Springtime in Perth

Photo by Stephen Reid

Beautiful tulips

Spring is definitely when Perth is at it’s prettiest. Everything dries out in the blistering summer sun, but during spring the bush is covered with beautiful wild flowers and the grass is still nice and green.

Photo by Michele Reid

Tulips!

Photo by Stephen Reid

Photo by Michele Reid

Love the purple and white ones.

Photo by Stephen Reid

Even the bees love the tulips.

Photo by Michele Reid

More beautiful flowers at Araluen.

Photo by Michele Reid

Spring blossoms.

A must at springtime here is to visit Araluen Botanical Garden. Every spring the garden is home to thousands of beautiful tulips. Last year we went a bit late in the season and while there were still many flowers out and about, a few were starting to look a bit tired. This year I was super organised and made sure to contact them as soon as the weather became more balmy so we could see the flowers as soon as they opened.

Photo by Michele Reid

Wild flowers along the roadside.

Photo by Michele Reid

Fruit tree blossoms at Core Cider House.

Afterwards we went for a drive through the orchards and stopped for a hot chocolate at Core Cider House (the gluten free brownies are delish!) Beautiful flowers and chocolate, what more can a girl ask for?

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South Africa Part 2

Firstly, thanks for your patience while I sorted out some technical difficulties, aka my laptop died and I had to replace it. I’m now back so let the blogging continue without further delay…

Hubby managed to stock up on some much needed work clothes. I was quite impressed with myself and only got two cardigans from Zara (sadly for some silly reason Zara still hasn’t opened a branch in Perth). I must admit having been to Zara in both Melbourne and Sydney, the Cape Town store is so much better.

Naturally we had to visit Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens. We used to live really close to it and spent many a sunny weekend munching on picnic treats bought at the local Woolies enjoying the view. I wish I could bring it with me to Perth as I so miss the mountains and the beautiful plants.

Photo by Stephen Reid

Mountains! Oh how I miss mountains! The view from Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens.

Photo by Michele Reid

The beautiful shades of green was a welcome sight after the drab olive green and dry landscapes of a hot summer in Perth.

Photo by Stephen Reid

Beautiful Kirstenbosch.

Photo by Michele Reid

Guineafowl grazing on one of the lawns.

My brother and sister-in-law were officially doing the legal part of the wedding at a home affairs office on Valentine’s Day. Not the most romantic venues, but that was coming a few days later. I have to admit, I was super impressed with the home affairs office in Paarl. They really tried to make it a special day as it was Valentine’s Day and decorated the room with hearts and flowers and even had a staff member take some photos to email to them later on! Her mom and both my parents were also there so it ended up being quite an event. Afterwards we decided to stop for lunch at one of the nearby wine farms and enjoy some of the sunshine that managed to break through the rainy clouds. In the end in was quite a beautiful day and the newly-weds ended up feeling quite special.

On our way home we decided to stop by Butterfly World as Hubby hasn’t been there yet. They’re now home to a few more critters including parrots, spiders, lizards and some adorable marmoset monkeys. Of course they still have beautiful butterflies fluttering about.

Photo by Stephen Reid

A beautiful butterfly with glass-like wings.

Photo by Stephen Reid

Photo by Stephen Reid

Photo by Stephen Reid

One of the beautiful feathered friends at Butterfly World.

Photo by Stephen Reid

A lizzard comes to say hi. Many of the animals have been rescued from illegal smuggling and have been given a home at Butterfly World.

Photo by Stephen Reid

How cute am I?

After a few days hanging out in the city and Rondebosch area we headed to my home town of Somerset West for the all-important wedding. We were staying at a family friend’s place in Gordon’s Bay and in typically the wind was howling (major disappointment for me who had dreams of soaking up some sun on Bikini Beach).

My mom treated me to get my nails done and I had the bonus of catching up with my high school bff’s mom (she did my nails). Dinner was another highlight as I got to sink my teeth into Mike’s calamari and chips. Now we’re not talking normal chips, but proper, delicious, mouth-watering slap chips. No one in Australia seems to make slap (which means limp in Afrikaans) chips so I enjoyed each and every one of them. Probably not the best meal to have the night before your brother’s wedding, but damn they were good!

The wind continued to howl all through the night which didn’t bode well for a good night’s sleep, but we were up bright and early to get ready. I was a bit worried about the wind as the wedding was held outdoors but luckily it was well protected from the elements. It was quite emotional for me as we’re quite close. The ceremony was beautiful, my sister-in-law looked stunning and I got to see my grandparents again for the first time in ages.

