What was I thinking?

Made with the keepcalm-o-matic.co.uk

Hubby recently completed an Ironman 70.3. It’s a triathlon event of crazy distances (and this is only the half distance one!) He did extremely well and is already planning to better his time in the next Half Ironman. So all this got me thinking that it’s about time I participate in an event. I’m always on the side lines encouraging, but secretly I always wanted to in the event.

Last year I walked the Chevron City to Surf 12km and it felt really good to be part of the event (Hubby ran the half marathon). Well, this year I entered to run the 12km. It sounded like a good idea at the time…the weather was really nice, not too hot, not too cold…the sun was still rising nice and early. There’d be plenty of time to train for the event come August.

What I failed to take into consideration is that the weather is turning and it’s now pretty much the beginning of winter. The sun is no longer up when I wake up and I have to dress in several layers to go run…and I use the term ‘run’ loosely…it’s more walking with bursts of stumbling and hyperventilation in between.

Hubby, ever supportive, worked out a training plan for me last night and programmed it into his old heart rate monitor. So this morning I left the house, armed with the monitor, ready to get running. I switched the watch on and it immediately started to beep at me. How can my heart rate be too high already? I haven’t even started yet! Initially I thought it was just counting down the warm up, but it kept beeping the whole 30 minutes.

I tried to look professional by ‘casually’ pressing buttons in the hope to shut it up, but no luck. Maybe people thought it was some kind of warning beacon. ‘Watch out! Crazy lady huffing and puffing up ahead!’

Despite this, I actually managed to do something which resemble running for a few minutes, so perhaps all isn’t lost. During those few seconds I was ‘running’, I actually enjoyed it! Perhaps there’s hope for me yet and I might still finish the 12kms. Tomorrow is a yoga day, so I can stretch out those hips. I’ll definitely keep you posted with how things progress. Wish me luck!

Rishikesh, Delhi and home

We drove past Rishikesh up into the valley and stopped at a bend in the road. Apparently our guest house was down a steep, dirt pathway. Luckily some guys working at the guest house came up to help us with our luggage. Rainforest House in Rishikesh is an absolute gem. It’s so peaceful, there are only a few rooms, no tv’s and there’s a waterfall next to the building. We had a beautiful view of the Ganga, which I’m happy to say is clean and fast flowing this high up.

Photo by Michele Reid

The path leading down to Rainforest House

Photo by Michele Reid

Dining area at the Rainforest House

After some rice with bananas for supper (Pradeep insists it’s the best thing to eat when you’re sick), Hubby and I had the best night’s sleep. We had our doors open as it was nice and cool and we could listen to the waterfall as we fell asleep.

I managed to get some washing done and hung it out on the balcony, but some monkeys came chasing each other and left lots of tiny monkey paw prints all over our clothes.

Photo by Stephen Reid

Cheeky Monkey

I was feeling much better and had some yummy banana and honey pancakes for breakfast along with freshly squeezed pomegranate juice. We hiked up the hill to meet Pradeep to do some sightseeing in Rishikesh. We walked across Lakshman Jhula, a suspension bridge that crosses the beautiful Ganga at the spot where Lord Vishnu’s brother, Lakshman, supposed crossed the river. Lord Vishu came to Rishikesh to do penance after killing the demon Ravana. A cheeky monkey stole a cooldrink bottle which he was enjoying at the top of the bridge.

Photo by Stephen Reid

View from the bridge

Photo by Stephen Reid

Cow traffic on the bridge

Photo by Stephen Reid

Sneaky monkey

Photo by Stephen Reid

Hmmm, refreshing!

I was so happy to see the Ganga flowing very strongly (thanks to all the snow melting a little higher up) and a school of huge fish congregating below the bridge. Pilgrims were feeding them on their way to temple.

Photo by Stephen Reid

Ma Ganga flowing strongly in Rishikesh

We strolled through the town, sidestepping the odd cow. The pace in Rishikesh is much slower and it was quite relaxing going for a walk.

