14 March 2018

001. Nestled in between small mountains in the desert, you will find a teeny-tiny place called Pushkar. It’s a backpacker favourite in India filled will endless cheap guesthouses, lots of hippie hangouts and a chilled out vibe. The main area of town is the market- essentially just one long street with shops squeezed into every corner imaginable. If you want to do shopping in India, Pushkar is definitely the place to do it. It had the cheapest prices and variety I saw by far in all my travels! Camels, monkeys, and cows with five legs were the animals of choice for the town. We ended up staying in Pushkar for about a week due to just wanting to chill out before international flights. I wouldn’t recommend staying that long though because it really is teeny tiny and is easily do-able in far less days.

002. If you are in Pushkar and are are wanting to escape the busy centre of the market I recommend just WALKING. Ben and I loved just walking out of town and quickly finding peace and quiet. There are lots of small hills to climb around town too which can be quite spectacular at sunrise or sunset. The landscape in Pushkar was arid and reminded me a lot of my time in Central Australia. Dry, sandy ground with green shrubs and bush popping up over hills on the red horizon. Sadly in Pushkar my camera had some complications, so I don’t have a lot of photo evidence to show (but on the bright side it was my last stop in India and thankfully not my first!).

003. Puskar is a pretty tourist centred town and the food options were endless. Cheap juice and muesli stalls are dotted along the market street and made regular a tasty breakfast. Honey and Spice was our favourite for something really nourishing and super vegan friendly. But my favourite was Radhe Ji, because it had bomb Indian food for affordable prices (which was surpassingly hard to find in Pushkar). Order their thali and sit on the rooftop to enjoy the sunset views- I promise you will not be disappointed. 

004. So… that’s my last India post! I’m not really sure how to wrap this up?! Thanks for (maybe) following along with the long adventure. I hope it was somewhat helpful, insightful or amusing. There will be a post coming soon with a collection of my favourite photos from the trip through Nepal and India. Along with some slightly deeper words reflecting on the most diverse, confronting, challenging and beautiful adventure I have ever embarked on. 

Lena x


11 March 2018

001. Jaipur was our first taste of Rajasthan and embodied everything I ever imagined of a typical Indian city. Endlessly chaotic and colourful! Sightseeing and being a cliche tourist is what we did during our few short days in Jaipur. The streets in the city are CRAZY and walking on foot to explore the area can be pretty overwhelming. Luckily rickshaws are everywhere and super cheap if you are prepared to haggle. Being budget backpackers, we would usually always choose to walk to places and explore but trust me that in Jaipur a rickshaw is your best option. Also, apologies in advance for the photos in this post. My camera battery was flashing red on the ONE day we hit up all the attractions and I had to shoot on auto and quickly turn the camera off after each shot oops (see: how NOT to tourist 101). 

002. There are SO many architecturally beautiful monuments and attractions to explore in Jaipur. If you have a few places you want to stop at, I highly recommend hiring a rickshaw driver for the whole day. It should cost around 500-600 rupees, and you won't have to worry about haggling or finding drivers at every place you visit. My absolute favourite place we visited was Amber (pronounced Amer). The fort/palace is just INSANE! It is the most beautiful piece of architecture I’ve ever had the pleasure of wandering around and getting lost in. The town of Amber itself is also super lovely to explore, just a short walk down the hill from the fort. The stepwell and a handful of temples are fun to check out (plus totally free!). The Hawa Mahal was my other favourite pick. Sadly we didn’t get to hang around long because our driver couldn’t park BUT I highly recommend hanging out at one of the upstairs cafes directly across the road for extra killer views. The City Palace was another stop we checked out, but honestly we were a little underwhelmed and didn’t think it validated the price. A word of warning-some of these places can be pretty pricey to enter for a backpacker. If you’re on a budget I would suggest doing your research and investing your money into the places YOU really want to visit and are interested in.

