At the end of December 2019, I was getting an itch to travel some more. I started browsing TourRadar and found a tour that hits both India and Nepal. In my 2020 Timecapsule post, I even talked about having found the tour but not booked it, yet. I was supposed to travel in April of 2020 but of course, COVID-19 ended up happening. When I read the “we don’t cover pandemics or civil wars” part of the two seperate travel insurance policies, I figured that I was out of luck but the company that I used offered offered a travel credit with a deadline that kept getting moved.
When the deadline was moved to the end of September 2022, I figured that I better go while I can.
On Sept 14th, I flew 14hr 35min, non-stop from Chicago to Delhi on a Air India. Air India was nice and I was glad that I booked an exit-row seat. That flight might be at my physical limit, though. When I got to Delhi, I had an over-night stay Hotel Surya International, which really was nice. It was in the heart of a retail district. They offered a good breakfast, a mini-bar, and (passable at best) WiFi.
The next day, the driver took me to the airport and I flew on IndiGo from Delhi to Kathmandu. IndiGo really felt like the Indian take on Ryanair. When I got to Kathmandu, I was greeted by the guide and the driver and they took me to the Hotel Moonlight. The hotel in Kathmandu was very easily the nicest one of the trip. The next day, I went around Kathmandu and saw Durbar Square, Pashupatinath Stupa, and Boudhnath Stupa. The day after that, I even saw Everest. Kathmandu was a big highlight of the trip, for me.
After that, I flew back to Delhi and spent six days visiting Agra, Fatehpur Sikri, Jaipur, and Delhi. The amount of poverty, the suprisingly empty hotels and restaurants, and the store owners seemingly thirsty for any traffic at all were hard to ignore. The tipping culture was hard to get used to as well (absolutely everyone expected a tip). I saw and experienced things that I will never forget, though. I saw a snake charmer for the first time. I rode an elephant to the Red Fort. I saw Humayun’s Tomb, which I think might be more impressive than the Taj Mahal.
Over my time in India, I didn’t get any significant rain until the drive from Jaipur to Delhi. On that drive, we ended up in ankle-deep flood water on the expessway and then close to Delhi, a semi-truck ended up crashing into the taxi. After that, it pretty much rained continuously.
I’ll forever fondly remember Navarj (the guide in Nepal) and Deep (the driver in India). I’ll also remember the constant battle to keep enough tipping money on me, the crazy heat on the day where I saw the Taj, and once being mistaken for Iranian?
I wouldn’t do this tour a second time but I don’t regret it. I do think that I would like to explore Nepal some more. I really liked Nepal a lot. I remember an experience at a Buddhist temple in Kathmandu that genuinely changed me. If you are contemplating a similar trip and would like some advice, please feel free to reach out.