Monday, December 5, 2011

Headed home!

There is no place that will make you ready to go home more so than Delhi. Delhi is crazy. We have been here a mere 24 hrs and have already been ripped off, disgusted and engaged in verbal arguments. Ah! It's a love/hate city for sure. At the end of our 6 weeks in India before, I loved Delhi. Now I am exhausted and don't have the energy for all this craziness! So, home it is... at 1am tonight! It's amazing (and scary) how quickly 4.5 months (or a year and a half) can pass by. Sometimes it feels like we just let VT  last month...

We arrived in Delhi so tired because Nepal kicked our butts! We were incredibly busy the entire month we spent there. Nepal is full of amazing outdoor adventures and we tried to take full advantage. We had an incredible time (probably the highlight of the entire 4.5 months of traveling) on our trek. We hiked up to Poon Hill (not a hill, definitely a mountain!) and then over to Annapurna Base Camp for a total of 9 days. We had beautiful, sunny weather and stunning views. It was incredible. There are few places in the world where you can trek each day and have a warm meal, hot shower and a bed to sleep in each night. Nepal is unique and we love it.

After we recovered from our trek and let our blisters heal up, we took off on one last adventure with a New Zealand couple we had met on the trek. We signed up for a 2 day whitewater rafting trip and were beyond excited for one last hoorah! Our trip turned out to be a typical Nepali experience, where anything and everything that could go wrong did! A strike in a town along the way cut our first day short by at least an hour. When we were done rafting and at our campsite, we were told the van would not be along until the strike was over after 6pm. We sat around for 3 or more hours in wet bathing suits waiting for our things! Finally, the boys hitched a a ride and had to walk to the van through the strike in their sleeveless wetsuits! Because the van arrived so late, we were unable to cook dinner and there was no dry wood for a fire... Unreal. But typical Nepali! We did have tents and beer so everything turned out okay in the end :)

The next day had all of the class 4 and 5 rapids but of course the road was still blocked so we were unable to raft the river we signed up for. We were disappointed but still had a good time and were able to hit some good rapids along the way. Because the trip wasn't quite as wild and crazy as we thought it would be, I am really excited for another rafting trip sometime in the near future.

We have some great pictures and I will post them when I get home. It's been an amazing trip and we feel so lucky to have had this time to travel together. We're looking forward to seeing our families and friends... and having some delicious home cooking!

See you soon!

Love, Allison and Nate

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Hello Nepal!

Nepal has been a whirlwind of a trip so far with nonstop planning and prepping for our trek. I suppose that's what happens when you arrive after 3 months of traveling in tropical places. We came empty handed and now are fully geared up and ready to go! It was quite painful purchasing everything... as we have it ALL at home. Hats, gloves, fleece jackets, shirts... you name it, we had to buy it! So frustrating. Not to mention the hiking boots I had to buy and break in! Ahhhhh. I will finally be able to relax tomorrow when we are on the trail... or will that be relaxing?? Probably not... have I mentioned how out of shape we are? Thin but without much muscle - not good! Wish us luck :) 

We did manage to escape to Chitwan National Park for a few days where we did a full day jungle walk, bathed elephants and saw some rhinos from atop an elephant! It was action packed but so much fun and we have some great pictures. The bathing of the elephants was hilarious. We rode on top of the dirty elephant and it was shooting water through it's trunk all over us. Then it rolled over and dumped us into the river. It was a blast!

During our first week in Nepal, we were always late no matter where we were going. It was never by a lot, maybe 5-20 min each time but enough to make us almost miss buses, etc. We were amazed at Nepal, thinking this country was always early for everything. Finally, a man in Chitwan said to us, "I think you are still on India time." We both stared at him wondering what he was talking about. For some reason, unbeknown to us, no one bothered to tell us that Nepal and India have a 15 minute time difference. 15 minutes! We had never heard of such a thing and there was certainly no announcement on our short flight over the border. Thank god he told us or we would have missed a bus or flight eventually!

So we are off tomorrow to begin trekking. We are headed to Annapurna Base Camp (12,500 ft) with a detour loop to Poon Hill on the way. We have heard that it takes anywhere from 9 days to 14 days to complete the route so who knows! We are in no rush and just want to enjoy our time. We won't have internet for the trekking so I will be sure to blog as soon as we return!

We will be seeing you all shortly... possibly as early as December 7! 

Love, Al & Nate

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Nate's Birthday Bash!

Nate has spent his last 3 birthdays away from home so he is quite used to it. However, I think this one was a little different... We weren't sure where we would be for his big day and it turns out that we ended up in a very small town called Bodhgaya. This village is where Buddha received his enlightenment and is the most important pilgrimage site in the world - quite religious and a difficult place to enjoy a birthday beer! I wanted to make his birthday special so I of course stressed about this for weeks! We ended up having a terrific day together hanging in Buddha's temple and skyping with our families. 

