Leaving Cherrapunjee and onto the next stop, Delhi!

We have loved our time in Cherapunjee so much. Exploring the state of Meghalaya and all its beauty has been an experience of a lifetime. The travel however, not so pleasant. Be prepared in this area for long drives, winding roads and a lot of down time in the car.

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We started our journey early from the hotel as it was at least a six-hour trip by car to the airport in Guwuhati. We did it in exactly six hours on the way. Shillong, the capital of Meghalaya, is on our route and it can sometimes take more than one hour alone to get from one side of the city to the other. Our flight wasn’t until 5pm but it’s not worth risking it.

I had planned to spend the car ride diary writing and blogging. The scenery and my sleepy head wouldn’t allow me that. I just happily stared out the window and observed the daily life of the people in this region. It was so nice to just let my mind wander. It’s something I miss about commuting by public transport at home, the time spent gazing out the window pondering the world at large.

As always with me, a toilet stop was required. Fortunately, it also offered an excellent view and was an activity point we had passed many times but never stopped. Click the photo and back in the car.

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Random cows were spotted out the windows – spot the cow is a fun and fruitful game to play when driving along the roads of India.

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We made good time and were able to stop for lunch much closer to Guwuhati, giving us more time for the airport if we needed it. We went to a traditional restaurant filled with Bamboo scaffolding, furniture and even table mats seemed to follow the natural theme.

When ordering, I’m trying to mix up the dishes so Matt gets to try a wide variety of cuisines. We decided in the more rural parts to go veg only and stuck with that theme. Veg Pulao (a  rice dish), malai kofta (dumplings of sorts in a crème sauce – my friends absolute favourite so I ordered in honour of her) and aloo ghobi (potato and cauliflower curry). I over ordered, or perhaps they were too generous in their servings. Either way, all was delicious and the service, as so often it is in India, was wonderful! We also got to try Thumbs Up (I love the sugary indian version of coke) and water…. Fosters water!

 

We reached the airport well ahead of our 5pm scheduled flight. We farewelled our lovely driver Bablu and began the hustle bustle of the Indian airport experience.

Our flight on Jet Airways was wonderful. I’ve flown them so many times over the years and I think they have to be my Indian airline of choice. Lovely service, delightful food that comes around very quickly, and comfortable seats. It doesn’t look that great – but it tastes good!

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We reached Delhi and it was nice to see the familiar arrivals hall. I haven’t been to Delhi for quite some time but used to spend a large majority of my trips here staying with friends in their homes. I got to see the day to day life of Delhites. We only have one quick night here but I’ve arranged to do a half day city tour which our tour company Take Me to India kindly obliged. I think it’s nice for Matt to experience the history of the capital of India.

Our lovely tour operator Pankaj from Take me to India met with us. I cannot recommend them more highly and will continue to mention their wonderful service throughout my blog. If you would like to see a sample of my AMAZING itinerary, please do email me via the contact page. It was nice to meet face to face after so many emails and calls.

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We were put up in the Holiday Inn near the airport for convenience. It happened to also be a 5-star hotel. I am not complaining! We enjoyed a bit of luxury after our humbler, yet wonderfully serviced, hotel in Cherrapunjee. We dolled ourselves up and enjoyed a few cocktails and snacks at the hotel bar for an exorbitant fee. Go on, splurge a little! We collapsed into bed, ready for the Northern part of our adventure to begin!

(Yes, the pillows even said FIRM and SOFT! Luxury!)

 

If you would like to follow our journey on Instagram, please check out @Lovellyem and search the #tag #EmmaMattyIndiaSing2017.

Written on Day 10 of our 24 Day trip in India with stopover in Singapore.


Caves and waterfalls in and around Cherrapunjee

Sleep in!! After a few early mornings and busy itineraries, we were given a luxurious departure time of 9.30am. Though we struggled to sleep past 8am, the rest was welcomed. We didn’t really know what today had in store – generic sightseeing of waterfalls, caves and viewpoints was the description from our tour guide before he departed, so we’ll see!

We’ve been going to bed so early here, it’s been awesome catching up on the sleep. But when you wake, you’re famished and eagerly awaiting the breakfast buffet at Cherrapunjee Holiday Resort!

Off in the car again. Poor Matt. He’s been such a trooper with all this driving around for someone who gets really quite motion sick. Today would be shorter stints in the car so that should help. I did ask the driver to stop on the way past this beautiful little town. It was actually the place we started our walk to the Living Bridges but from high above on the cliffs it looks like a little toy town and it makes me smile.

