China Instagram Highlights

China Instagram Highlights

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As with all my trips I captured a lot of the people, places and moments whilst working in China. There’s nothing I enjoy more than giving others a glimpse into daily life whilst I travel. My chosen platform is always Instagram and with this post I thought I’d round up my favourite posts from my time in China. It was hard to choose a few for this post, so if you want to see more remember to check my Instagram for more! If you’d like to read more about my time in China then read this post on Shanghai and here for Beijing.

The neon lights in East Nanjing make walking around a sightseeing adventure of their own πŸ‘ŒπŸ»#streetart

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Amazing views seen from The Bund at night. Need to find somewhere high up for the next shot #shanghaicity

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Best part of going somewhere new is going off the beaten track. There are so many little alleys, streets and corners of the city to see #localspot

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Orderly chaos in the backstreets of the city #exploreshanghai #chinagram

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Sitting, waiting and thinking #peopleofshanghai

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#templeart #goldenbuddha

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‘Three’s a crowd’ #shanghai #peopleofshanghai

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#peopleofbeijing #beijing πŸ‡¨πŸ‡³

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The Chinese dragon is a symbol of imperial authority and people rub the dragon heads for luck πŸ‰ #chineseculture #chinesedragon #beijing

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Hidden places walking through the famous hutongs of the capital πŸ‡¨πŸ‡³ #streetshots #chinatravel

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#streettour #peopleofbeijing πŸ‡¨πŸ‡³

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Being in a new place allows you to look at things from different angles. Creativity is contagious, pass it on #nightphoto #chinesestyle

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New post on #Beijing is up on the blog *link in bio* #chinatravel

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Last full week in #Shanghai and I’m making sure I explore as much as possible #cityviews

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2 days worth of climbing steps to reach the top was well worth it πŸ‘ŒπŸ»fresh air, sunshine and natural beauty #yellowmountains #chinatravel

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πŸ—ΊπŸ‘ŒπŸ»#landscapehunter #viewsfordays

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Exploring Silves | Portugal

Exploring Silves | Portugal

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Last year in between my trips to the eastern side of the globe, I managed to fit in a short break to Portugal! I visited the beautiful small town of Silves along the southern part of the country. It was a little rustic town with a medieval vibe, orange and lemon trees all over the city which all gave it a lot of character. Worn out mediterranean orange buildings with huge storks soaring around the skies of the town made this a great place to go and explore. The town is great for a short mini break and is definitely worth a visit if you’re visiting Portugal.

Silves Castle

Silves main attraction is the medieval castle in the centre of town which you can go and walk around; it is alsoΒ the best preserved castle in the Algarve.

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Old Town

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Tall Ship Sailing – Β£25 per person (pickup & drop off from Silves – Includes ticket onto boat & smaller boat into caves)

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This was a great excursion to take as you get to sail along the coastline on a tall ship/pirate ship! There are so many hidden alcoves and caves that you get taken into in smaller boats to explore but just being on the ship was cool, with a rum in hand a pirate’s life was certainly for me.

Fresh Sea Food – Not to be missed!

The food here was great as you were able to eat fresh sea food that had been caught and brought up from the harbours the same day; as well as this we ate lots of tapas – also delicious.

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How To | Make Red Red Ghanaian Dish

How To | Make Red Red Ghanaian Dish

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RED RED

One of my absolute favourite dishes whilst I have been away has got to be Red Red – the plantain goodness from Ghana. Like the name suggests, red red is made with a mellow red palm oil accompanied by black eyed beans and crispy fried plantain. It’s delicious and I had the amazing opportunity to learn from my host mum the whole process to make the signature Ghanaian dish. Now when I think of Red Red, I think of it with fond memories of my host family and the community of Afranse. When I first tried the dish I instantly loved it and began recruiting members (volunteers) into the Red-Red club! Here’s how:

You will need:

Plantain – how ever much you like! We used about 4 for 3 people

White beans or black eyed beans

Palm oil – the most essential ingredient

Tomatos x 2

Small Onion x 4 or Big onions x2

Chilli spice (add according to desired tolerance)

