Arriving in Kathmandu Nepal, we were greeted with our first experience of proper tourist fodder. Hundreds of restaurants serving very average portions of everything from pepperoni pizzas to fish and chips however, explore the local villages and you’ll get a chance to witness food from all different Nepali traditions being served up.
Dal Bhat Tarkari
Nepal’s national dish, Dal Bhat Tarkari is simply an smorgasbord of unlimited firepower, sure to give Sherpas and hikers alike strength and warmth to make it across the freezing Himalayas. Dal (lentils), is served as a soup with bhat (rice) and tarkari (curry) often topped up with vegetables and spices, this is then finished with a popadom, chutney, a side of vegetables, and if u dare pickled chillies. Whilst Dal Bhat is pretty standard tucker, it is often all that is available at high altitudes and is meant to fill bellies in order to ship the next load up the mountain. At 120 rupees (£0.85) for all you can eat rice and curry this wasn’t to be ignored.
Departing India was not quite as comfortable as our Spice Jet arrival. It involved a fair few gut wrenching bus rides, a cycle rickshaw (each) across the border at Sunauli, a slightly adventurous jeep ‘ride’ (if you can call it a ride), before another very sweaty overly populated bus took us to our destination for the night, Lumbini, Nepal.
Forget us fondly dreaming the night before of the clean mountainous air of Nepal, cool breezes, jumpers and woolley socks – this place was hot! It was identical if not slightly worse than Varanasi, just replace the dead dogs, naked Baba’s and bendy yoga enthusiasts with Buddhas and blood thirsty mozzies.
Lumbini sits on the southern border of Nepal and is the actual birthplace of the Buddha, obviously popular with Buddhists and tourists alike, it was a convenient stop over before continuing onto Kathmandu.
Crossing the border like Royalty
We arrived in India having spent the best part of 6 weeks on the road, so we knew if we wanted to stay away we’d have to curb our spending as much as possible. As ever we wanted to do anything and everything in India
All daily prices below are for the 2 of us (for all the non mathematicians, if you want single cost- divide by 2!).
It was inevitable that the world famous Delhi belly would come and get us, and that it certainly did. With Danny suffering badly and first hand experiences of his previous small accidents keeping her awake at night, ‘Claire Bear Gryll’s’ had no choice but to put into practice studied survival tactics. ‘Borrowing’ a towel from the hotel Claire quickly whipped up a make shift nappy and off we waddled out of a taxi, on and off two trains then a bus, finally making it to Amritsar with a nappy still so tightly intact any sumo wrestler or origamist would have been proud. You’ll be glad to know the nappy had just about done its job minus any new fan-dangled elasticated sides or Mickey Mouse water absorbent lining. Despite of feeling secondary to Danny’s new J-Lo booty, there was no doubt Claire’s light bulb moment saved both us and Indian Rail from a pretty hefty laundry bill.
Amritsar lies close to the India Pakistan border within the state of Punjab and is home to the most important building in Sikhism, the Golden Temple. Fetching in more tourists than the Taj Mahal, it rakes in over 100,000 visitors per week day alone! Despite the Turban to Tarn ratio being very much in their favor, we donned the obligatory ‘tourist turbans’ and headed deep into the masses.
The final leg of the long journey
Almost 3 months in India is guaranteed to put your stomach through its paces, both for good, and for bad. Below are some of the better memories from our time spent in this foodie heaven of a country.
Found in frozen party packs all over the UK, the samosas in India couldn’t be much different. Although you may still find the odd pea in your pastry triangle, the samosas in India are often filled with potatoes, onions and their special masala mix. Walk down any street and you’re bound to see stacks of these ready made and sat next to a big couldren of oil ready to be fried. At only 4 rupees a samosa (£0.05) they make a cheap tasty eat any time of the day.