Greetings, dear friends . . . it's been a while!
It's almost four years since I returned home from my last trip. That's the longest I've been in the UK for since I first began travelling in 1998. It's too long. I figured it was time to get a bit of excitement back in my life, and booked a plane ticket. Four weeks today I shall be jetting off to Goa, to begin my next big adventure!
The loose plan is to spend the best part of a year (eleven months, for those who want to be pernickety about it) in the Indian subcontinent. You are allowed to spend a maximum of six months in India before you have to leave the country, and I had intended to pop to Nepal for a brief sojourn before returning to India for the rest of my trip - however the Indian government rather inconsiderately moved the goalposts in December. Now you have to stay out of the country for two months before you are allowed to re-enter. Not such a hardship really, two months should give me a good opportunity to explore Nepal. I might even go and have a peek at Mount Everest . . . from the bottom that is - I'm not going to start making any ambitious undertakings to climb it.
Whilst I'm going to spend most of the trip as a fearless solo traveller, it may surprise some of you to learn that I'm going to have a little travelling chum for the first five weeks or so, namely my boyfriend Chris, whom I've been seeing for around eighteen months. Chris is a backpacking virgin . . . although I did bully him into buying a backpack quite early on in the relationship. We've previously spent a week in Cyprus together, a weekend in Prague, plus visited Dartmoor and the Lake District, so we should know what each of us is letting ourselves in for, and will hopefully enjoy our time in India without killing each other. Chris is pretty laid back, unlike myself. I foresee that the phrase I will be using the most during the trip will be, "Hurry up!!!" as he dawdles - and I stress about missing our bus/train/plane.
I am looking forward to introducing India to Chris, and have drawn up an itinerary with military precision. It includes such delights as Ranthambore National Park (here there be tygers...hopefully); taking the miniature steam train to the hill station of Ooty; and exploring Kerala's backwaters on a houseboat; along with some must-sees like the Taj Mahal. We're starting in the relaxed South of the country, to ease us both in gently before tackling the up-tight North; this is not just for Chris's benefit, as I fully expect to be greeted with culture shock on my return to the India. Oh yes, mustn't forget that I'm also subjecting Chris to a 43 hour train journey between the South and the North, heh heh. Having survived a slightly longer one myself last time round I figured it'd be an interesting experience for him to endure. I think I pretty much enjoyed it last time round. I wonder how different it will be to travel in India as part of a couple rather than a lone female, and I am curious to see how attitudes towards me compare with and without chaperone.
So to update you on the last four years in one paragraph, I joined Royal Mail as a postie - the job was great, the people were friendly and happy . . . all good. Since then the job has gone down the pan, we're all overworked and demoralized and smiles around the office are much harder to come by. On the positive side, they have given me a year off without pay, so I have a job to come back to . . . if they've not totally run the business into the ground by then. When I first returned home I enjoyed my parents' hospitality for probably longer than I should have done, then moved into the coldest flat in the world - one winter was enough. I've spent the last year and a bit living in a nice flat with a wildlife-filled garden (as well as an assortment of birds - including a pair of sparrowhawks to keep the numbers down! - I even saw a fox mooching around the other night). Holiday-wise, other than those already mentioned, I've spent a week in Marrakech; caught up with friends living in the Turks & Caicos Islands; and been on two dive holidays in the Red Sea in 2007 and 2008. Photography is still a major part of my life, and I contribute regularly to a stock photography company, plus get the occasional sale through my own site, Serenity Photography. I don't make enough to give up my day job yet, but after this trip, who knows...a girl can always dream!
So you can expect to hear a little more from me over the coming year. As usual you will be able to find my most recent photographs here, and catch up with my latest missives home here.
Take care, one and all. All the best
Visit SerenityPhotography.co.uk, where you can buy beautiful pictures from around the world . . . all taken by yours truly!