The next stop on our whirlwind New Delhi tour was India Gate, completed by the British in 1931 to honor the 90,000 Indians who died fighting with the British Empire in World War I and the Afghan Wars.
Our first New Delhi sightseeing stop was an impressive Hindu temple – unfortunately, no photos allowed.
Next was the Bangla Sahib, more commonly known as “the Sikh Temple” by tourists. The temple complex is awe-inspiring, with its beautiful white buildings and golden dome surrounding a large ritual pool. Female visitors are asked to cover their heads (Meera had warned me to bring a scarf) and all are asked to leave shoes at the entrance. Normally the shoe requirement would be no problem, but on this 37 degree day in Delhi, the ground was hot!
We arrived in Delhi at 3:30AM last night, and promptly passed out on arrival at our guest house. Our hostess Meera told us that breakfast was “whenever we woke up”. We made our way downstairs this morning around 10AM and laid out on the table was mango juice, apple slices, and honey.
When we told her how appropriate apples and honey were for a “Days of Awe” breakfast, she was delighted. It proved that we were meant to stay here :)
We’re halfway to Delhi from Shanghai and just finished dinner service. They served a spinach curry with rotis, chutney, and dal. It was possibly they best airline food I’ve ever had (Cathay Pacific is the only other contender), and tastier than most Indian restaurants in Seattle. The businessman sitting next to Lauren said that even though they are often delayed, he always flies Air India because it’s the best meal he’ll get on his way to Delhi.
If the Indians can do this much with an Airbus kitchen, I can only imagine what awaits on the ground over the next few months! :)
Our goal is to pack as little as possible, but of course we need (and want) a lot of stuff:
- Documentation: passports, flight confirmations, immunization records
- Drugs, vitamins, first aid: antibiotics, anti-malarial, anti-virus, ibuprofen, Imodium, Neosporin, Band-Aids, bug repellent, sunscreen, supplements, etc., etc.
- Toiletries: In some cases (i.e. things we can’t buy in Asia), we need enough to last through December. Which takes up a lot of space.
- Minimal clothing: a few shirts, two pairs of pants, a skirt, a bathing suit, etc. A hat and a light jacket. We’re expecting to buy clothes along the way (I am especially excited to buy a saree in India).
- Cameras: Nikon DSLR + 2 lenses (18-200mm zoom and 35mm fixed, good thing I don’t own a wide-angle or I’d bring a third); Canon point and shoot; chargers and extra batteries for both cameras
- Computer: Laptop, power adapter, external hard drive. I’m busy installing essential software (Office, Lightroom, Live Writer, AcrossLite, Live Mesh) on the new laptop.
- Entertainment: Zune and cable, Kindle and cable, travel Scrabble, travel guides, old New Yorkers and Atlantics to read and ditch along the way
- Footwear: I had planned to bring two pairs of shoes, but I’m now at three – running shoes, everyday “walking around” shoes, and flip-flops. My justification is that my shoes don’t take up much space. Kenny is disciplined and has kept it at two pairs for himself.
- The gift of sight: glasses, contacts, solution, sunglasses
- Can’t live without: headlamps, sporks, ear plugs, eye shades, toilet paper, luggage lock, hostel sheet, compass
- Recreation: Kenny found some really neat water weights called “AquaBells.” I’m leaving my yoga mat at home because it’s bulky. I hope I don’t regret this, but I’m assuming I can get one in India (if yogis in India even use mats?)
I’m sure we’re forgetting something. But supposedly you can get just about anything in Shanghai.
We are still working out the details, but here are our current ideas for the fall:
- 1 week in Shanghai – this is a work trip for Kenny. He’ll be in the office during business hours, and we think we’ll have social engagements with his co-workers in the evenings. I’m just going along for the ride. I’ll probably do some sightseeing on my own, and may spend some of my free time trying to flesh out some details for the fall (like finding places to stay).
- ~2 weeks in Nepal (with a 3-day layover in Delhi) – this is our “vacation” – since we haven’t taken one since December, and we’re both currently wound up like tops, we thought it would be nice to take some time without any responsibilities to do some trekking and unwinding. And we’ve heard that Nepal is a really beautiful place to do this.
- ~2 months in India – we expect to spend most of this time volunteering (probably in Bangalore with our friend Sean, but this isn’t set in stone yet). On the weekends, we may make some short trips to other cities in the south – we definitely want to visit my former boss Vivek in Hyderabad. We’ll probably spend the final week or two touring in the north.
- ~2 weeks in the US – we’ll be back in the US late December-early January, starting in Seattle, then a few days in Los Angeles followed by a few days in Miami.
After that, we’ll head out to the next destination. We think this will be somewhere in Africa, and we have various feelers out for NGO work in a few different countries. Some of those feelers may actually materialize as volunteer opportunities in Asia (Thailand, Vietnam, even back in India), so we’re keeping open minds.