"Noise noise and more noise – from bells on bicycles to prayer bells, car horns to train hooters, tinny music from every shop doorway, local festival and temple to the engine noise from auto rickshaws to old cars and trucks. The hawkers shouting and the shouts of the rickshaw wallahs vying for any business.
The iconic sights that have featured in travel guides and my imagination for years that have now become realised, Delhi’s Red Fort, the hilltop Amber Fort and the City palace in Jaipur, the fabulous Jantra Observatory, sitting on the iconic Princess Diana seat at the symmetrically perfect Taj Mahal to Durbar Square in Kathmandu and the fabulous ‘seeing’ Bodnath [Boudhanath] temple, to name but a few"
How was your Explore Tour Leader?
Pradeep was a gentleman, took a while to get used to the group and in the beginning treated us all as school children on a day trip - unable to be out of his sight and called by clicking fingers.. also having to listen to his information rather than reading and viewing ourselves which many preferred to do. But he did relax by end of the second week and we felt less restricted.
What tips would you give to someone else booking this tour?
"Everywhere you go and every service you use there is the reminder ‘tip tip ‘, although a recognised part of life the constant tipping becomes overbearing. Restaurant and bar prices need to be carefully viewed with the 10% service, the 13.5% government tax added to each bill thereby adding almost 25% to every price.
Smells from the unpleasant though every sensory range – sewage on the roadside, the waste floating in the sacred Ganges as the locals washed their clothing and themselves and some local washroom facilities to the wafts of incense and the fabulous spices and aromas of each different curry being cooked.
Seeing the burning funeral ghats at night at Varanasi and again at Pashupatinath Temple in Nepal during the day gave mixed emotions."
Do you have anything else to add?
"Some of the tastiest food was served from the small kitchen boat as we ‘sailed’ down the Ganges, how the chef made meals delicately spiced and unique with rice and roti or nan from a two ring burner. The scariest auto rickshaw ride I have ever taken from the Amber Fort through rush hour – was more hair raising than any rollercoaster, I must have lost at least 3 lives [a companion even asked if there was a Hindu God of Transport], didn’t think the Indian continent had road rage until our driver was ‘cut up by a local bus and chased him until he finally got back in front.... On a more positive note the skill of our minibus drivers was second to none, from the drive from Varanasi to the Nepalese border and from Chitwan through the mountain roads to Kathmandu."