables in a potently beautiful Cambodian Kompot pepper sauce is quite superb, on plastic chairs on the side of a main road.
In some ways, such simple, delicious cuisine and setting, provides an outline of life here. There’s an abundance of happiness without the need for complications; people go about their daily chores through joy and engagement with each other. Beautifully lit night markets, racing tuk tuk drivers and chefs battling with woks on every corner; there’s an energy and exuberance to it all; that leaves the West somewhat wilting. If you might like to join our tour this November, and see it for yourself, please let us know.
For those coming on any of our unique holidays this year, you might want listen to the following BBC Radio 4 show, presented by your host on our tours, Steve Carver. Initially made in 2011, the show takes Steve to rural Herefordshire, as part of his ‘Round’ series – where he experienced jobs most people wouldn’t like to do.
In this poetic, informative and whimsical show, Steve explores retirees who pick apples for a living. Sleeping in a camper, we enjoy his warm insights into this seasonal work, and the lives of those who do it. On your holidays to Cambodia, India, Nepal or anywhere else, Steve will be there with his gentle, polite guidance, to help you get the most out of your holiday. Cut and paste this to your browser to enjoy.
Vietnam: and plans are in place for a new holiday
Many of you have previously travelled with us on our adventure holiday to Laos and Cambodia – which sees the region properly, rather than rushing through, visiting only the tourist sights and trying to cram Vietnam in – which is akin to trying to see Spain, Italy and Germany in a fortnight – you do all badly, spend a lot of time on a bus, and don’t see much.
Indeed, our magical adventure to Cambodia and Laos is running again this year where we take a boat expedition towards China, tackle the largest lake in South East Asia, visit golden Luang Prabang on the Mekong, remote jungle towns and villages, as well as magical Angkor, vibrant Siem Reap and romantic Phnom Penh – and that’s is just part of it. For many, Laos and Cambodia remains Angel’s best trip yet.
We’ve always maintained that to see the whole of IndoChina (Laos, Cambodia & Vietnam) properly; Vietnam has to be done on a separate trip. A county of 1,200 miles in length needs more than a handful of days. And so, we will be offering our new 15 day Vietnam tour next year.
This will include the entire country from Hanoi in the north to Saigon in its south. You’ll cruise overnight in Halong Bay, we’ll drive through old towns and villages, see busy cities; journey from high mountains to the Mekong river plains; take trains, planes, private buses and cyclos, stay in jungle lodges and enjoy some ‘beach time’ too. Foodies will love the free time to explore food markets and, as always, our accommodation promises, at the very least to be sometimes, very different (some of you may remember staying in a monastery in Nepal).
What’s more, for anyone who has previously come with us to Cambodia and Laos, or is coming this year, or in the future, you’ll get a discount on any Vietnam trip – just a little thank you from us.
Coming with ‘Angel’ you have a much richer travel experience, see the region properly and have free time – and a lot of fun too!