A few pinches of salt

Tinned fish (tuna, mackerel, sardines) – optional

Cooking oil – 2 tablespoons

 

Red Red Process:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Boil a pot of water over a low heat

Add the beans into the pot and boil the beans till soft – add salt and stir

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chop and peel onions and tomatos

Pour palm oil into a different pot over a low heat

When the oil is bubbling hot add the onions and tomatoes, salt, spice and mix well

Add softened beans to mixture and stir

Leave to simmer for a few minutes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chop plantain into thin slices and fry in the boiling cooking oil until golden brown and crispy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Plate up the beans with plantain on the side and dive in, to be really authentic use the plantain to scoop up the beans, it’s messy but it’s great!

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What’s Next? | gunns_travels Update!

What’s Next? | gunns_travels Update!

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UPDATE:Β 

What’sΒ that I hear you ask? Where to next!? Well, for those of you on board or following my journey already and anyone ready to join me in 2017 here is an update; I am currently getting prepared for my travel/move to SHANGHAI, CHINA! That’s right I am heading to China next and the bustling city of Shanghai. I completed my TEFL qualification last year, which if you are thinking about doing the same, read how I got mine here.

I knew that when I finished the first half of my travel plans to Nepal, India and Ghana I would want to continue but I had to find a way of making some money; savings only get you so far! So I went about getting things ready to be able to look for teaching jobs in other countries. This is the perfect solution for me right now as I get to continue to travel, earn money, try a new career and move to one of the most popular cities in the world!

I’m so excited to get there to explore, work a new job and try a different lifestyle! I’ve been wanting to go to China for years and have my camera and phrasebook ready to pack.

 

 

One of the questions I always get asked is: “How do you afford all this travel?”

The answer is simple really, I make it a priority. I don’t have endless savings and I’m not being funded by anyone other than myself. The thing is, if you’re passionate about something and you make it the focus, the priority then the rest is pretty simple. I work, I save and I don’t spend unnecessarily.

If someone asked me to choose between the newest phone or saving the money for a plane ticket – it’s a no brainer. And this can be applied to everything, not just travel. I get annoyed with people who complain that they can’t afford to do the thing they really would loveΒ to do or buy the thing they want; whilst they sip their Β£3 coffee and stare at their Β£40 a month phone…you can travel, or save for that dream home, car or whatever if you change your mindset first.

 

Another is:Β “How do you travel on your own?”

I get it, it is a scary thought, just going off somewhere on your own relying on no-one else but yourself. But it has been one of the best things I could have ever done for that exact reason. I overcame that fear and learnt to be independent, outgoing and confident – yeah that’s right you can ‘learn’ these skills by travelling on your own.

The best advice I could give for this is to just get out and do it. Make sure you research and have certain things planned beforehand if it is your first time travelling solo (flights, insurance, accommodation for the first few nights, general plan and contacts) but use the fear as fuel. If I’m completely honest and cliche, ‘you’ll never be alone anyway’ – because there are thousands of people you’ll meet out there doing the exact same thing, so get out and join them! You will go away on your own but end up having friends and family all over the world.

 

Another:Β “Don’t you get scared?”

And the answer is of course yes! I get scared about some of the places but it is part of the reason I love going. It makes you feel like you are actually living and alive – not a robot. I find the media and rumours all help to fuel the fear but really it’s never as bad as what you hear. There are obviously places to watch and be careful of but thats no reason to write them off completely. I always make sure I research before I go: from reading articles, to watching videos and collecting necessary contact details but never get put off from going somewhere.

 

Last one:Β “What’sΒ your favourite place so far?”

This one is so difficult to answer because everywhere has been so different from the next. I never know what to say as some places have been more adventurous but others have been chilled and some have given me a home from home – what am I scoring it on if I am to name my favourite…

I guess a few notable (favourite) experiences so far have been:

  • Safari in Amboseli and seeing elephants in the wild
  • Riding through the desert for 3 days with nothing but 1 tour guide, 2 camels and endless starry skies (Shoutout to my camel Mr.Mogue)
  • Getting covered in colourful powders duringΒ Holi festival in India
  • Gaining 2 new families in Nepal and Ghana after living inΒ host homesΒ whilst volunteering
  • Skydiving over the great barrier reef in Oz
  • Selfies at the Taj Mahal!
  • Being a Team Leader for 8 months in Ghana on development projects

I could go on forever, I feel so fortunate to have had these experiences and hope to continue to add more &Β more. Experiences over possessions 100%!

