Yes… you heard that right… I’m headed back to India. I know I mentioned before that I desperately needed to get out of Goa, and by extension, India… Goa had sucked me down a party vortex and India… well… I was just over it at the moment. India can be a tough place to travel… dealing with the bureaucracy, the negative aspects of the culture, the (bad) smells, getting sick, the staring, etc… left me very frustrated… at times I felt like I was banging my head against a wall. So… I took a given opportunity and made my escape to Thailand… and let me tell you, I was very glad I made that move. Thailand is the easiest place (traveling-wise) I’ve been since I left Spain in August… and being there allowed me to clear my head and relax for a bit. But honestly, after bumming around the southern islands a bit, I got a bit bored. I didn’t feel that sense of adventure that more challenging travel destinations presented, and I really didn’t have a specific goal or purpose for being in Thailand… I needed a bit more excitement (of the non-party variety… between the wedding in Delhi, almost two months in Goa, Bangkok and Phi Phi, believe me, I am partied out for a bit). I just really felt the urge to go somewhere else… and I can hear you now… but why India?
To answer that we should take a step back… back to somewhere early last year when I was attempting to decide where to go on this little adventure of mine. Now, I’m sure many of you think I’m just flying by the seat of my pants out here… and to some extent I am… but I do have the vaguest framework of a plan underlying this whole dealio. See, when I set off, I knew I really wanted to see three places… Ibiza, Ethiopia and Nepal (in no particular order mind you)… when and how I’d get there, where I’d go in between, what would I do when I got there… well that was all TBD. Now, I’ve checked off two of those places and some other interesting things as well… but I still am shooting to complete that checklist… and to do that I need to get to Nepal. So there’s overarching theme number one… Nepal. Now, I could just fly there from Thailand… and I did look into that… but where’s the adventure in that? I’d been chillaxin’ at the beach, I was rested, relaxed and, honestly a little miffed/bored with how easy Thailand was… so I was looking for something that would push me a little bit… for some adventure… so there’s overarching theme number two.
Let’s see… adventurous ways to get to Nepal from Thailand? Overland… always adventurous right..? Well, Nepal is bordered by two countries… India and China. To get to India overland from Thailand I’d first have to go through Burma/Myanmar… a quick google search revealed that, even though foreigners can now go to Burma, they can’t cross the border from Burma into India. So a no go there. Crossing into Nepal from China requires a special permit from the Chinese government to travel though Tibet. Honestly, I didn’t follow up on that one, as I’ve already been to China before, and I really just didn’t want to deal with all that getting that permit might entail. So that leaves getting to Nepal overland via India… Nicely enough, my Indian tourist visa is still good through June of this year, so I could get back into India without a problem. Now, since I can’t overland it through Burma to India… what’s another out of the box way to get to India? You were also thinking of a cargo ship as well right..? Of course… and, with a bit of research, I found it was possible to get on a ship as a paying passenger from either Bangkok or Panang, Malaysia (adjacent to Thailand to the south). Unfortunately, it’s not possible to disembark from a cargo ship (even with a valid visa) anywhere in India. Bye bye traveling by cargo ship idea (at least for now). So what to do..?
I felt that all the available signs seemed to be pushing me toward a return visit to India… so I decided to go with it. Given that I had the visa and I can overland it from there into Nepal… I just had to figure out a way to spice it up a bit (pun intended). Now, India is a massive, massive country, and I’d really only seen just a tiny sliver of it previously (mostly Goa, which arguably, is hardly India) so I thought I should at least visit some of the more famous places on the way as well. That thought, combined with thoughts of this previous adventure gave me a little light bulb moment… I’m going to make my way from the very southern tip to India north to Nepal by train. Adventurous… yes. Ability to see more of India… yes. Decision done and done. Ticket bought, route TBD… and just like that (insert finger snapping sound) I’m now headed back to India.