Hope you enjoy the video I've made from our trip to the Maldives!

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When I think of the clearest turquoise waters, perfect weather and pure white beaches, I think about the Maldives. Like many other people I had dreamt for a long time of visiting the island nation. Never in my wildest dreams did I think we were going to be able to travel there as I´ve always associated it with luxury travel. In this guide I want to show people that it actually is possible to travel to the Maldives on a budget. Me and my family visited the Maldives in the summer of 2017.

This guide contains the following:

- General information

- Good to know before traveling

- Transportation

- Telephones and broadband

- What to wear

- What to pack

- What to eat

- Our itinerary

- More information


General information

The Maldives is an island nation in the Indian Ocean. It´s built up by 26 atolls and 1192 islands (200 of them are inhabited). Many of these islands are resorts. The first resort opened in 1973 and up until a few years ago this was the only alternative for traveling to the Maldives. These resorts are very expensive to stay at. Because of this the Maldives have been associated with luxury travel. The good news is that a few years ago the government changed the regulations and allowed guesthouses to open up on local islands. Many people are not aware of that you actually now can travel to the Maldives on a budget. This guide will hopefully help you with your independent travel to the Maldives.

The capital is the island of Malé and around half a million people live in the country. A fun fact is that it is the world´s lowest country, with the highest point only 2,4 meters above sea level. The nation is leading in environmental work and has a goal of being carbon neutral by 2019. The official language is Divehi and the local currency is Rufiyah.


Good to know before traveling

- You do not have to apply for a tourist visa before your visit. Upon arrival you will receive a 30 day tourist visa.

- It is a 100% muslim country. This means that there are muslim rules: you are not allowed to drink alcohol, show too much skin or show affection in public.

- You are only allowed to have a swimsuit/bikini on the specific bikini beaches.

- On the local islands there are very few places that accept credit cards. Take with you cash, Dollars or the local currency Rufiyah will work. The island we stayed at did not have a cash point machine so take out cash before arriving.

- The sun is strong and it´s very important to protect yourself.

- Many guesthouses charge you extra for borrowing snorkeling equipment. If you do not want to bring finns, make sure to at least bring a snorkel or swimming googles.

- Explore the amazing wild life of the sea.

- The climate is consistent through the year with an average temperature of 30 degrees celsius.

- Due to global warming and El nino many of the coral reefs have been bleached and died.


Transportation

When arriving with an international flight you will come to the Malé airport island. When planning your trip it´s important to decide on which island you are going to stay. For those who are traveling on a budget the cheapest alternative is to live in the same atoll as Malé. This means that you can take local boats to your chosen local island. Directly outside the airport building you will find a ferry terminal. From there you can take the airport boat to Malé (10min) which leaves several times each hour during the whole day. We stayed at a local island called Dhiffushi and there is a local boat from a ferry terminal on Malé. The three hour boat ride cost 2 dollars. Note that the local ferries do not run on Fridays. There is also only one boat daily. This means that it can be a bit tricky to time your flight with a local boat. One solution is to stay on Malé for one night before leaving for your island. There is also an option to rent a speed boat but this comes at quite a high cost.

If you however are staying in another atoll you probably will have to use other forms of transportation to get to your island. There are domestic flights to many atolls and from there you can take ferries. Some people rent a seaplane or speedboat. These forms of transportation are however not cheap. Just as an example we arrived in the middle of the night and chose to take a speedboat to Dhiffushi. The 40 minute ride cost us 200 dollars.


Telephones and mobile broadband

Our guesthouse/hotel had a very limited wifi-connection. We did not purchace a simcard at the airport but it is possible. If you want a good internet connection and not rely on the hotel/guesthouse wifi then it can be smart to purchase a simcard.


What to wear

As I mentioned before the Maldives is a muslim country with islam rules. The women are covered and wear headscarves. It is very important to respect this and when staying on a local island you must not wander around in inappropriate clothing. Upon arrival at our guesthouse we had to sign a contract where certain rules were stated. One of these rules were that when wandering around on the island knees and shoulders should be covered. You were only allowed to wear a swimsuit/bikini on the so called "bikini beaches". Also think about this when walking to the beach. Do not wear shear beach wraps as this is not appropriate. There are also customs for how men should dress. You are not allowed to wander around without a shirt.

Another recommendation is to use clothing to protect you from the sun. We found that the sun here is very strong and you easily got burnt. It´s also important to wear something to protect your head i.e a hat, cap or bandana. When snorkeling using a surf shirt is smart. Sunglasses and clothes in bright colors are recommended.


What to pack

- Sunscreen, hat, surf t-shirt, sunglasses

- Snorkeling equipment/googles

- A good book you can read on the beach.