Naturally no wedding would be complete without a party. One of my brother’s close friends is a chef so he created the delicious food and we got to toast the new couple with some very good local beer. As the ceremony mostly included immediate family and closets friends, we decided to have an after party later that night at a very good friend’s house for the family and friends who couldn’t attend. It was an exhausting but wonderful day and I think everyone had a great time.

I’ve always wanted to go visit the Cheetahs at Spier and I was delighted to find out they recently moved almost right across from where the mall is (don’t worry, they are located on a large piece of land and get to run around every day). The Cheetah Outreach program really is quite amazing. They’re breeding Cheetahs to help increase their numbers in the wild. At the same time, they’re also trying to educate people and make them realise how few wild Cheetahs we sadly have left. They also breed Anatolian Sheepdogs to place with farmers to protect the herds against Leopards and so ensure the farmers don’t kill the Leopards.

Photo by Stephen Reid

A Cheetah soaking up some sun.

We opted to pay the extra money and have the opportunity to stroke one of the Cheetahs. While we got to stroke him the handler gave us some more information on Cheetahs and the work they do at the Outreach. We found out that the Cheetah we were stroking is actually a celebrity and has appeared in numerous adverts and films. He also goes around to local schools as part of their education programme. He didn’t seem to mind us one bit and just lay back and slept. They really are such beautiful animals and I just can’t comprehend why anyone would a) want to kill them and b) wear their skins as clothing. Trust me, it looks far better on the Cheetah than on any human. (As a side note, if you go expecting it to look like a zoo or a safari park, you’re going to be greatly disappointed. It’s a Cheetah breeding programme and that’s what the emphasis is on, not touristy entertainment. Also, it’s best to visit early when they open as most of the animals are either nocturnal or tend to sleep in their little houses or long grass during the day. I would definitely recommend it as it was an amazing experience and the money goes to a really good cause).

On my to do list in Somerset West was a visit to Vergelegen Manor House. It was a beautiful day and we decided to meet my brother there for some lunch. We got to stroll through the original Cape Dutch manor house and the beautiful gardens before settling down for some lunch overlooking the mountains. Unfortunately we’re not big wine drinkers so didn’t go wine tasting.

Photo by Stephen Reid

Vergelegen Manor House is built in the Cape Dutch style.

Photo by Stephen Reid

At Vergelegen Estate with the beautiful mountains as a backdrop.

We also managed to squeeze in some yummy lunch with a family friend in picturesque Stellenbosch. Unfortunately the weather wasn’t playing with and it was bucketing down. The window wipers on the car we were borrowing then decided to completely stop working which made driving around a bit scary. But after some delicious lunch the weather cleared and we could safely make our way back to my brothers before they took us out to dinner. It was a bitter sweet dinner, as we had lots of laughs but I also had to say good bye to them as they were heading off on a short romantic honeymoon the next morning, which meant I wouldn’t see them again before our flight.

Photo by Michele Reid

A Cape Dutch styled building in picturesque Stellenbosch. Unfortunately the day we went to visit it was pouring down with rain.

Photo by Michele Reid

Mooiberge (meaning beautiful mountains in Afrikaans) Strawberry Farm. This little farm played an important role in my life growing up in Somerset West. It meant fresh, deliciously sweet strawberries when it started to get hot. It meant summer for me.

Our two weeks in South Africa was over way too quickly and before I knew it we were back on the plane heading home. I was happy to sleep in my own bed again and have Ms Mia Shanti Priya snuggling up to us, but it’s always sad saying good bye to family. Thank goodness for modern technology! I don’t know what I would have done if I couldn’t text or call my family every now and then.

South Africa – Part One

Earlier this year we were lucky to travel back to South Africa to attend my brother’s wedding. It was great seeing family members again after a few years and I was especially grateful to be able to spend a few days hanging out with my brother.

A must for us was to have dinner at our favourite restaurant in the whole world, Kitima. It’s located in the old Kronendal homestead which is a beautiful Cape Dutch farm house. We have been coming years and have never been disappointed. They serve delicious Thai meals and boast an extensive wine list. The atmosphere is perfect for a romantic evening and luckily this time round we could afford to splurge a little bit.

Image from www.kitima.co.za

The beautiful manor house. Image from Kitima’s website.

Image from www.kitima.co.za

The bar area inside the restaurant. Image from Kitima’s website.

