We’ve written about the fear, joy and many rewards that come with taking a career break. And although we hope everyone at Patchwork will sit still for the next few years we’re very happy that the lovely Sofia has packed her bags and taken six months off for a once in a lifetime adventure. And the best bit? She’s going to chart her journey through India and Southeast Asia, checking in every now and then to share her photo diary and five top tips for each place she visits. Over to you Sofia…
First stop, Northern India:
If you plan to explore Rajasthan be prepared to experience an assault on your senses – the sounds of beeping cars, calling birds and chants of prayers. Vivid colours painted across the walls, woven through the silks of the saris and displayed in the array of fruits, jewels and trinkets. The constant smell of mud, dirt and cow dung mixed with delicious spices and curries, the sweet scent of sugary desserts and sharp tangy chutneys. Around every corner, a new experience awaits you.
With a civilisation dating back to 3000BC India has a rich oral history, so wherever you go you’ll hear stories of ancient rulers, fables from the gods and reasons behind local superstitions and social rituals.
Rajasthan, filled with palaces, forts and temples, has a majestic charm that transports you back to a different era. Also, being more traditional than other parts of the country, you can see how other areas are undergoing a cultural transformation in comparison. During my time here I shared a meal with the local Sikh community in the Gurudwaras, walked with rats in a temple, rode camels through the desert, haggled in the markets, explored many ancient ruin and had my fortune told (all looking good. Phew).
Travelling through the north of the country is by no means a laid back journey, so to love it requires time and patience. But once you get used to the pace, it’s somewhere you can become completely absorbed, surrounded by friendly faces and with so much to see and do.
Sofia’s Northern India Top Five:
- Get a sleeper train: a squashed and hot experience but a great chance to meet people and appreciate the stunning scenery from sunrise to sunset.
- Take a guided tour around the Taj Fort: the architecture alone is amazing but the stories behind the fort give crucial context and bring the experience to life.
- Visit Udaipur: Soak up the artistic vibes against the beautiful backdrop of the lake.
- Enjoy ‘fast food’ in Kanha, Jaipur: Really cheap and you can try a massive selection of street foods.
- Get a boat in Varanasi at the Ghats: Watch the sunset ceremony and learn about the Hindu approach to death.
Next up: Sofia’s photos from Southern India.