Reading: An Inspiration for Travel

I love to read; there’s nothing better, in my opinion, than a rainy night, a warm bed, snuggly PJs, a cup of chia and a damn good book.

 
Coming up to our Asia trip, I’ve been spending lots of time concentrating on travel guide books and online reading, but I still love getting absorbed into a good book.
 
At the moment I’m reading ‘Shantaram’ – a book I can not put down.
Our upcoming trip to India was the inspiration to actually read this book that I’ve been “wanting to” for so long.
 
I’m addicted. I take the 900+ page beast of a book with me everywhere: on the train, to work, to bed, for coffee, to the toilet… I can’t stop reading it.
 
And every time I learn a little more about India, the culture, the people, and the way of life, I feel a little bit more enlightened, a little bitter inspired, a little bit more terrified, and a little bit less prepared!
 
I love that this book is teaching me, changing my perspectives, growing my understanding and questioning my morals – I didn’t realise a book could do that, really.
 
Have you ever found a book like this?
 
I’ve got two months before I go away, and I’m on the hunt for more books to inspire and teach me, preferably related to travel…
 
What can you recommend?

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9 thoughts on “Reading: An Inspiration for Travel

  1. If you want to travel to India, it’s best to get in touch with an Indian to know what you should be ready for. Because no book can prepare you for it. I’d be happy to help.

      • Alright then! What is your proposed itinerary? Which all cities do you plan to cover? Do you have any queries as of now? Ask me anything!

    • Wow, thank you for your offer!
      We plan to start in Chennai, through the south to Kerala, to Kochin, to Banglore, to Goa, to Mumbai, to Udaipur, to Jalsaimer, to Jaipur, to Agra, to Dheli. We’re then heading to Nepal for 10-12 days, and either flying back into Dheli or straight into Varanassi. Either way, Varanassi to Darjeeling to Kolkatta and fly to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia from there… Is this all do-able in just under 3 months?
      Far out… Sounds so hectic when I write it down like that…
      Would love your opinion. Are you located in India?
      Again, thanks so much for offering to help!

      • Yes, I’m an Indian. From Chandigarh, studying in Delhi. About to graduate.

        It might be hectic but it is doable. You’re moving south to north, right? If I have your exact itinerary, I could help more. Also, what sort of experiences are you looking for? How long will you be in chennai? If possible, you must visit Pondicherry. If even for a day. It’s this beautiful little town! In chennai, DO go to sangeetha’s. The best South Indian food. But vegetarian. There are two more restaurants that you must visit but I can’t recall the names. I’ll let you know when I do.

        I’ve visited most of these places so I could help.

        I offered because I love to travel as well! Wish I had the sort of money to take off like this. Your trip sounds like a dream. 🙂

    • Oh wow, fantastic.
      Yeah, we’re moving South to North, and Ponticherry is absolutely on our list; I forgot to mention that in the rough itinerary before – we’ve heard fantastict things about that place!

      We realise it’s not a lot of time to spend in India AND Nepal; originally we were going to skip Nepal on this trip but… I figure, why not?
      We did also want to go to Rishikesh and Armitsar (still do!) but wandering how we can fit it all in in the space that we have.
      We were planning on not having an itinerary as we wanted to backpack – go with the flow, stay longer or shorter where we liked/didn’t like so much etc. but slowly we are starting to have more of a guided plan – due to the fact we want to go to Nepal and that makes planning mroe nessecary, really. Chennai is our first destination; therefore it’s our first impression of India. I have no idea yet how long we should/shouldn’t spend in each place, and I both want and don’t want to plan it out. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated, though – it’s hard to know how long to spend in a place.

      The experience we’re looking for – well.. is it too cliche for me to say “the real India”? We are interested in culture, history, religious sites (we’re not religious but we like to learn about a country’s religions), food, meeting new people… Not so much shopping (although we love markets and bazaars)… I think that will do for now?

      Thanks for mentioning Sangeetha’s – I think I might have actually heard about it before somewhere – is it famous? Vegetarian is fine by me; that’s the only type of food I’ll be eating! 🙂 Food is definately something we want to experience.

