2016 Travel Recap

once a year go someplace you've never been before

found here

Now that 2016 has come to an end, a lot of people are reflecting on the year and making resolutions for the new year. My main resolution/wish for every year is to continue leading a life of adventure, in whatever way I can. Some years are more adventurous than others, but I always manage to sneak in a few trips!

While 2016 will go down in the books as “the worst year ever” for a lot of people, it will go down as a pretty good one for me. I had some pretty awesome travels; got to spend some good quality time with friends and family; worked out some personal things; got a promotion at work; and have some good ideas for what I want out of life in 2017.

But since this is a travel blog, let’s focus on the travel! (And I know I haven’t written about some of these trips yet–I failed pretty miserably at blogging in 2016.)

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Varanasi, India’s Most Perfect City?

varanasi india

I’ve taken two trips to India in the past year and have yet to write much on my blog about either of the trips. India is one of those countries that’s so difficult to actually describe, but is so amazing that you want to tell everyone about it.

I was just answering a few questions on my favorite place in the world for another blogger and without hesitation, I picked a place–and not one that I thought I would’ve chosen: Varanasi.

Varanasi is the holiest place for Hindus—both life and death can be found along the ghats the Ganges. It was a place I knew I had to visit when going to India, but is surprisingly not terribly touristy (as compared to places like Agra). It was the last place I visited on my first trip to India. I was tired both physically and mentally; in mid-May it had become exceedingly hot and humid, draining me all of my energy. I was sick of the food; sick of the honking of horns; tired of touts chasing me to sell everything from useless toys to finger paints. But something about that city completely re-energized me.

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Teaching India’s Children

children in india

When I traveled to India recently, the magnitude of the poverty I witnessed was both astonishing and overwhelming. I was constantly slapped in the face with it and left there feeling heartbroken and helpless. I wanted nothing more than to rescue all those children and bring them home with me to nourish their lives in every way possible (I mostly wanted to read them books, hug them, and tuck them into warm beds). But obviously I couldn’t do that. While I spend my full-time workdays in the US indirectly contributing to helping millions of Americans receive the benefits they need in order to live a happier and healthier life, I cannot do the same for all the children of the world no matter how badly I want to.

Over 20% of India’s population, or roughly 179 million of India’s 1.2 billion people live below the poverty line of just $1.25 American a day. Compound that with the fact that schools are expensive and you see the number of uneducated people in the country sky-rocket.

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What to Wear in India

Before I left for India, I scoured the internet trying to find anything I could get my hands on regarding what to wear. I didn’t want to stick out like a sore thumb, but I also didn’t want to totally change up my style and pack things I wouldn’t be comfortable in for several weeks of travel.

Here’s what I knew: India is hot. Hot hot hot in April in the northern part of the country (Delhi, Varanasi, Jaipur, Agra, etc.). And India is conservative: no shoulders or knees can be shown.

I thought long and hard about what to wear and settled on the following: lightweight and breathable fabrics. Short sleeves, long skirts, and ankle/capri pants. Turns out, it was perfect.

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Top 5 Attractions in Ooty

Located in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu, Ooty is one of the most famous hill stations in India and is situated amidst the blue misty mountains of the Nilgiris. The hill town was known to be the dwelling place of the pastoral community of the Todas, but was captured by the British East India Company by the later 18th century. The British officers were enchanted by the surroundings and the cooler climate and developed it into a colonial summer retreat for the Madras presidency. The architecture of the buildings was more of a recreation of the buildings in old England and provided a pleasant escape from the tropical heat of Southern India. Today, Ooty remains as a highly frequented hill station and has several attractions that make your trip a memorable one. Let us take a look at some of the best attractions that Ooty has to offer.

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Only in India

chandni chowk old delhi india

I have never been as scared to travel to a country as I was to go to India. I read every single horror story I could get my hands on before leaving–I read about acid attacks, rapes, muggings, hotel break-ins–whatever I could find, I consumed. I hate how I feed into things like that, but I absolutely do. While I never believe an entire country is the sum total of what its horrible people do, I still like to be informed. And in this case, I’m glad I did. It totally worked in my favor because I ended up having one of the best experiences of my entire life!

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Fulfilling a Dream

chai in india

Has there ever been a country that has just called to you? Imploring you to visit? To explore its cities and roam its streets? To taste its foods and experience its culture? To buy its wares and immerse yourself in everything it has to offer?

I have known many: Italy, Iceland, and Morocco, to be more specific. And after visiting each one of those, my heart grew a little larger to make room to fit all of them inside. Each one of them was special and amazing in its own way and, despite some difficulties in a couple of them, they each earned this rightful place at the top of my favorite-places-in-the-world list.

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