Discover travel destinations of travelers writing a travel journal on FindPenguins.
Travelers at this place
    • Day 2

      I'm Bored

      October 13, 2019 in India ⋅ 🌙 25 °C

      I’m bored

      It’s 19:44 on Sunday evening UK time, 2.44 am Malaysian time, so just over halfway through the flight. On my left Bun is watching “The Greatest Showman”. On my right a rather large passenger has his blanket pulled over his head in a poor attempt to be a ghost. At least it muffles his snoring, especially if I push the blanket into his open mouth.

      Two people sent me an amusing card depicting my seat on the plane - a photo is attached. Amusing at the time, reality is far worse, not one small crying child but a party from a kindergarten surround me. Then there’s the snoring, the incessant talking etc. The worst person is Mr Sneezy behind and to my left - YES YOU (- I’m sure he can read this through the gap in the seats.). He started by discovering he had a squeaky seat so spent a good time jumping up and down on it like a small child with ADHD. Then I think he waitedy for when I stopped watching a film and fell asleep, he then developed flu. A 6 gun salute of un-stifled sneezes followed with a light shower of mist landing on my head. Shuddering at that experience, he then followed up with many Walt Disney Jungle book like Colonel Hathi trumpets as he blew his nose. This woke the kindergarten who then started crying, but failed to wake the several people snoring. Within 30 minutes I could feel my sinuses blocking and my nose running. Feeling a sneeze coming on, I jumped over the ghoul next to me and locked myself in the toilet so as not to disturb anyone. Had the toilet been engaged I would have only been left with the option of going to the rear of the plane and throwing myself out rather than disturbing anyone ... well that’s just good manners along with compulsory catheterisation for anyone who isn’t sat in an aisle seat.

      We loaded in time for an 11 am departure, only to be told that air traffic control had told the pilot there would be a delay of an hour. Never mind, the hostesses broke out the emergency 3 gram packs containing 8 half peanuts. I can only think that this was to keep the hostesses entertained while 4 passengers went into anaphylactic shock and required Adrenalin. 45 minutes later we were informed that the plane had now developed a technical fault and an engineer was on the way to sort it. We weren’t told that it was resolved, maybe the pilot grew tired of waiting for the AA, but we were pushed back shortly after 12:15. One problem with Heathrow being so close to the M25 is that pilots can take the wrong turning and accidentally join the M25 near the junction with the M4 and gett caught in the motorway traffic. We then experienced the longest taxi ever, at least twice around the M25. At one point I thought we might be departing from Gatwick.

      Well we are on our way. One meal and a pack of sandwiches into the flight I must admit I’m a bit peckish. I won’t ask for a decaf coffee again as it took 45 minutes to arrive, by which time I was asleep, so I was woken and made to drink it because of the effort the hostess had gone to get it for me.
      Read more

    • Day 9

      “I Learned to Drive in New Jersey…”

      January 4, 2023 in India ⋅ ☀️ 15 °C

      …Otherwise known as “How Joe Volpe Spent His 60th Birthday”.

      So today was the Big Day. The reason we came to India on the Rickshaw Run. Sixty years ago today the world welcomed Joe Volpe into it, specifically into the state of New Jersey.

      Ah, New Jersey. The land of passionate drivers who are highly adept at flipping off and yelling at people who drive like idiots. Well, that’s my impression. The only person I have ever driven with in New Jersey or who is from New Jersey is Joe. And that describes him quite well when he is driving.

      Today was a dream drive come true for the New Jersey driving trained birthday boy. We headed out with the Norwegian Vikings just after 8 am. We had packed and fueled the rickshaws and agreed to take it easy today en route to Bharuch and a king sized suite at the Hyatt Hotel. That room and the possibility of having a shower in a bathroom where hot water and a shower curtain were readily available was like a beacon of light on the proverbial horizon.

      It was a fun morning. We stopped for chai at a roadside stand, and enjoyed the changing landscape under a sunny sky as we went south through Gujarat. Lots of agriculture here - chick peas, tobacco, mustard, cumin, what looks like rice. Lots of cows but that’s another post.

      And lots of trucks. Big trucks. Lots of them. And cars and buses. Those were all going faster than us. Going slower than us were tractors, motorbikes, other rickshaws, some cars, a camel pulling a cart, bicycles, a guy pushing a knife sharpening machine on wheels, and some people walking. A gong show on the highway that never stopped.

      Our first stop, in honor of Glen the Viking’s birthday, was the Harley Davidson Store in Ahmedabad. Glen is a huge Harley fan and the store was very cool and had a nice bathroom (quickly becoming my standard for building quality). Turns out the guy at the counter also had a birthday today so we snapped a pic.