Hubby has always watched the guys paragliding off Lion’s Head when we were enjoying some sundowners at Clifton when we were still living in Cape Town. I’m absolutely terrified of heights, even flying is a traumatic experience for me (and who ever happens to be the poor soul having to travel with me!) I decided that if he’s going to do it, then I will have to do it too. On the proposed day, the weather wasn’t too good so I was quite relieved when the company decided to postpone our trip. Unfortunately for me the following day was a beautiful sunny day. We headed up to Lion’s head but the breeze shifted which meant we had to take off from Signal Hill. There were already quite a few people strapped into their harnesses and taking off with their pilots (we were doing a tandem one as we’re no experts). I could see Hubby getting really excited while I tried to swallow down the lump in my throat and ignore the pit in my stomach.

Photo by Stephen Reid

The view from Signal Hill over Cape Town and Table Mountain.

Hubby disappeared off into one direction with his pilot to get into his harness while my pilot got me to sign the waiver that in case anything happens, I knew it was dangerous and don’t hold them responsible. At this point I was starting to wonder just what exactly I was thinking when I said I would come with. I was busy trying to get into my harness when I saw Hubby and his Pilot getting ready to take off next. Imagine my shock when I realised a) he didn’t even say goodbye and b) I’m about to see my husband jump take off from quite a height and would that flimsy looking parachute be able to keep two grown men afloat in the air. Before I could shout any romantic parting words he was off. He disappeared for a few seconds before reappearing, floating gently above Sea Point.

My turn was next and as you can probably deduct, I survived. It wasn’t actually so bad. My wonderful pilot tried to point out some sights but looking down was not the smartest thing I did, so I focused more on the container ships in the distance. When we were about to land he suggested we do something a bit more adventurous. Not wanting to be called a chicken, I went with it and we did some pretty sharp corkscrew turns. I couldn’t keep it in any longer and let out an almighty scream. My poor pilot thought something was wrong and as we came in to land I could hear the other people who landed just before me laugh. But it really was quite to be floating up in the sky and I would most definitely recommend it to anyone, even if you’re afraid of heights.  Unfortunately the breeze wasn’t very strong that day so we couldn’t be up there for very long (actually, it was a good thing for me because I think I reached my paragliding quota a minute or so before we came in to land). Hubby could have stayed up there all day I think.

We also decided to go have lunch in the city one day and meet up with my brother before the wedding (he works in the city). We strolled through the historic Company Gardens (a great place to escape the summer heat in the city) while keeping an eye out for squirrels. Some of my earliest childhood memories are of coming to the city and visiting the museum (which is situated at the top end of the gardens) and buying a packet of nuts to supposedly feed the squirrels. The poor squirrels often got a raw deal with me stuffing my face with most of the nuts.

Photo by Michele Reid

The Company Gardens in Cape Town.

Photo by Stephen Reid

Cape Dutch architecture in the Company Gardens.

We had a quick walk down Long Street and also a stroll through Greenmarket Square. This used to be the best fleamarket in Cape Town, but sadly almost all of the original stall holders have gone and in their place are stalls selling the same African curious as the one next to it. You used to be able to buy great clothes, some real, authentic South African wares, CD’s, homewares and jewellery (I still wear a silver toe ring I bought there 16 years ago! I wear it every day so how’s that for quality?

Photo by Michele Reid

African masks. Australian quarantine officials will have a field day with these!

Photo by Michele Reid

Beautifully carved wildlife.

Photo by Michele Reid

My favourite, beaded animals!

We decided to have lunch at one of the restaurants on the square and the food was absolutely delicious (complete with local boutique beer). We returned again just before we left to take my mom to lunch there.

Photo by Michele Reid

A Victorian building in Cape Town’s Long Street.

Of course I indulged a little while we were there. You can’t expect me to not enjoy at least some of the delicious foods available. A little ritual Hubby and I had when he was studying for his MBA was to go have some Marcel’s Frozen Yoghurt and stroll around in the Waterfront. The Business School is located right in the Waterfront so I would meet him there after his classes and we had a bit of a date munching Old English Toffee (mine covered in Astros and his chocolate chips) while watching the seals playing and the sunburnt tourists. I so wish I can find an equivalent here in Perth but so far every frozen yoghurt I’ve tried have fallen far short. We got to stroll through the waterfront and watch the seals playing about in the harbour with beautiful Table Mountain as the backdrop.

Photo by Stephen Reid

View over Table Mountain and the Rich and Famous’ apartments and yachts in the Waterfront.

Photo by Stephen Reid

Ferrymans Taverns is a favourite spot for tourists and locals on a sunny Friday afternoon.