Photo by Stephen Reid

Statue of Lord Shiva on the banks of the Ganga

Photo by Stephen Reid

Statue of Hanuman

Photo by Stephen Reid

Another statue of Lord Shiva

Photo by Stephen Reid

Food stall in Rishikesh

I was feeling much better, the food at Rainforest House was just delicious and quite healthy and they really did take very good care of me. We spent our last day just relaxing and walked down to the river. My plan was to take a dip in the Ganga. I’ve been dreaming of this moment since I can remember. Unfortunately as I dipped my feet into the water I realised even though it was a hot and humid day, the river was absolutely freezing. The roads to the pilgrimage sites further up the valley were still closed thanks to some late season snow falls and the river was being nicely cooled by all the melting ice. I had to make do with a ‘granny bath’, which meant pouring the water over my head instead.

Photo by Stephen Reid

Ganga at Rainforest House

With all the really healthy and delicious vegetarian food we were being served (and they’re not shy with portions), I was feeling like my old self again. Reluctantly we left the tranquillity of Rainforest House to take our last journey in India, back to Delhi. The staff helped carry our bags up the steep hill where we were greeted by the ever smiling Pradeep. He’d been taking daily dips in the Ganga. As he swerved to avoid hitting another car driving up the wrong side of traffic, I heard a sploosh noise coming from the back of the car. A quick glance confirmed he was taking containers of Ganga water back home. I just prayed the noise won’t make we want to go to the bathroom soon.

We passed a huge statue of Lord Shiva in Haridwar (somehow Hubby didn’t spot it). As we travelled further the roads became more congested. Even Pradeep was getting stressed. Apparently lots of people were setting out on pilgrimages, but most people don’t drive often and don’t know the rules (yes, it looks chaotic but there are rules) and so places everyone’s lives at risk. We had a few near misses and it was probably the most stressful and unpleasant drive we had during our time in India.

Photo by Michele Reid

Huge statue of Lord Shiva in Haridwar

Photo by Michele Reid

A girl protecting herself from the dust in one of the cities we drove through

Photo by Michele Reid

Green countryside on our way back to Delhi

We eventually arrived back in Delhi safely. I really am a small town girl, while Delhi has spectacular monuments and amazing people, I’m just not keen on cities. After getting a bit lost, Pradeep dropped us off at a mall (I know, we’re in India and we’re going to a mall). The reason behind this was so I could add a Hard Rock guitar pin from Delhi to my collection.

We then made our way to our hotel close to the airport. The first room was horrible and stank of cigarette smoke, but thankfully the electricity wouldn’t work and we were given a much better alternative room.

Our view was the highway, but we were only going to be here one night so it didn’t matter. I managed to pick up a nasty cold on the drive back to Delhi so I collapsed on the bed to catch up with my daily dose of Bollywood which I was unable to do while in Rishikesh.

After a short night’s sleep it was time to bid India farewell. We arrived at the airport (at least this time I’m not sprawled out on the floor wishing I was dead like last time), booked in our luggage and got ready to go home.

As we took off, the sun was rising over Delhi and while I was glad to be going back to my bed and Mia, I would definitely miss India.

We had a stop over again at Changi Airport. This time we visited the butterfly garden. There really is so much to do there, definitely the best airport I’ve been at.

Photo by Stephen Reid

Beautiful blue butterfly

Photo by Stephen Reid

Photo by Stephen Reid

Photo by Stephen Reid

We arrived within the early hours of the morning back at home. Mia was very excited to see us. As we collapsed into bed to get a few hours sleep I realised that it’s dead quiet. No cars hooting. I actually struggled to fall asleep, I’ve gotten used to the noise that’s part of every Indian city.

There are many things that I loved about India. Ok, so the getting sick part wasn’t great, but the positive definitely far outweighs getting sick. Some of the things I’ll cherish include the incredibly friendly people who often would go out of their way to talk to us or help us, the delicious food, the beautiful colours and the rich history the country has.

