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Staying with an authentic Hill Tribe in Northern Thailand

In Northern Thailand, there are still authentic tribes. Thai provinces of Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai are home to hundreds of small villages of people who left Myanmar, Laos or China and came to Thailand, about 200 years ago, as refugees in search of a better life. Many hill tribes live their lives by growing crops such as vegetables and rice, very deep in the high mountains of Northern Thailand. It is not an easy life. Projects like King’s Royal Project provide them with agricultural cooperatives and bring little prosperity to some villages. Although nowadays most of the people from the hill tribes are Thai citizens, they are still marginalized by Thai people, so the hill tribes prefer to live in the uplands. There are seven main hill tribe groups in Thailand and many subgroups. Each of the tribes has its own distinct culture, traditions, and language. Finding out about…

Mandawa – The city of the amazingly painted Havelis

Mandawa is one of the smallest towns of northern Rajasthan. It used to be a remote feudal principality and an outpost for the trading route starting from China to Middle East. In order to protect this outpost, they constructed a fort and the town started to grow around it, attracting a large community of traders who settled here. These merchants, who became quite wealthy as a result of trade in the region, built many havelis. This was a symbol of their wealth. These rich business people commissioned artists to paint frescoes on their homes as a sign of opulence. And so, havelis appeared all over the desert landscape. In time, along with the trade routes, more and more families settled elsewhere, letting many havelis abandoned, locked up and neglected. Once we reached the city we had a tour to discover the famous frescoes with religious motifs. So we started to…

Bikaner and our stay in Lallgarh Palace

In the morning we left Pushkar to our new destination, Bikaner – known as the Country of Camels. Bikaner is a vibrant deserts city having fabulous forts and palaces that tell the world about the opulence of its rulers. Bikaner was a large wilderness before the 15th century, known as “Jangladesh” and was under the rule of Rajputs. Rao Bika, a Rajput ruler, built the city and name it Bikaner, after his name. Shortly after, it became very rich city because it was an oasis in the middle of the Thar desert, on the trade route between Central Asia and Arabic sea. Bika also built a fort here, and name it Junagarh Fort. Once we entered the city, we stopped to visit Junagarh Fort which is an impregnable bastion that holds the distinction of having never been captured. The fort complex houses some magnificent palaces constructed in red sandstone and…

Pushkar and the Holy Lake

A new day brought us more closer to the Thar Desert, to the city of Pushkar, known as a town on the edge of the desert. It is famous for its holy lake, temples that annually attracts pilgrims and the camel festival. Pushkar is one of the five sacred places that are highly worshiped by Hindus and Sikhs. In Hindu religion, it is believed that during a certain war, Lord Brahma had slayed the demon, Vajra Nabh, with a lotus flower, whose petals drifted down to earth and were spread in three areas in and around Pushkar, where lakes was created. Even the name of the city, Pushkar, in Sanskrit means “blue lotus” flower. The water of this lake is believed to have healing properties and a dip in the lake implies washing away the sins. We reached our hotel – Pushkar Fort, around lunch time and it gave us a little…

Jaipur – Exploring the Pink City

From Suroth village we hopped on the bus and left to our next destination, which was Jaipur – The Pink city of Rajasthan. Jaipur is one of the most culturally rich heritage cities in India and also part of the Golden Triangle, which is a popular tourist itinerary that included also Delhi and Agra. The city was designed by the Rajput Emperor – Jai Singh who moved the capital from Amber to Jaipur. He wanted to construct a great architectural wonder and he paid much attention to details. The city is named after him. It is called the Pink City after the visit of Prince Albert and Queen Victoria. Since pink was considered the color of hospitality at that time, Maharaja Ram Singh had the whole city painted pink to welcome the royal guests. Like this it gained the nickname of the Pink city. Play with the monkeys, in Monkey…

Experiencing an authentic Indian Village – Suroth Village

On the way to our next city, Jaipur, we had spent a night in a local, authentic Indian Village. Here, our accommodation was a 700 year old fort – Suroth Mahal. Suroth is a large village located in Karauli district of Rajasthan. Arriving early, we had the chance to have a walk through the village. In the beginning we were little afraid, because it was so rustic and authentic like never seen before, but soon we understood that the villagers were so friendly. People of this village are living a very peaceful life having agriculture as the main profession. The more we wandered, the more fascinated we were by the people and they where fascinated by us. We had so much fun just interacting with the people. It was the perfect way to see the real life of India and its authentic people. We spent the night in a 700…

Agra and the Amazing Taj Mahal

On our third day of our trip we left for Agra. Although the distance is about 200 km, we spent about five hours on the road. In India you don’t know how long a trip will last because traffic is unpredictable. During the Mughal Dynasty, Agra was one of the most powerful cities in the world and it was the capital city of the Mughal Empire. Kings from all over the world used to visit Agra and complement its grandeur. Today is still an important city on the main touristic route named the “Golden triangle” and home to three UNESCO Heritage Sites: Taj Mahal, Agra Fort and Fatehpur Sikri. The city itself is a small one  and quite dirty. Locals are used to tourists and the prices are extremely high. Spectacular Agra Fort We arrived quite late in Agra and we went directly to see Agra Fort which was the…

Delhi – The city of contrasts

Delhi, the capital of India, is a city we really enjoyed. Actually there are three parts of Delhi.  Old Delhi is the historic city, the city that has grown organically around the great palaces and mosques of mogul, the emperors of Central Asian origin, who have ruled India for centuries, is that mad, chaotic but authentic and memorable India. There is New Delhi, the colonial city, built by the English, desperate for the chaos of the Old city, the planned city, the tall and shady trees, a solemn and precious atmosphere determined by the fact that the state authorities are here. And finally, the youngest Delhi is not called Super-New Delhi, but Gurgaon, the modern and funky city where skyscrapers have been built, where the malls have surpassed the bazaars and where the world of business, fashion, that of the twentieth-century India. Early morning we started our visit in Old…

How we visited Northern India

First of all we want to clarify that this is not a paid post. This is our experience and the way we felt it. Before decided to go to India, we already knew a lot of things about it since Costin has spent a few month there about 10 years ago. We knew that logistics in India are somehow difficult to handle by your own, especially since  we were only two people going and we did not have that much time to lose. That’s why we choose to go to India by a travel agency. We spoke with our friend Iuliana from Nefertiti Travel and she arranged this amazing trip to Northern India – The mysteries of Rajasthan from her partners Karpaten and Sita India. Although, generally we organize these kind of trips by yourself we are very happy with our choice. It helped us a lot to have everything…

Few Reasons why you should visit Northern India

Not everybody wants to visit India. Most of my friends don’t even want to hear about traveling here. People say it is too dirty, hygiene standards are lower in India than anywhere in the west and not to mention the chaos. Others say it is extremely tiring and difficult to get around so you can ruin your vacation. Well, honestly, it is all true! But there are so many other things why you should consider visiting India and so we did! We decided to travel to the north, and chose a travel agency to do so since we wanted to make the most out of our 10 days here and avoid losing time chasing transportation or waiting in line to enter the sights. India is a huge and very diverse country with more than 1.2 billion people. Different regions have their own distinct cultures. Language, religion, food and arts are…

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