 

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First stop was the Mawsmai Cave. As often happens in India, we went to look at a tourist attraction and became one. I knew people would LOVE Matt’s hair and they sincerely do. He always gets asked for photos first and as I stand back and giggle they say “Maam, Maam you please” and I’m also included in the picture.

We managed to get a break from the big group and had the narrow caves to explore all to ourselves. Unfortunately, this cave was really rather… well… dead! It has been touched, poked and walked on so much that it’s no longer living and growing. It still looked interesting but Matt explained it should be a lovely white colour and that, it certainly was not. It was wonderful having a science buff with me to explain a lot of what was going on.

We did find one other small cave which still had living parts and was a lot whiter and more vibrant. It’s nice to share these sights with people but it’s hard to ensure they are adequately respected and cared for.

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Our next stop was the Eco Park. The name baffled Matt as strewn all around the place, including down waterfalls, was rubbish. It’s a big problem all over India and although the messaging from communities and local Governments is “Care for the environment”, it’s not really practiced or enforced.

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Sohra, near to Cherapunjee and where many of the sights we were visiting, is one of the wettest places on earth. We just happened to be there in Winter aka the dry season. We were also informed that due to environmental changes they are not receiving anywhere near the amount of water they used to and hence some of the sights look quite different to what is advertised.

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One such site was Seven Sister Falls. This is all that there is of the waterfall at this time. We weren’t too disappointed as we had been forewarned not to expect much. It’s definitely inspired me to come one time in September, soon after the monsoon to see it in its true glory.

We walked all around the park. There were some amazing views of the valley and we could see where the waterfalls and rivers would usually flow. It was kinda cool walking across what would usually be a gushing waterfall and is currently a trickling stream. There were lots of locals nearby washing their clothes in the river. Always a fascinating sight to me.

We continued on to the next attraction, another cave. Arwah Cave. Each attraction had a bit of a walk which was good to stretch the legs (though we are still in so much pain from our epic trek to the living bridges). It was a beautiful winding walk around the valley under a thick canopy of jungle greenery. We spotted another waterfall as we walked and some lovely water features along the way.

It was definitely the big cave. We climbed down into this cave which was lit in parts along the way. Matt said this cave was definitely still alive and active. There was water running through the bottom and some of the features were clearly growing. We climbed up stairs and crawled along passages. We walked quite deep into the cave and at one point I did feel a little short of breath, we were inside the hill after all. Although bigger, I liked the intricacies and shapes of the Mawsmai caves better. But interesting to visit all the same.

Our final stop for sightseeing on this day was the Nohkalikai falls. I’ll share another blog on the interesting history of the naming of these falls and some more about this area. In short, Noh Ka Likai means “Leap of Likai” after the woman by the name of Likai leapt off the falls. Grim but interesting tale. We wandered around the grounds and I did actually LOL when I saw this sign. The irony!!!

 

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This was probably the most active of all the falls we had seen and we could only imagine how impressive it would be in the height of monsoon season. A beautiful turquoise pool of water formed at the bottom that was ever so enticing – apart from the epic hike down to the bottom. We found a small lookout which offered a better view of the falls. It also had some stairs, which we assumed led to another and better viewing platform. So we walked. And walked and walked. Instantly regretting our decision on this never-ending quest for better views.

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Matt was in pain from the trek and his muscles ached so he decided running down like a lunatic would help that pain… ok.

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We gave up after a while and settled for q pretty incredible view. Not too shabby. Then we walked up, and up, and up… again!!

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Our sightseeing day ended at the famous Orange Roots restaurant. It’s the partner restaurant to our lovely hotel, Cherrapunjee Holiday Resort. They appear to be the most esteemed tourist venues in this area. We opted for a thali as you get a little bit of everything and we were rewarded with a tasty meal and excellent service.

They even have a bell so you can tell them just how good you thought it was. “Ring if you liked it”. So I rang it!

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That brought a close to our lovely day of sightseeing. I think in all honesty we could have crammed the one extra day into the others and had two days of travel and two days of sightseeing. However, it’s also nice sometimes to have down time – something my itineraries often don’t allow.

One last sunset. One last delicious buffet meal with our gorgeous Cherrapunjee Holiday Resort staff. I just had to have a photo with these gorgeous women. Again, Athiti Devo Bava.

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If you would like to follow our journey on Instagram, please check out @Lovellyem and search the #tag #EmmaMattyIndiaSing2017.