I’ll be writing up about the preliminary process I had to go through – from my TEFL qualification, looking for jobs, interviews and securing a visa for China;Β along with all the requirements for the moveΒ very soon.

So right now I am getting paperwork ready, selling lots of my possessions and uploading content from my previous travels – there is still a lot of content to look forward to coming up, look out for itΒ here!

If you would like to read about my travels so far you can of course find all posts here on the blog but here are a few quick links to some of the adventures I’ve had so far – come along with me and get inspired to go travel yourself πŸ™‚

India @travelling_jackg updateIndia @travelling_jackg update

Ghana @travelling_jackg update

 

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Life in Asamankese

Life in Asamankese

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So it’s been 4 months since I boarded the flight that would take me to my new home for the next 8 months, Ghana. When I cast my mind back to the first few days it seems bizarre to me that things like ‘Ghana time’ and ‘Obroni’ would become such a big part of daily life here.

I spent the first few weeks in team leader training, orientation in communityΒ and getting to knowΒ my counterpart – Hiki; a lady who knows her own mind, has a lot of passion and can stand up for herself. We instantly got along and I knew we’d become a dynamic duo to lead the team to the end.

Our teams of volunteers started arriving from early June and then we spent a few days training them all once again. It was intense long hours and already everyone was pretty drained. We finally made it to the end of the relentless flip-chartsΒ and later came to realise that nothing can prepare you for what happens in the field – not even conflict resolution technique no.14. We introduced everyone to their counterpart pairs and explained a bit more about Asamankese as well as the local partner F.L.O.W.E.R.

On the 12th of JuneΒ we loaded ourΒ luggage onto the roof of the bus, said goodbye to theΒ bathroom facilities of the hotelΒ and started our bumpy journey to Asamankese.

Fast-forward the first few weeks in community where the teams were introduced to their new parents for the next 3 months and integration into the communities were underway. We were split into 3 communities around Asamankese the main town – Odjarde, Afranse and Oworam. The volunteers completed action research to identify issues that the people needed help with as well as get to know their surroundings and communities a lot better.

After a month our partner F.L.O.W.E.R came in to train the volunteers in livelihood skills – the main focus for cycle 3 was to teach bead making in purses, jewelry and hair pomade production. The volunteers would then train the community members in the hope that some of them might be able to make it a business or help to bring in extra income to support themselves.

One word that became integral to daily life was the loud shrill sound of ‘Obroni!’ everywhere you went. Obroni – meaning white person (but not in a racist way, more of an affectionate ‘notice me’) was something that was able to create an instant connection with a lot of the community members and if you spoke a few more words of Twi to them, then you’d instantly have made a new friend.

Having come from a place where everything was fast, efficient and strictly to schedules, it comes as no surprise that the introduction of ‘Ghana time’ had a massive impact on the team. It was a constant source of frustration and resistance throughout. Perhaps with hindsight something could be taken from the slower laid back approach to life; in the sense that if you turn up 10 minutes late the world won’t fall apart, but trying to tell this to frustrated emotional volunteers wasn’tΒ the easiest.

A lesson that can be taken from living in a community and staying in a host home for a period of time is the sense of closeness. Everyone looks after one another and supports each other no matter what.You give the little you have and share it, you help one another get up and put each other in front of your own needs. The sense of community is something I’ve experienced many times before, but it always feels just as good each time you learn it again.

Life in community was upbeat, welcoming and a lot of fun, it came with its own challenges but overall it became like a second home or third maybe fourth; I’ve lost track of how many places I can call home now. I guess for me, now it’s the people that make somewhere home, not the physicalities of bricks and water.