What to eat

I can only refer to Dhiffushi when it comes to the food on the Maldives. The island had three independent restaurants/cafés. These places were very cheap and had really yummy food. There were lots of vegan options. Our favorite restaurant on the island was called Faruma. It had a really cozy setting and the guy who owned it was really kind and helpful. We found the local food to be a mixture between indian and asian. However the guesthouse own restaurant even offered western cuisine. Our hotel also had it´s own restaurant and offered a free breakfast buffet. As I mentioned before the island has a few supermarkets where you can buy fruit, snacks and drinks. We also bought some lighter meals we could make ourselves.


Our itinerary


Dhiffushi

We stayed on the Maldives for 5 nights (3 days) on the island of Dhiffushi. It´s a tiny island with around 1200 inhabitants. Even though it´s a tiny island it has all the basic amenities such as supermarkets, a school, a mosque restaurants and cafés. The island is located 36 km from Malé in the Kaafu Atoll. Dhiffushi is also the neighboring island to the Meeru Island resort. There are very few tourists here and the vibe is calm and tranquil. We found the island very budget friendly and prices where very reasonable. Many times we had the "bikini beach" all to ourselves. There are a few beaches around the island but the best one is the main "bikini beach" where our hotel had it´s own sun chairs. The island has a limited selection of guesthouses and the one we stayed at was called Rashu Hiyaa. The guesthouse offered nice and clean rooms with AC. None of the guesthouses on the island have a pool, but this is not necassery when you have the best ocean in the world just a few steps from your room.


Beach Time

When you are in this beautiful place make sure to relax and really enjoy your stay. One of my favorite things to do was read my book on the beach, which is something I never do even when on holiday. We also walked around the island a couple of times a day seeing the local life pass by. There are also multiple water activities to do such as: kayaking, snorkeling and stand up paddle boarding.


Excursions

The island has several companies working with water activities and excursions. These trips can be on the pricier side, however if you choose your excursions wisely it´s money well spent. We took a four hour snorkeling trip, which included both a deepwater reef and a shallow reef. It was an amazing experience and we got to see so many sea creatures like turtles, stingrays, a shark, fish, eels and not to forget the amazing corals. The best thing was that we had this big boat all to ourselves. If I recall correctly we paid under 100 dollars for four people.


Malé

Before we flew home we had a few hours on the island Malé. It was a big contrast from the other places we had been on the Maldives. It felt like any other city filled with lots of traffic and people. There wasn't a lot of things to see and do on the island but a very interesting experience.


More information

Maldives video:

Blogposts from the Maldives: http://nouw.com/graceontour/category/maldiverna


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Sri Lanka is a fascinating country with lots of amazing things to see, do and experience. We traveled through many parts of the country and it was fascinating to see the diversity of the island. I hope that this guide will inspire and help you in your planning for traveling to Sri Lanka.


This guide contains the following:

- General information

- Good to know before traveling

- Telephones and broadband

- What to pack

- How to dress

- What can a vegan eat?

- Transportation

- Our travel itinerary

- More information


General information

Sri Lanka is an island off the indian coast with a population of around 20 million. It used to be a British colony from 1796 and became independent as the country of Ceylon in 1948. When the country became a republic it changed it´s name to Sri Lanka. From 1983-2009 there was a civil war between the Tamils and the Singalese. The capital is Colombo and the currency is Sri Lankan rupies.


Good to know before traveling

You are required to have a visa when traveling to Sri Lanka. The easiest way is to fill in the application on: www.eta.gov.lk. You will then receive a 30 day tourist visa and it´s important to print out the confirmation form.

Certain vaccinations are recommended. Check with your doctor to see what vaccinations you should have when traveling to Sri Lanka.

The timezone is +5.30 GMT. This can be a bit confusing at first as the timezone is not full hours ahead.

We booked most hotels through Hotels.com and paid in advance. Most hotels do not accept credit cards and it´s not ideal to be carrying around a lot of cash to pay for the hotels. The whole travel process gets a lot easier when the accommodation is already booked and paid for before arrival.

Most people speak English, and we never had problems with communication.

There are a lot of mosquitoes.


Telephones and mobile broadband

The easiest way to get mobile broadband is at the airport upon arrival. We got a great deal with a company which had a desk in the arrival terminal. We bought 20 GB for 20 dollars which was valid for 30 days.


What to pack

Thin travel sleeping bag, (bedsheet)

Toilet paper, Hand sanitizer, Wet wipes,

Hat, Sunscreen, Umbrella,

First aid kit including some medicines against diarrhea, dehydration and painkillers.

Mosquito spray and net

Torch

Safety pins

Extension cable with at least four sockets.