Written on Day 9 of our 24 Day trip in India with stopover in Singapore.


Biking around the Gold Coast

Last year I got a new bike! I feel like a five-year-old at Christmas! It’s all shiny and new and ever so pretty. As soon as I found out we were heading to the Gold Coast, I knew I wanted my very own bike. I’ve borrowed bikes from family and purchased second hand bikes, but this time I wanted it to be all mine.

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Cycling as a mode of transport is a delightful concept. I have dreamed of a time where I can be a bicycle commuter. I aimed to do it in Sydney, but the fast paced streets are not safe for my cruisey style. I did it in Melbourne for a few months, but then my work shifted to the suburbs and my crusty old mountain bike was no match for the massive roads and busy commuters. But now, being on the Gold Coast! A city that is flat as a tack with bike paths as far as the eye can see. It’s the lazy bike riders dream!

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I feel safe and secure on the road and actually, I can get to many places on bike paths or even through bike trails in the Broadwater Parklands. I’m enjoying the rides for pleasure and seeing my new area by bike.

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My partner is commuting to his work at Sea World Australia and so I’ve made a deal that I’ll ride with him at least one way, and possibly both. That’s a 40 minute round trip and it’s a great way to start or end my work day. I’ve also been extending my bike ride to go past Sea World and explore The Spit and marina area. It’s so lovely having the bush on one side and the bay on the other.

I’m yet to venture along Main beach and all the way down to Surfers Paradise, but I promise I will. As much as I can, I want this bike to be my mode of transport. Especially with the lovely basket in the front, it’s very achievable.

 

On your bike. Bing bing!


I miss writing for me!

Reality check – I travel as a lifestyle and I am fortunate to do a lot of it! 

My job is on my computer. My desk is wherever I am (it’s generally my lap.)

I love people telling me I can’t earn a living and continue to galavant. Or that I can’t buy a house and travel. Ummm watch me! 

I work to travel. To explore. To experience. 

I build my life and my career around my adventures. I’m loving that I can have a rewarding career, loving boyfriend, goals of investing in my future and still see so many amazing places.

A lot of work I’ve been doing in the past year has been around writing content. So much content. I’m so busy writing posts, articles, copy and more, that there is no room for my creative writing.

I’ve been to SO many places and I get asked all the time for my advice and guidance. It’s all stuck up in my head. I haven’t had, or I haven’t MADE, the time to share it. It’s my goal this year to blog in real time and to also re-live some of the wonderful travel moments I’ve had. Such as this, sitting at the top of a waterfall in the tropical jungle of Xilitla, Mexico.

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Travel is a part of me. It’s not something I do. I live for it!

I love that this blog is a platform where I can share my stories and those of the people I meet and places I see. I hope that people can feel inspired to take on their own adventures. Writing about travel transports me to exotic lands and wonderful places. It’s a blessing to get to have these experiences in real time, when writing, and later again when I read back over the adventures.

This year, I will write! For joy. For me.


A day trip to Lake Dawki and the border of Bangladesh

Our wonderful India trip has been organised by Take me to India, a tour agency in India. While preparing for this trip, I’ve been checking out the Facebook Page of Take me to India regularly. I spotted the below post and noticed it was also in the Meghalaya region where we were travelling. I sent it to our contact, he kindly added it in and arranged all of our plans so we could add this incredible lake to our itinerary.

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I got onto Take me to India after chatting to my friend who also loves India and partners with the company. I showed her the “brief” itinerary I was thinking of, she put me in touch with the local company. In one day I had back the most beautifully laid out itinerary with everything I wished for and some added bonuses. I booked it in right away!

The day started with a three-hour drive. It was a necessary evil to enjoy the beauty of the lake. Poor Matt struggles in the car so he tried to rest most the way. I took in all the incredible vistas and views the curving mountain path had to offer.

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We made a stop at an incredible valley viewpoint. The way the land here ebbs and flows is spectacular. It’s so nice to simply stand and admire all that is around us.

 

 

As you approach Lake Dawki, the traffic builds. It’s clear this is a popular spot for locals and tourists alike. We soon saw the stunning blue of the water and the sun shimmering across it. We then noticed the 100’s, or possibly 1000’s, of people are splashing at the edges of the lake and walking across the sand banks. There are wooden boats paddling along with happy passengers and people selling their goods on the border of India and Bangladesh.