I’m going to take a brief moment to give you an insight into a team leader’s daily life – of which can’t be narrowed down to a specific routine, as every day is like a lottery but here’s a few things that came our way during the course of the programme. Waking up somewhere between the hours of 5am – 6am to a message saying somebody is sick, wants to go home or wants more to do. This immediately creates a problem for your perfectly planned iteniary you did the night before, nevertheless adaptability comes into play. I’dΒ go between communities, hospitals and the office to make sure everything ran as smooth as it could do. However challenging the programme was at times, the rewards far outweighed the problems. Getting to see a group of individuals from different backgrounds, cultures, ages and personalities grow and develop strong relationships to become a hardworking team, is the reward of havingΒ the perspective of the leader.

Coming back to here and now as I write this post. The volunteers have all departed back to their homes, reports have been written up and loose ends have been tied, I can’t help but reflect on the experiences and achievements we made as a team over the past few months. It takes a unique individual to decide to give up their own time and dedicate it to a cause. It is also an experience that not a lot of people realise willΒ improve their own selves and developing a community is more of a secondary outcome to that.

I’m ending this experience with fond memories, lessons learnt and a team to be proud of. The bar is set high and I’m looking forward to what the next cycle can bring – even if it means I’ll be seeing my friends at the hospital once again.

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India Highlights | GoPro Hero 3+

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Loving my new GoPro Hero 3+ for capturing EPIC moments like these from India! Still learning how to use and edit it better, so hopefully the travel videos keep getting better and better!

All about creating great memories, awesome content and inspiring wanderlust!

I loved travelling the traditional India and northern parts. I’m hoping to head back there to explore the south of India and also all the pockets I missed. I only had just over a month to explore, so I think I did well with cramming all this into it! Next time I’d love to go back for a good few months. If you’ve been or have any recommendations please get in contact! And if you live there, feel free to message me, always better seeing a country with the locals!

Check out my Nepal highlights reel shot on my GoPro Hero 3+ and make sure you subscribe to my youtube channel for more travel related content.

Follow the adventure on my social links!

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The Pink City Of Jaipur & Holi Festival

The Pink City Of Jaipur & Holi Festival

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Jaipur

I stepped out of the train station in Jaipur and was immediately hit by a wall of tuk tuk drivers wanting to take me here, there and everywhere. I took a breath and went to the side to figure out what I wanted to do, I had made no plans from here on so I was completely making it up as I went – which was overwhelming at first but within seconds I just went with it. I was approached by a young guy who spoke pretty good english so I opted to go with him and just said to him take me to the nearest hostel.

I knew he’d probably take me to one of the most expensive places as they usually get a cut of the price for taking business to them but I went with it and he actually ended up taking me to a really nice place which wasn’t too bad. I stayed at the Vashnavi Hotel which cost me 1000 rupees (Β£10/$15) per night for a double, air conditioned, ensuite and breakfast room – I needed this after my experience in Delhi haha

I booked to go with the driver, Mosim for the rest of my stay. He took me to lots of the tourist hotspots and we became good friends over the days I was in Jaipur. He invited me to his village over 3 hours away from the city where I got to attend a family wedding. It was insane! There were hundreds of people dancing in the street with the groom following behind on horseback; fireworks were being let off, there was a giant speaker system on the back of a cart and everyone was throwing money in the air.

As well as meeting his distant relatives I was also invited for dinner, cooked by his mother and grandmother; a delicious authentic Indian meal of chicken masala, daal, rice, chapatis and curd.

I got to see a lot of sights in Jaipur which included: Amber Fort, Pink City, City Palace, Jal Mahal, Hawa Mahal, Royal Albert Museum, Monkey Temple, Shopping bazaars, elephant village & more. I’ll go into more detail about some of these in later posts for anyone who’s curious about my experiences.