How to dress

Sri Lanka has become a popular tourist destination and the locals are used to them. Generally people dress more casually and western than in for example India. However most women cover their knees and shoulders. I would recommend to always bring along something that can cover both the knees and shoulders for when you visit temples and other sights. Other than that I did not have to worry that much about what to wear. The climate is varied and it can be good to pack a jumper for when it getts a bit chilly.

The traditional clothes of Sri Lanka are very beautiful. The sari is a staple and very similar to the Indian one. You can tell the difference as the Sri Lankan one has a frill on the skirt.


What can a vegan eat?

I thought it was very easy to find vegan food and there were also lots of options to choose from. Roti is a famous Sri Lankan dish. It´s a plain flat bread with a sweet or savory stuffing. I really enjoyed the vegetable roti. You can also get the roti bread in a stirfry instead of rice and then it´s called Kottu. One of my favourite dishes was the coconut pancakes, just make sure that they do not use eggs in your pancakes. The fluffy pancakes are filled with a delicious sweet coconut mixture. Sri Lanka has also many varieties of curries to test. Some of my favorites were filled with jackfruit, eggplant and pineapple. There are also various daal dishes. Ulundhu vadai is fried daal in the shape of a doughnut. I also stumbled across a new fruit that I´ve never tried before, mangosteen. They looked like a passionfruit on the outside and a litchi on the inside. The taste was something in between sweet and sour. The fruit is delicious and there is plenty of it everywhere. Supermarkets are easily accessible for drinks, snacks and pot noodles if you want to eat in.


Transportation

Sri Lanka is the perfect country to travel to when it comes to getting around. There are busses and trains round the whole island and you can easily travel from one place to another. The local forms of transportation are also very cheap.

Traveling by bus on Sri Lanka can be a bit scary. They are usually driven quite ruthlessly on the small windy roads. It can often get crowded and seatbelts are not provided. However it is an experience you can not miss out on. Just as an example the bus between Dambulla to Kandy (3 hours) cost 7 SEK, which is less then one dollar. Bus tickets are bought on the bus.

The train ride between Kandy and Ella is known as the most beautiful in the world. There are many people wanting to travel this route and the pre booked tickets are usually sold out. From Kandy there are two trains leaving everyday to Ella, one at 08.45 and the other one at 11.10. The train ride takes approximately seven hours and most people want to catch the early train. You have to buy your ticket the same day at the station. If you want a ticket with a reserved seat I recommend taking the later train. We arrived at the station early hoping to take the train at 8.45. We could buy tickets but without a reserved seat. When the train arrived at the platform it was already full and people getting on had no place to sit. Considering that the ride would take seven hours we felt that we wanted to be able to sit down. We jumped off the train and bought tickets for the later train and could also get reserved seats. Once again it was very cheap costing a few dollars. Bring snacks, lunch and water as there is no restaurant or shop on board. However at some stations there are people who board the train and sell local drinks and snacks.

Overall there are very few highways. During our whole trip we stumbled across one motorway. .



Our travel itinerary

1. Sigiriya


2. Kandy


3. Ella


4. Tangalle


5. Galle


6. Colombo


Sigiriya

This area is a very historic part of the country. Sigiriya used to be the capital of the country and the ruin on Lions Rock was the palace. Both the capital and the palace were abandoned after the Kings death. However the palace was used as a Buddhist monastery up until the 14th century.

The major attraction in Sigiriya is Lions Rock which also is a UNESCO world heritage site. Sadly the entrance fee is quite expensive. If you are on a budget my advice would be to go to Pidanwala rock instead. It is quite a challenging climb but so worth it. Here there are few tourists, cheaper entry fee and you also get an amazing view both over the landscape and Lions Rock.

Close to Sigiriya is Minneriya National Park. Here you have a big chance to see wild elephants. The number of elephants in the area vary during the year. When we visited it was thought that around 500 elephants were in the park.

I can highly recommend staying at Sisira Natural Lodge. The owner is very helpful and can sort out transportation from the airport, round the area and also does the safari tours. The included breakfast is delicious and make sure to book a room with AC (not all rooms provide this).


Kandy

Kandy is the second largest city on Sri Lanka. One of main sites is the Temple of the Tooth which is one of the most sacred places of worship for buddhists. If you go there in the evening you might see one of the ceremonies where people bring their offerings to the tooth. Some other things to see are the Big Buddha, hanging bridge and World War Two memorial. The city is surrounded by hills and there are multiple look out points with stunning views.


