The Beginning: Mumbai

This entry is part 1 of 4 in the series 10,000 miles and 6 countries in 6 weeks

Mission: Fly to Mumbai, visit Nepal, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam, then come back on ourselves to fly back to England through Saudi Arabia from Mumbai. 

Fire on the platform, advice for night layovers in Riyadh, two scatterbrained girls begin their adventure.

I turned to my partner in crime on our flight to Riyadh, where we would have a layover for 10 hours before getting to Mumbai: “What are we actually doing?” She gave me a wry, knowing smile and burst out laughing. We had planned as little as possible, just the bare bones of a few connecting flights and a hotel here and there. We mused self-mockingly on the aeroplane, suddenly free to contemplate for a number of hours what we might be letting ourselves in for. We booked these flights on a whim, without really considering things much. Apart from a few guides and people I’d consulted briefly (most of which told me, very firmly, that you simply can’t back-pack in India and that trying to cover that amount of distance in such a short period of time would only attract bad vibes) we hadn’t a clue. Time constraints were an issue – back home we didn’t have time to plan properly, and a 6 week window was all that we could afford due to work and studying commitments.

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Overnight: Mumbai to Jodphur

This entry is part 2 of 4 in the series 10,000 miles and 6 countries in 6 weeks

Mission: Fly to Mumbai, visit several places in India and Nepal, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam then come back on ourselves to fly back to England through Saudi Arabia from Mumbai. 

Advice for female travellers, 18 hours on a third class sleeper train and one bed for three.

Before I begin to enter into the details of what was one of the best journeys out of the whole 10,000 miles covered in total, I think it is important to talk about female travellers in India, that old bug-bear. For ninety percent of our time there were just two of us, and we’re not the most sensible of sorts. And yet, thankfully, we traversed even ‘dodgy’ borders completely harassment-free. Whilst this could just be good luck (changing your style of dress will only go part of the way to deterring unwanted attention) we did take several precautions.

(nomadicmatt.com)

Most sources state that you will certainly encounter some kind of unwanted groping in Mumbai, for example – however, this didn’t happen to us. We both wore salwar-kameez and more often than not wore a headscarf hijab style. Whilst the latter may seem a little extreme I whole heartedly recommend it. This made me feel safer in a number of situations. It can also be comforting to shield your face if you feel threatened, such as when you are zig-zagging through an unknown city at night in a rickshaw, encircled by staring, unsmiling men whose intentions you aren’t really sure of.

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Jodhphur to Nepal to Darjeeling

This entry is part 3 of 4 in the series 10,000 miles and 6 countries in 6 weeks

Mission: Fly to Mumbai, visit Nepal, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam, then come back on ourselves to fly back to England through Saudi Arabia from Mumbai. 

Covering 2,400km in 5 days: as near to teleportation as you can feasibly get on a really small budget.

By this point, the fourth day of our trip, we were getting more accustomed to finding the cheapest place to eat and negotiating rickshaw prices, but we hadn’t really accounted for that was to come next. Whilst the incredibly long train third class train journey had no doubt prepared us for many hours of travel we were faced with in the coming days, we hadn’t experienced the tourist traps and we’d only seen about 5 tourists thus far (we waved and called to them, as it was such a novelty). It hadn’t crossed our minds which, if any, souvenirs we’d like to take home…

(101pairings)

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The Darjeeling Dream

This entry is part 4 of 4 in the series 10,000 miles and 6 countries in 6 weeks

Mission: Fly to Mumbai, visit Nepal, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam, then come back on ourselves to fly back to England through Saudi Arabia from Mumbai. 

A cautionary tale of what not to do when seeking a good hotel on a tight budget in Gorkhaland/ Darjeeling: be prepared for all changes of weather, including the political sort! Also: budget hotels in New Jalpaiguri.

Darjeeling. (Or should I say Gorkhaland? Darjeeling wishes to break away from the rest of India and form an independent state, Gorkhaland, as the inhabitants feel more allied with Nepal.) By the time we reached this place of dreams, curling up into the clouds and marvelling at the houses effortlessly spilling out on to the mountainside, we just needed to get some rest. We had been awake for a good 24 hours or more and had just gone through a fairly gruelling 762km overland journey from Pokhara, Nepal, via Kakharabhitta. As we were travelling out of season, at the beginning of July, we were uncomfortably shivery with the clammy coldness seeping into our extremely unsuitable attire. Thoughtlessly, we’d left our jumpers back in England, and it never crossed my mind to pack so much as a cagoule, despite it being monsoon weather in Mumbai where we commenced our jaunt!

(anahatafoundation.com)

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