Month 11 Round-Up (April ’19): Wild Tigers, Water Fights + Utopian Societies

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It’s a busy round-up from last month!

BTW – I started this series when I began working online and travelling full-time in May 2018. Read my other monthly round-ups here.

These round-ups aren’t always jam-packed if I’ve based myself in just one place all month. After my long period of illness in India, last month’s March update wasn’t the biggest. I’m making up for it now because my April was pretty rammed.

Where was I in April 2019?

In a nutshell, North India, South India, South Thailand and North Thailand! Told you it was a busy one, right? At the end of March, I departed from Rishikesh (where I’d been working and recovering from a stomach infection for almost 3 weeks) and went off on my India backpack adventures. My stops included:

  • Pushkar, a desert town in Rajasthan I visited 3.5 years ago and couldn’t wait to get back to. It’s all set around a lake and was a gorgeous spiritual place to spend 3 days. Check out the Pushkar food vlog I made there:
YouTube video

  • Busy Jaipur – I loved the decadent palaces here, even if I found the city as a whole quite hectic and overwhelming
  • Rambathore National Park – the highlight of my India trip was seeing 4 tigers in the wild. I wondered whether or not to visit the National Park as it would have been expensive and disappointing if I hadn’t seen any, but in the end I was lucky!
  • Chennai – I flew into Chennai on the south-east coast but honestly didn’t see too much of it as I was tired and couldn’t wait to get to…
  • Pondicherry – this pretty French colonial town didn’t feel like India at all but that’s part of India’s diversity. I spent 5 days here soaking up the vibes and visiting…
  • Auroville – this alternative society is all set around a giant gold dome called the Matrimandir, built as a spiritual home and meditation centre. The whole place was interesting but quite hippie and odd; I’ll explain in a future blog post.

India – Thailand

I felt sad leaving India as, sickness aside, I’d had a really positive experience. I’d been a little nervous about being there as a solo female but it was a total non-issue.

Since I’ve now been twice, you’d think I’d be able to tick India off my bucket list, but nope! I’d already love to go a third time, finally getting to Varanasi, as well as Goa, Munnar, Hampi and countless other places. Honestly, India is so vast with endless amazing destinations. It truly is a wonder of our world!

However, I had work to catch up on and I was pretty exhausted so I was happy to relax in Bangkok, where I’ve been several times before, and not rush around the ‘must-sees’. As I was there a week, I did do a few fun things including visiting the quirky Airplane Graveyard, exploring Chinatown with A Chef’s Tour and staying in Hom Cooking Hostel (the second two for my blog).

Chinatown Bangkok food
Hi, Bangkok

However, the main reason I flew into Bangkok when I did was to experience Songkran. This crazy water festival happens every year in April to celebrate the coming of spring. I believe the ethos is to do with washing away the old year, a similar concept to Holi in India but with water pistols instead of colourful paint! I had an awesome day with new friends and I’m so glad I’ve been able to see and participate in both festivals this year. Check out my Songkran vlog:

YouTube video

Back to Chiang Mai

As I mentioned, in April I visited the north and south of Thailand. I do like Bangkok but it’s not somewhere I’d want to spend a whole month. I also didn’t fancy paying inflated costs on the islands so, instead, I decided to head back up to Chiang Mai where I’d been living from Jan-Feb of this year.

This was partly because I knew I had a home base and friends there, partly because I have a new job writing about the city, and partly because I had the opportunity to work with Duara Travels and spend 3 days visiting a nearby local village. I’d done this with them before in Bali and was keen to again.

Even though it was probably the wrong season because it was so hot, I’m still glad I went – the food was phenomenal, the family were really sweet, and I generally just love the Duara concept of getting off the tourist trail and helping the locals benefit from tourism.

Where do I go next?

For the first half of the month I’ll just be here in Chiang Mai. I’m really trying to spend the first half of May relaxing, sleeping and catching up on work because my summer is about to get busy. I’m beyond excited for late May and June because there are 2 places in Asia I’ve been wanting to go for soo long:

Taiwan: On May 10th, I go to Taiwan and I cannot wait. I’m spending 3 weeks on the island split between 4 places and there seems to be such a diverse mix of cool city stuff, nature, and cute towns and villages. It looks very quirky and colourful, which is exactly what I like!

South Korea: For some reason, I’m less excited for South Korea than Taiwan but I think that’s going to change when I do more research. I’m definitely going to Jeju Island which looks lush, plus the foodie scene seems amazing. Bibimbap, come at mee!

In April I was reading, watching & listening to…

Netflix – Street Food! I absolutely love this documentary about Asian street food. It really covers the history too, and I learnt some things about India I didn’t even realise while I was there. The show basically features all my favourite foodie places including Vietnam, Bangkok and Yogyakarta, Java. There’s just nothing like Asian food, is there?

Books – The Girl in Cabin 10 / The Dark Lake. Both these books were fairly similar: murder mysteries with strong female leads. I love these types of books so if you have any recommendations, shoot them my way.

Listening – Vicky Flip Flop’s podcast. I’ve only got into podcasts recently and, unsurprisingly, travel ones are my favourites so far. Vicky interviews a different inspiring female each episode which is an awesome way to hear about different people’s stories and find some new accounts to follow online.

Best meal in April

Shrimp, fish, mussels, squid, egg, wontons and noodles!

I was very spoilt with food last month (though when in Asia aren’t you?). In India, I loved comparing the northern and southern food. The curries up north were just amazing but the refreshing minty dips and fresh cuisine down south was also delicious. I had a favourite chicken biryani restaurant in Pondicherry and ordered it almost every night!

The food in Chiang Mai is amazing and I was so lucky to work with A Chef’s Tour, Hom Cooking Hostel and Duara Travels. I can’t even begin to decide which of those meals were best so I’m going to mix it up and say my favourite meal of April was in Chiang Mai with my friend, Along With Ari. How good do these hot and sour seafood noodles look? We ate at Crazy Noodle in Chiang Mai.

Thanks for reading!

Read my other monthly round-ups here.

See you next time,

Rose

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