Holi Festival

I had also timed my trip to India with the celebration of Holi! A festival that I had always wanted to experience in India and I was so happy I got to get the real feel of the celebrations. The night before Holi there were bonfires being lit all over Jaipur and all you could see was columns of black smoke shooting up all over above the city. Hundreds of people lined the streets walking between each fire to make offerings. Once the bonfires had reduced to simmering ash piles everyone went in to take some back to their homes.Β The bonfire is symbolic of the victory of good over evil and of the fire that burned Holika.
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The next day the famous coloured powders washed the streets of Jaipur symbolising the new beginnings, banishing of evil and the start of Spring & the New Year.

 

I’m currently posting more images from my trip before I head to Ghana at the end of the month,Β follow the adventure on my social links!

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Jaisalmer Desert Safari

Jaisalmer Desert Safari

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Jaisalmer

One of my highlights from my trip to India has to be the incredible 3 day 3 nights desert safari through the Thar Desert in Jaisalmer. I booked through Jamin Desert Nomads where I was picked up from the bus stand by Jamin Khan the owner of the safari tour. I had been recommended him from a friend in Jaipur.

I was taken to the Saraswati Hotel where I was able to get a room and then sit down with a cup of chai with Jamin.

saraswati
400 rupees p/n (Β£4/$8) – Double room, en-suite, hot shower, wi-fi, rooftop restaurant

He told me about the desert safaris and why his was different. The main difference is that he takes you further, deeper in to the desert where theres more chance of wildlife and zero light pollution. This is because you are taken by jeep for at least 40 minutes into the heart of the desert before you even begin the camel ride; many of the other tour companies were offering camel rides straight from the city.

Jamin told me about himself and how he is from the desert and started the tours when he was 8. He self taught English by working with tourists and now has over 30 camels and riders working for him. He was a really cool, honest and genuine guy. In the evening he took me to his friends restaurant on the back of his motorbike and we watched the cricket world cup quarter-final India vs Australia.

I opted for the 3 days and 3 nights camel safari. I was taken by jeep for 40 minutes and got the chance to explore a ‘ghost village’ where there is a completely abandoned village in the middle of the desert. Stopped by a small oasis and then headed for the camel ride starting point. We met up with my camel rider who became my guide and good friend over the next few days. It was me, him and two camels for the duration.

We spent much of the first day travelling into the desert. Theres something peaceful about being surrounded by nothing but sand for miles. We stopped a few times at some desert villages, filled up on water and then found a beautiful little lunch spot under some shade. Another major plus about booking with Jamin Desert Nomads was that I was sent with fresh food, vegetables and fruit as well as a box of 12 x 1ltr bottled waters. Sujan my camel rider made up his desert kitchen and cooked some of the tastiest currys, deals and chapatis! Couldn’t fault the food, especially seeing as we were in the middle of the desert I was amazed at what he managed to come up with.

We made it to some massive sand dunes and watched the burning red sun set behind the dunes, just incredible.

My favourite part of the whole experience was definitely camping – I say camping loosely as we pretty much put a mat on the sand and had a blanket – and falling asleep underneath the clearest night sky I have ever seen with a million bright stars above, I even saw some shooting stars!

The next few days were a similar routine of breakfast (toast, jam, eggs, biscuits and tea), camel riding until midday, stopping for lunch (curry/daal, chapatis, chips, fruit and tea), camel riding in the afternoon once it had cooled down, making camp, having dinner (curry/daal, chapatis, chips and tea) and watching the sunset before falling asleep under the stars.

I’d really recommend looking up Jamin Desert Nomads if you’re planning on doing a desert safari when you visit Jaisalmer. Jamin is a really honest, helpful and friendly guy. Sujan is also a great camel rider/guide and the camels are looked after well.

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I’m currently posting more images from my trip,Β follow the adventure on my social links!

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Nepal Highlights | GoPro Hero 3+

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Nepal GoPro

My return to one of my favourite countries with some of my favourite people; the beautiful, Nepal!

I’d never used a GoPro before so I appreciate I need to work on some of my shooting skills but I’m pretty pleased with my first try! I edited it in the Gopro Studio and iMovie. Overall I was really impressed with how the GoPro Β captures the footage and the quality.