We hopped out at the Dawki Boating area and walked down to the water’s edge. We were instantly surrounded by boat paddlers wanting us to choose them as our oarsmen. Our driver was there to assist us and guided us in the right direction, before we knew it we were in a boat and heading out across the lake. It’s a beautiful spot filled with laughter as people splash in the water. The odd holler from the armed guards at the border alerts someone to the fact that they’ve crossed over into Bangladesh without an entry permit – woops!

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The waters are crystal clear. Deep aquamarine hews float across the surface but as you look down below the boat, you can see clearly to the bottom. The water fades from aqua, to green, to a loyal turquoise blue. It’s reasonably quiet out on the water and you can enjoy the peace as you float through high walled cliffs covers in lush green jungle at the top.

The boat floats towards a pebbled beach like area and the driver offers us a chance to walk around or go to one of the little pop up cafes. We take the opportunity to put our feet in the welcoming water, it looked so refreshing and cool. But no. It was bloody freezing. Icy, blood stopping, cold! Fresh is definitely one word. We soon left the water and decided to enjoy a juice in the little bungalow of a café. Not before being stopped by passing Indian tourists who wanted a picture with sir and madam.

The café owner was a hoot! I said one word in Kashi to him and he spent the rest of our time telling me about the area in Kashi language. He eventually clicked on that I wasn’t really keeping up so switched to broken English. He pointed to two little camping tents propped up on the pebble areas. “Home stay. One night. 2000 rupees. Small one. 1200 rupees.” Ohhh we said trying to seem excited and not shocked at the extortionate price to sleep on pebbles. He was very lovely and insisted we come back and tell our friends. He then wanted us to have a photo with him, but not on his camera, on ours. Matt sensed it was a marketing ploy and that we were meant to go out and share the photos of his business to the world. So, here they are! Call Nowell’s next time you’re in Dawki and stay by the lake.

We blissfully floated back with the sun on our faces and the calm waters around us. The hustle bustle grew as we approached the shores and it was back to the busy reality of India. We had a quick look at the offerings of the market – some sort of fermented cherries and Indian snacks, we passed.

Our driver then took us briefly to the border of Bangladesh and India. It was heavily guarded and I wasn’t quite sure what we were meant to do there or if we were allowed to take photos. I held my phone up and the guards didn’t seem to do much so we posed for a few pictures, looked over at Bangladesh and off we went again.

A little stop on the way home at a small home-style restaurant. We watched the cricket and some hilarious television show which would equate to “Indian Kids Got Talent” – super cute. So many restaurants here serve a mix of Indian and Chinese food. Today we mixed it up with fried rice and mushroom chow Mein. We’ve opted to stick to vegetarian only while in these more rural parts. The food has been super delicious and there’s so much variety, we barely noticed the lack of meat.

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Long drive home and I was surprised how much the day had taken out of us. We arrived just after sunset and we collapsed onto the bed. We’ve enjoyed our afternoons of rest and catching up on reading without the distraction of internet and TV. Another successful day of exploring beautiful Meghalaya.

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If you would like to follow our journey on Instagram, please check out @Lovellyem and search the #tag #EmmaMattyIndiaSing2017.

 

Written on Day 8 of our 24 Day trip in India with stopover in Singapore.


Bucket List of places you must stay in your life!

All good things come to an end, but before they do, let’s make the most of them. Add this top 5 to your bucket list and you will certainly be living life to the max. From beautiful accommodation to incredible “once in a lifetime” experiences, we suggest you go and visit these locations before you reach those pearly gates.

1: City Palace, Udaipur, India Every little girl’s fantasy is to be a princess and men wish to live like a king – so do it! Stay in the Frateh Prakash Palace, Udaipur. Situated in the desert of Rajasthan on the shores of incredible Lake Pichola, you’ll think you are seeing a mirage- but in fact its your oasis. The hotel is a converted palace so every room is unique. Enjoy life in the lap of luxury and you may even meet the king or ride an elephant in the palace gardens. Anything is possible when you’re living like a royal!

2: Xilitla, Mexico Escape to the jungle to experience the strange and unique. Xilitla is home to the incredible Castillo de Sir Edward James – an eclectic jumble of architecture which was one man’s dream and legacy. If you ever wanted to feel like Alice falling down the rabbit hole, this is the place for you. Surreal is the word and it’s got groove and feeling. If miracles happen, if you believe in magic, then you’re sure to see it here.