      Just around the corner from that we came upon a group of people driving very old vintage American cars on their way to what is apparently Asia’s largest vintage car show. There was a guy there with an old Bel Air and for once Joe asked an Indian person for a selfie. I can’t imagine how wealthy those people must’ve been to own cars like those.

      Anyways, the drive continued. Now that we are out of Rajasthan it is becoming much more populated and those intersections have started getting pretty hairy. Joe from New Jersey strangely seems to be in his element here when he is driving. The nice part is that everybody is smiling at us as they are also cutting us off. Some of them cut us off on purpose and then ask if we can stop to take a selfie. Most just drive past us after they cut us off and smile and wave.

      At one point we stopped for chai and were slowly taken over by a large herd of cows. Shortly after that the Vikings had an issue with their spark plug, then their gear cable, and then their engine. We towed them (yes, we towed a rickshaw with our rickshaw) to a local mechanic after some help from some locals, and reluctantly left them there so we could make it to the Hyatt before dark.

      The last 30 minutes of the drive were done in the dark, across several very busy intersections. The hotel loomed large and light ahead of us like the beacon it had been all day in our minds.

      As a guy in a car tried to cut us off, Joe yelled at the top of his lungs “Not a chance, mother f’er, I learned to drive in New Jersey!!”

      I don’t think the guy heard him, but I could see Joe smiling in the front mirror.
      Read more

    • Day 10

      Holy Cow(s)

      January 5, 2023 in India ⋅ ☀️ 13 °C

      Cows. They’re everywhere here. Lying on the road. Standing by the road. Walking next to the road, or across the road. Eating garbage (sad but true). Being fed by random people.

      I literally saw a guy the other morning walk up to a cow and feed it the rest of his breakfast chapati. Shoved the chapati down the throat of the cow, who was pretty eager to eat it. Today we watched an elderly man on a motorcycle slow down on the highway, tap a cow that was lounging by the side of the road on its forehead, and then tap his own forehead and drive away. The other day I stepped in a huge pile of cow shit. Those are also everywhere, both the wet ones, and the piles of dried ones that people collect and burn for fuel.

      Cows, specifically the Desi cow, are sacred animals for the Hindu community in India. They are worshipped and decorated during festivals; holy men also take around cows, with their foreheads smeared in vermillion, to seek alms.

      More seriously, most states forbid cow slaughter, and the ban on beef has been criticised by many because the meat is cheaper than chicken and fish and is a staple for the poorer Muslim, tribal and dalit (formerly untouchable) communities.

      So, there’s a debate in India, which sits at the vortex of religious, political and social-economic sensitivities, about cows. Supporters of secularism and members of non-Hindu religions denounce the laws around forbidding cow slaughter. They are seen as non-inclusive and an attack on fundamental human rights and as a form of discrimination towards the Muslim and Christian communities in India, who are fine with eating beef.

      Fascinating, for sure, and we’ll be doing more digging into all of that while we’re here. Regardless, one of the loveliest parts of our journey so far has been the cows. Especially the huge herd of them who surrounded us on January 4 (Joe’s birthday) on the road while we were drinking chai at a random roadside stand. One large one just checked out the rickshaw, gave us a blessing of some sort in cow language, and walked away.

      Thanks, holy cows. We love you. Even if you are controversial.
      Read more

    • Day 10

      The Dandi Path Spice Dealer

      January 5, 2023 in India ⋅ ☀️ 25 °C

      I have to admit I didn’t fully grasp what an incredible human being Mahatma Gandhi was until I came to India. His legacy is everywhere here.

      Today we drove from Bharuch to Surat, which is one of the oldest cities in India and was the first and original port and office of the British East India Company.

      What we realized as we were on the drive, which was purposely short so we could see some tourist stuff in Surat and get a break from long drives for a day, was that we were driving on the Dandi Path.

      One of the momentous events in the history of India’s struggle for independence was the Dandi Salt March, launched under Gandhi’s leadership.

      Here’s some background. On March 2, 1930, Gandhi wrote a letter to the British Viceroy, Lord Irwin, outlining an 11-point Charter of Demands. This included a considerable reduction in the Pound-Sterling-Rupee exchange rate, curtailing of the military budget, a 50 percent reduction in land revenue, preservation of indigenous textile machinery, abolition of the salt tax, and the release of political prisoners.

      The British government did not react favorably to any of the propositions made. As a result, the Indian Congress Working Committee gave the authority to Gandhi and his followers to initiate civil disobedience. The first step of this was the Dandi March.

      Violating British laws was an integral part of the civil disobedience movement. The British salt tax law in particular captured Gandhi’s attention and soon became the center of his anti-British agenda. According to the British salt tax law, the sale or manufacture of salt by any other source than the British government would be considered a criminal offense.

