Kim Dinan is a writer from Portland, Oregon. In May of 2012, Kim and her husband Brian sold all of their stuff, quit their jobs, and left home to travel the world. Starting in South America, they backpacked their way from Ecuador to Brazil before flying to India where Kim drove a rickshaw 3,000 kilometers from Rajasthan to Kerala. Please enjoy this week-in-the-life of Kim in India!
Nora’s Note: India is such an interesting place – it tends to inspire love-it-or-hate-it experiences. I love to learn how other travelers experience the world! Me? I didn’t have a good time, but as with all things travel-related, it had more to do with me than the place itself. Of course, the butter in my eyes didn’t help. Curious? Heaven and Hell: Panchakarma as a Reflection of (My Time In) India
This post was originally published in 2013. It has since been updated for accuracy of links and content.
Day 1: Sunday
8 a.m. I roll out of bed and walk into the kitchen of my apartment to make coffee. My husband is still snoozing beside me and a friend is visiting from home, asleep on a mat in the living room. My husband and I have been living in Goa, India for two months now, taking a “break” from the constant movement of traveling.
10 a.m. I head out on a morning run, happy to finally establish a bit of a fitness routine on the road.
3 p.m. It’s time to make some travel plans. My friend, Wendy, is in town for three weeks and is ready to see India. We head to the internet café (the internet and the power are down in my apartment, a regular occurrence) and walk out three hours later with bus tickets to Hampi, plane tickets to Delhi, and train tickets to Dharmshala. Total cost? Less than $200.
Day 2 – Monday
1 p.m. Wendy and I walk 15 minutes to the beach where we bob in the warm waters of the Arabian Sea. After a few hours of sun we retreat to a beachside restaurant where we eat Pakora and drink Kingfisher, an Indian beer.
9 p.m. Wendy and I stand in a vacant parking lot waiting for our overnight bus to Hampi. Our rickshaw driver insists that the bus will stop here to fetch us but we aren’t so sure. The bus is twenty minutes late and then thirty minutes late but finally it arrives. We climb into our sleeper berths and try to catch some sleep.
Day 3 – Tuesday
3 a.m. Sleep isn’t coming. The bus is all over the road and we’re thrown around our sleeper berth like we’ve climbed into a washing machine. The only relief comes when the bus stops on the side of the road. We all disembark and pee in a nearby field.
8 a.m. We arrive in Hampi and catch a rickshaw, allowing the driver to take us to his favorite guesthouse. We haggle over the price of the room for a bit. When we’ve settled on the cost we throw our bags down and catch a few hours of blissful sleep.
3 p.m. After a cold shower we set out on foot to explore the ancient ruins of Hampi. The temples and sculptures are absolutely amazing. We’re blessed by holy men and kissed by the temple elephant Lakshmi. It’s an amazing afternoon.
7 p.m. Wendy and I have dinner with a girl we befriended at a temple earlier in the day. She’s Canadian, traveling alone, and we hit it off immediately. We eat, talk and laugh into the night. We don’t drink, though. Hampi is a holy town and alcohol is not allowed.
Day 4 – Wednesday
7 a.m. We wake early today to walk down to the river and watch the temple elephant take a bath. Women in colorful saris are washing their clothes on the ghats. Kids in blue and white uniforms are on their way to school. I drink chai from a roadside stand and revel in Indian village life.
10 a.m. We hire a rickshaw for another day of exploring the sites. My favorite stop is the Monkey Temple. It’s a 600-stair climb into the air. The views from the top are amazing.
4 p.m. We grab a quick snack and then catch the overnight bus back to Goa where we hustle to catch a plane to Delhi. I’m tried and dirty and I’d love to just relax. Instead, I heave my backpack on and start the next leg of our adventure.
Day 5 – Thursday
8 a.m. We’ve made it to Delhi! We’re at the New Delhi train station waiting to catch our train to Dharmshala. Indians stare as we drink coffee and try to rouse ourselves awake. The smell of urine, feces, incense and spices whirl around us in the breeze.
10 a.m. We’ve boarded the train and settled in for the long-haul, a 12-hour trip to Dharmshala.
3 p.m. I’m hungry so I buy chai and snacks from a man selling food on the train. I lay back in my sleeper berth and read a book.
Day 6 – Friday
9 a.m. We have discovered the most amazing porridge at the Moonpeak Café in Dharmshala. We eat and drink coffee and plan our day. We’ll be walking the kora and visiting the Dalai Lama’s temple. Dharmshala is the home of the Tibetan government in exile. The Dalai Lama escaped here 49 years ago. He has been able to safely enter Tibet since.
11 a.m. We walk the kora around the temple of the Dalai Lama. Buddhists walk this path each morning, leaving mani stones as offerings. Prayer flags whip in the wind and the white peaks of the Himalayas are visible in the distance. This place is absolutely stunning.
4 p.m. Back at the Moonpeak Café we order coffee and surf the internet for a few hours. I try to get a bit of writing work done and answer emails.
6 p.m. We head to Momo Café for a dinner of… momo’s! Momo’s are a traditional Nepalese dish much like a wonton. We eat a delicious meal and talk about our day before heading to bed. We have a long day tomorrow – we’re hiking in the mountains!
Day 7 – Saturday
7 a.m. We leave our guest house and begin the climb to Truind, a ridge high in the hills above Dharmshala with views of the Himalayas.
9 a.m. We’re getting closer to our destination and stop off at a chai shop along the trail. I desperately love the chai stands in India, you can really find them everywhere.
12 p.m. We’ve made it to the top of Triund! The views of the mountains are spectacular. We settle down to eat lunch and take in the view.
4 p.m. Back at the guest house we rest our weary legs and take a cold shower (the hot water doesn’t come on until 7 p.m.).
8 p.m. We’re in bed and reading before the lights go out. Tired from the long hike and anticipating our return to Goa tomorrow.
Kim Dinan and Brian traveled through India before catching the border into Nepal for a few months of trekking in the Himalayas. Now they’re back in the U.S. for a few months of dog-sitting. Where they’ll head next is anyone’s guess. On Kim’s blog www.so-many-places.com as well as her author and freelance writer site, Kim writes about discovering the world and fighting like hell for her dreams. Follow her on Twitter.