Ella

The quaint town of Ella was truly breathtaking. Most of the hotels and guesthouses are located near the center. We stayed at Ella Grand Peak Hotel which I highly recommend. The major attractions are within walking distance from the town. We only had one day in Ella and we started the morning with hiking up "Little Adam´s Peak". If you are an avid hiker and have more time you can also do the more challenging hike up "Adams Peak". However even the "little" hike was quite a challenge and both my sister and dad struggled. Make sure to use comfortable shoes suited for the terrain. You do not want to miss this out as the view from the top is amazing.

Once you´ve climbed "Little Adams Peak" the next attraction "Nine Arches Bridge" is not far away. It can be a bit tricky to find as there are very few signs, but ask the locals and you will find the way. Once again it´s a bit of a challenge getting down to the bridge from here as you have to climb down a very steep dirt track. This place is iconic and I´m sure you´ve seen heaps of Instagram pictures from here. To get back to the town you can walk through the tunnel and follow the train track all the way back to Ella train station. It is also possible to get to the bridge this way if you do not want the challenging hike. Make sure to not walk on the tracks, rather alongside them as the train runs through there a few times a day.

A few kilometers outside the town you will find Ravana Falls. This steep waterfall is beautiful and many people also take the opportunity to cool down and swim at the bottom.

This area is filled with tea plantations and if you have the opportunity definitely make the time to visit one. Many people make the trip to Lipton´s Seat where the famous Lipton tea is grown. Horton Plains national park is another attraction many people take the time to visit. (These places are not located in Ella)


Tangalle

The southern part of the country is famous for it´s amazing beaches. There are endless beaches to discover. We decided to stay near the coastal town of Tangalle and it did not disappoint. We stayed at a resort called Palm Paradise. It was fully equiped with restaurants, pool, beach and much more. Upon arrival we had booked a cabana but due to all of our mosquito bites we decided to upgrade to a villa with AC. This was a true treat and the most luxurious place we had stayed during the whole trip.


Galle

Galle Fort which also is a UNESCO World Heritage site. The town has been invaded and ruled by many different nationalities. For example both the Portuguese and the Dutch have been here. The town is filled with European buildings and narrow streets. It is unlike any other town on Sri Lanka and has a really cozy vibe. The old town (Galle Fort) is quite small and we found it really nice to just wander around and see all of the beautiful buildings. The most famous site is Galle Lighthouse. We found a cute little restaurant/café called "The Stairway" which we really enjoyed. I highly recommend a visit there when in Galle.

The famous Unawatuna beach with the rope swing is located 20 minutes out of town. I had also hoped to visit a Turtle Sanctuary in Hikkaduwa but unfortunately we did not have the time. If I ever come back to Sri Lanka I hope to go there.


Colombo

Colombo is the capital of Sri Lanka. We spent a day there and the sights are quite spread out over the city. Some of the sights we visited were: the Town Hall, Seem Malaka(temple out on a lake), Galle Face Green, Old Parliament, Galle Buck Lighthouse, the President's Palace and the Jami Ul-Afar Mosque and Pettah market.


More information

To see more pictures and get more information about traveling in Sri Lanka look at the following link: http://nouw.com/graceontour/category/sri-lanka


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I thought it would be fun to start sharing some videos from my travels. The first one is from the north of India. Enjoy :D

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Traveling to India is an amazing experience. However it requires a fair amount of planning and preparation. I hope that this guide will help you in your planning for traveling to India. I wish I had known these things before traveling to the country.

This guide contains:

- General information

- Good to know before traveling

- Telephones and mobile broadband

- What to pack

- How to dress

- What can a vegan eat in India?

- Our travel itinerary

- More information


General information

India is the seventh largest country in the world and second most populated. It has a rich history dating back many thousands of years. The country consists of 29 states and is widely multicultural with it´s many religions and languages. Each region is unique offering different climate, cultures, architecture and so on. Read up on the state/states that you are traveling to for more information regarding customs there. India has developed immensely in the past years however the larger part of the population is very poor and this brings certain problems especially regarding hygiene and garbage.


Good to know before traveling

India requires most nationalities to have a Visa. The application is easiest done on https://indianvisaonline.gov.in where you apply for an e-visa. Make sure to print out your e-visa as you are required to show the papers both before boarding the plane to India and upon arrival.

Certain vaccinations are recommended. Check with your doctor to see what vaccinations you should have when traveling to India.

Do not drink tapwater. Even though most locals drink the tapwater many people who haven't had it before react negatively to it. My dad had it and fell ill with Delhi belly. To be on the safe side drink bottled water.

Eat cooked food. This is for the same reason as the water. Cooked food generally holds fewer bacterias than raw. Also try to stay away from streetfood.

Respect the culture and dress appropriately.

Pack for a varied climate. The climate changes from warm to cold, rainy to dry.

Everything takes longer in India. The pace of life is much slower and you just have to go with it.