003. While in Jaipur we stayed at a little place called Jwala Niketan. It was cheap, walking distance to the bus station and the guy who ran it was super friendly. Plus it was across the road from Mohan’s Restaurant, a cheap and delicious Indian place that we dined at for most of our meals. We found affordable food in Jaipur was a little bit harder to find in comparison to other Indian cities. Breakfast was mainly fruit bought off the side of the street and our favourite Indian place for the rest of our meals. We also checked out a place called Anokhi Cafe a couple of times. It’s pretty pricey but sometimes you just NEED a fresh, healthy salad to balance out all the curry and roti. 

004. Jaipur was a whirlwind of chaos, colour and beauty. The Rajasthani architecture, culture and buildings were mind blowing. After a couple of brief days we packed our bags and headed onwards to Pushkar, a much smaller town that was a little more our pace. 

Lena x


8 March 2018

001. HAPPY INTERNATIONAL WOMEN'S DAY! Here are some collages I made of powerful women found in vintage National Geographic magazines. FREE FOR YOU TO DOWNLOAD! Not too sure what the quality is like, this is my first time using the only scanner at uni. If you want a higher quality file for something, just shoot me an email and I will send one through. ALL ABOUT THAT GIRL POWER BABY!

Lena x


27 February 2018

001. From one hippy hillside town in the north of India to another.... welcome to Mcleod Ganj. Also referred to as Dharamshala (if you're boarding a bus, this is probably what your destination will be called) and home to the two even smaller hippy hillside towns of Bhagsu and Dharamkot. It's even pretty likely that you have heard of Dharamshala because these days it's where the Dalai Lama calls home. We only spent a few short-but-sweet days here and quickly fell in love with the kind people, narrow streets and glowing dance of sunlight in the early mornings and evenings over the valley.

002. For our 5-ish days we based ourselves at the top end of Mcleod Ganj in a little guesthouse. Again, as it was winter in the north of India it was definitely not peak season. We considered staying up in the villages of Bhagsu and Dharamkot a little further up the mountain, known for their popular backpacker scene, but both were pretty shut down so we opted to stay in Mcleod Ganj for convenience. They both had super chill vibes and I would definitely put them on my list again if I was to visit during an Indian summer.

003. The entire area of Dharamshala and Mcleod Ganj is often lovingly referred to as little Tibet because of the huge amount of Tibetan exiles who now call this part of India their home. If you only do one thing in Mcelod Ganj my recommendation is to visit the Tibetan Museum. I spent a morning here learning about the Tibetan people, their struggle, the injustices they have had to face and above all their incredible courage. If you are someone who is passionate about people, human rights or refugees and haven't ever heard of what is going on in Tibet- this website is a great place to start. It's an ongoing human rights issue that I was certainly never educated on in school but is now something I feel quite passionate about, especially after experiencing firsthand the kindness, warmth and bravery of the Tibetan people in India.

004. We only had a few short days in Mcleod Ganj and Ben had come down with food poisoning, so I can't really comment on too many places to eat. However, the Tibetan food in the area is hands down delicious and you can find cheap momos (Tibetan dumplings) and thukpa (noodle soup) on every corner. One of my favourite finds in Mcleod Ganj was a tiny little coffee shop and ethical enterprise called Rogpa. It had all of warm, cosy vibes you could ever need and served their coffee and (even vegan) cakes on lovely handmade ceramics. The shop was filled with artisan handmade gifts and goodies, with all of the profits going towards the local Tibetan community initiatives.

005. One day we walked up to the village town of Dharamkot and found a delightful cafe called Bodhi Green. It was the only 100% vegan place I can recall coming across in India and it blew my mind. The menu was huge and all of the food was super healthy and delicious, with really affordable prices. You known you've found a winner when the entire cafe is plant based and even serve your drinks with paper straws instead of plastic! The whole area of Dharamshala in general seemed to have a lot of positive eco awareness and environmental efforts for change, mainly run by the Waste Warriors. This was SO exciting and encouraging to see, especially in a developing country like India where waste management is generally challenging to say the least...