I took Nate to the fanciest place for dinner and we gorged. We had two delicious chicken dishes with the usual roti and rice, followed by apple crumble. With all this food and 6 beers, it was just $30! It was by far the most expensive meal we have had while traveling but worth every penny. Check out the birthday boy below after licking his plate clean! :) 

We traveled from Bodhgaya to Agra to see the Taj Mahal which was amazing in person. Due to all of the pollution, there's a bit of a haze over the city but it was still spectacular at sunrise. We are now in Delhi and enjoying the big city feel. It's off to Nepal for us tomorrow which is exciting but also very sad. 6 weeks in India was not nearly enough time but we will surely come back again. We are looking forward to some serious exercise in the Himalayas! 

A few things we will NOT miss about India: 

1. being called Madam and Sir constantly
2. being harassed by auto-rickshaw drivers
3. paying for toilet paper
4. mosquitoes
5. smelly, dirty, overcrowded train rides
6. sketchy bars
7. pollution
8. men peeing in public

However, we will miss a lot of things from this country! Obviously the food, you all know that by now... but so much more. It's truly an amazing country to travel through and we are so lucky to have had this opportunity.

It's just one month now (to the day!) that we return home. We are looking forward to moms' cooking, snow, hot showers and seeing family & friends.

See you all soon! 

Love, Al & Nate

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

The Holy City

It feels as though it's been awhile since I last blogged so I must catch you up on our happenings and whereabouts! From Hampi, we took an overnight train to Hyderabad which was a rather over-priced, bustling city with AMAZING food. I realize you may think we talk about food a lot... but the food in India is just simply delicious and must be acknowledged! Hyderabad is known for its chicken biriyani and it was to die for! We did do things other than eat in Hyderabad, although that was our main focus.. We saw a few famous monuments, walked and shopped in the bazaars and went to the impressive Golconda Fort.

From Hyderabad, we hopped a 28.5 hr train to Varanasi. I was very nervous for this journey, thinking how will we possibly entertain ourselves for that long? What about food? And sleeping? Will we kill each other after that long in such a confined space? Well, it was quite the opposite of all my fears. We don't know where the time went but it flew by and was actually enjoyable! We had a good time and neither of us were dying to get off the train when we reached Varanasi. I was so relieved to have this trip behind us!

Arriving in Varanasi was a shock. It's the real India. Smelly. Dirty. Over crowded. Fascinating. It's a holy Hindu city along the River Ganges and it is like no other places we have ever been. The river is unbelievably polluted yet the people believe it to be so holy that they bathe in it each day. You can spend hours walking along the river just watching the people.

When people die in Varanasi, their body is burned and the remains are put into the river. There are six kinds of deaths that don't permit burning and these bodies are dropped with rocks into the middle of the river. During our stay in Varanasi, we saw two dead bodies floating in the river and were told that these were bodies of the homeless who cannot pay for the wood to burn their bodies. Again, this place was so different than anywhere we have been. One of the best aspects of this country is how different each state or region is from the rest of the country.

After a very busy week, we are happily relaxing in the little town of Bodhgaya, which happens to be the world's most important Buddhist pilgrimage site. Next stop: Taj Mahal in Agra!

We are both finally healthy and free of any and all rashes, which is a huge relief as we head to Nepal in a week. I am having a hard time parting with India as we still have so much to see. I suppose that just means we will have to come back :)

We will be home in about a month and are looking forward to seeing our families and friends. Miss you!

Love, Allison and Nate

Saturday, October 22, 2011


When you travel to a new place, it's sometimes difficult to arrive with an open mind and unbias views of the town due to the number of foreigners you meet along the way who share their experiences with you. I have found that India is a place you must have an open mind. There's no other way about it - you must make your own opinion about each and every place you go. For example, we had read some things about Goa and talked to some people about their experiences there which made me not want to go. We heard there was nothing there but drugs as well as stories of rape and muder. But, although Goa is a tiny part of India, it's still big and there are plenty of different places to go. Since it's still low season, we were able to stay in a goreous and very clean room for cheap and practically have the beach to ourselves. We enjoyed at least 5 beers of day and ate, ate, ate! Goa has delicious food!!! We spent 5 days and could have easily spent another 5. It's always so nice to go somewhere and be surprised at how much you enjoy yourself there! So if you ever go to Goa... stay in Benaulim :)

We are now in Hampi which is a small town built in the middle of impressive ruins from the 15th century. We are a bit templed-out after spending our first two days seeing so many but it was fascinating to see the remains and wonder what this place looked like 600 years ago. It feels good to get off the beach and get some culture! Although Hampi is full of history, it's still touristy and has its scams you must be aware of. Nate put up a good fight over the "10 rupe fee to enter the town" our first day here. We refused to pay, they threatened to bring us to the police station... we said okay and they of course let us go. Every day is a battle of some sort with people trying to sell you things and constantly bothering you. I know it sounds terrible and annoying, but you just get used to it. I used to be nice but now I just say a firm NO to everything and walk away - it's the only way!