3: Granada, Spain  If your eyes don’t get to see the amazing colour display put on by the skies in Granada, you have missed out. Stand at Mirador de San Nicolas at dusk with a Spanish guitar and church bells playing in the background, as the ancient Alhambra is cast into darkness. Strolling the curving lanes of the old city and escaping into caves in the hills – Granada is a hidden treasure trove of secret tapas bars and wonderful architecture.

Photo credit: Clinton Ross

4: St Maarten A Caribbean island set in the most pristine waters you’ve ever seen. Indulge completely by arriving on one of the many ocean cruises that visit this island paradise. A spectacular experience that you just cannot get anywhere else in the world is Princess Juliana International Airport where planes land on the beach! Spot the planes as they are mere specks in the distance, run into the crystal clear topaz water and have your breath taken away as a 747 jet passes over your head.

5: Paris, France. No bucket list is complete without the spoils of Paris. The shopping, the fashion, the monuments, the vibe – it all adds to the experience that is Paris. Not only a city for lovers, the arts and cafes will keep you entertained no end. Stand a top the hill area home to the Sacré-Coeur, sacred heart church and Montmartre art district. Enjoy a café au lait and a nutella crepe as you see the magnificent city of Paris, complete with famous Eiffel tower, sprawl before you. Why Paris? Because it’s Paris darlink!

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Photo credit: Ellen Bird

What are your must stay places around the world?

 


The Tirhatuan Sanctuary is the perfect Melbourne getaway

This was exactly the stay I needed! Sanctuary is the perfect word for Manuela’s beautiful space at The Tirhatuan Sanctuary. The moment I walked in I felt the tension from my body go and knew I was in a warm and welcoming place. The decor in her home is incredible and you feel very much immersed in nature. 

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Not only is the home surrounded by trees and a wonderful thriving garden, but you have the mountain ranges nearby. There is a golf course across the road where we went for a wonderful sunset walked and Manuela shared her extensive knowledge of the area. 

Manuela can also cater for guests and the food was amazing. I was offered champagne on arrival, teas and hot drinks at regular intervals and there were always snacks at the ready. I was given a nourishing soup for dinner and a lovely fresh breakfast of juice and avocado on toast. All for a very reasonable additional cost. The food and drinks are all vegan, and although I’m not a vegetarian or vegan, I didn’t feel without. It was delicious and refreshing. You’ll never go hungry here.

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Macca the guardian cat watches over the house.

I’m often travelling to Melbourne and will make this a regular stop. It’s a bit further out but after a busy few days of work nearer the city, it was exactly what I needed. I left feeling rested, fresh and generally calmer. Highly recommend the Tirhatuan Sanctuary for a relaxing retreat and getaway.

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Activities for guests to relax and switch off.

Book your next stay at The Tirhatuan Sanctuary through Airbnb 


You must add the living bridges of Meghalaya to your bucket list!

The day we had long been waiting for had finally arrived! We would trek to see the living bridges of Meghalaya. While watching BBC’s Human Planet, River People episode, Matt saw this place and turned to me, “We’re going to India!”. I had always wanted to take him and he said one day, but this was the push he needed and now, we are here!

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We had been well warned it was a big day ahead. More than 2000 steps down into the valley and approximately a seven-hour round trip. We didn’t mind, we just wanted to see these amazing natural creations. A hearty breakfast was needed and then we set off!

From Cherrapunjee Holiday Resort it was a short drive to the beginning of the walk. It was beautiful seeing the area in the early morning light. The sky was a perfect blue and the greens o the mountain and the yellow hues of the rock really stood out. People were starting their day in the nearby village and I felt peaceful and at ease.

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Off we went. Down, down and a bit more down. The stairs started as platforms and quickly became narrow steps spiralling down the hills. I noticed after about 20 minutes of walking that my legs were shaky. I thought surely I can’t be this unfit. But when I mentioned it out loud, both Matt and our guide (who has done this many times) said they felt the same. I think it’s to do with the amount of stairs and also a slight case of vertigo, eek!

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We arrived to the first village which was surrounded by leafy ferns, tall skinny palms and lush tropical plants. You can see that the copious amounts of rain this area receives pays off in a beautiful thick jungle. Dogs rushed over to me as I was carrying a bagful of snacks, woops. We then were met and greeted by small children who requested we join them for soccer but we had to keep on trekking.

Down, down and down again. Matt turned to me and said “You do realise that the further down we go, the more uphill climb we have at the end?” I replied “remember whose idea this was!” Case closed. It was so worth every step to be in this incredible jewel of life. We spotted big spiders and beautiful butterflies as we continues.