Photo by Michele Reid

Best frozen yoghurt in the world. Oh Marcel’s how I miss you!

Photo by Michele Reid

A seal enjoying the afternoon sun.

Photo by Michele Reid

A giant beaded elephant stands guard in the Waterfront.

Photo by Michele Reid

Adorable beaded African dolls.

Part Two will follow shortly.

 

 

Winter time

Photo by Michele Reid

Autumn leaves early in the morning.

Well it’s definitely winter in Perth. Icy mornings and my washing refuses to dry. My friends in the northern hemisphere are enjoying sending me photos and emails about how they’re enjoying the sunshine and warmer weather.  But winter isn’t all bad, the tree in our street put on an amazing display as the leaves changed.

It’s also a great time to indulge in some treats I won’t normally do in the warmer months. Hubby baked these delicious scones from scratch! I’m a terrible baker so I’m quite lucky to have a husband who can bake.

Photo by Michele Reid

Yummy scones with cream!

The weather really started to get cold earlier last month when we were down in Busselton for the Half Ironman. I took a few photos while we were down there.

Photo by Michele Reid

Rain coming in over the ocean at the Busselton jetty.

Photo by Michele Reid

Rain on the car window – I was taking shelter from the icy cold wind.

Photo by Michele Reid

Beautiful winter sunrise the day of the Busselton Half Ironman event. Pity it was absolutely freezing.

Best bookshop in the world…is in Perth?

Photo by Michele Reid

Sign at the entrance of Kaleido Books. Love it!

I am so excited I just can’t help myself. As an avid reader and book nerd, I was so excited when I realised Perth has the best bookshop probably in the world. Perth is slowly but surely casting aside it’s sleepy mining town reputation and becoming a vibrant, multicultural city. I’m so lucky to be living here as things are changing.

Photo by Michele Reid

The horror section

Photo by Michele Reid

Photo by Michele Reid

Photo by Michele Reid

One of my favourite signs

The bookstore is called Kaleido Books is located at the train station as you walk from Myer in the city towards the National Art Gallery and the WA Museum. I had a quick browse around and they stock a wide variety of books. If there’s anything you can’t find, the friendly staff will try their best to track it down.

Photo by Michele Reid

The history section

Photo by Michele Reid

Exactly what most of us are thinking

Photo by Michele Reid

The Penguin Classics section

Photo by Michele Reid

I love the policeman

While snapping away at their brilliant signs, I met the incredibly friendly Sarah who told me that the signs are just the beginning. Already a talented Western Australian artist have painted some beautiful signs in the store based on Alice in Wonderland and Terry Pratchett. More artworks are to come which will make this bookstore an even bigger feast for the eyes.  They also have some unique and adorable gifts for the art lover and book nerd in your life.

Photo by Michele Reid

Alice in Wonderland inspired art

Photo by Michele Reid

Terry Pratchett inspired art – I like the kitty

In a world of chain stores, it’s so nice to come across something so unique and quirky like Kaleido Books. So if you’re ever in Perth, pop round to see the latest signs, say hi to the lovely staff and who knows, maybe you’ll find that book you’ve been looking for.

Photo by Michele Reid

The language section

Photo by Michele Reid

You’re bound to find the perfect recipe book here

On a side note, Find Bliss on Earth is now on Facebook!

Visiting Sydney

As mentioned in my previous post, we had some family come and visit us late last year and took advantage of the situation and headed off to explore Sydney for the first time.

We left very early on a Monday morning. In Perth that means long lines as you book your luggage in as all the FIFO (Fly-in Fly-out) workers on the mine head back to work today. The airport was full of people in high visibility vests getting ready for their next stint on the mines. I was feeling a bit worse for wear as I managed to pick up a tummy bug the previous night. I had some serious flashbacks of India! I suspect my stomach didn’t like the cider I tried earlier the night.

The flight was relatively uneventful if not somewhat long. Luckily I had the window seat so I could look down at the beautiful patterns and landscape down below.

Photo by Michele Reid

Clouds from above

Photo by Michele Reid

Farm land with pockets of indigenous bush

Photo by Michele Reid

Patterns

Instead of writing a long post about all the things we did, I thought I’d just share some photos as our main reason for visiting Sydney was seeing family.

Photo by Stephen Reid

One of the beaches in Manly

Photo by Michele Reid

At the Manly Ferry Terminal

Photo by Stephen Reid

View from our bedroom at the B&B we were staying at. A navy ship going through The Heads.

Manly is really a nice suburb. It has great beaches and the best Thai restaurant I’ve ever been too (sadly I forgot the name of the restaurant!)