Traveling between cities takes time. There are nearly no motorways in the country and local transportation takes time.

There are cows everywhere.

Considering that English is one of the official languages very few are able to use English for communication.

There are no "real" food stores. Small local shops offer a very limited assortment.

Cash is the deal. Very few places accept credit cards.

There is a lot of bureaucracy.

Everything is very mucky and it´s hard to keep things clean.

Fixed prices, hard to bargain.

Cheap country to travel in. Good prices for accommodation, transportation, food and admissions.

As a tourist you are charged for everything.

Many people are very poor and you will see a lot of begging.

Women are not treated the same way as men.

From the summer of 2017 all of the 29 Indian states have the same tax rates.


Telephones and mobile broadband

The most convenient way to get an Indian SIM-card is upon arrival at the airport. In order to get this you need to show your e-visa and a copy of your passport. Some operators will hand out free SIM-cards at the airport. These are usually loaded with a certain amount of money, and you will probably need to top upp the card. Make sure that your telephone is not locked to an operator in your home country.


What to pack

Thin travel sleeping bag, (bedsheet)

Toilet paper, Hand sanitizer, Wet wipes,

Hat, Sunscreen, Umbrella,

Snacks (no food stores),

First aid kit including some medicines against diarrhea, dehydration and painkillers.

Mosquito spray and net

Torch (power cuts are common)

Safety pins

Extension cable with at least four sockets.


How to dress

Traveling in India as a woman is already hard, and wearing the wrong clothes can make the experience even tougher. Women in India do not have the same rights as men, and being from the western world you will get a lot of uncomfortable stares from men when traveling. Wearing your normal summer clothes, i.e. shorts, tank tops and other revealing clothing will not work. I once went out in a skirt above the knee and that was the worst decision ever. The most common piece of clothing for Indian women is a sari, a big piece of material which wraps around the body. Another traditional piece is the salwar kameez which consists of three parts: a tunic, leggings and a scarf.

Covering the knees and shoulders are most important! T-shirts, trousers, long skirts and dresses in light weight material are good options. Due to the unbearable heat you are going to sweat. Make sure to use clothes made from cotton and linen in light colours. Read the washing label before to encounter a easy wash when traveling. Another tip would be to purchase an Indian piece of clothing. Dressing as the locals ensures you that you are respecting the culture. You don't have to worry if you do not have theses type of clothing. There are plenty of street vendors selling respectable summer clothes. Another recommendation is to buy a sari. There are no special rules or customs for how men should dress. But indian men are seldom seen in shorts. The long clothes also protect from the mosquitoes and other bugs. When it comes to shoes I would recommend using a pair of shoes you are not afraid to ruin. The streets are usually very dirty and when it rains it getts very muddy.


Indian Food

As you may know many people in India are vegetarians and many dishes are free from animals products. However most of the traditional dishes contain dairy. In general I found that food in the south of India was more vegan than in the north. I always made sure to inform when ordering that I was a vegan and asked the dish to be free from any dairy, or animal products. Make sure to say that the dish should be free from ghee (a milk product often used in indian cooking). Side dishes like plain naan, rice, fried veg rice and boiled vegetables are always offered on the menus. I really enjoyed the customs of Indian dining. The dishes are presented in metal dishes and the food is meant to be shared. Some vegan dishes I enjoyed while traveling were daal, allo gobi, currys and fried tomato.


Our travel itinerary

We had a very cramped schedule and wanted to see as much as possible during a very limited time period. We generally only had one day in each place. Due to the circumstances we hired a driver and car. For us this was the best option. We have never done this before and haven't had the need to. Local transportation has always been the best and cheapest option for us. However the distances between the different cities in India are long and there are limited options for transportation.

1. Delhi

2. Agra

3. Jaipur

4. Jodhpur

5. Udaipur

6. Mumbai

7. Kochi

8. Alappuzha

9. Periyar

10. Munnar

11. Madurai


Delhi

We started our trip in Delhi and stayed in the old part of the city. Some sights worth seeing are the Jama Masjid mosk, the Red Fort, Raj Ghat (The Ghandi memorial), India Gate, the Lotus temple, Humayuns Tomb, Parliament, Presidents Palace and Dlilli Haat market. We found a rooftop restaurant in the old parts of Delhi. It was nice to see the city´s hustle and bustle from above.


Agra

The main attraction in Agra is the Taj Mahal. Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan commisioned the project in 1632 to house the tomb of his favoutite wife Mumtas Mahal. The general admission for foreigners is 1000 rupees, which also includes a bottle of water and shoe covers. Children under 15 are free. You are not allowed to bring pens, makeup or lighters (anything that can damage the monument). The attraction is closed on Fridays which can be good to know when planning a visit. Otherwise it´s open every day from 6 a.m to 7 p.m. There are three entrances and we used the South one which had no queues and worked perfectly.

