3 reasons to love India

 

About Robyn (1)

India is awe-inspiring and life-changing. We planned our entire trip specifically to include Holi – The Festival of Colour. That was definitely a highlight. The country is nothing like the stereotypes that are portrayed by the media. We expected to arrive to so much poverty and disparity, only to be welcomed by its unrivalled beauty and diverse attractions that largely outweighed any negative depictions.

India offers an equal dosage of old and new, traditional and modern, adventurous and serene. There is something for everyone.

The original Holi Fest can’t be beaten

The entire country takes a break from their daily lives to partake in the tradition of throwing coloured flour. Days before the event, every city is beautifully decorated with ribbons and colourful mosaics which are painted onto buildings. We were lucky to celebrate Holi with some local children who lived near to our hotel. The joy and look of enthusiasm on the children’s’ faces, during the event, made the experience all the more spectacular.

Related: Finding Solace in Mozambique

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Nothing like the makeshift Holi festivals that have been popping up all over the world; experience the original Indian colour festival. (Photo/ Simone Franks)

Must-see attractions

The Taj Mahal’s architectural beauty is breath-taking. It’s without a doubt, a must-see attraction. I will never forget sitting in the gardens just staring at it, not even realising that hours had passed by.
Also great to see is the Amber Fort in Jaipur. The fort was built on top of a large hill and overlooks structured floating gardens (which were designed to look like a carpet). We trekked to the fort on elephant back!

Related: From Bellville to Grenoble

The food will steal your heart

Indian food is incredible. It took a while, adjusting to having curry for breakfast but the variety and range of dishes will entice even the fussiest of eaters.

There is always something new to try and experiment. Many of the restaurants we ate at had an open-plan kitchen so we were able to watch the chef prepare our food, and get a whiff of spices and other ingredients –  always fresh and usually made with seasonal vegetables.

Indian cuisine is not just about simply eating a curry; emphasis is placed on the preparation of the food, the presentation, and the etiquette involved with eating certain dishes. One restaurant used underground fire pits to cook dishes wrapped in banana leaves. The dish would arrive at your table as a steaming hot, banana leaf parcel, and the chef would stand next to you while you’re eating to discern if you enjoyed it or not. The food is also quite affordable – we were able to have a three-course meal for two  at a hotel for about R120.

ELEPHANT
Oh nothing, just travelling via elephant. Something spectacular to experience in India. (Photo/ Simone Franks)

3 Tips for travellers visiting India:

Keep an open mind

Travelling in India can be quite a culture shock, especially if you’re travelling to rural parts of the country. Hawkers may pester tourists and sometimes this can be quite invasive but it helps to understand that these people are desperately trying to make a living.

 Do your research

It helps to research cultural practices and customs but don’t let the research govern your opinion of what to expect in India. A lot of the travel blogs I read before my trip warned about various sordid elements prevalent in India and yet I experienced none of these on my trip.

Pack light

Shopping in India is extremely addictive so you’ll need to pack light to make space for all your new purchases. We had fun shopping at street bazaars.

You may also want to read: I toured London in 10 days and this is the short of it

Did you enjoy this story compilation of India? Find more photos of Simone’s trip on her Instagram feed via this link.

I’d love to hear from you. Connect with me on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.

Photos by Simone Franks

 

 

Finding solace in Mozambique

About Robyn

Perhaps there was something hazy in the afternoon air but Mozambique brought a sense of calm to all of us. It’s an aquarium; tranquil, natural, and humbling.

I travelled to the South of Mozambique with a group of surfers. I didn’t know them personally, but we shared a common love for surfing and the ocean. For a novice [surfer], it’s the perfect place to get into the water and experience the silence and overall beauty of the ocean. The sheer magnitude of the reefs and marine life is incredible.

We free-dived a shipwreck about a kilometer out to sea — that experience is something that I will never forget. A huge, once-grand, old boat lie on the ocean floor, fish swam in and out of the portholes, monster-sized crayfish settled inside little crevasses, and cute little seahorses kept popping up. I wondered if the crew had made it out alive. I wondered what it must have been like for the Captain when he’d realized that he’d hit the reef and that his boat was going down.

RelatedFrom Bellville to Grenoble

The landscape was unspoilt and rural. The air was clean and there were no tarred roads. I loved that it was off the beaten track – no large cities nearby, and the locals were quite friendly. In the town’s local market, beaded accessories were sold, locally designed clothing, cashew nuts and the infamous Tipo Tinto – an unforgiving Rum native to Mozambique, and best served with raspberry flavoured drink. Just ask for “R&R”.

Rich Culture

Strolling along remote beaches in Mozambique. (Photo/ Callan Blount)
Strolling along remote beaches in Mozambique. (Photo/ Callan Blount)

Houses in the village are built with whichever materials are available and so are the little sailing boats that the locals use for fishing — called Dhows. The simple and practical designs of the Dhows are beautiful. Due to Mozambique being situated on the east coast of South Africa, the weather is warm all-year-round, even in winter. The water is also warm. Coming from Cape Town’s icy cold water, this was a welcomed experience for me.

Beautiful Beaches

Some beaches had pure white monumental sized dunes and sandy bottom beaches. The water was so clear that you could see right to the seabed, while other beaches had rocky reefs on the ocean floor. Another valuable memory was the sunset chats with the crew, whether on the beach or on the boat. I was very blessed to have travelled with legends of the surfing community. Each evening, we would have a cold beer and enjoy the lazy afternoon humidity while the veterans told stories and so forth.

You may also want to read: I toured London in 10 days and this is the short of it

callan_blount_2
Cold beers and sunsets. (Photo/ Callan Blount)

 Mozambique survival hacks:

  • If possible, travel in a group. You’ll have so much fun.
  • Pack light. It’s hot, even in winter.
  • Go in winter. The weather is awesome, it’s Malaria free, and there aren’t many tourists during winter.
  • Very important: Bear in mind that you will be driving on dirt roads. You’ll need a 4×4 of some sort.

Did you enjoy this story compilation of Mozambique? Find more photos of Callan’s trip on his Instagram feed via this link.

 

I’d love to hear from you. Connect with me on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.

Photos by Callan Blount