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We came across the first of many bridges. This one however was a suspension bridge. I’ve crossed many of these when trekking in Nepal. This one however, was a little in need of repair. Six main large cables provided the base, with three large cables to either side which led back to the cement platform at either end. A number of medium sized cables as well as small pieces of wire provided the structure. We then walked over a river and very very large rocks. I’m pretty brave, but this tested me. Especially as a large group of teens were on it just before us bouncing and jumping around – yeah, nah!

There was another suspension bridge, so much clear blue water flowing in the rivers and streams, and countless steps before we reached the first of the living bridges. We literally stumbled across it. As it’s a bridge made of roots of a tree, you could miss it if you’re not looking. It can look like any other tree with winding roots. But as you walk closer you see that the path is actually made up of the tree. Over hundreds of years the people in surrounding villages have trained the roots to climb across the river to form bridges. This is the only way in which they can cross the raging rivers in monsoon season. I certainly wouldn’t trust a suspension bridge at that time! These bridges continue to grow and strengthen over the years.

It was exciting to see the first one but the true treasure of this region is the double decker living bridge. It’s the only one of its kind in the world and it’s what attracts 1000’s of tourists every year and International documentary film makers. You must walk through a little village before reaching it. They actually have homestays here and I said if we ever come back I would 100% spend the night here – what an amazing experience!

 

And then… it was there!

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Magnificent. Enchanting. Breathtaking.

 

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I love this place and I’ve only just arrived. It’s amazing to see how man can live in and amongst nature harmoniously. These people love and care for these trees and in return, these trees give them access to their beautiful jungle home.

We walked on, over and around the tree bridges just marvelling at the natural construction. We walked under and through to the other side which offered another incredible view. We sat by the pool of water that’s formed from the running waterfalls and just took it all in. The sun beating down on our head and backs, the cool water at our feet and the beauty of nature in front of us. I rested my head on Matt’s shoulder and I have no idea how long we were there. I could’ve stayed there all day.

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Our lovely guide came to meet us and we enjoyed some snacks by the water together. He had gathered from some locals that there was another bridge about 15 minutes walk or so away. We decided to chill a little longer and then take a look at the other bridge.

The walk was pleasant again and revealed more of the beauty of this forest with tropical flowers and plants dotting the side of the path. Unfortunately, another dodgy suspension bridge needed to be crossed in order to get to the last of the tree bridges. Over large boulders and piercing blue water, we dangled on the most treacherous of all the bridges. It was great to see another of the living bridges and actually this was a very young one and seemed to be still in growth stages.

Matt wanted to keep exploring but we politely reminded him that however far we went, we had to go back the equal distance – all those stairs. We went back across the bridges and once again marvelled at the double decker living bridge. I could spend all day just walking across it and sitting by the waterfall. It’s such a natural wonderland. If only it wasn’t so cold, it would have been amazing to bathe in the waterfalls and pools.

 

 

We stopped for lunch at the first living bridge and enjoyed a simple but tasty meal of rotis and subji (vegetable curry). We were in need of energy for the long trek uphill but we also wanted to keep it light.

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Again we crossed the suspension bridges and admired the sparkling turquoise waters below. Tempted to swim but also remembering the ice cold temperatures when we had dipped our hands in early. We slowly trekked up through the lush jungle. I’m not going to bore you with all the puffing and panting, but man that was a heavy walk! We made it, exhausted, but happy.

Arriving back to the hotel at 3pm, we were pleasantly informed that the rest of the day was at our leisure. Meaning naps and reading and a whole lot of not much. I got my local lady on and hand washed our under garments – felt rather chuffed with myself. But mostly it was a necessity as the hotel will not wash “under garments”.

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Walking back past the villages and up the many many stairs.

Dinner was delicious again, though we were hanging out for the 7.30pm Buffet meal time. We ate quickly, thanked our hosts and were passed out by 8.15pm. What a day!

If you would like to follow our journey on Instagram, please check out @Lovellyem and search the #tag #EmmaMattyIndiaSing2017.

 

Written on Day 7 of our 24 Day trip in India with stopover in Singapore.


My first adventure to the North East of India

One of the hardest things about travel is the broken routine and ungodly hours for trains, planes and buses. We had a 4.30am wake up to call to get to Mumbai airport and take our flight to Guwuhati. There would then be a six-hour car ride ahead of us before we would finally arrive at Cherrapunjee, home to the living bridges.

