Beach Riding

I guess we can officially say we are now in the final run down to Christmas, however for the first time in my life it doesn’t feel like Christmas at all, a major downside of travelling in hot countries at this time of year. Tinsel, Christmas songs and snowflake decorations just don’t really work when the temperatures are a standard 28degrees plus. It’s even more bizarre when you look to buy Christmas cards and they’re all covered in snow, I was hoping for a nice Christmas on the beach scene. Apparently roast dinner isn’t your typical Christmas meal either, but there’s only a few days left until I can confirm that one or not.

As my lovely yummy malteaser calendar is telling me I only have 4 days left to go I decided yesterday to treat myself to an early Christmas present and tick another activity off my bucket list. As a horse fanatic the dream has always been to ride along the lovely white sandy beaches of Australia, so what better time than whilst we we were staying at Rainbow Beach, the location that fills the front cover of 101 Best Australian Beaches.

After a lovely morning sunbathing on the beach it was time to head back and dig out my jeans for the first time in a good few weeks and kit up for my afternoon ride. Black jeans certainly wouldn’t be my usual choice of attire here and my legs were baking. Arriving at the stables I filled in the obligatory paperwork and signed my life away before being introduced to my lovely horse for the afternoon, Cadbury, a thoroughbred, my favourite and turned out to be a true gentleman. We got through the dry sand without an mishaps, my guy being prone to sweet itch can have a tendency to role and once on the wet sand the fun commenced. So much fun being in the water and finally the rest of the group carried on and Helen, the manager, held us back so we could have a canter. After the first attempt feeling slightly odd, the saddles were a type I hadn’t come across before, a sort of mix between a European saddle and a western one, the second was a lot easier to settle and sit into. I was only gutted we couldn’t go for longer and I forgot to even go I’m the water. Guess I’ll just have to do it again!

Riding in Australia is an expensive activity, even more so when you want to head out on the beach, but it was nice to know talking to Helen and Andrew the owner of Rainbow Beach Rides that so much of what you are paying goes to spoiling the horses you are riding. Physiotherapy five times a year, dentists so many times a year, they are absolutely showered with love and attention, the way it should be!

If you’re ever in the Rainbow Beach area check our Rainbow Beach Hirse Rides!




Reminiscing on India

Delhi to Kathmandu, India and Nepal

I have always been adverse to taking ‘tours’ or more realistically the idea of ‘package holidays’ as we call them in the UK. The all inclusive trips where you’re picked up and ferried around on a coach with a large number of other very much British tourists. When Kathryn and I were figuring out our trip we started to feel more and more that travelling India on our own may not be the easiest way to start our travels. And so after a lot of people’s advice, our own research and me sucking up the fact we were doing a ‘tour’ we booked a two week trip with STA starting in Delhi and ending in Kathmandu. Taking in Agra, Jaipur, Orchha, Varinassi, Lumbini, Chitwan and Pokhara in between. My god it has been whistle stop, but it has been amazing and definitely a fantastic way to see these two great countries, especially if you are looking for a mix of Urban and Rural.

Despite all the repeated lectures I got from people, both in the UK and Canada, about bag safety, looking after belongings, having a money belt or little money bag tucked away, if you are sensible and generally aware of your belongings you shouldn’t need to worry about too many extra safety gizmos. You will be I’m crowds at times, Indian cities are as expected crazy busy but no one in our group of 12 was targeted, not that it doesn’t happen; a lady leading a different group lost her bag, but she left it open and unattended in a train station. Kind of goes without saying of you make it easy they’re not going to just leave it there for you! Be prepared, take care, but don’t let people panic you!

India lived up to pretty much all expectations. It’s hectic, crazy, busy, cows fill the road, dogs run wild, rubbish is everywhere, poverty is not hidden away, it’s dirty, it’s smelly but oh my is it just buzzing with colour and life. It is a sensory overload! Be prepared to haggle and haggle hard. And learn to say NO. Something I think British people struggle with. By the time you leave you will feel like the rudest person in the world but if you give to every begger, young or old, girl or boy, you will be hounded and end up giving all your money away as you’ll generally struggle to have anything smaller than a 10 rupee note. Word of advice, take toilet paper in your rucksack at all times and hand sanitiser or wipes. And learn or practice squatting. Although western toilets do exist, outside of the hotels they become few and far between and when they do come up are usually in worse condition than some of the squats. Also Imodium tablets are a must. It happens to everyone, generally! Touchwood I got lucky, my luck will probably turn in another country though, and I never had to use mine, but some form of Delhi Belly caught I think most of our group. The tour does pass through a Malaria zone when you cross the India/Nepal border. I chose due to money, the tablet I’d bought for SEAsia and hence decided that I wasn’t going to bother taking it for the four days we were at risk. Probably not the cleverest idea, I spent the whole time hoping I didn’t get bitten and panicking that I might have contracted malaria, when a cold id caught suddenly got really bad. Fortunately the cold was just a cold type bug. Small perk of having a doctor on your tour to check you in front of the whole group and tell you despite how you feel, your temperature is still normal.

Our tour guide for the trip CP was excellent and I dread to think how we would have coped dealing with sleeper trains, rickshaw drivers, taxis and all the other hustle of India without him! His advice on getting around, places to go and added little events to the itinerary was fantastic. Also some great choices on where to eat. Some feel less Indian than others. If you really like truly authentic Indian food you may want to push a little as they will take you to restaurants they have good relationships with but who think because you’re western you can’t handle any spice at all, some dishes were definitely altered. Some of us finally convinced CP to take us to a really authentic street food cafe where he would go to eat and boy was it worth it for the experience! Anything I particular you want to do, see or buy just ask and your ‘chief experience officer’ will go out of there way to help you sort it, or at least ours did!

One last thing! Go with low expectaiotsn of the accomodation and then you’ll be generally surprised, none were really that bad at all. Just don’t expect western standards and go with an open mind. They all had normal toilets, I.e. No squats so that pretty much kept me happy!! And everyone we met running the hotels was so helpful. We did read some shocking reviews in advance of arriving in the hotels but like I said before they always trumped expectations.

I think for many India may be a bit of a ‘marmite’ country, you will love it or hate it, but it is definitely not to be missed!! On a side note, rural Nepal is beautiful!