A very special thanks has to go out to our amazing driver Pradeep. I’m sure our families are very much thankful to him for keeping an eye on Hubby and myself. He was our tour guide while we were driving from one town to another, pointing out important shrines and explaining local customs. Each day he would answer Hubby’s many questions with much patience (like trying to figure out which direction we were heading in. It became part of our daily ritual as Hubby tried to figure it out, much to Pradeep’s amusement) and of course, making sure we were kept out of harm’s way while we out on the busy and often terrifying roads.

Shimla and Dehradun

The car smelt of incense, a smell I love. Pradeep performs his morning religious puja in the car. He greeted us with his usual smile as he helped to load our luggage into the car. Soon we were driving off making our way to Shimla, India’s honeymoon capital. Shimla was also the summer capital of the British raj and many of the buildings look like they would be more at home in England. While Shimla is only 145km from Mandi, due to the road condition, it took us about 5 hours to get there.

Photo by Stephen Reid

Shimla

Photo by Stephen Reid

The view from The Mall 

We stayed at Clark’s Hotel which is located on the Mall. The Mall is a road which runs along the ridge of the mountain and is closed to all motorised traffic. After a wonderful shower, we decided to head out and get some lunch.

Photo by Michele Reid

Our super comfy bed and wonderful room at Clark’s Hotel.

Newly wed couples were strolling along, eating ice cream while families were enjoying the afternoon sunshine. We passed some very British looking buildings enjoying the relaxed atmosphere. We were walking when I felt something bump my leg. I turned around to find a baby monkey jumped on me. He quickly jumped back onto the fence. You have to look out for the monkeys in Shimla (and most other cities), as they’re quite sneaky and good at stealing food, cameras and pretty much anything they can get their hands on. We got stopped by a local taking his dog for a walk. He was interested in where we were from and hoped we enjoy our stay. Once again, I just love how friendly the people in India are.

Photo by Michele Reid

Church in Shimla

Photo by Michele Reid

British influence in Shimla

Photo by Michele Reid

The tallest Hanuman statue in the world

We had a nice lunch and made our way back to the hotel. We decided to make the most of our luxurious accommodation and later that afternoon made our way to the bar where we had a drink and watched the storm coming in. Dinner was absolutely delicious and we got to enjoy a really good night’s sleep.

Photo by Stephen Reid

Storm clouds rolling in

Photo by Stephen Reid

View of the thunder storm from the bar in Clark’s Hotel

We had an early breakfast and said goodbye to the friendly staff at Clark’s in Shimla. Once again Pradeep was waiting for us, smiling as usual. We set off on the twisting roads, descending back towards the plains. I was feeling a bit off but figured it must be all the twists and turns making me car sick.

As we got closer to the plains we stopped for some petrol as they were striking in the next state and we weren’t sure if we would be able to fill up there. We seemed to attract quite a lot of attention; I don’t think many tourists go that way.

Soon we were back on our way heading for Dehradun. We were just spending the night there on our way to Rishikesh. As we entered the city we spotted about 100 army guys cycling. Pradeep told us they first get bicycles, and once they’ve mastered that, they move up to motorbikes, cars and so forth. It was quite a sight to see these tough looking guys all cycling across the road.

We arrived at our hotel late that afternoon and I got a sinking feeling in my stomach. Our room was tiny, dirty and had absolutely no airflow. After a dismal late lunch we retreated to watch some daily dose of Bollywood. By dinner time I wasn’t feeling too well so we got room service. All I could manage was 2 bites of briyani before I had to make a run for the bathroom. Yep, whatever bug I picked up was still apparently thriving in my stomach. I spent the rest of the night hugging the bucket next to the bed. I tried some of the medicine we still had but couldn’t keep them down long enough for them to start working.

After a sleepless night we left as soon as we could and decided to forgo our complimentary breakfast. Pradeep seemed worried that I was still not well and we stopped yet again at another pharmacy and Hubby got me my second course of antibiotics for the holiday. We drove through beautiful forests and soon saw a glimpse of the mighty Ganga. As I wasn’t feeling well we headed straight to our next guest house hoping it was better than the place we slept last night.