Top 5 Countries I miss the MOST

There is a time for travel, and there is a time to work . The time now is work time.

Don’t get me wrong! I love living in Sydney and being here with friends and family and exploring my city. But there are also some countries that are in my heart that I miss terribly throughout the year and CANNOT WAIT to get back to.

1. INDIA

India has not just been a place I have visited. It is  a country that now rests in my heart. I can honestly say I think about it every day and I’m just so excited that I get to go back again in December this year. To taste the curries, to party in Goa and to laugh again with the wonderul, warm and kind people of the country.

Sunset in Goa

2. MEXICO

Mexico, tu eres en mi corazon. This is very wrong. haha This in literal translation says Mexico you are in my heart, but they don’t say it like that. Mexico is fun, vibrant, interesting, complicated and diverse. It’s rich in culture and extremly proud of it’s heritage. The people are fantastic and I really felt at home when I lived there. Quiero ir a Mexico pronto. I want to visit Mexico soon.

3. ENGLAND

England will always be my second home as my family lives there. I feel a strog sense of self when there and can really relate to the country. I love the history of the country as it is so much older than my baby country Australia. Whenever I hear a pommy accent, my heart instantly melts and I become nostalgic and longing. Ello ello ello!

4. GERMANY

Ich liebe Deutschland. I visited Germany in 2006 for the first time and subsequently reuturned twice more in the one year. I was lucky to have good friends spread out in many cities in Germany but I really found the people I met there to be so friendly. The food is amazing and I crave it constantly. It’s carb heaven! Prestzels, Knudle, Liebkuchen, Stollen, Magenbrot, Weiss wurst and the best breads you have ever tasted. Oh and of course, BEER!

5. USA

I know this may seem like a funny one to add as some people think that the USA is a lot like Australia, but they couldn’t be more wrong. Our cultures are completely different, as are the histories, the diversity of people and the food. I must admit, I don’t miss the kilos that I piled on there whilst eating the junk food. But I do miss the interesting and surprising places that I visited. USA is HUGE and there is so much more I need to see! Also, one of my favourite people in the world, my Cuz Bill lives there!

So my Top 5. I hope to get back to all of them this year.. but we have to wait and see!

Room to Read, Nepal

Room to Read is a fantastic Charity initiative which is helping to change the world through education of children in third world countries.

The program runs in various districts and towns throughout Nepal and since 1998 has been changing the way people view education. Through sponsorship, scholarships, educational facilities and helpful teachers, children are now gaining the valuable knowledge to help them change their future.

Education is vital to the progression and development of countries such as Nepal. Educational and literacy programs are opening doors for these young people and giving them opportunities they may never have dreamed of.

The team at Room to Read are particularly concious of cultural differences and practices and they work hard to understand the best methods of implementation for each region. The organisations states ‘our team on the ground decides what programs Room to Read will focus on there, as they know the communities needs the best. They only work with villages that seek us as we want to know that they are committed enough to be proactive.’

After being contacted by the organisation directly, I will be lucky enough to experience this program first hand when I visit on the 10th December 2009. I hope to learn more about the efforts in Nepal and ways in which the group can be helped.

Room to Read Nepal – In Detail

Established 1998
Country Director Mr. Pushkar Shrestha
Number of Employees
(as of 9/29/2009)
35
Office Location(s) Kathmandu
Pokhara
Chitwan
Regional Presence Baglung, Bara, Bardiya, Bhaktpur, Chitwan, Dhading, Dhanusa, Kaski, Kathmandu , Lalitpur, Lamjung, Mahottari, Makwanpur, Myagdi, Nawalparasi, Palpa, Parbat, Rasuwa, Rupandehi, Sarlahi, Syanjha, Tanahu
Key Partners ASMAN Nepal, Global Action Nepal (GAN), Lions Club of Kathmandu Down Town, Nijgadh, Lalbandi, Butwal and Urlabari, Local Women Groups, Moti Pustakalaya, National Library Associations, National Society of Earthquake Technology – Nepal (NSET), Nepal Education Support Trust (NEST), Nepalese Society for Children’s Literature, READ Nepal, Rodec, Student Worldwide Partnership (SPW), Youth Clubs

Learn more about this great program at:

http://www.roomtoread.org/Page.aspx?pid=413

More information from a first hand experience to come soon after my visit in Nepal on 10th December 2009.

Delhi Delights – My Top 8

New Delhi is the National Capital of India and one of its most fascinating cities. Being the Political centre and having the second largest metropolis by population, the city has a strong effect on the people of India and the direction in which the country has developed.

 

I love Delhi for its amazing diversity and interesting culture. The markets, the temples, the bustling business, the stunning sunsets and the great night spots. I would be difficult to ever get bored in this city. Here are 8 of my favourite things to do and see when in Delhi:

 

1. Bahai Lotus Temple

This is a temple dedicated to the Bahai faith and is a more recent addition to the architectural jewels of Delhi. I have never been close to it but I have driven past many times and it is just as spectacular at night as it is in the day. Reminds me somewhat of the Opera House and the Waratah Flower of Australia, maybe that’s why I like it so much. It took me at least 4 sightings of this to finally get an understanding of what it was and it is always at the top of my list for must sees in Delhi!

http://travelinsider.qantas.com.au/lotus_temple_south_delhi.htm

2. Qutub Minar

The World’s tallest free standing brick Minaret. An islamic structure which has a number of beliefs surrounding it. The intricate detail and craftwork which covers the entire structure is worth a look alone. Entry here is cheap and there is a fabulous mix of cultures all marvelling at the magnificence of this unusual sight.

