Thursday, 14 June 2012


On this trip, which took place this March, I decided to write my parents emails every day about the trip to forward to relatives. So here are the emails that I sent them: Day 1: Belgium and Delhi Hey guys! Arrived safely in Delhi around 10:30 local time, 12:30 pm Toronto time. The weather here is really nice at night, a cool breeze and around 18 degrees. Guards in the airport were casually carrying machine guns :/ saw lots of poverty driving from the airport into the city; cows, pigs, digs, people. Haven't seen a cat yet though. The flight to Belgium was about 6.5 hours and I didn't sleep a wink. Slept about 4 out of the 7.5 hours to Delhi. Really bad turbulence made everyone nauseous. When we arrived in Delhi we got on a nice tour bus with air conditioning (yay!). It is around 2 in the morning here right now, we got at the hotel a little after one. They had to scan our bags and carry ons at the hotel! We went through security at Pearson, brussels, and here! Better get to bed now, wake up call at 9 with a full day of touring! Your favourite daughter Day 2: Old/New Delhi So it's about noon there for you guys, just got back to the hotel. 9:30pm here. We went to a mosque called jama masjid (Friday mosque). I had to pay to bring my camera in but it was worth it! People here think white people are really weird so I've caught people taking pictures of us with their cell phones and asking to have pictures taken with us. A huge group of teenage girls at the mosque thought we were the coolest things so we got lots of group photos with them. Before entering the mosque everyone had to take off their shoes and the girls had to wear full robes to cover themselves and the boys wearing shorts had to wear long plaid skirts to cover their legs. Then we went on a rikshaw ride through the market (98% sure today was going to be the day I die). Our driver even crashed into someone in front of us just for the thrill. Then we went to ghandi's memorial (so many people, also had to remove shoes). You know how much I love Indian food so I've been eating so much at every meal I practically throw up. Everything is so fricken' delicious...had authentic butter chicken today. Amazing. We also saw lots of monkeys today and even a painted elephant walking on the road. The drivers here are insane, I don't think there are even any rules....the speed limit differs with the type of vehicle. Anyways, off to Agra tomorrow! (home of the Taj!) Hannah Day 3: On the Road to Agra Hello! What you need to drive in Indian: good brakes, good horn, good luck. Our guide also said the bigger vehicle has the right of way. Pretty crazy on the 5 hour drive to Agra. Almost killed a few people, saw lots of cows and a camel! Went to a really pretty garden place for lunch with waiters that referred to Alix as the "black one" in Hindi (she was wearing a black shirt). We also went to another palace/mausoleum, so beautiful. People were taking videos of us today, something different! We then arrived to Agra and went to an outdoor restaurant and a magic show. It's wedding season here and ceremonies can last 14 days. A wedding party went past the restaurant so we got lots of pictures. The groom rides a horse to the bride's house and picks here up for the wedding. He is lead by a party of dancing friends and family and a band wagon playing loud music. It is quite the party. They sure know how to celebrate and enjoy life here. Off to the taj mahal early so goodnight! Hannah Day 4: Agra Hey! So we went to the Taj Mahal today! Absolutely breathtaking. There are no words to discribe its beauty. You have to see it in person because pictures don't do it justice. After that we had lunch and tanned by the pool. Then we went to the red fort where the guy who built the taj was imprisoned. You can see the Taj from the windows and the fort itself is incredible. The locals were especially stalker-y today. I got some pictures of the guys following our group. We got a lot of attention at the Taj, especially the pale, blonde girls. I really didn't think it would be so bad considering it's a huge tourist destination. After the fort we saw a play/dance about the creation/story behind the Taj. Off to bed and Ranthambore tomorrow! Day 5: Travel to Ranthambore Today we drove to the train station to board first class to Ranthambore. We stopped at a palace/town that had been abandoned since the 16th century until recently. They built the town before they realized they didn't have enough water to sustain it. It was only inhabited for 12 years before it was left behind. The train ride was interesting. Everything here runs on "Indian time" so the train arrived 2 and a half hours late. The roads in ranthambore are too small and rocky for our bus so we rode in open jeep-like safari trucks. Day 6: Ranthambore Had quite a busy day today! Started with an early morning tiger safari in the national park. Saw lots of spotted deer, samber deer, wild boar, peacocks and monkeys but no tigers. Got henna done on my hand by the pool, made pottery and went on another tiger safari in the evening. Saw two tigers this time! Male and female across the road from each other. Pretty cool to hear them roar. Folk dancing with fire breathing around the bon fire at night! Day 7: Journey to Jaipur Long ride in the bus today. Went on a camel ride before leaving Ranthambore! It was amazing, just like riding a really tall, awkward horse. They can run really fast and getting off them was quite a challenge. Mailed my postcards this morning. Then 6.5 hour bus ride to Jaipur. Went to the local market (crazy busy, so many people!). Just had pasta made in front of me for dinner and then elephant riding in the morning! Day 8: Jaipur Went elephant riding today up to the amber fort in Jaipur. Incredible views and incredible animals. Our elephant was a painted 25-year-old elephant named Moonie. Jaipur is famous for their diamonds so they took us to a gemstone dealer/store.....bad idea for the girls. Then we went to a pashmina/textile/saree/carpet factory in the afternoon. Apparently their carpets never catch on fire and you can tell if they're real by taking a blowtorch to the back on it. Then we went to a festival in town. Alix and I went on the sketchiest ferris wheel ever. It was pretty much a ride called "let's see who can spin the wheel the fastest" it was hand cranked and teeming with tetanus. I got my forearm henna'ed to extend my hand one but turns out the second henna is fake so it's fading quickly. Day 9: Jaipur/Journey back to Delhi Long day in the bus today. Started by seeing the white temple and local palace in Jaipur. Then went to see a miniature rice painting place. Really cool but pretty expensive. 7 hour bus ride back to Delhi. The reigning marahaja in Jaipur is only 12 and he was adopted from his mother to his grandfather so he could hold that title. So technically he's his own mother's brother. Weird. We went to see a Bollywood movie tonight. Just like silver city but with comfy reclining chairs. Then we crashed an Indian wedding. We were filmed on tv for it too because they thought we were the weirdest things. Off for touring Delhi tomorrow and then back to Canada! Day 10: Delhi Very busy day in Delhi today. Went to the world's largest temple today! It is absolutely amazing. It took 7000 workers 5 years to make. It is carved so beautifully but no pictures are allowed. The security is very strict, no belts, iPods, phones, cameras, water, gum, nothing. They have hundreds of life-sized elephant carvings. Google "akshardham". There's a tour you can go on that our tour guide called "the brainwash tour". It is a tour that includes talking/moving wax figures and an underground boat ride like willy wonka. Then we went to Boston Pizza in the centre of Delhi for lunch (so tired of Indian food!). Chicken pot pie sounds so good right about now. Then we went to a travelers' hot spot but we only counted like 5 white people and it was a pretty creepy neighbourhood so we just had cokes on the roof of a hotel that costs 5 dollars a night. We met an irish guy with a shirt that said "hell was full so i came back". Then we went for our farewell dinner at a nice restaurant. Now we're at the hotel watching courage the cowardly dog and leaving for the airport at 11:45 pm. See you soon!