      Salt was extremely essential for the people of India. The low-lying coastal regions of the country had extensive reserves of the mineral that were easily available to the workers. The new salt tax law, however, forced them to purchase the mineral that could be collected free of cost. In Gandhi's words, "There is no article like salt, outside water, by taxing which the State can reach even the starving millions, the sick, the maimed and the utterly helpless.”

      The issue of salt cut across class, caste, regional and ethnic differences and Gandhi united the entire country under this single cause. He led the Dandi March from the Sabarmati Ashram to Dandi Beach, making speeches along the way to crowds of hundreds and then thousands encouraging peaceful civil disobedience, soulful living, and peace. By the time he symbolically extracted salt from the sand on the beach in Dandi, he had inspired a movement that resulted eventually in India’s independence. Truly the father of a nation.

      So we put-putted along the Dandi Path road, which is essentially a pilgrimage route, and stopped for chai at a roadside stand. And a guy pulled up on a small motorbike and said hi. He proceeded to lift up the seat of his motorbike and it was full of home grown spices - peppercorns, coriander, cumin, cinnamon - from his farm. And he and his wife made a living driving up and down the Dandi Path road every day selling spices to the chai wallas.

      We got a huge pack of peppercorns which will end up in our Italian food at home. And made some new friends on the Dandi Path.
      Read more

    • Day 14

      The Manav Kalyan Trust

      January 9, 2023 in India ⋅ ☀️ 30 °C

      We have wanted to somehow make this trip more purposeful than for our own personal satisfaction since we started planning it all.

      The Adventurists require a donation to be made to an organization called Cool Earth that is funding reforestation projects in the Amazon. That is one of the participation requirements, which is cool.

      However, given that we are guests in India, and there is so much need here, we started our journey believing that along the way we’d find a meaningful cause. Or that it would find us.

      And so it did, in the loveliest way possible. We drove through the hill country from Surat to Nashik a few days ago. On the way we stopped to buy some pompoms for the rickshaw at a roadside craft stand. Two of the people working there were blind and one was unable to walk.

      It turns out the stand provides a small revenue stream for a very impressive school for blind and disabled children from the surrounding hill tribes. The lack of water and nutritional food in the area results in women bearing children who have a higher than normal rate of birth defects.

      The Manav Kalyan Trust was started in June 1970 by Shri Maheshbhai Kothari in the memory of his elder brother Pravinchandra Savjibhai Kothari at Dandi Road in Navsari. That town was one of the stops Gandhi made on the Dandi March. The foundation stone of the school was laid by the President of India, Shri V. V. Giri of the time, in June of 1971. So, what a noble start to a school that has helped thousands of needy children since it started.

      The organization runs several schools in and around Navsari focused on providing free education and vocational training for children who are blind or disabled. After they finish high school they have several years of on site vocational training to ensure they can somehow earn a living and be as independent as possible.

      As someone who evaluates and makes funding decisions for charities on behalf of my company, my mind was ticking the “quality organization” boxes as the Principal and two teachers gave us a tour of the school. Solid track record. Check. Board of Trustees. Check. Measuring results. Other foreign donors. Check. Check. Girls and boys. Check. Really nice clean building. Check. Happy kids. Source of income. Sustainability pledge. Check. Check. Check.

      So our cause found us. If you would like to join us in supporting our quest to leave India a bit better than we found it, please donate to the Mavan Kalyan Trust using the GoFundMe link below. Our goal is $1000, which will help ensure that the 160 kids in the school can have healthy nutritious breakfasts every day for the next several years. Something that most of us never have to worry about.

      We are grateful that we have found a way to help others in our short time in this beautiful country.
      Read more