Photo by Michele Reid

Iconic Bondi Beach

Photo by Michele Reid

Kitty graffiti at Bondi Beach

Photo by Michele Reid

A cute fox sculpture – part of Sculpture by the Sea

Photo by Stephen Reid

Aptly named sculpture

Photo by Stephen Reid

Sculpture on Tamarama Beach

Photo by Stephen Reid

Ferry that goes from Manly into Sydney

Photo by Michele Reid

First proper view of the Sydney Opera House

Photo by Stephen Reid

Sydney Opera House

Photo by Michele Reid

Delicious chocolate ganache cake at La Renaissance Patisserie at The Rocks in Sydney

Photo by Michele Reid

Beautiful Sydney Harbour Bridge

Now is a good time to mention I have a slight obsession with cats (crazy cat lady!) So when I saw the following in the mall in the beautiful Queen Victoria Building, I had to take photos.

Photo by Michele Reid

Adorable cat containers

Photo by Michele Reid

More cute kitties

Photo by Michele Reid

I so want this cute tea set

Photo by Stephen Reid

Chinese Garden of Friendship in Sydney

Photo by Stephen Reid

Part of the new Wolverine film was shot here

Photo by Stephen Reid

Beautifully carved detail

It was quite a hot, muggy day when we went exploring in Sydney. We decided to have a rest at the Museum of Contemporary Art. They have a great cafe right on the top floor and it has a beautiful view of the Sydney Opera House. While we were sipping our coffee, the sun came out and shone directly on the Opera House, allowing me to take quite a nice photo (even if I say so myself!)

Photo by Michele Reid

The Sydney Opera House lit up by late afternoon sun

We met up with a varsity friend and his girlfriend for dinner. It had been a long day enjoying Starbucks (we don’t have even one branch in WA!), shopping at Zara, visiting museums and sightseeing. We took the ferry back to Manly that night and saw the Opera House all lit up. The full moon really made it all the more magical. Our visit to Sydney was brief but wonderful!

Photo by Stephen Reid

Sydney Opera House at night with the full moon

Exploring surrounding Perth

Last year we were lucky enough to have my mother-in-law and brother-in-law come for a short visit. They were here for two weeks. The first week we showed them in and around Perth and the second week we all flew to Sydney to visit family there. I thought I’d share some of the photo’s I took while we were exploring around Perth.

Photo by Michele Reid

Pretty cherry chocolates

Photo by Michele Reid

Don’t they just look delicious?

No visit to Perth is complete without a stop at the Margaret River Chocolate Factory. As time was limited, we visited the one in the Swan Valley. They make beautiful little individual chocolates but I usually buy their chocolate buttons. They’re divine!

Photo by Michele Reid

More yummy chocolates

Photo by Michele Reid

Giant freckle chocolates

We also visited Caversham Wildlife Park. We have visited some of the other wildlife parks but not this one and we really enjoyed it. They breed white kangaroos and we even saw a mommy with a joey in her pouch. You just saw long legs sticking out! They had a wide variety of bird species found not only in WA but around Australia. Naturally my favourite were the koalas. They are just too adorable!

Photo by Michele Reid

Wallabies relaxing

Photo by Michele Reid

Super cute baby kangaroo, known as a joey

Photo by Michele Reid

One of the white kangaroos

Photo by Michele Reid

White mommy kangaroo with her joey’s legs sticking out from the pouch

Photo by Michele Reid

A Kookaburra. I love the sound they make!

Photo by Michele Reid

Beautiful Dingo

Photo by Michele Reid

Adorable koala. How can you not love them?

Photo by Michele Reid

Close up of the koala

Another stop was at The Pinnacles.  There is no agreed theory on how these were formed, but it makes for a very strange landscape. We spotted a bobtail lizards and some Galahs flying about and making a noise.

Photo by Michele Reid

The Pinnacles with dunes in the background

Photo by Michele Reid

The Pinnacles

Photo by Michele Reid

Me trying to get creative

Photo by Michele Reid

Galahs in flight

As my mother-in-law is a micro biologist, she really wanted to see the stromatolites at Lake Thetis. They’re living fossils and the ones found in this lake are about 3370 years old! It was quite windy but the view over the ocean was still beautiful.

Photo by Michele Reid

Stromatolites (the rock-like formations) in Lake Thetis

Photo by Michele Reid

Aqua water at Cervantes

I’ll be sharing some photos of our trip to Sydney soon! Stay tuned.

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.