Being able to travel has been something that I was gifted with during my childhood. My love for visiting other countries and learning about new cultures, foods and people grows more and more every time I travel.
Every year since an early age I have gone abroad, the majority of the time somewhere in Europe. Between the ages of 4 and 11 I have been fortunate enough to holiday to America, Australia and South Africa. I hold memories of my time there closely, but not so vividly. As I have grown up I have become more and more independent with my travels. I need change, I get bored in the same place for too long, and even short city breaks have shown me how often you can travel and not spend too much money. My travel experiences have covered a wide range from the most basic to the super luxurious, and whilst I loved being pampered I really learned most about the culture, the people, and the world from when there wasn’t a fluffy towel and room service to be had. But all the same I am going to write about all types of experiences.
When I was 18 and finished with school it was time for some adventures. I earned money working for the department store Liberty and then ventured off for 4 months with a school friend. It was the greatest 4 months full of mixed emotions, excitement and fear. A bit of anxiety but a lot of laughs and joy. I started in India, nothing could relate to the transition I felt once I stepped off the plane. The heat, the smell, the craziness that was and is Delhi. I could write a lot about my experience there but I want to share with you a few highlights. I spent a month exploring Rajasthan. One of my most cherished memories was a home stay I did in Osian, A few hours from Jodhpur. While travelling I suddenly became so trusting to each individual and would not even question it. Maybe this was a little naive but, you live and you learn. After being told about living with a family in the middle of the desert and spending only the equivalent of £13 each we thought why not. So we handed over our rupees (which at the time felt like a lot of money while there) and the next morning headed off. A journey starting on an awful run down bus with holes in the majority of the seats and no seat belts. Traffic in India is not exactly state of the art, so the journey felt more similar to a roller coaster except without any health and safety applied. After a few hours we guessed we heard our stop and jumped off the bus where we found ourselves in the remote village of Osian.
After standing for probably a few hours, with multiple children begging for money, 50 degree heat streaming down on us while lugging heavy backpacks, we had the sudden thought maybe we had been ripped off….. Then out on a rusty Tuktuk a man asked if we were doing the home stay. Me being so trusting jumped right in saying “yes”, when he kindly offered to drive us to the Family who were the other side of the village. My friend maybe a bit more sensible has the darker view that maybe he wasn’t going to help us, but we were stuck and what was there to lose……
However, we were not disappointed as he took us to our host and our trusty steads, Camels. Thus began our mini adventure into the desert. The only concerning thing during the ride was that the host, who couldn’t be more than 18, kept nodding off. Luckily my back broke his fall. Fortunately for us the camels seemed to have a pretty good sense of direction and not the most uncomfortable seat.
After a bizarre and challenging journey we arrived at our family’s house. We were introduced to the whole family, and literally the whole family. Everyone form Grandmother to grandson lived in this house, and I don’t even know if you could call it a house as it had no roof. After a gorgeous home cooked lunch it was time to jump in and look after the livestock and provide some entertainment for the children. We were shown our bedrooms (two bespoke weaved beds placed outside) and watched the most amazing thunder and lightening happen over the desert. What was quite strange was the loos were in a bigger building then there entire house.
There was a slight language barrier, well there was no communication really. But I definitely got the view that the youngest grandson no older than 3 had a huge obsession with cigarettes. I had to start smoking in secret as otherwise I would be ambushed by this son, which gave great amusement to the whole family….. each to their own I guess. After one of the best nights sleep we woke to a traditional Indian Breakfast of Paratha and Chai Tea and did a final trip through the desert and headed off to the train station. Which was an experience in itself. Staying with this family was one of the highlights of my whole trip. Seeing how little they had but how content they were and lived their day to day life made me see how lucky they were. But more so how lucky I am to have been allowed to glimpse their world and which therefore changed mine.