I used a Gopro pole and housing case which were great but came with some downsides. The housing compromised the sound quality which is Ok if you just want to capture footage. If you’re looking to use it to capture sounds I’d recommend buying an external sound recorder. The pole was great in capturing different perspectives. i would of liked to make the camera more steady though so if you have any recommendations of what to use then drop me a comment below!

I’m currently posting more images from my trip,Β follow the adventure on my social links!

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Indian Adventure Begins | Delhi Madness & Taj Mahal!

Indian Adventure Begins | Delhi Madness & Taj Mahal!

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Delhi

Delhi hit me like a smack in the face – metaphorically speaking of course. A cultural explosion of sights, smells, buildings and people – so many people. I landed in Delhi and made myΒ wayΒ to my hostel that I had booked, which was the only part of my entire trip I had pre-planned. My trip was going to be more of a ‘winging it‘ kind of travel – which in my opinion is the best way to explore! Here’s what I got up to in Delhi and some things to watch out for if your planning a trip there:

Delhi Metro

Delhi has a metro system that runs all over the city from new to old Delhi. You can buy a railcard that you top up with money as and when you need to (much like oyster cards in London do). I paid 100 rupees (Β£1/$2) and I got 50 rupees credit out of that, they had a deal where if you topped up 50 you got another 50, so I had plenty to travel around Delhi for the day. Once I had this I found it no problem navigatingΒ my way around the city. But New Delhi is a whole different ball game to Old Delhi, brace yourself. I intended to go from where I was staying in New Delhi right into the heart of Old to visit some of the sights and the famous Chandi Chowk shopping bazaar. I had to change half way and it was at this point that things started to get a little bit more…intense.

metrocarddelhi

My Top TipsΒ for the metro:

  1. Take as little with you as possible – don’t carry bags if you can help it and just keep personal items to a minimum, it’s not worth it. Luckily I had no bad experiences but I met so many travellers that had been pick pocketed or had just misplaced there bag somewhere along the way. One guy even had his passport stolen because he was carrying it in a bag with him.
  2. Know where you are going – locate a map or ask someone before you even venture on a train.
  3. Make sure your cards topped up enough – just saves hassle or confusion when your fighting to get out of the barriers each side.
  4. WhenΒ the metro train doors open…disreguard any manners you may have and don’t be offended. There’s no being courteous or polite here, your only mission is to make sure you get on. It will be squashed. It will be uncomfortable. I was half pushed underneath a train because I was too slow and busy letting someone else on; sheer panic enveloped me as I heard the beeping for the doors to close!
  5. Definitely purchase a metro card (oyster like card) its way easier and saves you a lot of grief than keep having to buy individual tickets.

Now you’ve mastered the metro you can start getting stuck in with some sightseeing!

I visited the famous Chandi Chowk shopping bazaar and hired a tuk tuk driver to show me around some of the famous spots. He took me to some spice, tea and fabric markets. His name wasΒ Shrikan and he navigated the chaotic ‘roads’ and alleyways of Delhi to give me the best views of the old bazaars.

I also explored The Red Fort, Quitab Minar, Akshardham and Delhi Gate.

As I only had a few days in Delhi I tried to squeeze in as much as possible but there is so much more to see and do. I barely scratched the surface! For me a few days in Delhi was enough, I wanted to head somewhere with a little more space haha You can’t visit India though without experiencing the capital! A must for the bucket list and I’m glad I experienced the beautiful chaos.

Agra

Another absolute must is visiting the city of Agra not too far from Delhi to see the incredible iconic Taj Mahal! I stood and looked at it for a good ten minutes in complete awe before I could start actually taking pictures. I spent half the day just soaking up the awesome-ness of it and reminding myself where I was. I couldn’t believe I’d made it to such a famous landmark, big tick off my travel bucket list!

*side note* there are a lot of tourists as with anything as popular as this. I’d recommend getting there super early or at the end of the day. Timing it with sunrise or sunset can also give you some incredible photos! I went early in the morning as soon as it opened and it was very peaceful it got busy pretty quick though, early bird catches the best view of the Taj!

I’m currently posting more images from my trip before I head to Ghana at the end of the month,Β follow the adventure on my social links!

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