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Our Uber again had trouble finding us. Each day has been a battle with Uber. I’m not sure if it’s my app or the internet on my phone, or If the drivers just truly can’t work out where we are located. I realised quickly it’s best to call the driver … then the game of miming and broken Hinglish (Hindi and English) begins. Luckily we allowed plenty of time and the drive was quick with no traffic at stupid o’clock.

 

Mumbai airport has improved dramatically over the time I’ve been coming to India and I was pleasantly surprised to see that I no longer needed my print out of my ticket to enter the airport – just our e-tickets on the phone. Check in was all fine and security relatively swift. We enjoyed a way over priced coffee from Café Coffee Day and awaited our departure.

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Flying Indigo airlines was great. A low cost carrier with a cheeky sense of humour. Their inflight magazine is called “Hello 6e”. Get it! I slept for half the flight and the three hours passed quickly.

Arriving to Guwuhati, I was in foreign territory. This was my first time to the North East of India and I wasn’t sure what to expect. Hindi is the national language, of which I can speak a little. English tends to be more scarce in regional parts, though tour guides and drivers are generally fairly fluent. We were met by a lovely porter who ushered us out with our bags quickly to meet our driver, Bablu, and Tour Guide, Bhuban, arranged by our tour company Take Me To India.

As we drove, we learnt from Bhuban about the area and that in fact we were in the capital city of the state of Assam. The people speak Assamese here. We would then drive into Meghalaya, of which Shillong is the capital. Ohhhhhhhhhhh. I have worked on a campaign about India for four months of 2016 and all along I thought Meghalaya was a place and Shillong a separate place. All along I’ve been saying “We’re going to Meghalaya to see the living bridges.” Not realise I was talking about the state as opposed to the place! We are actually staying in Cherrapunjee, which is the home of the living bridges. Look, geography isn’t my strong point.

 

I mentioned to Bhuban that it was Matt’s desire to pat a cow in India. Half joking, I said “Can you arrange that during our time?”. Next thing I know, we’ve stopped the car to meet a woman with two calves and Matt is patting them.

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Our drive was filled with sleeping, snacks, chatting about the local areas and about travel in India. We stopped for a wonderful meal at Jiva Veg along the way. Beautiful restaurant with such sweet décor and a lovely view of the surrounding hills. We enjoyed two dahl dishes and naan – So so tasty. Matt has been most impressed with all my food choices so far.

 

Quick stop at Luke Umiam, also known as Borapaani- basically meaning Big Water. It was stunning and such a pleasant break from the drive. There are so many natural gems around India.

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The views around Guwuhati reminded me of other rural parts of India I had seen before. As we climbed towards Shillong, it changed dramatically and the geography was like nothing I’d seen before. Hilltop villages, tea plantations and towering terrace houses.

 

We drove on and it completely flattened out to dry arid land on the top. Then it opened up completely into gaping valleys. Completely flat on the top with steep ridges then diving down into deep valleys. It looked a bit like the side of a table with able cloths flowing down the way the hills rolled and creased. It was breathtaking.

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The drive was a tad sketchy as we rolled around these hilly roads. As we got closer to Cherrapunjee, we saw more betel nut trees and palms popping up, it was changing into rainforest like foliage. So lush and green. Sadly there would be few waterfalls as we are quite a way out of monsoon season now, but the weather in the Winter/ dry season is great for travelling around.

We reached the Cherrapunjee Holiday Resort, resting on top of a hill with valleys dipping down all around, it was just perfect. Modest interior with sweet décor in our rooms. The staff were lovely and welcoming and before we knew it we had tea and biscuits as we watched the sun go down.

There isn’t much to do in this area except appreciate the nature. It was just the getaway we needed! We got there just in time for sunset and it was absolute perfection.

 

At night, we were treated to a musical program put on by the local Kashi people. They sang adaptions of English songs as well as local Kashi folk songs. They also had a dancer who was popping and locking all over the place. Quite the show. And as always with India, we all had to get up and dance in the end. Our cheeks were hurting from smiling.

We started chatting to the other two ladies who were staying, and of course, one was Aussie! No matter where you go in the world, you’ll find an Aussie. Even the remote hilltop resorts of Cherrapunjee. We enjoyed sharing stories about India over a lovely buffet meal. By 8.30pm, we were full and tired and it was time to snuggle up on this cool winter evening and catch some z’s.

 

If you would like to follow our journey on Instagram, please check out @Lovellyem and search the #tag #EmmaMattyIndiaSing2017.