http://www.info2india.com/rajasthan/qutub-minar-delhi.html

3. Dilli Haat Markets

Resembling the traditional craftsmen and trade markets, Dilli Haat offers the traveller a chance to experience a unique style of shopping . It’s the first permanent fair for regional foods, crafts and cultural activities. It’s a completely new experience and a great day out.

http://www.delhi-hotels-india.net/dilli-haat-delhi.htm

4.Red Fort

The Unesco World Heritage Site which could easily be mistaken for the Taj Mahal…. except that it’s red. I was very confused when I first saw it as it was so similar to the Taj Mahal in style, but once you see them in comparison, you understand the difference. This is where the Prime Minster addresses the people at the celebrations of Independence day, 15th August. If anything, it’s a beautiful building to see, octagonal in shape as is the style of such Islamic architecture.

http://www.tourmyindia.com/states/delhi/red.html

5. GK1 M- Block Market

A trip to Delhi is not complete without visiting this more upmarket area and the great set of shops and stalls located at the centre. The areSouth Extensiona is called Kalisah and it’s where the wealthy come to do their lower end shopping (so my high end.) There is fabulous jewellery, great snacks, luscious hair and beauty salons and shoe stalls as far as the eye can see. You may even spot an Indian Celebrity (I saw the queen of Beauty and skin care products of India… well, you couldn’t miss her! Diamonds covering every spare bit of flesh- LOVE IT!

http://www.delhilive.com/gk1-m-block-market

6. Shalom (Restaurant)

Amazing Mediterannean lounge bar with great decor and a very trance vibe. You can smoke sheeshah (hubbly bubbly) with flavours like apple and cherry and you can sip on sumptuous cocktails! Chill out sessions playing in the background with low lighting provide the prefect relaxing atmosphere for a great night out.

http://shalomexperience.com/


7. New Delhi Parliament

The Indian Parliamentary Buildings and India Gate are essential to the Delhi City Tour. It’s best to go here with a guide who can explain the area and chances are you will probably only see it from the car. Security is quite strict in this area and it can be difficult at times to get close. It was only in the 1920’s that Parliament was moved to Delhi from Calcutta and it has remained their since.

http://www.indiasite.com/delhi/places/parliamenthouse.html

8. India Gate

A slow drive down the Rajpath will allow you ample photo opportunities of the India Gate. This is a war memorial to over 90,000 Soldiers who lost their lives serving in World War 1. It’s a magnificent structure and a testament to the Indian people and their contributions during British Colonialism.

http://www.indiasite.com/delhi/places/indiagate.html

I hope you are able to see some of these great sites in Delhi. I strongly recommend going on a city tour or hiring a tour guide for one day to really get a good understanding of the history of the city and the many facets which make it the wonderful city it is today. To find out about the best markets and where to eat, chat to a local. The Indian people are very friendly and always more than happy to stop and give some advice to visitors.

Nepalese Home Stay

When travelling to a foreign land and a new culture we can feel alone, scared and tentative about the experiences we are about to have. These feelings are greatly minimised when we have friends or family to meet or stay with in the new place.

 

I am lucky enough to have met so many wonderful people from around the globe and to now have a place to stay when I visit that country. Many people have this opportunity as well, they just don’t take the offer up. I am the “yes girl”. You offer me a bed, I’ll be booking a flight and seeing you there before you know it!

 

In 2 weeks I will be going to India and Nepal and there will only be 4-5 days, out of the 30, in which I will be needing hotel accomodation as the rest of the time I am staying with friends I have met around the world. This is not only great for the budget but it also gives you a great cultural immersion and a better understanding of the country you are staying in. You have a 24-7 tour guide and cultural expert.

 

When I went to Nepal in 2006, I was to meet my friend Sundar and spend most of the time with him. He wanted to have me stay in his home but unfortunately it was too small at that time so I was to stay in a hotel. That first night was the loneliest of my whole trip and I hated it. Luckily, I had met a wonderful Indian woman on the plane who offered me a place in her home she was renting for work for the duration of my stay. I really feel that my trip to Nepal the first time was so much better as I was able to iThe lovely people I stayed with in Tahmel, Nepalnteract with people of that culture and learn so much more from people living there.  Home cooked meals, playing with local children, seeing a wedding procession from my bedroom window and having lovely people to speak to anytime of the day was such a unique experience. I am just thankful that I was open to the experience and took on this once in a life time opportunity.

 

This time I thought I would be staying in a hotel which was perfectly fine until I recieved this beautiful message from my friend Sundar:

“During your stay in Kathmandu, If you like and comfortable you can stay at my house I am near to airport bit far from Thamel you can do tipical Nepalese homestay. Its like a fimily, In my house we: My wife, my sister-in-law and daughter Sourya,  so you may have to share the room with my sister-in-law.

At my house you will have LAN internet access 24 hrs, Hot Shower and self made tea coffee and my wife made meal (Nepali style). We will be happy to welcome you at our family”

 

I was excited before but now I can barely contain myself. To see another Nepalese family living their daily life and being taken around to all the cultural sites with my personal tour guide will be so magical.

 

If you don’t have a dear friend in Nepal, do not lose hope. There are many places that offer homestays and a true cultural experience in Nepal. Here are just a few:

http://homestaynepal.com/

http://www.nepalhomestay.com/

 

Recommendations and reviews by past guests will be the best thing for you to look into. Also on www.hostelworld.com many of the hotels are small and family run and are available for only A$6.00 a night.

 

I found Nepal to be very safe and friendly towards foreigners. Even in a time of political turmoil and trouble between the people, I felt safe.

 

If you are looking for a different experience then check out some homestays, I promise you won’t regret it. Also think about some of the friends and contacts you have and maybe someone has a friend or family member you can get in touch with in the place you are going to make you feel a bit safer.

View from the roof of the house I stayed in, Nepal

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