For me the most magical experience from the Taj Mahal is the view from Methab Bagh Park. It´s located on the other side of the river opposite the Taj Mahal. This is the perfect place to go for sunrise or sunset. Not many people know about this place and there are very few tourists here. The entrence fee is 200 rupies.

The city of Agra is quite run down and there are not a lot of things I would recomend to see other than the Taj Mahal.


Jaipur

Jaipur also known as the pink city is the capital of Rajasthan. In 1876 the city was painted pink to welcome the Prince of Wales. Within the city walls all the buildings are pink, built in a beautiful architectural style with a lot of detail.

Some things worth seeing are the Amber Fort, the City Palace, Palace of the winds and the Jal Mahal Palace,


Jodhpur

If Jaipur is known as the pink city then Jodhpur is known as the blue city. I had very high hopes on finding lots of blue houses all around. Unfortunately there were only a few blue houses like the ones I had imagined. In Jodhpur we stayed at the Jee Ri Haveli Hotel. It´s family run and the owners are very friendly. They also cook amazing food. The rooms were comfortable and spacious with all amenities and AC, offering amazing views over the fort. The rooftop restaurant is the perfect place to end the day with a 360 degree view over the city.

Must see in Jodhpur: Mehrangarh Fort, Jaswant Thada, Blue Houses. For those seeking a bit of an adventure the company Flying Fox offers zip lining by Mehrangarh Fort. Unfortunately it was closed when we visited but seems like an awesome experience.


Udaipur

The drive between Jodhpur and Udaipur is amazing and takes you through lush green forest and mountainous landscape. Udaipur is also known as the city of lakes and is where the James Bond movie "Octopussy" was filmed. Unfortunately we did not have a lot of time in the city so we only saw a few things. However I liked the other northern India cites better as they felt more genuine and had more old remnants. We visited the City Palace where you also have a great view over Lake Pichola, Taj lake palace and Jagmandir.


Mumbai

We took a domestic flight from Udaipur to Mumbai with IndiGo. Really great for domestic travel in India. The city of Mumbai is truly a city of contrasts. Here the poor are very poor living in big slums and the rich are very rich living in luxurious high-rise buildings. My advice would be to stay in the southern areas of the city (Colaba for example). Then you will be close to all of the major attractions. We stayed close to the airport and it took a long time to get down to the Gateway of India and there were few alternatives for local transportation. In the southern areas you will find a lot of colonial buildings. Here follows a summary of things to see in Mumbai: Gateway of India, Grand Taj Palace Hotel, Elephanta Island, Colonial Buildings (Uni, High Court, Flora fountain), Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, Prince of Wales Museum, Colaba, Crawford Market, Haji Ali Mosque, Dhobi Ghat, Global Vipassana Pagoda(outside city), Malabar Hill, Chowpatty Beach, Marine Drive.


Kochi

Once again we took a domestic flight and ended up in Kochi. It´s located in the state of Kerala which is a diverse and beautiful state. It offers everything from beaches, tea plantations, mountains, national parks and rich culture. When comparing the different states Kerala seemed cleaner, richer and more tropical. The Portuguese influences are widely imprinted in Fort Cochin and it has a bit of a Mediterranean vibe.

What to see: St Francis Church, Vasco Dagamas tomb, the Chinese fishing nets, the Dutch Palace, Mattanchery Palace, Jewish synagogue and the Jewish quarters which also is great for shopping. Here there are many small shops selling traditional indian goods.


Alappuzha

A trip to Kerala would not be complete without a cruise on the backwaters. Many people choose to stay the night on a houseboat, however this can turn out quite expensive. We chose instead to do a day trip with the company Get your guide. Link to tour: (https://www.getyourguide.com/kochi-l743/7-hours-village-backwater-cruise-in-cochin-t39150/). We paid 140 SEK/p.p with is approximately 15 euros. This was the cheapest backwater experience I came across when planning the trip. If you want to stay the night on a houseboat you have to be prepared to spend a few 100 euros instead. The package included the following:

- Pickup and drop off from your hotel in Kochi.

- 8 h cruzing the backwaters with stops at local islands and small industries to see how the locals live.

- Traditional vegan food served on a banana leaf.


Periyar

The drive from Kochi to Periyar is amazing. We passed waterfalls, tea plantations, fruit plantations, jungle, forests and mountains.