Written on Day 6 of our 24 Day trip in India with stopover in Singapore.


More wonderful moments from Magnificent Mumbai

So, my attempts to keep these daily summaries short is failing epically. Bear with me. I just love India so much that I want to share with you every nook and cranny. I do hope that within my ramblings you pick up some good tips for travelling in India and perhaps you fall a little in love with it too. I’ll also try to do some Top 5 articles and summaries which are much easier to digest for travel tips. Ok, so on with Day 3 in India.

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Walking around South Bombay

I had originally planned that we would go to Elephanta Island on this day. Matt loves water and you get to travel there by Ferry, providing a wonderful view back to the island of Mumbai. I realised that we actually only had a few days in Mumbai and perhaps it was best to see some more of the main things then spend half the day travelling to the island and back. Matt then googled it and said “Looks great, now I’ve seen it, so what’s next?” ha! I explained it wasn’t quite the same as going there but happy he’s adapting to the change.

We ended up going shopping. It’s one of my favourite things to do in Bombay. At home, I don’t shop unless I have to. Food, clothes and otherwise. I enjoy markets and the interactions of shopping, the experience. Mall shopping is not for me. As I was on the lookout for an outfit for a wedding, I knew India was the place to look. Also there are apparently 40-60% off sales at the moment, so yes, I am definitely going to get amongst that.

Our shopping adventures were predominantly in Kala Ghoda, a beautiful area of the city prominent for its art galleries and the wonderful British architecture. My trip was not fruitful but we got Matt some awesome cotton pants and I almost convinced him to get one of the cotton India style shirts. We also did some more market shopping.

From there, we had no plans until lunch with a friend at 1.30. So we just kept walking. Past statues, Government buildings, busy intersections and parks. My friend enquired as to where we were and with the sending of a Google maps screenshot, he was able to guide us to a meeting point. Gotta love technology. So we strolled through Churchgate, another charming part of the city where I once stayed. Good movie theatres and great local restaurants. We walked through to Marine Drive and walked along the water looking towards Malabar Hill. We arrived parched at Pizza by the Bay, the perfect spot to refresh with my favourite drink, cold coffee.

My friends Hetal and Jigna picked us up and took us off for lunch. We met in Sri Lanka at a wedding and have stayed in touch ever since. As their family heritage is from Gujurat, they offered to take us for thali at a popular place. This was a great choice as you get a sample of many dishes. So we went to Status Restaurant. Extremely busy as it’s a popular place for workers in the area. But they said actually it’s always busy. We quickly saw why. Delicious food and efficient service. The service was a little too good with them constantly trying to top up our multiple bowls of food. You can eat til you can no longer move.

After lunch it was time for a drive around Mumbai. It’s lovely learning about the city from locals. I was asking about the city like area we could see across the bay from Marine Drive, so we went there. Passing Chowpatty beach, we climbed up the road to Malabar Hill.

Once we rounded the curve of Marine Drive and reached the hill, I knew exactly where we were and we ended up driving past the Jain temple which I had planned to take Matt to that afternoon. We went to the front but as there was a Pooja going on, we weren’t allowed to enter – Totally understandable and always happy to respect the religions of others.

We then went to the look out at the hanging gardens. I’ve often stayed very near to Malabar Hill in another friends home and so I’m very familiar with the area. It was lovely to share it with Matt and my new friends. They had not been to this park for 20 years so they were happy to be tourists with us.

 

Matt was falling asleep in the car so it was time to end our tour and take a nap before our next engagement. Indian hospitality truly is the best in the world and we were so fortunate to be welcomed by so many of my friends here.

Our final stop for the day was dinner in the home of my lovely friends on Nepean Sea Road. IT was funny that we ended up sightseeing on Malabar Hill in the afternoon, as this is the home I always stayed in. The family is Parsi and so we got to enjoy some typical home made Parsi cuisine – you just can’t get that in a restaurant. It was lovely to chat about the developments of Mumbai and for Matt to learn more about the growth of Bombay. I won’t go into detail in this blog, but for a wonderful summary of the complex nature of real estate in Mumbai, read “Maximum City” by Suketu Mehta.

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One of the busiest cities in the World, and you know, cows in the street.

With full bellies and warm hearts, we headed back to the hotel to rest before a VERY early morning flight.

If you would like to follow our journey on Instagram, please check out @Lovellyem and search the #tag #EmmaMattyIndiaSing2017.

Written on Day 5 of our 24 Day trip in India with stopover in Singapore.


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