Monday, 4 June 2012


I was first bitten by the travel bug after travelling to Peru with my high school in March 2011. I was 16 and in grade 11.
Entries from my travel journal:

Day 1 & 2, Lima

  • Plane left Toronto Pearson Airport 45 min late at 5:15pm
  • Arrived at JFK in New York around 11:30pm for the stopover
  • Finally arrived in Lima, Peru at 7am
  • Stayed at the Best Western "Embajadores" Hotel in Lima
  • Full day of sightseeing districts of Lima
  • Baranco had beautiful views
  • Ate at Larco Mar, the outdoor mall on the water

View from Best Western, Lima
View from Larco Mar

Day 3, Lima

  • Visited downtown Lima
  • Went into the San Francisco Monastery - no photos allowed inside; catacombs underground filled with old bones in different patterns
  • Peruvian children begging for money and pulling on our bags
  • Free time in Larco Mar
  • Had sweet potato gnocchi with grilled shrimp for lunch while overlooking the ocean
  • Tried Inca Kola - the national yellow soft drink of Peru - not too bad, it grows on you
  • Visited the outdoor museum of anthropology
Church being restored in Lima

Day 4, Cuzco (high altitude)

  • Flew to Cuzco from Lima at 7:50 am
  • Drank cocoa leaf tea for altitude sickness
  • Altitude medication made your feet feel like they were melting
  • BEAUTIFUL mountains in Cuzco
  • Visited Incan temples
  • Had Lomo Saltado for lunch (great beef dish) and enjoyed a live band at lunch in which a member looked strikingly like Charlie Sheen
  • Went into an Incan cave by the side of the road
  • Visited churches
  • Our guide did not inform us of the festival going on where children spray you with pink foamy shampoo that stains clothes...
  • Visited an Alpaca factory store
  • Great soup for dinner at the hotel
  • Finally got ipod to connect to wi-fi to email my parents!
Cuzco, Peru!

Day 5, Cuzco

  • Visited an Alpaca farm! Lovely animals - didn't get spat on!
  • Stopped at the Sacred Valley!
  • Visited Ollantaytambo, fantastic Incan history: Ollantaytambo History
  • Went to the awesome Pisaq Market! Bought quite a few things
  • Part of the road on the way back to Cuzco had eroded and fell off the cliff
  • Machu Picchu TOMORROW!

Sacred Valley


Day 6, Machu Picchu

  • Travelled to Machu Picchu by train
  • Had lunch in a tiny cafe with yummy iced coffee and gross sandwiches
  • Took an insane bus ride up the mountains, no guardrails, huge greyhound buses passing each other, tiny road, deadly fall (pack an extra pair of pants if you plan on doing this...)
  • Passport stamped for entering Machu Picchu (different country)
  • Finally got off the bus an walked up to Machu Picchu; SPECTACULAR
  • Passed by Richard Gere (weird, right?)
  • Nice view from our hotel
  • Ate alpaca for dinner (sorry!) - tastes like chewy beef
View from hotel room

Day 7, Machu Picchu

  • Woke up at daybreak to walk to Inca trail to the sun gate at Machu Picchu
  • Met an alpaca while at the gate
  • Raining like crazy 
  • long bus ride/train ride back to Cuzco
Can you imagine living here?

Machu Picchu in the background

Crazy bus route up the mountain!

Day 8, Cuzco

  • Went to the Maras salt mines; walked along the thin paths, almost fell in
  • Went to Moray: History of Moray
  • Bus driver decides to take back farm roads to get home; ended up stuck in the mud and had to walk until taxis picked us up
  • Our taxi driver liked English music but didn't know what the lyrics meant so his favourite song was "I'm Too Sexy"
Maras Salt Mines


Literally stuck in the mud
Day 9 & 10, The Amazon

  • My favourite part of the trip!
  • The Amazon was beautiful
  • Stayed at a resort that is only accessible by boat
  • Went Caymen spotting at night
  • Toured through the forest 
  • Got very sick off malaria pills! Hallucinating in the Amazon :/
  • Stayed in beautiful cabins - had to preform nightly varmint checks
The beautiful Amazon!



Day 11, HOME!

Peru was fantastic but I was so glad to be going home. I would go back in a heartbeat.
And the sun sets on this journey