Periyar is most known for it´s national park and specifically for the elephants and tigers living there. Upon arrival there are many options on how you can explore the reserve. You do not need to book anything in advance or on the website. There are tour offices outside the park and only one company managing them. Hikes, boat rides and Jeep tours are some of the options. We only stayed one night in Periyar and arrived late in the afternoon when most of the tours already had gone. However we went on a hike in the reserve accompanied by a guide from the indigenous tribe. We did not see any tigers but we saw monkeys, dear, buffalos and beautiful nature. It was an invigorating experience hiking in a area inhabited with tigers. If you are planning to do the hike make sure to have good shoes as it can get very muddy. I also want to recommend staying at Periyar Woods Hotel. We had a lovely stay and the lovely family who owned the hotel were very helpful and cooked a lovely breakfast. It is also located very close to the national park.


Munnar

Also known as tea country. Located 1470 meters over sea level the climate is much milder than in other parts of Kerala. We even found it a bit chilly especially in the evenings. Due to problems with our car we never got to the town of Munnar. On the way we stopped at a spice and fruit plantation with was really interesting. There are several places like this where you can stop on the may to Munnar. We stayed at the Dream Catcher Plantation Resort. As the name tells you the resort is located in the middle of a big tea plantation picking tea for Tetley´s tea company. We got to wander round freely on the grounds and the staff told us all about the tea making process. They even served complementary tea and we took a ride in a polaris round the whole area. We could not ask for a better experience. But if you however plan on visiting Munnar then many people recommend the tea museum explaining the tea making process after the leaves have been picked. My advice would be to visit a tea plantations (there are loads in the area) and see the picking process in real life.


Madurai

We only visited Madurai because we were flying from there to Sri Lanka. As it´s located in another state our driver had to apply for a certain permit for traveling there with our car. I would recommend to try and fly from Kochi international airport if possible when leaving Kerala. However it was an experience to drive through yet another state of India. Just on the other side of the border many things were different in the state of Tamil Nadu. It was poorer, more desert like climate and more rubbish. The most famous attraction is the Meenakshi Temple, and this was also the only thing we had time to visit.

More information

For more information and inspiration on traveling to India you can read my blogposts from India.

On this link you can find all of the posts: http://nouw.com/graceontour/category/indien

Youtube video: https://youtu.be/r5wPrOaPrx4

If you prefer links to each post they can be found below.

Traveling to Delhi: http://nouw.com/graceontour/crazy-day-30491209

Delhi: http://nouw.com/graceontour/delhi-30497829

Agra: http://nouw.com/graceontour/taj-mahal-30504633

Jaipur: http://nouw.com/graceontour/jaipur-30504231

Jodhpur: http://nouw.com/graceontour/jodhpur-30521936

Udaipur: http://nouw.com/graceontour/udaipur-30537815

Mumbai: http://nouw.com/graceontour/mumbai-30545445

Kochi: http://nouw.com/graceontour/kochi-30560609

Backwaters of Kerala: http://nouw.com/graceontour/cruising-the-backwaters-of-kerala-30567212

Periyar: http://nouw.com/graceontour/heading-inland-30574972

Periyar National Park: http://nouw.com/graceontour/periyar-woods-30575052

Munnar: http://nouw.com/graceontour/stuck-in-munnar-30583945

Madurai: http://nouw.com/graceontour/car-crash-30603872

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Uppe med tuppen för att ta den tidiga färjan tillbaka till Split. När jag lämnat min väska på hostelet tog att mig till busstationen och åkte vidare till staden Trogir. Där vandrade jag runt och gick även över till ön Komiza.


Caught the early ferry to Split. After I had left my things at the hostel I took a bus to Trogir. I walked round the town and also walked over to the island of Komiza.

Staden är mest känd för sitt gamla fort.

The town is famous for it´s old fort.

Hur som helst var det ett äventyr att sig tillbaka till Split. Bussen som alla skulle åka med kom aldrig så jag fick ta en annan buss som tog mycket längre tid. Till slut kom jag tillbaka och stannade till på Zara butiken. De hade ett stort utbud och jag hittade några riktiga höstkap. Får beställa de sakerna då jag endast har handbagage.


It was an adventure to get back to Split as the bus never arrived. I found another local bus that stopped every 3 minutes but inte the end I got back to Split. I stopped by the Zara store to have a browse and found plenty of clothes. However I didn't buy anything as I´m traveling with hand luggage.

Imorgon åker jag hem och trots att jag haft en helt underbar vecka känner jag mig reda att ta mig an hösten. Denna resa behövdes verkligen och jag är så glad och stolt att jag tog mig an utmaningen och åkte. Jag har vuxit som människa, fått nya perspektiv och upplevelser som kommer finnas med mig resten av livet.

Tomorrow I'm heading back home and even though I´ve had the most amazing week I´m ready to tackle the autumn. I really needed this trip and I´m so proud of myself that I took the challenge and went. I´ve grown as a person, got a new perspective and had an amazing experience that I will cherish forever.