The Salers enjoy my blogs when I pick on their son and my parents always tell me to be nice (aka don't tell about his bathroom habits on here) so I've been trying to keep it somewhere in the middle... However, I am sad to report that I don't actually have that much to pick on Nate about right now. He's been a life savior for my scabies bum and has put up with some whining from me about it! He's even given up on calling me Scabes now... I guess it gets old after a month!

We are happy, healthy and still fascinated by this enormous country!

Pictures to come soon and if you would like a post card, send me your address!

Love, Allison (and Nate)

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

XL please!

When planning our trip to India, we were warned by everyone about just how sick we would get from Delhi Belly. I don't want to jinx us... please knock on wood for me... but we are 11 days in and so far so good. In fact, everything is sooo good that we are even gaining weight! Oh my. I never expected this. I truly thought I would get so skinny in India! I guess we have the trekking in Nepal for that :) 

Now about the title to this blog - XL please! XL is my size in India! Ahh! I bought a few sets of Indian clothing (as I had nothing appropriate to wear after 2 months on the beach) and they knew immediately that I was an XL or even a XXL! Yikes. For a quick second I wondered if all the curries, naan and ice cream (I've had a dessert a day since the mites incident!) had caught up with me but thankfully I still fit into my clothes from home. Phew. I don't know how these sizes work here because Indian women are big and beautiful. The young girls are thin but as soon as they become women they tend to be plump. I wonder how big their sizes go and if they even have clothes that would fit Nate?

Anyways, enough ranting about sizes... we have spent the last few days in Gokarna, Karnataka which is a small temple town right on the ocean. We chose to stay in town rather than beachside and it's been great. We spent a day and a half at the beach and the rest of the time just roaming around town and eating delicious food. Tonight we head to Goa for a few days before heading over to Hampi (which I am most excited for).

We will try to post some more pictures soon! 

Love, Al (and Nate)... still waiting for him to write an entry in "our" blog! :) 

Friday, October 7, 2011


So here we are 5 days into our six weeks of India and it sure has been an interesting, exciting and frustrating experience already! Thanks to the wise advice of our dear friend Dan, w flew into the south. Thank God. I can't imagine a better place to enter a country where all is unknown to us. We spent 4 nights in Kochi which was beautiful but a bit touristy for our liking. This was certainly nice for the first few days though. We had places to eat that we knew were pretty safe, helpful travel agents to answer our questions, etc. We kept quite busy with a full day spent in the backwaters of Kerala, a walking tour of the city, a traditional performance and some shopping for me.

We are now up the coast from Kochi in a town called Kannur (still in the state of Kerala). We chose this place randomly and it was one of the few places we could even get train tickets to because of the holiday. After a brutal 6hr train ride crammed in with a million other people, we arrived hot, sticky and exhausted just to find that the place we booked was absolutely NASTY. The toilet was broken as was the shower but the worst was the sheets. It's indescribable. I have never seen something like this in my life. I spent the night sleeping with as many layers as possible (despite the heat) and was awake most of the night thinking how I just got rid of the mites - what if they come back???

We planned to look for a new place this morning and were approached by a sweet Indian woman who just opened a home stay. Everything is brand new and we are her first guests. Perfect, right? Almost. As we are walking out, she tells us that she's been having some issues with electricity and she didn't report it and now she's in trouble and not sure if we can stay there. So we've been in town since then and are unsure if we have a place to stay tonight! 

We met a friendly Indian guy last on the beach who teaches English and we got roped into joining his class for 2 hours this morning! It was entertaining answering their questions about when Nate and I fell in love, how it is living together, what girls look for in a man, how we dress in America, sports we enjoy, etc. Lots of pictures were taken and we surely made each of their day.

We had not seen another foreigner here until just a minute ago in the internet cafe. It's a nice feeling to be fully immersed in a new culture and fully removed from the Western world. Although it can make things more difficult (finding a clean place to stay), we are able to meet more locals this way and experience their culture. Our new friend gave us some places to eat and Nate is in heaven. This morning, we had two full breakfasts and  coffee for $1 total. For lunch, delicious North Indian food... 2 full meals for a total of... $1. Nate can't stop talking about how cheap it is :) 

Now it's off to the beach... life is good! 

Much love,

Al and Nate