Somos muy felices! ( we are so happy!)
Just returned from our trip to India.
As before, Big Five met &/exceeded all of our expectations.
A big KUDOS & THANK YOU & to ALL the crew at Big Five.
Everything went flawlessly (as with our last year’s trip to Ecuador, the Galapagos & Peru)– a great comfort – very much appreciated & contributing much to our enjoyment!
Most important was the graciousness (courtesy, kindness & pleasant attitude) of the Indian people.
Additionally, to repeat an old adage- it’s all about location, location, location—–the Sanctuary Inn at Machu Picchu last year, The Oberoi Amarvilas in Agra, etc. etc….
Our guides were very pleasant & even personally accompanied us for a portion of our trip.
My wife’s foot injury (fractured calcaneous & torn peroneus tendon) was taken into account & properly cared for.
Loved every portion of our trip—-without exception!!!
May go back to Varanasi for our cremations. Varanasi was really a highlight. A Holy place for Hindus where they go to die/must make a pilgrimage during their lifetime (like Mecca/Jerusalem). The Holy River Ganges—bathers brushing their teeth, bathing, washing their hair, submerging for blessings next to a guy washing his dirty kitchen pots & dishes next to somebody doing their laundry (with detergents)–the water is absolutely filthy!!!!–but who cares: it is the sacred River Ganges, Gangrithi!
Walked through very narrow streets amongst the tens of thousands of people & cows & cars & motor scooters & bicycles. Cacophony of sounds including the ever-present blaring car-horns! Saw lepers for the first time in my life. And of course the ritual cremations on the Ghats – 11 going on at the same time on this occasion- great flaming & smoking pyres, lots of family members, goats, cows, dogs everywhere!
Also loved the ever-present cows everywhere, the Taj Mahal (the most beautiful, magnificent edifice we have ever seen, “heaven on earth”), and Mihir Garh. … Our driver, Balram, often quoted that in order to drive in India you must have “a loud horn, good brakes, and much luck!”
My wife was almost attacked by a cobra at Jawai; and we repeatedly spotted many leopards, rare birds, crocs, & other wild life as well as the other 9 couples at this camp. Met a nice Welshman, now a businessman in Vietnam, & his wife (Australian).
A Brahmin priest in a remote village invited me to partake in an opium ceremony to Lord Vishnu (of course)….. but they sure were looped on opium… when I correctly diagnosed his L5-S1 radiculopathy; he even showed me his MRI. I was instantly promoted from my status as third caste to first caste (Brahmin status) for telling him he did not require surgery & would most likely benefit from an epidural steroid injection.
We were invited to an Indian wedding in Jaipur–about 2,000 guests… (the bride) was bedecked in a gorgeous golden sari & he in a similar golden outfit with matching turban & large golden scimitar & jeebs for shoes (you know, the Aladdin type). We watched them circle the ceremonial fire 7 times, sang our blessings & then danced (Bollywood-style). Everywhere blazing colored lights, garlands of flowers, gorgeous saris—-the whole works!
The food everywhere was magnificent!!! Fantastic curries & spices & yummy Tandoori-baked buttered Nan with saffron. Dinners on gorgeously lit terraces with accompanying musicians & classical Indian dancers. At the hotel in Delhi, ate at their restaurant – best meal we have had in years!
Visited several villages, meeting many villagers & actually seeing how they live without any staging whatsoever. All spontaneous & natural. People in India however were the real highlight—-very friendly, genuinely, & interested in foreigners. Bunches of families invited us to their homes for tea, etc (we graciously declined) & to take photographs with them. The kids are amazing & very inquisitive–education is highly stressed.
Thankfully we remained in good health throughout. The weather was perfect during the entire sojourn.
We are now ready to plan our next trip: JAPAN.
We have decided on an EXTENDED visit to Japan, especially KYOTO. We would like to be there as long as necessary with several days- at least- in each locale; best for the proper rest, absorption & enjoyment of the entire visit!
We will skip other locales, for now, on this trip. NATURALLY we want to go at the best times for weather & events there. Staying in some ryokans while there would be interesting. As usual meeting the people and learning about their culture is most important. A priority would also be a visit to the most important sites, gardens, celebrations as appropriate So start planning for us!