Spoiler alert: this post contains tales of shitty woe and misery. There is a happy ending though!
A wise man once said to me “Shit don’t always work out how you planned”.
A bunch of travel bloggers have all said “Expect the unexpected”.
And most of my best mates said “We give it two weeks till you both get Delhi Belly”.
I didn’t expect all to come to fruition within a few days.
Don’t worry, this post isn’t gonna all be about poop, that just seems to be a consistent thread through our recent experience.
Following an awesome few days in Jaipur, we were both really excited about seeing Delhi. We also decided last minute to try and get to Rishikesh, a very northern and very holy city right at the base of the Himalayas. From everything we’d read Rishikesh would be such a paradigm shift from the madness of Northern cities, so we thought we’d head up there for a day, do some yoga, and basically chill out before we head South to Kerala.
We arrived in Delhi and had a great day out with Tim and Steph. Tim is a mate from uni and Steph is his wife who I also get on well with. We had a great day out exploring the bars of Delhi, celebrating the Dusshera festival and polishing off a bottle of rum on the hostel roof. We made a cardinal error in Delhi though with our first stop food/drink stop , where we hadn’t considered the additional taxes on our bill, resulting in a near 5000INR bill due to the numerous drinks we all ordered.
Lesson no.1. Delhi add on 32% of taxes to bills. Factor this in!
All sounds good so far yeah? I’d have to agree! Bring on the beauty of Rishikesh….
The problems started on the train. Out 6 hour train turned into an 8.5 hr train. We had literally eaten daal and naan before this enduring journey and so caved, and bought a pizza from the train. BIG MISTAKE!!! There was naive little me, thinking a vegetarian pizza would be fine, even though I’d been warned countless times to avoid all train food. Following this, we arrived late at Haridwar, a station over an hour from Rishikesh and decided to get some station snacks. I’m almost certain this didn’t help…
Lesson learned no.2. AVOID ALL FOOD THAT HAS ANYTHING TO DO WITH TRAINS IN INDIA!!!
After finally getting to the hostel at about 11pm, all hell broke loose. Without being graphic, I barely slept, developed a fever, made frequent trips to the little white porcelain seat, and Kelly followed about 6am onwards. We finally got to Rishikesh and spent 80% of the bloody day on the crapper or in the bedroom. We did manage to make our way out to walk about the city for a couple of hours which was stunning. We realised very quickly though we needed so much longer in this place regardless of the illness, and especially considering the travel time.
Lesson learned no.3. Don’t travel to a place for less time than it takes to travel there/back. You’ll only regret it.
The place itself though is truly stunning. The hills encapsulate every corner of your view, and the spirituality all around oozes out of every shop and tree just like in Varanasi (just with way less hassle). I was more than happy sitting on the edge of the Ganges with my feet in the cool water; you can’t pay for this kind of stuff!
Later in the day I managed to sneak out again to watch the sunset over the Ganges, another amazing experience. I shared the ghat with a number of tourists just sitting there, smoking joints,playing guitar, being all hipster and shit, loving life and being care free, whilst I just covertly figured out where I could do an emergency poop. Don’t worry, it didn’t come to that…
So after the somewhat disappointing trip to the north we had a bus journey back to Delhi, as we had a flight the next day. Dosing up on Imodium we well and truly clogged ourselves up and endured a bumpy and chaotic 6 hour bus ride to Delhi. This also ended up being way longer than the projected 6 hours, and didn’t actually stop at the station as planned (apparently the driver lost interest to pulled up on the highway) which as you can Imarine just added to our woes. At this point I think we both felt okay, so endured the journey before staying with our next host, Rishabh and Rocky. By this stage I was in a bit of a kill or cure state of mind, so ended up eating curry and drinking beer with the hosts all night. Another big mistake.
Lesson learned no.4. Don’t take Imodium If you have Delhi Belly. It’s a crap idea and it won’t end well.
Lesson learned no.5. Taking on board point 4, also don’t drink a shit load of beer and eat spicy food if you have any thought of Delhi belly festering in your gut.
I’m currently writing this from Kerala. After all this fun and games we had to get a flight from Delhi to Trivandrum before staying with our next host, Rahul. We were still very ill and actually got worse, and ended up in hospital after his and his families insistence. 2 hours after arriving we had a consultation, an IV in our arms, a bunch of antibiotics and some amazing (and cheap) medical treatment we are finally on the mend. Turns out we both caught some kind of parasite which could have been quite nasty. Rahul our Couchsurfing host has been an absolute hero from the moment we got here, so I’ll be writing a post about Kerala and him separately. Now I’m going to enjoy the next week off grid, experiencing the total shift in culture and experience between north and south. Be expecting lots of posts about beaches and amazing fishy/coconut based curries. I’ll end this rather crappy post with a photo from today which started with an early morning walk down the beach.