Ive always had a bit of a love/hate relationship with “travelling”. I love seeing new places and trying to understand different cultures and ways of living. I love meeting new people and trying new food. I dont like the hanging around that comes with catching buses and trains in countries where you dont speak the language and I dont like the sense of privilege I feel travelling as a rich westerner in a poor third world country. All of these things were magnified in the last couple of weeks travelling with a group of 9 teenagers and their teacher from a school in South Africa. Seeing things through the eyes of the group was refreshing and reminded me of my own thoughts on my first trips in Thailand and China at 18 – awe, disgust, intrigue, excitement, fatigue, boredom, compassion and fear all being a daily emotional rollercoaster. Getting off the train at 530am in on our way to the hill stations above Nainital. Getting on a sleeper train from the busiest train station in the world was a pretty big first experience. One of the group managed to leave 10,000 rupees sitting on her bed (about £100 or 6 months wages to the guy who cleans the train), a small hit to our budget an amazing morning at work to the chap that found it!
Our cook “Super Mario” knocking up a tofu curry in the first camp of our trek from Pangot through the Himalayan foothills. A sudden clearing in the clouds – looking out from our first camp at Nanda Devi. Staring at the sunset on the first night. We were camped at 2595mSunrise from the temple. I got up early and wandered up a small temple on the hill. This was probably my high point of the whole trip – stunning views and complete peace and quiet.
Looking into the temple just after dawn Morning views over the mountains Leeches. Needless to say I’m sure the trek wont be forgotten in a hurry! Children dressed for school. We passed through lots of small villages on the last day of the trek and as ever I was struck by how different life must be for these people. So hard to picture growing up in one of these houses. (check out the lightbulb – They do have some electricity)
After going to work in a rural school for a few days cleaning and plastering and painting (I never want to whitewash anything ever again!) we headed on to Rishikesh and Agra for some tourism
Gathering storm clouds as we wait in Rishikesh bus station.
So much rain – some of the students getting a quick shower after 6 hours on a very rickety bus The Ganges at Rishikesh. I went for a wander with the leader from another expedition group. We did wash our feet but stopped short of going for a full wash. Agra fort (you can just see three of the girls being very “zen” in the middle of the photos. This place was amazing and puts any Scottish castle to shame with its size and complexity.
Classic travelling photo. The amazing Taj Mahal. I’m usually a little underwhelmed by famous building but the Taj really is phenomenal. We got there for the gates opening and the colours from the sun catching the marble were amazing (as were the grounds around it). Not sure the students were that impressed!
Next for me is a lot of tooing and froing around the UK, buying more camera gear and slowly get myself ready for 16 months in Antartica!