Tuesday, 14 April 2015

No elephant rides for me in India ….

Hi all …

I hope you have enjoyed some of my travels through India with my sister in law, Ms M.

I have had some private messages asking if we were worried as women travelling alone in India.  I appreciate your concerns re the negative press about women in India. We researched & booked our travels through the respected tour company Audley who took meticulous care of all the arrangements, drivers, guides, hotels etc. They work closely with Distant Frontiers in India to ensure that the staff (driver, guides, hotels, home stays etc) are all as safe as they can be.

It is important for women travellers to take their safety seriously; Ms M & I did not venture out alone - always together,  mostly with guides or drivers or in safe environments - as you would do in any strange place.

Audley do not encourage elephant rides which are now being debated in India & there are moves afoot to ban them within 2 years according to local guides we spoke to. The locals tell me the time frame was to make provision for these elephants to be accommodated in centres as they cannot be returned to the wild & for their handlers / owners to find other sources of revenue.

While in Jaipur, we thought we might like to visit an elephant centre - not to ride an elephant - but to see them at the centre.  However, on our way from the Amber Fort to the centre, we passed some of the elephants on the road.

I have travelled extensively in Southern Africa (Botswana, South Africa, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Zambia) and have seen huge herds of elephant  in the wild & love them for their majesticness in their natural habitat where you can appreciate their size & nature.





The ones that passed us en route to the centre were no such things - I asked our driver to stop along the road so I could take photos ….














Beautiful, sensitive animals should not be decorated & used as a mode of transport for tourists. It is not natural for them to amble alongside traffic or have a seat on their back. I can only imagine the training needed to bring this about & I am sure it is not something we really want to read about.

I do not even like circuses as I believe wild animals should be wild, so seeing these beautiful animals painted up made me feel really sad.

I did not want to see any more animals looking like that & realised that Audley's stance is the right one to take by discouraging elephant rides. I am glad that I saw them on the road so that I could make up my own mind but I had seen all I needed to see.

Our guide & driver were only too happy to turn around & head to the Amber Fort.

What is your feelings about such things? Do painted elephants make you question why it is needed?

I hope these images have made you think about responsible tourism & how it impacts on the host country.  A friend sent me this link - remove this from your bucket list - read & make up your own mind. I made up mine by seeing the elephants, I hope it makes you think too. 

Thanks for stopping by, I appreciate your comments & your blog links so I can return the visit.
Dee ~♥~


Friday, 10 April 2015

Namasté. My soul recognizes your soul

I loved this greeting in India - each day,  people would greet you with the familiar hands together greeting of 

Namasté which translates to: My soul recognizes your soul


“My soul recognizes your soul, I honor the light, love, beauty, truth, and kindness within you because it is also within me, in sharing these things there is no distance and no difference between us, we are the same, we are one.”

What a beautiful greeting - acknowledging someone in such a genuine way. 

May you have a blessed day 

Dee ~♥~

Thursday, 9 April 2015

I want ride the Shimla Toy Train again ….

Have you ever got off a ride & rejoined the queue immediately to ride again? You know the ones that are thoroughly addictive?

Our 5 hour journey on the Toy Train, narrow gauge railway from the Himalayan town of Shimla / Simla was one such ride.

I had read some iffy reviews on trip advisor & some were not too positive - saying it was too long, the seats too hard, the toilets too iffy (I did not need them) etc.

The toy train makes the trip from Shimla / Simla to Kalka over 5 hours & it is definitely worth the trip.

We departed our Clarkes Hotel to make our way to Delhi. Thank heavens we decided to travel light.  The night before we asked for some sandwiches for the train trip & being Clarkes, the packed lunch was ready in a lovely box …


The train station at Shimla hugs the side of the mountain & we arrived with time to meet our guide, walk the track & enjoy the experience.



 
Our train arriving ….




Beautiful clear blue skies …




The engine being turned around …






The steam engine is only used on special occasions …



Ms M & I enjoying the sunshine …




Ready … lets board ….



Our driver checking out things …


Stunning views across to the Himalayas


Ready for our trip - did I mention how excited we were?


Platform complete with monkeys who are a bit of a menace in Shimla ….


Our train snaking through the high trees - such elegance …



Companions for part of the way - he too had a Canon camera so we compared notes ….


I love mountains & the sight of the Himalayas during our Shimla stay was such a highlight







Sellers at stations along the way ….



My Cath Kidson handluggage - Ms M had one too & they were absolutely perfect …





A fabulous family who shared the seats next to us - happily watching our bags while we hopped on & off to take photos, sharing chocolates & stories …. did I mention that they had such a cute child …


 Refreshments ..


Our fabulous companions



 
One of the 103 tunnels the train travels through - some long, some short …



Such a well behaved child ….


Friendly greetings from a passing train. 4 trains a day run between Kalka & Shimla



Catching up with the travellers on the train opposite …





So lovely … our carriage companions …




Ms M's Cath Kidson bag looked just right on the vintage train …






Lovely old carriages, so vintage - harking back to a bygone era of elegance & time …


Station food …



Food time on the station - a wide choice of food available for passengers




… but wait … we have food! Our packed lunch from Clarkes



 Sandwiches, fruit, banana bread with serviettes & paper plates … just what we need





Waiting for a passing train so time to stretch the legs & do some photos …




I was introduced & asked to take a photo - he appeared in the Michael Palin documentary on the Shimla railway so is a bit of a local celebrity & he is very obliging too …



Our guide for the trip walking the platform with me while I take photos …


A hoot & the passing train arrives …





Greetings & friendly exchanges ring out …


Seeing who can click the photos the fastest - I think the Canon won …

 Laughter as the train passed then loud sounds - that train like to liven up the tunnels …



 On our way again, definitely descending from the heights we had been at, the air feels warmer & the scenery is less steep …





A famous bridge that I saw too late almost - I want to ride back to Shimla to see it from the other way


The sun is dipping in the sky as we approach Kalka - what a fantastic trip, what an experience


The sheds with the spare trains at Kalka






On our platform, the trip over. What a fabulous train trip, I just want to do it again …



One person in our carriage from Canada said it was on his bucket list - it certainly is a trip that is worth taking, I hope you have enjoyed the trip with me. Thank you for stopping by,  please leave a comment so I can return the visit to your blog.

Dee ~♥~