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Nu börjar det visa sig att jag gått ganska mycket de senaste dagarna. Fötterna är fyllda med skavsår och har även fått värk i mina knän. Som tur var promenerande inte på schemat idag.


It´s starting to show that I´ve been walking a lot this trip. My feet are covered with blisters and my knees are aching. Luckily walking wasn't on the schedule today.

Jag har nämligen spenderat dagen ute på Plankeni öarna. En liten taxibåt tog oss ut till två olika öar. Från båten fick man en fantastisk vy över staden Hvar.


I´ve spent the day on the Plakkeni islands. I took a small taxi boat out to two different islands and from the boat you got an awesome view over Hvar.

När jag anlände till ön gick jag först till den allmänna stranden. Till min stora förvåning visade det sig vara en nudiststrand som jag inte hade blivit förvarnad om. Då jag själv inte är nudist vände jag mig raskt om och gick till andra sidan av ön. Där hittade jag en enskild klippa med en fantastisk utsikt över havet och alla de andra öarna.

When I arrived to the island I walked to the public beach. It was a big shock to me when I realized that it was a nudist beach which I had not been informed about. I am not a nudist so I turned around quickly and walked to another part of the island. There I found some cliffs where I spent a few hours looking out over the sea and the surrounding islands.

När jag kom tillbaka köpte jag biljetter för färjan till Split. Oturligt nog var många turer slutsålda så jag ska ta båten som lämnar 06.35. Det blev inte riktigt som planerat men då kanske jag åker till Togir över dagen. Vi får helt enkelt se vad morgondagen har att erbjuda. Jag hoppas att det går bättre att sova ikväll. De andra i mitt rum stormade in vid 03.00, tände alla ljus och var högljudda.

When I got back I bought tickets for the ferry to Split. Most of the tickets were sold out so I had to book the early ferry that leaves at 06.35. I hadn't planned to leave so early but maybe I´ll go to Trogir during the day. We will have to wait and see what tomorrow brings. I hope to sleep better tonight. The other people in my room stormed in at 03.00, turned all the lights on and were really noisy.

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Var uppe innan solen. Tog mig till hamnen och på katamaranen som skulle till Hvar. Det gick väldigt snabbt och resan tog endast 50 minuter. På båten kollade jag igenom min kamera och insåg att alla videofiler var försvunna. Jag fick typ panik och blev väldigt nedstämd. Under dessa dagar har jag filmat väldigt mycket och dessutom såg jag fram emot att ha dessa fantastiska minnen samlade i en film. Detta påverkade min dag lite och det störde mig ganska mycket.

Woke up before sunrise, and headed to the harbor. The boat to Hvar took about 50 minutes. On the boat I looked through my camera and realized that all of my videos had disappeared. This made me a bit down the whole day as I´ve filmed a lot during the trip.

Hur som helst tog jag mig till hostelet beläget på en kulle. Där fick jag en karta över staden. Började vid det stora torget och den ikoniska katedralen.

On another note I headed to the hostel after arriving in Hvar. There I received a map over the town and I started in the famous square where the cathedral is situated.

Gick längs de smala gatorna och sedan upp till fortet. Det var ganska långt och brant att gå i den gassande solen. Som tur var fick man en fin belöning på toppen i form av denna underbara utiskt.

I walked along the small alleys and up to the fort. It was quite a steep climb in the scorching hot weather. Luckily the reward is the view from the top,

Fortsatte längs strandpromenaden och till alla strandklubbar. Satte mig på en uteservering och åt lite lunch. Gick tillbaka till hostelet för att checka in och även låna en dator för att kolla filerna. Tog mig sedan längs kuststräckan till en gömd liten strand. Där satte jag mig och läste ut min bok. Det är synd att jag inte prioriterar att läsa när jag är hemma, för mig är det väldigt givande och avkopplande.

I continued along the waterfront where all of the beach clubs are situated. After a lot of walking I sat down for lunch in the square. I later on walked to the other side of the town and sat down to read my book. It´s quite sad that I don't prioritize reading when I´m home, I really enjoy it and it´s also very relaxing.

Tillslut lyckades jag få tag på pappa och han lugnade ner mig och tror att filerna går att rädda. Vi får i alla fall hoppas. Hur som helst är det väldigt turistigt här och mycket folk. Jag föredrar de mindre öarna men trots detta är det väldigt vackert här.

After trying to call my dad for a long time he finally picked up the phone and reassured me that he hopefully could save the files from my camera. I really do hope he can. Hvar is a very touristy place and there are a lot of people here. I prefer the smaller islands but even so it´s very beautiful here too.

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