    • Day 660


      December 24, 2023 in India ⋅ ☀️ 28 °C

      Frühmorgens rannten wir über eine sehr grosse, befahrene Kreuzung, da wir unseren Bus einfach nicht finden konnten. Ein Tuktuk-Fahrer hat uns weitergeholfen und so schafften wir es äusserst knapp auf den Bus. Unsere Onlinetickets müssen wir übrigens als einzige nie vorweisen. 😅
      Nach fünf Stunden erreichten wir die Millionenstadt Ahmedabad, ausgesprochen «Mmdbüd». Diese Stadt stand eigentlich nicht auf unserer To-Do-Liste, erwies sich aber als praktischen Zwischenstop, um weiter in den Süden zu reisen.
      Weil Weihnachten war, gönnten wir uns ein verhältnismässig teureres Hotel. Wir warteten in der eleganten Lobby und fühlten uns mit den Rucksäcken etwas fehl am Platz.
      Auf das Zimmer mussten wir lange warten, erhielten dann aber ein Upgrade auf die Juniorsuite. Das Zimmer zeigten uns vier Inder in Anzügen, was ziemlich lustig war und unser Unbehagen noch ein wenig steigerte.
      Zwei von den vier, hatten noch unsere verschwitzten Rucksäcke geschultert, auf keinen Fall durften wir die selbst tragen.😅
      Wir verbrachten die Weihnachtstage in dem Gewusel der Strassen, sahen uns auf dem grossen Markt um, drehten einige Runde durch ein Shoppingcenter.
      Zum Frühstück gab es ein grosses Buffet mit traditionellen indischen Gerichten aber auch mit Früchten, Toast und Müsli.
      So schlugen wir uns die Bäuche voll damit wir kein Mittagessen mehr benötigten. Heiligabend suchten wir ein Restaurant auf, welches Thali à la discretion servierte. Ungefähr sieben Kellner haben uns bedient, welche immer wieder vorbei gekommen sind und die kleinen Schälchen füllten oder heisses Fladenbrot in unser Blechteller legten.
      Völlig überessen, verliessen wir mit dem Bauch in den Händen das Restaurant.
      Die Weihnachtstage verbrachten wir übrigens auf dem Trockenen, da im Bundesstaat Gujarat Alkohol verboten ist.
      Read more

    • Day 664


      December 28, 2023 in India ⋅ ☁️ 29 °C

      In der Millionenstadt Vadodara verbrachten wir zwei Nächte, um die lange Reise nach Mumbai etwas zu verkürzen.
      Da die Züge leider Wochen im Voraus ausgebucht sind, verbringen wir daher viel Zeit in Bussen.
      In Vadodara sahen wir uns den Laxmi-Palast an, von dem wir im Inneren leider keine Fotos machen durften, aber von aussen war er sowieso beeindruckender. 😊
      Read more

    • Day 4

      Wedding day prep....Part 2

      February 1 in India ⋅ ☀️ 27 °C

      The groom fasts and five sisters feed the groom to break the fast. The food presented is the groom's only food until the wedding ceremony, where his wife will feed him.

      Tomas and I had Henna done last night.Read more

    • Day 26–27


      February 29 in India ⋅ ☀️ 36 °C

      After a fairly good night sleep on the overnight bus, with our own comfy bed. We arrived into Ahamedaba at 8am and quickly made our way to our hotel. We managed to secure an early check in and also an extra breakfast for that morning and thank goodness we did because this hotel is beautiful! It's a renovated historic building that has 3/4 suites and the same number of beautiful hallways and galleries, including courtyards and roof terraces. We figured after a potentially uncomfortable bus ride we needed one night of luxury before heading on to Jaisalmer.

      We caught up on sleep and pottered about until the afternoon. Then we heading into town to see the toilet museum which included a toilet garden displaying lots of different types of toilets (not functional). We then headed to the Sabarmati Ashram where Mahatma Gandhi lived from 1917–1930. It was a lovely serene place where we learnt a lot about Gandhi and spoke to a lovely guy who wanted to practise his English with us.

      We then walked along the riverfront and headed to a popup veggie burger place before getting a taxi to a famous Jainist temple. It was beautiful and had lots of happy pigeons, crows and chipmunks running around, which was proof that their practice of non violence against all things works in harmony with nature. We then headed back to our hotel in the old city for a rest.

      We've developed a small flu/soar throats, which may be COVID from the people coughing with masks on one of our train journeys. So we only ventured out briefly that evening for some fruit juice, which we were craving, from the oldest fruit vendor in the city, and then came back for bed.
      Read more

    • Day 4

      The wedding

      February 1 in India ⋅ ☀️ 28 °C

      So blessed to be a part of such a memorable moment and welcomed like family.

      The oufits were amazing, such vibrant colours and patterns.

      Culturally a very different experience to Western weddings, and it was an experience I'll never forget.Read more

    You might also know this place by the following names:

    State of Gujarāt, State of Gujarat, Gujarat, Gucharat, غوجارات, جوجرات, Гуджарат, गुजरात, গুজরাত, གྷུ་ཇ་རཱཏ།, Gudžarát, ގުޖުރާތު, Γκουτζαράτ, Guĝaratio, گجرات, An Ghúisearáit, ગુજરાત, גוגראט, Gudžarat, Gudźarat, Gudzsarát, グジャラート州, გუჯარათი, ಗುಜರಾತ್, 구자라트 주, Guzarata, Gudžaratas, Gudžarāta, Гуџарат, ഗുജറാത്ത്‌, ଗୁଜରାଟ, ਗੁਜਰਾਤ, Gujarate, गुजरातराज्यम्, ගුජරාටය, குசராத்து, గుజరాత్, Гуҷарот, รัฐคุชราต, Güjerat, Gucerat, گۇجارات, גודזשאראט, 古吉拉特邦

    Join us:

    FindPenguins for iOSFindPenguins for Android