      We really appreciate your offer, and for taking your time to write to us about India – it is really invaluable to be able to talk to those in the know! How fantastic that you’ve travelled so extensively in India, too!

      🙂 Em x

      • Hi!

        Can we move this to email or something? It’s really difficult to view the message while responding here.

        Okay, not planning is fine but you should plan a little bit if you intend to take flights from certain places. Book them now and get them dirt cheap. How are you planning to travel? Train, bus, taxi?

        My roommate in the hostel is from Pondicherry. So I can ask her to tell me the lovelier places to visit there. I only went for a day. It’s been my dream to visit again. One day!
        Now chennai, chennai is REALLY hot. Marina beach is not the cleanest but it’s Typically chennai. Elliot beach is fancier with cafes etc. Cleaner too. Carry suntan lotion and an umbrella. The people there understand only Tamil and English, so you should be fine. They don’t know Hindi. Also, they’re really nice to foreigners. For the bazaar experience there, go to this place called Fountain Plaza. Really famous. There’s a snake park there as well. It freaked me the fuck out. Snakes and crocodiles! I am deathly afraid of reptiles. Ugh. The kapaleshwar temple, san thome basilica and parthasarathy temple must be visited. Stop in at Spencer’s Plaza. It’s the oldest shopping mall there. It’s very unique. Regular mall stuff coexists with handicrafts. There is another mall – City Centre – which I feel you must visit. A Dubai builder made it and it’s SO pretty. Still can’t remember the name of that cafe I loved – it’s this noble house that has been converted into a cafe. It’s blissful. Let me ask my friends there and get back to you. I think chennai can be covered in around 4-5 days.

        Hahaha! Typical India. Heh. India is chaotic. Don’t worry, you’ll experience it without trying. I’m sorry if this is offensive, but where are you from exactly? If you’re white, be prepared for people staring at you for being white. It’s just that you’ll stand out. It’s mostly admiration so don’t worry. DO beware though. Lots of people will try and rip you off. I think the autovallahs have special firangi rates so it’s good to bargain by slashing the price to half. Getting to know people is what makes a trip. You’ll have plenty of chances to.

        ONLY vegetarian?! :O but India has such delicious non-vegetarian to offer! No! Try the onion rava dosa at sangeethas. PLEASE! And the idlis. Best idlis I’ve had in my LIFE. I’ll get back to you on more good places.

        But I’ve travelled to these places one at a time over the years. I’ll only be able to help in a limited way. Apologies for that in advance!

        -Simrit.

    • Hi Simrit,

      Yeah, let’s move this to e-mail I was thinking that earlier: my e-mail is emily_grey21@hotmail.com.
      What is yours? I’ll respond to your reply here, now, and then look forward to your email? 🙂 Hope thats ok.

      Yeah, I agree – to be able to fit all these places in and go to Nepal, we need to fly.
      We’ll be travelling by bus, taxi and train. What do you reccommend for train travel? Apparently 1st class sleeper carriages are not what we should travel in? We’re travelling long-term, so our budget is always going to be low.

      Thank you so much for all this fantastic advice about places – I’ve copied them into a little “India Notes” page for us to look over; we’ll be sure to visit the places you suggest, and I’ll make sure we let you know about our experiences there.

      Haha, not offensive – we are Australians and we are very white. We’ll keep in mind your advice about the staring and the half-price autovallah rates! Thank you!

      I can’t wait to go to Sangeethas! It sounds amazing!… What non-vegetarian foods are great? Jake is not vegetarian, so he won’t miss out. 🙂

      Your “only being able to help in a limited way” is a HUGE help – trust me, and we really really appreciate it! So awesome! Thank you!

      Take care,

      Em

  2. I’m going to have to read that book! It’s one of my friends’ favourite book and she is always talking about how good it is. She also recommends Marching Powder. It’s about a guy in South America so not specifically relevant to your trip, but apparently still great. I haven’t got to it yet either.

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