006. After Dharamshala we headed to Jaipur, down in the desert state of Rajasthan. However, even though we decided to splurge on flights, it wouldn't be India without a 3 hour delay waiting outside the plane ON the runway (because air visibility in Delhi was 0%) and therefore arriving in Delhi to only find out our connecting flight was cancelled. Thank you to Air India for the free fancy hotel and feed though (which happened to be New Years Eve), until putting us on our connecting flight 24 hours later. Travel can be damn exhausting and tedious sometimes man. I can't wait to share a little Rajasthani beauty with you all in the next post.

Lena x


23 February 2018

001. Manali is a little slice of a winter wonderland nestled at the top of Himachal Pradesh and is where I had my first experience of snowfall EVER (in India, who would have thought!). Overflowing with natural beauty in the form of snowy mountains, rolling hills and valleys to explore. We were two very happy campers and stayed over a week just chilling out, exploring and enjoying the rare untouched nature in a country of 1.3 billion people.

002. We arrived in Manali with prevailing nausea and sleep deprivation after a glorious 17 hours of travel via bus. Though the sight of snow capped mountains, passing yaks on the street and no longer being in a moving vehicle was so damn exciting that we just wanted to explore! After some struggle finding our unsigned guesthouse (which is surprisingly common in India in general), we found ourselves eating at the only cafe open, chatting with the owner and sharing a joint. As far as first impressions go Manali was ticking all the boxes.

003. At this stage it was mid December and the north of India was in off-season. This meant that cold mountain towns generally start to close down because it's too cold (with the exception  of crowds of Indian holidaymakers heading up there over Christmas and New Years). We didn't really mind the lack of other backpackers because it just added to the whole sleepy-village charm. Although I will point out that nowhere in India has heating (at least not on a backpacker budget) and the weather was REALLY cold by my sooky-Queenslander-standards. I would love to visit during Summer one day to see the town at its full potential, pick apples from the orchards and bask in the sunshine (a girl can dream hey?).

004. For our entire stay Bhoomi Holiday Home was our go-to adobe. It was super affordable, had really hot showers and was run by the kindest man ever, Manoj. I would recommend to it everyone! Old Manali is the area we stayed around and had a rad backpacker vibe mixed the village charm. As far as food goes, almost every place serves a mix of the three I's (Indian, Israeli and Italian). Our favourite place hands down though was Raj's Cafe. It was INSANELY cheap and 10/10 delicious. I'm pretty sure we ate our weight in momos and thukpa everyday (with no regrets).

005. From Old Manali you are in an ideal place for some picturesque walks and adventures. Basically at the top of the main street going uphill you can either turn left of right. Left will lead you past a local laundry spot and up a trail that follows along a river. From there you can find somewhere nice to have a picnic or continue on the trail to just explore the surrounding area. If you choose to turn right at the top of the hill you will walk past a temple and then follow the trail into a charming pine forest with an epic viewpoint. Honestly exploring the hills in Manali is just drop dead beautiful everywhere and there is absolutely no way you could ever be disappointed, no matter where you turn!

006. One day we took a day trip to Solang Valley, a super touristy spot BUT with real snow falling from the sky! I had never experienced snow before so it was pretty damn exciting, but if you're looking for somewhere to shred or actually ski it's probably not the place. It was all mostly Indian tourists, just running around, enjoying the snow and taking lots of photos. Taxis are 1500 INR return and they tell you to hire the snowsuits and shoes at one of the hundreds of places along the road on the way for the fix price of 250 INR ($5). It was definitely not cold enough for snowsuits but we both only had a pair of sandals each.. so the gumboots were non negotiable (and I guess you could argue walking around like a marshmallow-cross-power ranger for the next few hours was just a priceless Indian experience).

007. Okay this post is getting long but I can't finish talking about this magic little town without mentioning their local delicacy. Manali Creme- the well known and highest quality hash you can get in India is grown in this region. If you're a stoner this place is what heaven might start to look like... high quality hash, endless nature and cheap Indian food (or is that just me?). Although still 'technically' illegal, it's pretty damn easy to get your hands on some if you strike up conversation with the right people. If you wanna experience Manali like a local this is how to do it. Again, not condemning or condoning anything here merely trying provide transparent information for fellow travellers.

008. Chilled out mountain town number two on the trip is coming at you in the next instalment very soon... Thanks for hanging around!

Lena x

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